News From Around The Blogosphere 1.28.10

January 29, 2010

1. Scientists determine color of dinosaur’s tail feathers – because of course dinosaurs weren’t in any way related to birds. Right creationists? It’s orange.

2. Russian rabbis hospitalized from holy water – Silly rabbis. Trix are for kids. (Thanks to my friend Michelle for that joke!)

3. Doctors Without Borders vaccinates 2,100 kids against Measles in Pakistan – This is great news but I fear that the first Pakistani kid who gets sick from anything at all will become a target for anti-vaccinationists to point to, insisting that it was the vaccine. . .even if that particular kid wasn’t vaccinated. Or maybe they’re just emphasize that these kids only got vaccinated against measles instead of getting MMR vaccines, and insist that that’s how we should all get them. Either way, I doubt this news story will escape their rationalizations.

4. Atheist billboard goes up in Tampa Bay -

5. The Pope’s a masochist – Remember when the Pope condemned “The Da Vinci Code” for its inaccuracy? Well it wasn’t all inaccurate. The self-flagellation part was true:


Wales sees worst measles outbreak in over a decade

May 20, 2009

vaccine1Yet more of Jenny McCarthy’s acceptable casualties are reported in Wales, which is facing a measles outbreak 4 times the highest figure recorded in the past 13 years:

Four nursery school children were treated in hospital as part of 127 cases across mid and west Wales, while there are another 39 cases in Conwy.

The National Public Health Service (NPHS) in Wales saw 39 cases last year. Its highest figure in 2003 was 44.

Officials appealed for parents to take up the MMR vaccine.

And contrary to what the anti-vaccine crowd would have us believe, children can die or become impaired by measles. Of course Jenny McCarthy claims she’d gladly trade her kid’s autism for measles. Of course her son is already vaccinated and so won’t have to worry about measles.


Jenny McCarthy calls millions of potential measles casualties acceptable losses in her crusade

April 2, 2009

Yeah, Jenny MCarthy actually told Time Magazine that the victims of measles, 1 of the top 5 killers in the world of children under 5 years old, are acceptable losses in her fight against autism.

I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism. (Read “New Clues to Autism’s Cause.”)
. . .

People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines. Please understand that we are not an antivaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins. If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f___ing measles.

Of course nobody seriously has to make such a choice because science has conclusively proven that vaccines have no connection whatsoever to autism. I have to say I’m disappointed that Time didn’t grill her mercilessly. It’s really sad when the Comedian Jon Stewart is the most hard-hitting journalist in the nation and I wish desperately that a publication like Time Magazine would look to a comedian to tell them how to do their jobs, because they are failing their readers and are, as Stewart once told Tucker Carlson, hurting America.


Better living through vaccination

March 26, 2009

vaccine1Here‘s a great blog by John Snyder, the most recent addition to the writing crew at Science-Based Medicine.  In it he elaborates on some of the incredible harm caused by anti-vaccine hysteria.

Parental vaccine refusal endangers lives. Here we have a situation in which an unavoidable shortage of a vital vaccine, has combined with an irrational parental mistrust of expert scientific opinion to create a critical mass of vulnerable children. The result, so far, is four dead children. But in the absence of any shortage, vaccine myth and the poor parental decision making it breeds has already had a profound impact, with the potential for more to come. In the never-ending wake of Wakefield, measles outbreaks have occurred in pockets of under-immunized children in areas of New York, San Diego, and Milwaukee.  Particularly in communities where parents know how to do their own “research” about vaccines. Many more children have suffered unnecessarily in the U.K. and elsewhere as a result of the spreading wave of panic over fictionalized vaccine dangers. In fact, as bad as this wave of vaccine parananoia is in the U.S., it’s far worse in Europe and the U.K. where vaccine mythology is rampant, and the threat of vaccine preventable epidemics is very real. This widening circle of vaccine fear across the Atlantic is a major threat to children in this country.  Imported cases of vaccine-preventable disease can now find increasing populations of under-immunized children in which to take root.

