When reading statements from creationists, it’s always unclear why they accept the premise that the world is only 6000 years old, despite a huge amount of evidence that shows otherwise. Or why they cannot accept or just reject common descent of all organisms, including humans, through the powerful processes of evolution. Is it because biological evolution is so difficult to grasp? Or the evidence takes a certain amount of scientific knowledge? Or is it because it is impossible to comprehend the almost infinite number of changes in DNA that are required to evolve from a single cell organism to an ape?
(more…) «Analytical thinking undermines religious belief»
Actually, this article is about Ken Ham, horses, and the height of a horse. Close enough. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kenny, he is an evolution denialist whose anti-scientific ideas could be easily disregarded, as he preaches his silly ideas to ignorant, uneducated Americans. Actually, it would have been best if he had stayed in Australia with his anti-science pal, Meryl Dorey, the vaccine denier who runs the vaccine-hating Australian Vaccine Network. So, Kenny runs Answers in Genesis (AIG), a creationist faux-science screed, that was originally written to counter the more scientific, and better written, TalkOrigins website, which was constructed over the years to debunk the stupidity of creationism, which is rather easy. Admittedly, AIG is a prettier website, but Kenny lacks any evidence whatsoever for his claims, so, as we all know, if you don’t have a message, make it look nice.
(more…) «Ken Ham and a horse’s…»
One of the larger problems of the internet (OK, there are a lot) is how science is discussed out in the world. Google any science topic, and you’ll get thousand or millions of hits on any idea in science or medicine. The information is derived from other websites, news reports, rumors, or, to be cynical, from outright fabrication. In the fields of science and medicine, critical thinking is absolutely necessary to understanding it. Because it’s hard work, pseudoscience and anti-science have become quite prevalent lately.
(more…) «Checking for pseudoscience in real…»
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting about a whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in South Florida area. There have been other outbreaks reported in Wisconsin, Washington state, Illinois, British Columbia, England, and Australia. This upsurge in whooping cough cases can mostly be blamed on falling vaccination rates and the lack of booster vaccinations in adults. Importantly, whooping cough can be prevented, with almost no risk, with a DaTP vaccine.
(more…) «Whooping cough outbreak in South…»
When we hear about global warming these days, it’s usually about melting ice in polar regions or rising ocean levels, which has already had some disastrous effects. The global warming denialists continue to call it a “scientific controversy”, which it isn’t, and resist all efforts to halt or reverse human activities that may contribute to climate change.
Some scientists have speculated whether it’s too late to reverse global warming, since the earth has a strong positive feedback mechanism where as it gets warmer, things happen to make it even warmer. For example, ice reflects sunlight, reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the earth. As the ice melts, and is replaced by dark land or water, more heat is absorb, melting more ice, then absorbing more heat. Once the earth hits some tipping point, it may be impossible to reverse course.
(more…) «Consequences of global warming–healthcare»
According to a CBS report, the CDC has reported that the number of measles cases in the US in 2011 was the largest since 1996. In 2000, measles had been eliminated from the US, but that’s changed dramatically in the ensuing decade. There were 222 cases in the US in 2011, about quadruple the number in an average year.
(more…) «Measles–2011 measles outbreak largest in…»
On January 1, 2011, Connecticut mandated that any child between 6 and 59 months old must be vaccinated for influenza if they are to be enrolled in a licensed Connecticut day care center. So the vaccination rate for kids in that age group went from around 54% in 2009-10 to 85% during the 2010-11 flu season.
Emergency department visits for flu and flu-like illness dropped from 34% in 2008 to 30% in 2011, or around 72,000 visits. There was also a 30% decrease in emergency department visits for children in the 6-59 month age range. Like many of these diseases there’s a myth that they are not that dangerous. Except a significant portion of these kids who contract the disease will have other, more serious, issues like pneumonia or even death.
The vaccination program benefits both children and adults that come in contact with the children (though it would be better if the parents were vaccinated too). And vaccines save lives. Period. End of debate.
If you ask any biologist or medical researcher about pseudoscience, they would probably talk about creationism, most of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), homeopathy, sasquatch, and a few other things not so much in the public eye. In the physical sciences, we hear about the global warming denialists, the Theory of the Big Bang denialists, and, again, a few other things that aren’t really famous. But in the total world of pseudoscience, it always seemed like medicine gets the bulk of it, but that just may be a matter of perspective rather than reality.
(more…) «Pseudoscience and logical fallacies in…»
This week must be whooping cough news week, which means it’s not a good week. The Wausau (Wisconsin) Daily Herald reports that a whooping cough outbreak has hit the Wausau area. According to the report, more than 100 cases have been seen in the area since the beginning of 2012. And as we have discussed, although the disease is not usually dangerous, it has significant consequences for a number of people including children and those who are immune compromised.
(more…) «More whooping cough outbreaks, now…»
According to the CBC, the whooping cough outbreak is still growing in Fraser Valley, British Columbia in Canada. Fifty cases have been reported recently, bringing the total to around 250 cases in one small area. And now there are cases in Vancouver, a large city, where the highly contagious whooping cough infection will spread quickly to those who are unvaccinated, or whose immunity from vaccination has worn off.
