I often refer to those pushing the “vaccines cause autism” lie anti-vaccinationists or vaccine deniers because more often than not, their real target is the vaccines while the autism claim, though the most often mentioned in the media, is just one of many evils these ideologues try to link to vaccines. Really, in the same way Scientologists blame all the evils in history from the Holocaust to 9/11 on psychiatry, the vaccine deniers try to blame vaccines for everything.
In fact, on any given day, if you visit the Age of Autism blog, you’ll find infinitely more entries condemning vaccines for all sorts of things than you’ll find articles actually discussing autism.
But that being said, they can just as easily be referred to as autism deniers given that they quite literally deny the most basic facts about the condition, particularly the role genes play in causing autism. Of course this position is just a means to an end because since their real target is the vaccines, any science that demonstrates something other than vaccines contributes either a little bit or entirely to causing autism hurts their vaccine unifying theory of evil and therefore must be denied. It’s like how Jack Thompson can never admit to anything other than video games playing as a main role in causing school shootings or why creationists can never accept evolution because it demystifies what in their mind is the majesty of divine creation. … continue reading this entry.
I am generally skeptical of any claim (made by EITHER the alternative or modern medical camps) that Americans are deficient in any particular vitamin or nutrient. “Americans are not eating enough X,” the headlines cry! It just does not seem logical to me that in this day in age, where obesity has become an epidemic, that Americans are not ingesting enough of anything! But the up and down claims about vitamins are enough to send any rational consumer into a tailspin of confusion. One day we need to double our consumption of a particular nutrient, the next day we are told that too much of said nutrient is harmful then we are told that we weren’t deficient in the first place! This is the roller-coaster story of vitamin D. … continue reading this entry.
Believe it or not, as an atheist I don't see this as an irrefutable text.
As far as atheists are concerned, I think I come off being rather tame. I have never suggested that religion is some horrible institution that should be burned to the ground and I have been quite outspoken with my fellow skeptics about my belief that there are forms of belief which cannot ever be debunked through skepticism. That said, creationism bothers me on multiple levels. Last week, I wound up spending an inordinate amount of time arguing with a creationist on this very blog and I came to the conclusion that reactive defense of evolution was not going to win an argument with someone who refuses to look at evidence. So I’ve decided to go on the attack on this one. My reason is simple: whether there is a god or not, the specific God of Christian Creationism is logically impossible. … continue reading this entry.
What me rot?
You can use your critical thinking skills to analyze a broad amount of information. You can take this critical analysis one step further and conduct simple experiments to gather your own evidence. No, really. I mean YOU!
Because that is exactly what blogger J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, at the food blog Serious Eats did. Not [...]
This plant might be the next step in creating environmentally friendly products. Image from ScienceDaily.
Just a quick one for today. There’s this really cool story from ScienceDaily that went up this week all about what could be a new breakthrough in creating petroleum-based products using genetically engineered plants. Pretty much, this group of scientists have [...]
I don’t usually notice plot holes when at the movies. I tend to have a very strong suspension of disbelief, meaning a hole has to be pretty glaring for me to be unable to ignore it and particularly egregious for it to significantly hinder my enjoyment of a film.
One such example was in the recent film District 9, when the entire plot revolved around a two-dimensional, monolithic evil corporation, MNU, that was also possibly collaborating with the government, which devoted twenty years and presumably trillions of dollars to trying to figure out how to operate alien weapons. Those weapons could only be operated in the hands of the aliens themselves and the corporation is seen in the film forcing captured aliens to demonstrating some of those weapons’ capabilities. But later in the film, when we’re finally shown the full capabilities of the alien weapons in real combat, they turned out to be at best no more powerful than a common bazooka, and certainly insignificant compared with the atomic bombs made here at home and which without a doubt would have been far easier for the corporation to obtain. This left me scratching my head and hoping MNU fired whichever moron was heading up the project in first place. I was also left feeling sympathy for the MNU shareholders and the villainous MNU employees who would soon to be out of work because their company has clearly bankrupted itself by taking wasteful spending to a whole new level. … continue reading this entry.
An approximation of the "hockey stick graph" (which is under copyright)
Adding to the non-stop scientific controversy surrounding global warming research, the guy in charge of investigating the quality of the other guy’s work is now being investigated for the quality of his work. Confused? Why would that be?
The work of Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley et al. that produced the now epic figure depicting that global temperature has risen dramatically in the second half of the 20th century (dubbed the “hockey stick graph” because of the shape of the data) has been under fire since its publication in its first incarnation in Nature in 1998. Some statisticians questioned the techniques used by the hockey stick researchers (I’m sure if Mann and Bradley ever had any interest in the sport it has now been smashed) to estimate early temperatures and called into question the conclusions drawn in the original paper. … continue reading this entry.
A few years ago, as scientists and horticulturists began to notice declining honey bee populations, theories for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, abounded. The theory most commonly picked up by the major media outlets was that the non-ionizing radiation from cell phones and towers were interrupting bee navigation and causing the deaths. Google “bees cell phone” and you will be inundated by both reputable, and less than, sources linking bee deaths with cell phones. I particularly like this opening paragraph in a story in the Christian News Wire:
Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Learn how these missing bees relate to the use of cell phones, and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Do go on!
Well, now there is truly solid evidence suggesting that an interaction between a virus and a bacteria strain seems to be the cause of CCD. How mundane! Here is a nice media piece at PBS on the findings. … continue reading this entry.
This week I listened to an interview on NPR by Leonard Lopate with Dr. Devra Davis on her new book, Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family. This is a topic that has been discussed in the skeptical community, the medical community, and the pseudoscience community, and I don’t know that I am completely convinced of any particular argument. This, I realized while listening to the interview, is mostly because I don’t care. I believe that if I live long enough I will have some form of cancer in my old age. I don’t know that any one type will be better or worse than any other type so why spend time being hypersensitive to everything I do, as it seems that EVERYTHING causes cancer these days. Ultimately, I do believe that my genetic profile, something I can do very little about, is a much stronger predictor of my propensity towards cancer than any behavior I might engage in. And when I heard epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat, author of Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology speak last year at a NYCS event, I put any uncertainty I have about the connection between cancer and cell phone use at the bottom of my list of things to fret about.
But this interview got me thinking. It was such a mish-mash of contradictions and plausible scenarios that I felt that I needed to educate myself on the topic of cell phone radiation and cancer risks. … continue reading this entry.
Mike Adams sitting on a bench
I just came across a video created by Mike “The Health Ranger” Adams discussing a recent study. Applying all the subtlety of a Road Runner cartoon, Adams’ video painted the researchers as crazy mad scientists with kooky ideas that any idiot could see were just folly.
So what was Mike Adams complaining about this time? There was apparently a recent study published in August in the American Journal of Cardiology that led the authors to suggest it could be beneficial to public health if fast food establishments offered packets of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to their customers. Suffice it to say, Adams, enemy of anything with the word “drug” in it, disagreed with their professional opinion. … continue reading this entry.