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Human Performance Goes to the Dogs

Human Performance Goes to the Dogs

As someone who studies human performance, from time to time I have people ask why scientists will test animals to understand human performance.  In most cases, it is because to continue to understand why humans can do what they do (and how we can train them to do ‘it’ better), we have to use models that allow us to do things that we can’t do in humans.  For example, my lab has a long-running set of experiments where we are looking at humans’ drive to be active.  Much of this drive probably o...
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Nazi horrors and carrying on

In doing research for this week’s Huffines Institute podcast with Sports Illustrated’s David Epstein (check out the podcast - it is on the hot stories for the coming Olympic Games), I ran across a story that David recently wrote about Ben Helfgott, a former British Olympic weightlifter (yes, it is tough when your research actually includes reading Sports Illustrated!).  David’s story is an incredibly moving story that is less about sports and more about the ...
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Sports Medicine Goes to the Circus!

The Bryan/College Station area has its share of Circuses that come to town on a yearly basis.  Just in the last few months we’ve had several here ranging from the traditional animal-based Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus, to the high-flying Cirque du Soleil Dralion.  While we watch in awe, we often forget that both the animal and human performers in these shows are also athletes and that their performances are quite demanding both physically and mentally.  
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Dietary Documentary Left Out Facts

Dietary Documentary Left Out Facts

My wife and I recently watched a documentary called “Forks Over Knives”.  The point of the film was that if you ate a plant-based diet (yep, no dairy or meat), you would lose weight, fix all your metabolic disorders, and probably would wind-up looking better to boot!  On the surface, it would seem that the film was well grounded in facts – the four primary characters in the film were Doctors (three M.D.s and one PhD), while the one contrarian quoted was a professional with only a ‘Masters de...
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Foul language / good podcast. Do you run the podcast?

Foul language / good podcast. Do you run the podcast?

As Director of the Huffines Institute, I have ultimate responsibility for everything that goes up on the Institute’s website. While we have several staff members that in reality make the final judgment in many cases, the proverbial ‘buck’ stops at my desk regarding the content of our site. Thus, we had extensive debates over whether or not we should run this week’s podcast “Usurpers” that deals with gene doping, cross country racing, and the drive to win. While you can find pieces on t...
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Amazing Things Happening in the Marathon

Amazing Things Happening in the Marathon

I’ve written here before about some of the championship demands of the modern-day marathon. For example, to just qualify for the US Olympic Marathon team, you would have had to run the 26.2 miles averaging 12.2 mph (that’s a mile every 4 minutes and 55 seconds). Sports Illustrated’s David Epstein – who visited College Station recently – has a new piece in the 4/16/12 edition of SI about the 2008 Olympic Marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru, who was found dead several months ago. I would highly...
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Students or Athletes?

Students or Athletes?

I caught an interesting interview last week with Dr. Mark Emmert, the NCAA president. There were a variety of topics covered during this candid interview, including whether the NCAA Basketball tournament would ever be expanded beyond the current 68 teams, whether college athletes would ever become ‘more than amateurs’, the current web of regulations that college athletic programs have to work within, and whether there will ever be a playoff in the football bowl system division.
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Ask Braun - Taking PEDs for Fame and Fortune

Ask Braun - Taking PEDs for Fame and Fortune

Why do elite athletes risk take performance enhancing drugs (PED, dope)?  This question continues to be raised in light of Ryan Braun’s case.  Braun supposedly tested with extremely high levels of synthetic testosterone.  While Braun appears to have gotten away with taking PED’s because the appeal of his positive PED test was upheld yesterday based on ‘chain of custody’ issues, he risked some tremendous penalties by taking PEDs.  At minimum, the official penalty was a 50-game suspension.  Pr...
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Scientific misconduct: It happens but is punished severely

Scientific misconduct: It happens but is punished severely

This past Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a piece on a Dr. A. Potti, a fairly renowned cancer researcher, who while at Duke University evidently manipulated his data so that his results would appear to better than they were.  There is no excusing this type of manipulation (or of data fabrication – which also happens in science as well), especially because it appears some cancer patients’ treatments may have been dictated by these flawed results.  But it leads to a bigger question: “Is scientific misco...
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From the Overreaction files: "Sleeping Can Kill!"

From the Overreaction files: "Sleeping Can Kill!"

“Hey…pssstt….Did you know that about 25% of people die in their sleep? Frankly this concerns me so much, I may not go to sleep again.” Faced with that statement, most of us would scoff and continue with our life. So, why do we get so excited about people that die after they exercise? Is exercise so dangerous that we should all resolve to never exercise again?
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