Medical Experiments on Slaves

(by drugmonkey) Apr 28 2015

An article by Dan Vergano at Buzzfeed alerts us:

Electric shocks, brain surgery, amputations — these are just some of the medical experiments widely performed on American slaves in the mid-1800s, according to a new survey of medical journals published before the Civil War.

Previous work by historians had uncovered a handful of rogue physicians conducting medical experiments on slaves. But the new report, published in the latest issue of the journal Endeavour, suggests that a widespread network of medical colleges and doctors across the American South carried out and published slave experiments, for decades.
...
Savitt first reported in the 1970s that medical schools in Virginia had trafficked in slaves prior to the Civil War. But historians had seen medical experiments on slaves as a practice isolated to a few physicians — until now.

to the following paper.

Kenny, S.C. Power, opportunism, racism: Human experiments under American slavery. Endeavour,
Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 10–20[Publisher Link]

Kenny writes:

Medical science played a key role in manufacturing and deepening societal myths of racial difference from the earli- est years of North American colonisation. Reflecting the practice of anatomists and natural historians throughout the Atlantic world, North American physicians framed andinscribed the bodies, minds and behaviours of black subjects with scientific and medical notions of fundamental and inherent racial difference. These medical ideas racialised skin, bones, blood, diseases, with some theories specifically designed to justify and defend the institution of racial slavery, but they also manifested materially as differential treatment – seen in medical education, practice and research.

I dunno. Have we changed all that much?

12 responses so far

Baltimore

(by drugmonkey) Apr 28 2015

A few weeks ago, the Baltimore police severed the spine of a citizen who had apparently committed the crime of running away from a police officer. Mr. Gray died.

In the past few days, Baltimore has experienced a lot of protest and unrest.

I am saddened and I am frustrated. As small a thing as it is, I feel better when I go over to DonorsChoose, select a few science-related project in Baltimore schools and donate some money. I invite you to join me. Perhaps projects such as the following might catch your eye.

Ms. Robinson's Books project at Yorkwood Elementary School:

As I continue building a safe learning environment now I've learned that emotions play a HUGE part in a students' ability to learn. I want to help students express themselves emotionally by identifying how they feel, the cause that feeling and teaching them strategies to manage and regulate them.

Two resource books - Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking for Tweens and Teens. Zones of Regulation will provide the research behind it and teach me how to implement this strategy and share with our parent community and fellow colleagues. Social Thinking for Tween and Teens will help our mentors connect with our students participating in our Girls Social Group.

Finally, one yellow hokki stool and one red bean bag is needed to identify the color-coded zones. (I already have the other colors). These two additional seating choices will allow me to create two Zones of Regulation.

As we interact with the world and others, we respond emotionally leaving us with a good or bad experiences. Those experiences shape how we view ourselves, others and our place in the world. In this day and age, we live in a volatile world in which our students are apart, so it's imperative that I help them to deal with their emotions and discover ways to cope or manage it for optimal learning and a lifelong skill.

Mrs. Edmonds's Supplies project at Gardenville Elementary School addresses all six grade levels:

The materials in this project will be used throughout the 6 grade levels. Kindergarten and first grade focuses on plants and animals and living things, in which the different insects and plants will be used. First grade also learns about life cycles and the frog life cycle will be amazing for them to actually see these stages. The third grade life science focus is on insects and they will also be using the live insects. The fifth graders will learn about food chains and webs and will participate in dissecting the owl pellets.

I don't usually gravitate toward the high school projects but Mrs. Reigel's Books project at Carver Vocational Tech Senior High School seeks to use The Hot Zone to educate on biology.

My students love to read interesting things and have discussions. It is my goal to challenge them with reading materials, and engage them in discussions that relate to their everyday lives and the world at large. Reading "The Hot Zone" will cover many Biology topics as well as current events. Students will read, analyze, connect, discuss and debate the books this year.

11 responses so far

Why are you a scientist? 

(by drugmonkey) Apr 27 2015

From the Twitts.....

Me, I think I never got past "I wonder what that does?" 

33 responses so far

That study of peer review perplexes me

(by drugmonkey) Apr 24 2015

I just can't understand what is valuable about showing that a 1%ile difference in voted score leads to 2% difference in total citations of papers attributed to that grant award. All discussions of whether NIH peer review is working or broken center on the supposed failure to fund meritorious grants and the alleged funding of non-meritorious grants. 

Please show me one PI that is upset that her 4%ile funded grant really deserved a 2%ile and that shows that peer review is horribly broken. 

The real issue, how a grant overlooked by the system would fare *were it to be funded* is actually addressed to some extent by the graph on citations to clearly outlying grants funded by exception.

This is cast as Program rescuing those rare exception brilliant proposal. But again, how do we know the ones that Program fails to rescue wouldn't have performed well?

23 responses so far

Scientific Publishers 

(by drugmonkey) Apr 23 2015

Scientific publishers being told they can't keep fleecing the taxpayer so badly are basically Cliven Bundy. Discuss.

7 responses so far

New plan for angry authors

(by drugmonkey) Apr 23 2015

Two years after your paper is published in Journal of SocietyB send the citation report showing that it quadrupled the JIF of the JournalA that rejected it to the rejecting Editor. 

Let's make this a thing, people. 

25 responses so far

Thought of the Day

(by drugmonkey) Apr 22 2015

You know those clickbait links on the bottom of some dubious "news" website articles, including HuffPo? Usually about the latest celebrity pictures or "hottest NFL wives" or something?

There is a trend for "white celebrity you didn't know was married to a black spouse!" 

Now it's "...and aren't their biracial kids  kyooooot?"

