While true happiness may have a different definition to each of us, science can give us a glimpse at the underlying biological factors behind happiness. From the food we eat to room temperature, there are thousands of factors that play a role in how our brains work and the moods that we are in. Understanding these factors can be helpful in achieving lasting happiness.
Infographic by Webpage FX
This week, the NIH announced grants worth around $10.1 million to combat gender bias in research. Traditionally medical research focused on male subjects. Even when working with animals such as mice and rats, researches still favored male specimens. When women make up more than half the population, why is Male still seen as the default? Scientists want the most clean-cut results possible. Women are frequently seen as variables to be controlled for. Not only were young, white male, undergraduates readily available, males don’t have the pesky hormonal fluctuations that women do. Yet the belief that the estrous cycle needs to be controlled for or monitored is false.
Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, associate director for women’s health research at N.I.H. called for this bias to be addressed early this year in a commentary in the journal Nature. She said this bias has caused a huge gap in scientific knowledge, “we literally know less about every aspect of female biology compared to male biology”. Unfortunately, this bias for male subjects has lead to damage outside of the lab.
Women reportedly suffer more severe side-effects of new drugs, the effects on women weren’t discovered until after the drug hit the market. Recent studies of the sleep aid Ambien showed that women metabolize the drug differently than men. The drug stayed in their bodies longer and had greater potential for next-day impairment. The drug had previously been tested mostly in males. After being on the market for a decade, the FDA finally recommended that women should reduce their dose by half.
Even the gender of researchers can have an unnoticed effect on studies. Rumors that the gender of researchers affects the lab animals existed for years. A study published early this year gave credence to such whispers. Researchers from the Mcgill University in Quebec found that mice and rats reacted differently to pain based on who was in the room with them. They showed elevated blood levels of the stress hormone corticosterone when men were in the room or even when the scent of a male was present in the room. The presence of women seemed to counteract this effect. It was suggest that in future studies the gender of the researchers should be published.
The bias affects the way we understand diseases too. Did you know that women experience heart attacks differently than men? Symptoms for women include, chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, and jaw pain. Tons of other diseases are more prevalent in women, depression, thyroid, migraines, etc. and lacked proper research for decades due to the ingrained gender bias.
Sex is a biological variable, but one that shouldn’t be ignored. With women making up more than half the population on this planet, its essential drugs get tested in everyone (and I mean everyone, not just those that fit into a binary of male/female). It’s essential that we know how diseases affect people differently depending on sex. These recent grants from the NIH are a huge step in the right direction. But it makes you wonder, how has this skewed results for decades of research?
Seriously, it kills me when I see people hold scientists up as pinnacles of logic and reason.
Because one time the professor I was interning for got punched in the face by another professor, because mine got the funding, and told the other professor his theory was stupid.
This same professor told me to throw rocks to scare the “stupid fucking crabs” into moving so we could count them properly.
this is one of the best comments this post has recieved
I have witnessed:
Two professors hiding around a corner and snickering, “Shhh, here she comes!” While a female professor approached and, when she finally found them, she proceeded to scream while pointing from one to the other, “You! I called your office but you weren’t there! So I tried to call YOUR office to figure out where HE was but YOU weren’t there!”
Two grad students standing outside a closed and locked door yelling, “Come out of the damn office. You haven’t left for days. If you didn’t have a couch in there I’d be concerned as to where you were sleeping!”
A religious studies professor apologizing for being late to class because, “security stopped me because I’m dressed like a hobbit”
Watched a professor snort the results of my experiment to determine if I had the right final compound.
Two archeology professors toss priceless fossilized teeth back and forth in an attempt to figure out who is smarter by “guessing the type of tooth and species of animal before it lands”
Multiple fully degreed individuals throw dry ice at one another in an attempt to be first to use the lab/get that piece of equipment/or change the iPod song.
A genetics professor build furniture out of stacks of paper and planks of wood because she is that far behind in grading papers/responding. One of the impromptu furniture pieces housed a fish tank.
I could go on but I think that covers the larger portion of the insanity…
Every time it comes around on my dash, it gets better.
- I have had a professor buy a huge fuckoff bottle of rum during fieldwork in Costa Rica and let the undergrads get wasted because “you’re not underage in Costa Rica and we’ll be up all night with the bats anyway!”
- Same professor hung a bat from her headlamp and wore it as a decoration for an entire night.
- A whole swarm of older women - and these are women with PhDs and world-renown bat experts, the bigwigs - all, to a woman, go to the formal charity dinner at an international research symposium in Toronto in late October dressed in skimpy Batgirl costumes. Because Halloween was that weekend, you see.
- At a different conference, a professor get blackout drunk and pass out on the side of the road.
- “Yeah, we have to say we did it properly for the grant but to be really honest, Miracle-gro works better.”
- Teaching lab: we had liquid nitrogen for a demo, and after class the professor, the other TA, and I spent a good two hours freezing and breaking things in it.
a chemistry class begins with 30 students nine months later just six of us left sitting on tables dipping paper into contaminated chemicals to see what happens when we burn it teacher making idle suggestions while he marks our work
"go to the fume hood thing, yeah now put some potassium in chlorine" can i burn the results sir? "fuck it sure whatever its tainted anyway"
The prof I’m working for just asked me if I knew how to pick a lock, and when I responded “yes” she replied, “see, this is why I hire the former delinquents instead of the suck-ups. You’re actually useful.”
I then let her into her office.
I once had a friend who was a physics professor at a prominent local university. One time, he got bored, made a super low-friction spinning stool, and created what was essentially a 30 pound gyroscope in a suitcase.
Then we all took turns playing with angular momentum until we puked.
My first physics teacher had built himself a gyroscopic stool and used to start the first class by spinning around at high speeds, holding two large geodes (one in each hand), demonstrating how holding them close to his body made the spinning go faster while holding them out slowed it down. All to the original Star Wars opening soundtrack. (I am old: non-original Star Wars had not been invented yet.)
My first physical anthropology professor told a story about being a grad student and working with a bunch of priceless hominid fossils — she was putting a juvenile or infant skull back together, and there were a lot of little fragile bones. She was also eating potato chips. Well, her professor chose that moment to bring a lot of bigwigs into the lab, and she smiled at them, stuffed the chip she was holding into her mouth, bit down, and tried to look busy. Only it wasn’t a potato chip. She had to sit there, not chewing any more, staring at her tray full of bones, until they left. Then she could spit out her fossil and try to piece it back together!
*nods while not understanding*
*realizes that in nodding in agreement to a text upheld by the academy and your peers as an informative text you’ve internalized a power relation from a specific assemblage of knowledge and ideas, so while you didn’t understand foucault the first time you understood power and its effect on the body intuitively*
i want the kind of funding that scientists in comic books have. where are you getting this money? do you publish papers or do you just turn people into giant lizards and call it a day? do you have to get that shit peer reviewed? who is paying for your research? can you give me their email address
i have googled ‘evil science grants’ and the results were not satisfying
"yes hello National Science Foundation, I’d like to renew my $3m grant for genetically modifying spiders to give humans superpowers - what’s my broader impact outreach? seriously did you see how many newspapers we sold"