5 Tall Tales from 1 Small Mind

I am an occasional visitor to the Natural Dog Training (is there such a  thing as Supernatural Dog Training?) blog authored by snake-oil salesman and new-age mystic Kevin Behan. Reading the blog is amusing and infuriating. I find it painful to see him lie to readers and distort the latest science story to support the sales his energy…

Stress Can Hurt… Literally

A study in the journal Pain (Bortsov 2012) reports genetic variants increase the risk of developing chronic pain following a traumatic event. The study followed two groups that had undergone traumatic events, motor vehicle collisions and sexual assault. It looked at gene variations encoding FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP5); a co-chaperone with heat-binding protein 90 (hps90),…

Seeing Stress Means Feeling Stress

Humans don’t have to directly experience trauma to be deeply affected; seeing someone else go through a distressing event can often be equally stressful. The vicarious experience is often sufficiently stressful to produce negative long-term effects resulting in PTSD, depression and other mood disorders.  For humans, seeing stress is often the same as feeling stress.…

Angelina Jolie, Evolution and Pleiotropy

Angelina Jolie recently revealed she underwent a double mastectomy; a prophylactic measure to combat the risk of breast cancer associated with BRCA1 gene she carries. Like many other ‘disease’ genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 show evidence of positive selection, suggesting a fitness advantage. To understand how BRCA provides an evolutionary advantage we have to look at the other…