When Science Is Biased + Other Stories
Every week, we corral the best wellness stories from around the internet—just in time for your weekend bookmarking. This week: two different reports of underlying biases in scientific research, a call for sex-specific pain management, and an excellent long read for anyone interested in peeling back the layers of modern attitudes toward food.
An analysis published in the journal Cell this week shows a lack of diversity in genomic research literature: Studies that link genetic markers with disease primarily focus on white European populations. This not only amplifies inequalies in health care; it also limits our understanding of disease in all populations.
Modern-day pain control is failing us in a lot of ways. Journalist Michele Cohen Marill unpacks one of them: Men and women have different biological pathways for chronic pain, yet we don’t have sex-specific pain medicine.
Journalist Emily Sohn reports on a cycle of bias in autism diagnosis and research: Autistic girls tend to exhibit different traits from those autistic boys do and are frequently not diagnosed. Studies then typically include one woman to every three to six men—which means that we simply know less about gender differences and autism—and girls continue to slip through the cracks. Acknowledging this cycle, though, is the first step in breaking it.
In this indictment of modern attitudes toward food and eating, historian and journalist Bee Wilson takes a holistic look at why and how our diets are failing us. One particularly salient point: “As things stand, our culture is far too critical of the individuals who eat junk foods and not critical enough of the corporations who profit from selling them. A survey of more than 300 international policymakers found that 90 percent of them still believed that personal motivation–aka willpower–was a very strong cause of obesity. This is absurd. It makes no sense to presume that there has been a sudden collapse in willpower across all ages and ethnic groups since the 1960s.”