Last week, a study was published that claimed to establish a link between casual marijuana use and abnormalities in the brains of recreational users. Intrigued by a claim made by one of the paper’s authors in the wave of ensuing press coverage, UC Berkeley computational biologist Lior Pachter decided to take a closer look.
In reading the news last week I came across multiple reports claiming that even casually smoking marijuana can change your brain. I usually don’t pay much attention to such articles; I’ve never smoked a joint in my life. In fact, I’ve never even smoked a cigarette. So even though as a scientist I’ve been interested in cannabis from the molecular biology point of view, and as a citizen from a legal point of view, the issues have not been personal. However reading a USA Today article about the paper, I noticed that the principal investigator Hans Breiter was claiming to be a psychiatrist and mathematician. That is an unusual combination so I decided to take a closer look.
I immediately found out the claim was a lie. In fact, the totality of math credentials of Hans Breiter consist of some logic/philosophy courses during a year abroad at St. Andrews while he was a pre-med student at Northwestern. Even being an undergraduate major in mathematics does not make one a mathematician, just as being an undergraduate major in biology does not makes one a doctor. Thus, with his outlandish claim, Hans Breiter had succeeded in personally offending me! So, I decided to take a look at his paper underlying the multiple news reports:
J.M. Gilman et al., Cannabis Use Is Quantitatively Associated with Nucleus Accumbens and Amygdala Abnormalities in Young Adult Recreational Users, Journal of Neuroscience (Neurobiology of Disease section), 34 (2014), 5529–5538.
This is quite possibly the worst paper I’ve read all year (as some of my previous blog posts show I am saying something with this statement). Here is a breakdown of some of the issues with the paper:
HA, TOLD YOU. WORST, AND FAKEST TV SHOW EVER.
Aaron Sorkin has a breaking alert for viewers of his journalism-themed HBO drama: He’s sorry for the first two seasons.
“I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with The Newsroom and I apologize and I’d like to start over,” Sorkin told an audience at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival Monday.
Addressing those in the room as stand-ins for the world at large, Buzzfeed reports that Sorkin said he did not set the drama in the recent past to skewer those who report the news.
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“That was and remains the furthest thing from my mind,” he said during the discussion, adding, “I wasn’t trying to, and I’m not capable of, teaching a professional journalist a lesson. That wasn’t my intent, and it’s never my intent to teach you a lesson or try to persuade you or anything.”
His mea-culpa stance stands in stark contrast to what he told reporters a few months into the show’s first season. At the time, the show boss’ brushed off criticism of the series, saying, “One of the nice consequences of working for HBO is that the entire season is written, shot and locked in the can before the first episode airs. So, even if you’re tempted to try to write a little bit differently to please the people or change someone’s mind, you can’t do it. The season is done.”
The man also behind dramas like The West Wing and Sports Night later said that Newsroom‘s upcoming third and final season would handle events including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and that he was just now beginning to feel an ease in writing the show’s scripts.
“I have the time of my life working with the people that I work with, but there is a learning curve and unfortunately, those lessons are learned in front of several million people,” he said. “Again, that’s what you sign up for.”
Go Emma. Shame the stupid black man has to double down on stupidity.