Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The media’s MMR hoax

Posted in Bad Science by Skepdude on September 2, 2008

Before we begin, it’s worth taking a moment to look at vaccine scares around the world, because I’m always struck by how circumscribed these panics are. The MMR and autism scare, for example, is practically non-existent outside Britain. But throughout the 1990s France was in the grip of a scare that hepatitis B vaccine caused multiple sclerosis.

In the US, the major vaccine fear has been around the use of a preservative called thiomersal, although somehow this hasn’t caught on here, even though that same preservative was used in Britain. In the 1970s there was a widespread concern in the UK, driven again by a single doctor, that whooping-cough vaccine was causing neurological damage.

What the diversity of these anti-vaccination panics helps to illustrate is the way in which they reflect local political and social concerns more than a genuine appraisal of the risk data, because if the vaccine for hepatitis B, or MMR, is dangerous in one country, it should be equally dangerous everywhere; and if those concerns were genuinely grounded in the evidence, especially in an age of the rapid propagation of information, you would expect the concerns to be expressed by journalists everywhere. They’re not.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD SCIENCE”

What was the Montauk monster?

Posted in Uncategorized by Skepdude on August 5, 2008

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or spending all your time on Tet Zoo, you will almost certainly have heard about the ‘Montauk monster’, a mysterious carcass that (apparently) washed up on July 13th at Montauk, Long Island, New York. A good photo of the carcass, showing it in right lateral view and without any reference for scale, surfaced on July 30th and has been all over the internet. Given that I only recently devoted a week of posts to sea monsters, it’s only fitting that I cover this too. I’m pretty sure that I know what it is, and I’m pleased to see that many other people have come to the same conclusions, as demonstrated by the many informed comments that appeared at Cryptomundo and elsewhere last week. So, what is the Montauk monster?

Just a damn racoon. Read the rest of this entry at “Tetrapod Zoology”.