The current political landscape is shifting, and it seems as though it continues to take stances that are in utter opposition to the realm of science and evidence--a practice that has new head of Harvard Medical School, Geroge Q. Daley, quite worried.

Daley, who is no stranger to medical research butting heads with politics, was a prominent stem cell scientist in 2001 when the Bush administration restricted federal funding for Daley’s field of embryonic stem cells. This move against the research community, that many saw as a good-will gesture for Bush’s Republican antiabortion constituents, is believed to have had a chilling effect on a cutting-edge area of biological advancement.

Since the early 2000’s, many scientists in the field, including Daley, have become activists, fighting for federal funding in order to continue exploring what they believe to be one of the most opportunistic areas of research.

President Obama would eventually reverse the Bush administration executive order that gutted the field’s federal funding in 2009, and as a result, cell-based therapies are now being used in clinical trial testing and new medical insights have been gained.

Daley, as a de facto spokesman for medical research and its practice, has taken over a high-profile job at a time when the current government administration not only seems to not care about research and its advancement, but actively opposes it in some areas.

Daley believes that his past experiences working in a field that was suppressed by the government will serve him now during a time of “confusion and alternative facts.”

The Washington Post conducted an interview with Daley recently and learned that his greatest fear is that mankind’s health and wellness will deteriorate if we continue “reverting to a pre-Enlightenment form of thinking.”

The interview can be found below:

Right now, there’s uneasiness in the scientific and medical communities over how evidence and research will be treated, ranging from vaccines to climate change. Having lived through a time when your work was directly politicized and targeted, what are your thoughts about how to approach a situation like that?

I think that the lessons that I learned in the early challenges and policy debates around embryonic stem cells have a lot to teach us for how to advocate forcefully in today’s world. We have to, as scientists, stick to our message, which is that science and evidence is the way to make informed decisions — whether those decisions are about advancing human health and wellness, or about advancing the environment and maintaining not only healthy air quality, but reducing risks to catastrophic climate change. These are all fundamentally, at some level, challenges and risks to human health.

If I had one worry, as we see the cacophony of confusion and alternative facts, it's that we’re reverting to a pre-Enlightenment form of thinking, which will take us back to the days of blood-letting and faith-healing. And this is wrong. This is not the way to advance health and wellness for the greatest number, not a way to face our challenges. We are facing some of the greatest global challenges today — not just with global warming, but with threats to emerging pathogens, whether it’s Ebola or Zika. And if we start to question the nature and value of things like vaccines in human health, how are we going to be able to confront the challenges of new pathogens?

Do you think that this is something that's already happening, or is it a future worry?

The storm clouds are on the horizon. If I just speak to one issue that has a very direct effect on our community: Our biomedical research enterprise, as well as our clinicians draw on the best and brightest, from not only the United States, but around the globe. We are a magnet, we’re seen as the beacon of the best, cutting-edge research and the most effective and impactful clinical training and health care delivery. I’ve met with students from Iran and Syria who are here studying and about to graduate. And they’re worried that their parents are not going to be able to come see them receive their PhD or their MD. We’re worried about the pipeline — not only of trainees who keep us at the cutting edge, but patients. Our health care centers are magnets for patients from all over the world, and in many cases from the Middle East, and it stands in the way of our mission.

The immigration policy of the Trump administration is evolving as we speak, but it sounds like you're worried about the message that recent actions send.

Our concern is that there is a megaphone that screams across the globe. Over the couple-hundred-year history of our country, it has been emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty: Give us your tired, your poor. We are a welcome beacon to immigrants from all across the globe; that’s been the message that has built our country. And now the recent message that has been sent is giving pause to those folks in other parts of the world, making them think twice about whether this is a welcoming community for them. I’ve already heard that some of our applicants to post-doctoral positions or training programs in our graduate schools are starting to be diverted to programs in Europe that are saying, "Hey, what can we do to take advantage of the talent pool that might not be going to the United States." That is chilling to me.

What are your thoughts on the plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and what should come next?

We now have, in Massachusetts, 96 percent of people covered, and I do think that’s created a sense in our medical students and our residents and our trainees, and even up to our faculty, that universal access [to health care] is a human right. I remember in my times in the hospital, there was something absolutely wonderful about the fact the homeless person coming off the street with a heart attack got the same intense, compassionate care as the Berkeley professor who had a heart event at Logan Airport — and that’s an actual case that took place when I was in training. There’s probably no other experience in my time as at trainee at the Harvard hospitals that made me feel more proud about the mission of Harvard medicine. I think that’s an aspiration — there was an attempt by the Obama administration to capture that as an aspiration, as the noblest calling of medicine, and I think that anything that is put in it place has to attempt to meet those same aspirations.

Stem cell science has come under political attack in the past, and Vice President Pence has said he opposes embryonic stem cell research. Are you worried about the future of your field?

