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pet diet fads

Pet diet fads — what does real science say about it?

The New York Times posted an article about pet diet fads where humans are pushing food fads, like paleo, vegan, and gluten-free, onto their dogs and cats. These diet fads betray the pet owner’s lack of knowledge about the evolution and physiology of their pets, which can be dangerous.

I could argue all day with the devotees of these diet fads, but it’s frustrating. People who believe in their diets often act like religious zealots unwilling to discuss actual evidence supporting their nonsense. I mean gluten-free diets are just for people who have celiac disease, it’s not going to mean anything to those who lack that particular condition.

I’m going to focus on dogs and cats for this article because I’m just not an expert on avian dinosaur diets. I hope what you feed your favorite dinosaur, whether a parrot or parakeet, is appropriate. Since they prefer nuts, they’re already living with a paleo diet.

So, let’s talk about cat and dog diets. And why pet diet fads may be the worst thing for pets.

Read More »Pet diet fads — what does real science say about it?
GMO science

GMO science — consensus says they are safe for humans, animals, environment

I keep reading statements that there is no GMO science that says that they are safe for humans and the environment. And that they harm the productivity of farms. But GMO science says something completely different.

There is a scientific consensus that GMOs are safe and increase the productivity of farming. They help feed and protect humans all across the world. But still many reject this consensus of GMO science and block important foods that could save hundreds of thousands of lives. Just read about “golden rice,” a wonderful development of GMO science but is being blocked by many anti-GMO groups.

I want to review the scientific consensus behind GMO crops for those who think that there is no science supporting its safety and productivity.

Read More »GMO science — consensus says they are safe for humans, animals, environment
person putting a drop on test tube

Vaccine science — why I do research better than anti-vaxxers

How many times have you read a comment from an anti-vaxxer that states, “I’ve done my vaccine science research, and it says vaccines are bad.” That comment seems to imply two things – that the anti-vaxxer believes they have done real vaccine science research, and those on the science/medicine side have not done real vaccine research.

What I’ve found is that the anti-vaxxer research into vaccine science is based on their Google University education rather than actual scientific education. Vaccine science is hard, and it cannot be done in a few hours searching for unimpressive memes.

The typical anti-vaxxer understates how hard vaccine research is while overstating their actual skills and experience in comprehending real scientific research. I suppose this is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect – a cognitive bias wherein people without a strong scientific background fail to recognize their actual ineptitude in the field and mistakenly overrate their knowledge and abilities as greater than it is.

On the other hand, I’ve done real scientific research that gives me a relatively decent background in vaccine science. And I’m going to state, without any remorse, that I am no Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. Peter Hotez, or any of the hundreds of researchers at the CDC and WHO. My background in vaccines is a result of my education, which is a lot more than a few hours on Google.

Read More »Vaccine science — why I do research better than anti-vaxxers
Google university

Google University is not the same as real scientific research in vaccines

I’m sure everyone has run into the type – a science denier who thinks their two hours at Google University makes them as knowledgeable as a real physician or scientist. This arrogance manifests itself in ridiculous discussions with anti-vaccine activists who claim to have “done the research,” and who believe their pseudoscientific research is more valuable than real scientific research.

This Google University education utilized by vaccine deniers, really all science deniers, can be frustrating. I frequent a couple of large Facebook groups that try to help on-the-fence anti-vaxxers understand what constitutes evidence and what doesn’t concerning vaccines. Recently, one of the anti-vaccine true believers kept saying she knew more than a nurse with a public health master’s degree. The arrogant anti-vaxxer kept claiming that she “did her research.”

Because of this absurd overvaluing of their Google University research, I want to review a handful of points that every science denier seems to use that make us laugh. All but one applies to any type of science denial, but we’re sticking with vaccines. Because we can.

Read More »Google University is not the same as real scientific research in vaccines
msg

MSG myth — one of the most persistent in the pseudoscience of food

Food additives, like MSG, are some 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 I believe that 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 because of stupid claims on the internet. Or just because a few random neurons are firing?

