On viruses and zombie raccoons

I was on Inside Edition last week to talk about zombies. That’s a weird sentence to type. While the story was dramatic, television clips are notoriously difficult to discuss anything of real significance. I had two main messages I wanted to get across. One, that we can’t be sure what these animals are suffering from […]

Why the CDC’s “7 banned words” is worse than you think

Yesterday, the Washington Post broke a story noting that CDC officials are no longer allowed to use the following seven words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based” as part of a larger Orwellian attack on science at large and specific communities and topics more generally. It’s horrible on its face and not even trying […]

Vaccine advocacy 101

I recently finished a 2-year stint as an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer. It’s an excellent program–ASM pays all travel expenses for lecturers, who speak at ASM Branch meetings throughout the country. I was able to attend Branch meetings from California and Washington in the West, to Massachusetts in the east, and south as […]

Is there such a thing as an “evolution-proof” drug? (part the third)

A claim that scientists need to quit making: I’ve written about these types of claims before. The first one–a claim that antimicrobial peptides were essentially “resistance proof,” was proven to be embarrassingly wrong in a laboratory test. Resistance not only evolved, but it evolved independently in almost every instance they tested (using E. coli and Pseudomonas […]

HIV’s “Patient Zero” was exonerated long ago

The news over the past 24 hours has exclaimed over and over: HIV’s Patient Zero Exonerated How scientists proved the wrong man was blamed for bringing HIV to the U.S. Researchers Clear “Patient Zero” from AIDS Origin Story H.I.V. Arrived in the U.S. Long Before ‘Patient Zero’ Gaetan Dugas: “patient zero” not source of HIV/AIDS […]

Interview with HIV denier-turned-science-advocate John Strangis

Long-term readers of the blog know of my interest in HIV denialism, especially as it is maintained and spread via the Internet. In my online travels, I recently met John Strangis via this blog post. John has an interesting story to tell regarding his experiences with HIV denialism and subsequently, his turn to patient and science activism. […]

“The Hot Zone” and the mythos of Ebola

The Hot Zone was first released in 1994, the year I graduated high school. Like many readers, that book and Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague* really sparked my interest in infectious diseases. In some sense, I have those books to thank (or blame?) for my career. But I’m still going to criticize The Hot Zone, […]

Plague in Victorian San Francisco–lessons for public health communication

I have a post up today at the Scientific American Guest blog, discussing how an earthquake and denial led to prairie dog plague. It details an outbreak of plague in Victorian San Francisco–the first time plague hit the United States–and the many downstream consequences of that outbreak (which began in 1900 and wasn’t really contained […]

Matt Damon: no poo for you

Readers may be familiar with Matt Damon’s charity work with water.org, an organization he co-founded. Water.org seeks to raise awareness of the lack of clean water by almost a billion people on earth, and lack of toilets by almost 2.5 billion–and more importantly, they work to remedy that situation by providing sustainable, local solutions. His […]

Skeptical science and medical reporting (#Scio13 wrap-up)

Ivan Oransky and I moderated a session last week at ScienceOnline, the yearly conference covering all things at the intersection of science and the internets. We discussed the topic ““How to make sure you’re being appropriately skeptical when covering scientific and medical studies.” We started out discussing some of the resources we’d put up at […]