New evidence shows false memories can be created
About one-third of the people who were exposed to a fake print advertisement that described a visit to Disneyland and how they met and shook hands with Bugs Bunny later said they remembered or knew the event happened to them. The scenario described in the ad never occurred because Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros. cartoon character and wouldn't be featured in any Walt Disney Co. property, according to University of Washington memory researchers Jacquie Pickrell and Elizabeth Loftus. Pickrell will make two presentations on the topic at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society (APS) on Sunday (June 17) in Toronto and at a satellite session of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition in Kingston, Ontario, on Wednesday. Wow. More hard evidence to show people that our memories are not like tape recorders -- there is a lot of flexibility and imagination that gets added to every memory (or perceived memory).
(Posted at 09:07:47 AM EDT.)
Using computer doesn't increase risk of carpal tunnel syndrome
In the upcoming June 12th issue of the scientific journal, Neurology, a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic shows in a study that the rate of carpal tunnel syndome "are similar to percentages found in other studies looking at how often carpal tunnel occurs in the general population -- not just computer users." Perhaps all of those warning signs and horror stories about carpal tunnel that we've all been raised on are untrue. Or perhaps additional research won't be able to confirm these findings...
(Posted at 09:04:36 AM EDT.)
Study finds many web sites offer potentially misleading self-test for sleep problems
Finding health information has become one of the top uses of the World Wide Web, but those looking for insights into their sleep problems should beware, a new University of Michigan Health System study shows. That's because more than 90 sites are offering a simple - but not very accurate - questionnaire that asks about feelings of sleepiness. It may seem like a good tool for sites to provide and for sleepy Web users to try. But the U-M researchers are concerned that the public is getting a misleading and incomplete picture of their sleep problems from it, and not always receiving the information they need to interpret the questionnaire's results.
(Posted at 08:53:11 AM EDT.)
An Epidemic Brewing Over Battered Computers?
Wired reports on a survey that claims that one in every four computers has been physically attacked by its owner. Huh? Yup...
"But instead, a much darker story emerged in the 4,200 replies. Innocent computers are being beaten on a regular basis, often by technically challenged users who decide to take their frustrations out on their helpless machines."
How about our cars?? Food? Other people?? I mean, c'mon, this is news?!
(Posted at 01:24:21 PM EDT.)
Ya Gotta Love SafeWeb
SafeWeb, the Web-based proxy server that allows you to view a Web site (or surf the Web) without fear of being tracked, traced, or marketed to, is running a series of "Facts and Myths" advertisements in its browser.
"Myth #80: The TrustE seal guarantees my online privacy. Fact: The TrustE seal is purchased without a physical audit and has no technology to detect or enforce compliance." I knew this, but I wonder how many typical Internet users do?
(Posted at 04:48:37 PM EDT.)
Dr. Bob, Ethics, and Copyright
Back on January 25, 2001, a reader made me aware of a situation that occurred on another professional's Web site, Bob Hsiung. Hsiung's support forums have an unusual disclaimer on them, giving him the right to "unrestricted use" of your words and ideas posted on his forums, in perpetuity. I've been involved in online communities for over a decade and I've never seen anyone ask for such rights to other people's words. In a support forum, this led to their words, poetry, and in one case, even a person's username being printed (and now archived for all time in print) in a professional journal. Without ever asking the community's permission, or bringing it to their attention (until a member of the community mentioned it in one of the forums). It gets better...
(Posted at 09:52:31 AM EDT.)
Psych Central on eYada today!
It was a pleasure to talk to Psychology Today Live on eYada.com. You can listen to my archived interview talking about the innovations in mental health online over the past decade.
(Posted at 03:33:28 PM EDT.)
Variety in diet could be a factor in obesity problem in the U.S., according to a review of the research
Eating a limited variety at mealtime may be a good way to control weight, according to a new study that reviews the research on diet, food intake and repercussions to body composition. This study appearing in the current issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), demonstrates that being exposed to a variety of foods may not be the spice of life when trying to lose weight.
(Posted at 11:22:04 AM EDT.)
Strange Tale of Denial of Service Attacks
This lengthy article describes one man's attempt to stop and then investigate the attacks that brought down his server. If you can slog through it, you learn some interesting things about the Zombie bot world, teenage hackers, the FBI, ISPs, and a whole bunch else.
(Posted at 11:44:30 AM EDT.)
Study shows obesity bad for the mind too
While studies have linked obesity to serious cardiovascular diseases including strokes and heart attacks, University of Toronto researchers have found that overeating can damage overall health -- from slower thinking to experiencing more pain.
(Posted at 08:14:06 AM EDT.)
