Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Natural Cancer Cure Guru Lied About Having Cancer

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Not long ago, Jessica Ainscough died from lack of treatment for her cancer.  For the past few years, she had been promoting various ‘alternative’ cancer treatments, which, she claimed, would cure the cancer she had as well as others.   It didn’t, and, predictably, she died.  However, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for her.  After all, she clearly believed the garbage she was spouting, because she had enough faith in it to let it kill her.

What would be truly revolting would be if someone had gone around making similar claims and raking in money for it, but lied about having cancer the whole time.

Well, that just happened.

Via News.com.au:

Belle Gibson: ‘No, None of it is true’

DISGRACED wellness blogger Belle Gibson has admitted she deceived her followers, friends and family about having cancer and curing her illness with healthy eating and natural therapies.

The 23-year-old was accused of fabricating her terminal brain cancer and making a profit from her story via her wellness app, The Whole Pantry.

Last month it was revealed Gibson failed to donate $300,000 from the sales of her app to charity as promised and her friends had started to question the legitimacy of her diagnosis. Earlier this month, Victoria Police said they would not pursue criminal charges against Gibson.

Speaking out about the controversy in an exclusive interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, Gibson was asked outright if she has, or has ever had cancer.

“No. None of it’s true,” she confessed.

“I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality. I have lived it and I’m not really there yet,” she said.

The Weekly speculates that Gibson suffers from a psychological condition called factitious disorder or Munchausen syndrome (see below for an explainer) — where sufferers feign disease or illness to gain attention.

Gibson fails to explain in detail how and why she lied about her condition.

“I think my life has just got so many complexities around it and within it, that it’s just easier to assume [I’m lying],” she said.

“If I don’t have an answer, then I will sort of theorise it myself and come up with one. I think that’s an easy thing to often revert to if you don’t know what the answer is.”

Gibson believes her “troubled” childhood may have led her to lie about her condition.

The young mother — she has a 4-year-old son called Olivier — claims she was forced to take care of herself from the age of five.

“When I started school, my mum went, ‘My daughter is grown up now’. All of a sudden I was walking to school on my own, making school lunches and cleaning the house every day.

“It was my responsibility to do grocery shopping, do the washing, arrange medical appointments and pick up my brother. I didn’t have any toys.” Gibson is now estranged from her mother and would not provide The Weekly with her first name or contact details.

Gibson is still with her partner Clive Rothwell, who declined to be interviewed by The Weekly. She says Rothwell is “supportive, but obviously very devastated” by her betrayal.

“He’s been very stern, along the lines of, ‘I just want you to acknowledge where you’ve f***ed up and try not to smooth over that,” she said.

The recent controversy has put Gibson in a difficult financial position. Penguin Australia has stopped supplying her book and Apple have dropped her app.

She has returned her rental car and will soon move out of her beachside home. Accountants have been instructed to give any leftover funds to the charities Gibson pledged money to.

Gibson says the public backlash against her has been “horrible”.

“In the last two years I have worked every single day living and raising up an online community of people who supported each other … I understand the confusion and the suspicion, but I also know that people need to draw a line in the sand where they still treat someone with some level of respect or humility — and I have not been receiving that.”

(more…)

Yet another study proves vaccines do not cause autism

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Vaccines don’t cause autism.  We know that.  We’ve known it for a while.  There has never been a shred of evidence that they do.  There have been studies done that conclusively show they do not.

Now a new study has come out showing that there is zero increase in the risk of autism in children who are given the MMR vaccine, even in those who are already at high risk for autism.  This refutes the claim made by some that vaccines contribute to autism or are a factor that exacerbates it.

Via CBS News:

Will latest study on vaccines and autism change minds?

Yet another study finds no evidence that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine raises the risk of autism — even among children who are at increased genetic risk.

Experts said the findings, reported in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, should be reassuring to parents, particularly those who already have a child with autism.

