It is commonplace to be forcefed research and ideas that are popular and meaningful. Neither popularity though meaning, however, make a given project or consideration in academia practical in the real world. In my experience it is rare to taste research and ideas that are practical. Past that point it is nearly impossible to come across research and ideas that are practical, simple, and clearly overlooked. A lovely bit of writing came up lately that seemed immediately worth reading, considering, and sharing. The fact that is is (all at once) so practical, so simple, and so clearly overlooked gripped me and hasn’t released my wandering, daydreaming self since the moment I printed this paper off some weeks ago. There’s always 10 motherfuckers out there trying to start a new conversation for every 1 team of people hoping to resolve, clean up, or challenge an old one. My response to this early quote was of feeling like these authors were bringing some serious love and professionalism to old conversations:
The framework of this study originated from the desire to explore and combine non-conventional modalities to overcome the limitations of conventional methodologies
It’s rude of me to be offering quotes without offering the paper. You probably won’t print it off and carry it with you for weeks (especially if you didn’t download the .pdf from the link above yet…….) but here’s a reminder of the title
The Effect of Pet Therapy and Artist Interactions on Quality of Life in Brain Tumor Patients: A Cross-Section of Art and Medicine in Dialog (published 2018)
This paper is directly helpful to people. The authors explore the application of pet therapy and art therapy (or, more simply, pets and art) to health-related quality of life – HRQoL – in patients diagnosed with malignant gliomas. In laymen’s term a malignant glioma is a terminal brain tumor, with a median survival time of less than 2 years after diagnosis. This is notable given that many other diseases can be significantly slowed in their course or even eliminated with the best treatments available today. The early claim by the authors is that the traditional goals of medicine are survival and disease-free survival. They go on to assert that traditional medicine does not tend to the needs of those who will not survive and are disease-ridden or terminally ill, and that there are (presumably unexplored) means for improving HRQoL. Though there is perhaps an anecdotal, personal, or folk account for this shortcoming in traditional medicine we should not proceed in reading this paper without questioning this starting point. Many of us will have experiences in healthcare – from birth to the beyond – that are more wholesome, more forward-thinking, and already aware or attuned to the loving tools described in this paper. It would not serve the reader (in my opinion) to get ahead of themselves and act as if traditional medicine has never been aware of how art, pets, or ‘art therapy/pet therapy’ assist HRQoL, including during the process of dying.
With that said let’s stop with a few questions worth pondering. If they make any sense (or if they don’t), jot these down, carry them around, digest them, disagree with yourself, repeat. Google whatever doesn’t make sense. It’s worth it:
In this paper, we describe our unique study that was designed to address two critical questions: (1) can pet therapy in the outpatient setting help improve HRQoL of brain tumor patients? and (2) can patient’s facial expression be used as a proxy measure for their overall HRQoL?
Once I had an experience helping a kid at a debate tournament take his insulin. It was one of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced, for a number of reasons.
How to explain this. Hm.
For starters, I have no idea what debate tournaments are about. Or what debate is really about. I have never debated, participated in Mock Trial, or even witnessed a formal debate (let alone participated in or witnessed a formal debate tournament) (let alone judged one). And somehow, despite that, this story begins with my traveling to a nearby city to judge a high-school debate tournament. A friend asked if I could stand-in as a judge for a debate tournament because he thought I’d do an OK job. Something to do with me being great at arguing with him – it seemed, well….Weird. Having agreed, and having dragged myself to a random school somewhere in MN on a Saturday in November, I found myself in a large cafeteria with hundreds of suit-clad kids. I was chilly. There were cans of soda, powerades, and bottled waters to drink. Everything smelled really clean and like it had been freshly vacuumed. Again, weird.
The debates around the school were timed. Lincoln-Douglas in their style, and seemingly extreme in their demands, these mini-events had (via some sort of career-scented tractor beam) pulled in the young professionals of tomorrow from all over the country. A ton of school buses sat outside. It was all honestly pretty intimidating. A handful of color-coded maps each depicted the locations and times of the dozens of debate events. During the middle period of the day (just during/after lunch) perhaps 95% of the kids ran off for their respective debates, leaving the cafeteria entirely empty. It’s (again,) weird how loud hundreds of suit-clad kids can be and how quiet a large linoleum can be once they filter out. One kid, munching down on his food some 5 or 6 tables over, remained after just a few minutes.
