Covid and A Biochemical Blind Spot
Some Doctors see Covid-19 as a Virus, so want to treat it as a virus. Others see it as more like a malaria, so treat like Malaria. Both sides seem to be having some success with their views, but lots of failure.
Maybe the problem is Covid-19 acts like malaria in some folks and like a virus in others?
Science has known for over 100 years that our biochemical makeup, in particular the Hormones and Nuerotransmitters that drive our emotions and thinking, vary greatly according to the time of day and the time of year. Melotonin is high in winter and low in summer, high at night and low during the day. Sex hormones peak in late summer and fall and are low in late winter and spring and fall a similar cycle on a daily basis. Other major nuerotransmitters like Seretonin, Dopamine and Acytelcholine run on entirely different cycles.
It seems a safe assumption that an egg fertilized in March begins the explosion of growth that becomes our body and brain in a completely different chemical invironment than an egg fertilized in September. But current science is clueless about the impact of this differential development — or perhaps oblivious is a better word.
The problem is this sounds like Astrology. For decades any brain scientist who proposed astrologers, behind all their business driven hype, might be onto some core reality, could kiss their career good-bye. Partly because a Judeo-Christian culture historically has seen astrology as a competing pagan belief.
But also partly because it is enormously difficult to study the impact and interaction of flutuating chemicals in the body and brain of a living organism.
When I was studying the brain in 1973 nuerotransmitter cycles were a big thing in nueropsycology. Not long after a friend introduced me to astrology. My first thought was this was the manifestation of variations in our brains caused by nuerotransmitter cycles. At the time it was pretty clear I wasn’t the only one to have that thought. A year or so later a researcher at the National Institute of Health said to a reporter asking about his research that the results sounded sort of like astrology. He immediately added something like “that would be ridiculous of course.” I took it to mean he knew he could kiss his career good-bye if he suggested astrology might somehow be onto a real biological phenomana. So I went to law school.
Then another year or so later brain scan technology was invented and research on nuerotransmitter cycles dropped out of sight. Brain scans were sexy, new and evidently that was where all the money was going.
Now 40 years later the limitations on brain scan’s are very clear. In a computer a wire uses electrons for every message, trace the circuit and you know where the message is going. The brain is much more devious. A single nueron in the brain may use many different nuerotransmitters to pass messages on. Brain scans only record that a message was sent, it cannot distinguish what neurotransmitter system the message was being carried on. As far as I can tell we have no way to study nuerotransmitter systems in a living brain.
I have been stewing on what is real in astrology for the last 40 years. I think I have a pretty good handle on what in Astrology is real and what is simply people trying to make more than is there. But proving it?
In the early part of the last century scientists, skeptics mostly, tried to test astrology without much success, usually by picking out some characteristic that is supposed to describe, for example, a person born in Cancer. They would then interview or give written tests to a bunch of folks to see if they could find some statisitcal correlation. To someone who knows the number of potential influences on behavior astrology legitimately considers, it was research born in ignorance and seldom produced any useful results.
But one french psychologist got results even the most ardent critics admitted were statistically significant by looking at unusual behavior rather than trying to study what people say. But nonetheless the idea that when you are born influences your later health and thinking dropped off the radar of respectable science.
But now we have big data capability. We can look at objective behavior people engage in, or the illnesses people get, to see if there is a statistical correlations with the multiple influences acting on us during conception and birth.
Well, society has big data capability, not me. I would love to be able to do it but am old and unwilling, and unqualified, to devote my remaining years to building big databases and begging for data to test.
But I have tinkered around and found some intriguing tidbits — hints at what big data could do. Here are some examples.
They examples are based on the fact Federal health statistians say for every 30 day period during the year about 7% to 9% of years worth of new babies will be born, for every 24 hour day about 7% to 9% of a days worth will be born. So one would expect comparing birth dates to some particular group of people engaging in some activity the births would produce birth dates scattered randomly through the year.
Consider the 9/11 perpetrators that killed thousands by hijacking and crashing planes. A highly unusual and despicable behavior. There were 19 hijackers on the planes. A random distribution would be about 1.5 births per year. In fact looking at their actual birth dates, 13 of the 19 were born in the four months between May 1 and Sept 1. None were born in December, January or February. The distribution becomes even more skewed when you eliminate the two perpetrators who were younger brothers of older perpetrators, assuming older brother might have influenced them to do something they ordinarily would not do. One was born a few days before December, the other on March 1, so out of the remaining 17, all were born in the Astrological signs Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Virgo, libra, and Scorpio. None were born in the other six months of the year. A distinctly non-random distribution.
Coincidence? Lets dig deeper.
When you add in the birthdates of Timothy McKey, the Oklahoma City bomber, the husband wife terrorist team that killed 20 or so in San Bernardino California, and the two brothers who committed the Boston Marathon bombing the same pattern holds. Out of these 22 terrorist committing acts of terror 17 of the 22 were born between mid-spring and late summer, and none were born in December, January or February.
Now if you are born in the winter and are feeling a little smug, rein it in. If we look at solo mass killers we start to get a different story.
I did an internet search in 2018 or so seeking someone elses list of the worst mass shooters in history to avoid allegations of cherry picking.
The two most inexplicable modern mass shootings seem to be in a class of their own — killings with no discernable political or personal scores to settle. The Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre of children, and the Las Vegas shooter that opened fire on a concert outside his hotel and killed 58 and wounded 515. Both were both born in mid-April.
When we look at those on the internet list who clearly acted out of anger and attacked their own community we find that out of 8 events seven were born between October 1 and the end of February.
So I did an an internet search for a list of the worst serial killers. For serial killers again fall and winter birthdates dominate, 21 out of 29 were born in Fall or Winter.
Lets change the subject. Is it a coincidence all four faces on Mt Rushmore were born between November and April? That the last two Democratic Presidents were Leo’s or that the last three Republican Presidents were all born in June or July?
What does all this have to do with Covid 19? These non-random distributions suggest when we are born has real behavioral effects based in biochemistry.
Could those biochemical differences cause Covit 19 to impact some people different than others? We have no idea, because we have ignored birth data as a possible data resource. Example — Science is clueless about the cause of diseases like ALS, Parkinsons, or MS. What if big data told us people born in Spring are far more likely to get ALS? Perhaps we could then correlate the birth data to known hormone/Nuerotransmitter cycles and develop a biochemical fingerprint for ALS that would provide clues on how to start early in life altering folks biochemistry to avoid the disease.
Realistically Covid-19 will be long gone before enough data could be developed to be even possibly helpful. But if we start developing big data capability based on birth information we might be on the road to solving other problems that would take a load off the medical profession, and be better prepared for the next pandemic.
I hoping folks out there with more data and nuerobiological expertise will pick up the ball and start closing this data gap. It could help us all.