One snort of cocaine alters brain's neural connections
Scientists have found that a single use of cocaine can modify neural connections in the brain and this may help explain at the cellular level how occasional drug use can progress into a compulsion. The researchers from the University of California in San Francisco report in the May 31 issue of Nature that a single injection of cocaine induced a long-lasting (between 5 and 10 days) increase in excitatory synaptic transmission in the ventral tegmental area of the brain in rats and mice. The increase in synaptic currents that were activated by cocaine had many similarities to the changes in neural activity involved in learning and memory processes in many areas of the brain.
(Posted at 08:13:08 AM EDT.)
Most women are not confrontational when faced with sex harassment, Yale study shows
Women like to believe they would report or confront someone who was sexually harassing them, but when faced with an actual situation, out of fear they rarely voice objections, according to a study by a Yale University researcher.
(Posted at 08:11:50 AM EDT.)
We got a mention in Yahoo's newly-create category on the Kaycee hoax. Thank you Yahoo!!
(Posted at 10:22:31 AM EDT.)
Well, I got the house, if I can wrap up my financing and nothing horrible turns up in the inspection tomorrow. We'll see. I'll post more details as I become more and more certain that it will happen. Right now, I'm just anxious something will fall through, since there are so many things that have to nicely fall into place within the next 4 weeks to make this thing happen. Perhaps the only downside to the whole thing is that there's no broadband support in the area for at least the next few months. Bummer. Back to dial-up (cringe).
(Posted at 10:20:51 AM EDT.)
My New Home?
Is this a picture of my new home? Well, the sellers have made a verbal acceptance of my offer, pending one little piece of the puzzle I have to work on on Tuesday. This would be my first home that I have ever bought. It's really very nice and once the details are wrapped up, I'll take some additional pictures and put them online here!! While it's a very exciting event, it's also pretty stressful. Wow.
(Posted at 08:12:51 AM EDT.)
New Forums Are Here
Well, change sometimes stinks, and this change certainly went not as planned. I had planned on simply upgrading the software forum during lunch today, but I was running such an old version of the software, it turned into a small daytime nightmare. So for now, I said to heck with the old forums and just put up the new ones from scratch. I still have the old forums in the database, but they are not readily accessible. I may, someday, have the time to get to that data, but for now, you'll have to make do with the new ones. My apologies for needing to create your username over again.
(Posted at 04:28:58 PM EDT.)
Study: Health info on the Web often incomplete
According to this CNN story, "Health information on Internet sites can be hard to find and it's often incomplete, according to a panel of doctors who surveyed information on 25 Web sites." Not surprisingly, the self-serving AMA patient page (in a most Web-unfriendly PDF format) suggests that only in consultation with one's doctor can one make informed decisions about things such as herbal supplements, dieting, or vitamins! Uh, okay. Time to get back to reality. Most people have trouble talking to their docs about really serious medical problems, much less whether an Internet site has accurate information about the latest nutitional supplement. The study is also available.
Of course, I hope I'm not the only one to notice that one's results are never surprising in a study if one stacks the deck ahead of time. In this case, the data is skewed by the researchers' choice of sites to review. For instance, one of the depression Web sites reviewed is funded by pharma SmithKline Beecham (depression.com). Gee, is it any wonder that some of their information may be inaccurate or incomplete (especially in regards to alternative treatment options other than medication)??
(Posted at 11:54:36 AM EDT.)
Research-based Web Design and Usability Guidelines
The National Cancer Institute has recently launched a set of research-based guidelines to help designers and Webmasters create usable Web sites. Well worth a look, although the sheer scope of the guidelines may alienate more than a few.
(Posted at 10:54:56 AM EDT.)
If you're an online mental health services provider, please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. It will greatly help us better understand the professionals providing services online to consumers, plus you get a chance to win $100!
(Posted at 10:38:35 AM EDT.)
It seriously pains me to link to this shallow take on etherapy (in USA Today yesterday), but I'll do it anyway. Absolutely nothing new under the sun, except the straw men that opponents to etherapy raise keep getting more and more entertaining.
(Posted at 09:34:04 AM EDT.)
Hi-Ethics Now Following URAC
Hi-Ethics, the commercial "ethics" entity that was excited about drafting its own set of standards for health Internet sites in late 1999, now decides that URAC, not TRUSTe, will be the folks to police their efforts. The cost for entry? A mere $7,000 - $10,000. What do you get for it? Ahh, the feel-good knowledge that you can display yet one more little graphic that denotes "trust," "good-will," and "deep pockets" to all the visitors who flock to your health site!!
Unfortunately, the Internet Healthcare Coalition's own eHealth Code of Ethics isn't fairing any better. A year after it was released, very few sites publicly endorse or have adopted the 9-page code. Mostly just the usual commercial entities again...
(Posted at 09:32:00 AM EDT.)
