Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Forget Nessie, Israel’s got a mermaid!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 13, 2009

And a Million Dollar Challenge to go with it! The other day I wondered how deep the well of human gullability is.  Today, I learn it was a bit deeper than I thought!

According to numerous eyewitnesses, the mythical sea creature looks like a cross between a little girl and a dolphin, and only comes out at sunset. “People are telling us they are sure they have seen the mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” said Natti Zilberman, a local council spokesman.

They’re independent of each other. Well that settles it! A creature out of a Hollywood cartoon must therefore really exist!

Whatever the truth of the tale, it has done wonders for the tourist economy.

Oh ABC when will you learn the abc’s or critical thinking? “Whatever the truth“? Here’s the trugh in simple terms: People are stupid! Period!

Local officials are now offering a cash prize of $1 million for the first tourist to take a photograph of the mermaid.

Heh, local officials are slick. They are guaranteed the price will never be collected and the extra tourist money won’t hurt either. I make a prediction:  Just like the JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge, this million dollar challenge will also go uncollected for a long, long, long…..long time!

Aussies Fight Back Against Anti-Vaccine Nonsense

Posted in Depleted Cranium by Skepdude on August 13, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT DEPLETED CRANIUM

The anti-vaccine movement is nothing new.    The US, the UK, Germany, Canada and many other countries all have their own anti-vaccine activists, working to misinform the public and kill people through preventable infectious disease.   In the US, we have Jenny McCarthy, who I may remind everyone, is only well known because she showed everyone her who-who in 1993.

In Australia they have the AVN, or “Australian Vaccine Network.” The Australian Vaccine Network claims to be “pro-choice,” as opposed to “anti-vaccine,” as many other organizations do.  They also claim to be empowering people by providing information, although their information ranges from one-sided and misleading facts to outright lies.   The biggest anti-vaccine assclown in the Australian anti-vaccine movement is Meryl Dorey.   Ms. Dorey makes the standard comments, claiming that vaccines cause autism (they don’t) and that they harm the immune system (they actually stimulate antibody production) and that they’re ineffective.

Click here for a video of the news report that got this started.

But recently there has been a major shift in public opinion in Australia, as a series of events have lead to the AVN getting some well deserved bad press...

What touched this off was a story on Australia’s Channel Seven over the tragic death of Dana McCaffery.   Dana was only four weeks old when she caught whooping cough, the disease that would ultimately kill her.  This disease was almost eliminated in most of the industrial world decades ago but is making a comeback.   At such a young age, Dana had not yet received the vaccination that would have saved her life, and thus was counting on the “herd immunity” of the community to keep her safe and healthy.

I really don’t like the term “herd immunity,” but it’s an accurate way of describing how widespread vaccination can prevent illness, even in those who are not vaccinated.   In any population, there will be a few individuals who are not immune to a disease through no fault of their own.  Some of these individuals are simply too young to have had the vaccine.  Others may have immune system diseases like AIDS.   Still others may have received an organ transplant or have an auto-immune disease which requires immune suppression drugs.  Yet in such cases, their chances of getting a disease is very low as long as the community has a high enough rate of immunization.   For a disease like whooping cough to exist at all in such a community, it must be introduced by an outsider, who must transmit it directly to one of the individuals without the immunity.  Even if this happens, the disease will not have a chance to get very far, because there are not enough suitable hosts to sustain the pathogens spread.

One could compare the concept to critical mass in a nuclear reaction.   Bellow critical mass, one might get an occasional fission and it may even trigger a second, but it will not create a significant propagation of the effect and the reaction will die out rapidly.

So why didn’t herd immunity protect little Dana McCaffery?    It seems that in her region of Australia, the level of vaccination has fallen to the point where the disease can take hold.   This is not unique to Australia, as whooping cough has made a comeback in the US, along with diseases like measles.   Full blown outbreaks of such diseases have occurred in areas that had not seen them in decades.

There is one thing that sets Australia apart from most other countries, however:  the report on the death of Dana McCaffery seems to have touched out an appropriate level of outrage and the AVN has been enduring some very very bad publicity…

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT DEPLETED CRANIUM

Natural News Epic Fail

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 13, 2009

Natural News posted a completely made up, 100% wrong, lie of an article and it’s “editors” didn’t catch shit. Why am I not surprised? Check this out for lulz:

NaturalNews deeply regrets this unintentional error, and we are brainstorming new ways to put in place tighter fact-checking oversight so that the same mistake does not happen again in the future. We thank all those who have brought this important matter to our attention, and we pledge to increase our efforts to reject stories that contain factual inaccuracies.

For the record, what was factually incorrect about the story (which we confirmed by phone with a clerk of United States District Court of Trenton, New Jersey) is that no such injunction has been filed. Thus, the entire premise of the story was factually incorrect.

Hey I have an idea, how about hiring real journalists and NOT MAKING SHIT UP! I wonder why they picked this specific article to remove? They have a plethora to choose from!

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