People want to claim that all chemicals are bad, even though everything in nature is made up of chemicals. Everything. And there is no such thing as a “natural chemical” since sugar made in a chemical plant is the same thing as sugar derived from honey. The “chemical” 25-hydroxyergocalciferol sounds scary, except it’s the metabolic product of the conversion of vitamin D in the human liver.

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? Is it because China, which has been using MSG in its cuisine for centuries, has been conspiring against Americans since the first Chinese restaurant started 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?

Read More »MSG myth — one of the most persistent in the pseudoscience of food
virus evolution

Virus evolution — debunking anti-vaccine myth that they become less virulent

Apparently, a 125-year-old debunked idea about virus evolution has circulated around the anti-vaccine world. They believe that if viruses are left on their own, they always evolve to become less virulent to humans. That’s why they falsely claim that the Omicron variant is almost nothing and very soon SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will evolve into something that we can ignore.

The old Skeptical Raptor is going to take a deep breath and hope he doesn’t lose any brain cells repeating that to all of you. Anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 deniers are wrong, completely and utterly wrong. It’s as if they never took a class on virology, evolution, or anything else germane to the discussion.

I know that any of you spending time reading this article are already listing out a dozen things that debunk this myth. Because we all know that first, that’s not how evolution works, and second, there are dozens of viruses that are known from the dawn of human history that have remained virulent over thousands of years.

Let’s take a look at this nonsense. Maybe I’ll give you some information to debunk some anti-vaxxer or COVID-19 denier nonsense.

Read More »Virus evolution — debunking anti-vaccine myth that they become less virulent
golden rice

Golden rice — anti-GMO activists keeping it away from children

Golden rice is a genetically modified rice that is a cost-effective way to combat vitamin A deficiency which has killed millions of children in less-developed countries for at least 30 years. Unfortunately, activists who are opposed to transgenic and genetically modified foods raised false concerns that led governments to delay the approval of golden rice.

This is sad since the safety of GMO foods has been firmly established over the years. Because of the pseudoscience pushed by the anti-GMO forces, the world hasn’t been able to provide a nutritional food source for children who are dying across the world. I’m not one to push morality or ethics, but what is the morality of fighting against this life-saving food? There isn’t any based on the science of GMO foods.

Let’s take a look at vitamin A deficiency and golden rice.

Read More »Golden rice — anti-GMO activists keeping it away from children
pexels-photo-5863389.jpeg

Paper claiming COVID vaccines and myocarditis link is RETRACTED

An anti-vaccine group run by the discredited James Lyon-Weiler tried to show that the COVID-19 vaccines are linked to myocarditis in a vain attempt to discredit them. The paper they published was just retracted. Of course.

Ironically, when the paper was published last week, I was going to write about it. However, it lasted about a week before Retraction Watch reported that the publisher retracted it. So, I’ll write about how this is a terrible article and why it got retracted (actually, the publisher isn’t being transparent, so we really don’t know).

Read More »Paper claiming COVID vaccines and myocarditis link is RETRACTED
vaccine chemistry

Basic vaccine chemistry for those who are confused by it

One of the problems, among many, with anti-vaccine activists, is a complete misunderstanding of the basics of vaccine chemistry. People get scared of long chemical names, or chemicals themselves, and wonder if a vaccine might be dangerous.

Setting aside the fact that vaccines undergo substantial and robust preclinical and clinical testing which has shown that the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are settled science, most of the chemicals in vaccines are not dangerous, especially from the aspect of toxicity.

The website, The Logic of Science, published an article about five simple chemistry facts. It’s a valuable article, so I wanted to utilize their list and apply it to an article about basic vaccine chemistry.

I know that this will oversimplify vaccine chemistry. But I think most of us, who focus on the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, know that the fundamental principles of chemistry are the basis of biomedical science which is the foundation of vaccines.

Without further ado, let’s look at basic vaccine chemistry.

Read More »Basic vaccine chemistry for those who are confused by it