I was sipping on some blue powerade as the sound of a small body vomiting smacked my ears with baseball-type force. Again. A third time. My hand quivered and my stomach fell across my shoes (not literally) upon hearing it – vomiting really isn’t my thing – and I pitied whichever person, likely that kid some 5 or 6 tables over, was having the gut attack. As a younger person I was on the swim and cross country and track teams and hated more than anything to take a bus out to a competition. The feeling of sitting in a foreign school around 11:14am on a weekend, waiting to be judged against my peers, wrung out my stomach like a sock each time. So I could feel this kid’s pain – a fourth time – and, after he puked a fifth time, I began to get concerned. I remember thinking Five is a fuck-ton.
On turning around to face the bright cafeteria – there were skylights, and the place had an even and frosty glow – I saw the young boy aforementioned gripped to a garbage can for dear life. The garbage can was the rolling kind, with 4 wheels and a height of maybe 3 feet 6 inches. He was small and appeared to be on his heels as wretch-fest #6 commenced. His diaphragm and entire upper body lurched, as if some invisible tentacles were sucking him violently into the garbage can. Fuck: this was no nausea or performance anxiety. Something was seriously wrong. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Another thing I remembered from childhood was my sincere desire to be left alone whenever I was vomiting. How to approach while also giving the kid his necessary space?
Cornering my body a bit (rather than facing the kid square on) I edged up slowly, waving timidly with a hand and offering a bashful and solemn ‘hey’ of a smile. He made eye contact with me as the tentacles gripped him and tugged again. “Hey dude, just so you know I’m Ian and I’m an EMT, so if you need anything lemme know, and if you want me to leave you alone I c-“
Before continuing this story I figure I’ll leave you with a bit of history. Read up, teach yourself a bit about what to expect with diabetes (you might run into some crises yourself someday, if you haven’t before) and then I’ll write the rest of this story down
Pierce street @ Ashland ave, St. Paul
There are a lot of fears that I’m having in this moment about the state of our world: its air, its land, its oceans, its rivers, its biodiversity, its prospects, its people, and the relationships between those people. Donald Trump is our President and he has less than zero regard for the health of the planet or for the health of Americans. Or for the health of anyone, really. Who knows what 2018 will bring? I certainly don’t, but I sense that it will not be good. It will not be healthy. It feels as if legislators are uniquely able to ignore facts. From climate change to the energy crisis, from women’s rights to vaccines, from mental illness all the way to mental health, and from classrooms to public parks: The assault on science has been a completely successful one. But it wasn’t Trump or the Republicans who brought rational thinking to its end. Not even close: we did that. And we loved it. We encouraged it:
Check your horoscope!
“Jan 16, 2018 – Something may be troubling a family member, Aquarius, and this person doesn’t seem inclined to talk about it. Your intuition seems to be temporarily blocked, so you can’t figure it out for yourself. Don’t try; it’s probably buried too deeply within the other person. Make it clear that you’re there if needed and then allow this person to go his or her own way. Don’t let this situation cause you to doubt their need and respect for you.” Done. Phew. Lemme read it over again.
What’s your Myers-Briggs type? I’ve never been professionally assessed, but I have taken 5 online tests and received different results each time. But hey, 3 out of those 5 started with “I,” so there’s some profound assessment of my truest self. Right? Phew. Psychoanalysis: achieved.
