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David SloanRSS Feed of this column.

David is a neuroscientist in the field of sensory-limbic circuitry. He published his debut novel, [Brackets], in October 2012. He is a member of the International Neuroethics Society, a Mormon,... Read More »

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, I undertook a (much longer than anticipated) personal investigation into how scientists discuss the effects of cannabis as a way of trying to better it, both as a drug and as a cultural subject. The articles generated a great deal of discussion and many intriguing points were raised. Jimmy is a much smarter young man now.

I. Preface

I recently posted an article (Part I) in which I proposed a hypothetical scenario, in which an individual who is offered marijuana takes time out to research the drug exclusively through recent articles on PubMed to see if its a good idea or bad idea. It was meant more as an intellectual exercise, not a commentary or piece of advocacy for either side of the legalization debate (although the commentary after quickly delved into that debate). I wrote the article for the following reasons:
Disclaimer: I have never smoked pot. Not interested. But, I have been very interested in the decades-old debate about it. On one side you have people who claim it as a benign, useful substance that should be legal. On the other side, you have people who claim it is a dangerous and destructive and should be banned. I was surprised to realize to myself recently that I couldn't articulate a good argument for either side. I didn't know enough. 
So I wanted to do an experiment. But not that kind of experiment.
The relationship between the work of science and works of fiction has gone on for a long time. It's time to put a ring on that finger.

It's no secret that fiction writers have been pilfering ideas from science for generations. Verne did it. Wells, Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, Matheson, and of course Crichton, had a lot of success by finding out what was hot in science, taking an imaginary leap to the next step (or next hundred steps), and then turning it into a story, and a profit.

This trend has continued with movies, which routinely feature scientific factoids that have been Googled, copied and pasted from dubious or legitimate sites. Let's face it. Fiction needs Science in order to thrive.

But what does Science get out of it?

In a little less than three weeks, a federal budget sequestration, which would have severe consequences for agencies that fund scientific research, will take effect unless a deal can be made between Republicans and Democrats. That’s a pretty discomforting sentence to write.

Discussions on the effect of sequestration on science research tend to focus on academia, and rightly so, since it will be the academics that are most directly impacted. But that is just the beginning—a very bad beginning—to the ripple effect that sequestration would have. Private companies that depend on the research industry would also be hit, and those companies are making sure that their concerns are heard.

A recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience (here) has conveniently coincided with the announcement of the High Profile Affair of the Year awardee. The two have come together to stir up interest in having some sort of fidelity pill that spoken-for men could take to stop their philandering ways. And, based on science, that pill could be oxytocin. You can see this very topic discussed here, featuring this author as the lone defender of man.

So let's talk about the study. You will be disappointed.