Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

Supreme Court refuses to review decisions to keep religion out of schools

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari (meaning they refused to hear the cases, so the lower court decision stands) for two decisions from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has appellate jurisdiction over most western US states.  
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Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (Update 4)

If you’re looking for a cure for your cancer, don’t look to evolution-deniers for hope. As for me, I give thanks to Darwin and the researchers who have stood on his shoulders.–Leslie Brunetta

A quick update on Tennessee’s “Monkey Bill”, which is a Republican-led anti-evolution and global warming denying bill.  The bill, HB 368, was  sent to Governor Bill Haslam this week for consideration.  Gov. Haslam has until April 9 2012 to either sign it, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it.  The bill encourages teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” in topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life (known as abiogenesis), global warming and human cloning.”  The scientific weaknesses are nearly nonexistent, except in the mind of the science denialists that inhabit the Republican Party, particularly in the South.


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The history of the anti-vaccination movement, includes a theme song

The rousing anti-vaccination hymn.

Sometimes I run across articles and posts just because someone I follow on Twitter or Facebook will post a link that I happen to catch.  Of course, I miss about 95% of what’s posted because I just don’t have the time to read them all.  One person’s postings gets checked more frequently, since she focuses on vaccines, autism, and health care myths of all sorts.  I ran across her while reading comments that followed an article in the LA Times (the story has long been deleted from my overloaded memory cells).  She was responding to someone who maintained parents of autistic children were cheating the government out of disability payments.  Let’s just say she was much nicer than I was.

Today, she posted a link to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia‘s History of Vaccines blog, which I had never seen before.  I could go on about how much information is out there in the internet, but I pick and choose what I read and don’t read.  This blog will be on the “must read” list.
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Antievolution and anti-science education–New York City?

New York City Department of Education bans both. Irony ensues.

The reach of the crazy creationists always seemed like a southern thing.  Mississippi and Alabama are backwards states with bad education where they invest more in football than science education.  Tennessee is trying to relive the Scopes Monkey Trial.  Oklahoma and Louisiana are trying to have their students deny all kinds of science from evolution to climate change.

But we have always assumed that the northern progressive parts of the USA were resistant to these science denialists.  Unfortunately, the stupidity has reached north into the New York City Department of Education, by far, the largest public school district in the United States with over 1.1 million students.  They have decided to ban the following words for testing, because it might offend some of their students:
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The UK is learning bad habits from the United States

Fabrice Muamba receiving emergency treatment on field.

No, it’s not how the UK is getting our bad reality TV.  We actually stole that from the BBC.  

No, it’s not getting obese from eating too many fast foot restaurants.  To use the old adage, “that ship has sailed.”  

No, it’s not religion becoming a part of the political discourse.  Oh wait, here we go.

First a little background.  During a football match (the British version, what we call soccer, something we haven’t borrowed from them), a player named Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch (field).  Only 23 years old, he had a cardiac arrest, and he was defibrillated 12 times over a 78 minute time period before his heart restarted.  The newspapers in England (not always known for their ability to control sensationalist headlines) touted that he was dead for 78 minutes, and that it was some sort of miracle that he survived.
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Measles outbreak in United Kingdom–worst since introduction of MMR vaccine

The United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced that a measles outbreak in the Merseyside area is the largest since the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) was introduced in 1988. There have been 113 confirmed cases, and another 43 probable cases–28 of these individuals needed hospital treatment.  

About one-quarter of the confirmed cases were teenagers (15-18 years old) and young adults who were never vaccinated as children. Another quarter of the cases were in children under the age of 13 months who are too young to be vaccinated. The majority of the remaining confirmed cases were unvaccinated children over 13 months and less than 15 years old.  
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The anti-vaccination movement and resistance to allergen-immunotherapy

Doesn’t cause autism.

Sometimes, there are consequences to a pseudoscience movement that goes far beyond the immediate goals of that movement.  I have written many times about the anti-vaccination lunacy, but almost always it’s about the immediate consequences of not vaccinating children (and sometimes adults):  infection and the consequences of that disease, up to and including death.  Then I realized that it’s possible that anyone who buys into the anti-vaccination foolishness may also reject other injectables, such as contrast agents used in imaging.
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Creationism legislation–Tennessee ACLU update

As we discussed previously, Tennessee is doing all it can to violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution by pushing an anti-science legislation onto the public school students of the state.  They want teachers to allow discussion of the non-existent “scientific controversy” regarding the origin of life, evolution and climate change.  The only controversy is in the deluded brains of Republican legislators pushing the religious agenda of the fundamentalist Christians.  
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Australia sees sharp rise in whooping cough cases

According to the Vaccine News Daily, Australian sees sharp rise in whooping cough cases. In 2011, Australia has seen about 38,000 cases of  whooping cough, despite a relatively high level of vaccination. As a comparison, California, which has about 15 million more people than Australia (37 million and 22 million people, respectively) had only 3,000 cases of whooping cough in 2011.  Some of the difference may be related to improved diagnostic procedures, but they have also been implemented in California.
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Antioxidant supplements–hype doesn’t match reality

I’ve never been a fan of vitamin supplements.  Aside from a very few supplements intended for a few specific clinical conditions, like vitamin C and scurvy, they have little use in preventing or treating diseases.  In fact, because mammalian physiology has evolved a homeostasis for these chemicals, any excess amount that can’t be stored is cleared by the kidneys and becomes part of your urine.  I’m willing to venture that the urine of many Americans is quite expensive, with all of the cleared vitamins and other micronutrients.  A balanced diet over several weeks is sufficient to provide the body with all of the nutrients and vitamins to be healthy and strong.  In fact, you are not even required to have all vitamins and nutrients every day, as storage of a few nutrients will be released as necessary, and clinical manifestations of nutrient deficiency may take weeks or months.  

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