HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » HuckleB » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next »


Profile Information

Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 35,773

Journal Archives

The Final Nail In The Coffin Of The Vaccine Causes Autism Myth

Well, another nail in the coffin that science has long ago shut, but true anti-vaccine believers will never acknowledge. Still...


"But one more article, one more peer-reviewed paper has just been published that should slam the door shut on the vaccine-autism myth. But I am not naïve, I know that the antivaccination cultists will invent some logical fallacy to continue to lie about the tie between vaccines and autism. The research, published in the journal Vaccine, is a meta-analysis of five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9920 children. As I’ve written before, meta-analyses form the basis, the deep foundation, of the scientific consensus, and they are the highest quality scientific evidence available. This study is like a gigantic clinical trial because it rolls up the highest quality data from those millions of subjects to develop solid conclusions.

So what did the authors find?

There was no relationship between vaccination and autism (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.06). This means that the odds that a person has autism and being vaccinated is equivalent to the odds that a person has autism and not being vaccinated.

There was no relationship between vaccination and ASD (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.68 to 1.20).

Similarly the case-control data found no evidence for increased risk of developing autism or ASD following MMR, Hg, or thimerosal exposure when grouped by condition (OR: 0.90, 95% CI: 0.83 to 0.98; p=0.02) or grouped by exposure type (OR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.76 to 0.95; p=0.01).


The Harvard Study on Neonicotinoids and CCD

This study was already picked apart by another DU poster, but this is another fair piece. The study made little sense in context of past studies showing many factors are in play, but that doesn't stop many people from buying into it and pushing the usual hyperbole forward. Ugh.


"A recent press release by the prestigious Harvard School of Public Health claims that one of their researchers has found that Colony Collapse Disorder was caused by a common insecticide used on corn. As an informed beekeeper and environmentalist, I feel that this study calls for standard scientific scrutiny to see whether their claims actually have merit.

At first glance, the study indeed appears to support the hypothesis that chronic exposure to field realistic doses of imidacloprid during summer and fall can lead to late winter collapse of the treated colonies. But the devil is in the details…

The study got off to a good start—several colonies were fed different “field realistic” doses of imidacloprid in syrup, and colony populations and brood area were measured. Had the authors stuck to this original design (which has already been performed numerous times in several countries) the results would have been meaningful. Indeed,after a month of feeding such syrup, the investigators did not observe any adverse effects upon the colonies due to the insecticide!

But then, since the lead investigator seemed to be eager to “prove” that CCD is caused by imidacloprid, he dreamed up the fantastic scenario that in the winter of 2006/2007 that for some inexplicable reason the nation’s supply of HFCS was contaminated with high levels of imidacloprid. My reading of the paper suggests that the author knows little about bees, little about pesticides, nothing about HFCS, had no understanding of the distribution of systemic pesticides in plants. This paper is an example of authors so bent on “proving” that imidacloprid is the cause of CCD, that they strain credulity with some of their assumptions and reasoning, and even by changing the experimental protocol midstream!


Mayo Clinic trial: Massive blast of measles vaccine wipes out cancer


"Stacy Erholtz was out of conventional treatment options for blood cancer last June when she underwent an experimental trial at the Mayo Clinic that injected her with enough measles vaccine to inoculate 10 million people.

The 50-year-old Pequot Lakes mother is now part of medical history.

The cancer, which had spread widely through her body, went into complete remission and was undetectable in Erholtz’s body after just one dose of the measles vaccine, which has an uncanny affinity for certain kinds of tumors.

Erholtz was one of just two subjects in the experiment and the only one to achieve complete remission. But the experiment provides the “proof of concept” that a single, massive dose of intravenous viral therapy can kill cancer by overwhelming its natural defenses, according to Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine who spearheaded the research at Mayo.


Ridiculously preliminary research, but still interesting.

