News From Around The Blogosphere 3.10.10

March 11, 2010

1. I’ll have water on the rocks – Turns out we didn’t need to blow up the moon to find water because there was water in the rock samples we got decades ago the whole time:

The water levels detected in Apollo moon rocks and volcanic glasses are in the thousands of parts per million, at most—which explains why analyses of the samples in the late 1960s and early 1970s concluded that the moon was absolutely arid.

Oops!

2. Debunking creationists? Yeah, there’s an App for that – I blogged before about the The Counter-Creationism Handbook App but this one, Creationist Claims, is specifically for the iPhone.

3. Song For James Randi – Randi has now been immortalized in song, thanks to Tense Kids.

4. Human culture may have a powerful effect on evolution

Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, “leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution,” Kevin N. Laland and colleagues wrote in the February issue of Nature Reviews Genetics. Dr. Laland is an evolutionary biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

5. New study furthers evidence of flu shot benefits

An unusual study done in 49 remote Hutterite farming colonies in western Canada has provided the surest proof yet that giving flu shots to schoolchildren protects a whole community from the disease.

Although previous studies have demonstrated what scientists call “herd immunity,” none have been so incontrovertible, because they were done in less isolated places with more sources of flu passing through. Also, only one other study, done 42 years ago, immunized over 80 percent of a community’s children, as this one did. Success repeated in many separate communities with very high vaccination rates implies that the shots themselves — rather than luck, viral mutations, hand-washing or any other factor — were the crucial protective element.

So will the anti-vaxxers come around? Of course not. They’ll be throwing every excuse possible to reject this study and slander those who conducted it, the journalist who wrote the article, and the NY Times itself.

And speaking of the flu. . .

6. Stephen Novella gives an update on the H1N1 flu – Just because the media stopped talking about it, it doesn’t mean H1N1 didn’t have serious consequences. Fortunately, despite the massive anti-vaccine campaign against the vaccine, many Americans actually did get the vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine, leading to a solid victory for medicine. While the numbers of those infected and who died of H1N1 were a bit high, the seasonal flu ended up doing far less damage than usual. Of course once again the success of vaccines will be exploited by the deniers who regarded the hype surrounding H1N1 as nothing but fear-mongering to get people to get the poisonous vaccines. But at least they can’t point to many cases of vaccine injury either, so it kinda evens out in the end anyway with fewer deaths than we feared, making it a cause to celebrate.

7. Another pharmacist refuses to do her job for her religion

Janine Deeley, 38, thought the woman was joking when she took her on one side and said : “I don’t give out contraceptive pills because of my religion.”

The mother of two teenage daughters, from Wybourn , Sheffield, said : “I couldn’t believe the arrogance of the woman . Who is she to refuse to give me properly prescribed legal drugs?

“The irony is that one reason why I am prescribed the pill is because I suffer from endometriosis which causes painful periods.

I don’t know if that counts as irony but misappropriates of words aside, this is ridiculous. If your religion prevents you from doing your job, get another job. It’s that fucking simple!


Snake oil salesman gets slammed on television

February 6, 2010

If only more television personalities were this harsh on quacks.


Water discovered on the moon or creationists foiled by science again

November 14, 2009

Sorry to have to tell you this again, Shawn, but you’re. . .

Because we’ve now found a “significant” amount of water ice on the moon.


Boxed water: better for the Earth but still a silly waste of money

March 27, 2009

One company has started selling selling boxed water like what we’re used to buying our milk and orange juice in. This is good for the environment:

Boxed Water Is Better sells water in cartons, ditching the plastic bottles while reducing the overall carbon footprint of packing and distribution by 80%.

20% of the company’s profits are passed along to reforestation (10%) and water relief (10%) while you sip on the sweet hydrogen/oxygen nectar of Minnesota and a few parts per billion of paper pulp.

Of course, like the author of the article linked to above, I still don’t understand why anyone in the U.S. would need to buy packaged water in the first place:

But while Boxed Water is undoubtedly more sustainable than bottled water, I can’t help but think the product’s absurdity does less to open a new market than close an old one. In other words, Boxed Water is a ridiculous solution to an even more ridiculous problem—that we’d rather buy packaged water than drink it for nearly free out of the tap.

