Sent off yet another grant, so I’m still (once again) catching up on everything. Meanwhile, some posts for you to check out:

I thought I was self-sacrificing by submitting myself to Kentucky’s creation museum for your amusement. Guess I could have stayed home and wasted 2 1/2 hours of my life as Drek did, live-blogging an anti-vaccine movie he was challenged to watch.

Or, if you’ve had it with vaccine naysayers (and oh look, CNN gave more space to Jenny McCarthy to gush about how chelation and diet allowed her son to recover from autism), head over to Mike’s place for a refreshing post on how evolutionary biology is used to understand the human microbiome.

Belief doesn’t protect you from being maimed by swords

Last week, our friendly neighborhood germ theory denier told us that:

A thing can only be a problem as long as you believe in it.
Now, think and don’t stop before you’ve seen the light. (Hint: think of evil witches, dragons, ghosts etc. Do you believe in them? Yes? Then they’re a problem for you. No? Then you laugh about them). (emphasis in original)

Well, just in case you needed further assurance that this kind of magical thinking is just wrong, Evil Monkey has a rather graphic demonstration up of just how incredibly, and painfully, wrong it is:

…by aligning one’s energy and going through ritualized moves, objects, chants, and breathing, one can prepare his or her mind and body to ward off blows. From swords.

Video included, though as he notes, if you don’t like blood, don’t watch.

Not again…

Via PZ, I see that yet another Catholic bishop in Africa is claiming that condoms are laced with HIV:

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately.

Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected “in order to finish quickly the African people”.

His answer to AIDS is, of course, marriage, fidelity, and abstinence…which is all well and good, but not always possible or realistic. (Not to mention, what about an HIV-infected spouse?) WWJD?

[ETA: ERV has a longer (and more pissed off) takedown].

Vaccine by Arthur Allen

Regular readers may have seen me mention on occasion my father’s rather large family. My dad is the youngest of a family of 13 children–12 of whom survived to adulthood. Before my dad was born, he lost a brother to complications from infection with chicken pox; he had a severe infection and developed a fatal secondary pneumonia at just a year old. This was back in the early 1940s, prior to the widespread use of modern antibiotics and certainly long before vaccination for chicken pox. Still, despite the availability of effective chicken pox vaccines today, people still knowingly expose their children to chicken pox-infected playmates at chicken pox parties rather than vaccinate, apparently oblivious to the fact that this “mild childhood illness” can cause severe disease, and even death.

This campaign against vaccines isn’t new by any means. In fact, vehement opposition to vaccination is as old as the procedure itself, as is thoroughly documented in Arthur Allen’s recent book, Vaccine. More after the jump.
Continue reading “Vaccine by Arthur Allen”

Deck is stacked against “mythbusters”

Correcting misinformation can backfire.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a flier to combat myths about the flu vaccine. It recited various commonly held views and labeled them either “true” or “false.” Among those identified as false were statements such as “The side effects are worse than the flu” and “Only older people need flu vaccine.”

When University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz had volunteers read the CDC flier, however, he found that within 30 minutes, older people misremembered 28 percent of the false statements as true. Three days later, they remembered 40 percent of the myths as factual.

Oh, and it only gets worse; more after the jump.
Continue reading “Deck is stacked against “mythbusters””

HIV denial update #2: “alternative” treatments

A reader pointed this out to me awhile back, and it’s just too absurd not to mention. You may or may not be familiar with Gary Null. He’s a self-proclaimed “natural living” guru, and the writer/director of the recent HIV denial documentary, AIDS Inc.:

AIDS, Inc. is a film about the multi-billion dollar AIDS industry, and how it profits from continuing fears and misconceptions about the disease….Could it be that after so many years of research, and so much money being spent, that the entire orthodox medical establishment has been wrong about AIDS, or even worse, has sought to profit on a system that it knew was flawed from the beginning? …The film challenges the entrenched notion that AIDS or HIV is an African monkey virus that is spread sexually and can be “treated” with harmful drugs. Instead, the film considers the common underlying conditions of the epidemic, such as malnutrition, unclean water, poverty, illness, and poor lifestyle choices.

Well, we’ve certainly seen HIV deniers advocate a number of quack cures to replace antiretroviral drugs, including megadoses of vitamins and the aforementioned potato cure, so it probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that Null also espouses some, erm, rather “wacky” ideas regarding what makes one healthy. But some of these were new even to me; more after the jump.
Continue reading “HIV denial update #2: “alternative” treatments”

Campaign against HIV/AIDS denial featured in Science

While I was out last week, I completely missed this Science article all about HIV denial and the AidsTruth.org website, and features frequent commenter Richard Jeffreys:

For 20 years, a small but vocal group of AIDS “dissenters” has attracted international attention by questioning whether HIV causes the disease. Many AIDS researchers from the outset thought it best to ignore these challenges. But last year, another small and equally vocal group decided to counter the dissenters–whom they call “denialists”–with a feisty Web site, AIDSTruth.org. It has started to attract international attention itself. “It’s great,” says Mark Wainberg, head of the McGill AIDS Centre in Montreal, Canada. “We really need to get more people to understand that HIV denialism does serious harm. And we were in denial about denialism for a long time.”

Launched by AIDS researchers, clinicians, and activists from several countries, AIDSTruth.org offers more than 100 links to scientific reports to “debunk denialist myths” and “expose the denialist propaganda campaign for what it is … to prevent further harm being done to individual and public health.” The site also has a section that names denialists and unsparingly critiques their writings, variously accusing them of homophobia, “scientific ignorance of truly staggering proportions,” conspiracy theories, “the dogmatic repetition of the misunderstanding, misrepresentation, or mischaracterization of certain scientific studies,” and flat-out lies. “There was a perceived need to take these people on in cyberspace, because that’s where they operate mostly, and that’s where the most vulnerable people go for their information,” says immunologist John Moore, an AIDS researcher at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

Read the full article here.