The theory that MMR vaccination raises the risk of autism has its roots in a small study done in 1998 — one that was later found to be fraudulent. Since then, numerous international studies have found no evidence that vaccines help trigger autism.

Still, some parents remain worried. And those who already have a child with autism seem even more concerned.

“Research has shown that parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders are more likely to delay vaccinating their younger children,” said Dr. Bryan King, an autism researcher at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

“Basically, they wait until the developmental dust has settled, and it looks like their child will be unaffected (by autism),” said King, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

But delaying recommended vaccinations puts children at risk of potentially serious infections, said Dr. Anjali Jain, the study leader and a researcher at the Lewin Group, a healthcare consulting firm in Falls Church, Va.

It’s known that genes make certain children more vulnerable to autism — that’s why kids with an affected older sibling are at higher-than-average risk. But environmental factors also have to play a role, experts believe.

One theory, King said, is that it takes a “triple hit” — genes, plus an environmental trigger that strikes during a particular time window in brain development.

But based on years of research, the MMR vaccine is not that trigger, according to health experts. “Every study that’s looked at this, through every strategy they’ve used, has found no signal,” King said.

The increase in autism is most likely the result of increased screening and a broadening of the diagnostic criteria for the condition.

This study may put some pressure on certain groups, such as Generation Rescue or Autism Speaks, who are trying to put a legitimate face on the lies they tell, even despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Sadly, it is unlikely to do much for the average anti-vaxxer. Such individuals are not interested in science and not persuaded by data. If they were, this would have been over a long time ago.

It may also help in convincing those who are sitting on the fence or who are generally ignorant of the issue and are facing the decision of whether or not to vaccinate their first child. In such circumstances, every chance to get such information in the general media should be seen as a victory.

The topic of why otherwise intelligent people subscribe to discredited ideas like vaccines causing autism is another discussion onto itself. It involves a complex mix of cognitive dissonance, being heavily invested in something, persecution complexes, and a near-religious conviction in the idea. Thus, this will not change any minds that have already been made up.

29 Years Since The Challenger Exploded, One of My Earliest Memories

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Space flight is dangerous.  Taking a rocket into orbit means sitting on a controlled explosion happening under an enormous tank of fuel and oxidizer.  Rocket engines are under such tremendous forces, they push engineering to its limits.  Once one arrives in space, the spacecraft must protect occupants from one of the harshest environments imaginable.  Then, upon return, the rapid reentry to the atmosphere subjects the craft to enormous heat and pressure.  Every part of a space mission is dangerous.

It is more dangerous when politics and a desire for good publicity and scheduling gets in the way of more important concerns over safety and engineering.   This is what happened to the Challenger.  It was the first American space mission to result in causalities (although astronauts had died before in practice sessions and dry runs, such as Apollo 1).  It was the worst loss of life in a single space mission up to that time.  It would be tied by the 2003 breakup of the shuttle Columbia.

The accident put a temporary halt to the US space program and resulted in numerous safety improvements.  Unfortunately, these improvements were not enough to stop another tragedy from happening with the Space Shuttle.  While the Shuttle proved to be one of he most capable craft for low earth orbit, with unique capabilities, like the capacity to retrieve satellites from orbit, it also has some other, more dubious, distinctions.  More lives have been lost in the Space Shuttle than any other spacecraft.  It has a LOVC (loss of vehicle and crew) rate of greater than one percent, for all launches.

For me, the Challenger incident has other significance.  I was three years old at the time if happened.  It is one of my earliest distinct memories and the earliest memory I can pin directly to an event.

My memories are vague, but I do remember a few things.  My mother worked with a man whose television was not working on that day.  He came over to my home to watch the TV coverage.  He and my father were glued to the set all afternoon and evening.  I was upset because I wanted to watch Mister Roger’s neighborhood and we only had the one television.

My parents watched ABC news.  It’s amazing but these videos actually jar distinct memories for me.


