Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Memory and Addiction

Who said a lapse of memory always has to be a bad thing? Certainly not me, and even more so after reading this entry from the newly launched Very Short List's science blog:

(Sorry, I tried to add that as an actual link you could press, but it came up invisible on the preview)

Basically, a recent study showed that after rats had become addicted to cocaine and then forced into withdrawal, all the rats pushed the lever to get more cocaine (though there was no longer any there) but rats who had been given a memory inhibitor soon stopped, while those not dosed with it persisted in trying the lever for several days. Although the researchers theorize that because they had lost their memory of their addiction, they lost the craving for cocaine. I'm wondering if they didn't just forget what the lever was for. But all I read was the blog--I didn't go on to read the paper, which Very Short List happily provides.

I'm not totally sure if this information, which in some ways seems self-evident, or something you might be able to deduce from your own experience of various cravings, is really worth causing the addiction, withdrawal and readdiction of innocent lab rats, but it's still interesting to add good effects of a lapse of memory to this blog when I find them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm still trying to formulate what I think this blog is about, but here is an example of it, even if I'm less than articulate about why that is so. This link from the excellent and always thought-provoking is composed of a better essay than I could possibly write about the way the anthrax attacks of 2001 leapt into a terrified public's consciousness, vanished from view, had a brief blip of attention when the supposed perpetrator committed suicide before being tried, and now, what with the Olympics, Hurricane Gustav and two political conventions intervening, has slipped from view again. Here's the link:

Particularly interesting to me is the point made by Tom that the FBI has apparently fixated on the lone terrorist theory without somehow being able to give credence to the idea that more than one person may have been involved. Don't these guys ever read mystery novels? Or even bad Cold War thrillers?

Anyway, from the point of view of this blog, I'm probably most interested in how I, as a member of the fairly educated public, can be roused and lulled, roused and lulled again on a subject like this one. As this essay makes clear, the implications of homegrown and distributed anthrax are actually terrifying. But it's as though we can't really be bothered to think about that until something else happens. Is it just that there is now so much that is really beyond our control that we can't think about such things and go on with our daily lives? Or are we actually being manipulated toward and away from such subjects in a more purposeful way? I'm not a conspiracy theorist--just wondering.