Author Archives: Charles Hart

How SC200 has changed my life

During the first day of class, Andrew told us if we did not want to think hard we should not take his class. He also said one of his goals for this semester was to make SC200 a class we would never forget. I would say Andrew has succeeded in both, making us think critically about problems and providing us with material we will remember for the rest of our college years and beyond.

Scrolling through Facebook, you tend to see studies done that are supposedly life changing. Before taking SC200 I would often skim through the article and believe the results of the study without questioning who conducted the study and how it was conducted. After taking this course, I now look at these articles on my Facebook timeline differently. Just because an article appears on Buzzfeed does not make it true. If they say you can put honey on your feet to cure cancer I should not automatically believe it. I now recognize not every study is conducted well, and even if it is, that doesn’t mean it is correct. The biggest reason how SC200 has changed my life is how I react and evaluate studies.

Say I am reading that article I mentioned earlier about honey and cancer. Now I ask myself, is it observational or is it experimental. If it is observational there are tons of confounding variables possibly lurking. I would also ask myself could the results be to reverse causality. If it is an experimental study, I worry about how the study is conducted? Could the people involved in the study be biased? For example, if they were being tested on how fast they walk, would they walk faster or slower because they know they are being tested on this? How many people are in the study? The more people, the better the study. Is it random? It ought to be. Because randomization greatly reduces the likelihood of chance, although chance is always going to be a factor.

So say the study from the article is well conducted, features tons of people, is randomized, maybe even has a placebo, and does a good job of eliminating confounding variables. Now what do we worry about? Well I mentioned chance earlier. This is another crucial takeaway from the class. Even the most well conducted experiments could be due to chance. We learned about prayer being an effective healing method earlier in the class. This study was conducted very, very well. Except its results were proved to be due to chance after many studies were conducted. This is why repeating studies over and over again are crucial. If you get a false positive or a false negative you’ll know with many studies. A meta-analysis, which compiles sometimes 1,000’s of studies together, is the ultimate way of determining if a hypothesis is correct or not. The meta-analysis was able to disprove the link between prayer and healing.

Another thing I know look at is who did the study. Before I would just assume an impartial scientists did the study. Why is this important? It’s simple. If Coke published a study saying it is good for you, they reap the benefits of this. They’d get a boost of sales because of this study, so they would do everything in their power to make sure the studies benefit them. If the results do not benefit them, they could not publish them and hide them from the public until they get a false positive to show to the public. This is the File Draw Problem. This is extremely evident in studies based on medicine. This is also a reason why I also now look at scientific journals for studies and not Facebook, because these journals are peer reviewed. By publishing a study, the scientists leave the door open for other scientists to review their studies and to see if the results are true and the experiment was conducted well.

The last this class has taught me that has changed my life has been having an open mind. We suffer from motivated reasoning, which is having preconceived notions no matter what. Whenever I read anything now, whether it be politics or science, I try my best to eliminate my confirmation bias. If I thought something was wrong, I would have done anything in my power to find a reason to reject the data, or simply forget it, no matter how convincing the data is. This course has taught me to evaluate everything I disagree with, with an open mind before forming a judgment.

SC200 has certainly changed my life for the better. As I stated, I now have knowledge of chance, the cons and props of different types of studies, false negatives/positives, meta-analysis, randomization, the File Draw Problem, peer review, motivated reasoning, and confirmation bias. Before I knew about any of this I wouldn’t know how to properly evaluate something I read, and as a result, would foolishly believe any study. By knowing about all these topics, now I can properly react and evaluate studies.

Can movies cure “lazy eye?”

“Lazy Eye”. You probably know what it is. If you do not, here is a picture.

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According to Honor Whiteman of Medical News Today, amblyopia, or as it is commonly known, “lazy eye”, effects 2-3 out of 100 children in the United States. Amblyopia does not allow an eye to focus (Whiteman 2015). If you do not treat it as a child it remains as an adult.

Well, apparently watching films can help cure “lazy eye.”

