Finally! Real Research On Curing Autism!

Temple_Grandin_at_TEDOK, not really. For those of us in the skeptic community, we understand Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a complex set of brain-based disorders that share some common traits but can vary greatly in severity. In many cases, autism isn’t necessarily something that needs a cure, but instead just requires training for both the autistic person and the people interacting with the autistic person. These traits often convey benefits in their different way of thinking. Famous examples of the immense benefit of seeing the world differently, and consequently leading to major scientific contributions, include Temple Grandin and Albert Einstein. [Note: Yes, I know Einstein wasn’t diagnosed, and it is just a hypothesis. I’m not arguing the details of that here.]

I also know many of us in the skeptic community are tired of having to repeat ourselves about the state of science regarding autism and vaccines, diets, contrails, detox, and just about every other nonsense “cure” that comes along every other week. So forgive me for needing to let off a little steam as I tackle yet another couple pieces of nonsense floating around social media. Continue reading

The Glyphosate Zombie… Again

The sad truth of reading my social media feeds is that I see at least one article a day on glyphosate. Glyphosate, aka RoundUp, is an over 40-year-old herbicide that has the advantage of being toxic to plants in low amounts while having a low toxicity in humans. Plants have been genetically modified to be resistant to the effects of glyphosate, so it can be applied to fields to control weeds while sparing the crops, which dramatically increases yields. However, because of its wide use, there are those that rally against it and do so with very little scientific basis.

An article came up on my social media feeds claiming hospitals are poisoning children with feeding tubes by feeding them PediaSure. Warning! Woo links ahead! The site and the original source claim a study was done that shows “high levels of glyphosate” in the drink due to the use of genetically modified (GM) crop products.  Let’s point out a few problems with these statements. Continue reading

Tell GMO Producers To Stop Being So Organic!

farmer_pouring_roundupOne of the common arguments against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO), specifically plant GMOs, is that it allows farmers to spray “toxic” chemicals to kill various pests from bugs to weeds to help maximize crop yields. Anti-science websites often post scary pictures showing farmers in full protective gear while handling these chemicals, making the claim that the protective gear is proof these chemicals are harmful, and thus shouldn’t be used on crops. These websites also encourage people to eat organic foods, because they are “safe” in comparison to these GMO crops. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading