Article Archive for July 2007

What happened to the Daily Mail?
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 31 July 2007
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Is the Mail getting converted to reason? Another (mostly) good article by Angela Epstein. But it is spoiled by referring the reader to the Society of Homeopaths for more information. From there they will get only make-believe.

The tyranny of alternative medicine
By coracle
Posted in on 30 July 2007
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I try, in this blog, to focus on the evidence for alternative therapies, where such evidence exists. For this post, though, I’m going to concentrate on something more speculative, an aspect of health and medicine where there aren’t clinical trials or epidemiological studies. This will exceed the range of my expertise and is likely to be wrong in places. Any comments or criticisms are welcome.

What happens to autism rates if we stop MMR?
By pj
Posted in on 30 July 2007
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From Honda et al 2005 J Child Psychol Psychiatry 46(6):572-9 (without permission):”The Japanese MMR vaccination program targeted one-year-olds between April 1989 and April 1993, then was discontinued. Therefore, children born during the years 1988 to …

Pascal’s Wager
By andrew
Posted in on 30 July 2007
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At the front of the line was a man in a sharp suit. When he got to the gate, the guard, an angel, agreed that he had lived a good life, but asked him why he had not followed some of God’s laws. The man shuffled, embarrassed, before finally admitting that he’d been an atheist. [...]

Bad reporting about electrosmog, and bad press releases
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 30 July 2007
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The Independent on Sunday printed a misleading account of a paper that measured the strength of electric fields, but had no data whatsoever about their effects, if any, on health. The press release from Imperial College didn’t help much.

Prices and costs
By coracle
Posted in on 27 July 2007
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A discussion at work the other day centred around increases in our prescription charges. Much reminiscence was enjoyed and there were dark mutterings about the continually increasing prices. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society handily provides a table of prescription charges (pdf warning) from 1952 to 2007. An accompanying graph shows a fairly linear rise in charges from 1971 (the introduction of

New blog version of IMPROBABLE SCIENCE ready to try.
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 27 July 2007
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A new Wordpress blog has been started, for new items. It is at http://www.dcscience.net/. You can sign up and leave comments.Gradually older items will be moved to this blog (don’t hold you breath: it’s tedious).Meanwhile all the older stuff is still at . http://www.dcscience.net/improbable.html.As soon as the blog is working well, I’ll stop adding new items there.

Facebook for epidemiology
By coracle
Posted in on 26 July 2007
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Despite the tabloid headlines like Your best friend can make you fat, I think the recent research in this weeks New England Journal of Medicine is very cool. Any paper that features those complex network analysis figures gets filed under very cool in my book. Beyond the inherent coolness of network analysis there are a couple of factors worth looking at. For one thing, the error bars for the

Tour de Farce gets even more farcical
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 26 July 2007
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After the departure of Vinokourov, I might have been forgiven for hoping the rest of Le Tour would pass without incident. Since then, yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen has been sacked by his team, nominally for lying about his whereabouts in the pre-seas…

More students apply for CAM courses: Celia Bell’s defence
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 26 July 2007
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Sigh! The Times Higher Education Supplement (27 July 2007) reports an 31.5% increase in applications for ‘university’ courses in complementary medicine. Dr Celia Bell, of Middlesex University defends their alternative medicine courses. She has had a conventional scientific training, so her views seem odd to me. The link is too the new blog version. The same post is also on the old page, at http://www.dcscience.net/improbable.html#bell1

Miscellanea: Pirates vs Ninjas
By Grey
Posted in on 25 July 2007
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And now for something different, this week’s Miscellanea comic is a Pirates vs Ninjas slide show. Also, pirate vs ninja stuff at the store.

Team Borat out of tour
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 25 July 2007
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Alexandr Vinokourov, the pre-race favourite in the Tour de France, has tested positive for blood doping, and he and his Astana team have been thrown off the race.One of the worst things about the crisis in cycling, and especially the tour, is that the …

Where there’s Electromuck, There’s Brass.
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 24 July 2007
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Dr George Carlo is an interesting character. Founder of the Safe Wireless Initiative in the US, he is the leading thinker behind a lot of the concerns about the dangers of mobiles and Wi-Fi.

The campaigners in the UK are in lurve with him. Sites like Electrosentivity-UK worship him. Mast Sanity too. And the EM-Radiation Research Trust.

What appears to be a common thread in nearly all the

Business as usual
By Modne Bzdury
Posted in on 24 July 2007
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Przepraszam za ponad tygodniową ciszę, ale kilka dni temu wróciłem z wojaży i nie mogę się zmusić do napisania czegokolwiek. Mam nadzieję - jutro lub pojutrze - rozruszać nieco ten interes. Jest za to kilka drobnych rzeczy organizacyjnych, którymi chciałbym się podzielić. Po lewej stronie (pod Miniblogiem) dorzuciłem dział “W tej chwili czytam”, gdzie znajdziecie pięć pozycji, które ostatnio przewinęły się przez moje ręce. Głównie jest to literatura naukowa, filozofia i literatura faktu - często związana z tematyką Modnych Bzdur. Może kogoś zainteresują moje lektury i zechce sięgnąć po niektóre z nich (przy każdym tytule jest link do przeróżnych księgarni, gdzie można nabyć każdą z książek, o ile jest nadal dostępna na rynku). Poza tym lubię skanować czyjeś półki z książkami i wiem, że nie jestem w tym odosobniony.

