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What we're talking about Anti-Vaxx Loses Its Edge Friday, February 27, 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

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

  If there is anything that the past few decades of research and study of major global challenges tells us, it is that truly effective solutions to sustainability challenges require truly integrated approaches across disciplines, fields of study, data sets, and institutions. We are not going to solve 21st century global problems with 20th century…

I came across this neat press release from the University of Massachusetts: AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in…

Physical Science

A paper just published in Science Magazine helps explain variation we see in the long term Carbon-pollution caused upward trend Earth’s surface temperatures. The research also, and rather ominously, suggests that a recent slowdown in that trend is likely to reverse direction in the near future, causing the Earth’s surface temperature to rise dramatically. The…

  If there is anything that the past few decades of research and study of major global challenges tells us, it is that truly effective solutions to sustainability challenges require truly integrated approaches across disciplines, fields of study, data sets, and institutions. We are not going to solve 21st century global problems with 20th century…

There have been some good comments on last week’s post about the Many-Worlds Interpretation, which I find a little surprising, as it was thrown together very quickly and kind of rant-y on my part, because I was annoyed by the tone of the original Phillip Ball article. (His follow-up hasn’t helped that…) But then maybe…

Environment

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

A paper just published in Science Magazine helps explain variation we see in the long term Carbon-pollution caused upward trend Earth’s surface temperatures. The research also, and rather ominously, suggests that a recent slowdown in that trend is likely to reverse direction in the near future, causing the Earth’s surface temperature to rise dramatically. The…

  If there is anything that the past few decades of research and study of major global challenges tells us, it is that truly effective solutions to sustainability challenges require truly integrated approaches across disciplines, fields of study, data sets, and institutions. We are not going to solve 21st century global problems with 20th century…

Humanities

There’s lots of good blog fodder out there, but I don’t want to let too much time go by before finishing my discussion of Stephen Fry’s presentation of the Problem of Evil. See Part One for the full context. Of all the responses I’ve seen to Fry’s interview, there was one that was so bizarre…

Jon “Men Who Stare at Goats” Ronson has a new book coming out, and has been promoting it with excerpts in major newspapers, most notably the New York Times Magazine and the Guardian. In these, he tracks down people whose lives were wrecked by massive public shaming campaigns over idiotic things they wrote on social…

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…

Education

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

Paige Brown Jarreau, who blogs at From the Lab Bench is in the throes of writing her dissertation about science blogging, and plowing through a lot of interview data. She’s sharing some of the process on the blog, and a lot more on Twitter, where it’s prompted a good deal of discussion. One of the…

I came across this neat press release from the University of Massachusetts: AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in…

Politics

This past weekend I hung out at a brand-spanking new con, the Atlanta SciFi and Fantasy Expo. Made a bunch of new friends– including the proud owner of an actual T.A.R.D.I.S. Randy and I had a marvelous time talking about ghosts, yetis, and vaccines/viruses. I sent him a link to my FreeOK talks including this one:…

There’s lots of good blog fodder out there, but I don’t want to let too much time go by before finishing my discussion of Stephen Fry’s presentation of the Problem of Evil. See Part One for the full context. Of all the responses I’ve seen to Fry’s interview, there was one that was so bizarre…

Jon “Men Who Stare at Goats” Ronson has a new book coming out, and has been promoting it with excerpts in major newspapers, most notably the New York Times Magazine and the Guardian. In these, he tracks down people whose lives were wrecked by massive public shaming campaigns over idiotic things they wrote on social…

Medicine

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

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…

Poor Andy Wakefield. Beginning in the late 1990s until around six years ago, Andy was the premiere “vaccine skeptic” in the world. His 1998 case series published in The Lancet linking bowel problems in autistic children to the measles vaccine, the one where in the paper itself he was careful not to blame the MMR…

Brain & Behavior

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

I came across this neat press release from the University of Massachusetts: AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in…

Congratulations to Mallory Ballinger, a graduate student from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who is the 2015 recipient of the Dr. Dolittle Travel Award! The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding graduate student or postdoctoral fellow involved in comparative and evolutionary research and to provide assistance for them to attend the annual American Physiological Society…

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

“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.

Paige Brown Jarreau, who blogs at From the Lab Bench is in the throes of writing her dissertation about science blogging, and plowing through a lot of interview data. She’s sharing some of the process on the blog, and a lot more on Twitter, where it’s prompted a good deal of discussion. One of the…

Jobs

Workers continue to face dangerous exposures to diacetyl; paid sick leave legislation introduced in West Virginia; home health workers rally for living wages; and the rise of the independent contractor classification threatens worker rights.

While silicosis-related deaths have declined, it remains a serious occupational health risk and one that requires continued public health attention, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on February 16, 2015 in Marrietta, GA.