Friday, January 28, 2011

this week in information (1/28)

I heart the Information Is Beautiful website, especially for their supplement data, and this latest work about horoscope patterning is no exception. Your unique and specific horoscope? Hardly. Be sure to check out the meta-horoscope: good for all star signs! ...except, you know, Ophiuchus. Tip o' the BS Meter to Phil Plait (my always-source for all things pro-science and pro-real) for this one.

In too-good-to-be-true news, Bounce fabric softener sheets do NOT in fact keep mosquitoes away -but they have some success with fungus gnats! And, seeing as how fungus gnats are assholes and really annoying, that's wicked cool! Of course, mosquitoes are actually life-threatening in some areas, what with the malaria and West Nile and all, so it's really scary that the media is reporting this research incorrectly and implying people could forgo actual protection for fabric softener sheets... Yikes.

Holy shit, I agree with the pope about something!! Of course, I disagree with the fundamentals behind his beliefs, but the point remains valid: people have unreasonable expectations and often need counseling and not everyone should get married. Whoa. It's a freaking miracle!!

It's here! It's here! That shocking time of year! When tons of strained bipartisan thoughts miraculously appear! Yes, this week the President gave his State of the Union Address, which means that it was time once again for the State of the Union Address Drinking Game, 2011!!! (another version here)

Speaking of the SotU, check out these word clouds of such speeches, past and current.

European crack-down on "alternative" pet remedies (homeopathy: there's nothing to it!). Remember: if it worked it wouldn't be called alternative, it would just be medicine.

Athletes sued for being stupid.
Wait, how were athletes ever successful BEFORE they started wearing stupid meaningless necklaces or bracelets?
If the bracelets ARE giving them an edge, they should be disqualified for performance enhancing substances. But since there's absolutely no mechanism or science behind the company's claims regarding holograms and "energy flow," maybe famous people should just stop spreading false information and dangerous bullshit. Maybe. In a perfect world.

WHOA beauty! A national parks picture made up of other national parks pictures? Wicked awesome, NatGeo, wicked awesome.

WHOA solar flares!

Aaaaaaand, Tree Lobsters rock my BOOBS.

Happy weekend.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

stuff worth sharing

From Feministing: Happy MLK Day.

From Skepchick: Open letter to a teenage misfit.

Oprah's doing evil again. She gave Mehmet Oz his own show, on which Oz promotes the dangerous quack Joseph Mercola. Bad, bad, bad. From David Gorski, from Steven Novella, and from James Randi.
From me:
Mercola: medicine is bad; just take these unproven vitamins for your cancer
Oz: that seems reasonable; after all, you have a website -you must be for realz! also, and my wife's a reiki master so I have credibility
Oprah: here, assholes, have a show on which to spread dangerous bullshit! You get a show! And YOU get a show! Everybody gets a show!

Also, check out the Cynic's Guide to the Oprah Winfrey Network. Blerf, a whole network of awful. So much blerf.

Interesting, moving, and sad. The Poe Toaster is a no-show again... :(

Chaucer and a brief history of the word "cunt": Chaucer's Cunt. I like that cunt can mean a "clever or curious device or ornament." FTW.

Math is pretty? What? Yup.

Concerned about overpopulation? Grist gotchu.

James Randi wishes the FTC and FDA weren't such a bunch of frilly pansies, especially when it comes to internet scams.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is god. Kneel before Neil!!

Birth control does NOT cause weight gain. I've read this before, but the propaganda continues unabated because society sees women as petty and hopes to dissuade them from protecting themselves and committing the sin of family planning by fat-shaming them. Birth control lies are often spread by the anti-woman anti-choice crowd and I suspect this myth is no different. Anecdotes are not data, people, and you can't make popular assumptions without ASS.

Finally, GADS of great information and answers to frequently asked questions about childhood vaccinations, and vaccinations in general, at Immunize for Good.

In metal news: metal cephalopod.
In cute news: kittehs driftin'.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

vaccine wins of late

Andrew Wakefield's been disgraced (at least, he would be, if he had any sense of ethics or morals), and the house of cards the anti-vax community has built is coming apart at the seems.

