The editors and authors of the DSM are apparently ready to identify sex addiction, meaning uncontrolled compulsion to have sex heedless of endangering one's own health, is a mental (mood?) disorder. Is uncontrolled avoidance of having sex, heedless of endangering one's own health, also a mental (mood?) disorder? And why not?
Former GE CEO, Jack Welch, suggested in a tweet Thursday morning that the federal government's Labor Department cooked the statistics to come up with a 7.8% unemployment number. Welch implies, the number represents "Chicago" politics.
The general reaction to this claim appears to have been such an accusation is insulting to the professionalism of the Department. Well, hold on a minute.
First off, the employment numbers, business stats, GDP change, etc., are usually revised a few months later when more complete survey data provides more accurate measurement, and the original stats are revised quietly. Is it impossible to imagine that the Department heads decided to go with a suspect statistic, because, they could plead, a revision is traditionally made later?
Second, we do not know the bureaucratic protocols involved in the making of the statistics.
Why is it impossible to imagine that, somewhere along the line of acquisition of data and analysis of it, someone analyst didn't cook the inputs? Do we think that every single employee is so objective and professional that they would not cheat for their Chief Executive? Have no such occasions, in which an lower level bureaucrat self-initiates action to further the President's political fortunes, occurred?
Such suspicions are especially relevant when other data series on the economy do not show the effects of such a great drop in unemployment. Surely, investigation into the making of these statistics is called for.
The horrifying theater massacre in Aurora CO by James Holmes has re-energized the debates over gun control and mental health and criminal culpability. It is possible, however, that these debates miss the more fundamental issue of which Holmes mass murders are illustrative. Social scientists have known for fifty years that America, and other advanced societies, have a "young male problem." It is a set of statistical facts that young males, aged 18 to 30 years, in great disporportion, commit felonious violence. Murder, homicide by DUI, extreme violence against women, and gang violence are all disproportionately committed by young males. In California, for example, in 2008, 80% of DUI offenses were by young males, average age 30 years; we can infer that most of the 1,400 DUI-related homicides of the 3,400 persons who died in California* were killed by young male offenders. Similarly, tit-for-tat gang murders are also largely the product of young male gang members. Over 16,000 thousand homicides are committed each year in the US, over 11,000 by firearms,^ disproportionately by young males, but with one or two or three victims, and so lack the spectacular horror that brings national news attention. The dead victims are dead victims, whether by mass random murder or drive-by shootings or in gang warfare.
The role of testosterone is implicated by the age category. Ages 18 to 30 are peak years of testosterone. After age 30, testosterone diminishes sufficiently that young men calm down considerably, as reflected in statistics of violent crimes. (I don't mean to prejudge the issue as excessive testosterone; lower level of testosterone could lead to violence was over-compensation, I suppose.)
Juveniles, females, and older persons do not commit murders and homicides in proportion to their representation in the total population. The statistical relationships between young males and murder and homicide are easy to follow. For instance, those crimes increased dramatically in the major Texas cities after young men from New Orleans relocated there after Katrina decimated their home city. The problem of young male violence appears in other societies, including those with strict gun prohibition or controls. (I am not citing as evidence, but note as interesting related fact that Islamist terror suicide bombing is overwhelmingly commited by young men.)
There are other social indicators that point to some young males as a problem category; for instance, chronic users of marijuana, defined as imbibing twice a week or more, are 75 per cent young males.
Most young males are not criminals and their ascent to adulthood is not problematic; to the contrary, their idealism, work, and often military service are an honor to our nation. But a significant portion of young males are problems for their proclivity to felonious violence. What is the source of their problem? This has been a much studied matter, but I would like to offer this direction for discussion: socialization of testosterone.
Testosterone is an explosive hormone and any observer of adolescents can testify to the great efforts made by society to teach young men how to direct its energies (e.g, in competitive sports, in military training) and control behavior (e.g., respect for women, awareness of consequences of thoughtless violence). Here is a major social preoccupation whose success and failure has great consequences for young men.
Putting the young male problem in this context relieves it of the gun control and mental health debates. For this subset of young males, extreme violence is not controllable by preventing them from having guns, driver's licenses, or alcohol. When sequestered in prison, denied all guns, licenses, and alcohol, violence by young males is still widespread.