This feels like interracial fetish porn to me. 

Icky. 

Discuss.

12 responses so far

Newt Gingrich to the rescue! (Again)

(by drugmonkey) Apr 22 2015

Newt has called for substantial increases in the NIH allocation

15 responses so far

The Daily Show is just plain wrong on pot being non-addictive

(by drugmonkey) Apr 21 2015

In the 420 bit from this week, Jessica Williams asserts that marijuana is "a non-addictive proven medical treatment".

Marijuana is most certainly addictive.

In 2012, 17.5% of all substance abuse treatment admissions had marijuana as their primary abused drug. Alcohol alone was 21.5%, heroin 16.3% and cocaine 6.9%.

Daily marijuana smokers use 3 times a day on average and have little variability from day to day.

Pregnant women are unwilling or unable to stop smoking pot almost daily. Increasing numbers of pregnant women are seeking help to discontinue pot use.

At least one woman found out her hyperemesis during pregnancy was the pot, not morning sickness.

Marijuana is addictive in adolescents.

When adolescents stop smoking weed, their memory gets better.

About six percent of High School seniors are smoking pot almost every day.

Clinical trials of medications to help people who are addicted to marijuana stop using are far from rare.

Francophones are addicted to pot.

Yes, Dutch people are addicted to pot.

Many Cases of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome are unable to stop smoking pot, even though it is severely incapacitating them.

Marijuana is addictive.

About 37% of frequent pot users will transition to dependence in three years.

Oh, and pot users are not awesome, friendly and mellow, actually nondependent users are impulsive and hostile on the day they use pot compared with nonsmoking days.

57 responses so far

FLAKKA! (and other failures of the alleged profession of journalism)

(by drugmonkey) Apr 20 2015

Flakka is just the latest in a long line of stimulant drugs that can, in some very rare cases, result in astonishing public behavior.

Such as running nude through the streets to escape "unknown people trying to kill him".

Such as trying to kick in the door of a police station to get IN so as to escape cars that were supposedly chasing him.

Such as trying to shoot oneself on a rooftop, naked.

Such as trying to have carnal relations with a tree after proclaiming oneself to be Thor.

These stories are like crack to the mainstream media. They have been telling these stories for years, encompassing public scares over PCP, crack cocaine and methamphetamine over the decades past. More recently we've seen these types of stories about synthetic cathinones, in particular under the generic term "bath salts".

Sprinkled amongst the stories about classical psychomotor stimulant effects, we have stories of overdose involving synthetic opioids, MDMA and/or Molly and stories of adverse psychotropic effects of synthetic cannabinoid products. I've addressed some of these issues in prior posts and for today I want to discuss the stimulants of more traditional effect.

My greatest frustration with the reporting is not actually the breathless sensationalism, although that runs a close second. The biggest problem is the lack of verification of the bizarre behavior (or overdose) being associated with ingestion of the drug that is alleged in the initial reporting. I have not see one single verification of alpha-PVP in the body tissues of these recent Florida cases where the subjects reported consuming Flakka. We still do not know exactly what drugs were consumed by the 11 Wesleyan University students who became ill enough to hospitalize. We don't know what caused the death of Kimchi Truong at last year's Coachella music festival.

Oftentimes there are multiple media reports which, to their credit, mention that toxicology testing will take some weeks to verify. And yet. Rarely is there ever a follow-up accounting. And when there is a followup, well, it gets very poor penetration and people often parrot the wrong information even years later.

The Florida Causeway Cannibal is a case in point. At the time of the initial event it was almost universally reported to be due to "bath salts", i.e. MDPV. Toxicology reporting found no sign of any synthetic cathinone in Mr. Eugene.

It is long past time for us to hold the media as accountable for accuracy and followup on drug-related stories as we do for, say, sports reporting.

Now, there are a couple of bright lights in this generally dismal area of news reporting. Here's a local story that reported MDA, not MDMA, was at blame for a death (although they still screw up, MDA is not a "parent" drug of MDMA). In 2013 there was followup in three music festival deaths in New York to confirm MDMA, methylone and the combination of the two caused the three fatalities. We need this kind of attention paid to all of these cases.

Getting back to the current media storm over "Flakka", which is alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), I have a few links for you if you are interested in additional reading on this drug.

@forensictoxguy posted a list of scientific papers on alpha-PVP at The Dose Makes the Poison blog. It is not a very long list at present! (Marusich et al, 2014 is probably the place to start your reading.)

The Dose Makes the Poison discussed alpha-PVP back in early 2014....this is not a new 2015 drug by any means.

Michael Taffe from The Scripps Research Institute [PubMed; Lab Site] gives a preview of a paper in press showing alpha-PVP and MDPV are pretty similar to each other in rat self-administration.

There was also a post on the Taffe blog suggesting that alpha-PVP samples submitted to ecstasydata.org were more consistently pure than MDPV and some other street drugs.

Wikipedia, NIDA brief

Jacob Sullum has written a pretty good Opinion piece at Forbes Fear Of Flakka: Anti-Drug Hysteria Validates Itself.

Review of the above information will help you to assess claims in the media that Flakka is "[insert more addictive, more dangerous, more powerful, worse] than [insert bath salts, MDPV, methamphetamine, cocaine]".

tldr; It isn't.

It will also assist you in coming to an understanding that Flakka is likely to be just as addictive and problematic as these previously sensationalized stimulants.

tldr; It is.

In my view, the scope of the Flakka problem over the coming years will be dictated by user popularity and availability, and not by anything particularly unique about the molecular structure of alpha-PVP.

24 responses so far

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