Website housekeeping note–Google Feedburner

Some of you use Google’s Feedburner system to get notified of posts here and other blogs. Unfortunately, Google has deprecated Feedburner and no long supports it (and hasn’t since 2012). I’ve begun to notice a lot of errors crop up (not just here but from other blogs) from Feedburner emails.

As a result, I’ve removed all subscription links to Feedburner from this website. You can subscribe through RSS feeds (if you prefer), email, or any social networking. It all works easily. There are subscriptions links in the column to the left (or right, I may make a change).

Try to do it soon, so you’re always up-to-date on snarky skepticism.

Refusers misuse GMO rice research data

Updated 26 March 2015.

Scientific American blared a headline that “Genetically Modified Crops Pass Benefits to Weeds,” which claimed that the results of a study of GMO rice indicated that the rice might pass certain genetic information to “weeds,” which will then get an unintended biological fitness increase. They stated that the GMO rice could pass bioengineered genes from the GMO rice to the weeds.

The underlying peer-reviewed article, trumpeted by Scientific American, may not say what they think it says. In fact, in my review (below), I’m not sure it was very well done.

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Big Pharma vaccine profits – the real conspiracy

Updated 25 March 2015

One of the ongoing memes, tropes and fabrications of the vaccine deniers is somehow, somewhere, in some Big Pharma boardroom, a group of men and women in suits choose the next vaccine in some magical way, and foist it upon the world just to make billions of dollars. And while magically concocting the vaccine brew, these pharmaceutical execs ignore ethics and morals just to make a profit on hapless vaccine-injured victims worldwide.

The Big Pharma profits conspiracy trope ranges across the junk medicine world. Homeopathy, for example, claims that Big Pharma suppresses the data that shows water cures all diseases. Like Ebola.

But the Big Pharma vaccine profits conspiracy is still one of most amusing myths of the antivaccination world.
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Most published medical research is a failure – it’s not what you think

Yes, you read that right. This so-called shill for the pharmaceutical industry is calling them as I see them–most published medical research articles present information that is eventually a failure.

Now by failure I mean that more often than not, claims that are supported by one or two published articles, rarely lead to a marketed product. I don’t mean that the research is fraudulent, although some are, especially in low level journals frequented by pseudoscience pushers. I don’t mean it’s bad science, although there’s evidence of that, which I’ll discuss below.

And I don’t mean that there’s some grand conspiracy between Big Pharma and everyone else (again, no evidence to support that ignorant nonsense), although there is evidence that some research sponsored by Big Pharma is poorly done.

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Logical fallacies – debunking pseudoscience

Logical fallacies are essentially errors of reasoning in making an argument. When logically fallacious arguments are used, usually based on bad reasoning to support a position (or to try to convince someone to adopt the same position), it is considered a fallacy.

Most of you didn’t know, because I didn’t promote it much, but I had a link in the menu for a list of logical fallacies. It lay fallow, barely read by me or, apparently, anyone else.

However, I decided to update and improve my list of favorite logical fallacies used by all of the pseudoscience crowd. There are many more logical fallacies than what I list, but this blog is focused on providing evidence, in a snarky way, against anti-science claims made by everyone from the vaccine deniers to creationists.
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Gardasil researcher is against the vaccine–another myth debunked

 

Revised 17 March 2015

Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded belief system about immunizations, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, misinterpretation of data, or ignorant Italian provincial courts to make their case. It’s rather easy to debunk these claims, but because of the nature of the internet, old news is recycled as “brand new,” requiring a whole new round of blog posts to discredit the misinformation. It’s impossible to recall one single instance where a vaccine refuser made a statement about vaccines that was not, in fact, rather quickly debunked. Not one.

The pro-children’s health side, those of us who think that vaccines save lives, have been winning the hearts and minds for awhile, given that still around 95% of children in the USA get all of their immunizations prior to entering kindergarten. But that doesn’t stop the refusers from trying, because it’s apparent that the we have gone 360º, so a batch of old anti-vaccination memes are making the rounds again.

One of the latest ones involves the so-called lead Gardasil researcher, Dr. Diane Harper, a former Merck & Co. employee who apparently had some management role in the clinical trials of the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, also known as Gardasil (or Silgard in Europe).

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The results are in – homeopathy is water, overpriced water

I intensely dislike all forms of medical quackery. Of course, my passionate, full-throated, defense of the scientific consensus on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is fairly obvious. There are literally mountains of evidence that support my skepticism of the antivaccine beliefs.

But there’s more junk medicine out there than the pseudoscience pushers running around the vaccine world. One of my favorite ones is homeopathy. It is a scam that tries to convince people that a vial of nothing more than water (and sometimes ethanol) has some magical medical properties. And it’s expensive water, much more expensive than some bottled water that claims it’s bottled at the source of some glacier in the Alps.

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How science deniers use false equivalence to pretend there’s a debate

Original article published 18 December 2012
Revised 30 December 2012
Revised 7 July 2013
Revised 3 November 2013
Revised 2 December 2013
Revised 25 June 2014
Revised 8 January 2015
Revised 15 March 2015

If you read a news article, Google a scientific topic, or watch TV, you’d think that some scientific principles were actually being debated by scientists. The unfiltered information about important scientific subjects allows the science deniers to use a false equivalence to make it appear that the often minority, and scientifically unsupported viewpoint is equivalent to the scientific consensus which is based on huge amounts of published evidence.

From listening to the screaming and yelling, you would think that scientists aren’t sure about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the age of the earth (or even the age of the universe). There are even those who think there’s a debate that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. It’s because some news sources think there’s a debate, so bring one person to represent one side, and one for the other, and the person screams the loudest often wins.

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Index of articles by guest author–Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Updated 12 March 2015

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Below is a list of articles that she has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. Of course, she has written articles about vaccines and legal issues in other locations, which I intend to link here at a later date. This article will be updated as new articles from Dorit are added here.

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Evidence that you’re anti-vaccine–Bob Sears’ personal attacks on Paul Offit

This article is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA). She is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually-stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

On March 13, 2015 Dr. Bob Sears, a California antivaccine physician, wrote a post on Facebook attacking Dr. Paul Offit, pediatrician, vaccine inventor, scientist, vaccine advocate and educator.

Dr. Sears wrote:

A FAILED ATTEMPT TO CHANGE HIS NAME FROM DR. PROFIT TO DR. PROPHET

Everyone’s favorite infectious disease doctor tried to write a compelling argument as to why parents should not have religious freedom to decline vaccines, and the New York Times shot it down. Here’s a link to the Time’s review. So, sorry to help publicize this waste of trees, but the more people who know that this vaccine advocate doesn’t care about religious freedom in the United States the better. Enjoy!
Dr. Bob.

sears-facebook-1
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Stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle

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