I've written a new article providing a psychological analysis of the situation that led to the circumstances and eventual investigation of the Kaycee hoax. I think there is the danger and tendency to suggest that what happened is something unusual. The only thing unusual about the situation was the scale that it affected, that it continued on for so long. Otherwise, this sort of thing happens everyday online.
(Posted at 09:57:33 AM EDT.)
Medicare Will Pay for Some Types of Telemedicine Services
If you're in this field, then you've probably already seen this message about this area. "Effective October 1, 2001, Medicare will pay for telehealth
services, including consultation, office visits, individual
psychotherapy and pharmacologic management delivered
via telecommunication systems." The systems must be real-time video, and the client must be present. Still no reimbursement for e-mail, the most commonly used online psychotherapy modality today. Except for rural areas or for those who are disabled, there's not much point to videoconferencing... Just go to the person's office! :-)
(Posted at 04:44:42 PM EDT.)
Sorry for the lack of updates on this page for the past few weeks. Been trying to tackle some offline, real-life stuff that takes priority over updating this page. I'll try and get back into some sort of routine shortly.
(Posted at 04:40:46 PM EDT.)
The Next Napster
The problem with trying to put the Napster genie back in its bottle, is that there are at least a dozen or more alternatives to Napster that people will just turn to use to share their free music. Kazaa seems to be one of the more popular ones...
(Posted at 04:39:16 PM EDT.)
drkoop.com delisted from Nasdaq
After making a last-ditch effort to stave off delisting with a vote on a reverse stock split, drkoop.com suffered yet another humiliation with its delisting from the Nasdaq National Market to OTCBB (over the counter bulletin board). Trading at an unhealthy 18 cents today, it's no wonder (nor a surprise).
(Posted at 02:21:49 PM EDT.)
Research Study for Victims of Sexual Assault or Rape
The RAND Corporation is conducting a web-based research study for victims (women only, 18-35yrs old) of sexual assault and/or rape(occurred within the past 5 yrs). It is completely confidential and anonymous and we offer a $15 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Participation only involves completing a short, 10-min survey. The URL is here. All interested persons must email Linda Smith (email@example.com) or call her (310-393-0411 ext.6152) to obtain the password for accessing the web survey. However, we do not ask for name. All email addresses will be immediately deleted as soon as we respond to the interested participant. RAND is a non-profit research organization in Santa Monica, CA.
(Posted at 10:15:53 PM EDT.)
Please take a gander at a little pet project I've been working on in my spare time... Enpsychlopedia Beta.
(Posted at 08:14:44 PM EDT.)
Wednesday, April 18, 2001|
It snowed here in Boston today... Can you believe it? This has got to be one of the latest snows on record. No accumulation, but it still made the trip in this morning a bit of a nightmare!
(Posted at 10:22:41 AM EDT.)
Wednesday, April 11, 2001|
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Effective In Treatment Of Insomnia
New clinical data show that changing a person's attitudes about sleep and teaching new habits is a promising treatment for insomnia and may be an alternative to medication for the treatment of persistent primary insomnia, a sleep disorder that affects up to 5 percent of Americans. [...]
In terms of this study, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment that combines changing an individual's beliefs and attitudes about sleep and then teaching that person how to implement new behavioral patterns or habits in order to improve sleep. For example, people are taught how to think about their sleep in a more constructive way (change of attitude) and also how to establish better sleep patterns by incorporating new habits such as getting out of bed at the same time each day (even if it means getting less sleep) and eliminating daytime napping. [...]
The study included 75 study participants with chronic primary sleep insomnia who were divided into three groups. Each group received either cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation training or placebo therapy for six weeks. Those receiving cognitive therapy saw a 54 percent reduction in their wake time after sleep onset as compared to a 16 percent reduction for the group receiving relaxation therapy and 12 percent for the placebo group.
The full article describing this study can be found here.
(Posted at 10:44:54 PM EDT.)
IQ linked to long life
Children with higher IQs may live longer, suggests a study in this week's BMJ. These findings add to our knowledge of the personal traits in youth that contribute to survival in adult life.
Results of an intelligence test, given to all 11-year olds attending Aberdeen schools in 1932, were used to determine survival up to 76 years. Of 2,230 subjects traced, those who died before 1 January 1997 had a significantly lower IQ at age 11 years than those who were alive or untraced. This suggests that high mental ability in late childhood reduces the chances of death up to age 76. The effect was weaker in men than in women, partly because men with high IQ were more likely to die in active service during the second world war.
The reason for this association is unclear, say the authors, as the effect of IQ is difficult to separate from the effects of social class and education. Future studies on the causes of inequalities in health and mortality should investigate childhood mental ability as one of the factors, they conclude.
(Posted at 09:39:31 AM EDT.)