Old Solutions to Old Problems: Why we haven’t created any new drugs

Read the article linked below, written by Dr. Richard Friedman of Cornell University on the lack of innovation in psychiatric drugs then answer the following questions: 


1.  Given that so many americans are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder at some point in their lives (1 in 5 take a drug currently), why don’t pharma companies invest in innovation for new and better treatment? What are the obstacles? 

2.  What neurotransmitters do most antidepressants focus on? Why?

3.  In regard to this excerpt, “For example, just because an S.S.R.I. antidepressant increases serotonin in the brain and improves mood, that does not mean that serotonin deficiency is the cause of the disease; many depressed patients get better with medications that have no effect on serotonin”  Discuss this statement. What does it mean for etiology, treatment, and drug innovation?

4.  What drug is suggested as being a possible “new frontier” in regard to treating depression?  What neurotransmitter does it act upon?


Those Who Walk Away from Omelas: A meditation on the tyranny of democracy


After our conversations yesterday, I immediately thought of the short story, “Ones who walk away from Omelas” by Ursula Le Guin. 

Read the story linked here:

ones who walk away from omelas

And then answer the following questions in your journal as “journal entry #3”:

1.  How does this story relate to our discussion regarding, “a foolish idea held by 50 million people is still a foolish idea”?

2.  Do you think Omelas is a “foolish idea”?

3.  What do you think the metaphor of Omelas represents?  What could this be a parable to?

4.  Identify and discuss some “beliefs” held by the people of Omelas. Also, identify and discuss some “truths” held by the people of Omelas. Are there any? If not, why do you say so?

Belief, Truth and the difference between the two

In this course, a goal of ours will be to nurture within you the ability to look at all truth claims with a critical eye. This does not mean that my goal is to turn you into a perpetual contrarian as some believe is occurring:


No, my goals is to develop within you the understanding that claims must be substantiated by evidence and that the Ways of Knowing we use to build that evidence are not infallible, thus, even though a truth claim may be supported by evidence, the evidence used to support that claim may be weak, therefore relegating the truth claim weak as well. This overarching concept of Claim:Evidence:Evaluation has application in too many important realms of your life to list here!

So.  Lets look at some truth claims.  

  1. Christopher Columbus “discovered” america in 1492
  2. If A is bigger than B, and B is bigger than C, than A is bigger than C. 
  3. Human beings are descended from apes.
  4. Murder is wrong. 
  5. Aliens have visited the earth at some point in history. 
  6. All metals expand when heated.
  7. Human beings have an immortal soul. 
  8. It is possible to construct a square with the same area as a given circle.
  9. Religion has caused more harm than good in the world
  10. Ivy League Schools provide a better education than non ivy schools

For the claims above, I want you to label them as a “truth” or “belief.”  I then want you to order them from “most true” to “least true”  with 1 being the MOST TRUE of the above statements. 


Are you as smart as Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker?! + Some words on Cheesecake

In partnerships, Take the FUN quiz below created from factoids contained in Pinker’s various best selling works on psychology and see how you do!