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What we're talking about Anti-Vaxx Loses Its Edge Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Anti-Vaxx Loses Its Edge

I’ve written previously about Mayim Bialik, an actress previously on the TV show “Blossom” and currently on the “The Big Bang Theory.” She has a PhD in neuroscience and is a brand ambassador for Texas Instruments. Sounds great, right? She’s also gone on the record stating that her family is “a non-vaccinating” one, and has promoted…

Sometimes, in order to understand advocates of pseudoscience, such as antivaccinationists, it’s a useful exercise to look at their most extreme elements. Admittedly, in focusing on such loons, one does take the risk of generalizing the nuts to everyone a bit much, but on the other hand I’ve often found that the extremists are basically…

Note added 2/10/2015: I’ve posted a followup in response to the skeptics who defend Bill Maher. A couple of weeks ago, I noted the return of the antivaccine wingnut side of Bill Maher, after a (relative) absence of several years, dating back, most likely, to the thorough spanking he endured for spouting off his antivaccine…

It's getting harder and harder to hate vaccines in America. The trend will only continue as diseases like measles re-emerge because of parents' paranoia. Much of the anti-vaccine sentiment of the last twenty years resulted directly from scientific fraud—and most anti-vaccine propaganda employs scientific terminology to sound credible. But more people are waking up to the fact that vaccines simply do not cause autism or other mental 'disorders,' and public figures are shifting their stance accordingly. Some Republicans are embracing the right to deny vaccines to a child based solely on parental sovereignty. Celebrity Bill Maher says he is really only against the flu vaccine despite arguing for the basic infallibility of an 'all-natural' lifestyle. Recently, actress Mayim Bialik said on facebook "i am not anti-vaccine. my children are vaccinated" despite her reputation for anti-vaccine views. Watch as public opinion takes note: anti-vaxxers make indefensible decisions based on implausible explanations, endangering their children and other community members in the process.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

Now you can learn everything you need to know about octopus sex. It’s a bit tangly: But just in case you got lost in all the tentacles, here’s a diagram to help you out. By the way, in case you’ve ever wondered where an octopus keeps its nads, they’re maybe not where you expected. There…

“A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.” -Tennessee Williams The depiction of dying in space — by exposure to its terrifying vacuum — is incredibly varied, from freezing to swelling and bulging to simply exploding. For this week’s Ask Ethan, we take on…

Physical Science

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” -St. Augustine When you look up at the sky, all the twinkling lights — the stars — appear to be fixed. But littered…

A few years back, I became aware of Mike Brotherton’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and said “somebody should do this for quantum physics.” At the time, I wasn’t in a position to do that, but in the interim, the APS Outreach program launched the Public Outreach and Informing the Public Grant program, providing smallish grants…

“Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.” -Albert Camus There’s nothing quite like the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Some 200-400 billion stars are located there, including our own Sun. From our…

Environment

ZOMG: I can’t see anything ever beating that. Source: Indy.

And by “me” I mean all the children of future generations. Willie Soon is a soft-money scientist at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has been producing highly questionable ‘science’ casting, for several years, faux light on the reality of the human caused process of global warming. It appears that most or all of Soon’s…

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

Humanities

The public health literature is pretty clear when it comes to income status and poverty and their profound effects on health, disability, disease and life expectancy. But what about income inequality? Does a rising gap in wealth and resource distribution affect people’s health too?

A few years back, I became aware of Mike Brotherton’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and said “somebody should do this for quantum physics.” At the time, I wasn’t in a position to do that, but in the interim, the APS Outreach program launched the Public Outreach and Informing the Public Grant program, providing smallish grants…

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

Education

A few years back, I became aware of Mike Brotherton’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and said “somebody should do this for quantum physics.” At the time, I wasn’t in a position to do that, but in the interim, the APS Outreach program launched the Public Outreach and Informing the Public Grant program, providing smallish grants…

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

While I’m running unrelated articles head-on into each other, two other things that caught my eye recently were Sabine Hossenfelder’s thoughts on scientific celebrities (taking off from Lawrence Krauss’s defense of same) and Megan Garber’s piece on “attention policing”, spinning off that silliness about a badly exposed photo of a dress that took the Internet…

Politics

The public health literature is pretty clear when it comes to income status and poverty and their profound effects on health, disability, disease and life expectancy. But what about income inequality? Does a rising gap in wealth and resource distribution affect people’s health too?