The most common cure for “lazy eye”, or amblyopia, has been covering the stronger eye with a patch for several weeks to months so the weaker eye would be used (Whiteman 2015). By using this treatment, the parts of the brain that deal with vision develop and so your eyesight is (Whiteman 2015). But a different treatment has been growing in the cure of this disease. This treatment is called dichoptic therapy (Whiteman 2015). Dichoptic therapy gives the two eyes two different images to look at and is combined with tasks or games (Whiteman 2015). However, the downfall of dichoptic therapy is that the tasks the children have to do are extremely mundane and they grow bored from the tasks or find the tasks too difficult (Whiteman 2015). Even though this method may be boring for the children, it has proved to be extremely effecting in curing amblyopia(Whiteman 2015). So finally, how do movies relate to this? Well it’s simple. Scientists believe that watching popular animated movies as a form of dichoptic therapy can replace these boring mundane tasks (Whiteman 2015).

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This is how the children watched the films.

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So, as any scientists would, three scientists constructed an experiment to test their hypothesis. Eight children, aged 4-10, all with “lazy eyes”, watched three dichoptic films each week twice (Whiteman 2015). The children watched these films on a 3D screen and wore 3D glasses (Whiteman 2015). The stronger and weaker eyes of the children were each shown the film. The experiment saw success with every single child.

So does this study prove movies cure “lazy eye” and that we should have all of our children start using this method? Well, not exactly. Well why not?

This is an extremely small experiment. Only eight children were used. I would not quite call this anecdotal, however it is very close to it. This was not a large study. Yes, children saw improvements. But only eight did. There needs to be more children involved in this experiment before I could say it is substantially more concrete than anecdotal evidence.

Additionally, this was also an experimental study, and experimental studies usually do not suffer from confounding variables. However, this case is different. Randomization is needed to avoid confounding variables, but this requires lots of people. Randomizing a small group of people is certainly better than not doing it at all, but it’s not ideal. The reason is because its hard to randomize a small group of people. For example, if you have eight people, sure they will have differences, but many of them will have similarities that will impact the study. When you add more people, randomization works the best because more people leads to less similarities. If I were to do my own experiment, I would keep the experiment pretty much the same. I think the experiment is very well designed. However, the one thing I would change would be the size. I would have ideally at least 100 children participate in this study. 

Eventually I would like this hypothetical experiment to be submitted in a scientific journal for peer review. Scientists would be able to review my work and expose any mistakes I made in my work. If scientists did their own experiment after peer review and found similar results as I did, I would be able to form a meta-analysis. Even the best studies fall victim to chance. However, meta-analysis limits chance as many different studies find the same thing. Once a meta-analysis was done, I would be able to say whether or not this experiment was correct or not.

But is this issue really that important? What’s the risk? Well to find risk you multiply the hazard and the exposure. Well the exposure is 2-3 out of every 100 children in the United States, so the exposure is relatively large. But is the hazard high? I’d say it is very low. You obviously are not going to die from “lazy eye.” Many people have “lazy eye”, including lots of successful people. So while the exposure is high, the hazard is low, and therefore, the risk is low. Unfortunately for parents of kids who suffer from lazy-eye, since the risk is low, I think federal funds should go towards other areas of research. That does not mean more research should not be done, but I believe it should not be government funded. Whether it is government funded or through public funds, I look forward to hearing more about the issue in the future.

Should you stop using public toilets?

I am sure my headline has gotten your attention. Allow me to explain.

Public bathrooms have a negative stigma. Some of my friends won’t even use public bathrooms. Instead, they opt to “hold it in” rather than using a public bathroom because of fear of contracting a disease from sitting down on a toilet that has been used by countless other people. Well, they might be right, however, it is not for the reason they say.public_bathroom_toilet

Public bathrooms are dirty. However, the toilets are not the most dirty part of the bathroom.

Before I get into how scientists found this out, I would like to explain why I believe ordinary citizens deny that public toilets are clean.

1. Appeal to Authority:

I know I am guilty of this. Until I came across this, I too believed that public toilets were completely dirty. Why did I believe this? Probably because an authority of mine, probably my parents or an elementary school teacher, likely said public toilets were dirty. But should I have listened to them? Well, you should always listen to your parents as a child, but now that I am older I can say, no, I should not have listened to my parents when it came to the topic of public toilets. They were not experts in the topic, had no data, and like me, they too were probably appealing to their authorities when it came to this topic.

2. Confirmation Bias

There have been many studies on the cleanliness of public toilets. So why does the public not acknowledge this? People do not want to hear something they disagree with. If someone who believes public toilets are dirty, when they see a study like this, they disregard it because it goes against their longly held beliefs. They can even forget they even heard this news. This study must be respected, and if you do not think it’s correct, do the same study and try to find a different result.

Now, on to the science.