To see children fall ill and die from completely preventable diseases because of irrational fear and a belief in myth should truly make us angry. Those of us who have the knowledge and experience to speak out publicly should do so. We should seek every opportunity at our disposal to speak with a clear and unintimidated voice to say that we’ve had enough. Enough of the armchair pseudoscience. Enough of the misinformed journalists. Enough of the celebrity grandstanding. That parents in this day and age would arrange a chicken pox or a measles party so that their children could actually get these diseases rather than have them safely vaccinated makes me want to scream. The hours I spend trying to correct the massive amounts of misinformation foisted on parents who believe a seemingly endless array of conjured myth is mind-numbing. We should be calling out the phoney mavericks, charlatans, and know-nothings for who they are. Robert Kennedy, Jr., David Kirby, and J.B. Handley believe they are fighting the noblist of fights. What they are doing, of course, is endangering lives. But more broadly, their rhetoric endangers the already fragile relationship society has with an evidence-based approach to understanding the world. It is our responsibility to make it known that the controversy is over. No, that there never was a controversy in the first place. That science and reason will not allow another child to die or suffer needlessly. Really, where is the outrage?

The whole article is really worth the read.


Congratulations Australia for kicking measle ass

February 16, 2009

Unlike numerous other parts of the world that are suffering measle epidemics due largely to anti-vaccine hysteria, Australia has made measles their bitch by all but eliminating measles completely:

High take-up rates of the infant measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine has led to the elimination of the endemic measles virus in Australia, immunisation experts say. Researchers from the University of Sydney, writing in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, claim that in 2005 and 2007, Australia satisfied the main criteria of having a low level of measles infection, with less than one case per million people.

Way to go, Australia! Now unfortunately, there have been some obstacles along the way:

A total of 125 cases were reported in 2006 – equivalent to six cases per million – but more than half of these were attributed to a outbreak linked to the tour of a foreign spiritual group.

The aforementioned spiritual group was a traveling Hindu spiritualist who gave hugs to people everywhere he went. . .in addition to giving them a deadly disease, proving once again that religion kills.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.30.08

December 1, 2008

vaccine1Reduced MMR Equals More Measles – A Measles epidemic has hit the UK, thanks to fewer people getting MMR vaccines largely due to antivaccination propaganda. Here are some inconvenient statistics for them.

10 Incredibly Dangerous Doctors – Dr. Doom and Dr. Octopus didn’t make the list.

creationistsExciting creationist breakthrough in the Answers Research Journal - If there was a gold medal for irony, Shalini over at Teen Skepchick deserves it.

An awesome creation scientist has discovered that:

From a creation view, it appears, then, that the origin of microbial based disease has at least two primary causes, (1) post-Fall genetic alteration of the original good microbe and/or (2) post-Fall displacement or movement of the microbe from the site where it performed its beneficial function.

This makes so much sense, is good science, has been proven by our brilliant research methods of reading Genesis, reading Genesis again and praying. . .

shredding-constitutionCreationism: The Latest In Military Suicide Prevention – Air Force Chaplain Christian Biscotti thinks the best way to convince people not to commit suicide is to teach them nonsense.

How do you protest The Pope’s visit to World Youth Day in Australia? Build your own Pope-mobile:

Actress Catherine Dent talks about Religious Discrimination in support of FirstFreedomFirst.org’s campaign to safeguard separation of church and state.

Last year The Astrological Magazine ceased production – In their words, it was “due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control.” Oh, the irony!

Pareidolia in Halifax -

Some believe this window shows the silhouette of a priest who lost his head in an explosion. And allegedly, no matter how many times the church has tried to clean the window, or change the glass, the image remains. Of course, I agree with Some Canadian Skeptic in suspecting that they’ve never actually tried to change the window.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyCommon Cold Virus Came From Birds? – “A virus that causes cold-like symptoms in humans originated in birds and may have crossed the species barrier around 200 years ago, according to a new article published in the Journal of General Virology. Scientists hope their findings will help us understand how potentially deadly viruses emerge in humans.”

Route To Obesity Passes Through Tongue – “Obesity gradually numbs the taste sensation of rats to sweet foods and drives them to consume larger and ever-sweeter meals, according to neuroscientists. Findings from the Penn State study could uncover a critical link between taste and body weight, and reveal how flab hooks the brain on sugary food.”

Virtual Ears And The Cocktail Party Effect – “Oxford University research has helped understanding of the so-called ‘cocktail party effect’ – how our brains develop the ability to pinpoint and focus on particular sounds among a background of noise.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, has implications for the emergence of hearing abilities in children and for restoring hearing after fitting hearing aids and cochlear implants.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.25.08

August 26, 2008

Crazy homophobic, bible-thumping principal in Florida gets ass handed to him in court -The ACLU saves the day once again.

