Human Nature

Don’t Follow Your Nose

And other news from science and technology.

Latest Human Nature columns: 1) Bush’s hypocrisy  on stem cells and the death penalty. 2) Stem cells, judges, and filibuster fraud. 3) Cloning and media bias. 4) Grandma vs. a clump of cells. 5) The evolution of creationism. 6) Why GPS tracking is good for felons. 7) Why pro-lifers fear the morning-after pill. 8) If steroids are cheating, why isn’t LASIK? 9) Jews vs. Catholics in the stem cell debate. 10) The case for raising the retirement age.

A hormone nasal spray can make you trust other people with your money. The spray, prescribed for childbirth and nursing in Europe, doubled the percentage of study participants who entrusted all their money to an investment banker in a mock transaction. Critics think the danger isn’t that marketers will spray the hormone on you, but that they’re already using words, sounds, and images to trigger the hormone in your brain.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist proposed a “Manhattan Project” against bioterrorism. He cited a recent government report that “biological weapons are cheaper and easier to acquire than nuclear weapons—and they could be more deadly.”

President Bush ducked the question of regulating IVF. A reporter asked whether Bush’s rejection of the term “spare embryo” reflected a moral “view of fertility treatments that routinely create more embryos” than will be implanted or carried to term. Bush changed the subject to funding stem-cell research.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are rushing to catch California and South Korea in the stem-cell race. Connecticut lawmakers approved $100 million for stem-cell research. Massachusetts legislators, by overriding the governor’s veto, explicitly legalized therapeutic cloning.

The FDA says two dozen men who took pills for erectile dysfunction lost some eyesight. Skeptics think the vision loss is caused by the same vascular problems that cause erectile dysfunction.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed legislation expanding stem-cell research and cloning. He called the bill “an assembly-line approach to the production of human embryos … rooted in experimentation and destruction.”

The Associated Press tallied sex offenders who have received Medicaid-subsidized impotence drugs. The tentative total is 788 offenders in 14 states.

A fertility expert claims to have derived patient-matched embryonic stem cells without creating embryos. He reportedly did it by fusing body cells with embryonic stem cells.

Nearly half of all U.S. surrogate pregnancy brokers are serving or seeking gay clients. Surrogates say gays offer more gratitude, more emotional engagement, and less jealousy than many straight couples do.

A small study suggestschemicals used in some cosmetics and plastics may cause male genital deformities. The chemicals are called phthalates.

California haltedstate-subsidized Viagra for sex offenders. New Jersey had subsidized the drug for 55 “high-risk sex offenders” over the past 12 months.

American insurers, patients, and policyholders spent$3.5 billion on weight-loss surgery last year.

An Alzheimer’s patient bought four organs in one day from the same salesman. (The organs were musical.)

Congress dropped plans to restrict women from combat. Republicans wanted to extend the existing combat ban to include positions related to combat. They retreated after the military said the bill would confuse and undermine troops in Iraq.