Some Revealing Videos from the “March Against Monsanto”

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Around the world, people have come out to events dubbed the “March Against Monsanto.”   The events have happened in hundreds of cities (supposedly) and may involve thousands of people.  Overall, the total number who have come out for these events seems to be relatively small.  Most of them were lucky to draw a crowd of dozens.  But those who did show up certainly are passionate.

The event is supposed to be a demonstration against the Monsanto Corporation.  It’s basically a demonstration against genetically modified organisms, which is the Monsanto product that activists tend to hate the most.  While Monsanto is not the only maker of genetically modified organisms, they have become one of the most the most visible and are certainly the one who is targeted the most by anti-gmo groups.

The protests also seem to oppose modern, conventional agriculture and the production of food on large farms.  It is part of the movement for organic agriculture and the “eat local” campaigns, which promote the idea that food should be grown in a large number of small farms, rather than a smaller number of larger farms.

There are a number of videos that have been taken at these events, including some which interview participants. I would highly recommend checking out those made by Bronson Kaahui, who attended some of these events and interviewed the participants about their beliefs and what they are taking a stand against. There are some others floating around that are also worth watching.

Here are a few of my favorites:

(more…)

An Open Letter About GMOs

Monday, December 8th, 2014

An open letter to Europe and the world about GMOs in response to the ridiculous “Letter From America” about GMOs.   Of course, Europe and much of the world has been eating and benefiting from GMOs for some time. It’s a fallacy to equate GMOs with the United States.  However, it is true that the US agricultural sector has been one of the earliest and largest adopters of genetic engineering, and has benefited from it greatly.

Feel free to click the above link and read the “Letter From America” if you’d like a laugh or to be disgusted.

I’m also an American and I’ve been eating genetically modified foods since the mid 1990′s.  So I figured I’m just as qualified to set the record straight.  No, the sky is not falling.  And yes, I am perfectly healthy.

(more…)

“Anti-Radiaton” Mobile Phone Device TV Ads

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

I might be a little out of he loop when it comes to what is on television.  I don’t really watch it all that often, and when I do, I usually am watching a DVR recording, so I don’t really sit through commercials.

Yet the other day I caught this on TV.  Seeing it really annoyed me a lot.  There’s nothing new in terms of the claims being made.  The product is certainly not the first of its type, but seeing these false claims being fed to the public through mainstream mass marketing is all the more infuriating.  The public becomes that much more indoctrinated with falsehoods and the producers of this product laugh all the way to the bank, as members of the public buy something that they don’t need and serves no purpose.

(Direct link to youtube video)

It’s a slick ad campaign. I have to admit it.

It starts off with a common, but completely inaccurate comparison. Yes, tobacco company executives did say that they didn’t think smoking caused cancer. But when it comes to evaluating the health risks of something, corporate executives are not really regarded as the most credible source of information, anyway. That is what scientific studies are for. In the case of tobacco smoking, the evidence that smoking increased the risk of cancer began to accumulate in the early 20th century, not that long after mass produced cigarettes made heavy daily smoking commonplace. By the 1930′s, the data was pretty solid. But even before tobacco smoking was linked to lung cancer, the mainstream medical establishment agreed that smoking was not a healthy habit and that it had negative impacts on respiratory health. (More info on this here)

In the case of RF radiation, we have some pretty conclusive data that would seem to indicate that, no, it does not cause cancer. RF radiation is non-ionizing and does not directly effect the chemistry of molecules like DNA. It therefore does not cause the kind of damage that could result in cancer. The subject of RF energy and health has been one of interest since at least the 1920′s. There have been numerous studies on mobile phones and potential health impacts, but even before they existed, we had decades worth of scientific data on the biological effects of microwaves.

That’s probably why they don’t do much in the way of citing studies. They do show a few snippets of statements of supposed harm from mobile phones. But that’s it.

