10.20.2014

Please Don’t Tell My Daughter There are ‘Chemicals’ in Her Soda

cremesodaI had a special moment with my daughter, Dawn, the other day. I shared a Faygo Creme Soda with her. Faygo’s a Michigan thing — a local bottling company who makes a wide variety of soda drinks. When I was a little Michigander, Faygo Creme Soda was my mother’s favorite flavor and as such it became one of my favorite flavors. I don’t generally buy soda anymore, but I had a craving and I knew Dawn would like it if she tried it.

As we were sitting there sharing the bottle (she loved it, BTW), she said, “My teacher said we shouldn’t drink a lot of pop because it has like 24 spoons of sugar in it.”

I nodded. “Well, it has a lot of sugar in it. That’s why I only have it as a treat.”

“Do you drink diet pop?”

“I don’t drink much pop at all.

“Good, because my teacher says you should never drink diet pop because it has chemicals in it.”

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10.19.2014

In Defense of Electric Silence

For some time now, a few activists have proposed that a danger of electric cars is their silence to unsuspecting pedestrians. According to this claim, pedestrians are more likely to be struck by cars that they cannot hear coming. A suggested solution has been to add artificial noise to electric cars, supposedly making them less dangerous to semi-conscious pedestrians, and definitely making them annoying to everyone else. Having been both a pedestrian and a driver in my life, I am not a fan of this proposal.

The Nissan Leaf is one electric car that produces an artificial engine noise, ostensibly for the protection of pedestrians.

The Nissan Leaf is one electric car that produces an artificial engine noise, ostensibly for the protection of pedestrians.

/ read more…

10.14.2014

Food Babe vs. the Glucose Tolerance Test: Another Science Fail

When it comes to unscientific nonsense wrapped in a toxic shell of concern trolling and naturalistic fallacies, you can’t do better than the Food Babe. The food crusader and blogger, whose real name is Vani Hari and whose background is in computer science, has become the darling of the anti-GMO, pro-alternative medicine set. She’s achieved her status by marshaling an army of social-media followers into crusades pressuring major companies to remove “harmful chemicals” from their products.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Who wants to eat harmful chemicals, right? But in reality, Hari is almost always either taking information out of context, displaying a shockingly poor understand of science, or just simply wrong. / read more…

A Lucky Find in Egypt

I really liked the following news item, and for two reasons. Well three, actually, because it’s about archaeology (favorite subject of mine), but also because it features a really lucky once-in-a-lifetime find and because it features experimental archaeology (trying to recreate artifacts using old techniques).

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10.11.2014

The Cost of Not Vaccinating

vaccines-are-not-toxicInstead of finishing and posting a normal blog post this week, I wanted to share something that came across my social media feed thanks to the Anti-Vaccine Body Count page. While normally I would post about the statistics and science of how vaccines work and about their safety, sometimes using the same tactics as anti-vaccine, anti-science peddlers is effective in at least getting those on the fence to more closely examine their beliefs and hopefully the science.

Let me address some of the possible comments first. Yes, I know vaccines do occasionally cause an injury. Statistically, the chance of any permanent injury is so rare that you have a much better chance of being struck by lightning than you do getting permanently injured by a vaccine. However, there are many more people who are in danger of being harmed by the diseases they are designed to protect us from. / read more…

10.10.2014

The Last Bigfoot Post I Will Ever Write [Maybe]

simpsons_nelson_hahaI was soooooo ready to write a fun Bigfoot post today. It has been a busy couple weeks for the fine art of Squatch-Watching. Not only has someone Photoshopped the Gimlin film to within an inch of its life, but there was also video of a strangely unmoving Bigfoot in the night and even a tiny invisible Bigfoot. These videos weren’t going to mock themselves!

Then Dr. Steven Novella had to go and rain on my parade.

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10.10.2014

Another E-Cat Test: Success?

E-Cat

Rossi’s ostensible cold-fusion reactor. Via www.sifferkol.se.

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat machine has been wowing folks for some time now. This device is claimed to produce considerable amounts of energy via Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). I’ve written about LENR and Rossi before. Results of additional testing on the E-Cat have been published very recently. Does this, finally, prove that the E-Cat works? / read more…

10.8.2014

Ebola and Enterovirus D68, Pandemic or Panic Part II

 

480px-Ebola_virus_particles

“Ebola virus particles,” by Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5, via Wikimedia.

Recently, fear of infectious disease has become a constant drumbeat on the Internet and television. This is primarily due to two viral diseases. Disease one is the deadly West African Ebola Virus. Disease two is Enterovirus D68. Mike Rothschild did a nice post about the enterovirus on September 16th titled “EV-D68: The (Not) New Disease to (Not) Panic About.” Events surrounding these diseases this week seems to have piqued the obsessive interest of the news media: the first-ever case of Ebola diagnosed in the US in Dallas Texas (who was reported as deceased today) and the recent news reports linking the death of a healthy child to the enterovirus. This is part two of my informational posts. This one is focused on the Ebola Virus and the Epidemic in West Africa.

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10.5.2014

Ebola and Enterovirus D68, Pandemic or Panic Part I

An ICU nurse cares for a ventilated child. Via Wikimedia.

American news media outlets love a good scary story. If a scary story involves deadly diseases and children, you have media gold. Media outlets tap into the primal fear of infectious disease to draw your eyes to their screens. Recently, the fear of infectious disease has become a constant drumbeat on the Internet, in print, and on television. This is primarily due to two viral diseases. Disease one is the deadly West African Ebola Virus. Disease two is Enterovirus D68. Mike Rothschild did a nice post about the enterovirus on September 16th titled “EV-D68: The (Not) New Disease to (Not) Panic About.” Events this week seem to have pique an obsessive interest around both diseases: the first-ever case of Ebola diagnosed in the US in Dallas, Texas, and the recent news reports linking the death of a healthy child with the enterovirus. / read more…

10.4.2014

The Anti-Vaccine Playbook: Freedom of Speech

Writer’s Note: I wanted to write my own collection of nonsense spewed by pseudoscience peddlers. I will be starting with vaccines, but I may expand it into other topics as well at some point. I want to provide short examples of the arguments made by those who don’t understand science, and I will compile the links into a separate post after I get a few done, and then continue to add links to that post as I add more. I hope it is helpful!

Freedom of Speech graffiti (via Creative Commons License)

Freedom of Speech graffiti (via Creative Commons License)

The loudest voices, no matter how few, are often the ones that get heard the most. In the world of vaccines, celebrities who blame vaccines for all sorts of conditions are given an disproportionately large platform from which to speak about their denial of science. Social media also gives a large presence, with people like the Food Babe, Natural News, Mercola, and others watching their message of fear spread like wildfire. Occasionally, the science side does speak up, like in the case of the insurance company State Farm dropping ads featuring anti-vaccine actor Rob Schneider.

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