News From Around The Blogosphere 11.5.11

November 5, 2011

1. Anti-vax parents engaging in bioterrorism – If so-called “pox parties” weren’t enough, some parents have begun literally mailing chicken pox infected items for the purpose of infecting other people’s kids. And even worse, some have started mailing items infected with the far more dangerous measles. This would have made a perfect setup for the virus at the end of the recent Planet of the Apes film or for a zombie apocalypse story.

2. More anti-vaxxer propaganda – Just when I thought it was bad enough that the anti-vax propaganda film “The Greater Good” was coming to NYC’s IFC Center for a week beginning November 18, now I learn Barbara Loe Fisher and her band of cranks at the misnamed “National Vaccine Information Center” has a month-long “PSA” spot playing on Delta Airlines flights that suggests washing hands alone is an adequate substitute for a flu vaccine…cause that’s who you most want to go unvaccinated…people traveling from country to country. Argh! Fortunately, the wonderful Elyse Anders over at Skepchick is on the case and has begun a massive petition campaign to persuade Delta to cease this plot to kill us all. Also, she’s provided a handy-dandy list of contacts at Delta Airlines and its video provider.

3. Zombie worms found in fossil

Traces of bizarre, bone-eating ‘zombie’ worms have been found on a 3-million-year-old fossil whale bone from Tuscany in Italy. It is the first time the genus Osedax has been found in the Mediterranean, and suggests Osedax were widespread throughout the world’s oceans 6 million years ago.

BUSTED!

4. Simon Singh vs. fraudulent psychic Sally Morgan’s lawyers:  part 1 and part 2 – You might remember Singh as the UK science journalist who was sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for libel over his calling their chiropractic “bogus” and his subsequent victory in the appeals process. I also recently wrote about Sally Morgan’s being caught wearing an earpiece during her performance. Well, Singh’s suggested she prove her powers are real, so now she’s trying to intimidate the man who beat the BCA in court with lawyers. Boy, did she fuck with the wrong journalist.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 2.7.11

February 8, 2011

1. FBI investigating Scientology for human trafficking – A recent profile on ex-Scientologist and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis in the New Yorker also discussed an ongoing FBI investigation into the allegations of abuse by Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, and the enslavement of members of  the Sea Org:

The laws regarding trafficking were built largely around forced prostitution, but they also pertain to slave labor. Under federal law, slavery is defined, in part, by the use of coercion, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, and psychological abuse. The California penal code lists several indicators that someone may be a victim of human trafficking: signs of trauma or fatigue; being afraid or unable to talk, because of censorship by others or security measures that prevent communication with others; working in one place without the freedom to move about; owing a debt to one’s employer; and not having control over identification documents. Those conditions echo the testimony of many former Sea Org members…

And speaking of Scientology…

Tom Cruise

2. Is fictional Unitology in ‘Dead Space 2’ related to Scientology? – The videogame’s creative director says the similarities are just a coincidence, saying the inspiration came from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World”, but his dismissal seems less than convincing given the similarities.

3. One flu vaccine to rule them all? – Researchers may have found a universal flu vaccine to end all flu vaccines. Though it’s worth noting that the trial had only 22 subjects, but bigger studies are in progress.

4. That time of year again for another ‘invisibility cloak’ story – Every year there’s another story about an invisibility cloak on the way with the requisite reference to Harry Potter. Here’s the latest one about a cloak that hides objects, rather than people, and without the use of metamaterials.

5. 1 in 8 U.S. biology teachers are creationists– This is a shocking statistic. Roger Ebert had an appropriate response to this on Twitter, analogizing this to the hypothetical statistic of 1 in 8 math teachers believing 2+2=5.

6. Florida court sides against anti-vax mom in custody battle – This is great news to hear a court rule so decisively against a parent specifically because their anti-vaccine beliefs directly endanger that child’s life. Hopefully, this will help set a precedent in all U.S. courts.

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Medical science vs. viruses

November 4, 2010

Well, the flu vaccine, like every other vaccine, has still not been linked to autism, but one thing it has been linked to is decreased risk of heart attacks.

Middle-aged and older adults who get the flu vaccine may be less likely to suffer a first-time heart attack in the following year than those who skip the shot, according to a study published Monday.

So yes, yet another great reason to get your flu shot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Vaccines save lives. Deal with it.

Of course vaccines aren’t the only weapon against viruses. A new virus-killing technique is hitting the market in a few days, and researchers believe it can even defeat the common cold.

Any immunology textbook will tell you that once a virus enters a cell, the only way to knock that virus out is to kill the entire cell. But a new study from the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge has shown a way to kill a virus from within the cell, leaving the virus defeated and the cell victorious and intact. This could be huge–not just a cure for the common cold, but for all kinds of other viruses as well.

Suck it, cold!

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Anti-vaccinationists quote-mine the NY Times

September 28, 2009

One of my reality-deprived Myspace friends just sent out a bulletin they’d reposted that already had several degrees of separation from the original poster. That bulletin was concerning the most recent news concerning flu shots:

—————– Bulletin Message —————–

From: byronsabird (94750170)

Date: 9/28/2009 10:30:45 PM

Subject: NY Times Says Some People Who Take The Vax WILL DROP DEAD!

-..-..-..————– Bulletin Message -..-..-..————–
From: Margaret (294247991)
To: (94750170)
Date: 9/28/2009 9:00:02 PM
Subject: NY Times Says Some People Who Take The Vax WILL DROP DEAD!

-……..-……..-……..————– Bulletin Message -……..-……..—————

From: Guy (160998170)

To: (294247991)

Date: 9/28/2009 7:45:16 PM

Subject: NY Times Says Some People Who Take The Vax WILL DROP DEAD!

