❝ We are scientists, and we believe that evidence, not ideology, should inform health care decisions. The wave of anti-abortion laws across the U.S. is the latest in a long string of attempts to falsely use the language and authority of science to justify denying people their basic human rights and inflict lasting harm. Although abortion is still legal in every state, recent legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio threatens the future of abortion rights in the country. Scientists should, first and foremost, value evidence, and the evidence is clear: abortion bans cause harm. They make abortions less safe and especially harm historically marginalized communities…
❝ So-called heartbeat bills, which ban abortion as early as after six weeks of pregnancy, are not based on science. In fact, no heart yet exists in an embryo at six weeks. Yet six states and counting enacted such bills in 2019, in addition to Alabama’s near-total ban. Equally unscientific “abortion reversal” laws are also gaining traction. These laws, now on the books in eight states, require doctors to tell patients receiving a medication abortion, a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy, that it can be reversed halfway through to save their pregnancy.
Not only is this law bad science, it is actively dangerous. The idea of abortion reversal is based on a single study of six participants that was (poorly) conducted without an ethics review board. The so-called abortion reversal procedure is experimental and has neither been clinically tested nor approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
❝ Both heartbeat bills and abortion reversal laws have been opposed by leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Real doctors, real scientists, don’t rely on ancient myths and legends to advance the health and welfare of our species. A primary reason they have success rate scores enormously higher than superstitious mumbo-jumbo.
❝ Babies made from two women and one man have been approved by the UK’s fertility regulator…The historic and controversial move is to prevent children being born with deadly genetic diseases.
Doctors in Newcastle – who developed the advanced form of IVF – are expected to be the first to offer the procedure and have already appealed for donor eggs.
The first such child could be born, at the earliest, by the end of 2017.
❝ Some families have lost multiple children to incurable mitochondrial diseases, which can leave people with insufficient energy to keep their heart beating.
The diseases are passed down from only the mother so a technique using a donor egg as well as the mother’s egg and father’s sperm has been developed.
The resulting child has a tiny amount of their DNA from the donor, but the procedure is legal and reviews say it is ethical and scientifically ready…
❝ Clinics can now apply to the HFEA for a licence to conduct three-person IVF…
The team at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University is expected to be the first to be granted a licence…
❝ NHS England has agreed to fund the treatment costs of the first trial of three-person IVF for those women who meet the HFEA criteria, as long as they agree to long-term follow up of their children after they are born.
OK for the UK. Anyone think it will be legal anytime soon in OK? Har.
RTFA for details about the procedure. Yes, this can lead to a slippery slope of cures that panic True Believers and the whole brigade of anti-science whiners.
While opposition to scientific progress hasn’t especially grown since, say, the Victorian era, it boggles the mind how spooky, sanctimonius bible-thumping scares the crap out of purportedly modern politicians.
According to a recent Gallup survey, about three in four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief. The most popular is extrasensory perception, mentioned by 41%, followed closely by belief in haunted houses (37%). The full list is illustrated in the graph…
Dare I ask how they choose who they vote for?
Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
❝ The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine just issued a book-length report, strongly reaffirming what American and European scientists have long said: Food from genetically modified crops is no more dangerous to eat than food produced by conventional agriculture…
The report also finds no clear evidence that genetically modified crops cause environmental harm. It acknowledges the importance of continuing monitoring..Other studies are less equivocal, finding no special risks to the environment from genetically modified agriculture.
❝ And yet the public is deeply concerned. One survey finds that only 37 percent of Americans believed that genetically modified food is safe to eat. According to my own recent survey, 86 percent of Americans favor labeling of genetically modified food, apparently because of perceived health risks — 89 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents.
What explains that? New research, by Sydney Scott and Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania and Yoel Inbar of the University of Toronto, offers some important clues.
❝ Scott and his colleagues asked a representative sample of Americans whether they supported or opposed genetically engineering plants and animals. They also asked them to register agreement or disagreement with this statement: “This should be prohibited no matter how great the benefits and minor the risks from allowing it.”
❝ …Astonishingly, 71 percent of the opponents, and 46 percent of the whole sample, were absolutists: They want to ban genetic engineering regardless of the benefits and risks.
On its face, that’s ridiculous. Suppose that the risks of genetic modification are zero and that the benefits are high, because genetically modified food is both cheaper and healthier. If so, how could rational people want to ban it?
❝ Controlling for demographic and other differences, Scott and his coauthors found that disgust was the best predictor of whether people would proclaim absolute opposition to genetic modification.
The conclusion is simple: People who most strongly oppose genetic modification are not weighing risks and benefits. Their opposition is a product of the fact that they find the whole idea disgusting.
What’s disgusting about genetic modification of food? I speculate that many people have an immediate, intuitive sense that what’s healthy is what’s “natural,” and that efforts to tamper with nature will inevitably unleash serious risks — so-called Frankenfoods. The problem with that speculation is that it’s flat-out wrong.
None of which surprises me. Pop culture is useless for many reasons, especially questions of judgement that may involve rationality. A nation that elected and then re-elected Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush doesn’t fit that requirement.
A number of factors contribute – starting with the collapse of American education over the past 60 years. We embrace some of the silliest myths in psychologizing ideology and apply them to endeavors with reams of solid science – which we promptly ignore. We are the only Western industrial nation that feels the need to identify every area of political and economic life with approval from spirits in the sky. Laughable to much of the world.
But, it all fits together nicely with the anti-GMO side of “natural” living. Trouble is, folks, you’re giving respectability to something about as sound as giving your friendly neighborhood fundamentalist the right to deny civil rights on the basis of gender identity because their one true book says it’s a sin.
