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.
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 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.
In science, there is nothing more annoying than a pseudoscientific myth that is propagated to the point where everyone believes it’s a fact. For some odd reason, foods are the center of the pseudoscience universe. Eat organic. Avoid GMO (genetically modified) crops. High fructose corn syrup will kill you. Keep salt off of your food. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that. Drink this. Don’t drink that. Yet, where is the science? Are organic foods really healthier for you? Will GMO foods harm you?
Of all the annoying myths, there’s one that is the most bothersome. MSG, or monosodium glutamate, gets the most exposure as an evil additive to foods. Yet, what is the evidence? Does it really do anything? Continue reading “MSG-fussing about nothing”
Tennessee’s so-called “Monkey Bill”, House Bill 368, which allows teachers to discuss the non-existent “scientific controversies” over evolution and global warming, has still not been vetoed or signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam. He has been bombarded with petitions, editorials, and letters to veto the bill. Haslam has indicated, in the past, that teaching requirements should be set by the Board of Education and not the legislature.
Well, stay tuned. Haslam says he will make a decision tomorrow.
[pullquote]That’s the difference between real research and the whining anti-vaccine lunatics who base their claims on nonsense and logical fallacies, which does nothing for understanding the causal factors of autism.[/pullquote]
The Los Angeles Times reports in “Study finds link between autism and obesity during pregnancy” that data from University of California-Davis MIND Institute’s CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) research study shows a link between risk of autism and Metabolic Conditions, such as maternal obesity and diabetes. The study found that women who had diabetes or hypertension, or were obese had 1.61 times greater risk to have children with autism spectrum disorders than healthy women. These women with metabolic conditions (MC) also had a 2.35 greater risk to having children with developmental delays. Continue reading “Study about causes of autism–no vaccines involved”
Project Steve goes over 1200 signatories this week. Wait, you might enquire, what is Project Steve? No, not Steve Jobs. It is a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, humorous parody of the various “lists” that evolution deniers use to “prove” there is a controversy about evolution. One of the most famous is the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism (SDD), set up by the Seattle based, intelligent design think-tank (yes, you probably see all the irony). The SDD, which was started in 2001, states:
We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
I follow some Australian skeptics’ blogs, mainly because of Meryl Dorey, the lunatic who runs the Anti-Vaccination movement in Australia. One of the better ones is Dan’s Journal of Skepticism, run by Dan Buzzard. He writes on a lot of issues with regards to pseudoscience, mostly in medicine. Earlier this year, he wrote about how a homeopath, Francine Scrayen, treated her “patient”, Penelope Dingle, who was suffering from rectal cancer, with homeopathic potions and lotions.
In my view the deceased’s rectal cancer was present and causing bleeding and other symptoms from at least 31 October 2001. During the period 31 October 2001 until at least the end of November 2002, the deceased regularly described the symptoms of her rectal cancer to a homeopath, Francine Scrayen. It was not until November 2002 that Mrs Scrayen and the deceased discussed the possibility of reporting her rectal bleeding to a medical practitioner and it was not until 5 December 2002 that she first reported those problems to a doctor.
I accept that Mrs Scrayen believed that the deceased had suffered from haemorrhoids years earlier and the bleeding and pain was “an old symptom coming back”, but a competent health professional would have been alarmed by the developing symptoms and would have strongly advised that appropriate medical investigations be conducted without delay.
Mrs Scrayen was not a competent health professional. I accept that Mrs Scrayen had minimal understanding of relevant health issues, unfortunately that did not prevent her from treating the deceased as a patient.
This case has highlighted the importance of patients suffering from cancer making informed, sound decisions in relation to their treatment. In this case the deceased paid a terrible price for poor decision making.
Unfortunately the deceased was surrounded by misinformation and poor science. Although her treating surgeon and mainstream general practitioner provided clear and reliable information, she received mixed messages from a number of different sources which caused her to initially delay necessary surgery and ultimately decide not to have surgery until it was too late.
Recently, we discussed how science works. It’s not a belief. It’s not a random set of rules. It is a rational and logical process to determine cause and effect in the natural world. Pseudoscience, by its very nature, ignores the scientific process; instead, it claims to come to conclusions through science, usually by using scientific sounding words, but actually avoids the scientific process. They tend to use logical fallacies to make their case. Just to be clear, logical fallacy is essentially an error of reasoning. When a pseudoscientist makes a claim, or attempts to persuade the public of this claim, and it is based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy. Continue reading “How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 2. Revised and repost.”
This is a two-part article that partially describes how the science-denialist makes their case, not necessarily why humans accept it so easily. I’m not a psychiatrist, and I certainly don’t play one on TV. I thought we should start with the scientific method, or how real science works.
I always get suspicious when someone makes an argument with the statement of “it’s been proven to work”, “the link is proven”, or, alternatively, they state some negative about scientifically supported therapies. Typically, I hear these kinds of statements from the pseudoscience pushing crowd. For example, real science has debunked the “there is a proven link between vaccines and autism,” a common and popular pseudoscientific belief. Or that most alternative medicine (CAM) therapies work based on numerous logical fallacies that suspends reason, and accepts “belief” in the therapy, something that evidence-based medicine just doesn’t do. Continue reading “How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 1. Revised and repost.”