You Are an Idiot if You Still Use Whisper

Whisper is one of those newer mobile apps that leads you to believe you can share information anonymously online. "With Whisper, you’re free to anonymously share your thoughts with the world, and build lasting, meaningful relationships in a community built around trust and honesty."

Trust and honesty, huh?

What if Whisper uses your anonymous sharing in ways you never imagined (such as posting your images and texts on a website)? Oh, and what about their promises of not collecting your personal information, such as your geo-location?

Apparently Whisper doesn't understand what the words "anonymity" and "privacy" mean.

Continue Reading


Fear-Mongering & Ebola

There is nothing better for cable news networks -- and online news sites -- to whip up a storm about an outbreak of a deadly disease. People click furiously to get the latest updates, and then log on to social media and forums to discuss all of the things the government is doing wrong.

Ebola is the latest outbreak to get the full 24/7 fear-inducing coverage.

While it costs virtually nothing to put this new Ebola outbreak into perspective, few news organizations invest any time in doing so. Why minimize what could turn out to be the killer of millions of Americans?

Continue Reading


Robin Williams, Creativity & Mental Illness

Robin Williams' suicide this past week has brought forward some commentators who are linking his creative genius to his mental illness. While we can't say for certain whether his creativity was due, at least in part, to his mental illness, we can say this -- there is a lot less of a link between these two things than most people think.

We should remember Robin Williams and attribute his creativity to where it probably best belongs -- to a personality, intelligence and insight into the human condition that few people have.

And we should put to rest the myth that in order to be a creative genius, one must also be mentally ill.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Delusional Thinking 101: How Blaming Mental Illness Won’t Help Stop Mass Shootings

We've written in the past how there's is a real delusional disconnect between the desire to act to stop future mass shootings, and people constantly pointing the finger at mental illness as being the root of the problem.

I say "delusional" because the leap of logic it takes to utter statements like, "mentally ill people only account for a small fraction of the gun deaths in America every year" and "the vast majority of those gun deaths are suicide, not homicide," and then to blame such violence on mental illness is mind-boggling. I just cannot understand it.

Yet that's exactly what Mel Robbins over at CNN has done. She says "don't blame the NRA" for these shootings. I say, stop blaming people with mental illness too.

Continue Reading


‘We Would Need a Monument 5 Times Bigger than the Vietnam Memorial’

We can do more to prevent gun-related mental health deaths. But probably not the deaths you're thinking of.

You're probably thinking of all those high-profile, media-driven mass shootings that apparently are becoming more and more common. You might even think the shooter's mental health is a big component of identifying and preventing similar future shootings.

But the title of this headline isn't referring to just those deaths. It's referring to the estimated 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the past decade that were due to mental illness.

And the reason so few people care about these deaths? Because the vast majority of them -- more than 95 percent -- are suicides.

Continue Reading


Violence Against Women: The Washington Post’s Sad, Sloppy Journalism

One would hope that one of the last bastion's of good journalism wouldn't just publish some researchers' thoughts on a topic without vetting the research they're based upon. Not at the Washington Post.

In an article originally entitled, "One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married," researchers Robin Wilson and W. Bradford Wilcox decided to ignore all the other risk factors research has identified for partner violence against women and focus only on one of them.

In doing so, the scientists seemed to have purposely painted a biased, blurry picture of what we know about violence against women -- especially in partner relationships.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Taking Too Many Selfies? Don’t Worry, It’s Not a Disorder

A news article was recently published that described how the American Psychiatric Association had classified taking too many selfies as a new mental disorder.

The only problem? It wasn't true.

Showing that far too many people don't ever bother to check to see what kind of website they're on, thousands of people tweeted and posted links to the fake news article. Nobody stopped for a minute to ask, "Hey, is this true? How come no other news website is reporting it?"

Don't worry -- taking too many selfies isn't a mental disorder.

Continue Reading


Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass Murderer

On Friday, a month after police were first alerted to Elliot Rodger's odd YouTube videos and paid him a visit, Rodger took out revenge as he had promised on his "Day of Retribution." Luckily for the rest of us, his "Day of Retribution" apparently lasted about 20 minutes. Which is a fitting end to a man who appears to have been at least a little bit narcissistic.

Unlike most mass shooting murderers, Elliot Rodger left us a 140-page manifesto where he lays out his complete life in detail. And while it's clear from reading this document (part autobiography, part explanation as to why a "Day of Retribution" is needed) that here is a man who has some issues, it's not clear exactly where those issues came from.

And more importantly, the document sheds little light on what led this man to commit such heinous crimes. He seemed to have had a life of little hardship -- outside of being a bit socially awkward (and what teen hasn't been there?). Most socially-rejected, lonely teenagers don't go on killing rampages. So what made Elliot Rodger different?

And why didn't the police pick up on this soon-to-be killer?

Continue Reading


The Ritual Sacrifice of Amanda Knox

What do domestic violence, terrorism, the apparently renewable cold war and the repeat trials of Amanda Knox have in common? In a word, the devolution of humanity.

Knox, if you managed to miss the media storm about her, is the young American exchange student convicted, acquitted, then convicted again of the 2007 brutal murder of her roommate in Italy. She is currently living in her hometown of Seattle while awaiting yet another trial, an appeal to the Italian Supreme Court later this year.

Continue Reading


Scapegoating ADHD — Because It’s Popular

As if people with a mental illness didn't have enough to worry about.

One of the favorite media topics to write about is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a potentially serious mental illness that affects millions of Americans. It causes them to not be able to focus on everyday tasks that most of us have little trouble with. Many people with ADHD can't sit still, interrupt others, and can't wait their turn. Others find any kind of task that requires sustained attention simply impossible.

In the modern world, with so many devices and services competing for our attention, ADHD is at the heart of a perfect storm for those afflicted. While most of us juggle our attempts at multi-tasking seemingly well, those with untreated ADHD have a hard time just getting started.

So it makes me wonder: why are so many journalists quick to pick on ADHD?

Continue Reading


Military, Media Quick to Report Fort Hood Shooter’s Mental Health Status

There's no way to stop the rare mass shootings that occur in the United States. You may not like it, but it's a fact no amount of laws or background checks will ever fix.

Every time a new shooting occurs, it's a tragedy. No words can begin to describe the senseless violence of a mass shooting.

But it's even more of a tragedy when the media -- with the help of the military, in this case -- is quick to report that an alleged suspect in such shootings was seeking mental health treatment for a concern. Especially when it ended up having nothing to do with the shootings.

Continue Reading


Why No One is Talking About the Possible Overdiagnosis of Autism

With the latest CDC figures out, it appears autism is now appearing in about 1 in 68 children in the United States. The disorder -- now officially known as autism spectrum disorder -- is being diagnosed at a rate that represents a 30 percent increase from 1 in 88 two years ago.

What's amazing to me is that I couldn't find a single media report that floated the idea that this increase represents an overdiagnosis of the disorder. While "overdiagnosis" seems to be the first thing suggested when the topic is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder's (ADHD) huge jump in diagnoses over the past two decades, it's not mentioned in any description of autism's increase.

Why the double-standard?

Continue Reading