News From Around The Blogosphere 10.13.08

The dangers of the flu and the need for flu vaccines – On average, 36,000 Americans of all ages die of flu complications each year. This article also discusses other serious dangers of not getting a flu vaccine.

Another 2 bloggers are added to the Science-Based Medicine blog – After adding Dr. Val Jones (whose other new blog is Getting Better With Dr. Val) to the blog last week, SBM is adding Dr. Peter Lipson aka PalMD of the Denialism blog and David J. Kroll, Ph.D., who’s “a natural products cancer researcher who studies plant-derived compounds as potential treatments for cancer.” I already regularly read the Denialism blog, so I’m a fan of PalMD already but I also look forward to reading Val Jones’ and David J. Kroll’s perspectives.

Identifying fake diseases

The case against homeopathy

The natives of Poyue, China claim that just being there adds years to your life – Poyue and villages in the surrounding region comprise a so-called “longevity cluster.” They allege to have people who are 113 years old living in the region. Although I haven’t researched this issue, the article suggests that the scientific consensus is skeptical. And this would hardly be the first time a people have claimed to possess some form of the timeless elixir of life. (Thanks Brian)

Christopher Hitchens is voting Obama! Yea! – When it comes to the religious criticism you’ll find few, if any, better at smacking down religionists than Christopher Hitchens. He has proven time and time again to have earned his placement among that exclusive club many have dubbed The Four Horsemen of Atheism (The other 3 horsemen being Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett). But when it comes to politics, I frequently disagree with Hitchens, who’s a Republican, albeit more of a Goldwater Republican. Now Hitchens has written an article that says McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president and calls Palin a disgrace.

Baseball players relying on magic amulets? – A bunch of baseball players are apparently wearing Phiten necklaces, said to promote pain relief and enhance performance through improved circulation and stress reduction. Of course there is no medical proof the Phiten necklaces actually work, though. The FDA does not approve the therapeutic claims made by the company and many doctors have said there is no indication that titanium affects performance.

This is very similar to the obscenely-priced sham product known as a Q-Link that James Randi has written a great deal about . This latest product seems like just another variation on the same pseudo-scientific theme. (Thanks Brian)

PZ Myers briefly reviews, Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

A review of Godless by Dan Barker – Barker is a former evangelical preacher of the same crazy denomination that Sarah Palin belongs to. And now he’s the head of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

And on a related note, how to de-convert the religious – Greta Christina asked her readers what finally convinced them to stop believing. Some of the answers are surprising.

You’ve heard of phantom limb syndrome? How about phantom erections? – Just because you’ve had sexual reassignment surgery and had your penis removed doesn’t mean mean you can’t have a hard-on.

Premature evacuation? Blame the genes


900-Pound Squid Joins Cast Of The View -

“We feel that the squid brings a fresh new point of view to the program,” said View executive producer and host Barbara Walters. “We looked at hundreds of potential candidates, but in the end, this rare and exotic creature from the darkest depths of the sea truly stood out.”

“And as far as we can tell, it is a female,” Walters added.

The 900-pound cephalopod from the family Architeuthidae joins cohosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Sherri Shepherd.

Sherri Shepherd still remains the only co-host who’s uncertain of whether or not the Earth is round.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Unique Fossils Capture ‘Cambrian Migration’ – “A unique set of fossils indicates that 525 million years ago marine animals congregated in Earth’s ancient oceans, most likely for migration, according to an international team of scientists.”

Baldness Gene Discovered: 1 In 7 Men At Risk – “Researchers at McGill University, King’s College London and GlaxoSmithKline Inc. have identified two genetic variants in Caucasians that together produce an astounding sevenfold increase the risk of male pattern baldness.”

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