Article Archive for October 2011

Illinois charges DAN doctor with unethical behavior
By Ken Reibel
Posted in syndicated on 13 October 2011
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Bio-Synergy Complaint Part 3
By jaycueaitch
Posted in syndicated on 13 October 2011
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Yesterday I received what would appear to be the conclusions of the ASA’s investigation into my complaint about Bio-Synergy’s claims for their Skinny Mousse:- Dear Mr Hawcock Your Complaint About Bio-Synergy Skinny Moose Thank you very much for your email and the attachment you have sent. We have been in contact with Bio Synergy and [...]

EmpowHer blogs the autism vaccine story…and fails
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 12 October 2011
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Scare Story Supported by Dodgy Reasoning
By jaycueaitch
Posted in syndicated on 12 October 2011
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I took exception to some dodgy reasoning in the letters page of the 12 October Evening Standard. I emailed a rebuttal but I suspect it will be cut if it appears at all, so here is the full text:- Professor Anthony Glees indulges in some statistical slight of hand (Letters, 12 October). He begins by [...]

Sonic the Hedgehog and Autism
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 11 October 2011
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Who should lead the autism rights movement?
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 8 October 2011
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For Ada Lovelace Day: Lucy Wills
By jdc325
Posted in syndicated on 7 October 2011
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Lucy Wills was the haematologist who discovered folate, publishing reports of her studies into ‘anaemia of pregnancy’ in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Born in England and educated at Cheltenham College for Young Ladies at the time of Dorothea Beale (the Principal of said college) and Frances Buss, Wills went on to Newnham College, [...]

The 2011 “Vaccine Safety Conference” in Jamaica
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 6 October 2011
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Judge Bans Thinking
By andrew
Posted in syndicated on 6 October 2011
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Hello!
I just saw this news story on singingbanana’s Tumblr:
The footwear expert made what the judge believed were poor calculations about the likelihood of the match, compounded by a bad explanation of how he reached his opinion. The conviction was quashed. But more importantly, as far as mathematicians are concerned, the judge also ruled against using [...]

A quick anecdote about quasicrystals
By SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 5 October 2011
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Today the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Daniel Shechtman for the discovery of quasicrystals - a material whose components are arranged in a seemingly ordered pattern, but one that never repeats itself.

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Earlier this year I interviewed mathematician Edmund Harriss for an unrelated feature about design and science, and he told me a wonderful anecdote about these curious materials:

I work on aperiodic tiling, sets of shapes that fit together but never becomes periodic - there’s never one single unit that repeats again and again. The initial example by Robert Berger had 10,000 different shapes, very much an abstract theoretical object, but that was brought down, to Penrose tiling, which has just two different shapes. Even today we don’t understand a lot about how this process works.

Most people regarded it as recreational mathematics, just an interesting problem. Then in the 1980s, Dan Shechtman managed to get a crystal structure in an x-ray diffraction pattern that had a five-fold symmetry. In three dimensional space, you can’t have a periodic structure with five-fold rotational symmetry. This showed that the structure of this crystal couldn’t be periodic. This ran against the central beliefs that chemists had about how crystals form. The discovery of these non-periodic crystals disappeared without a trace, and one of the arguments was that it was mathematically impossible. The mathematicians then refined what was mathematically possible, so when quasicrystals were observed again you had models for what was happening.

Alongside the transcript I’d jotted the note: “So we ignored the existence of quasicrystals until someone figured out their underlying design?”.

Sometimes, even in science, things need to be believed in to be seen.

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Zombie Daily Mail Article On MMR
By jdc325
Posted in syndicated on 5 October 2011
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Here’s something that’s puzzling me: a Daily Mail article from several years ago is showing on a Google search for wakefield mmr daily mail as being just two hours old. This article keeps being brought up for discussion in the various corners of the internet where I tend to hang out. Curiously, the article has [...]

A very bad week for the XMRV causes disease idea
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 5 October 2011
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MMR Yet Again
By jaycueaitch
Posted in syndicated on 4 October 2011
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The Daily Mail will not let go of the mythical MMR-autism link. Their writer Sally Beck claims that:- New American research shows that there could be a link between the controversial MMR triple vaccine and autism and bowel disease in children. This is complete bollocks, to use a technical term. First it is not new [...]

XMRV: False Positive in chronic fatigue syndrome
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 4 October 2011
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A note on hanging chain clocks
By SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 3 October 2011
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So BoingBoing has an item on hanging chain clocks, on sale from Ticktock Showroom at a bargain $100. I wrote about a similar art piece by Andreas Dober a year ago on these very pages, but that had a price tag of $2,338, so I’m glad to see bicycle chains have come down in price.

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Here’s the thing though: to my eyes, both this clock and the original by Dober are backwards. The clock is designed so that the chain takes the place of the hands as the moveable part, and thus someone decided that it should go clockwise. As a result, the numbers are printed in the opposite order to a usual clock. This is all wrong! The “hands” of ths clock are FIXED at the top of the clock, and the dial is turning instead. Ergo, these numbers should move ANTI-CLOCKWISE, as they do normally relative to the movement of the hands.

Or am I just being weird?

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The University of Wales disgraced (but its vice chancellor is promoted)
By David Colquhoun
Posted in syndicated on 3 October 2011
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Jump to follow-up The University of Wales is to stop validating all external degrees at home and abroad. and it has a new vice chancellor, Professor Medwin Hughes. This has happened eventually, after years of pressure, first from bloggers, and then from BBC Wales. That is a tacit admission that their validation procedures were useless, [...]

What if academics were as dumb as quacks with statistics?
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in syndicated on 3 October 2011
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Combating Autism Reauthorization Act signed by President Obama
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 3 October 2011
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Childhood mortality and vaccines
By Sullivan
Posted in syndicated on 2 October 2011
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