The United States Anti-Vaccination Movement is composed of a variety of individuals ranging from former doctors who should know better, to semi-celebrities who have no medical training, to anti-government conspiracy theorists who distrust anything that the government says. They all hold onto the mistaken belief that autism is caused by receiving childhood vaccines.
Most anti-vaccination believers claim that the compound Thimerosal led to an increase in autism cases. The Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine is their usual target. However, Thimerosal was never used as a preservative in the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine. No vaccine licensed since 1999 has contained Thimerosal as a preservative, except a few multi-dose container vaccines such as some (but not all) HIB and Influenza vaccines. Autism has not declined since 1999, thereby disproving this connection. However, this has not stopped anti-vaccination believers from claiming that it was the MMR vaccine itself that caused autism or that it was vaccines in general that caused autism. All of these ideas have been disproven in multiple scientific and legal examinations of the evidence. The primary scientific reason for the increase in autism diagnoses is due to more disorders being included in the Autism Spectrum and doctors getting better at diagnosing the characteristics of autism…
The Anti-Vaccination Movement has a body count attached to its name. This website publishes the total number of vaccine preventable illnesses and vaccine preventable deaths that have happened in the United States since this 2007 increase in speaking out against vaccines.
“Is the United States Anti-Vaccination Movement directly responsible for every vaccine preventable illness and every vaccine preventable death listed here? No. However, the United States Anti-Vaccination Movement may be indirectly responsible for at least some of these illnesses and deaths and even one vaccine preventable illness or vaccine preventable death is too many.”
The American government’s goal of vaccinating young girls against the human papillomavirus has been disappointing, with less than a third of teenagers having completed a full course of HPV vaccine. But now the United States can look to Australia, which six years into a successful nationwide HPV vaccination campaign has experienced a sharp decline in the number of new cases of genital warts among young men and women.
The country, one of the first to establish a nationally financed HPV vaccination program for girls and young women, has also seen a decrease in the number of cases of cervical abnormalities, a precursor to cervical cancer.
Australia’s program, which started in 2007, offers free HPV vaccination to girls who are 12 and 13 years old, and catch-up programs for girls and women under 26. The vaccine protects against genital warts as well as cancers of the cervix, head and neck…
The findings suggest that Australia’s program, which has experienced little of the resistance that has stymied vaccination efforts in the United States, has been an overwhelming success, said Basil Donovan, an author of the study and a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney…
Australia’s vaccination campaign sharply contrasts with the program in the United States where, studies show, parents often opt out of HPV vaccination for their children, calling the vaccine unnecessary, citing concerns about its safety or saying they have difficulty explaining to their teenagers what the shots are for. Some parents have also hesitated over fears that HPV vaccination might give their teenagers license to have sex, even though studies have countered the notion that the vaccine alters sexual behavior.
“There was little resistance to the HPV vaccine in Australia, just the usual anti-vaccination people and a few religious groups,” Dr. Donovan said. “But even the religious groups have gone quiet, and I suspect that many of them are quietly getting their children vaccinated.”
Will anyone ever come up with a vaccine against the ignorance and bigotry that fuels the anti-science crusade in the American Right?
According to the Huffington Post, Robertson, 82, stated on Monday that one should always pray over sweaters purchased from the local Goodwill in order to prevent demons from entering their house. It was a response to an email from a viewer named Carrie.
“I buy a lot of clothes and other items at Goodwill and other second-hand shops. Recently my mom told me that I need to pray over the items, bind familiar spirits and bless the items before I bring them into the house. Is my mother correct?” Carrie asked Robertson. “Can demons attach themselves to material items?”
Generally, one would respond to a question like that with a resounding “no.” But for Robertson, this was a perfect opportunity to discuss the way second-hand clothes promote the Devil’s bids for the souls of all good Christians.
After hearing Carrie’s question, Robertson responded with the story of a Filipina girl who had purchased a ring second-hand. Apparently, a witch had invoked demonic spirits into the ring, and the object began somehow tormenting the girl until she prayed over it…
While Robertson admits a demon-possessed Goodwill sweater might be unlikely, he closed the statement by saying that, “Hey, it ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”
Especially if you’ve never gotten beyond the cave-dweller level of superstition.
That’s not just an emotional reaction to this silliness, it’s a bit of an educated analysis of Robertson’s flavor of Christian fundamentalism. We’re getting pretty close to the lowest common denominator of animism when you have to concern yourself about evil spirits living in a $5 second-hand sweater.
Alien worshippers are urging the Government to admit extraterrestrial life is out there after the release of thousands of secret files on UFO sightings.
The Defence Force released thousands of documents detailing alleged UFO sightings between 1952 and 2009 on Wednesday. They include a report into the famous 1978 Kaikoura sighting, where a small plane was tracked by a large cluster of fast-moving bright lights for about 20 minutes.
Aetherius Society NZ organiser Frank McManus says the documents prove the New Zealand Government knows about the existence of alien life.
He is calling for a full state investigation of the sightings…
The Aetherius society…members claim to be in touch with alien life, or ‘Cosmic Masters’, who give messages on how to halt Earth’s slide into ruin…
Other nations including Britain and Brazil have also released Government files on alleged UFO encounters.
The New Zealand Defence Force has said it will not comment on the files, as it was only a collection point for the documents and did not have the resources to investigate or verify their contents.
!. The probability of sentient life forms in one or another galaxy shouldn’t surprise or intimidate anyone who’s gotten an hour or two beyond conventional superstition.
2. The bigger question is why would they ever want to visit Earth? Our governments would probably try to kill them.
Har, har, har!
Thanks, Mr. Justin