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The Iceman cameth


In his laboratory at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., Dr. Dennis Stanford hands me a slab of brown plaster. It’s a replica of a bone fragment – from a mastodon or a giant ground sloth – the original having been dredged from the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. On the slab is an etching of a mastodon, placed there by some unknown artist long ago. By itself, the find is a truly remarkable one. But more than this, the artifact, dated to a staggering 22,000 years ago, is now part of a growing body of evidence that could overturn everything scientists once thought they knew about the peopling of the Americas.

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The Mountain in Labor and the Statin-Industrial Complex


Almost three thousand years ago, the Greek fabulist Aesop told the story of the mountain in labor. The mountain shook, and rumbled, and emitted ominous-looking clouds of black smoke, and as the local villagers looked on in horror, the earth opened up and out of the fissure jumped… a mouse.

It’s uncanny. It’s almost as if Aesop foresaw the rise of the statin industry.

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“Paxil turned me into a monster:” The still-unfolding saga of GlaxoSmithKline’s Study 329


“I tried killing myself thirty times.”

So says Vickie, a young nurse from Philadelphia who was first prescribed Paxil at the age of ten.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

“People will die”: 2 years on, Australian documentary on statins continues to rouse ire


A study by Australian medical researchers is the latest salvo in the battle triggered by the documentary, “Heart of the Matter,” which raised questions about the safety and effectiveness of statins, a class of drugs that block the body’s ability to synthesize cholesterol.

The study, which appeared in the 15 June issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, found that thousands of Australian patients stopped taking statins after the two-part documentary aired on the 24th and 31st of October 2013 on the science journalism series Catalyst. Citing a 2005 meta-analysis by the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ Collaboration, the authors wrote “[T]his could result in between 1522 and 2900 preventable, and potentially fatal, major vascular events,” such as heart attack and stroke.

Writing in the Australian, science journalist Lara Sinclair told readers “The ABC may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of Australians.” The MJA paper did not look at mortality data…

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Ancient Wings


I’m standing on the banks of the Casselman River, in the heart of the Catoctin Mountains of Western Maryland. It’s late summer, the day after Labor Day. The sun is shining brightly, but a cool mountain breeze is blowing in my face. Below me, I can hear the water gurgling over the rocks. From an unseen location amidst the riparian vegetation, crickets are trilling. Amidst the riot of green, splashes of color: daisies, goldenrod, orange jewelweed, blood-red columbine, and bayberries the color of indigo.

A doe exits from the thicket alongside the riverbank and glances at me, regarding me coolly for a few moments before turning away and trotting off unhurriedly. Two more deer emerge, both bucks, still wearing the summer coating of velvet on their antlers. They, too, regard me coolly for a few moments before trotting away. To my left, a dragonfly is skimming over the water surface like an Exocet missile.

I’ve always been fascinated by dragonflies. With their speed, maneuverability, and brilliant metallic colors, they truly are the Ferraris of the insect world…

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The statinization of America


Anyone who wants to know why medical costs continue to skyrocket needs only to look at the paper published in the July 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that examined the “cost-effectiveness” of increasing statin use.

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Antidepressants: A deadly treatment?


The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, allegedly the intentional act of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, and the deaths of all 150 people on board is indeed a tragedy. But, some good may come out of it if it induces people to take another look at those substances the pharmaceutical industry calls “antidepressants.”

The link between antidepressants and violence, including suicide and homicide, is well established…

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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