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Michael Simpson

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

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.Read More »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.  Read More »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.Read More »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.  Read More »Where Louisiana Republicans hate the Constitution and Business

Pseudoscience, science and false dichotomy

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.Read More »Pseudoscience, science and false dichotomy

Early onset Alzheimer’s disease ends coaching career of Pat Summitt

 

Pat Summitt's trademarked glare.

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.Read More »Early onset Alzheimer’s disease ends coaching career of Pat Summitt

Tennessee’s Monkey Bill–harmful to education

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.Read More »Tennessee’s Monkey Bill–harmful to education