It was clearly all about the money for Wakefield, but he lucked out when the enabling media and gullible scared parents came to his defense. Maybe now that his fraud is exposed, he'll lose some of the faithful. We can only hope.

Salon finally pulled a dangerous anti-vax article from their archives, and published a rundown behind the panic.

Elyse kicks ass and coins a new term: God Damned Mother Fucking Liar (TM)

Wait, parents who willfully put their children and everyone else at risk by refusing to vaccinate because of religion, conspiracy theory or scientific ignorance should pay more for health insurance? Great suggestion!!

Also, great site: Immunize for Good. Yes, good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

it's the dawning of the age of ...nonsense

OMG-have-you-heard?! The zodiac is all new and different and you might be married to the wrong person!! Really!! No, not really. Astrology, as always, is bull. You'd be more affected by the gravitational pull of the sun or the moon or the doctor or your MOM when you're born than by a random grouping of stars millions of light-years away. But that doesn't stop people from reading their vague horrorscopes and staking their relationships on supposed astrological compatibility. Sigh.

The earth wobbles over time, and we've been aligning the wrong signs with dates for quite some time. The zodiac has always really had more than twelve signs, anyway. But now that the media has caught on, it's NEWS!!! Granted, they got their scoop from an actual scientist, Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, but they're still all worked up about woononsense...
Speaking of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, they link to the original article in regards to the news reports, and also to (holy haleakala) Phil Plait!!! Weee!!!

Phil Plait gives a rundown; Neil deGrasse Tyson rants a bit about Ophiuchus; Rebecca Watson says OMG re: astrology, you guys!!; from the SGU blog; from Ben Radford on the inherent racism of astrology, besides

Also, an article from ABC News including the "new" signs. GASP!! I'm a Libra now!! Oh noez!! What's it mean?! Oh. Right. Nothing. Other than an awkward hanging of my Scorpius Yule tree ornament next year...

Much ado about hooey.
That is all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

FRAUD!!! ...allegedly

Andrew Wakefield is, as has long been suspected, a FRAUD. Allegedly. The British Medical Journal has had a number of scathing pieces about his culpability and questionable ethics and his contribution to the illness and deaths of so many children through his misinformation campaign, and now the BMJ has declared his link between autism and vaccinations to be fraudulent.

Phil Plait, ever the undickish diplomat, has this to say:
If the charges of fraud can be made to stick, then we might be able to make some progress toward reality once again, and lower the rate of outbreaks of measles, pertussis, and polio… and save a lot of lives in the process.

His entire blog entry is great, and moving, and I too hope that this declaration of fraud will give parents pause and encourage them to look at the scientific consensus and preponderance of evidence, rather than nonmedical quacks.

Ben Radford has a write-up in Discovery News: Vaccine-Autism Doctor Accused of 'Deliberate Fraud' Sadly, he is probably correct that "the anti-vaccination movement will march on despite the fact that the only scientific research that supports their position was conducted by a discredited, unethical researcher."

Science-Based Medicine (imagine that, SCIENCE!!) blogger David Gorski shares his thoughts here.

Skepchick and real mommy-warrior Elyse doesn't mince words: Andrew Wakefield is, she says he's a Straight up mother fucking liar. Word.

PZ Myers: It wasn't just shoddy, it was fraud.

Also, articles from NPR and the NY Times, and Brian Deer's writeup (check back for part 2).

Unfortunately, this won't change many minds. The rabid anti-vaxxers will continue to cry "martyr" and "conspiracy" and will continue to dispense misinformation and ignore the (quite clear) science. Misinformed parents will continue to be fear-mongered out of protecting their children from deadly and disfiguring diseases. People will continue to get medical information from Google searches and Oprah Winfrey. Children and babies will still die and be harmed when they could have been protected.
We can point out the short-comings of Wakefield's study and decry his questionable methods and ethics, but the damage has already been done. It's too late for a lot of people. But it's not too late or you!! Talk to your doctor about your vaccine schedule! Ensure that you've had your booster shots! Make sure your kids are protected. Get your flu shot, especially if you're around children or the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. Get the facts, and then get your shots. Vaccines save the world, kids. Like Superman, only of terrestrial origin.