Posts Tagged ‘science’

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“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” –Hippocrates

May 11, 2012

There’s a certain logical disconnect that seems to pop up among everyone in the anti-vaccination crowd.  They dismissively ignore all actual evidence that doesn’t support their firmly held belief, but they will crow from the mountaintops any time they think they’ve found scientific evidence that backs them.  While this sort of thing is far from exclusive to the anti-vacc contingent, they are among the most obnoxious about it, and they have enough of a profile (thanks to noted biomedical scientist Jenny McCarthy) that you can’t help but hear a lot of what they spout, whether you want to or not.

Which brings us to Mark Moore of the Arkansas Watch blog.  Mark is, it seems, part of the anti-vacc group that is just absolutely sure that vaccines cause autism.   Once you know this, it becomes much less of a surprise that he would entitle a post, “How do you give a Monkey Autism?  Administer them the Vaccines we give to our Children!

The kind of tests that should have been done a long time ago have finally been done on lab monkeys. The result is that young monkeys given a vaccine schedule from the 1990’s tend to develop autistic symptoms while a control group did not.

Then he provides a link to the study. If you’ve followed the anti-vacc movement at all over the last few years, and if you ignore that Mark makes it sound like this is a new study, you might guess that he’s going to link to the study by Dr. Laura Hewitson from 2010.  You’d be more or less correct; he links to an article on LewRockwell.com.  That article, while also making it sound like we’re dealing with a new study, links to an article at Age of Autism written by (noted shaken-baby-denialist) Catherine Frompovich.  Frompovich is talking about the Hewitson study, and she’s hitting all the same notes that you’d expect: (1) the study showed that “biological changes and altered behaviors did occur in vaccinated monkeys, which resembled and were similar to those observed in ASD diagnosed children;” (2) the same changes and behaviors did not occur in the non-vaccinated monkeys; (3) that people who stand to profit from vaccines don’t want this study to be replicated; and (4) that this study, once replicated, will prove ex-Dr. Andrew Wakefield correct.

Wow.  That sounds like quite a study, no?  To someone who was unfamiliar with the study (or who was simply looking for something to confirm what they already “knew” to be true), that’s tantamount to a smoking gun.

Of course, once you look at the study — which I would bet most people touting the results have not done — you realize it’s less a smoking gun and more a smoldering pile.  First of all, there’s some important information in the Methods section of the study.  See if you can spot the problem:

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On Gay Marriage, or: Man, Those Are Some Terrible Arguments

May 10, 2012

Between the people of North Carolina voting (without really understanding) to outlaw something that was already illegal, 30 of the 33 Republican representatives in Colorado hijacking the legislative process to prevent something that 71% of Coloradans approve of, and the President of the United States coming out in support of gay marriage, today seems like as good of a day as any to flesh out a post that’s been kicking around in my head for some time.  Specifically, I’m talking about the absurdity of the arguments against marriage equality.

Let me back up.  Despite the fact that I wholeheartedly support marriage equality for same-sex couples, it’s not a topic that seems to come up much when talking or writing about Arkansas politics.  I’m not sure whether to chalk that up to my being a straight, married guy or to the fact that Arkansas (like Georgia) is so very backward in many ways, but it’s true nonetheless.  Whenever it does come up, however, I am always flabbergasted by the arguments — often made by otherwise intelligent people — against marriage equality.  I mean, the arguments in favor of such equality are pretty straightforward.  They tend to be things like equal protection or even “why should I care if two consenting adults want to marry one another?”

The arguments against it, however?  Well, let’s take some of the most popular ones in turn and discuss the inherent flaw(s) in each.

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