The study was published in the National Library of Medicine and posted by Mark R. Liles. Both door handles for the door of the bathroom, both handles for the door of the stall, the knobs of the sink, the soap dispenser, the handle to flush the toilet, the floor in the stall, the floor around the skin, and of course, the toilet seat were all tested for cleanliness for this study (Liles 2011). The study used 12 total bathrooms: six male and six female (Liles 2011).

While there were germs on the toilet, they were more prevalent on other items (Liles 2011). So this study does show the toilet seats are not what you should be worrying about in public restrooms.zbathroom-890x395_c

This is an observational study. How do I know this? The scientists did not randomly pick people to use the bathrooms. People used the bathrooms for a full day without any instructions. This is as observational of a study as you could see. But there is a problem with observational studies: confounding variables.

The first confounding variable that popped into my head was the type of bathroom? Were all these bathrooms the same size and layout? The answer is yes! Another confounding variable can be did the same number of people use these bathrooms? Well that is not made clear by the research. I think the biggest confounding variable is the well-being of the bathrooms occupants. Since they don’t know who is using the bathroom, could the results be the result of sick people using the bathrooms more on the day they did the experiment? It is certainly possible.

The article does not suffer from the File Draw Problem because it was published. Could this be the only study the published and have many results that show the opposite? It could be possible, but not likely.  It is not likely because it has been submitted for peer review, and other studies have not come out to denounce the study’s findings. This is the beauty of peer review and why other scientists should always submit their studies to scientific journals. Science is so toiinformative, in part, because it builds upon past studies. If this study was completely wrong, other scientists could look at the study and explain why. They could also conduct their own studies.

So the answer to my question that I proposed in the headline of this blog has a simple answer. No, you should not stop using public toilets. I would like a meta-analysis to be completed on this topic to ensure that this result was not due to chance. However, until then I will trust this study as it was well conducted, and has not yet been challenged by other scientists even though it has been under peer review for many years.

Should we stop doing homework through the computer?

One adjustment I have had to make from high school to college has been homework. Sure, the numbers of hour I’ve had to study has increased, as well as my workload, but that has yet to be too great of a burden as of yet. No, I am talking about the way that I complete my homework. Six months ago, while in my high school classes, I never had to worry about submitting homework assignments online because it was all done through worksheets. Now I am doing Italian exercises online, creating my own website for my freshman seminar, taking an online class, and of course, posting on this blog. Now I purchase my textbooks online because they are cheaper and easier to access. The reliance on technology in college has made me wonder are there any learning benefits or detriments to using technology so much? I did some research to find out.

I came upon this article written by Rachel Grate. Grate lists three different reasons why reading print is better for you than reading through a screen. The first reason is that your reading comprehension is much improved when reading print (Grate 2014). Grate references an article from by Alison Flood about a study involving 50 people. All of the individuals were to read a short story from writer Elizabeth George, but half were to read through a Kindle and the other half by paper. The readers were then tested on what they had read.

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Before I reveal the results of the study, it is important to note that it is difficult to say whether this study was a double blinded study. We do not know how the individuals were chosen to participate in this study. This means that confounding variables such as intelligence, level of higher education, and place of birth could still be at work in this study. We also do not know if the researchers conducting the study were blinded, meaning they can be biased in their findings. Lastly, truly great experiments usually have placebos. Unfortunately it would be impossible to have a placebo in this situation because you can not give somebody a fake Kindle or piece of print to read the story. Now, on to the results.

The readers who did not use print did not do as well as those who did read print when it came to placing 14 different plot points in the order that they occurred. The leader of the study, Anne Mangen, who represents Stavanger University located in Norway (Flood 2014), believes that a possible mechanism could be page flipping. When somebody is flipping through pages it helps them follow the story. If you are using a Kindle you swipe to flip the page, but it is not nearly the same as manually flipping a page yourself. home_bg_newPersonally I do not take much weight to this study. The reasons I listed above, as well as the fact that is only has 50 people makes me hesitant to use this study as evidence.

