Dear Anti-Vaccine Advocates: Fuck You.

Why yes, I am just a little bit mad at antivax loonies today. How could you tell?

 

This is based on a combination of two things. One is a longtime friend of mine cutting ties due to antivaccine bullshit; the other is a CDC report. Let’s start with the report.

From January 1 to May 23, 2014, 288 measles cases have been reported in the United States to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). Since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000, annual reported cases have ranged from a low of 37 in 2004 to a high of 220 in 2011.

  • The majority of the people who got measles are unvaccinated.

  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.

  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

 

Yeah. For those wondering, here’s what that looks like in graph form: (more…)

A Short Follow-up to 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Stupid link of the day: http://action.sumofus.org/a/chobani-uses-GMOs/3/2/?sub=fb

 

So apparently Chobani uses GMO foods. How do they do that – are the fruits they put in their yogurt GMO? Are they using genetically modified bacteria to produce their yogurt?

 

Cows? Their cows are genetically modified? Oh wait, my mistake. Their cows are fed on GMOs. Okay, remember how I spoke about 6 degrees of separation the other day when talking about how Monsanto “owns” the FDA? Well this is just hilarious. Even if you take the assumption that there’s something in GMOs that’s harmful, here’s the chain from GMO to yogurt: Corn -> Cow -> Milk -> Yogurt -> Human Consumption. If this were about safety, I’d say it’s the single most asinine GMO scare I’ve ever seen.  Apparently in this case it’s just about “We refuse to associate with people who use GMOs”. Apparently using GMOs anywhere in the production line is akin to original sin. Which reminds me… When I made that post talking about that image, I posted it to someone’s wall, along with a pertinent line of questioning. The response was… well, it was kind of amazing.

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Can We Please Get Over James O’Keefe?

In recent news: in an interview between James O’Keefe and an environmentalist filmmaker, a hidden recording revealed shocking dishonesty, hypocrisy and a continuation of a long-standing trend… Of James O’Keefe being a colossal turd.  So, of course, it ended up on FOX News. Except the story wasn’t O’Keefe’s long-standing history of dishonest editing and fraud, but rather of… Well, click the link.

 

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A Few Proposals for a new name for NCCAM

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is considering a new name. Apparently NCCAM isn’t quite cutting it. They want to change it to the “National Center for Research on Complementary and Integrative Health”. Okay. But why leave it at just that proposal? I’m sure we can come up with better than that. After all, that’s a mouthful, and doesn’t really tell us much about what they do. “Integrative health”? To an outsider, that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t tell them that this is the place funding studies into homeopathy, reiki, and even prayer in medicine. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some alternative names.

 

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How Monsanto Controls the FDA: 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Have you guys ever heard of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The idea is simple: aside from a handful of distant, isolated tribes or individuals, virtually every human on the planet, and certainly every human in the western world, is separated by no less than 6 connections. That is, you can always draw a line that looks like this: You -> Person 1 You Know -> Person 2 Person 1 Knows -> Person 3 Person 2 knows -> Person 4 Person 3 knows -> Person 5 Person 4 knows -> Person 6 Person 5 knows -> Person 7, your goal, who knows person 6. Or shorter – in my social computing lecture, I heard that 3 degrees of separation is enough to connect almost every single person in Germany. In Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you limit it to actors, but there are many variants based on things like number of handshakes between you and some long-dead president, or sexual partner links between you and Elvis, or the “Six Degrees of Forever Alone” game, which I happen to be quite good at.

 

But with that in mind, guess what I have to say about this image:

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No points for guessing that it ain’t gonna be flattering.

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An Open Letter to Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

Hi, Mike. You probably don’t know me (why would you, I’m just some random nut with a blog and a chip on his shoulder), but I know you. At least, I know of you. And I know about a certain letter you sent to a journalist recently, after there was some talk of you suing a different blogger for calling you nasty names and whatnot. The whole thing can be found here for those who don’t know about such things. Now, you say a lot of things there, but I’d like to focus on one in particular. About you not liking people calling you anti-science, and your attempts to turn over a new leaf as a real scientist. Bravo! I would love to see that. No snark, I’m being completely serious. You’ve said previously that your website gets something like upwards of 7 million pageviews per month, and getting these people onto the science train would be a great step forward.

