Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Autism rates back MMR jab safety

Posted in News by Skepdude on September 22, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT BBC NEWS

Latest autism figures should dispel any fears about the MMR jab being linked to the condition, say experts.

The NHS Information Centre found one in every hundred adults living in England has autism, which is identical to the rate in children.

If the vaccine was to blame, autism rates among children should be higher because the MMR has only been available since the early 1990s, the centre says.

This is the first time the rate in adults has been evaluated.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of The NHS Information Centre, said: “This landmark report is the first major study into the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among adults to be carried out anywhere in the world.

“While the sample size was small and any conclusions need to be tempered with caution, the report suggests that, despite popular perceptions, rates of autism are not increasing, with prevalence among adults in line with that among children.

“It also suggests that, among adults, rates of autism remain broadly constant across age groups.

“The findings do not support suggestions of a link between the MMR vaccine and the development of this condition.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT BBC NEWS

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The Pro-Homeopaths Strike Back! (or, Charlie Bit Me!)

Posted in Oot and Aboot with some Canadian Skeptic by Skepdude on September 22, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT OOT AND ABOOT WITH SOME CANADIAN SKEPTIC

Remember the other day when I posted about the Straight.com advocating homeopathic preparations to contain the H1N1 virus? Remember how I pointed out that the article was written by a practicing homeopath? I didn’t want to point it out at the time of writing because I was a little unsure of the veracity of the claim, but it turns out that the author of the article, homeopath Sonya McLeod is indeed the daughter of the the paper’s owner, Dan McLeod.

I so far see at least 2 conflicts-of-interest: 1) The financial conflict of having a homeopath advocate that everyone should protect their health with homeopathy and 2) The blatant nepotism of allowing the owner’s daughter (who has no medical expertise) to dispense medical advice about a very serious health issue. An anonymous commenter on my previous post offered a great idea: we could issue a complaint to the British Columbia Press Council because of these breaches of journalist ethics. But hold off on that until you have read the rest of this post.

Well, we got their attention, because the Straight.com has responded. The response was written under their “Blog-Politics” heading, and was written by one ‘Charlie Smith’, whose other articles seem to be otherwise regular news/commentary. Charlie, it seems, is rather unhappy with the response received by the skeptic community. Charlie blames medical science for more deaths. Charlie wonders if skeptics would be so outraged if we knew how many people died on a hospital bed.

Charlie, is mad.

Let’s deconstruct. I’ve got my baloney-detection-kit ready for this one.

The study also reported that 9,250 to 23,750 preventable deaths occurred.

You read that correctly: up to 23,750 preventable deaths took place in acute-care hospitals in Canada in a single year, according to the CMAJ study.

Well, not exactly. The numbers 9250 to 23,750 were an extrapolation, not a confirmed body count. So yeah…a little dishonest, Charlie. Not as bad as having a homeopath advocate homeopathy instead of medical science, but still….a little dishonest. More to the point, science-based medicine knows of its flaws. That’s why that report was launched in the first place: to look into the ways to improve healthcare in Canada. Have homeopaths ever done a look into the deaths caused by homeopathic-exclusive care?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT OOT AND ABOOT WITH SOME CANADIAN SKEPTIC

How Skeptics Confronted 9/11 Denialism

Posted in News by Skepdude on September 22, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE PALESTINE TELEGRAPH

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wtc-southtowerUS, September 11, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- Skeptics today bemoan the overwhelming proportion of people who claim to believe in all manner of conspiracy theories from the JFK assassination to the origins of HIV-AIDS. For that reason, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to stop and celebrate one area in which skeptical advocacy has been overwhelming successful: the world of 9/11 conspiracies. Through the work of scholars like Michael Shermer and James Meigs, along with everyday skeptics on the grassroots level, critical inquiry has been overwhelmingly successful in calling these conspiracy theorists to task.

A tragedy on a scale at least comparable to Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination was bound to inspire a conspiracy subculture, but the takeoff success of the viral Internet documentary Loose Change and the movement it created was unprecedented. Looking out on the world in 2005 when Change became one of the most-watched Internet videos of all time, with over ten million unique viewers1, it was hard to anticipate a future that was anything but bleak for those who felt it was their duty to defend history from such pseudohistorians.

Yet, in just under four years, the 9/11 “truth movement” has ground to a halt. Apart from the fundamental incoherence of their theories, the downfall of the 9/11 denier juggernaut was good old-fashioned skepticism at its finest, the kind that conjures visions of James Randi challenging psychics and faith healers on their home turfs and winning. Skeptics are better at their jobs than they think, and its important to give credit where credit is due.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE PALESTINE TELEGRAPH

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

Posted in News by Skepdude on September 22, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT TIME.COM

My wife and I haven’t had many fights about child-rearing yet. This is mostly because all our son does so far is sleep, eat and poop at the precise moment I hand him over to Cassandra.

However, we did have a major disagreement about vaccination. Unlike Cassandra, I feel it’s important to overload our child with toxic levels of chemicals, risking permanent damage to his nervous system. At least that’s how she saw it.

Her concern about the safety of vaccines is not unique, at least not in the liberal, wealthy part of L.A. where we live. Several friends have not vaccinated their children, and we know pediatricians who recommend avoiding some or all shots. And I know almost no one who is willing to get the swine-flu shot, and not because everyone here is Jewish. It’s because while the far right gets a lot of crap about not believing in science, the left isn’t crazy about it either. Only instead of rejecting facts that conflict with the Bible, it ignores anything that conflicts with hippie myths about the perfection of nature. That’s why my neighborhood is full of places you can go to detoxify with colonics, get healed with crystals and magnets and buy non–genetically engineered food. We complain less about the liberal side of antiscience because the women who believe in this stuff are generally hot.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT TIME.COM

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