Homophobic, Bible-thumpers trying to overturn California same-sex marriage law – With the war in Iraqi, the genocide in Darfur, the hostilities in Georgia, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, constant chaos throughout the Middle East, widespread poverty, and a host of other crises around the world, I for one applaud these guys for having their priorities straight [rolling eyes].

“An estimated 15,000 backers of the measure, most of them members of Mormon, Catholic and evangelical Christian churches, knocked on doors and distributed campaign literature to registered voters throughout the state this weekend and last, according to Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 8 campaign.”

Homophobic Bible-thumpers sending negative letters to Hallmark for making gay-friendly cards – Our old fascist friends at the poorly named American Family Association are at it again. Feel free to contact Hallmark and thank them for being non-discriminatory…if for no other reason than to stick it to the AFA.

Oh, and here’s the latest AFA newsletter:

Did you know that the four major television networks have declared war on decency by suing the FCC for the right to air profanity and nudity at any time of day? We do have a counter attack but the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act (S. 1780) is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate. The Act (S. 1780) would reaffirm Congress’ support for vigorous enforcement of the existing broadcast dece! ncy laws and the importance of protecting the public airwaves from indecent content.

In order to ensure the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to fine broadcasters over “fleeting” instances of profanity or nudity, S. 1780 needs to be voted on by the full Senate. If S. 1780 does not pass, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act passed two years ago will be rendered essentially meaningless.

Recently, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out a $550,000 indecency fine levied against CBS for the infamous 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” CBS also allowed profanity during Big Brother 10, which airs during prime time.

We are in a pivotal time regarding the ownership of America’s broadcast airwaves. The law says these airwaves belong to the American people, but the networks are trying to take them over and turn them into a toxic sewer. Now is the time to fight back!

Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?

Sincerely,

Don

Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

Bible-thumpers handing out Gideon Bibles to 5th Graders – (Yeah, there’s a very, very subtle theme to tonight’s blog). Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the only party in the story who IS smarter than a 5th grader, is taking legal action.  PZ Myers offers an another approach for dealing with these guys.

Deist Thomas Paine–one of, if not the most important of our Founding Fathers and one of, if not the most anti-religious of our mostly anti-religious Founding Fathers returns to my neighboring town of Fort Lee, New Jersey in the form of a statue to be placed where the man himself once stood.

Why you should be skeptical of acupuncture

The only thing that bites is this journalist’s investigative reporting skills – Another article about a “pet psychic.” This one is from a New England paper and begins with the title, “City puts the bite on pet psychic,” With a title like that you’d think you were in for a triumph of common sense against a con artist. But sadly, no. It’s another thinly veiled advertisement for this “pet psychic’s” services. Someone should tell the “psychic,” Willow that she still has time to enter to win the JREF million dollar prize. I’m sure she’ll get right on that as it’s the obvious solution to her problems.

Today is the 399th anniversary of Galileo presenting his telescope to the Venetian Senate

The Amateur Scientist stops in at cool sci-fi site Pink Raygun to debunk palm reading.

10 people with unbelievable medical conditions.

If your child isn’t vaccinated, parents have a right to know – MSNBC nails it again with outstanding coverage regarding the vaccine non-issue. (Thanks again to Brian)

Anti-vaxxer moron actually laughs at measles epidemic – Why? Everything she knows about the measles she learned from Leave It To Beaver and other sitcoms…with plotlines about CHICKEN POX. I can see how Kim Stagliano, Managing Editor of Age of Autism, could mix those 2 up; they sound so similar. According to Wikipedia:

“Globally, measles deaths are down 60 percent, from an estimated 873,000 deaths in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. Africa has seen the most success, with annual measles deaths falling by 75 percent in just 5 years, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000.[13]

Oh, and Kim, there is no Thimerosal in MMR vaccines. Just thought you should know.

If only this happened in the real world:

Suzanne Somers joins other anti-medical vultures to pick at the flesh of the still very much alive Christina Applegate

Nina Fedoroff on why genetically modified food is good, why the Secretary of State needs a science adviser, and  science diplomacy.

Article on atheist billboard in Playboy Magazine – I was fortunate enough to see an almost identical billboard on my commute to work every day on the New Jersey Turnpike for a few months last year.

How large is Big Religion in America? – I’m not entirely in favor of the whole “framing” thing with regards to these issues but I’m personally just a big fan of the phrase “Big Religion” myself…though I only use it somewhat ironically, not so much as a “framing” technique or for propaganda purposes.

Creationist and “former atheist” Anthony Flew reviews “The God Delusion” – I think someone’s a little jealous of Dawkins’ vast, vast, vastly superior book sales:

“But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).”