Contrary to what fluoridation phobics would have us believe, U.S. water is among the cleanest in the world. And bottled water isn’t much cleaner (if any) than what Americans can get out of their tap.


Hexagonal Water: Proof skepticism saves you money

February 2, 2009

I knew with this crappy economy prices for things were going through the roof but paying $585 for water is a tad ridiculous. You got to love the benefits of this magic water these people are selling:

INCREASE OXYGEN – Turbulent forces create a visible vortex,increasing the amount of oxygen in your drinking water – up to 30%.

Yeah, unlike normal H2O.

Hydrates the Cells

Yeah, unlike normal H2O.

Drinking Vitalized (Hexagonal Water) is one of the easiest and best ways to overcome chronic dehydration

Yeah, unlike normal H2O. I’m more than a little reminded of the Penn & Teller bit on Bullshit.

If it’s all the same to the rest of you, I’ll just get mine from the tap, which is free.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.9.08

December 10, 2008

prayerhardworkIn Detroit, workers are praying for a bail-out – Apparently those car manufacturers didn’t have to get on their private jets and fly to Washington to beg for money after all because Yahweh is on the case. I know what you’re thinking: Phew! That’s a relief!

monkey-frustratedBill O’Reilly wrong on state capitols, wrong on everything – In one of his latest rants against the atheist display in Washington’s capitol, Olympia, Bill-O spoke thusly:

Seattle now rivals San Francisco for secular-progressive nuttiness. The city fathers are allowing public nakedness in city parks, nude bike riding, and in Fremont, a Seattle suburb, they actually put up a statue honoring Lenin, the father of communism.

See if you can find the incredibly awkward mistake.

God vs. Science: will those 2 crazy kids ever get along? – NO. And stories like this exemplify why. Researchers did a study looking at attitudes regarding nanotechnology. Here’s what they found:

They found that countries where religious belief was strong, such as Ireland and Italy, tended to be the least accepting of nanotechnology, whereas those where religion was less significant such as Belgium or the Netherlands were more accepting of the technology.

Do The Bartman – Australian Supreme Court Justice Michael Adams is upholding the child pornography conviction against a man caught possessing images of characters from The Simpsons having sex. I’m with Amateur Scientist:

Look, no one’s arguing that looking at drawings of a naked Bart and Lisa is in good taste, but it has absolutely nothing to do with child pornography. These aren’t children. They’re cartoon characters. They aren’t even people. They’re cartoon characters.

Update on the witch hunts in Nigeria – Self-proclaimed bishop Sunday Ulup-Aya of southeast Nigeria has been arrested for the murders of several children he claimed were possessed by the spirits of witches. Unfortunately, there’s more where he came from.

I’m giving Water Vitalizer Plus a check minus – You might expect to pay up to $0.01 for this product but act now and you can get it for the low, low price of $500. But wait! There’s more!

The Water Vitalizer Plus water is Hexagonal Water.

That’s it. You can’t argue with that logic. . . you really, really, really can’t. They also say this little gem:

It is scientifically proven that when you drink pure water ran through the Vitalizer Plus it goes right into your cells hydating the body immediately,it doesn’t sit in your stomach slushing around undigested, making you nauseous like regular tap water or even bottled drinking water does.

WHAT?!

“I reject your reality… and substitute my own.” – On germ theory denial and other forms of rejecting reality.

A foxhole atheist speaks out

AND NOW A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyObesity Cure? Worms Destroy Their Own Fat – “A previously unknown mutation discovered in a common roundworm holds the promise of new treatments for obesity in humans, McGill University researchers say. Their study was published Dec. 3 in the journal Nature.”

Dogs Feel Envy, Austrian Study Finds – “Dogs can feel a simple form of envy, researchers have found.