The issue is to define more carefully the relationship between testosterone (and testosterone levels and associated hormones) and behavior, differentiate the category more finely so we understand why some men handle the eruptive force of testosterone better than others, and determine how institutions of its socialization (e.g., family) succeed and fail.
Stimulated by evidence that bacterial (and viruses) inhabit previously unsuspected parts of the human body, the (US) National Microbiome Project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, has for the past five years conducted research into microbe-human mutualism and pathologies in their many respects (Michael Balter, "Taking Stock of the Human Microbiome and Disease", Science: 336, 8 June 2012, 1246-7). Evidence of the role of ubiquitous bacteria in diseases is now pouring in. Some of the evidence is observational, without biochemical, genetic, and other cellular level detail; but the evidence is overwhelming about the complicity of bacteria in many diseases, especially "autoimmune" diseases and inflammatory diseases.
I have accordingly amplified my previously brief hints about the role of bacteria in generating obesity by citing the recent review of evidence in Science, in my series on the causes of obesity.
Well, if this apparent discovery is verified, it means that some natural phenomenon occurred faster than a natural limit to physical action specified by the special theory of relativity. But we need to note that the neutrino is a quantum phenomenon and Einstein's theory of light is a theory of cosmic phenomena. The two levels of reality have a different granularity, so to speak. Quantum phenomenon are discontinuous, so have a spooky appearance, Einstein thought. I wouldn't be surprised if time at the quantum level is itself a quantum phenomenon, in which case it is possible that the appearance in, and disappearance a neutrino from, a Switzerland lab and subsequent re-appearance in an Italian lab is a trick. Perhaps it's not the same neutrino. How do they know? They have to synchronize the clocks using the special theory of relativity. Did they use a neutrino to do that? While we wait for clarification and confirmation, I prefer to believe that the apparent neutrino speeding faster than the speed of light is a ghost phenomenon caused by global warming. The neutrino heated up descending from the cool Italian heights to the hot, sensual Italian lowlands. Did the researchers take into account the amount of warming of the earth's atmosphere during the time of the apparently same identical neutrino's travels? Huh, huh?
The major forces that drive climatic change on Earth, primarily the sun, are arranging physical forces in such a way that global warming is countered and the Earth is now entering a new ice age. So much for an inconvenient truth.
In an article about current scientific efforts to test Einstein's general theory of relativity on a cosmic scale--for the universe as a whole, the author writes:
"It is a striking fact that general relativity has remained unchanged since Einstein first proposed it in 1915. At its heart is our understanding of the force of gravity. Einstein put forward the idea that there is no force of gravity per se. Instead, what we perceive as gravity results from the geometry of space-time. If we place an object - a planet or a star, or indeed anything with mass - into space, it will deform it. Einstein's general theory of relativity gives us unique and exact rules for calculating the extent of this deformation." (Pedro Ferreira, "Unweaving the Cosmic Web," New Scientist, October 9, 2010.)
While it is true that general relativity says there is no force of gravity, several implications of this quotation are incorrect, I believe. It retains several vestiges of the theological conceptualization of the cosmos that Einstein tried to eliminate.
General relativity says that, without the presence of matter with mass, neither space nor time exist. Space and time are not, to make an analogy, like a container into which matter can be placed. Further, if there were, in the entire universe, only one object of matter, there would still be no space or time. Space and time arise, Einstein says, by the relative accelerated (curvilinear) motion of at least two objects. When two objects are, relative to one another, in accelerated motion, then the relationship of curved space-time comes into existence. In other words, space is not like a tightly stretched flat sheet that is deformed, when several bowling balls are placed on it, into a curved sheet with depressions under the balls. There is no sheet, no "space". What we measure as curved space-time is a relationship between two (or more) objects in accelerated motion relative to each other. A "relationship" has no existence independent of the objects in the relationship.
This concept is impossible to comprehend intuitively, because our everyday concepts of space and time are formed through our gross sensory experience (vision, touch, hearing, etc.) in situations of our physical activity--walking, running. Our ordinary concepts originated in evolution in simple, local, perception of bodies in slow motion in the visual theater of our environment created by our eyes with the function of getting us out of the way or in the way. But this experience does not correlate to the cosmos, where the speed of light, the motion of cosmic objects, and distances are beyond the apprehension of our sensory perception and are apprehended only by scientific instruments, such as telescopes.
