Day: April 13, 2019

Ariana Grande’s PTSD Brain Scan

AgbrainPseudoscience and Psychobabble:

’The brain became a celebrity this week when Ariana Grande shared the results of a scan of her brain seemingly showing signs of severe PTSD:

Is there any science behind this?

Not really.

The source of the scan isn’t clear but I’m 99% sure that the image was taken at one of Dr Daniel Amen‘s controversial clinics. Amen uses similar graphics in his brain scans. If it is an Amen scan, then the ‘blobs’ seen on Grande’s brain represent areas of increased or decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) as assessed using a method called SPECT. SPECT is a fairly old neuroimaging methodology that forms the heart of Amen’s network of clinics.

Bear in mind that the blobs on an image like this are statistical illustrations. A scan like this is not a photograph or x-ray of structural changes, and without knowing the context in which the scan was taken and the methods used to analyze it, it doesn’t mean much.

Most psychiatrists and neuroscientists would not use SPECT or any other type of brain scan to diagnose PTSD. Dr Amen claims to be able to do so, and in 2015 published a paper reporting on this, but I wouldn’t put much faith in it.…’

Via Neuroskeptic

Raffi, the King of Children’s Music, Takes on Trump

10 raffi w700 h467 2x’If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, have children, or have ever been to a kid’s birthday party, then you’ve probably heard the Canadian crooner’s timeless bangers “Baby Beluga” and “Banana Phone.”

Raffi’s saccharine melodies and lyrics actually read like discrete guides on how to live and love with dignity, starting at childhood. With an adult’s ear, the chorus of Raffi’s biggest hit — “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea / Swim so wild and you swim so free” — appears to be about learning how to individuate while still feeling safe and held by your caretakers. It’s a valuable message, even for adults. The last line of “Everything Grows,” an ode to the universality of the life cycle, is, “Mamas do and papas too / everything grows.” It’s a subtle reminder to parents that while we may be done with the physical part of our growth, emotional growth is a lifelong journey.

But learning to live with dignity means learning about what it’s like to live without it and the nefarious forces that try to take it away. … In recent months, the 70-year-old singer has gained a bit of attention for his active, politically engaged Twitter feed where many posts are accompanied with the dissenter’s slogan du jour: #Resist and #ResistFacism. Raffi’s outspokenness around Trump and his policies goes back to when he was elected. Just last week the singer called Trump unfit for office, racist, and misogynistic. In December he said we must “fight fascism with everything we’ve got.” Seemingly trite, the addition of Raffi’s voice to the American political landscape is actually invaluable — the singer-songwriter is the premier emissary for children and his positions carry with them an incredible weight. And the children, after all, are the future.…’

Via New York

Moving Day at the Hells Angels Clubhouse

1920px Hells Angels clubhouse East VillageAfter 50 years, Angels vacate notorious Greenwich Village headquarters brownstone for new digs in former Baptist church on Long Island.

’“The parties used to be great,” Nancy said. “Until the explosion.” In 1990, a garbage-can firecracker killed a fourteen-year-old boy. Over the years, the East Village Angels both caused and prevented mayhem. In 1994, the Times characterized this mayhem, part “lore and part police reports,” as “countless decibel-cranking parties, LSD-laced misadventures, drug deals, orgies and random acts of violence against passers-by.” In recent years, parking-space tussles resulted in beatings and a shooting; a woman who pounded on the door, screaming, was badly beaten. In 1978, the chapter president, Vincent (Big Vinny) Girolamo, of plaque fame, allegedly pushed his girlfriend off the roof, to her death. (He died, of stab wounds, before he could stand trial.) Innumerable bad vibes were doled out after unwanted bench-sitting, dog-peeing, and photography incidents. But, from the scuzz era to the N.Y.U.-and-condos era, club members also defended their neighbors; the Angels’ block was considered the safest around.

“I haven’t heard anybody say ‘Good riddance,’ ” Janet said.

“I’ll miss the way they decorated at Christmas,” Nancy said.

“They used to break people’s cameras,” Janet said. In the Instagram age, unwanted photography had skyrocketed.…’

Via The New Yorker (thanks to Boing Boing)

First black hole picture: The big mysteries we still need to solve

Leah Crane writes:

‘The first ever image of a black hole, released on Wednesday, raises several important questions. For a start, we don’t know where exactly the light in the image comes from. Next, can we get a similarly good image of Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy? It is changing more quickly than the newly pictured black hole, so getting a clean image is more challenging. Finally, can these images help us understand how general relativity and quantum mechanics fit together? …’

Source: New Scientist

Related: An Astrophysicist on on What the Black Hole Image Reveals:

15943 607093fb70318b813d0e9b8531916fbePankaj Joshi:

’Strictly speaking, the system did not see an event horizon, which cannot be seen by definition. Furthermore, although an event horizon necessarily implies a shadow and silhouette, the converse is not true. Nonetheless the observations are still so precise that whatever is casting the shadow must be exotic. No ordinary body could be so small and yet so dark and so massive. A black hole is now the most conservative conclusion. If it is not a black hole, it might be a naked singularity, a type of immensely dense object that I have studied, and that would make a black hole look rather mundane.…’

Via Nautilus