I hang around Quora, where people ask questions about just about anything, hoping experts will answer. I’ve ended up focusing on vaccines (of course) and cancer questions, both of which are so frustrating. The most annoying question that I answer is a form of the old trope “Is Big Pharma hiding a secret cancer cure just to make tons of money?” Seriously, I think a see a variation of that question every day.
Since I end up answering this question every day, I thought maybe I should put down my thoughts in an article here. Maybe some of you can find it useful.
It’s clear that a lot of the “secret cancer cure” myths arise in the pseudoscience websites. They’re pushing “natural” cures that are 100% effective in “curing” every known cancer with no side effects. What’s the evidence? You just need to trust them. Continue reading “Secret cancer cure – is Big Pharma hiding it from us?”
I disappeared for a few days after the election of a man who espoused racism, xenophobia and misogyny as the reasons to vote for him. His actual policy proposals were threadbare and, if he really believed them, we are looking a historical dismantling of all that is special about the USA. It’s hard to choose what scares me most about this sexual predator’s policies, but the antiscience Donald Trump ranks pretty much at or near the top.
Generally, the Republican party is quite antiscience. Republicans deny climate change. Republicans deny evolution, while Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, is hypercritical of evolution. And of course, Republicans have shown themselves to be vaccine deniers. There’s a lot more, but many of us consider those topics to be in the top 5 list of science denial. Frankly, if someone said that Trump believed in alien visitations and Sasquatch, and he was sending tax money to investigate them thoroughly, I wouldn’t be surprised.
On a broader level, a Trump administration will probably gut science research by cutting funding to National Institutes of Health and NASA programs in basic scientific research. There are probably areas, where Trump will appoint directors who are opposed to the years of science that form a basis of policy.
Despite the press tacitly being in bed with Trump, never really investigating him, Hillary Clinton won the election based on the popular vote, with a several hundred thousand vote lead over Trump. I think most Americans wanted a President who supported science. Sadly, Trump won the election because the USA uses an antiquated and anachronistic method to actually choose the president. A method that is based on needs of 250 years ago and on the negotiations required to get slave holding states to agree to the new Union. But, I’m not a political scientist, and the arguments for and against the Electoral College system of voting would be far beyond what are topics for this website.
Let’s just look at the antiscience Donald Trump, sticking to the key issues of climate change, evolution, and vaccines.
Deplorable Donald Trump, for those who are living in a log cabin off the grid, is a wealthy (according to him) white guy running for President of the United States. Deplorable does not begin to define all that Trump embodies – ignorance of the constitution, sexism, racism, misogyny, white privilege, xenophobia, and institutionalized lying. And since this is a pro-science website, Trump’s anti-science beliefs fall far below the low bar I set for your average Republican.
But his anti-vaccine rants are particularly loathsome. As I’ve written before, Trump is completely wrong about vaccines by claiming that the “massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism.” Wrong Donald Trump, there is no scientific evidence that vaccines are related to autism. It’s hard to choose which of his hatreds are most dangerous, but I would nominate his anti-vaccine stance, because vaccines prevent diseases which can harm children, and protecting children has got to be society’s most important goal.
A little less than 2 years ago, a Huffington Post/YouGov poll found only a modest ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans regarding the science of vaccines – in fact, the difference was 1 percentage point, or essentially, vaccine support was the same between adherents of both political parties.
Unfortunately, the basket of deplorables hang on to every word uttered by the King of Deplorables himself, so one has to wonder if that difference has grown at all over the past couple of years as a result of Trump’s ignorant statements about vaccines. Lucky for us, we’ve got some data.
Continue reading “Deplorable Donald Trump – creating anti-vaccination Republicans”
For those of you returning from an outing to the Andromeda Galaxy, Donald Trump is the Republican candidate for President of the USA. And Dr. Oz is the medical quack who pushes pseudoscience and junk medicine. Yesterday, Dr. Oz and Donald Trump met on Oz’s TV show to talk about Trump’s health record. If you think this showed us anything useful, I’ve got some weed that will cure every cancer.
I was not surprised when, earlier this week, someone announced that Trump would discuss his health with Dr. Oz. My first thoughts were, “of course he would.” If I wanted anyone to do the least critical questioning of Trump, I’d choose Matt Lauer to ask Trump about international affairs, and Dr. Oz to ask him about medical issues.
On many levels, these two conmen are a perfect match. Trump hates real science like vaccines, or climate change. And Dr. Oz loves pseudoscience. Two peas in the same pod.
Since this feathery dinosaur loves politics and trashing junk science, it feels as though it can’t resist the opportunity for some fun. Who wouldn’t?
Continue reading “Dr. Oz and Donald Trump – two anti-science salesmen promote each other”
Since I am a political geek as much as a biomedical geek, I love it when the two occasionally intersect. If you haven’t kept up, some right wing websites, like Breitbart, are pushing a trope that claims that a medically unfit Hillary Clinton is incapable of becoming President of the US.