And by “me” I mean all the children of future generations. Willie Soon is a soft-money scientist at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has been producing highly questionable ‘science’ casting, for several years, faux light on the reality of the human caused process of global warming. It appears that most or all of Soon’s…

While I’m running unrelated articles head-on into each other, two other things that caught my eye recently were Sabine Hossenfelder’s thoughts on scientific celebrities (taking off from Lawrence Krauss’s defense of same) and Megan Garber’s piece on “attention policing”, spinning off that silliness about a badly exposed photo of a dress that took the Internet…

Medicine

The last couple of days have been unrelentingly serious and depressing, with posts on the (probably) preventable death of a young Australian woman named Jess Ainscough of a rare cancer because she made the mistake of choosing the quackery that is the Gerson protocol rather than conventional medicine. Unfortunately, the “natural health community” will almost…

It’s been a rather…interesting…weekend. Friday, I noted the death of Jess Ainscough, a.k.a. “The Wellness Warrior,” a young Australian woman who was unfortunate enough to develop epithelioid sarcoma, a rare cancer, at the age of 22. I’ve been blogging about her because after her doctors tried isolated limb perfusion with chemotherapy in an attempt to…

“Established by the state.” Those are the four words at the center of an upcoming Supreme Court case that could strip affordable health insurance coverage from millions of working families and result in billions of dollars in uncompensated care costs.

Brain & Behavior

Today’s guest blogger is Idan Frumin, a student in the group of Prof. Noam Sobel in the Neurobiology Department.  Their research on the transmission of odor compounds while shaking hands appears today in eLife. It all started one day after lunch, sometime back in 2011. We sat in the lab’s living room (Yeah, we have…

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

I really never thought of spiders as being “pretty” until I came across these two new species of peacock spiders discovered in southeast Queensland, Australia by Madeline Girard (graduate student from the University of California, Berkeley, who is specializing in peacock spiders). Peacock spiders are not only beautiful, they also engage in elaborate dances during…

Technology

With a skull and Keats, there was little choice but to write about the new online items in rhyme. So with apologies to Shakespeare, Keats and the scientists, as well as the people at SpaceIL, here are today’s grab bag of poems. As usual, follow the links.       On a Lone Cranium Alas…

  Researchers in China have discovered that collagen isolated from the skin of tilapia effectively reduce wound healing time in mice. The usefulness of collagen, a major structural protein found in connective tussues, in wound healing has been known. Using fish proteins instead of typical mammalian sources reduces the risk for potential pathogens. Dr. Jiao…

The AAAS annual meeting was last week, which apparently included some sessions on social media use. This, of course, led to the usual flurry of twittering about the awesomeness of Twitter, and how people who don’t use Twitter are missing out. I was busy with other stuff, so I mostly let it pass, and of…

Information Science

Finally, the Canadian government’s Tri-Agency funding councils (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) have released the consolidated final version of it’s open access policy. The draft version came out some time ago. The consultation process garnered quite a few responses, which the Tri-Agencies were kind enough to summarize for us. And finally it is here. I have to…

“Please Don’t Paint Our Planet Pink!: A Story for Children and their Adults” is a new children’s book by Gregg Kleiner about global warming. The idea is simple. Imagine if you could see CO2? In the book, it is imagined to be pink. The imagining takes the form of a quirky father, one imagines him…

MSHA continues to develop new ways for the public to access its enforcement data, while parts of OSHA’s website have been “temporarily unavailable” since early this year.

Jobs

The public health literature is pretty clear when it comes to income status and poverty and their profound effects on health, disability, disease and life expectancy. But what about income inequality? Does a rising gap in wealth and resource distribution affect people’s health too?

An historical collection of workplace safety posters from European agencies and advocates cover themes that are still relevant today.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on February 20, 2015 in Madison, WI.