Flood also references another study. 72 students in tenth grade, all from Norway, were given texts to read. Some were given the text in PDF form on a computer, while others were given text. The students were then tested on what they read, similarly to the above study.  The results of this study were similar to the aforementioned study. The print readers performed better than the PDF readers. Now, just because this study shows a correlation between reading print rather than through a screen and grades does not mean this is a direct causation. As I said, all of the students were from Norway. Norway is a very, very smart country. They cannot represent the whole world due to their intelligence not representing the average Joe. In addition to that, there were only 72 students. The hypothesis that students do better reading print than computer simply cannot be backed up by these two studies.  I would ask for a meta-analysis to be done. Until this is done, we do not know if the results were a false positive or were correct. More studies leads to a lesser probability that chance is the reason for the results. Even the best studies, like the one Andrew showed us about prayer and healing, suffer from chance. However, it was revealed the conclusion that prayer does help with healing was revealed to be a false positive as a meta-analysis was done. When we get more and more studies done on this topic we will have a more clear idea of whether homework should be done or shouldn’t be done through a computer.

I do not like the way in which either of these studies were conducted. Because of this I have decided to make up my own experiment. My study would have at least 10,000 individuals, randomly selected from different places from around the world. Similarly to the above studies, they would be given the same texts, with half reading a computer format and half reading a print format. The texts they would read would be in their appropriate language. This study would be a single blind study. I would not let the researchers conducting the study know whose test results were whose to ensure there were no hidden biases. As I said, a placebo is not possible in this experiment. If this study was done multiple times and got the same result of print readers having better test scores than screen readers, I think the hypothesis that reading print is better for you would have a ton of merit. However, my study can’t be the definitive conclusion on this topic. I would have to publish it and have it readily available for peer review. This is how science works best to find answers. By allowing my study to be peer reviewed, other scientists can find faults in my study that I would not have seen without their expertise.

131216151Doing and reading homework online is an essential part of this generation’s college experience. It’s easier to administer, especially in huge lecture classes, as well as much more time efficient. I think the biggest takeaway from these two studies is that while there may be some merit to reading print rather than reading a screen, there needs to be more studies done with more people involved. Until then, I will continue to use my efficient computer to do my work.

Is your music making you late to class?

I wouldn’t be able to put a number on how many Penn State students listen to music while walking to class without taking conducting some type of poll. However, I would bet it is at least 40% of students who listen to music while on their way to class. It seems everywhere I go I see Apple Earpods or Beats by Dre inside or on top of the ears of students. I don’t know about you, but when I walk to class I always have my headphones on. Kanye West has been instrumental in helping me get to class so far this semester.

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On Monday I was late to my 11:00 AM class. This class is in the Sackett building, on the other side of campus from my residence. I left my dorm with plenty of time left, about 30 minutes, yet I was still late. I did not get lost on my way to the building, nor did I stop to talk with any of my peers. All I did was plug in my Earpods and walked to class. One thing I did differently than previous ventures to class was listen to artists like the Beatles and Stevie Wonder when walking to class rather than listen to Kanye West. This is certainly a drastic change of music.

After this experience I wondered, was it the type of music that made me late? Did the music cause me to walk slower? I decided to look into this, and found a study by Marek Franěk, Leon van Noorden, and Lukáš Režný.

In this study the scientists had people walk a route in a neighborhood that was 1.8 km (Franěk 2014). They made two experiments, with one experiment listening to pop music (Franěk 2014). They had them listen to pop music because it has a clear beat (Franěk 2014). The other experiment had people listened to motivational music and also non motivational music (Franěk 2014). The motivational  music has a faster tempo as well as a strong rhythm (Franěk 2014).  The non motivational music was slow music, and sounded much nicer (Franěk 2014).texting-crossing-street-ben-pipe-photography-cultura-gettyimages-530021695-56a9d7bb3df78cf772ab09ba

The scientists found that beat does indeed make you walk faster. Those who walked to the pop music and motivational music walked faster than those who listened to the non motivational music. While the subjects did not walk to the beat of the music (only a few instances), they did walk faster with more up tempo music.

Height is of course a huge variable in this study. So could height be a confounding variable? Well, to account for the differences in height of the 121 students, the students were randomly put into the different music genre groups. Randomization helps to limit any confounding variables because there are many types of people. This is because randomization spreads characteristics around. People are inherently different. They come in all different shapes and sizes. By randomizing the selections, confounding variables are limited.

Bias could be a problem in this experiment, however. Because people know they are walking, this could easily effect their strides. If I were doing the experiment, I would set it up the same way. However, I would not tell those participating in it that their speed was being tested. I would tell them that I was testing something that would not effect their normal movement. By telling the participants I was measuring, say, if their phone battery is effected by travel and music, they would have no idea that I was actually measuring how fast they walked and their bias would be extremely limited.