 

So… What would you need to do? Well, I have a few things that come to mind. My first piece of advice: publish. I’ll be the first to admit that you’re going to run into a lot of bias. Bias against you. Many scientists are liable to look at you, think, “That guy? Ugh” and ignore your work. I’ll discuss why a bit later. But at the same time, you have the resources to do important research, and if you are earnest about it, you could try to team up with someone else, or publish under a pseudonym. The important part is to get a foot in the door. Do real scientific research with real results, and sooner or later people will have to take you seriously.

 

The second thing I can say is going to hurt a bit. You need to stop selling everything on your website which has not undergone clinical trials for efficacy. Everything. Every last item where you cannot point to a clinical trial and say, “This is incontrovertible evidence that this works” has to go. This is partially to minimize the bias against you in publishing. As said, I’ll get to that later. But for now, you need to start looking serious. Science-based medicine has a methodology that we use not because we want to but because anything else is utterly lacking. So things like the “Immune Cannon” have got to go. Want to keep selling them? Well, you’re the scientist – perform clinical trials to show that they work. This will have the double effect of improving your standing in the scientific community (after all, you’re risking some of your business by exposing it to criticism) and making your product more well-established. Indeed, anything with the so-called “Quack Miranda Warning” should probably get the boot as well. This is to make it clear that you’re serious about science, and following the evidence where it leads.

 

See, Mike, here’s the thing. You have no good faith left among skeptics and rationalists – the type of people who generally are scientists. None. Nada. Zip. Diddly squat. These people have watched your website and your actions and think to themselves, “Wow, this guy has the balls to call himself a scientist after the crap he pulled?”. Indeed, “Scopie’s Law” is generally extended to your site. Case in point, you say in your letter:

 

I’m finding this scientific route to research very rewarding and eye-opening. Yet when people like Mr. Entine learn that I have embraced a scientific discovery methodology, instead of being welcomed for pursuing scientific research, I am unfairly mocked for it. In Entine’s case in particular, I believe he referred to my laboratory work as “a joke.”

 

Yeah, Mike, you’re going to get that a lot. The one piece of research I’m most aware of from your laboratory was you looking at a chicken nugget under a microscope and calling what showed up weird. That’s not exactly groundbreaking research (have you looked at Vodka in a microscope? Now that’s trippy!), and you have that stacked up against your whole reputation as a quack, a charlatan, and nutcase.

 

…Yeah, I said I was going to get to this.

 

Mike, I hope you realize that in saying “I’d like to get into science” what most of us hear is “I’d like to completely turn over a new leaf”. At least, I sincerely hope that’s your goal. Because up until now, you haven’t been much of a scientist. You haven’t been doing science. You’ve been doing bare-bones, dishonest tabloid journalism for personal profit. After the naiveté wears off, what we hear is “I’d like to cover my bullshit in a veneer of respectability”. I want to believe you’re serious, I really do – if you would stop writing misleading and dishonest articles, about anything from Vaccines creating “zombies” to straight-up lying about what the Süddeutsche Zeitung said about Monsanto’s policies (the article referenced is probably here; it does NOT say what you claim it says), then the world would be a much better place. But it’s really hard to believe that after your track record of being basically Gary Null crossed with Alex Jones. So please – either make good on your word or stop pretending that you’re trying to be Mr. Science. Or at least stop pretending to support science while simultaneously pushing crap like this.

 

Sincerely,

-Angry Science

Dear Gun Nuts: Please Stop Violating My Second Amendment Rights

Time for some current events. You guys remember the latest James Bond movie, right? Skyfall? Man, that was a good movie. One thing that I remember fondly from that movie was Bond’s handgun. Nothing too flashy, just a simple gun that would only fire if it recognized that he was carrying it. A smart gun, in other words. You know, the kind of thing that would really make guns, on the whole, safer, more effective, and generally better. Well, apparently, now you can buy one.

 

…Or rather, you might have been able to if it weren’t for some jumped-up paranoid douchebags. To those people, I ask: why are you trying to abridge my 2nd amendment rights? Cut that shit out. (more…)