Andrew Wakefield and Elle Macpherson – woo attracts woo while we laugh

Andrew Wakefield and Elle Macpherson

Celebrity romances rank with soccer, Game of Thrones, and iPhone vs. Android as the things I couldn’t care less about. I wouldn’t know anything about anyone. But, there are exceptions, like when the USA is actually in the World Cup. When I see stories about Andrew Wakefield and Elle Macpherson, I cannot stop myself. I have to read about it, and I have to make fun of it.

Now, most of us know all about one of the greatest scientific frauds of the past 100 years – Mr. Andrew Wakefield and his false, and ultimately retracted, claims that somehow the MMR vaccine was linked to autism spectrum disorder. Of course, there is a mountain of affirmative evidence that has refuted the claim of a link between the vaccine and autism. That’s settled science, except, of course, in the minds of Wakefield sycophants who believe otherwise.  Continue reading “Andrew Wakefield and Elle Macpherson – woo attracts woo while we laugh”

MSG myth – debunked with real science

msg myth

Food additives are one of the most passionate issues amongst people who eat (which would be everyone). AspartameHigh fructose corn syrup. GMO‘s. Salt. Sugar. Trans fats. Polysorbate 80. But the MSG myth is one of the most pervasive in the food pseudoscience world (yes, I’m going to make that a thing).

Of course, these additives cause angst in people because of their scary chemical names. Or nonsense on the internet. Or random neurons firing.

Obviously, there is stuff, created by the beauty of natural sunlight and goddess blessed sweet waters from the Alps, that is better than these man-made evil chemicals. Well, no. Everything in nature is made up of “chemistry” –  25-hydroxyergocalciferol is a scary chemical name, right? Except it’s the metabolic product of the conversion of vitamin D in the human liver. It’s natural!

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? Is it because China, who has been using MSG in their cuisine for centuries, has been conspiring against Americans since the first Chinese restaurant starting serving up kung pao chicken to unaware Americans?

It’s time to look at the MSG myth – is it real, or does it need a good debunking?

Continue reading “MSG myth – debunked with real science”

Peter Doshi, anti-vaccine false authority, back again to push fake science

Peter Doshi

The bloviating Peter Doshi, who loves all things anti-vaccine, filed a lawsuit against Health Canada, essentially, the Ministry of Health for the country and the ministry that regulates medications and vaccines for Canada, to retrieve all of the clinical trial data for HPV vaccines that was used to get approval for the vaccines in the country (see Note 1). He recently won that lawsuit, and, unless Health Canada appeals the ruling, so we can assume he will receive mountains of data to “analyze.”

According to an article in the CBC, the ruling gives Doshi access to clinical trial data submitted to Health Canada by the manufacturers of HPV vaccines, Gardasil, Gardasil9, and Cervarix, and of anti-viral flu medications. Doshi wants to do a “systematic review” of the findings, although I don’t think that’s what a systematic review is, we’ll discuss that below. Health Canada argued that the data was confidential, and they would only hand over the data if he signed a non-disclosure agreement. Doshi refused, and he prevailed in the lawsuit.

You may have read all of this and wondered who is this Peter Doshi and why do I dislike him so. Well, most of you know of Doshi. And then you wonder why I care at all that he gets this data. I actually don’t care, but I should talk about it anyway.

So, let’s talk about the false authority, Peter Doshi, and why it matters or not that he gets this data. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t matter, but we should be prepared. Continue reading “Peter Doshi, anti-vaccine false authority, back again to push fake science”

Samoa vaccine story – tragedy abused by anti-vaccine websites

Samoa vaccine story

On Friday, July 6, a tragedy occurred in Samoa, a small country located in the Pacific Islands. Two children brought in for routine MMR vaccination died within minutes of receiving the vaccine (one report said hours and the first expert quoted below was responding to that, but the rest consistently said minutes – another question for investigation). The government reacted to the Samoa vaccine story immediately, opening an inquest into what may have killed the children. 

These are the known facts about the Samoa vaccine story. First, my deepest condolences to the families – it is beyond tragic. This tragedy should be investigated, and when the facts are known, they should be shared, steps should be taken to prevent recurrence, and consequences imposed where appropriate (the fact that a second vaccine was administered after the first death is especially troubling).

