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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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The Colbert Puppet tweets: Let's congratulate Jim Carrey on joining Jenny McCarthy in the ranks of celebrities bravely saving us from knowledge with their ignorance!

While Orac highlights Jim Carrey's ignorance in this detailed take down


  • Guest Column: Larks, Owls and Hummingbirds - Olivia Judson Blog - NYTimes.com
    Teenagers are notoriously difficult to rouse in the mornings. For the sake of parental authority it may be best that we keep this an adult secret, but . . . it may not be the youngsters’ fault.

  • To ban or not to ban Comic Sans? « Mighty Red Pen

  • Respectful Insolence: A mathematical model for the persistence of quackery
    'm sure it's obvious that I'm often puzzled (and, I daresay, many other skeptics and boosters of science- and evidence-based medicine are puzzled too) over why various forms of quackery and woo that have either about as close to zero prior probability as one can imagine and/or (more frequently "and") have failed to show evidence of any therapeutic effect greater than that of placebo in clinical trials manage to retain so much traction among the public. Examples abound, for instance homeopathy and reiki, the former of which is nothing more than sympathetic magic prettied up with science-y sounding terms and the latter of which is nothing more than faith healing given a New Age mystic slant based on Eastern mysticism and religion rather than Christianity. Indeed, reiki was even inspired by stories of Jesus' healing powers, complete with a trip into the wilderness for fasting and prayer, resulting in revelation. Another example is acupuncture, a modality that is seemingly more popular than ever, even invading the very sanctum sanctorum of the ivory towers of academic medicine and the hard-nosed halls of military hospitals, yet every study of which that is done under rigorous conditions with proper placebo controls shows it to be no more efficacious than a placebo. It's easy enough to shake one's head and chalk it all up to irrationality, ignorance of science, or even religious faith. However, I've always been dissatisfied with such glib explanations, even though admittedly I have myself used them on occasion--or even to what I like to refer to as "burnin' stupid."
  • Why do some states punch above their weight (and others punch below it)? | Stephen M. Walt
    "OVER-ACHIEVERS" (in no particular order)

    1. Sweden.

    With a population of only 9 million, one wouldn’t expect Sweden to cast much of a shadow, despite its advanced industrial economy. Yet for its size and population, Sweden has been a significant international player. Its welfare state and other social policies have been widely-studied and a model for others, and diplomats such as Dag Hammarskjold, Folke Bernadotte, and Olof Palme were all important international voices. Sweden still devotes a higher percentage of its GDP to foreign aid than any other country, and institutions such as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute have amplified Sweden's visibility on major issues of arms control and disarmament. Awarding the Nobel Prizes probably doesn't hurt either.


  • Autism Science Foundation Launches Operations; New Advocacy Group Will Focus on Non-vaccine-related Autism Research

    A little bit of sanity returns

    .
  • Truckling to the Faithful: A Spoonful of Jesus Helps Darwin Go Down «
    For if we ever begin to suppress our search to understand nature, to quench our own intellectual excitement in a misguided effort to present a united front where it does not and should not exist, then we are truly lost.
    –Stephen Jay Gould
    Here I argue that the accommodationist position of the National Academy of Sciences, and especially that of the National Center for Science Education, is a self-defeating tactic, compromising the very science they aspire to defend. By seeking union with religious people, and emphasizing that there is no genuine conflict between faith and science, they are making accommodationism not just a tactical position, but a philosophical one. By ignoring the significant dissent in the scientific community about whether religion and science can be reconciled, they imply a unanimity that does not exist. Finally, by consorting with scientists and philosophers who incorporate supernaturalism into their view of evolution, they erode the naturalism that underpins modern evolutionary theory.

  • Philosophers Anonymous: Logic Vindicated (Unwittingly)

  • Americans United: Americans United Files Suit To Block Public School Graduation Ceremonies In Wisconsin Church
  • LRB · James Wood: James Wood writes about the manipulations of Ian McEwan

 

Comments

Up next week: A Mathematical Model to Explain the Persistence of the Wheelchair as a Paralysis Treatment (how hilarious)!! With your Noble & Accomplished (and just a wee bit snarky) host, the Surgeon-Scientist!

Never underestimate an ideologue's capacity to shift the goal posts of evidence.

"It's Thimerosol!"

Removed - autism rates still climb.

"Well, it's the MMR vaccine"

16 studies unable to reproduce link to autism.

"OK, but why do they need so many vaccines? There are too many, and the drug companies are just looking to profit off of our kids!

Therefore, vaccines cause autism!"

In all seriousness, I live in Northern VA and there's currently a measles outbreak in DC. This is no joke. The teabaggers appear to be a dangerous group, but with 130 people dying from the measles last year, and nearly half of them unvaccinated for ideological reasons, the anti-vaccine crowd seems the greater imminent danger.

* And yes, I'm sensitive to those parents who have autistic children, but having them doesn't make you an expert.

In the same way, one doesn't need to have an autistic child in order to reason through this problem.

Never underestimate an ideologue's capacity to shift the goal posts of evidence.

"It's Thimerosol!"

Removed - autism rates still climb.

"Well, it's the MMR vaccine"

16 studies unable to reproduce link to autism.

"OK, but why do they need so many vaccines? There are too many, and the drug companies are just looking to profit off of our kids!

Therefore, vaccines cause autism!"

In all seriousness, I live in Northern VA and there's currently a measles outbreak in DC. This is no joke. The teabaggers appear to be a dangerous group, but with 130 people dying from the measles last year, and nearly half of them unvaccinated for ideological reasons, the anti-vaccine crowd seems the greater imminent danger.

* And yes, I'm sensitive to those parents who have autistic children, but having them doesn't make you an expert.

In the same way, one does not need to have an autistic child in order to reason through this problem.

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