I always felt very strongly and passionately, as an advocate for stem cell research of all kinds. To be able to use the new technology and biology of regenerative medicine to serve the relief of suffering and the treatment of disease, I just think is a very noble calling. I’ve always argued that we need to exploit every possible advantage in the fight against disease. I would continue to advocate for research on all sorts of stem cells. And if there is an attempt to restrict the research in the future, I will be out there again, speaking from the scientific and medical perspective to justify this work.

h/t WashPo

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New Study Reveals Medical Cannabis Users Consume Less Opioids, Antidepressants and Alcohol

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reports that patients suffering from chronic medical conditions used less opioids, antidepressants, sleep medications, alcohol, and other substances after using medical cannabis to treat their symptoms.

“So what we found is that after starting medical marijuana that many of the patients that were previously using opioids reduced the use of those agents,” said Brian J. Piper, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and lead researcher for the study.

“So over three-quarters of the medical marijuana patients who were using opioids decreased the use of those agents.”

The numbers make a pretty strong case in favor of medical cannabis. The final results from the study show a 76.7% drop in regular opioid use, a 37.6% drop in antidepressant use, and a 42% drop in alcohol use. They also discovered that almost 72% of patients took less anti-anxiety medications, 67% of them used less migraine medications, and 65% of them used sleep aids less after beginning a medical marijuana treatment regimen.

Chronic pain, however, is by and large the main reason people seek out medical grade marijuana in the first place.

“Over two-thirds (70.4%) of patients in Maine and Rhode Island listed intractable or chronic pain followed by post-traumatic stress disorder (25.5%), severe muscle spasms (12.2%), or nausea (10.6%) as their qualifying condition,” reads an excerpt from the study.

Additionally, subjects of the study reported that medical marijuana provided the most effective treatment for pain following incidents of trauma. On a scale from 0 to 100% (100 percent indicating “complete relief”), subjects were asked to rate the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating the conditions listed below and this is what they found:

  • 77.9% relief in the treatment of pain following trauma
  • 77.5% relief in the treatment of menstrual pain
  • 73% relief in the treatment of neck and back pain
  • 72.3% relief in the treatment of neuropathic pain
  • 75.8% relief in the treatment of cancer pain
  • 72% relief in the treatment of post-surgery pain

At the moment, only eight states in the United States have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Thankfully, 28 states across the country have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Yet, the substance is still classified by the government as a Schedule I drug, sitting next to heroin in its description of having "no medical value."

Do you think it makes sense that cannabis and heroin are in the same category of substances? Maybe it's time to reevaluate the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis and its effectiveness in treating some of the most common chronic conditions that exist among the population today.

h/t Saludmovil

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Coincidence Vs. Synchronicity - Signs You Should Do Your Best Not to Ignore

Sometimes things happen in life and our first reaction is to think “Wow, how lucky was that?” Seemingly small events that many of us consider merely coincidental are actually synchronicities at play.

For example, a few nights ago I thought to call a good friend of mine that I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Oddly enough, he was calling me at the sametime! We hadn’t seen each other for years, and yet, here we both were, trying to reach out for one another.

Synchronicity is a reflection of one’s interconnectedness with the rest of the world. People who are highly interconnected will experience these subtle moments where things just seem to perfectly align. This is because on the spiritual plane, everything is connected somehow.

So, next time something perfect happens to you--whether it’s a newly opened parking space or a random, incredible job offer--recognize that it is because of your interconnectedness, and not merely coincidence.

Signs of synchronicity that often get written off
Now that you’re aware of synchronicities, you’re going to start recognizing them more often. Here is a brief list of signs of synchronicity that you should pay attention to.

1. Looking at the clock only to see a pattern of numbers. For example, 11:11, 12:34, 12:12, 22:22. While any particular set of numbers will only last for 60 seconds at most, somehow you glanced up exactly when it was set on this brief period of time. This type of synchronicity is believed to be representative of purpose.

2. You’re whistling or humming a certain song and then the song suddenly comes on the radio or television.

3. You’ve been contemplating big decisions or questions in your life for a while, when you realize that the world is trying to give you hints about what choice you should ultimately make. The universe knows what is right for you, and it’s trying to communicate this through synchronicity.

4. You randomly meet certain people who somehow have the best advice or information regarding the problems you are currently trying to solve. You probably didn’t even have to mention exactly what is wrong, yet this person you just met seems to have the answers you are looking for.

5. A friend or loved one gifts you an item that you’ve been thinking about getting for yourself, even though you never spoke a word of it to anyone.

These are all signs of synchronicity, and synchronicity is a sign that you’re on the right track, so embrace it!

h/t Mystical rave

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What Is Your Biggest Fear in Life? According to Your Zodiac Sign

Turning to the stars to learn more about who you are and what life has in store for you is a ritual that has been done for centuries. The zodiac is chock-full of insight and wisdom, making it a good place to start when trying to find yourself.

Here’s what the zodiac has to say about your biggest fears in life, according to your sign!