Nonetheless, every study, no matter how well conducted, could be a fluke or due to chance. This is a rather small study. It certainly isn’t minuscule or anecdotal, but it is still only over 100 people. This could easily be a fluke, even if it was well conducted. There needs to be more studies done on this. Many, many more studies. The prayer study we looked at in class is a perfect example. The science was done correctly and extremely well, yet after more studies were done other scientists found different conclusions. I am not saying this study is wrong, as it certainly helps explain why I was late to class, but one can not simply take the word of one study. I look forward to finding more studies on this topic that help substantiate the three scientists’s conclusion. Until then, keep enjoying your tunes.

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Do video games cause violence?

I do not play video games often. When I do, it is often a sporting game such as NBA 2K or Madden NFL with a couple of buddies after a late night. However, back in my adolescent years I would spend my days and nights playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with my fellow immature youngsters.

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For those who are not familiar with Call of Duty, it is a video game where you are equipped with a gun in a war simulation and try to shoot as many people as possible. While this video game is rated M for mature, many teenagers, and even children around the age of nine, get their hands on a copy of this game through Amazon or simply by asking their parents to buy it for them.

There seems to be a rising consensus that video games such as Call of Duty enhance violence in teenagers. As somebody who used to play these types of games religiously, I am confused by this hypothesis. I didn’t have any urge for violence after playing Call of Duty, nor do I now. So am I an outlier or do violent video games simply do nothing? Luckily the internet is available to research these things, and this article from The Telegraph seems to give an answer to this question.

Research from Canada’s Brock University tried to answer this question by conducting a study with 1,492 kids in their pre-teen years (Telegraph 2012). These kids were picked from eight different schools (Telegraph 2012). These children (aged 14 to 15) were then asked survey questions every year for four years in an observational study and their answers were then calculated into what could be called an aggressive level (Telegraph 2012). maxresdefaultThe questions asked by the researchers included the number of times they pushed or shoved another student or whether they punched or kicked another student due to a feeling of anger (Telegraph 2012). They found that the students’s aggressive scores rose over the years as they played violent video games.

But what about confounding variables from this experiments? Well they took this into account. Gender, divorcing of parents, and use of marijuana were all taken into account in this study yet the results remained the same (Telegraph 2012).

However, a conflicting study revealed a different result. This study was conducted by Oxford University and found that kids do not get more violent by playing video games. 200 children aged 10-11 were asked about how often they played video game (Bingham 2015). While this study did find kids who played video games were more aggressive, they found that it was due to number of hours played and not the amount of violence in the game (Bingham 2015). kids-playing-a-video-gameThe leader of this study said previous studies did not compare violent video games with games that involve the same feeling of competition you find in other games (Bingham 2015).

So could this be a case of the Texas Sharpshooter problem? Could the wrong similarities have been stressed while ignoring key pieces of data? It is quite possible. 

But maybe this study by Oxford was a false negative. We will have to wait and see as more studies on this topic are conducted.

A meta-analysis must be done! If there were many, many more studies done on this topic and the studies were complied, it will be a much stronger evidence than a single study or two. For example, in the “does prayer help cure patients” research we learned about a while ago in class, while one well conducted study was done and found prayer did help, it was disproven because the meta-analysis was so convincing. When more and more studies were done, the study that said praying does help was revealed to be a case of chance. Once there are many studies to base a conclusion on, chance starts to decrease as you get the same result by repeating or compiling different studies with the same objective. If a meta-analysis is done for this video-game conundrum, we will surely get a definitive answer on whether video games truly do cause violence.

Does your cell phone cause depression?

Andrew’s first pop-quiz about the brightness of TV’s possibly being linked to depression left a great impression on me. As somebody who watches sporting events until very late, I sometimes fall asleep with the television on. I did some research on the internet and found that another troubling piece of technology might be causing us harm. This technology is cell phones.

According to Carolyn Gregoire, phones are a possible cause of depression. The article sites research from Baylor University, where 346 college students were asked to fill out an online survey that covered different personality traits. They found that introversion and emotional instability correlated with cell phone use. Carolyn Gregoire’s article also referenced another study. This study from China gathered 414 students and did a similar experiment to the Baylor article listed above. The study found that the most common reason for smart-phone addiction was loneliness.