Then I guess that makes Flew a Creationist bigot by the same definition and us all math bigots and history bigots too. I know I personally am intolerant of the belief that 2 + 2 = 5 and am completely intolerant of beliefs that are just plain: WRONG! I think Mr. Flew greatly undermines and diminishes the severity of what that word means. Maybe he should visit Afghanistan with some female friends or he should pretend to be an out of the closet gay man in the Bible Belt to learn what bigotry really means. If intellectual honesty is bigotry then call me a proud bigot!

Answers in Genesis’ poor responses to the 2 Evolution stories in the New York Times this weekend

And now for a moment of science:

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others – “Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.”

Bizarre Qualities Can Drive Species Evolution – “The ostentatious, sometimes bizarre qualities that improve a creature’s chances of finding a mate may also drive the reproductive separation of populations and the evolution of new species, say two Indiana University Bloomington biologists.”

Researchers Study ‘Cocktail Party Effect’ – “Call it the cocktail party effect: how an individual can participate in a one-on-one conversation within a cluster of people, switch to another, pick up important comments while tuning out others, change topics and return to the first conversation.”


Worst measles epidemic in a decade–Thanks Generation Rescue!

August 22, 2008

As some of you may have noticed, the nonexistent controversy over whether or not vaccines cause or contribute to autism (They don’t) has pretty much become the most common theme on this blog, well above what is probably my second most common theme: Creationism/Intelligent Design. the nonexistent controversy over whether or not Evolution is true (It is). Well, that’s because it’s fast becoming the largest medical pseudoscience of our time and with almost daily news stories on it, it’s almost impossible for anyone who follows the news to avoid the topic. And incidentally it also draws a lot of traffic to this blog. Many of my most visited blogs have been those addressing this subject. Let’s face it; this autism “debate” is as sexy a news topic today as Global Warming.

This one comes from my friend, Brian: Vaccine refusals fuel jump in measles outbreaks: cases at highest level in a decade; many sparked by home-schooled kids.

For a MSNBC video that I can’t embed for some reason, go here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/23782891#23782891

Of course we’ve known for a while about the measles epidemic. And those of us who form conclusions based on evidence and reason instead of “mommy instinct” knew this problem was going to inevitably get much larger. Fortunately, unlike many other countries there have still been no recent measles-related deaths in the United States. That’s largely due to our superior medical facilities, still possibly the best in the world, unlike our shoddy healthcare system because a bunch of rich people don’t like the thought of waiting on lines. But that’s another issue.

Another major factor that has prevented measles epidemics in the past and measles-related deaths in this country has been herd immunity, which Wikipedia excellently defines as:

Herd immunity (or community immunity) describes a type of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a portion of the population (or herd) provides protection to unvaccinated individuals.[1] Herd immunity theory proposes that, in diseases passed from person-to-person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune. The more immune individuals present in a population, the lower the likelihood that a susceptible person will come into contact with an infected individual

This is one of the main reasons why we keep the unvaccinated out of our public schools, to protect the kids from the children of stupid parents. So it’s no surprise that it’s mostly hitting the home-schooled child population, which in this country pretty much means children of crazy religious and anti-scientific parents:

In a way vaccines are suffering from having been too successful. Having all but defeated measles, mumps, influenza, and polio among many others, humanity has seen an unprecedented rise in our lifespans (unlike alternative medicine, which hasn’t defeated anything). And since my father had polio it’s safe to say I probably would have never existed if it weren’t for vaccines. In fact, most of us owe our lives to vaccines in one way or another.

That’s why now that anti-scientific superstitious fears of vaccines have become ubiquitous it’s safe to conclude that this will inevitably lead to demonstrable harm. And when that harm comes we’ll fortunately know who’s largely to blame, misguided false prophets like Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield, J.B. Handley, David Kirby, Kim Stagliano, Dan Olmsted, Barbara Loe Fisher, Dr. Jay Gordon, Dr. Rashid Buttar, who have campaigned tirelessly against one of humanity’s best weapons for fighting disease because they couldn’t be bothered with actually studying the science…or rather because they didn’t care what the evidence said. Without wishing to be a doom-sayer or fear-monger, I’d say it’s only a matter of time now before children start dying from easily preventable diseases like the measles in this country. And that’s reason to be very, very concerned about this issue.

Here’s Orac’s response to this news.

The MSNBC site also included these helpful related links:


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