THE VAX! OH THE HOLY VAX! THE VAX IT FREAKIN POISON THAT MAKES SOME BIG MONEY MEN BIGGER MONEY!! THAT IS THE FACT JACK!! WHY ARE THEY SAYING WE SHOULD NOT BLAME THE VAX WHEN IT IS UNTESTED AND MADE WITH KNOWN CARCINOGENS??

Oh no! That sounds scary!!

Cue the dramatic prairie dog:

Apparently though, none of the posters of this bulletin or the originator of it bothered to actually read the article. . .or you know, the very next sentence:

As soon as swine flu vaccinations start next month, some people getting them will drop dead of heart attacks or strokes, some children will have seizures and some pregnant women will miscarry.

But those events will not necessarily have anything to do with the vaccine. (NY Times – “Don’t Blame Flu Shots for All Ills, Officials Say”)

EPIC FAIL!


Walgreens court settlement from Wal-Born scandal

August 4, 2009

First, there was Airborne, the bogus cold relief “medicine” that was forced to pay out a $37 million court settlement last year. Then Rite Aid was forced to pay out a $500,000 in refunds to customers for “Germ Defense,” Rite Aid’s version of the same product. And now Walgreens makes it a trifecta, as they too now have to pay the consequences for selling their own version of the same stupid, completely ineffective product, Wal-Born (also briefly sold as Wal-Borne).

Class action lawsuit settlement provides up to $14.97 or a free flu shot to many consumers. Walgreens recently settled the class action against them involving their product Wal-born. Wal-born is Walgreens generic equivalent of the popular Airborne Health Formula.

Further, Walgreens does not require any proof of purchase or receipt necessary to submit a claim. So while I’m not advising anyone who hasn’t bought the product to take advantage of this per se, I’m just sayin’. . .

And of course my advice is that people take the flu shot over the $15, especially since this promises to be a bad flu season, what with the H1Ni strain going around and the rising anti-vaccine movement and other grand conspiracists risking our herd immunity by discouraging people from vaccinating.


Science versus The Flu

February 28, 2009

I’m putting my money on Science:

The discovery of the molecule, an antibody known as CR6261, is good news for researchers who hope to design a flu vaccine that would give humans lifelong protection against a majority of influenza viruses. The antibody also has the potential to treat those who are unvaccinated and become infected with the flu.

Of course we can expect the conspiracy nuts to insist this is part of an evil plot by the New World Order to wipe out 90% of all life on earth or some crap like that.


News From Around The Blogosphere 8.29.08

August 30, 2008


Sarah Palin – creationist sympathizer – In the past she’s stated that science classes should “teach the controversy” between Evolution and Creationism. I wonder if she thinks we should also teach these equally valid controversies:

Winged Cat in China:

Abbie Smith determines that Young Earth Creationists & Old Earth Creationists, as stupid as they are, are still better than the “Intelligent Design” proponents

Reasons to be skeptical of Meta-analyses

“Patient-Centered Care” and the Society for Integrated Oncology

Get ready for flu season – If you’re Kim Stagliano from the “Age of Autism” blog, you probably think the flu is harmless because you never saw anyone die of the flu in Leave It To Beaver, but it’s actually responsible for 35,000 deaths a year.

Autism “Research” Institute (ARI) announces Autism TV – Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. There’s a reason I put quotation marks around the word “Research.” Yup, this is a front group for propagating anti-vaccine misinformation. In fact, the Age of Autism blog says they’re sponsored by the ARI. What a depressing development. But I suppose Jenny McCarthy will probably have a job again.

Critical Thinking Test – Would you buy this product?

The Rick Warren Magazine – Could this be the future?


A NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Arctic Ice On Verge Of Another All-time Low – “Following last summer’s record minimum ice cover in the Arctic, current observations from ESA’s Envisat satellite suggest that the extent of polar sea-ice may again shrink to a level very close to that of last year.”

Why Flies Are So Hard To Swat – “Over the past two decades, Michael Dickinson has been interviewed by reporters hundreds of times about his research on the biomechanics of insect flight. One question from the press has always dogged him: Why are flies so hard to swat? … Long before the fly leaps, its tiny brain calculates the location of the impending threat, comes up with an escape plan, and places its legs in an optimal position to hop out of the way in the opposite direction. All of this action takes place within about 100 milliseconds after the fly first spots the swatter.”

Eyes Evolved For ‘X-Ray Vision’ – “The advantage of using two eyes to see the world around us has long been associated solely with our capacity to see in 3-D. Now, a new study from a scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has uncovered a truly eye-opening advantage to binocular vision: our ability to see through things.” The article also says:

“All animals have a binocular region — parts of the world that both eyes can see simultaneously — which allows for X-ray vision and grows as eyes become more forward facing.

Demonstrating our X-ray ability is fairly simple: hold a pen vertically and look at something far beyond it. If you first close one eye, and then the other, you’ll see that in each case the pen blocks your view. If you open both eyes, however, you can see through the pen to the world behind it.

To demonstrate how our eyes allow us to see through clutter, hold up all of your fingers in random directions, and note how much of the world you can see beyond them when only one eye is open compared to both. You miss out on a lot with only one eye open, but can see nearly everything behind the clutter with both.”

And in monkey news…

Unexpected Monkey Population Found In Cambodia – “A Wildlife Conservation Society report reveals surprisingly large populations of two globally threatened primates in a protected area in Cambodia. The report counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs along with 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia’s Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, an estimate that represents the largest known populations for both species in the world.”