Cały czas dorzucam nowe linki. Ciągle przypominam sobie o jakiejś osobistości, blogu, autorze czy organizacji, która - moim zdaniem - zasługuję na choćby malutką wzmiankę. Tym razem dodałem kilka nowych linków w działach Filozofia i Komentarz, opinia, kultura.

Nie zapominajcie też o wspomnianym już Miniblogu. Najlepsze i najciekawsze artykuły i media na okrągło. Bez dwóch zdań. Wystarczy kliknąć na wybrany tytuł.

Sir Humphrey gets a test-tube
By coracle
Posted in on 23 July 2007
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Quick and slightly interesting news story, There is to be a new, dedicated office for science within the government. It will, apparently, fall within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) which, itself, is an amalgamation of parts of the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department Education and Skills (DFES). Keeping up? Good. Presumably this will also

Science and technology committee
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 23 July 2007
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When the government makes policy, especially relating to science, it would be an advantage if there was evidence that the policy was likely to work. This is what the parliamentary science and technology select committee does. Unfortunately, it seems th…

Ben Goldacre tears the Observer a new arsehole
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 23 July 2007
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As usual, Ben Goldacre does an excellent job of deconstructing the drivelling MMR/autism piece that appeared on the front of the Absurder a couple of weeks ago. The Absurder published a ‘clarification’ yesterday, which somehow failed to clarify that th…

Building a future
By coracle
Posted in on 21 July 2007
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I’ve occasionally touched on architectural design on this blog. It’s not a subject on which I have any education, so I write from a position of opinionated ignorance. Despite this I think it is important to comment, we are all end-users of architecture and it influences everything that we do. If the buildings in which we live and work look only backwards, have history but no future, then it is


By Grey
Posted in on 21 July 2007
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Grey’s Journal: Road Trip — Pria

Should the NHS pay for Hyena Saliva?
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 20 July 2007
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Homeopathy, paid for by the NHS, is under threat. Millions of pounds of NHS money is pumped into a few Homeopathic hospitals so that patients can have ‘choice’. It is a good thing, choice. The Queen makes this choice. The newspapers promote this stuff. It is natural. No side effects. Health Freedom. Patient Options. Blah Blah Blah.

Talking to people, with jobs and mortgages and only one cat, I

Creationist Arguments You Never Hear
By andrew
Posted in on 20 July 2007
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There is no way that chickens and pigs could have evolved in such a way that chicken wrapped in bacon tastes so good. Only an intelligent designer could cause this phenomenon.
The human ear is shaped to hold a pencil, and yet the pencil was not invented until millenia after the ear supposedly evolved. Only an [...]

Quackograms
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 19 July 2007
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Bored Bored Bored.
So, I have been doing some anagrams.
Here goes…
Dr Andrew Wakefield - Flawed Ink Rewarded

Dr Gillian McKeith - Kill Charming Diet

Electrosensitivity - Risen To Selectivity

homeopathic remedy - Here Hypo-Atom Medic

Food for the Brain - Brother Of ION Fad

Institute of Optimum Nutrition - Nut Into Tummies Tuition Profit

Patrick Holford - Fork to Chip Lard

Dr George

Hot Dogs
By Labmonkey
Posted in on 19 July 2007
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Animals across Europe are too hot and falling asleepNow Zak wouldn’t do this, he’s scared of water. But hats off to this Austrian GSD - he’s a bright lad and looks happy as larry cooling off in a fountain.

Broccoli for Brains
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 17 July 2007
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Last Friday, saw Trevor McDonut’s ‘Tonight with’ programme showcase Patrick Holford’s ‘Food for the Brain’ charity and its involvement with a school. The school apparently saw lots of improvements with their children and so will obviously boost the standing of the Food for the Brain charity.

And today, we see that Food for the Brain is starting to see itself as an accrediting authority now as it

Better than beating bloat
By coracle
Posted in on 17 July 2007
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The airwaves are replete with advertisements telling us that we are bloated and that the simple cure for this is handy pro-biotic yogurt or pill. While I’m typically cynical of these claims (disease-mongering anyone?) I am open to the idea that pro-biotics may be beneficial to our health, just probably not in the way the adverts suggest. This weeks BMJ has an interesting, if small, study on the

BBC admits faults in Alternative Medicine Series
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 17 July 2007
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After 16 months of hard work by Simon Singh, the BBC have at last admitted that serious mistakes were made in its series on Alternative Medicine. Two of the main complaints were upheld (though several others were not).

BBC had excellent report on Wakefield and MMR
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 17 July 2007
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In a report on the appearance of Andrew Wakefield to face charges of professional misconduct, the BBC news showed graphs of the increase in cases of measles which has followed the fall in MMR vaccination. They reported on the many studies that have shown no link between MMR and autism. And most fascinatingly, they showed a movie of Wakefield’s speech at the Mind Institute.

The great global warming non-swindle
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 16 July 2007
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Folks have been queuing up to try and discredit a new study that shows that changes in solar output are not responsible for recent increases in global temperature. According to Mike Lockwood, one of the authors, the study was initiated partly in respon…


By Grey
Posted in on 16 July 2007
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Miscellanea: Warning — Anthropomorphizing

No more noddy boxes
By coracle
Posted in on 15 July 2007
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The UK suffers from an appalling lack of vision when it comes to residential architecture. We suffer shoddy quality construction combined with an appetite for an ersatz taste of past glories. New builds are either mock tudor half-beams or wannabe Georgian terraces. Enough. Give us back our future. On this theme, Stephen Bayley has a good article in today’s Observer: Let’s start thinking outside