The first thing that sticks out to me from these researches is that they are both observational studies. As we all know observational studies are not as conclusive as experimental experiments. If I were doing this experiment I would perform a double blinded study. I would have somebody else assign all students to a computer and have them fill out the information. The students would not know what the test would be about. I would not be asserting my own assumptions or feelings into the study and the study would be totally in the hands of the students, making this a double blinded study.

There does not seem to be a placebo in either of these studies. Placebos are often very helpful in weaving out partially, the possibility of chance, although that will never stop being a possibility in pretty much any experiment. I would add fake questions to this survey as a placebo. These questions would not be about personality.

One problem I think this research has is the fact that it does not take into account a third variable. It is totally possible that these students who took the surveys were tired. Maybe the length of the survey changed their usual mood? If the survey was too long, or not broke into parts, the students could have clicked answers without really thinking about the answers they responded with. This is certainly an interesting confounding variable to consider.

Personally I would not take this study too seriously. Firstly, there was no control group. There must be some form of comparison in this experiment. Secondly, as I said before, there was no placebo group. There can also be a third confounding variable. Lastly, two studies just is not enough. There has to be years and years of study before actually coming to a conclusion that cell phones can cause depression. Not only is there a lack of studies, there is a lack of people. I would like to see these studies include at least a thousand people to limit the threat of chance more.

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Now should a reasonable person stop using their phone because of this article’s claim that it may cause depression? Like I said, I would not stop using my phone, but it depends how important your phone is to you. And in this day and age, where teenagers and even adults can’t get through a family dinner without checking their phone, I would say the chances that these people stop using their phones due to this research is very low.

Can CBD help against NFL players suffering from brain damage?

I often wonder about what NFL players will do once they retire. The injuries they take are so gruesome that there has to be some kind of problems with their health after they retire. According to BU, CTE can be defined as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms” (Boston University). One sport that is prone to repetitive brain trauma? You guessed it! The National Football League. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or as it is commonly known, CTE, is without a doubt the biggest obstacle in the path of the longevity of the NFL. This article does not intend to promote the use of marijuana among individual, however it does hope to show how cannabidiol, which is found in THC, may help NFL players against CTE.

Josh Keefe wrote about Leonard Marshall, a former NFL player, who was told in 2013 he showed signs of CTE. Because of this, he turned to cannabis (Keefe 2016). Marshall believes cannabidiol, which is also known as CBD, is essential to NFL players (Keefe 2016). However CBD products have THC, which is not quite legal in some states (Keefe 2016).

According to Josh Keefe, there are two huge benefits to THC. The first being is it a hugely effective pain reliever (Keefe 2016). Many NFL players get hooked on to pain killers (Keefe 2016). Pain killer are greatly addictive, so a non-addictive pain relieving solution would be a huge feat for current and former NFL players (Keefe 2016). In a study using nabilone, which has THC, 82 cancer patients were given nabilone and said they felt improvements in their pain. Those not given the drug did not feel improvement (Russo 2008). However, there are problems with this study. Seventeen patients dropped out of the experiment (Russo 2008). Additionally, the experiment was not randomized nor was it controlled (Russo 2008). As we learned in class, you need a control group for comparison. Because of this it may be hard to use this study as concrete proof THC helps with pain relief.

However, moving further down the study,  Sativex, a cannabis spray, was used in many studies and greatly reduced pain. According to the study, 160 subjects were used in a Phase III double-blind RCT SAFEX study. These subjects had symptoms of MS (Russo 2008). 137 patients continued their use of Sativex, and these patients received a huge decline in pain in the first twelve weeks. They also had improvements, albeit slower, for longer than a year. This study certainly shows that Sativex is a solution to pain relief.

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Another reason why the NFL should look to expand the use of CBD among players is because it protects the brain from injury (Keefe 2016). Newborn pigs were used in an experiment to show the benefits of CBD.  While pigs or rats may not be enough to pursued somebody to the benefits of CBD, a study using children might. The previously mentioned article from Josh Keefe highlights Charlotte Figi, a child with an uncommon form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, was cured with large amount of CBD, and a low amount of THC in the form of medical marijuana (Keefe 2016). Another child named Ziki Jackson suffered over 500,000 seizures in his life by the age of five (Keefe 2016). He was given the same CBD as Figi and Jackson no longer had seizures (Keefe 2016). CBD helped these children, and while these anecdotal tales are promising they are only a start. The only way to tell the full extent of CBD is to continue to test. But the biggest takeaway that one can make from this article is that CBD may indeed be what keeps the NFL from extinction by being able to protect their players from painkillers and brain injuries. I believe this could prolong the lives of all NFL players. The NFL must do more research on this issue instead of sweeping it under the rug like they have been rumored to do

Are we meant to play sports?

