A painless explanation.
Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
Chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
And end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
And fall in.
I should be suspicious
Of what I want.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
-Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
(Part of the foundation for a case I’m making about biological foundations of ADHD. The “Parkinsonian personality” is well known and the opposite of classic ADHD. ADHD is strongly linked with much higher than normal numbers of dopamine transfer neurons in specific parts of the brain and Parkinson’s disease is directly connected to the death of these neurons.)
The Parkinsonian Personality: More Than Just a “Trait”
Since 1913 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been described as particularly industrious, devoted to hard work, inflexible, punctual, cautious, and moralist (1). These psychological characteristics have been so constantly reported that the concept of “Parkinsonian personality” emerged. In this regards, in the last few years PD patients have been evaluated according to several models of personality assessment (2), with the Big Five Model (BFM) (3) and the Cloninger’s Psychobiological Model (CPM) (4) as the most used. Studies following the BFM reported that PD patients presented high levels of Neuroticism and low levels of both Openness and Extraversion (5, 6), while studies using the CPM described the temperament of PD patients as characterized by low Novelty Seeking (NS) and high Harm Avoidance (HA) (2, 7, 8). As a matter of fact, the high HA could be responsible for the Parkinsonians’ tendency to be cautious, fearful, pessimistic and shy, while the low levels of NS could account for the tendency to be unsocial, frugal and orderly. Under different points of view, the “Parkinsonian personality,” as it has been consistently reported in literature (7, 9), shares several clinical features with the obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPeD) as classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) (10).
The OCPeD is defined as a “chronic, pervasive, maladaptive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, mental and interpersonal control at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency” (10). In the general population, it is the most common personality disorder with a lifetime prevalence reaching the 9.3% (11). Classically considered as stable over time, an increasing number of observations allow to hypothesize that the clinical presentation of OCPeD is less stable than originally assumed, being possible to detect the occurrence, attenuation, or relapse of obsessive symptoms across the life-time (12, 13). While the correspondence between the presence of high HA and low NS levels and OCPeD has been investigated in the general population over the years (14–16), no studies on the correspondence between these temperament traits, configuring the parkinsonian personality, and OCPeD have been conducted in PD patients.
squander verb – waste (something, especially money or time) in a reckless and foolish manner.
quandary noun – a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.
A dilemma caused by wasted opportunities/resources
Your hair is like unto a pretty realistic wig, nicely styled,
and your skin like the softly worn vinyl of a subway armrest, warmed by the heavy flesh of Tom
Your eyes like ping-pong balls painted to closely resemble pretty eyes.
You brighten my thoughts like dawn over the exit 170 Park and Ride on a nice day.
Missing you hurts like my funny bone against a marble countertop. Exactly like that.
I do it again and again because the pain reminds me of loving you… (Sonofa)…ok, Jesus, that’s enough now.
When you are away my longing piles up like dishes in the sink,
and my sadness spreads and deepens like socks on the living room floor
Peru, Nazca Culture, 100 BC – 200 AD
It’s so cute and honestly looks like you might find it cleaning out your Grandmother’s house but this might have been sitting on Grandma’s shelf a century before Jesus showed up.
A lot of us Fucking Love Science and I’m glad about that but overly romantic thinking about Science means we are naive in a world that exploits naivety. This (happily) working scientist explains the rat race aspects of vocational daily science with a special insight into the perverse role of journalists as sloppy, inaccurate promoters of studies in search of public attention. Journalists shake dollars loose with exciting stories that are sometimes even partly true. This cycle points to the danger of scientists getting sloppy too, rushing to publish, making headlines sound sexy, and emphasizing results that are rarely replicable just to keep playing the (now degraded) game. We should think about this stuff. Over a long enough period, that’s a death spiral for what we fucking love about science.*
People think my job is to search for deep truths, understand the meaning of life and how the world and the universe works.
In reality, my main job is to write papers and get grants so my institution can build its reputation and get money. Most research that is published is wrong in some way (except for analytical work on theory), and not because we are being dishonest. It’s because we need to publish a lot and there really isn’t time to zero in on some ultimate truth, we just need to get things right enough to publish. And even if we had all the time in the world, there is the issue of experimental design. For one thing, experimental design is very subtle and difficult and most of the papers I read didn’t really do the right experiment to support their point. You can ask them to do more experiments as a reviewer, but as you can expect, this is not your favorite thing to read when your paper is reviewed because it means more time and money you probably don’t have.
That brings me to the other problem, even if you do have the time, do you have the money? Enough people? The right equipment? An infinite number of just the right test subjects? You see where this is going…
So we write our paper and try to make as big a splash as we can so we can get promoted in our jobs, get tenure, and get more grants. (Also because we want to get the information out there for others to use, research that is unpublished is just a hobby.) The institution wants to peddle this work for more clout, so they write up a press release that over-simplified the research and over-extrapolates the possible importance of the findings. This is sent to journalists who don’t read the actual paper, but rather report based on the press release an even more overly simplified version of the paper, now with wildly speculative implications for humanity, the earth, and/or understanding the universe.
This is how you can publish a paper that shows that mice react kind of funny in a statistically significant way to being exposed to a chemical that is commonly used in ink, and then you read in the New York Times about how using ballpoint pens will kill you.
EDIT: My main point here is that people should be skeptical about science, particularly what they read that is written by journalists – whether it is news articles or actual books. Popular science books were once written by the scientists themselves, now more often they are written by journalists. And there are people who are motivated more by telling a good story than showing what science is really like – full of mistakes and uncertainty, and normal pressures of any career, it is not just the pure search for truth.
But I don’t mean at all to say that being a scientist is terrible (I feel the opposite), I just don’t like the over-simplified way people view science as some pure source of distilled perfect truth. It’s not, but that’s not a bad thing. Understanding life is not simple, nor is understanding how the universe works, the fact that it is so complex is what makes being a scientist fascinating – but what makes writing best-selling book that tells the whole story a bit harder.
*- Like so many other things that depend on stockholders for sufficient funding, the important work becomes hollowed out inside and drifts further from its purpose.