Coffey has written for many national outlets, as detailed below.
Science at Forbes.com::
- (‘Srhooms and spirituality) Bicycle Day And the 1962 Harvard Experiment That Showed Psilocybin Can Create Lasting, Positive Spiritual Change. This is the story of an exceptional, Harvard University study of the effect of psilocybin on spirituality and mysticism. The study was conducted in 1962 during the heyday of the Harvard Psychology Lab’s experiments with psychedelics. As controversial as nearly all of the studies from the Lab became in later years, this particular study’s conclusions have been supported by those of two far more recent examinations of the psilocybin/spirituality association.
- (‘Shrooms and creativity) Psilocybin Impairs Productive Creativity, At Least While Users Are ‘Stoned’ — Or So A New Study Suggests. Ask almost any psilocybin lover, and you’ll hear that magic mushrooms enhance creativity. But, really, should science trust the nearly universal experience of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of stoners? Probably not.
- (‘Shrooms and psychotherapy) ‘Psilocybin Service Centers’ In Oregon Will Explore And Exploit The Therapeutic ‘Magic’ Of Magic Mushrooms. These service centers won’t be drive-through places where mechanics check the enchantment pressure of your psychedelic stash. Come 2023, they will be distribution centers for psilocybin as mandated under Oregon’s Ballot Measure 109, passed by popular vote in November of 2020. They may also be where psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is given.
- (A simple explanation) How Cosmic Rays Help Scientists Tell How Old Dead Stuff Is. This is an exuberant, plain language primer on radiocarbon dating, in 20 facts.
- (Stargazing and astronomy) In Early March, Look to The West for the Zodiacal Light! During these early weeks of March, Earth is at such an angle to the disk-shaped cloud of cosmic dust surrounding it that, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, you might be able to catch a beautiful glimpse even without a telescope.
- (History and hard evidence meet spirituality) With a ‘Handshake,’ Science and Religion Pry Open Early Mysteries Of The Catholic Church. New radiocarbon dating has produced definitive results about a relic of an early Christian saint venerated for centuries in Rome. The care with which the researchers placed their scientific findings in context opened a door wide to conjecture about an important Church dogma.
- (We thought they kept us young) Longer Telomeres, A Heavily Hyped Goal Of Anti-Aging Tonics And Salves, Create A Predisposition To Cancer. Dr. Titia de Lange’s recent work, published in the journal eLife, provides the first proof that, by limiting cell division, telomeres repress cancer.
- (Even fish need friends) Social Distancing Is Wearying — For Humans, And Maybe Even For Fish. A recent study by an international research team led by Erin Schuman of Frankfurt’s Max Planck Institute for Brain Research shows that zebrafish, too, may hate to be alone long-term.
- (Early primate eyes) Scientists May Have Found The Evolutionary Roots Of Human Vision. New research suggests that the design of the visual processing system of Madagascar’s gray mouse lemur holds secrets about the origins of vision for humans and for primates around the world.
- (Darwin was right) Wind Creates Evolutionary Changes In Flying Insects, Depriving Them Of Flight. The first scientist known to be intrigued by flightless insects was the twenty-two-year-old Charles Darwin when, in January of 1831, he visited the Portuguese-held island of Madeira off the coast of Morocco.
- (Really old mean girls) Estrus, and the Evolution of Mean Girl Behavior. Competition among ancestral women for mates might have been fierce.
- (Say goodbye to cognitive decline … some day) Aging Mice Have Memory And Cognitive Declines Reversed With An Experimental Drug. A small-molecule drug named ISRIB quickly and safely restores to old mice youthful levels of cognitive function.
- (Maybe you’ll live longer) Longevity Linked To Daily Glucosamine/Chondroitin In An Epidemiological Study. Mortality data from an epidemiological study of nearly 17,000 patients showed that people who took a supplement had an all-cause mortality rate that was 39% lower than that of other study participants. For cardiovascular-related deaths the supplement group’s mortality rate was 65% lower.
- (Take parenting tips from the birds) How Some Songbirds Have Evolved to Play Their Terrible ‘Darwinian’ Cards. Here’s an evolutionary riddle: Should the investment that parents make in their offspring benefit the parents or the offspring? If the answer is “offspring,” must all benefit equally? If not, which one should the parents favor?
- (When lightning is forecast in the brain) Epileptic Seizures Aren’t Entirely Random. Discovery May Lead To Seizure Forecasting System. If people with epilepsy could get “seizure warnings” akin to thunderstorm warnings, their neurological disorder might be less disruptive to their lives.
- (COVID and smallpox vaccines) Tales from the Vaccine Vault: 30 Facts about Smallpox and the Coronavirus. Together the facts tell a “then and now” story about how difficult it is to eradicate a disease, how vaccines work, and how devastating a virus left unchecked can be.
- (COVID and diptheria vaccines. More Tales From The Vaccine Vault: 25 Facts About The Coronavirus And Diphtheria Vaccine. Because diphtheria used to fill the graveyards with children’s headstones, it struck terror akin to that of the coronavirus.
- (Infidelity in primates) Monogamy in New World Monkeys … And in Humans. A species of New World monkeys seems to have found a tidy solution to the infidelity “problem” that many mammals face.
- (Epigenetics) A Scientist’s Bakers Yeast Showed How Quickly Evolution Can Happen. At first glance a dish of baker’s yeast in 2020 has little to do with starving pregnant women in Holland in the winter of 1944-1945.
- (Mothers and babies) Do Animals Know Mother Love? Darwin assumed that emotions like mother love are available to at least some animals.
