Whenever I read statements from the anti-evolution/creationist crowd, I often wonder if they’re satisfied with their intellect and knowledge. Their level of denialism is so high that they cannot even get basic science right. In Vasko Kohlmayer’s Washington Times article, Is Richard Dawkins an ape?, decides to deny most basic biological knowledge just to make some point that humans are somehow “better” than an ape, and use it to “disprove” evolution. Kohlmayer’s logic, if you can call it that, is so fallacious, I’m not sure which fallacy would fit. Maybe I’ll just use them all.
Before we start, you should know a little bit about The Washington Times. It was founded by the Unification Church (better known as Moonies, from their namesake, Sun Myung Moon) as a competitor to the Washington Post, a rather progressive newspaper in Washington, DC. The Post had written some negative articles about Moonies back in the late 70’s, while it was the only newspaper in the US Capital. The Washington Times has a very conservative editorial bias, based upon anti-communism and “Judeo-Christian values.” Of course, the paper is generally a mouthpiece for the conservative movement in the US, with its preference for climate change and evolution denialism.
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Yesterday, I responded to an article that I read, where the author wanted African-Americans to refuse HIV testing because of…pseudoscientific nonsense. I refuted the 10 claims of the AIDS denialist without too much trouble, though I doubt that the denialist will care that much. An AIDS denialist, for those who might not know, is someone who denies the link between HIV and AIDS, blaming AIDS on something else (other than the scientifically supported HIV infection).
There are consequences to denying real science. Vaccine denialists are leading to an increase in communicable diseases that were once almost unknown. Climate change denialists may lead us to finding New York City under a few meters of water.
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- Immunization prevents an estimated 2.5 million deaths every year. Immunization prevents deaths every year in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. It is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions.
- More children than ever are being reached with immunization. In 2010, an estimated 109 million children under the age of one were vaccinated with three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine. These children are protected against infectious diseases that can have serious consequences like illness, disability or death.
- An estimated 19.3 million children under the age of one did not receive DTP3 vaccine. Seventy percent of these children live in ten countries, and more than half of them live in WHO’s Africa and South-East Asia regions.
- Over 1 million infants and young children die every year from pneumococcal disease and rotavirus diarrhea. A large number of these deaths can be prevented through vaccination.
- Public-private partnerships facilitate the development and introduction of vaccines. For example, a new vaccine which prevents the primary cause of epidemic meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa, meningococcal A, MenAfriVac, was introduced in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger last year. At the end of 2011. Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria are vaccinating more than 22 million individuals with the vaccine which has the potential to eliminate the leading cause of meningitis epidemics in Africa.
- The supply of influenza vaccines has been significantly expanded. The expansion has been possible as a result of WHO supporting the efforts of vaccine manufacturers to produce and license influenza vaccines in 11 developing countries.
- Global measles mortality has declined by 78%. Global measles mortality has been reduced from an estimated 733 000 deaths in 2000 to 164 000 deaths in 2008, thanks to intensified vaccination campaigns.
- Polio incidence has been reduced by 99%. Since 1988, polio incidence has fallen by 99%, from more than 350 000 cases to 1410 cases in 2010. Only four countries remain endemic – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – down from more than 125 countries in 1988.
- Annual deaths from neonatal tetanus have fallen. Neonatal tetanus deaths have declined to an estimated 59 000, down from 790 000 deaths in 1988.
- Immunization provides an opportunity to deliver other life-saving measures. Immunization not only protects children from vaccine-preventable diseases. It also serves as an opportunity to deliver other life-saving measures, such as vitamin A supplements to prevent malnutrition, insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria and deworming medicine for intestinal worms. In addition, the benefits of immunization are increasingly being extended across the life course to include adolescents and adults, providing protection against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cancers that occur in adulthood.
Has there been a more successful human medical effort in the history of man? No.