Dispatches: 19th May, 2021

This field probably got tainted by the likes of Erik von Daniken, but I do find it fascinating and have long considered that myths and legends come from something that actually happened. The study of it is called ‘Geomythology’:

American volcanologist Dorothy Vitaliano coined the term in a 1967 lecture (basing her ideas on those of the Ancient Greek philosopher Euhemerus, who set out to find the real events or people behind popular myths. While geomythologists’ research into the origins of the legend of Atlantis or the myth of the Loch Ness monster may grab the headlines in a sensationalist manner, it is their job is to study ancient stories once regarded as myths or legends, but which are now seen as possible observations of natural phenomena by pre-literate peoples.

“Geomyths represent the earliest inklings of the scientific impulse,” says Adrienne Mayor, folklorist, historian of ancient science and research scholar at Stanford University, California, and author of the important The First Fossil Hunters, “showing that people of antiquity were keen observers and applied the best rational, cohesive thinking of their place and time to explain remarkable natural forces they experienced.”

Today, the growing number of published papers, citations and Google search results show interest in such work is growing in the scientific community. Such events as volcanoes in early human history or even Biblical themes, such as how volcanoes, earthquakes and plagues may have shaped the story of the Exodus found in the Hebrew Bible.

Geologists have started to realize that there’s actually information in some of humanity’s oldest traditions and stories,” says David Montgomery from the University of Washington, author of The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood,“and that while it’s of a different type of information than we tend to gravitate towards in contemporary science, it is still information”.

Any amount of alcohol harms the brain, apparently (not yet peer reviewed says the IT). Meanwhile, MDMA is illegal. Go figure.

The British study, which is still to be peer-reviewed, suggests that the more alcohol consumed, the lower the brain volume. In effect, the more you drink, the worse off your brain. “There’s no threshold drinking for harm – any alcohol is worse. Pretty much the whole brain seems to be affected – not just specific areas, as previously thought,” says the lead author, Anya Topiwala, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford.

MDMA, besides being a ‘party drug’ has uses in couples therapy, as does ketamine in depression treatment. Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t mean it’s good.

The financial sector in the UK is undertaking a study of the impact of the menopause on it’s employees. It’s something that deserves more openness.

Major UK banks, insurers and asset managers are taking part in a landmark survey on menopause, amid fears that a lack of support may be hindering gender equality and blocking women from taking senior roles across the City.

Standard Chartered, which has commissioned the women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society to survey more than 300,000 workers in the financial sector, said the menopause must be considered a “workplace issue”.

Photo: Lucky to have a wooded local park, an island of greenery.