Experiments with various species have shown that monkeys often express resentful behavior when a partner receives a greater reward for performing an identical task. Monkeys have been shown to stage strikes, refusing to participate and ignoring what they perceive as inferior compensation. Dogs are capable of similar, though less sensitive, discrimination, report Friederike Range and colleagues.”

Dinosaurs Were Airheads, CT Scans Reveal – “Paleontologists have long known that dinosaurs had tiny brains, but they had no idea the beasts were such airheads.

A new study by Ohio University researchers Lawrence Witmer and Ryan Ridgely found that dinosaurs had more air cavities in their heads than expected. By using CT scans, the scientists were able to develop 3-D images of the dinosaur skulls that show a clearer picture of the physiology of the airways.”

Brain Cells Key To Learning Discovered – “More than a century after Ivan Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to salivate when it heard the sound of a tone prior to receiving food, scientists have found neurons that are critical to how people and animals learn from experience.”

Chupacabra, Skepacabra’s goat-sucking cousin, apparently is in desperate need of a good cleaning:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.26.08

November 27, 2008

“Truman Syndrome” – more and more mental patients are convinced their lives are being filmed for entertainment, a la “The Truman Show.”

Et tu Sesame Street? – Jenny McCarthy shows up on one of my all-time favorite streets in America. She didn’t talk about vaccines or autism (Thank Zeus!) but unfortunately The Count didn’t show up to teach her a lesson: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 studies disprove your claims! Bleh!”

I blogged a few weeks ago about the job cuts over at James Dobson’s Focus on the Family organization. Wait. It gets better. Now it seems that The Creationist “Museum” is cutting 15 jobs. That’s a shame. And you gotta love this comment:

At least their pink slips will come with a “Merry Christmas” instead of a “Happy Holidays.”

I don’t acknowledge your marriage – A fair and rational. . .and funny response to all the gay marriage controversy –

Bee Venom Therapy – Wow, this is new even for me. Apparently people are regularly having bees sting them because of a false belief that it will help treat their MS.

Aquamantra – Water with all the nutritional value of bullshit.

Does Gulf War Illness really exist?

Top 10 Amazing Biology Videos.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyUnderground Water Shoots From Saturn’s Moon? – “Saturn’s moon Enceladus may indeed hide an underground reservoir of water.

Scientists at Jet Propulsion Lab in California, the University of Colorado and the University of Central Florida in Orlando teamed up to analyze the plumes of water vapor and ice particles spewing from the moon. They used data collected by the Cassini spacecraft’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS). Cassini was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn since July 2004.”

‘Barcode Chip’ For Cheap, Fast Blood Tests – “A new “barcode chip” developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) promises to revolutionize diagnostic medical testing. In less than 10 minutes, and using just a pinprick’s worth of blood, the chip can measure the concentrations of dozens of proteins, including those that herald the presence of diseases like cancer and heart disease.”

Sweet Molecule Could Lead Us To Alien Life – “Scientists have detected an organic sugar molecule that is directly linked to the origin of life, in a region of our galaxy where habitable planets could exist.

The international team of researchers, including a researcher at University College London (UCL), used the IRAM radio telescope in France to detect the molecule in a massive star forming region of space, some 26000 light years from Earth.” And for those keeping count, what we’re seeing 26,000 light years away occurred 20,000 years before the universe existed, according to Young Earth Creationists.

Jurassic Turtles Could Swim – “Around 164 million years ago the earliest aquatic turtles lived in lakes and lagoons on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, according to new research.”

Spectacular View Of Mammoth Stars – “The Hubble telescope has captured a spectacular image of a pair of colossal stars, WR 25 and Tr16-244, located within the open cluster Trumpler 16. This cluster is embedded within the Carina Nebula, an immense cauldron of gas and dust that lies approximately 7500 light-years from Earth.”

I’m blogging late because I just came back from one of New York Skeptics’ monthly Drinking Skeptically events, which had some surprise guests. Great seeing you again, Rebecca. Also I got to meet the subject of this video:

Great guy. Got to actually see photos of Penn & Teller feeding him his very first cheeseburger EVER, very first shrimp EVER, and very first crab cake EVER. He says he’s conclusively determined that he does not like bacon.