(more…)

Attempt to Use Solar Power At Protest Fails When Power Proves Inadiquate

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I have little else to say about this. However, it goes to show why there is an electrical grid that feeds reliable power to homes and businesses. Power which is generated by fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric energy sources. If we tried to run things on solar panels like this, similar results would occur.

Perhaps they should have used larger batteries to power the fans. Apparently it’s usually powered with gas-driven generators, which are somewhat cleaner than coal, but still produce emissions and consume fossil fuels.



No, Vaccines Do Not Contain Aborted Fetuses

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Yet another claim about vaccines and autism has been making the rounds.  It claims that autism may be the result of human fetus tissue, which is present in vaccines and is incorporated into the DNA of the individual vaccinated.

The implications beyond autism are disturbing to many, especially those who oppose abortion.  In any case, it seems very offputting to think about being injected with the cells of a dead fetus.

Via CBS News:

Vaccines and autism: a new scientific review
Most people will find it hard to believe that human DNA is contained in up to 23 different vaccines due to the fact a lot of the viruses are grown on aborted fetal tissue. As a result of the viruses being grown on aborted fetal tissue it is nearly impossible to separate residue from the fetuses completely from the vaccines. This adds a whole new element to the vaccination debate for those who are pro life. I don’t think many people would knowingly inject aborted fetal tissue into their children. Would you?

In a recent study by the Journal of Immunotoxicology entitled Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes–A review, the report even goes so far as to say that this can be linked to the spike in rates of autism. The basic reason the Journal points out the immune system is tricked into associating harmful viruses with human DNA. Then the immune system starts attacking human tissue in your own body. The scientist Helen Ratajczak who did the study and wrote the report says,

“Because it’s human DNA and recipients are humans, there’s homologous recombinaltion tiniker. That DNA is incorporated into the host DNA. Now it’s changed, altered self and body kills it. Where is this most expressed? The neurons of the brain. Now you have body killing the brain cells and it’s an ongoing inflammation. It doesn’t stop, it continues through the life of that individual.”

This is absolutely not a scientific review. This is just banter from a known anti-vaccine activist who likes to get media attention. Such unscientific claims are not uncommon and often are inflammatory or gut-wrenching.

There is absolutely no human tissue present in vaccines. However, even if there was, it would not cause the recipient to somehow absorb the genetic material.
Rather, the body would quickly mount an immune response to the foreign cells, which can be dramatic and, in extreme cases, even result in death. This is why powerful immune-suppresant drugs are require for organ donation.

Of course, we are exposed to the DNA of other individuals all the time. Kissing someone is likely to transfer skin cells from inside the mouth and result in ingesting some of the cells, along with their DNA. Sex involves the exchange of body fluids that are teaming with human DNA. DNA is also present in blood transfusions. Studies have found that the DNA of a blood donor can be detected in a recipient up to a week after the transfusion. However, the DNA never incorporates into the other cells of the body.

There’s also plenty of DNA and genetic material in the animal and plant material we constantly eat. Despite what many anti-gmo activists say, this DNA doesn’t affect the body of anyone who eats it. It’s mostly broken down in the digestive tract anyway, but regardless, it is not absorbed directly into living cells.

If any of this were true, it would have vast implications. It would also mean that handling blood or bodily fluids would carry additional hazards, beyond viruses or bacterial pathogens. The blood could actually modify your own genetic code. Criminals who are afraid they may have left DNA at a crime scene could just expose themselves to human tissue samples, altering their DNA and assuring that any DNA tests come up negative.

On the bright side, It would make it easy to alter the DNA of any individual, offering new treatments for genetic disease. Those who receive donated organs could have their DNA changed to that of the donor and thus avoid rejection. But, of course, none of this is real and human tissue can’t do that.

Where this seems to have come from:

Many viruses require human cells to grow in. When these viruses are needed to produce vaccines, it is common to use human sell cultures.  These are simply cells that are alive in the laboratory but not part of any person.  Human cells are obtained from certified cell banks.

