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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today in the News (17 May 09)

Vaccines:
With the speed at which news moves, one would think that eventually we'd stop geting more and more swine flu sotries, but they still dominate all the news feeds. In digging through all the news on vaccines though, I did find this interesting sotry relating to an AIDS vaccine. Of course, some with cry and moan about this encouraging sexual behaviour. How little those people understand basic human nature.

How about potentially saving 400,000 children worldwide, each year? Or do anti-vax pro-disease proponents think that it's just not worth it? Having a vaccine for rheumatic fever would be yet another cocktail to the mix, but to the poeple who die from it, I don't think it would be much of a choice.

Autism:
In the news regarding autism, most of it focuses around a lot of fund raising efforts. This article in the Oregon Live community (where autism rates are indeed higher than the rest of the United States), details how the Federal Government is putting $1.1 Billion towards autism research. As the parent of an autistic child, I welcome that bit of news.

And of course, one of the cool things that scientists do is report their results. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is one of the prime research centers for Autism. And if you look at that page, there is no mention of vaccines. I think that road of inquiry is dead, yet the anti-vax pro-disease movement chugs on despite what reality has to say to them.

Evolution:
Just to drive home the fact that evolution isn't always about the fastest, strongest, or even smartest, I was amused when I ran into this article talking about how natural selection seems to favor snails that are slower.

I also found a sort of review of the whole 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species at this NY Book review site. In there was a quick paragraph that is worth repeating for all to read:

The Darwin-Wallace explanation of evolution, the theory of natural selection, is based on three principles:
1) Individuals in a population differ from each other in the form of particular characteristics (the principle of variation).
2) Offspring resemble their parents more than they resemble unrelated individuals (the principle of heritability).
3) The resources necessary for life and reproduction are limited. Individuals with different characteristics differ in their ability to acquire those resources and thus to survive and leave offspring in the next generations (the principle of natural selection).
Such basic principles, yet so many people seem to have such difficulty understanding them.

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