BOOK REVIEW: Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future



The common theme here, and similarly with many of Prothero’s pieces for Skeptic, is that the public more often trusts celebrities or non-experts than scientists when it comes to scientific knowledge. McCarthy nor Meyer fully understand their subjects, yet one continues to speak out falsely about vaccines (and in so doing, some parents are not vaccinating their children, and this has unfortunate consequences) and the other publishes a book that many will see on a shelf and mistake for a proper book about science. Not knowing how to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience surely contributes to the general lack of science literacy in the United States, but it also speaks to the influence that politics, religion, fame, and money have on the public understanding of science (just think of The Discovery Channel’s recent show that made countless Americans believe that the giant prehistoric Megalodon shark still swam the seas or earlier in 2013, Animal Planet’s program on the existence of mermaids). Scientific topics which are influenced by nonscientific ideologies are the core of Prothero’s new book.


The value I find in Reality Check is that Prothero brings together important scientific information along with descriptions of the groups of people that deny the scientific evidence for each topic. He counters each groups falsehoods and biases with accurate science, and provides useful resources. In the second chapter, Prothero discusses what science is (noting that it is never “the final truth” and clarifying for the reader what “theory” in science means). But he notes that “science is also a human enterprise.” Mistakes and errors happen; so does fraud. Yet such things get weeded out by the scientific process: “science is checked against an external reality that other scientists can check.” Experiments are checked for accuracy and the process of peer review keeps what is good and throws out that which is bad. Yet, nonscientific ideas persist in the public perception of what constitutes science. “t is often hard to tell who is telling the truth, and who is just a shill for a powerful industry or political faction or religious group,” Prothero writes.


I particularly liked this sentence: “Scientists are human, they are not perfect, and they can be misled by their own biases and ideologies, but in most cases, the harsh scrutiny of other scientists soon weeds out the bad data and gives us some basis on which to decide whether an idea has merit. Scientists are not immune to cultural forces, but by and large they are not openly ideological, either.” However, perhaps Prothero’s disdain for religious conservatism (which is fine with me, by all means) paints a picture of the history of science that is less accurate than “reality” (or, this speaks to an unfortunate lack of “history of science literacy”). In his second chapter, Prothero rightly notes that “[s]cience and technology have produced the practical benefits of our modern society,” but continues erroneously with “which were held back for the entire Dark Ages while religious dogma held thrall over the human mind.” The lack of inquiry and knowledge through the Dark Ages is a notion not held by historians of science (see myth 2 in Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion, “That the Medieval Christian Church Suppressed the Growth off Science”).


But why is this important? My children are exposed to all manner of science learning (some at school; but mostly through my parental initiative). Should I be concerned about what others’ kids – and their parents – are learning? The obvious answer is Yes. If someone pushes creationism in my son’s school, that affects us. If someone does not vaccinate their kid and sends them to a public school, that might affect us. If children don’t learn the importance of our environment and the effect our consumer lifestyle has on the planet, that will affect us all. So, for all those antievolutionists, anti-vaxxers, and anti-climate change advocates, the science is clear. Stop denying and get a reality check!


This one is on my wish list.

Invisible Threat Filmmaker Discusses Journalistic Integrity


One of the lead film makers discusses the challenges of making the movie.

Support the Student Filmmakers of Invisible Threat

Send letters of support to the kids who made the movie:


Antivaccine activists bully high school filmmakers over a student documentary about vaccines



There’s a famous quote by Karl Marx that says, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Well, history is repeating itself, except that it was farce the first time, and it’s even more of a farce this time. Yes, you guessed it. Now that Invisible Threat is out and being screened, antivaccination loons are doing what they, unfortunately, do best, namely to attack these high school students as pawns of the pharmaceutical company. They do it because it’s what they do and it’s all they can do, given that they don’t have the evidence on their side and that vaccines, to the best of the ability of science to detect, do not cause autism. Last week, there appeared a press release, which was, as is so often the case, rapidly regurgitated over at that wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery other than The Huffington Post, namely Age of Autism. It was from Focus Autism, a group that describes itself as “dedicated to exposing the causes of the autism epidemic, specifically the role of vaccinations,” which should tell you all you need to know about it, particularly after looking at the website it sponsors, the woefully misnamed A Shot of Truth, which is chock full of the sort of pseudoscience, misinformation, and conspiracy mongering that’s par for the course among vaccine-autism cranks. Let’s just put it this way. If Jake Crosby’s newest best friend forever and antivaccine hero Brian Hooker is a “scientific advisor” for the group, you know it’s pure antivaccine pseudoscience.

