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Epidemiology

New study shows that eating red meat has no impact on health

A comprehensive analysis in “Grilling the data” investigates the impact of red meat on mortality, examining over 1000 statistical methods across 15 studies. Existing data yields contradictory results, from significant reductions to increases in mortality risks. This study, however, concludes that red meat consumption neither significantly decreases nor increases early death risk, suggesting no substantial health impact from eating red meat per current findings.

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COVID infection rates are NOT unrelated to vaccines – debunking research

Here we go again – bad published research tries to convince us that COVID-19 rates are unrelated to the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in several countries and US counties. That would be interesting if not for the poor design and analytical methodology utilized by these researchers.

Of course, the second this kind of paper is published, every COVID-19 denier jumps on board to say “here’s the official proof that the COVID-19 vaccines are useless.”

I’m going to set aside the irony that anti-vaxxers love to argue that the bulk of vaccine research is garbage, usually bought by Big Pharma. But any “research” that supports their pre-conceived conclusion is, of course, Nobel Prize-worthy.

It’s frustrating, but my job is to critique this type of research. And this new paper that states that COVID-19 rates are not related to uptake levels of vaccines is a prime example of research filled with bad methodology, poor analytical procedures, and lots of bias.

Here we go again.

Read More »COVID infection rates are NOT unrelated to vaccines – debunking research
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Zombie apocalypse epidemiology, vaccines, treatment – peer-reviewed research

Yes, there is peer-reviewed research on the epidemiology of the zombie apocalypse. And in real medical journals like the BMJ. No, this is not a joke.

Zombies are known as biters, cold bodies, creepers, dead ones, floaters, geeks, lamebrains, lurkers, monsters, roamers, rotters, skin eaters, and walkers, according to the historical TV show The Walking Dead. Other historical documents have called them Zeds, Zs, Zekes, and ghouls.

The scientific consensus about the zombie apocalypse is that a true zombie must meet three criteria (for an exception, see Note 1):

  • It is a reanimated human corpse,
  • it is relentlessly aggressive, and
  • it is biologically infected and can pass that infection to healthy humans.

Recently, a researcher on the science of zombies, Professor Tara C Smith, Ph.D. (see Notes 2 and 3 ), professor of biostatistics at Kent State University, published a review article on zombie epidemiology in BMJ, which examines the history, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of zombie infections. Prof. Smith is no slouch in the field of peer-reviewed zombie apocalypse research – she has written another one that teaches mathematical modeling of the zombie apocalypse.

In case you don’t know of her, Professor Smith is a solid pro-vaccine researcher with an impressive list of published articles. It’s ironic that Smith publishes real science about the zombie apocalypse in respected journals, whereas anti-vaxxers can’t publish their “research” in anything but predatory journals.

But let’s stick with the zombie apocalypse, because if there’s anything that makes it feel like we’re in a dystopian future with zombies, it’s the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More »Zombie apocalypse epidemiology, vaccines, treatment – peer-reviewed research
coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic – just as bad for Trump supporting states

This article about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect conservative red states was written by a database expert who wishes to remain anonymous.

Among my more right-leaning Facebook friends, the attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic goes roughly like this: “The outbreak isn’t anywhere near as bad as the Liberal Media would have you believe. It’s almost entirely confined to sanctuary cities. Everyone should stop overreacting!”

For everyone else, this attitude seems delusional. But for people who live in right-wing communities, the “it’s not so bad” point of view is actually in line with observed reality. And the way that the media has been reporting on the outbreak actually exaggerates this effect.Read More »The coronavirus pandemic – just as bad for Trump supporting states

alcohol health effects

Alcohol health effects – drinking any amount is bad, but is the science convincing?

I am fairly certain that most of the feathered dinosaur’s readers have read articles about alcohol health effects. It’s bad. It’s good. It prevents heart attacks. It causes cancer. It reduces risks of Sasquatch attacks but increases risks of alien abductions.

I know some of you are thinking that science never gets this right. Who are you to believe? An ancient feathered dinosaur? Your favorite news website? Your next door neighbor? Alien Sasquatch?

