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Sharp increase in vaccination delays in Oregon


            Recently, an article was published in Pediatrics, Frequency of Alternative Immunization Schedule Use in a Metropolitan Area by Steve G. Robison, Holly Groom,  and Collette Young, that studied the vaccination rate of children in the Portland area. It found that between 2006 and 2009,… Read More »Sharp increase in vaccination delays in Oregon


The common threads between creationism and climate change denialism


Denialism evolved from Apes. OK, maybe not.

I’ve always considered all forms of denialism, whether it’s climate change, creationism or the latest anti-vaccine lunacy, to be based on the same arguments. It’s essentially an ignorant belief that either science is wrong or, worse yet, is a vast conspiracy to push false information onto innocent humans. 

In Earth Magazine, Steve Newton wrote an article, Voices: Defending science: The link between creationism and climate change, which discusses the commonality between creationists and climate change deniers. Newton asks one simple question: what do the two groups have in common?

  • The answer…is that creationists and climate change deniers have a lot in common — most especially in their assertions about science itself. 
  • In addition, they are often the same people! For example, Answers in Genesis, the young-Earth creationist ministry that runs a creation museum where animatronic dinosaurs cavort with humans in the Garden of Eden, also produces a DVD entitled “Global Warming: A Scientific and Biblical Exposé of Climate Change.” In another case, Roy Spencer, a climatologist featured in the film “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” has written that he regards “the theory of creation” as having “a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution.”
  • What it boils down to is that creationists and climate change deniers both reject central principles of science on ideological, religious and political grounds. Moreover, they deny not just these principles, but also the idea of science itself as a way of knowing about the world.
  • Attacks on evolution and climate science are both based on the rejection of well-established scientific techniques. Geologists demonstrate the age of the Earth with the techniques of radiometric dating. “Bunk,” say young-Earth creationists: These techniques rely on unproven assumptions. Climate scientists develop complex computer models as a technique to understand what might happen to future climates. “Bunk,” say climate change deniers: Such models are just a convenient fiction.Read More »The common threads between creationism and climate change denialism

Taliban bans polio vaccine unless US stops drone strikes


According to CNN, a local Taliban commander in northwest Pakistan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, announced on Saturday that polio vaccines will be banned in North Waziristan, Pakistan, unless the United States stops its campaign of drone strikes in the area. Bahadur leads a Taliban faction based in North Waziristan, which may be the major safe haven for militant groups like the Haqqani network, one of the most resilient of the insurgents fighting US, NATO and Afghanistan government troops.

Read More »Taliban bans polio vaccine unless US stops drone strikes


Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and anti-science–an update


Aliens cockpit ©HR Giger, 1978

For some reasons, the new movie Prometheus by Ridley Scott has struck a nerve with the skeptic blogosphere. I’m pretty certain, based on what I’ve been reading, that there is a distinctive creationist or intelligent design (as if they’re different) thread within the movie. And the overt religiosity of the characters who should have solidly denounced their anti-science religion once they discovered an alien being who seeded the earth with DNA (even if it was bogus science). Read More »Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and anti-science–an update


Measles–outbreak in England grows


 

Child with measles rash after 3 days. Credit to Centers for Disease Control.

As reported earlier, Merseyside, a city in northwest England, is experiencing a significant measles out break. The number of confirmed cases in Merseyside has exceeded 300, making it the largest measles outbreak in the that part of England since 1988.

According to the BBC, there have been 301 confirmed measles cases in the area, 90 of which are in teenagers. Although the number of children who receive the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella has reached an all-time high, young adults and teenagers are still at risk, according to the BBC.Read More »Measles–outbreak in England grows


Whooping cough: Kansas outbreak grows (update)


Tdap vaccine. ©CNN, 2012

On June 11, it was reported that the recent outbreak of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) in Johnson County, Kansas, has grown by 65 cases to a total of 175 cases since the beginning of the year. The Johnson County health department has issued a warning (pdf) about the outbreak, requesting that children and adults get the vaccine and to be aware of symptoms. To prevent the spread of the disease, the health department is requesting that people who are being treated for the disease with antibiotics stay home for 5 days, and those we are refusing to be treated, stay home for 3 weeks.Read More »Whooping cough: Kansas outbreak grows (update)


Review of Prometheus on “Why Evolution is True”


From Guest post: Sigmund pans the movie “Prometheus” (spoiler alert) « Why Evolution Is True.

I rarely do this (well, never), but here is another scientific review of Prometheus from “Why Evolution is True” blog. The comments are especially fun to read, because clearly some individuals don’t take kindly to critiques of this rather average movie.

 

Guest post: Sigmund pans the movie “Prometheus” (spoiler alert)

Sigmund is becoming a regular around here, and has contributed a review of the new SF (or is it “SciFi”?)  film Prometheus, which has generated a lot of buzz. He didn’t like it, largely because it’s scientifically inaccurate. As always, readers who have seen the flick should weigh in with their own opinions.

Film Review – Prometheus  (spoiler warning!)

by Sigmund

The film ’Prometheus’, the first return to science fiction for director Ridley Scott since Blade Runner, is supposedly a prequel to his famous 1979 movie ‘Alien’ and is therefore a major event for sci-fi geeks. As it opened a week earlier in Europe owing to the start of the European football championship, I’ve had a chance to see it (twice!) and can offer a personal opinion of the movie without, I hope, giving away too much of the plot. But if you intend to see the movie soon and don’t want to read any spoilers, I’d advise avoiding reading any further.Read More »Review of Prometheus on “Why Evolution is True”


England wants children to study evolution


Charles Darwin, the original British teacher of evolution

The United States has been a battleground this year in several states as right wing fundamentalists try to push antievolution legislation that would force children to be taught that evolution is controversial, or that creationism is scientifically equivalent to evolution. In most cases (except for Tennessee) these laws were pushed back, even in some fairly conservative states. The problem with education in the USA is that there are 50 states (plus DC) and 16000 school districts, each with full control over the science curriculum. Thus, children in northeastern and Pacific coast states have strong science educations, while other states, especially in the south and midwest, have a nascent antievolution movement. There are some minimal standards across the US for science education, but when you find school boards that think that creationism is a science, or that evolution is a scientific controversy, it’s hard to make certain that children get an well-rounded education in the biological sciences.Read More »England wants children to study evolution


Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and anti-science


I am a big fan of science fiction with a few caveats. Make it fun or horrifying, preferably both, and scientifically plausible. Science fiction by its very nature is fiction and should stretch the bounds of human imagination, but it should, at least, follow the basic principles of physics. For example, many science fiction movies require faster than light (FTL) travel, which is right at the edge of impossibility unless we are able to harness massive amounts of energy, suspend some of our current laws and understandings of physics, and adjustments for substantial time-effect conundrums, where someone traveling faster than light will be much younger than those who do not. But at least the writers of those shows make up terminology and gadgets that deal with it. Warp drives. Subspace communications. They try.Read More »Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and anti-science