Facts, not Fantasy

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today in the News (13 Jul 09)

When scientists make statements about evolution, they aren't just making things up. They have evidence. For instance, 40,000 years ago, they have direct evidence of people eating fish. Huh? What does that have to do with evolution? Well, first of all, it shows how far humans had travelled. It shows that different habits developed in different locations. And, well, it's data from well before 6000 years ago! And finally, it is a pretty cool story.

This is an interesting story about skeleton analysis on some chimp skeletons, and a multidisciplinary approach to understanding our origins. I only wanted to point this out, since it's apparently the author's sixth installment in his series celebrating Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of his book.

I also wanted to point out this quick bit about humans and some monkeys using similar face recognition mechanisms. Ah, how close to kin they are!

Well, the pro-disease nutters have driven away an autism research advocate from a position where he could do actual help. Dr. Eric London resigned from the Autism Speaks organization. You can read his letter in the link. Although, I think it's quite obvious where he stands... Sadly, this is a case where someone finally got overwhelmed by the dismal science that they would rather walk away than stain their credibility. Autism has lost a fierce advocate for understanding it better (as opposed to just blaming whatever is handy). I'l like to call out this part of his letter (emphasis mine):
The arguments which Dr. Dawson and others assert-- that the parents need even further assurances and there might be rare cases of “biologically plausible” vaccine involvement --are misleading and disingenuous. Through its website and other communications, Autism Speaks has been influential and contributory in encouraging parents’ doubts. By preferentially investing and advocating for the use of limited financial resources on the “biological plausibility” argument, the organization is adversely impacting the advancement of autism research.

Recent reports have documented significant outbreaks of measles and other infectious diseases which could have been controlled and even eradicated. The lowering of the vaccination rate has already led to deaths. If Autism Speaks’ misguided stance continues, there will be more deaths and potentially the loss of herd immunity which would result in serious outbreaks of otherwise preventable disease. I further fear that if and when herd immunity is lost, there may be a societal backlash against the autism community.
So, not only are these nutters increasing the risk of people dying, but they are hurting their own cause. How poetic.

On to other subjects regarding vaccines, since there is a lot of research to prevent Malaria with a vaccine, I'm sure the pro-disease folks would rather just see 3000 children a day just die? Okay, maybe over stating it, but the way they spread their lies, it sure seems like it!

I already mentioned that the anti-vax pro-disease nutters are not only doing harm to innocent people, but to their own cause, so I won't discuss that much more.

In the field of science, where scientists do research though, they have identified some interesting "soft links" between autism and other disorders. Again, many of these disorders are thought to be genetic, so the interplay between the genes that can cause autism and these disorders is of very high interest. Another study also highlighted many of the genetic factors in brain development. So, again we are on the trail of gene therapies for, and genetic causes of, autism instead of the wild goose chase with vaccines. Funny how science works, isn't it?

And on the heels of those two stories regarding genetics, we have another one where Danish researchers are identifying numerous other genes involved in Alzheimers and autism. Again, the link to vaccines grows weaker and weaker.

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