If you are a cosmologist, I would appreciate your comments on my discussion.
Holman Jenkins of The Wall Street Journal interviewed Peter Thiel, a German-born, Stanford-educated, American investor about the role of technological innovation in our economic woes (Holman Jenkins, Jr., "Technology = Salvation", The Wall Street Journal, Saturday, October 9, 2010). Thiel argues that the American economy has not been, for the last generation, an era of technological innovation. The only major innovation has been computer based process controls and internet based communication. Identifying technological innovation as the basis of productivity increases in the economy, he argues that the lack of technological innovation is the reasons for the the collapse of Western economies in the recent decade (since the dot com bubble burst at the end of the 1990s). Jenkins presents Thiel's thesis with a bit of caution, as if Thiel is a wild-eyed capitalist thinker; but Thiel reflects the consensus of historians of technology, however he obtained his insights. (See, for instance, Thomas P. Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1989, especially as it relates to the final quotation in this article, below.) When one reflects over the past 300 years of Western history of science and technology, one sees an extraordinary burst of innovation in which three elements were tied together: scientific revolutions in physics and chemistry; technological innovation based on the results of research in physics and chemistry, with feedback from industrial technology to science (as in theoretical thermodynamics); industrial productivity. From the application of Newtonian mechanics to steam power and the invention of steam powered machinery in the coal mines and textile mills in the eighteenth century, to Lavoisier's discovery of the chemical exchange in combustion and the chemical revolution which led to the chemical and medical industries of the nineteenth century, to Faraday's and Ampere's electrical discoveries which led to the electrical industries of the twentieth century, Western economies rode a historic wave of gains in industrial productivity--the production of pure wealth that created great clean cities, raised standards of living, created the enormous middle class, made social welfare possible. Since 1945 there have been major scientific advances, but they have not produced similar advances in our economies. The quantum theory of physics, which led to splitting the atom and discovery of atomic energy, has not led to a burst of economic productivity. Everyone is so afraid of atomic energy that industrial utilization has been dampened. The discovery of DNA and biochemical advances in understanding biological processes of living beings have not produced a similar revolution in our economy. The promise of new medicines, for instance, sputters. Even invention of the semiconductory industry, computers, and the Internet have not, some argue, produced the economic advancement that previous centuries saw. Why? No one knows for certain, but I have argued before in this blog, as a few other researchers have argued, that governmental regulation has absorbed most of the economic revolutionary potential of these two great developments, just as they dampened the potential of nuclear physics.
This frustrated revolution in scientific based technology in the economy is certainly part of the reason that the US has not invented new industries where the labor class could find employment, as it found employment in the textile mills, the steel mills, the chemical plants, the automobile factories, and aircraft manufacturers of the 250 years before 1950. Government, which has invested trillions in education and research, has effectively stiffled the engine of innovation which it hoped to power up.
With this background in mind, here is a telling, if mangled, quotation of Theil in Jenkins' interview:
"Some companies and countries will do better than others. 'In China and India,' he says, 'there's no need for any innovation. Their business model for the next 20 years is copy the West.' The West, he says, needs to do 'new things.' Innovation, he says, comes from a 'frontier' culture, a culture of 'exceptionalism,' where 'people expect to do exceptional things'--in our world, still an almost uniquely American characteristic, and one we're losing'."
We are losing this culture of exceptionalism because of a profound shift in our nation's dominant political paradigm. The Marxist vision of the New Left 1960s, of power to the people, has finally, after forty years of gestation, brought into political power a Leninist political elite which has no faith in people at all, certainly not faith in their exceptional qualities, but sees them only as victims of the scientific, technical, industrial revolutions of the past 300 years. And this elite, with Obama at its head, wants only to "redistribute wealth", without any understanding of where this wealth, any wealth, comes from, in a series of socialistic schemes where the government in effect owns private enterprise through regulations, taxation, and public administration. He, and his cohort of radicals, don't know that they are burying the exceptional genius of America, just as their European models buried the exceptional genius of Europe, bankrupting not only our national economy and government, but also our culture.
Viagra is turning out to be, not a single purpose medicine, but the wonder drug of our age, as aspirin was also discovered to be a wonder drug a generation ago. Clinical trials shows that it increases the effectiveness of a common drug used to fight prostate cancer.