A bit of self-promotion

I recently wrote a short radio-play for a friend’s revisionist history ten-minute radio-play series.  If you’d like to get a sneak peak at it before we record them for podcasts, there will be a live performance of them on October 6th at “The Red Room” on 85 E 4th Street at 7:30.  Here’s a sneak peak at a scene from my play.

INT. PRESS CONFERENCE — DAY

SFX

Cameras flashing … continue reading this entry.

An Anti-Vax Tea Party (Part 2 of 2)

Who has a question for "Dr." Wakefield?

During the Q&A, I’d wanted to ask Wakefield what vaccines he was in favor of giving to infants as it’s clear that many of his supporters are far more anti-vaccine than he professes to be but someone asked a similar question first. When I finally did ask a question, I simply asked for clarification about the studies he claimed supported his research. At times during the Q&A, it seemed as though Wakefield was among the least insane in the room. But his answers were so slick as to somehow appease both less fanatical anti-vaccinationists as well as those who believe vaccines have no benefits at all and are used to deliberate poison the populous. … continue reading this entry.

Anti-vax Tea Party (Part 1 of 2)

Andrew Wakefield, the British medical researcher notorious for his discredited work that attempted to link autism to the MMR vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease based (largely on bogus analyses of twelve children), stands in the front of the room sporting an adolescent haircut. Giving a warm smile to his audience, over and over again, the man, with the sleeves of his collared shirt rolled up, angrily condemns what he calls an, “effort to erase these children’s histories from the public record.” Composing himself, he continued, “And that will fail. And I will explain to you why it will fail.”

The evening had begun with a brief introduction by a woman representing DAN! or Defeat Autism Now!, an organization that claims to medically treat children with autism. She then passed the proceedings over to Tony Lyons, President and Publisher of Skyhorse Publishing, without whom this event would not be taking place.

Skyhorse is the company that published Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard. Lyons began his short introduction by calling the book controversial. He mentions how his own daughter has autism and that nobody knows if vaccines are responsible. In fact, he expresses this last sentiment exactly five times over the course of the next three minutes, while drawing comparisons to a time when doctors didn’t object to cigarettes and would even sometimes recommend certain brands. … continue reading this entry.

Sorry Andy, but settlement does not equal concession

There’s a reason I’ve been absent from the Gotham Skeptic for the last week or so and that’s because I’ve been busy finishing up a certificate program in Paralegal Studies. Although I’m still currently working in television at the moment, I am now officially a Certified Paralegal.

Technically, one doesn’t require certification to become a paralegal but it’s hugely beneficial to have a document proving some solid legal education from an American Bar Association-approved curriculum. Several times here over the past few months, I’ve tried to apply some of the legal knowledge I’d acquired to expose a few misuses of the law by pseudo-scientists, quacks, cranks, and all manner of denialists. … continue reading this entry.

Science: A Self-Correcting System

Nebraska Man: Proof that folks from the midwest have ALWAYS had fantastic abs.

Nebraska Man: Proof that folks from the midwest have ALWAYS had fantastic abs.

A recent study has shown that performing a lumpectomy, the removal of a woman’s lymph nodes under her armpit, does not increase survival rates for women with certain early breast cancers.  This is fantastic news for women who might suffer from symptoms of breast cancer in the coming years, but it also means that perhaps millions of women underwent unnecessary surgery with painful consequences, and gained nothing for it.  It’s the kind of news story that can really make you distrust the medical profession.  Why did they go through so many surgeries, and not realize that what they were doing was helping no one?  There’s definitely a way to look at this story that puts scientific medicine on the defensive.  For me though, this kind of story is the reason I trust science.  I know that if the science gets something wrong, it will eventually be able to correct itself. … continue reading this entry.

Antivaccine movement’s bad PR hits critical mass

Six months ago we were looking at a serious flu pandemic, a very strong  and vocal campaign demonizing vaccines, as well as a growing public distrust of vaccines and the entire medical industry. But then a funny thing happened. Despite all their bark, the antivaccine movement proved to lack sufficient bite, as enough Americans still seem to have gotten vaccinated against one or both prominent strains of flu, leading to a dramatically reduced number of flu cases and flu-related deaths this season.

It also goes without saying that none of the doom-saying predictions made by the antivaccine crowd panned out either. There was no dramatic increase in autism, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, or dystonia. Nor were there many deaths or serious injuries directly linked to the vaccines. And many of the “alternative” “medicines” the antivaccine crowd flock to like homeopathy and chiropractic  also got hammered with terrible press. But that’s not all that went wrong for the antivaccine movement over the last few months. There are numerous other reasons why 2010 is already proving devastating to their entire movement. … continue reading this entry.

2 Pseudoscience Peddlers Get Served… By Science!

Just in case you haven’t heard, a UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel found sufficient evidence to suggest “serious professional misconduct” on the part of Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues, who published the very first paper that insinuated a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Further, The Lancet has retracted the original article. [...]

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