Aries (March 21 - April 19)

Although fiery and somewhat fleeting at times, Aries absolutely cherish their close relationships. Your biggest fear is having these close relationships end. But, because you so fear that your relationships will end, you become much more thoughtful, caring and loving towards these people.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20)

As a sign that values stability very highly, the Taurus does not like the unknown. They feel most comfortable when it’s smooth sailing, and things go exactly as expected. Turbulence causes the Taurus to overthink, ultimately causing anxiety.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20)

Gemini have a strong inclination towards perfection. They want things to be done and done right. Failure is by far the biggest fear that Gemini have, so they make up for this with a solid work ethic and organized goals. Unfortunately, this can also lead to them feeling as though they never do enough.

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)

Cancers are sweethearts who want nothing more than to be included in life. They hate feeling vulnerable and their worst nightmare is being rejected by their friends, family and loved ones.

Leo (July 23 - August 22)

Always one for the spotlight, Leos enjoy receiving praise when they go above and beyond. And while they are good at exceeding expectations, their biggest fear is not being recognized for it. They work hard and do well, so it stings when no one pays attention to them.

Virgo (August 23 - September 22)

Virgos are known for their organizational skills and strong need for independence, which means their biggest fear is that they’ll one day become dependent on someone else. They never want to find themselves dating someone who is unorganized and unmotivated.

Libra (September 23 - October 22)

Libras tend to have strong empathic traits, meaning they enjoy caring for and nurturing others. Their biggest fear is that they will somehow hurt the people closest to them, even though this is highly unlikely.

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21)

Scorpios can be a mess of emotions at times, even though they like to portray the image that they are completely invincible. It is emotional pain that scares the Scorpio the most. Being betrayed is the probably the most painful thing a Scorpio can experience, which is why they often choose to build their emotional walls high.

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21)

The free-spirited Sagittarius is deathly afraid of being tied down in any way. They need the freedom and space to be spontaneous, to make mistakes, and to live life the way they want to live it. Which is why they tend to find partners and jobs that are like-minded.

Capricorn (December 22 - January 20)

Capricorns have big dreams and put forth a determined effort to turn those dreams into reality. Their biggest fear is that all of their hard work and effort will be rejected, belittled or dismissed by their peers.

Aquarius (January 21 - February 18)

A natural protector, the Aquarius enjoys being strong, for themselves and others. They enjoy being the cool-headed, dependable, pillar of strength that others can lean on in times of need. This leads to their biggest fear being that they won’t be able to find their strength or courage when they need it most.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20)

Rejection and abandonment inspire the utmost fear in a Pisces. They cherish all of their relationships greatly, so even thinking about being shut out is enough to rattle them to the core. Though there’s not much that phases a Pisces, being cast out by friends and loved ones will do the trick.

h/t Urbo

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5 Theories That Will Completely Change How You See the World

“Reality is what you think it is.”

Have you ever thought about how much of reality is actually as you perceive it? As humans, we will only ever be able to see the world from a human perspective. And because of this, certain details of our reality will seem incredibly real, all the while being totally false.

Here are five theories posed by scientists and philosophers that shake the foundation of reality as we know it:

Presentism

Presentism is a theory regarding time. It states that both the future and the past simply do not exist, that they are imaginary in the minds of humans. The only truly “real” thing is the present that we are currently existing in now.

Similar in a way to quantum mechanics, this theory says that things do not exist until we need them to exist. For example, this article will no longer exist once you close out of it and stop reading it. It will only exist again once you seek it out and open it back up again.

And the future cannot exist simply because time cannot exist both before and after it’s happened.

Brain in a vat theory

The basis of this theory posits that there is no possible way for humans to confirm that anything actually exists outside of our own consciousness. Consciousness is the only thing we know to be true, thus it is possible that we are simply brains in a vat that are being controlled and manipulated by an outside force, such as aliens or other humans.

If you’re having trouble thinking about this concept, try to remember the movie “The Matrix.” In this movie, the main character’s entire life is a computer simulation controlled by an evil artificial intelligence. It is only when he is taken out of this simulation that he realizes what his reality truly is: his body is stored in a vat, plugged into a giant computer system.

Multiverse Theory

The multiverse theory has become popular in recent years as more and more people begin to speculate on just how big our universe is and whether or not there actually is only one universe out there. It states that there are an infinite number of universes similar to our own, each one having subtle or massive differences. For example, in this world I am a writer, but in another universe I am president of the United States. There are an infinite number of alternate realities, each one playing out somewhat differently than the next.

Great glaciation

The theory behind ‘great glaciation’ says that our universe will eventually run out of energy, resulting in the entire universe becoming frozen and desolate. Essentially, because there is a finite amount of energy in the universe, and heat loss is a natural law that acts in the universe, eventually particles will completely stop vibrating, slowing down so much that everything in the universe will simply stop moving.

Plato’s Logos

The great philosopher Plato once argued that everything humans perceive as reality is actually just an imitation of its true form. Mankind does not see the world as it truly is. There is, however, a world beyond our perception in which everything exists in “perfect” form. He says that our greatest chance at seeing these perfect forms lies within philosophy.

Plato was also one of the first people to explain that everything in the world is made of a single material, just that the material is rearranged to create different forms of matter. After scientists discovered the existence of atoms and molecules, Plato’s theory was proven true to some degree.

h/t SS

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