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Bob Dylan performing at the Azkena Rock Festival, Spain, in 2010. Alberto Cabello/Wikipedia
Bob Dylan performing at the Azkena Rock Festival, Spain, in 2010. Alberto Cabello/Wikipedia

Once, during slow spells in a long-ago night desk job, I started a game to help keep me alert:  I inserted the word “kerfuffle” into as many news stories as were appropriate. It amused me, especially after I inveigled others to play. (Did I mention slow spells?)

Today I’m amused to find a science version of this word game. The BMJ, a high-browed, peer-reviewed medical journal, reports on an “exponential” increase in references to BoB Dylan.

“In 2014, it was revealed that a group of scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden had been sneaking the lyrics of Bob Dylan into their papers as part of a long-running bet,” said a press release announcing results of an investigation into this behaviour.

Researchers found at least 213 cases, going back to 1970 and lately increasing in incidence, of scientists citing Dylan in biomedical papers: The Times They Are A-Changin’ (many editorials); Blowin’ In The Wind (an article about hang gliding risks); “Knockin’ on pollen’s door” (a report on cell imaging); and “Like a rolling histone” (on an epigenetics study).

Seems to me the people playing at this are Dylan-taunts, risking kerfuffles. (Sorry.) Read the report yourself, here:  The Publication Game — Freewheelin’ scientists: citing Bob Dylan in the biomedical literature, by Carl Gornitzki, Agne Larsson,and Bengt Fadeel, The BMJ

Moving on, some serious stories and touching videos are worth attention:

What Happened to Adam, by Heather Vogell, ProPublica

It took one mother seven years to learn that the for-profit school she trusted with her son had strapped him down again and again, one time after not picking up his Legos.

Why People Believe Meaningless Bullshit, by Jesse Singal, New York Magazine

“We are currently in a golden age of bullshit. The internet is awash with unchecked claims.  … read the story

Addicted to Distraction, by Tony Schwartznov, The New York Times

Addiction is the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life. By that definition, nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet. .… read the story

In Case You Missed It: Time named German Chancellor Angela Merkel its Person of the Year. Read Time’s story about her “journey from daughter of a Lutheran pastor in East Germany to de facto lead of a continent.”

Last but not least, while foreign ministers from several nations attempt, again, to tackle Syria’s agony, the plight of refugees inspired at least two choirs in Canada. Have a listen:

On the 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, 600 people sang Imagine, as part of a fund-raiser to sponsor a Syrian family:

Alongside the seasonal chorus of carols, a children’s choir put on a production “Welcome to Canada Syrian Refugees.” In Arabic, the boys and girls performed a historical song sung to the Prophet Mohamed when he sought refuge from Makkah to Medina:

Find the most recent additions to F&O’s trove of reports, commentary and photo-essays, here on our Contents page, updated Saturdays or as major events warrant.

— Deborah Jones

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