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science mistakes

Science mistakes — the favorite trope of the anti-vaccine world

Those people who disagree with science love to remind us that science makes mistakes. I keep observing this same ridiculous, illogical argument being used by all of the science deniers, repeating various “science mistakes” tropes as if it is all the evidence they need to refute scientific claims. Honestly, I think the pseudoscience pushers meet annually in Sedona, Arizona, ground zero of woo, to discuss which trope they’re pushing each year.

The anti-vaccine zealots, creationists, anthropogenic global warming deniers, and whomever else pretends to use science to actually deny science frequently focus on this theme of “science mistakes.”  And then they produce a list of cherry-picked examples that “prove” that science is wrong (see Note 1). Of course, this indicates more of a misunderstanding of what is science and the history of science than it is a condemnation of science. But your typical science denier is probably not going to let facts get in the way of maintaining faith in their beliefs. So let’s deconstruct and discredit this “science mistakes” trope.

By the way, in my story, I admit that there are many “science mistakes,” so read on. Hopefully, it’s somewhat enlightening.

Read More »Science mistakes — the favorite trope of the anti-vaccine world
anti-vaccine

Anti-vaxxers don’t want to be called “anti-vaccine” — boo frickin’ hoo

A few days ago, some anti-vaxxer on Twitter complained that she didn’t want to be called anti-vaccine. She said it was a personal attack on her. And that she really wasn’t anti-vaccine.

Well, that’s just an incredibly laughable position that is unsupported by anything in reality. These anti-vaccine activists want to appear rational, thoughtful, and scientific, when, in fact, their position is anything but rational, thoughtful, or scientific.

We call someone anti-vaccine because they refuse to accept the vast scientific consensus about every vaccine on the market. No matter how many times we talk about a large, well-analyzed, unbiased study about a vaccine, they ignore it, and then they give preference to anecdotes and false authorities that confirm their pre-ordained conclusions about vaccines.

Now, just to be clear, parents who sit on the fence because they are confused about vaccines are not anti-vaxxers. They aren’t promoting anti-vaccine nonsense, they are trying to find good evidence to support getting vaccinated. I try to target this group lately because they seem to be working in good faith about vaccines. I’ve had numerous people over time that information I’ve prevented has moved them from “vaccine-hesitant” to pro-vaccine. That’s my mitzvah.

I’m going to write about true anti-vaxxers who present bad information about vaccines while complaining that they are being characterized as “anti-vaccine.” They deserve the label, and I’ll show you why.

Read More »Anti-vaxxers don’t want to be called “anti-vaccine” — boo frickin’ hoo
genetically modified wheat

Genetically modified wheat gluten that can reduce sensitivity

Gluten-free diets are mostly a quack food fad for 99% of the population, but now we might have a genetically modified wheat that has modified gluten so that it doesn’t induce sensitivity. Scientists have developed some new strains of wheat that will produce a genetically modified gluten that may not trigger a gluten sensitivity.

Let’s wrap our minds around that – genetically modified wheat gluten. I’m sure that won’t be problematic for those who have medically diagnosed issues with gluten. They’re going to be thrilled that they can eat real bread, pizza, or pasta. I’m sure they’re not going to be concerned with any label that says “this product contains GMO gluten.”

Of course, the real scientific consensus about GMOs is that they are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. And provide humans with more and healthier food. Like genetically modified wheat gluten.

On the other hand, I’m certain (but I have no scientific evidence) that the Venn diagrams of those who buy into the nonsense about GMOs also buy into the pseudoscience of gluten. Those people might faint because of the irony of a GMO wheat gluten

Let’s take a look at gluten, the real medical issues of gluten sensitivity, and then what is this new genetically modified gluten in wheat. 

Read More »Genetically modified wheat gluten that can reduce sensitivity
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
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
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