Get Rhythm

In his catchy song “Get Rhythm,” Johnny Cash tells the story of a shoe-shine boy who fights the blues with the repetitious beats of the polish rag as it rubs across the shoes, back and forth, back and forth. Laying a soundtrack upon back-breaking work, this rhythmic shoe polisher finds joy in pain, inspiration in tedium.

I like to think that my desire to engage in endurance sports is inflected by the same kind of musical throb and thrum, but instead of following the slap of the rag, my rhythms are composed of racing heartbeats, heel strikes, and hurried breaths. It is a cadence I crave from day to day, so much so that I find it difficult to engage with my research and teaching without it.[1] Continue reading →

Guns Are a Public Health Risk

There has been one confirmed case of Zika virus death in the United States and its territories. We know this thanks to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), which provides nuanced data that can help policymakers predict and respond to threats to public health.

More than one person has died from gun shots this year, but detailed statistics have been unavailable for more than 20 years, thanks to Congress. Continue reading →

“Who Says a Man Can’t be a Nurse, Mom?” and Other Ridiculous Questions We’re Still Asking

Have you noticed the way that many cartoons try to teach children to be kinder by avoiding common biases we adults run into all too often?

Caillou had to learn to treat his classmate with diabetes just like any other friend, even though she got to eat more snacks than he did. Sesame Street has celebrated diversity since its beginning, with episodes evolving over the years to address more prejudices that we adults are working to dismantle. Continue reading →

Peer Review isn’t the TSA: Let’s Humanize It in the Name of Science

Public deification of some infallible abstraction called “science” does a disservice to real science.

What’s needed is not only more and better scientific studies, but also a renewed understanding of how knowledge is built.

From the headlines proclaiming a state of “crisis” in both social science research and scientific peer review, it might well seem that the lyrics from a Weird Al song have come to pass: “All you need to understand is everything you know is wrong!” Or, as the inimitable Mike Pesca put it on his podcast The Gist, “An interesting new study reveals that most studies aren’t interesting, or new, or particularly revealing.” Continue reading →

The Fault in Our Stats

Noting the Social Aspects of Racial Identity in Genetic Research is Vital to Improving Healthcare

In a recent New York Times article, “Tales of African-American Identity Found in DNA,” Carl Zimmer explains that new genetic research on individuals identifying as African American confirms historical accounts and provides new details about a past that was often not recorded. It’s exciting to see that scientists are following a larger trend that can be observed in any number of fields (from genetics to history to literature), which involves an epidemiological correction, a shifting of the predominant focus of study away from males of European descent as if they were representative of the whole species. Continue reading →