Checking for pseudoscience in real science news (updated)

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.   Continue reading “Checking for pseudoscience in real science news (updated)”

Whooping cough outbreak in South Florida

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. Continue reading “Whooping cough outbreak in South Florida”

Consequences of global warming–healthcare

Combining global warming- and evolution-denialism.

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.   Continue reading “Consequences of global warming–healthcare”

Connecticut reduces influenza rates with a simple step–vaccination

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.

via Conn. flu rates decline after new vaccine requirement | Vaccine News Daily.

Pseudoscience and logical fallacies in geology

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. Continue reading “Pseudoscience and logical fallacies in geology”

More whooping cough outbreaks, now Wisconsin

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. Continue reading “More whooping cough outbreaks, now Wisconsin”

Whooping cough outbreak in British Columbia

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.   Continue reading “Whooping cough outbreak in British Columbia”

The Discovery Channel and global warming

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. Continue reading “The Discovery Channel and global warming”

Where Louisiana Republicans hate the Constitution and Business

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.   Continue reading “Where Louisiana Republicans hate the Constitution and Business”