Unsurprisingly, this has been picked up by anti-vaccine pages and activists as evidence that vaccines kill and that there is a conspiracy of silence to hide that. Both of those storylines are wrong. I want to take a look the facts behind this Samoa vaccine story. Continue reading “Samoa vaccine story – tragedy abused by anti-vaccine websites”

Anti-vaccine website gets everything wrong about HPV vaccine – shocking news

anti-vaccine website

I know that I’m going to make my loyal readers all have strokes by telling all of you that an anti-vaccine website gets all the facts wrong about the HPV vaccine. I know you just can’t imagine that any anti-vaccine website is filled with scientific facts. I hate to be the one to break this sad news, but I doubt that most of them can spell vaccine, let alone present scientific facts.

An anti-vaccine website, that is an unknown to me, dropped this breathless headline late last month – “Pfizer Vice President Blows Whistle – ‘The Gardasil Vaccine is Deadly.‘” Oh no, I’ve been wrong. The dozens of high quality clinical and epidemiological studies that have firmly established the safety of the vaccine are useless because a Pfizer VP says so.

Because I’m a corporate shill, if a Pfizer VP tells me I’m wrong, I must be wrong. Let’s close down shop and move on to some other pursuit like analyzing the World Cup. Apparently, I know more about the World Cup than I do about Gardasil. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine website gets everything wrong about HPV vaccine – shocking news”

Sugar causes diabetes? Another one of those myths that makes no sense

sugar causes diabetes

One of the most pernicious myths about food is that somehow eating sugar causes diabetes. I even was watching a TV comedy where the character was going to dig into a cake, and another character says, “I’m getting diabetes (see Note 1) just by watching all of that sugar.”

No. Sugar is not linked directly to diabetes, so sure go ahead, eat that delicious, rich, sweet chocolate birthday cake. However (see Note 2), there might be some very indirect links between eating too much sugar and diabetes, but not as a result of eating sugar alone.

Moreover, another myth is that all diabetes is the same. They’re not. Let’s take a look at diabetes and the lack of direct evidence that sugar causes diabetes. Continue reading “Sugar causes diabetes? Another one of those myths that makes no sense”

Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular diseases study retracted – “aw nuts”

mediterranean diet

Although I think that most diets are bogus and healthy outcomes are not very well supported by scientific research, I have been a proponent of the so-called Mediterranean diet. It seems to have been linked to lower risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and some other chronic health conditions.

The claims of researchers who stated that the so-called Mediterranean diet, rich in plants, olive oil, fish, nuts, and other foods, was linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease. It was a pivotal and robust cohort study, a powerful form of epidemiological study that sits near the top of the hierarchy of medical research, that influenced a lot of recommendations about the proper diet for people. The study was so powerful that I switched to that diet personally.

But lucky for the planet, science is self-correcting, and some aspects of the original study caused concerns, and the Mediterranean diet study was retracted and republished with corrections.

Does this mean that the Mediterranean diet was and is bogus? No, but let’s take a look at the whole story. Continue reading “Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular diseases study retracted – “aw nuts””

Skeptical Raptor website updates – because it’s kind of a holiday

skeptical raptor website updates

The old feathered dinosaur took a bit of break from posting stuff since American readers are off celebrating the country’s break from England. Of course, most of the celebration is wrapped up in myths and tropes, but it’s a time for hot dog eating contests, baseball games, and fireworks. Instead of giving you an article about Meditteranean diets (stay tuned, it’ll be here), I thought I’d give one of my boring Skeptical Raptor website updates. Continue reading “Skeptical Raptor website updates – because it’s kind of a holiday”

Flu vaccine mandate for day care reinstated by New York court

flu vaccine mandate

On Thursday, June 28, 2018, New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, unanimously reinstated New York City’s flu vaccine mandate for certain daycares, which was previously struck down by two lower courts on different grounds. The decision, Garcia v. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is mostly about a specific legal issue – the line between when agencies act independently, and when they need legislative direction and direct authority to act.

At its core, it is a question about the limits of bureaucratic power. However, the decision also makes it clear that the New York City Board of Health has extensive power to establish a flu vaccine mandate (and for other vaccines) and to act to prevent infectious diseases. In that sense, it’s good news, upholding the ability of the Board to protect public health.  Continue reading “Flu vaccine mandate for day care reinstated by New York court”



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