So what about the press release? It’s despicable, even by antivaccine standards, and that’s saying a lot. It starts right out referencing a report from 2008 by everyone’s favorite former CBS News reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, who was known for being as antivaccine as antivaccine can be and abusing her position at CBS News to suck up to Andrew Wakefield and compete with David Kirby and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for crankiest antivaccine crank, How independent are vaccine defenders?, which is more or less a massive pharma shill gambit writ large in neon letters. Yes, when a press release starts out citing Attkisson, you know it’s going to be bad, and this one is. And who is the evil pro-vaccine force pulling the strings of these impressionable teens? Oh, take a guess. Yep, it’s Every Child By Two (ECBT). Why? Because Paul Offit was an advisor and the producer was not one of the students. Except that much of the documentary was filmed during the summer of 2012, and the producer’s daughter, Camille Posard, graduated from CHS in 2012. So at the time of filming, her daughter was a very recent graduate of CHS and no doubt had worked on the project during her senior year in high school. I don’t see a problem with that, but then I’m not an antivaccine loon.


See what I mean. Focus Autism is asking antivaccine activists to complain to their legislators about the students’ efforts. These kids faced major challenges when making their film and are to be commended, while the antivaccine loons trying to harass them are nothing more than, yes, bullies trying to beat up on a bunch of high school students to promote their agenda to endanger public health."

I admit I think the term bully can be overused in a manner that makes those who have truly bullying feel dismissed. In this case, I do think the term is accurate, although the author certainly pulls no punches. His frustration with anti-vaccine movement is clear. Anyway, check out the movie and support the kids who made it!

If you're confused, it might be because you go to anti-GMO political sources.

The science of the matter is ridiculously clear. You seem to be bent on ignoring the 2000 peer reviewed and post publication criticized studies that show GMOs to be safe. Hundreds of those are independent studies. Legitimate science organizations around the world have looked at the research and noted what it says: There are definitely no more concerns with GMOs than any other type of hybrid. Of course, those other types of hybrids aren't studied very much at all. Thus, the politics is from a group of uninformed ideologues who are choosing to ignore the science. Please don't ignore that.

Partial list of studies with independent funding:

An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety
research (peer reviewed journal)

Brief on worldwide science organizations who've looked at the evidence

How the US stopped its fisheries from collapsing


"We hear a lot of grim stories about overfishing and the decline of fisheries around the world. Bluefin tuna is vanishing. Chilean sea bass is dwindling. Pretty soon, it sometimes seems like, all that'll be left is the jellyfish.

So it's worth highlighting a country that has actually done a lot to curtail overfishing and rebuild its fisheries in the past decade — the United States.

Back in the 1980s and '90s, many fisheries in the US were in serious trouble. Fish populations were dropping sharply. Some of New England's best-known groundfish stocks — including flounder, cod, and haddock — had collapsed, costing the region's coastal communities hundreds of millions of dollars.

But the picture has improved considerably in the last decade, thanks in part to stricter fishing regulations. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its annual fisheries update for 2013 — and the news was encouraging. Yes, progress has been uneven. About one-fifth of assessed stocks are still overfished. But on the whole, US fisheries are steadily recovering.


Umm. So. Yeah. Regulation is helpful!

Better-Bred Crops Could Send Global Warming Out to Space

Scientists have used computer models to imagine a world where crops are specially bred to reflect away more light and heat, without compromising productivity.

"The planet is losing its albedo, but new research suggests it could be perked back up using sexy new approaches to crop breeding.

Albedo refers to reflectiveness, and high albedos help keep the globe cool by reflecting light and heat back out to space. For every drip of sheer white ice that melts away from the Arctic, the planet’s albedo droops a little more, hurrying global warming along.

With farmed land covering so much of the planet—about 15 percent of its ice- and waterless area—scientists are looking for ways that agriculture can help slow down climate change. One strategy scientists are investigating is the modification of crops to boost their albedo.

Plants generally evolved to soak up as much of the sun’s light as possible. The sun-rays falling on green chloroplasts drive the photosynthesis that underpins most food chains. Sunlight hogging canopies can also help a plant keep would-be vegetative competitors in the dark—and at bay.


Not sure how long it would take to get there, but it's probably smart to explore it.

Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next »