(more…) «Whooping cough outbreak in British…»
If you’re watching the series, Frozen Planet on the Discovery Channel (in the USA), you’d be watching some fascinating and lovely filming (especially in HD). Particularly amazing were the strange “brinicles” or ice stalactites, which form underneath the sea ice, creating a pipe of super cold water that freezes nearly instantly. As it reaches the sea floor, it rapidly freezes any organisms crawling around nearby. It was both wonderful and otherworldly to watch in time-lapse filming.
(more…) «The Discovery Channel and global…»
In 2008, Louisiana passed the Louisiana Science Education Pact (LSEP)which allowed public school teachers to present “scientific criticisms” of evolution and climate change. Most scientists considered the law to be anti-evolution, since it was supported by the Discovery Institute (the Seattle based promotor of the evolution denialist Intelligent Design belief). The law’s sole purpose was to allow the teaching of creationism in public schools. Also, since it is very similar to Tennessee’s Monkey Bill (or more correctly, the Monkey Bill “apes” the Louisiana bill), it also allows teachers to instruct students about those non-existent scientific controversies in global warming and abiogenesis too.
(more…) «Where Louisiana Republicans hate the…»
The New York Times has reported that cases of measles in the US has quadrupled from 2010 to 2011. Though it was large increase, it is still rare with only 222 cases throughout the United States spread across 17 outbreaks. However, since the disease is so contagious, an outbreak can develop and grow quite quickly.
The disease is much more frequent in Europe, the New York Times reported, and many of the outbreaks were traced to foreign visitors or Americans returning from trips, typically Europe. The virus then spreads to children who have not received vaccinations against the highly contagious disease.
As we have discussed, measles can be a dangerous disease. One-third of all U.S. measles cases required hospitalization. Although most children who contract measles survive the disease, the prognosis includes severe complications including death from panencephalitis. Also infected children, even if they have no serious complications, can infect someone who is immune-compromised. In that case, the consequences could be deadly.
Please, vaccinate your children.
It’s always interesting to observe how people make arguments to defend their points-of-view or to debunk the opposing point. In general, arguments will employ various logical fallacies to confuse the other side or even to convince the audience that the other side is wrong. In the science vs. pseudoscience world, we mostly find that those arguing for a pseudoscience (creationism, anti-vaccination, global warming denialism, homeopathy, and many many others) use logical fallacies to discredit the science. Of course, we can find many instances of science itself using the same fallacies to dispute alternative scientific ideas or theories.
(more…) «Pseudoscience, science and false dichotomy»
Pat Summitt, probably one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, has stepped down as the coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team. She announced that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in August 2011, and she had coached the 2011-12 season, but today, as a result of the disease, she resigned. During her career, she won 8 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championships, a record that is almost impossible to comprehend. Her reputation and success is the envy of college sports.
Early onset AD is usually defined as a diagnosis before the age of 65. Early onset AD may occur in individuals as young as their 30′s (very rare), but with most diagnoses in patients in their 50′s. Summitt was diagnosed at the age of 58 (and without knowing everything, she might have had symptoms earlier), so the age of onset is not unusual.
(more…) «Early onset Alzheimer’s disease ends…»
Updating previous articles about the group of mysterious neurological symptoms in LeRoy (NY, outside of Rochester) High School students along with a few non-students, the EPA has tested the groundwater around the high school, and it shows no contaminants including tricholoroethylene (TCE) that was spilled from a 1970′s train derailment nearby. Whatever the cause of the symptoms are, it is probably not pollutants. And the mystery continues.
As you recall, Tennessee’s governor, Republican Bill Haslam, did not veto HB 368, but allowed it to become law. The legislation allows public schools to teach the scientific controversies about evolution and global warming. Once again, there are no scientific controversies regarding evolution and global warming (though admittedly there are ongoing discussions about mechanics and other issues, as there are with all scientific theories). The only controversies are political and rhetorical, and evolution-denialism is based in religious beliefs, not in real science. Tennessee now will allow the teaching of creationism, a religious dogma, in publicly funded schools in direct opposition to the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. In every single case, when these religious laws were brought before State and Federal courts, the laws were overturned. This law will also be thrown out.
(more…) «Tennessee’s Monkey Bill–harmful to education»
The UK’s Health Protection Agency is reporting an increase in reports of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) over what was observed in 2011. There have been 655 cases of whooping cough in England so far in 2012, while there were 1,040 cases in 2011. The cases are all across England, but with clusters in schools and universities.
Again, whooping cough is a serious disease for children with complications that include death. Although it can be treated with antibiotics, it can be easily prevented with a vaccine.
According to Vaccine News Daily, Chickenpox spreads to five Fla. public schools, the chickenpox (Varicella zoster) outbreak in Florida is increasing in size:
Health officials in Florida added 25 students who are not vaccinated against chickenpox to a list of those barred from attending class in five public schools in High Springs and Alachua on Wednesday.
There have been 65 cases of chickenpox reported in the northwest part of Alachua County, prompting the health department to prohibit unvaccinated students from attending the Alachua Learning Center.
This week, the Huffington Post, one of the 10 worst anti-science websites, continues to confirm our suspicions about the quality of their science journalism. HuffPo supports the anti-vaccination lunacy, have editors who claim homeopathy works, and that a bug on the lens of a camera is an alien spacecraft. It’s not clear why anyone with a stitch of science background would read that thing, but sometimes their junk science wanders over into bad journalism of the highest sort. HuffPo is the FoxNews of the left wing, a poorly written and edited mouthpiece for the uncritical left.
(more…) «Where the Huffington Post ignores…»