Friday 26 November 2010

Parasites, pangolins, peer review, promotion and psychopathology

My latest blog has been posted on Guardian Science blogs. It’s on an unusual topic – neglected tropical diseases. I’m especially interested in the neglected neuropsychological consequences of these.

In addition, here is a round-up of some of my favourite links from the past couple of months:

While we are on the theme of parasites, there is an excellent Ozzie All in the Mind. This podcast on parasites affecting behaviour is wonderful.

Anyone about to go on a flight might enjoy the late, great Dave Allen on flying:

Piece on peer review, with immortal Einstein quote: “I see no reason to address the - in any case erroneous - comments of your anonymous expert”

Come on sisters, get savvy : "more women than men appear to know little or nothing about promotion criteria and the process involved"

For those obsessed by their H-index, a cautionary note

A knitted skeleton.

A neurodevelopmental perspective on Winnie the Pooh

More psychopathological classification: neurotypical disorder

A robot with pudgy, beanbag-like hands.  Especially exciting after 2 min.

Fun Facts about Pangolins

Naomi Orestes:Merchants of Doubt "Media's attraction to conflict causes them to exaggerate the small number of people who disagree."
Evolution of the alphabet. Nicely done.

Proof positive that tow-away men have no soul. Look at red circle area on left.
Are you concerned about control of the media falling into the hands of a small number of powerful people?  I am, which is why I have donated to 38degrees, to support their campaign to stop Rupert Murdoch gaining yet more control of UK media. Please look at this site and consider donating:

And finally.....


  1. Very pleased to see coverage of tropical diseases and the neuropsych outcomes, you may be interested to know we're just writing up some research from my student's PhD on outcomes for Ugandan children of treatment of maternal worms.

    I have in mind to write a first-person piece about doing research in this area, though a large pile of admin is calling my name first!

  2. I wonder if you are familiar with the hygiene hypothesis, or the use of hookworms as a treatment for Crohn's Disease?

    I would argue that there are many occasions when an infestation of hookworm can be beneficial to patients with Crohn's - and a range of other auto-immune diseases.

    Much research has already been done by Prof Pritchard at Nottingham, but more still needs to be done. We need to discover what a therapeutic dose is - 15 worms? 25 worms? More? less?

    I for one would love to have the chance to try hookworm treatment - it has to be a more benign option than weekly injections of methotrexate, steroid treatment or infusions of infliximab.

    I'm sure you mean well, but your article in the Guardian simply adds to the general noise (and hysteria) that slows down research into hookworm therapy.

    You write about "...a parasitic worm infection..." as if it were a singular entity, without being specific about actual levels of infestation - a very lazy approach, if I may say. An infestation of 10 worms will clearly affect the host less than an infestation of 100… or 500… or 5,000…

    What causes Crohn's is not understood at all - however in the developed West, it, and other auto immune diseases, are at epidemic levels.

    In the third world Crohn's is virtually unknown - especially in countries that have high incidence of hookworm infestation.

    Perhaps we in the West have eradicated too much of the floor and fauna of the gut, and maybe, just maybe hookworms are our friends?

  3. Slow as usual, I've finally got something (far too long I'm afraid) up on my personal experiences and opinions on this but now comments are closed on the Guardian article.

    Anyway if anyone is interested it's here.
    There's a nice sunset to reward you for reading, or at least scrolling, to the end.

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