Ill-Advised Studies From the NIH

Lawmakers in Washington are calling on the National Institutes of Health to explain why millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on seemingly ridiculous research projects, including a study of why women crash cars and what happens to drug-abusing gay couples when they adopt children.

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    Yoga Spells Doom

    When you're old, everything is a risk. That's why USC researchers are concerned about the "overall safety of yoga for older adults," which can be "ineffective or even injurious." So a squad of scientists will spend nearly $700,000 tracking 24 participants between the ages of 65 and 90 as they creak and groan their way through an 8-month yoga course -- all to be captured on "high-speed cameras" and with "muscular-skeletal modeling" to figure out what's safe for the elderly.
    Reuters
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    Fight or Flight

    If you were ever worried about getting beaten up after school as a kid, then you're probably fat today, having unprotected sex, doing drugs and getting into a lot of fights -- at least according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Well, worry no more -- Penn scientists are running a $189,803 study for kids who are concerned about "appearing incompetent in classrooms or appearing weak ... on the playgrounds." The program will "train parents to provide ... emotionally-supportive coaching," but there's a catch: only black families can apply.
    Reuters
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    Yeah? Yeah? Do Coke?

    The NIH is spending a quarter of a million dollars to help teach cocaine users not to act impulsively. Figuring out why some cokeheads have dangerous sex and others have safe sex would help create "the most effective language for use in media campaigns," according to the study's abstract.
    Reuters
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    Smack Down

    Poor, smack-using minorities living in the city "are particularly at risk for HIV infection" because they suffer from "anxiety sensitivity" and get very upset when bad things happen. So the NIH is funding a $371,000 study to reduce anxiety and teach heroin addicts about "healthy relationships" where they don't have risky sex, all in the hopes of reducing HIV/AIDS rates.
    AP
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    Heather Has Two Daddies

    Gay men are at high risk for HIV, drug abuse and depression, notes an NIH study, so what happens when they adopt? "Having children marks an important developmental transition for any individual," says a grant approved by the NIH, "and when these changes occur in the life of a gay man, the stakes are higher still." Since most new parents aren't very frisky around the house, gay men may decide to find a new flame elsewhere, pushing the risk of contracting sexual diseases still higher. The $220,000 study will take a look at risk factors as gay fathers "navigate the myriad life-changing situations faced as parents."
    Reuters
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    Marijuana--It's Sophomoric

    A "pep talk" used to mean a pat on the head and a swift kick to the rear, but these days it can cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars. The NIH is funding a $648,737 study that provides a "school-based, brief intervention for marijuana using, Hispanic/Latino 10th graders," who are perhaps the highest-risk group for developing marijuana problems. Participants in the study will get brief advice and some feedback, and the lucky members of the test group will get a "motivational interview" as well -- that swift-kicking pep talk that doctors hope will keep them clean.
    Reuters
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    Driving Miss Daisy

    The NIH approved a $268,000 grant to study "the risks facing women drivers today." The NIH is concerned that crash rates among women drivers are on the rise, so it asking whether women lack "inadequate basic driving skills," are drinking and driving, taking more risks or failing to obey traffic laws.
    YouTube
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