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Dunning-Kruger effect

The massive Dunning-Kruger epidemic observed in the anti-vaccine community

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen a rise in contentiousness with respect to vaccination policy across various countries. May of these anti-vaccine parents are convinced that vaccines can lead to autism, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that debunks that claim. This has even led to pet owners refusing to vaccinate their dogs because they think that dogs will get autism – they can’t. These parents often claim to know more than scientific and medical experts – and we often accuse these people of being afflicted by the “Dunning-Kruger effect.”

Despite the consistent, robust, and overwhelming evidence presented by the scientific community about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the epidemic of the Dunning-Kruger effect has overwhelmed the anti-vaccine religion. To be fair, this is not an issue just with the anti-vaccine world – many of us observe this form of science denial in anthropogenic climate change, evolution, GMOs, and many other areas of well-established science.

Let’s take a look at the Dunning-Kruger effect and some research that shows us just how prevalent it is among the anti-vaccine zealots.  Read More »The massive Dunning-Kruger epidemic observed in the anti-vaccine community

Marijuana for ADHD

Marijuana for ADHD – what’s the evidence?

Those of you who follow this website know that I frequently take down myths about the medical usefulness of marijuana. Let’s just say the evidence barely reaches the level of “sparse.” Recently, Tara Haelle pointed me to an article that trumpeted using marijuana for ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

ADHD is a psychological disorder in which the individual is unable to focus, is overactive, is unable to control behavior, or a combination of these, not appropriate for the age of the individual. Diagnosing ADHD is often difficult, because the differential diagnosis for the condition can be confused with or related to other emotional, psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders such as anxiety, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder.

There are some treatments available for ADHD, including stimulants such as the well-known medications, methylphenidate, or better known by its trademarked name, Ritalin, and Adderall, a mixture of two amphetamines. These stimulants are very effective for treating ADHD, but there are some risks to its use, and the effectiveness appears to lower over time.

So let’s look at marijuana for ADHD – it’s pretty weak, but let’s give it a good scientific skeptical analysis.

Read More »Marijuana for ADHD – what’s the evidence?

grammar police

Grammar Police – reactions to written errors

Now for something completely different. Let’s talk about Grammar Police, those people who take glee in pointing out and correcting your mistakes. It could be spelling, grammar, usage, or anything. You know the type.

I don’t like Grammar Police, because they appear to be more focused on showing you that you misspelled something rather than comment about the content.  Sure, I’d like to be a perfect speller, but I’ve gotten lazy, since modern operating systems now auto-correct mistakes to what it thinks is the right one. I used to check. Now I don’t.

I do try to focus on my grammar, and word usage. I was once criticized and complimented for using the Harvard comma (called the Oxford comma in non-American English speaking countries), which is a very formal way of separating a list of conjunctions. My usage style is quite formal, and I write at the college educated level (according to the Flesch reading scale), which is automatically tracked by my blogging software.

But that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. My lame excuse is that editing what I’ve already written is difficult. I already know what I’m trying to say, so I accidentally overlook some errors.

However, my intentions are to communicate an idea, and unless my writing style or spelling errors destroy the effectiveness of communicating complex and nuanced points, I don’t care all that much.

On the other hand, my personal rules about joining the ranks of Grammar Police in comments are quite simple:

  1. If something written is confusing, and I don’t easily comprehend what the author is communicating, I’ll ask. Sometimes people, myself included, will accidentally say “pro-vaccine” instead of “anti-vaccine,” and, of course, that can be confusing. But if I know the author, I try to be polite, and ask for clarification.
  2. If I want to troll truly incompetent or unscientific junk, I will point out grammar errors just to make my overall point. Yes, I can be a card-carrying member of the Grammar Police, just to mock an anti-vaccination cult member. But that’s rare, I don’t comment frequently on the internet.

Otherwise, I don’t really care. I see spelling errors and grammar mistakes all the time on blogs, in high quality well-edited newspapers, and even published books. As long as I get the point, I don’t care. Seriously, I have better things to do with my time, like counting my shill payments from Big Pharma.

On the other hand, some people really make it their (or is it there) life’s objectives. Let’s take a look at the personality of these Grammar Police individuals.Read More »Grammar Police – reactions to written errors

LeRoy neurological illness mystery–update 3–is it conversion disorder?

Since I last wrote about the group of individuals suffering from some neurological issues in LeRoy, NY (outside of Rochester), very little new information has come to light.  The junk science purveyors, such as the Age of Autism, is still trying to insinuate that vaccines have something to do with the “outbreak”, although they provide not one tiny bit of evidence supporting such a belief.

A few individuals still claim it is PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, but I am highly skeptical of physicians who self-promote their ideas outside of the standard peer-review process, and that a lot of reviews of the research into PANDAS has come out negative.  As I’ve mentioned before, a recent review of research in PANDAS came to this conclusion: “Despite continued research in the field, the relationship between GAS and specific neuropsychiatric disorders (PANDAS) remains elusive. It is possible that GAS infection may be but one of the many stressors that can exacerbate tic/Tourette’s or OCD in a subset of such patients.”  If there’s not even agreement that PANDAS exists, then a self-serving promotor of this particular diagnosis should be met with a high level of skepticism.  Even researchers who accept PANDAS as a legitimate diagnosis, such as Susan Swedo of the NIMH, are skeptical of such a diagnosis.Read More »LeRoy neurological illness mystery–update 3–is it conversion disorder?