US science official says more extreme events convincing many Americans climate change is real – The Washington Post

CANBERRA, Australia — Increasingly common experiences with extreme climate-related events such as the Colorado wildfires, a record warm spring and preseason hurricanes have convinced many Americans climate change is a reality, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Friday. Many Americans had previously seen climate change as a “nebulous concept” removed from them in time and geography, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco.

via US science official says more extreme events convincing many Americans climate change is real – The Washington Post.

Childhood adversity increases risk for depression and chronic inflammation

Previous studies have linked depression and inflammation, particularly in individuals who have experienced early childhood adversity, but overall, findings have been inconsistent. Researchers Gregory Miller and Steve Cole designed a longitudinal study in an effort to resolve these discrepancies, and their findings are now published in a study in Biological Psychiatry.

They recruited a large group of female adolescents who were healthy, but at high risk for experiencing depression. The volunteers were then followed for 2 ½ years, undergoing interviews and giving blood samples to measure their levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, two types of inflammatory markers. Their exposure to childhood adversity was also assessed.

The researchers found that when individuals who suffered from early childhood adversity became depressed, their depression was accompanied by an inflammatory response. In addition, among subjects with previous adversity, high levels of interleukin-6 forecasted risk of depression six months later. In subjects without childhood adversity, there was no such coupling of depression and inflammation.

Dr. Miller commented on their findings: “What’s important about this study is that it identifies a group of people who are prone to have depression and inflammation at the same time. That group of people experienced major stress in childhood, often related to poverty, having

via Childhood adversity increases risk for depression and chronic inflammation.

Stay Away from Negative Thoughts to Improve Problem Solving Ability – Medical Daily

New research suggests that keeping away from tendency to brood even for a small amount of time will help you to increase problem-solving ability.To understand how rumination affects problem solving, researchers asked 51 study participants to watch a short movie clip. The movie clip was designed to make viewers sad. Afterwards they were given tests to check their problem solving abilities. Researchers found that people who were able to distract themselves did better at the tests.

via Stay Away from Negative Thoughts to Improve Problem Solving Ability – Medical Daily.

The neurobiology of selflessness

Neuroscience, or neurobiology as it is sometimes called, is the study of how the brain works. Neuroscientists, often working hand in hand with psychologists, carry out experiments designed to identify the regions of the brain used when people engage in certain types of behavior.In a study published in 2006, neuroscientists Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman carried out an experiment in which functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging fMRI was used to map the parts of the brain that were activated when their subjects engaged in acts of charity.

via Neurobiology and the Selfless Impulse | Washington Times Communities.

Suicide leading cause of death among young people in India

Suicide has become the second-leading cause of death of young people in India, which has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, according to an Article published as part of the Lancet Series on suicide. “Suicide kills nearly as many Indian men aged 15-29 as transportation accidents and nearly as many young women as complications from pregnancy and childbirth,” said lead author of the study Professor Vikram Patel, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. With the decline in maternal death rates, suicide could soon become the leading cause of death among young women.

via Suicide leading cause of death among young people in India.

The Problem With Neuroscience Narratives – Forbes

Scientists and journalists alike are frequently too quick to make sweeping generalizations about the behavior and structure of the brain, often forgetting that the brain is an incredibly complex, interrelated system. Which is only natural – humans are narrative creatues, and a direct relationship between a part of the brain and a particular behavior is exactly the kind of narrative we find attractive. But it’s often wrong.

via The Problem With Neuroscience Narratives – Forbes.

Alcohol and Cancer

The International Agency for Research in Cancer has recognised alcohol as a Group 1 Carcinogen along with tobacco smoke and asbestos (the highest carcinogen rating) since 1988. This means there’s enough evidence to prove that alcohol causes cancer1.

There is no safe level of alcohol consumption in regard to cancer risk. The more you drink and the more often you drink, the greater the risk.

There is no evidence that alcohol consumption decreases your risk of cancer. Furthermore, there is no difference between types of alcoholic beverages (eg. wine, beer and spirits).

via Alcohol and Cancer.

Dry July

Dry July is a non-profit organisation determined to improve the

lives of adults living with cancer through an online social

community giving up booze for the month of July.

Whether joining as a part of a team or as an individual,

DJ’s ( [dee-jay] noun: a person or team actively

sponsored to participate in Dry July) take on the 31 days of July

to raise funds and directly help adults living with cancer and

their families to improve their quality of life.