I love these two belief systems more than anything. But not because they are worth anything, or because they work, or because they represent anything real. Far from it. If you (like myself) have struggled to figure out why the Republican party somehow just censored the EPA, Myers-Briggs and horoscopes can serve as a valuable litmus test. They are the first indicator that a Tool of Trump is in the room. Anyone who believes in Tarot Carts, Myers-Briggs, Horoscopes, etc. is a Tool of Trump. It’s not a nice thing to say, but is it wrong? One can ascertain which people in their lives have ended their subscription to rational thinking by just keeping an open ear to how they discuss pseudoscience, divination, and the supernatural. There comes a time to draw the line between the spiritual: legitimate connection with some higher power, valuable teaching, or source – and the supernatural. The latter are always, of course, petty and capitalistic enterprises. Let’s face it. Every single one of us listens to our friends, our step-sisters, and that Really Hot Instagram Model talk about Myers-Briggs: We’ve all heard of Jung, and wow, that guy was deep or something, or so I’m told, so therefore Myers-Briggs, which I’ve heard is based off of Jung, is probably deep or something too. Don’t question it. There are professionals who can assess this stuff, which is how I know that Cleopatra was definitely an INTJ. Seriously dude don’t be a dick, I know you believe in different things, but you don’t need to tell me this is bullshit. You don’t need to know psychology to study psychology, no I mean, you don’t need to study psychology to know psychology. Myers-Briggs works. I know it works. -pauses to think- It works for me, anyways, and that’s what matters. Can’t you respect that? That it has meaning for me? It doesn’t have to mean the same thing to you.
Somewhere, a bunch of GOP cronies are high-fiving one another and preparing their next oil pipeline.
One could not better demonstrate a loathing of critical thinking or acceptance of scientific thought than to continue on with these enterprises. It’s almost comedic (in a terrifying way) that folks will demand logical coherence from their elected officials & policymakers but smile onwards as we assess one another’s personalities with cheap parlor tricks. One need only look up phrenology to realize the addictiveness of void, pseudoscientific party-talk. Horoscopes are even funnier. The notion that the exact alignment of the planets at the moment you fell out of your mother’s fleshy hole strongly and reliably influences your personality traits has been and is accepted by many. I don’t know exactly what % of people in Minnesota, say, believe in horoscopes, but I do know that just about everybody makes a choice to tolerate these useless and gem-encrusted ramblings. There are a few loud, annoying critics offering disagreements to astrology in particular…
But those people are annoying, I mean just believe what you wanna believe, girl. Horoscopes aren’t hurting anyone, they aren’t the ones causing all this bullshit out in the world.
Hahahahaha. One would certainly be mistaken to assume that astrology is ruining the world, any more than Catholicism is. But the moment that willful delusion takes place at the expense of down-to-earth truths about stuff like, well, the health of the earth – oops. We love to hate truth. And even if we know it’s all a joke, we’ve been well-trained to keep from criticizing it. There exist few forms of willful delusion so overpowering and socially acceptable as Horoscopes. I can think of 2 acquaintances who I clash(ed) with about these issues regularly and they are both phenomenal human beings. They are intelligent, in most regards more successful than me, and are absolutely 100% more popular and well-liked than I am. I have never been a very kind person and so it’s probably appropriate that I am called unkind each and every time this conversation comes up. But the real red flag with these horoscope-types is that it’s always unkind, in their view, for someone to challenge them. For Believers, is downright traumatizing to step into the conversation using a sample of 100 persons, or a self-report survey, to start getting at the claims associated with horoscopes. If you dare mention the word ‘data’ or ‘evidence’ to the local moms who are enjoying their nightly glass of wine and divination session, you will be kicked out of the group. It is like watching a Republican hear that, in fact, women are in charge of their OWN bodies. They can’t handle it. They shut down. Horoscope-Believer will wriggle, writhe, or – in some instances – just hookah themselves out of any accountability for their beliefs. And the one doing the thinking and rationalizing must always come out a jerk, a meanie, someone who disrespects the harmless beliefs of others.