I couldn’t resist commenting on this, because there’s really so much to say. Let’s start with the basics – Breitbart is a right wing website that seems to use the Natural News method of facts. You know, invent facts out of thin air.
You may not know much about Breitbart, but actually they’ve been slithering around the Donald Trump campaign for a long time. Last spring, a Breitbart reporter was actually assaulted by Trump’s then campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Eventually, Breitbart suppressed the news, because Trump was their guy, and the reporter, Michelle Fields, resigned from the website.
But the incestuous relationship between Breitbart and Trump gets even juicer. This week, Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, will become the Republican campaign’s chief executive. I’ve never heard of a chief executive in a political campaign, but I guess my feelings would be “whatever.”
If you think that Breitbart is anything but a right wing nut job website who’s in bed with Trump, you should disabuse yourself of those notions quickly. It is a right wing nut job website in bed with Trump
But back to the “medically unfit Hillary Clinton” trope. Let’s see where Breitbart got this “fact.” Because it has a something to do with Gardasil – maybe not directly, but I’m having fun here. Just go with it.
Continue reading “Medically unfit Hillary Clinton – the doctor behind the myth”
The focus of this blog is science, though I occasionally wander into other topics. But in today’s world science and politics intersects a lot – and mostly politics comes up woefully short on science. Case in point, the Green Party in the USA has a candidate for President of the US, Jill Stein, who may deny more science than your standard Republican. For example, the Jill Stein anti vaccine message should make every progressive run away.
Before I delve into Dr. Stein’s anti-vaccine beliefs, I want to point out why I think that both those on the left and right need to be taken to task for their beliefs trumping science. If a politician denies scientific evidence to come to their own personal conclusions, then how can they be trusted to use real evidence to come to conclusions about anything else?
Do you want your leaders to use bad evidence or maybe invented evidence to start a war that killed thousands of young people and nearly bankrupted several economies? Well, that has happened recently, when President George W Bush used weak or invented intelligence reports to cause the world to go to war. Unsurprisingly, President Bush was also an extreme science denier.
There are many reasons why scientific facts shouldn’t be a political volleyball, but they are, with people bouncing it back and forth until someone gets exhausted. To be fair, science isn’t a volleyball. To most of us, it’s a mountain that can only be moved with higher quality and quantity of evidence, not by badly done metaphors from the science deniers.
Let’s take some time to examine the Jill Stein anti vaccine belief – it makes her really the same as your every day science denying Republican.
Continue reading “Jill Stein anti vaccine message – be aware progressives”
I admit that I judge politicians on their science credibility. And I’m rather black and white about it – politicians don’t get to pick and choose what science they “believe” or not. How Bernie Sanders views biotechnology seems irresponsible. And that it’s aligned with Republican anti-science viewpoints is unacceptable.
I’ve written previously about Sanders’ nascent anti-science views, especially with complementary and alternative medicine, which isn’t medicine. Although I haven’t written about it specifically, Sanders is in favor of GMO labelling, which is part of the pseudoscience surrounding GMOs. Let’s be clear, the overwhelming scientific consensus about GMOs is that they are safe for human consumption and the environment. To real science, denying GMO safety (and it’s related labeling laws) is no different than denying climate change.
For me, the litmus tests for science in our politicians are evolution, climate change, GMOs, vaccines, and cloning/stem cell research. There are a few other science policy issues that are abeyond the scope of this website – fracking (limited science available at this time) and nuclear power. I haven’t the time or the desire to review the consensus on either, but for many people they are also litmus tests for science credibility of politicians – and not in the way you think it would be.
Recently, a journalist took a look at how Bernie Sanders views biotechnology – especially in comparison to Hillary Clinton. And Sanders comes up short in this key area of science. In fact, he has previously aligned himself with right wing Republicans on some scientific issues, something that should cause any pro-science progressive some pause.
Continue reading “Bernie Sanders views biotechnology – aligned with Republicans”
For regular readers of this blog, you know that I’m a progressive plus being a strong supporter of scientific evidence. I don’t spend a lot of time writing about politics, though I am a strong critic of the left when it comes to science. And it’s time call out a presidential candidate, who is not Donald Trump – Bernie Sanders embraces alternative medicine which is not good for health care.
Senator Sanders is a self-proclaimed “socialist” or social democrat, although I doubt he would compare economically to real socialists or social democrats in Europe. His brother, a Green Party politician in the UK, probably would make a real socialist. He fits the crunchy liberalism of the state he represents, Vermont. These are generally the progressives I criticize the most – generally anti-vaccine, anti-GMO and pro-alternative medicine.
Sanders has promoted GMO labeling, a policy that will lead to increased food costs for those who least deserve to pay more for food. For those of us who look only at science based evidence for claims, there is little difference between climate change deniers and GMO deniers.
Even though there is absolutely no evidence (unless cherry picking is your thing) that GMO foods are a health risk, individuals like Sanders push that trope to probably pander to his most liberal supporters. Or maybe Sanders embraces pseudoscience, because that’s his core belief. I’m beginning to wonder.
Continue reading “Bernie Sanders embraces alternative medicine – UPDATED”