Give In To The Cute

Disco fell asleep on his back with his paws dangling in the air. He was having a dream at one point because his paws were flicking around quite a bit. I approached as quietly as I could, channeling the spirit of a snake as I slithered across the carpet whilst holding my breath and willing my joints not to pop, then GOSHDURNIT, he woke up.

BUT, he didn’t roll out of his sleeping position right away, which led to the cute picture above and the cute picture below.

 

While I have your attention, I’d like to bring up something else: a so very sad case of misleading science reporting on a topic near and dear to my heart.

That’s RIGHT. I lured you in with cat pictures, then slapped you with something SERIOUS. Bwa ha ha ha! Before you click away though, there is ANOTHER cat picture waiting for you at the bottom of the page should you read through my mini-rant.

The source of my ire is a string of articles about this Nature paper. Almost all of the articles asserted that the researchers who published this paper have “discovered” the molecule that causes depression.

Erm, yeah. Not so much. For my main beef, here are some tweets I sent out earlier in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously, if I had a backyard and a gazillion dollars, I might consider adding a synchrotron to it.

Okay, if I had gazillion dollars, there are a few other things I might spend that money on. Like a trip to the Maldives. Or Japan. Or getting my new pants hemmed.

Anyway, ranting at the Internet would be a full-time job, and there is a fair amount of bad science reporting on the Internet (global warming, anyone?). But what bothers me about this particular string of misleading headlines is that people who suffer from depression are already suffering enough. They live under a perpetual cloud of sadness, and unless they’re lucky enough to have a good therapist or to respond to medication, they have very little hope about that cloud ever lifting. False hope, in my mind, is worse than hopelessness because of the potential for a depression patient to spiral down even farther when they learn the truth.

Right now, there is no magic bullet for treating depression, or any mental disorder. Insinuating that there is one is not just lazy, but damn irresponsible. The brain is a complicated mess of neurons, chemicals, and electricity that we still know relatively little about. While you may not be able to get a sexy headline of that sentence, it’s the truth. Until we have a more complete understanding of the brain and its intricacies, treating mental illness will continue to be a haphazard affair.

So to the folks who said, “Scientists discover the molecule responsible for causing feelings of depression,” “Scientists discover brain’s ‘misery molecule’ which affects stress, anxiety and depression,” and “Oh joy, misery molecule found,” go read the paper for crying out loud. Heck, read the press release a little closer, and then justify why these articles aren’t worthy of retraction.

End rant.

We will now continue with your regularly scheduled cat picture. Please enjoy the cute. You earned it.

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