Facts, not Fantasy

Friday, May 15, 2009

Today in the News (15 May 09)

Today I am going to start off on the Evolution topic, just to mix things up a little. Also, I plan to take a day off for the weekend. You won't get an update for that day. Furthermore, I am due to "redeploy" back home soon. This generally involves spending a great amount of time in an airplane, and in sparse terminals with no connectivity. And then I will have a happy reunion with my family, so you will not see any updates for those days. Just wanted you to be aware.

While abiogenesis has nothing itself to do with evolution, it is considered one of those "defining gaps" that are used to bludgeon evolution with. That's why it's exciting to see this article about how RNA could be the starting point for life itself. Once you have any polymer capable of self-replication, you'll end up with more of those (and more of the ones that do it better). Since these are more abundant, they're more likely to be trapped inside vesicles that spontaneously form and divide by mechanical forces. That's basically a cell. Pretty much everything else is gravy that can be explained by natural selection.

There is also news of a new primate fossil that was found. This one goes back to about 47 million years ago, so is an even further precursor to the primate line. What is fascinating about this one is that basically evolution predicts that this type of fossil would exist, while ID or creationism says nothing about it.

Again, all the swine flu talk is google spamming any other information one can find on vaccines in general. That said, I did find an article where they suspect that the Hep B vaccine can reduce the rates of liver cancer. Now the thing about the Hep B vaccine is that it's meant for adults. How many cases of adult onset autism are there? I said ONSET, not diagnosis. Kind of another fact that anti-vax pro-disease proponents would like to conveniently ignore.

Scientists have discovered how bacterial meningitis breaks through the blood brain barrier. As the article itself states, it could lead to a breakthrough in treatment and possibly even vaccines. Would be nice not to have this kill our children as well.

In further brain research, it seems that normal brains "hear" emotion of sorts. While this is more focused on basic brain research, it is again one of the things that helps us understand exactly what is going on instead of just blindly accusing anecdotal evidence.

There is the "baffling" correlation to folks who have vinyl flooring. Keep in mind, correlation is not causation... That's the same bad reasoning that got hold in the anti-vax pro-disease community. Scientific American has also run an article on a possible connection to a Vitamin D deficiency. Of course, on the same page there is a link to an article talking about environmental factors causing autism. While overall the jury is still out on this, we are starting to find some of the myriad of interrelated factors that can play into it.

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