Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Can YouTube Videos Contribute to Scientific Research?

Apparently they can.  Mind Hacks has a great post about a study on the effects of Salvia divinorum, a hallucinogenic plant that is still legal to obtain in many countries.  Despite the fact that Salvia has been around for a long time, it has only recently gained popularity in the U.S. and elsewhere due to the fact that it can be gotten legally.  Because its rise in popularity is a relatively recent phenomenon, there is very little known about the drug from a scientific perspective.  The researchers in this study apparently decided to use YouTube videos of people smoking the plant to characterize the behavioral effects, which are apparently very rapid to appear (about 30 seconds from first "hit"), and pretty short lived (the high seemed to dissipate after about 8 minutes).  I think as a control group, though, they should have made the viewers also watch YouTube videos of people who were not high on Salvia, they probably would have recorded just as much crazy behavior.

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