- (Teaching and learning) Dear Enemies’ Are Made when a Song Sparrow Learns to Sing. For for males of the species, the teaching and the learning can make the wheel spin a little longer.
- (Spider mating) Do Male Brown Spiders Prefer a Little Death with Their Sex? What would Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin say about the erotic lives of male spiders?
- (Intelligence in early humans) So Long “Homo Stupidus.” Hello, Intelligent, Compassionate, Neanderthals? Studies illuminating what it may have been like to be a Neanderthal child have helped upend the idea of Neanderthals as brutish, sub-human, and lacking the “right” cognitive stuff.
- (Evolution at work) Partial Deafness Helps African Naked Mole-Rats Hear At All. Every naked mole-rat is nearly deaf. Scientists have searched for a survival function to the impairment.
- (Coronavirus antibodies) Researchers Just Found That Antibody Levels Decline Soon After Coronavirus Symptoms End. The good news is that your immune system has a memory.
- (Discovery of a new dinosaur) A New Genus And Species Of Dinosaur From The Gobi Desert. Skeletons and partial relics of oviraptoridae that had two-toed forelimbs were discovered in Mongolia.
- (The evolution of intelligence) Facial Recognition Development in Wasps Hints at a Mystery of Human Evolution. Scientists have long wondered how prehistoric humans quickly unstuck themselves from the Stone Age and rapidly became as intellectually and socially capable as modern humans. Recent discoveries about wasps may hold a clue.
- (Down syndrome might one day be treatable) Scientists Just Learned a Way to Treat Down Syndrome Prenatally — in Mice. For humans, a drug made from a plant compound that has anti-inflammatory properties represents a possibility for prenatal treatments that are personalized to meet the needs and metabolisms of individual babies.
- (Happy Halloween) Zombie Wildfires and Other Science Zombies to Scare the Daylights Out of You. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Scientific American Samples:
- Bison versus Mammoths: New Culprit in the Disappearance of North America’s Giants. A scientist turns up new clues to the disappearance of North America’s giant beavers, saber-toothed cats and other large mammals.
- Outsmarting Dengue Fever. Why one scientist is vaccinating mosquitoes, not patients.
- Corals in Lust. Why they spawn only at twilight, and only a few times a year.
- Beauty and the Beasts. The sight of a pretty woman brings out the war monger in men.
Discover Magazine Samples:
- Hiking Las Vegas. Just a few miles from the perfectly enclosed, artificial worlds of the Strip’s casinos, there lie some beautiful and accessible spectacles of nature.
- Winemaking: Science, Nature, and Fancy Footwork. Each glass tells you something about the wine’s milieu as well as the vintner’s approach.
- A host of articles including many “20 Things You Didn’t Know about…” ones, for Discover Magazine. (Page upon page. Just keep clicking.)
Other Magazine Samples:
- Darwin in Love. Charles Darwin, who of all people should have known better, married his first cousin. Did his love for Emma color his later works? (JSTOR Daily)
- The Brain Science Behind Conspiracy Theories. It might not be a lack of intelligence that leads many to believe wild—and wildly inaccurate—information, but instead our mind’s way of protecting us from feelings of isolation and despair. (DAME Magazine)
Vermont Public Radio Samples
For about a decade (late 1990s to late 2000s) I contributed commentaries to Vermont Public radio as an on-air personality specializing in mental health. Just a few are still online. Four were part of a series that won a Vermont AP award for VPR. Those commentaries are at https://archive.vpr.org/vpr-author/rebecca-coffey/
Science-Based Op-Eds and Think Pieces:
- Barrett Says Judges Can Avoid Beliefs Coloring Judicial Rulings; Social Scientists Say It’s Challenging (Forbes.com)
- Why People Believe Genuinely Fake News (DAME Magazine)
- Trump Can’t Control Himself (NY Daily News)
- All the President’s White Women (NY Daily News)
- Actually, Truth Isn’t Truth (NY Daily News)
- What Would Sigmund Freud Say about Gay Conversion Therapy? (Seattle Times)
- The Supreme Court Meets Sigmund Freud (Chicago Tribune)
- Beyond the Best Interests of the Migrant Child. (PsychologyToday.com) What Anna Freud knew about traumatized children’s needs.
- The Human Ape. (PsychologyToday.com) Our animal nature is undeniable. But is beastly behavior inevitable? (Written in the early days of #MeToo)
- Punching Anti-Gay Hate Right in the Nose. (PsychologyToday.com) Can a venom-spewing church become a safe space for queer and questioning kids?
- Who Would Jesus Stone?. (PsychologyToday.com) Nonviolence as psychological warfare in a hate-filled world
- Is America Safer When Good Guys Have Guns? (PsychologyToday.com) Homicide data + crime victimization survey results = surprise.
- Senator Stacey Campfield Out-Does Congressman Todd Akin. (PsychologyToday.com) Why did the Tennessee senator get his facts on HIV/AIDS so hysterically wrong?
- Congressman Akin, Meet Genghis Khan. (PsychologyToday.com) The DNA of 8% of men in the former Mongol empire prove Akin wrong about rape.
- Thoughts for the Fifth Anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre. (PsychologyToday.com) On gun control and safety nets.
- For Beck and Branch, Rebecca produced the Science Bits series.
- The video documentary Attacking Anxiety is on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/manage/406613703/general This science documentary won the Red ribbon and the American Film & Video Festival, the Cine Golden eagle, and the the silver ribbon at the Columbus International film Festival.