We as a society love sports. Football, basketball, and baseball are huge parts of our culture here in the United States. But even abroad, sports are popular as well. Soccer is incredibly popular overseas. What do these sports have in common? Running. According to this article from John Hopkins Medicine, basketball, baseball and softball, bicycling, football, and soccer have the most injuries in children aged 5-14. The injuries children may receive in activities like ice hockey, in-line and roller skating, skateboarding, sledding and toboggan, snow skiing and snowboarding, and trampolines all pale in comparison to sports that require running, with bicycling being the only outlier (John Hopkins Medicine).

Now just because there is a correlation between sports that require more running and the amount injuries that occur from these sports does not mean there is a direct correlation between the two. There could easily be a confounding, or third variable that effects this relationship, the obvious ones being the size of the players, or the physicality of the sport. This study also does not say what kind of injuries these children are suffering from. So rather than focusing on that study, which deals with children, it would be easier to look at this article, which deals with professional athletes.

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According to Tarek O. Souryal, an M.D. who has worked for the Dallas Mavericks, a professional basketball team in the NBA, the ACL helps with making quick cuts which is commonplace in sports such as basketball, football, and even soccer. ACL injuries according to this article are pretty much exclusive to athletes, happening over 250,000 times a year to them.

With athletes receiving ACL injuries at that clip compared to ordinary people, the prospect of chance being the reason for the correlation between people tearing their ACL who play sports involving running and people who don’t is highly unlikely. However, maybe there is a third variable that impacts why these athletes tearing the ACL? Maybe athletes’ bodies have something, perhaps bone structure, that causes more injuries? Luckily this article also takes a look at that!

Souryal noticed a confounding variable which found that some people in the world have different bone structures and these structures do indeed make them more prone to these ACL injuries. Souryal said that if the area where your ACL and PCL are located is small, the ACL has less room to make these cutting movements, you are more likely to tear you ACL. As a matter of fact, you are 26 times more likely to do so.

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Additionally the article states that in 1992, Souryal took the knee X-Rays of 1,000 different high school athletes. The athletes who were selected were monitored for two years. By looking at their notch, they found that the ones with a narrow notch were the ones tearing their ACL. The article said the results were so overwhelming that Souryal no longer continued the study. This study helps to show that bone structure is indeed the third variable between athletes tearing their ACL, however there must be more studies done. 1,000 people is a lot of people to study, however, even more can be used in the study. If I was the person doing the experiment, I would separate athletes with narrow regions where their ACL and PCL are located to those with wide regions and see who tears there ACL more. Because this is an observational study, this evidence is not concrete as much as an experimental would be. The reason it can’t be experimental is because it would be unethical to make it so people would tear their ACL. This would help prove or disprove the notion that bone structure is indeed a third variable, although it would not be as effective as an experimental study. 

Are we are not supposed to be playing sports that require such cutting movements with our legs? Maybe our society has glorified activities that we were not born to play. There is certainly evidence that supports the correlation between the number of ACL tears and those who are athletes. However, maybe it is because of these athlete’s bone structure and not because they are athletes. More research and better technology will certainly help us find this out. Judging from the research, I would say that humans are not supposed to play sports, especially those with bone structures that make them prone to ACL injuries. The cutting required to play soccer, basketball, and football at a high level is just too hard for the human body to handle.

This Class Looks Fun!

Hello everyone, my name is Charlie. Science was not too kind to me throughout my High School career. The grades I received in my science courses were fine, but I did not enjoy the courses I was forced to take. I never understood why I needed to learn what elements were considered alkaline earth metals, and what elements were considered halogens. I am not becoming a science major not because I do not understand science, but because the science that I have been taught does not pique my interest. The only truly interesting experience I had in my chemistry class was learning the science behind Breaking Bad.

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I took SC 200 because this class offers a unique way of looking at science. SC 200 is a course I am sure I will look back at long after I graduate from Penn State and remember how engaging it was. This class lets you explore science beyond a simple textbook reading. It gives you the ability to think about the real world rather than being told to study information that won’t be of use to you unless you plan to study science in college, which obviously I have decided not to.

I am looking forward to learning about interesting and meaningful topics throughout the semester. Here is an interesting article I found about a squishy robot. Enjoy.