These cultures come from a number of “lines,” meaning they are clones of a given group of cells.  Many of these cell lines date back to the 1960′s and have been used to produce vaccines up to the present day.  Of course, the original cells need to come from somewhere.  These cells could be sourced from any number of specimens.  It would be possible, for example, to draw cells from a biopsy of a healthy person and create a culture from them.

All adult cells have what is known as the Hayflick limit.  It’s  limit to the number of times  a cell can reproduce.  If adult cells were used for tissue cultures, they would have to be reharvested and new tissue cultures made on a frequent basis.  Fetal cells can survive for many more generations, making them ideal for producing tissue cultures.

Some of these cell lines originated with electively aborted fetuses.  Others did not.  However, in no case are actual fetal cells, from the original fetus used in the production of vaccines.  These are many generations away from the original cultured cells.

In fact, even the Vatican, which is strongly opposed to abortion has issued a statement saying that these vaccines are perfectly fine to use.

One should also remember that there are no human cells in the final product.  The viruses are extracted from the cell culture and processed, leaving very little residual matter from the tissue culture in the final vaccine.

Recomended Facebook Groups and Pages

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

I have not always been a big social media fan, but I have to admit that Facebook is pretty great for keeping in touch with people and for finding groups of similar interests.

There are some great Facebook pages and groups that are anti-bad science.  Many of these are funny and all are worth checking out

Note that some of these are closed groups, where you have to apply for membership to the group before you can post to it, and, in some cases, read all the posts.

 

Anti Vax Wall of Shame - The worst comments, posts and quotes from anti-vaccine activists and websites.

Australian Vaccination Network – Not to be confused with the actual Australian Vaccination Network, this is pro-vaccine. How they got to use the name, I have no idea.

Conspiracy Theorists Say the Darndest Things – Comically bad conspiracy claims from around the web.

Fundies Say the Darndest things – Comically bad quotes and posts from religious fundimentalists, mostly.

New Age Woos Say the Darndest Things -Similar comically bad quotes, these from newagers, quacks and similar.

GMOLOL - Crazy GMO claims refuted and poked fun at.  Also general advocacy for good science regarding genetically engineering technology.

GMO Skepti-Forum – A place for skeptics of outlanding GMO claims (not as funny as GMOLOL)

Anti-Alternative Medicine – A group opposing and exposing quackery.

 

Please feel free to add recommended groups and pages in the comments!

Students Make Film About Vaccines – Get Harrassment

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

It’s always nice to see young people with a passion for science, reality, skepticism and advocacy.   In Carlsbad, CA, a group of highschool students in a journalism class made a film about vaccines and vaccine denialism.  (It’s on the correct side of it)

Via NBC San Diego

More than a dozen current and former Carlsbad High School students have found themselves in the middle of the long-running vaccination debate after they produced the film Invisible Threat.

The film debuted online August 1, more than a year after it was completed.

Students tell NBC 7 that’s largely due to the backlash they’ve faced, even during the production stage.

Brad Streicher worked on the film his junior year. The current USC student and NBC 7 intern said the idea came from the San Diego Rotary Club.

People there were impressed by two previous films they’d worked on and wanted the high school broadcast journalism class to do one on the immune system and immunizations.

“We ended up telling Rotary we’ll do the film but only on our terms, which means we were going to approach the film from a journalistic standpoint,” said Streicher. “We wanted to make sure whatever story we were telling, it would be unbiased and we would attack it from both sides of the argument.”

The Rotary gave the students $60,000 for the project with that understanding, according to Streicher.

Months into the film’s production, students say they started to received e-mails and online comments harshly criticizing their work.

People called the project “pro-vaccine” and “propaganda.” At one point the teacher and director of the film, Douglas Green, proposed the students stop the project. The students refuse.

Here’s a video about the production and the students behind it:


(more…)