Sigh. But are they harmless? Of course not. The Horoscope-Believer is just the Neoliberal and blue-voting version of the Climate-Change denier. Both of these clowns are no less intelligent or capable than folks who cultivate their thinking skills, but they are still lazier. They are still clowns. In my view a clown is someone who takes nothing seriously – and the terrifying thing is that anyone can have a Clownish attitude, even if they are a good or loving or dedicated person. The majority of democrats have attitudes towards science and science-based rhetoric that are Clownish to the point of malice. I align very much with democrats, and therefore do value stuff like science, keeping the church out of the bedroom and off of womens’ bodies, tossing out old pseudoscientific takes on race, maybe avoiding fossil fuels sometime soon, etc. But it has been frustrating time and time again to notice that people who value these same things – and who want to construct a compassionate and healthy world – actively sabotage their own vision by sabotaging the value of evidence and rationality. They Clown around. Most Democrats actually hate Trump – but they don’t realize that by allowing their friends and often themselves to spout pseudoscience and mistruths, they support him. You are extremely likely to get into a 3 hour debate about the validity of a Myers-Briggs assessment with a blue voter, or to hear them explain for 45 minutes that Trump has a personality disorder/brain disease. That person will be able to copy+paste a Guardian article supporting their opinion, and has at least 3 books at home about astrology. Is it any mystery how Trump got into office? Nope. Unfortunately it’s only the enraged and the petty who are vocal and popular in their attempts to motivate the left: see Dawkins & Harris. Where are the effective agencies and enterprises in support of evidence-based policy? With the death of the EPA methinks there aren’t many warriors standing.
Even if you know these belief systems (astrology) are bullshit, you must become fluent in them. You likely know someone who is either deeply invested in a belief system or even peddling advice of the willfully hallucinatory nature. By discussing these delusional forms of self-understanding openly, and as if you are interested/accepting of them, you will discover the other people in your midst who actually think in that way. This takes a bit of acting and gentle acceptance/understanding. You need to learn how to Clown in order to shut down (or at least give feedback) to a Clown. It is of the utmost importance to identify the people in your environment who have that Tarot deck on their kitchen table – who know to date a Taurus, and not a Libra – who swear, above all odds, that the only reason their boss (ENFP) fired them was because they were just a weird INTJ. The people who walk through the world in this way are the ones who pose the real threat to the health of the earth, proper social policy & healthcare, and other fact-rooted endeavors. It is important to compassionately – but swiftly – correct a Clown’s thinking or otherwise to get them out of your life. It is not unkind to correct a clown. I have been the clown on many occasions in my life and am grateful for the people who have sat me down – or hollered something at me – to help me appreciate the reality or facts of a situation. It’s a good thing to give feedback, even aggressive or unwanted feedback, on an issue this important.
But today we’re faced with a social expectation to Let People Clown Around. Accept that the tarot deck offers legitimacy to your spouse – skip the World Health Organization’s take on illness and how best to treat it and instead complain about pharmaceutical medications – etc. Donald Trump is just a symptom of a larger problem: our collective decision to look away when one party has some credibility and honest evidence about life, and another party nearby is spouting clear BS. It can be tough to evict people from your life who choose, even unwittingly, to support the negative beliefs of the Republican party. But for the sake of the earth, for the sake of the CDC and the EPA, for our public parks, etc……….the game is up. Throw out the cards. Drop the pseudo-psychology and don’t look back. Don’t blame yourself, either. Trump is winning the fight against truth and we just need more fighters right now, not a bunch of guilty broken former-Geminis. K?
Says the housemate. Fuck that. I disrespectfully disagree with his unprompted assessment. My lively adventures thru thick medical texts are perfectly fun, thanks.
Where is undergraduate neuroscience headed? One small slice of this predictive pie has been gobbled up by my advisor, Eric Wiertelak. He’s consumed & produced much undergraduate neuroscience work over the years and been largely involved in the related publications. Here’s one (of several) writings on the subject-
Where undergraduate neuroscience is headed is a hugely important question. This field will be changing rapidly and it will be interesting to keep track of it over time. Should one care about the future of the healthcare industry, politics, the arts, and technology one should also be interested in the nature of neuroscience education. Again- it’s not just biology, psychology, computer science, and bad hollywood movies riding the neuroscience train – the arts in general, economics, social media, and even education itself are all headed new directions suggested by brain research. Undergraduates are often beginning lifelong journeys into these fields and it can be pretty interesting to look into how that group of people is studying the mind directly. I have never been involved in JUNE (and may never be) but enjoy seeing this tiny article from Eric.
We shouldn’t train engineers only to build toys but also to solve problems using those toys. A liberal arts approach offers to neuroscience what the well-rounded engineer also needs: which is a perspective on how to use their problem-solving tools to help other people.