This year Dry July is proud to have on board twenty

beneficiaries across Australia and New Zealand. The campaign

operates a full circle fundraising model, which gives

DJ’s clarity on how beneficiary funds are used within

each hospital. It is important to the Dry July Team to deliver an

efficient, low-cost campaign, utilising online technology to

minimise administration costs.

Dry July is also a chance to raise awareness of individual

drinking habits, the value of a balanced healthy lifestyle, a

personal challenge, encourage positive change and an awareness of a

healthy attitude to alcohol consumption.

via About > Dry July 2012.

Why bother complaining about media at all?

Look at that Lynx ad featuring Sophie Monk encouraging guys to “clean their dirty balls”. This is just the latest along an ever unraveling string of sexist, racist, ageist ads by Lynx (or Axe in the USA), who by the way is owned by Unilever.

You know the one. The same company that sells Dove products, which are supposed to encourage women to celebrate the skin they are in. Unless of course you have dark skin, then you would first need to purchase one of their skin lightening products before you could truly love yourself. As, “skin lightening creams are the preferred mode of skin care in almost all Asian countries, just as anti-ageing creams are in Europe and the USA.”

It is often said that the resultant outrage unleashed by critics is precisely the fuel that advertisers aim to employ. It fans the flames of the free publicity that their controversial ad may attract. This is worth more than any calculated loss they may incur, I’m told.

Really? I hadn’t thought about that at all. Silly me.

So why do I still urge parents to complain about ads, even if speaking up and making a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board and having the complaint dismissed, as many are, could occur?

Firstly, it will still be recorded. (See an example of that here) Moreover, when the ASB produce their statistics and end of year reports, the number of complaints about advertisements is important. (See an example here)

However, there is a second and possibly greater reason for this. When complaints are coupled with school-based programs around media literacy, as well as parental engagement in repeated discussions at home about WHY we feel strongly about the messages behind adverts or products, we begin to engage the use of critical thinking skills about the messages we are being fed by the media on a daily basis.

Now before you begin writing to me about my living in la-la-land or believing we live in utopia, let me say that I am completely aware of where I live.

However I do not believe that this should cause us as parents to throw up our hands in despair and say,  “Ah, too difficult, just raise yourself child… Que Sera, Sera.”

Nor do I believe that we should ‘helicopter parent’, thereby creating a generation of children that are so removed from any challenge to their physical or intellectual development that when the inevitable fall does occur, it has a huge impact, rather than a small one.

Isn’t it interesting though, that we have become so over-protective of children on one hand that we fuss about having fat-free schools, jungle-gym free playgrounds, dirt-free homes and insist on imprisoned-trampolines in the garden. Yet when I raise the idea around freedom to parent a psychologically healthy generation of children, without the suffocation of an over-sexist, objectified wallpaper surrounding their lives, some critics will go on about what a crazed-feminist-nazi-nutcase-wowser I am. Don’t I recall that us 30 to 60 somethings grew up with sexist advertising too and look how well we all turned out?

As a mother of 3 I think that my children need to be exposed, under guidance, to certain things they are likely to encounter in the world and be prepared in how to deal with them. (No, I don’t mean sitting down to watch porn with my kids.) Debating about and developing awareness of the facile nature of ads like Unilever’s, can assist young people in understanding that this type of thinking about others is flawed.

Especially in light of a study revealing that the public find it difficult to differentiate between the language used by convicted sex offenders and mainstream magazines. The quotes for the study were taken from The Rapist Files: Interviews With Convicted Rapists by Sussman & Bordwell and four titles: Zoo, Nuts, Loaded and FHM.

Dr Miranda Horvath, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at Middlesex University who specialises in researching sexual violence explains, “They (the public) clearly had considerable difficulty making quick decisions about where these quotes came from.”

Empathy may be important in understanding the relationship between objectification and relationship satisfaction. When one person objectifies another, it is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to treat that person with empathy (Herman, 1992), an important predictor of satisfaction and stability in intimate relationships (Davis; Oathout, 1987; Long; Andrews, 1990).

So the point of reporting is to practically demonstrate how we feel as parents, about popular media’s portrayal of women, men, other races and the elderly.

It is a further opportunity for talking with our sons and daughters about how their mother, sister or friend may feel when placed in actual situations like those on the Hockeyroo’s team when their image was put up on the Lynx facebook page with, “These girls sure know how to handle balls.”

It is through many avenues that kids become critical media consumers, learning about themselves, their peers and the opposite sex.

The option of silence is unacceptable. To be silent is to display acceptance of the message. Silence has never changed anything and never will.

Author: Collett Smart

Registered Psychologist & Educator