Whenever I get bogged down in the questions and critiques and relentless pace of my job, TED videos like this revive my spirits.

Now, after watching Ben Goldacre’s TED talk, the next thing to do is to peruse the Newscientist.com site – for the purpose of testing out your newly acquired powers of analytical thinking as gleaned from Ben Goldacre.

To be fair, I haphazardly follow New Scientist. They have some interesting stories, sometimes, but I would almost never re-post or share anything from New Scientist on my Facebook page. It’s not because their stories aren’t documented (impressively, they also include the DOI of every article they cite – at least of those I’ve read), but because the titles are so exaggerating and because the “implications” of the articles they discuss for real life, living human beings overreach the realm of possible probability.

Example:

Brain tweak turns wimpy mice into dominant leaders (need I say more about the title? Wait until you read the article! The authors said that it was published in Science (and it was), but as a report only – not as a full paper. And no wonder. It’s not *real*, new, exciting research. It’s merely a confirmation of the role of mPFC neurons. Important, but not novel.)

Eating your greens alters your genes (totally inflammatory title! In addition, the cautionary finger this article points at our occasionally heedless consumption of foods regardless of their health benefits or lack there of completely misses the forest for the trees – there are a lot of other, less subtle ways that food changes our body. For example, folic acid can change our epigenome, which is proving to become more and more important as a determinant of our gene output status than our genetic sequence (it’s also evidence for the nurture side of development, where DNA sequence is the nature side). Another example – phytoestrogens or other such hormones can wreak massive, systemic changes in our body by changing cell responses/gene transcription from different organs. Hormonal compounds can also cross the blood brain barrier. And, a last parting shot at the article: miRNA also doesn’t change our genes; it changes protein expression by modulating the availability of mRNA in the cytosol.)

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