Well, there was a recent article published that employed a powerful systematic analysis of the body of published evidence surrounding alcohol health effects. Spoiler alert – drinking any amount may not be good for your health.Read More »Alcohol health effects – drinking any amount is bad, but is the science convincing?

Gun control regulations and public health.

Gun control regulations and firearms mortality – UPDATED

Firearms mortality, either murder, accidental or suicide, has always been a public health issue in the USA. There have been several good epidemiological studies that have examined whether gun control regulations and firearms mortality risk are related – and the results are surprisingly vigorous.

From recent epidemiological research, there is some convincing evidence that establishes a correlation between state-level gun control regulations and firearms mortality rates. However, the link is not as black and white as one might wish – the relationship between firearms regulations and mortality depends on the quality of the law.

The nation’s leading public health organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is essentially prevented from analyzing and publishing any epidemiological research that would help us understand what, if any, links there are between gun control and firearms mortality. The Republican dominated congress have done everything they can to prevent the CDC from using any funds to study the issue.

Furthermore, because the CDC cannot (or will not) fund research into gun control, it has lead to a chilling effect on gun control research in academia. According to the Washington Post, “young academics were warned that joining the field was a good way to kill their careers. And the odd gun study that got published went through linguistic gymnastics to hide any connection to firearms.”

But maybe because this public health menace can no longer be ignored, a smattering of well done epidemiological research is being published in very high quality medical journals. Let’s look at one.

Read More »Gun control regulations and firearms mortality – UPDATED

vaccine mortality

Properly evaluating vaccine mortality – let’s not abuse VAERS

The public’s concern about adverse events, especially death, immediately or soon after vaccinations is very disruptive to vaccine uptake, leading to increased morbidity and mortality of vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, a 2009 Japanese study that showed 107 deaths following H1N1 influenza A vaccination, assumed a causality between the vaccine and the deaths without any evaluation of background rates of of deaths, which would help indicate whether there was any significance to the death rate or even if its related to the vaccination. Vaccine mortality is one of the most abused terms in discussions about vaccines.

It has been demonstrated that passively reported data, that is, data that isn’t actively investigated by trained researchers, cannot be used to assess causality. In an active investigation, it was found that only 2 of the 107 deaths had an autopsy performed, and most of the others had other underlying diseases and conditions that were causally related to the mortality events. Furthermore, 15 million people were vaccinated with the H1N1 seasonal vaccine, and it would be expected that there would be >8000 deaths during the 20 days after vaccination using a crude mortality rate in Japan. Though it would still be a misuse of statistics,  there really is more evidence that the H1N1 vaccination lowered the background death rate from 8000 to 107 post vaccination.Read More »Properly evaluating vaccine mortality – let’s not abuse VAERS

zombie research

Zombie research – epidemiology, prevention and treatment

Zombie research on the potential of a massive zombie outbreaks has become an important focus of science and medicine recently.

Zombies are known as biters, cold bodies, creepers, dead ones, floaters, geeks, lamebrains, lurkers, monsters, roamers, rotters, skin eaters, and walkers, according to the historical TV show The Walking Dead. Other historical documents have called them Zeds, Zs, Zekes, and ghouls.

Zombie research has come to a scientific consensus that a true zombie must meet three criteria (for an exception, see Note 1):

  • It is a reanimated human corpse,
  • it is relentlessly aggressive, and
  • it is biologically infected and can pass that infection to healthy humans.

Recently, a researcher on the science of zombies, Tara C Smith (see Notes 2 and 3 ), an associate professor of biostatistics at Kent State University, published a review article on zombie epidemiology in BMJ, which examines the history, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of zombie infections. I will endeavor to review some of the more important points as a service to my loyal readers.

Read More »Zombie research – epidemiology, prevention and treatment

Evidence supports rotavirus vaccine effectiveness – vaccines save lives

The CDC recently published robust evidence that supports rotavirus vaccine effectiveness. There is nothing more powerful than epidemiological studies that show a correlation (and causality) between the drop in the incidence of a vaccine preventable disease immediately after wide introduction of a the vaccine itself in a relatively closed population.

Read More »Evidence supports rotavirus vaccine effectiveness – vaccines save lives