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. Continue reading “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. Continue reading “Early onset Alzheimer’s disease ends coaching career of Pat Summitt”

LeRoy mystery neurological illness–EPA water testing

Updating previous articles about the group of mysterious neurological symptoms in LeRoy (NY, outside of Rochester) High School students along with a few non-students, the EPA has tested the groundwater around the high school, and it shows no contaminants including tricholoroethylene (TCE) that was spilled from a 1970’s train derailment nearby. Whatever the cause of the symptoms are, it is probably not pollutants. And the mystery continues.

via EPA releases groundwater test results from LeRoy incident : GeneseeNow.com.

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. Continue reading “Tennessee’s Monkey Bill–harmful to education”

More whooping cough cases in England

The UK’s Health Protection Agency is reporting an increase in reports of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) over what was observed in 2011.  There have been 655 cases of whooping cough in England so far in 2012, while there were 1,040 cases in 2011.  The cases are all across England, but with clusters in schools and universities.

Again, whooping cough is a serious disease for children with complications that include death.  Although it can be treated with antibiotics, it can be easily prevented with a vaccine.  

Pertussis cases on the rise in England | Vaccine News Daily.

Chickenpox outbreak in Florida

According to Vaccine News Daily, Chickenpox spreads to five Fla. public schools, the chickenpox (Varicella zoster) outbreak in Florida is increasing in size:

Health officials in Florida added 25 students who are not vaccinated against chickenpox to a list of those barred from attending class in five public schools in High Springs and Alachua on Wednesday.

There have been 65 cases of chickenpox reported in the northwest part of Alachua County, prompting the health department to prohibit unvaccinated students from attending the Alachua Learning Center.

Continue reading “Chickenpox outbreak in Florida”

Where the Huffington Post ignores real science…again

This week, the Huffington Post, one of the 10 worst anti-science websites, continues to confirm our suspicions about the quality of their science journalism.  HuffPo supports the anti-vaccination lunacy, have editors who claim homeopathy works, and that a bug on the lens of a camera is an alien spacecraft.  It’s not clear why anyone with a stitch of science background would read that thing, but sometimes their junk science wanders over into bad journalism of the highest sort.  HuffPo is the FoxNews of the left wing, a poorly written and edited mouthpiece for the uncritical left.   Continue reading “Where the Huffington Post ignores real science…again”

Where Wikipedia lunatics follow me here

Yesterday, out of the blue, Thomas Lee Elifritz, an engineer (not a scientist, as we discussed with regards to creationists) decided to go crazy on one of my posts (actually my second one here), with some fairly uncivil commentary (I had to block one of his posts because it made me, who has the language of a Navy petty officer, kind of uncomfortable).  He came to complain about one of my edits on Wikipedia.  Now technically, Wikipedia takes seriously any off-Wiki harassment and threats from editors.  Since this website tracks IP addresses of commenters (thank WordPress, I don’t care at all), I could contact the Cabal that controls Wikipedia with this information.  But I just don’t care that much.

His comment, “I assume you are the prick you edited out the latest Younger Dryas Impact paper from Kennett et al. from its wikipedia page. Heckava job there, bozo,” didn’t exactly make him out to be very intelligent nor respectful.  In addition, it was very cowardly of him not to bring the discussion to Wikipedia where it belonged.  I guess he prefers harassment here than civil conversation on Wikipedia.

Continue reading “Where Wikipedia lunatics follow me here”

Why do Americans hate Gardasil?

In next week’s issue of Forbes, Matthew Herper, the magazine’s medical editor, penned the article, The Gardasil Problem: How The U.S. Lost Faith In A Promising Vaccine, an insightful analysis of why Gardasil, the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), has not become as important to vaccination strategies as measles or whooping cough.  All vaccines keep you alive, even if the disease does not appear to be scary.  There’s a belief, especially amongst the anti-vaccination crowd, that measles is just a few spots, and there are few risks to being infected.  The risk of severe complications is small, but significant.

On the other hand, the HPV vaccine does one thing and does it well–it prevents an HPV infection.  Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease, causes 70% of cervical cancers, 80% of anal cancers, 60% of vaginal cancers, and 40% of vulvar cancers.  It also prevents the majority of HPV caused oral cancers.  In other words, these diseases are in a different league of danger.  And they can be prevented. Continue reading “Why do Americans hate Gardasil?”

Tennessee allows creationism in classroom

Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam refused to sign or veto HB 368, which protects anti-science teachers who insist on pushing creationism or global warming denialism.  By not signing or vetoing the bill, the governor has, legally, allowed it to become law.  

The bill claims there is a scientific controversy about evolution and climate change, which, of course, is completely untrue.  Science accepts the evolutionary basis of biology.  It accepts that the planet is warming faster than it should because of human activities.  There is only a political debate on these matters.

The key provision of this bill is to support creationism, which is a religious belief.  According to the Establishment Clause of the Unite States Constitution, as confirmed by numerous court rulings, creationism is religion, and teaching religion in public schools is not permitted.

This is a huge disappointment.  If you care about science, you won’t learn real science in Tennessee public schools.