Facts, not Fantasy

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Today in the News (18 May 09)

Tomorrow will be the strat of a break in blogs from this particular administrator here due to travel plans. Hopefully some of the other folks will pick up the slack.

Autism/Vaccines:
Today I am combining this subject, since that is really one of the things that started this entire endeavour. I encourage and implore you to read this open letter to Oprah! Copy it to your Facebook page, tweet it, put it up on MySpace even! Thankfully most of the comments are supportive, although now that the lette is getting attention, beware the wrath of the anti-vax pro-disease brigrade. Not to be outdone by the Bad Astronomer, here is a particularly well worded excerpt:

To me, it is clear that a significant number of people look up to you, and trust your advice and judgment. That is why it is such a huge mistake for you to endorse Jenny McCarthy with her own show on your network.

Surely you must realize that McCarthy is neither a medical professional nor a scientist. And yet she acts as a spokesperson for the anti-vaccination movement, a movement that directly impacts people’s health. Claims that vaccines are unsafe and cause autism have been refuted time after time, but their allure persists in part because of high-profile champions for ignorance like McCarthy.

I sincerely wish that I was this eloquent! Again, if you know Ms Winfrey, or know how to get in touch with her, please pass this along. Spread the word! And of course, direct them here in case they are confused about anything.

For a while I was frightened by this article, until they started saying that, again, there are no links what so ever between autism and vaccines. Something for people concerned about overwhelming the immune system, take into acocunt that in 1985, doctors vaccinated for seven diseases using 3,000 antigens, she said. Today, health care providers can vaccinate against 16 diseases using only 200 antigens.

Evolution:
To further complicate the discussion on evolution, and making it harder for those who don't actually set out to study the subject, here is an article talking about epigenetics. In terms of the science involved in genetics and evolution, this is light reading and quite understandable. Sadly, the people that can consider this light reading are becoming much to scarce in the United States, and in the education system.

Since I live in Florida, I tend to hold a rather dim view of any educational institution associaited with the state for various reasons. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to find that the University of Florida was doing some groundbreaking research into the evolution of flowers. Yes, I know that my derision of Florida's educational system shouldn't include the Univeristy System, but the state has such a horrible track record on everything that I can't help having that bias.

Somehow I missed this article on Homo floresiensis. Although I guess that maybe the Homo portion of their name may need to be removed based on the findings? Sorry, not a taxonomist. It does beg the questyion on what other fossils are now predicted as a result of this better understanding?

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