Fear can drive people to believe the unbelievable

I had an argument with a colleague the other day about engaging people who disagree with you. She said why bother when people aren’t going to change their minds?

I’ve posted a lot about science communication, and being a voice of science and reason in the face of ignorance and fear. Even if it’s aggravating, even if it’s annoying, even if it’s frustrating, if scientist don’t engage than all people are hearing is the fear.

And this article speaks to that fear really really well. I don’t know what it’s like to have a child and fear for their autism, but hearing this perspective makes me even more resolved to keep talking.

So if anyone needs me, I’ll be engaging people on the internet (the wine helps).

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Who owns your DNA? Ancestry.com does

“For the price of $99 dollars and a small saliva sample, AncestryDNA customers get an analysis of their genetic ethnicity and a list of potential relatives identified by genetic matching. Ancestry.com, on the other hand, gets free ownership of your genetic information forever. Technically, Ancestry.com will own your DNA even after you’re dead.”

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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Four vaccine myths and where they came from

One of the many problems with science denial is figuring out where the rumors started.

In terms of the war on vaccination, Science has nicely provided a list of claims and where they originated. Read it here.

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Also as a bonus, see this pediatrician’s response to parents that don’t want to vaccinate their children. His post has recently gone viral (even though it’s been around for awhile), and is worth reading. He especially emphasizes that he is willing to answer every question that parents have about vaccines, but he’s just not willing to make exceptions.

Understanding how cancer evolves is the key to stopping it

We started this blog as a means to talk to non-scientists about biology, and since we’re a group of evolutionary biologist, to talk mostly about evolutionary biology. My first post (oh those long years ago) was about Evolutionary Medicine. So imagine my delight with this recent article in the Atlantic addresses about how understanding evolution helps treat cancer. I don’t think I need to say this is awesome, but just in case… this is awesome.

Read about it here!

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The Ethical Quandaries of Synthetic Embryos

The breakneck speed of scientific research is resulting in a pile of unaddressed ethical questions.

For example: scientists have moved beyond invitro fertilization to assemble stem cells into embryolike structures. While this may be innocent at the moment, it’s a short walk tissues and organs and eventually take on the features of a mature human being.

All of a sudden ethicists are talking about “synthetic human entities with embryolike features”. It’s a slippery slope.

Read Carl Zimmer’s piece over at the Times for more.

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Why Your Dog Can Get Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease And You Can’t

Lyme disease: a bacterial disease vectored by ticks that can cause long-term health issues.

It turns out that a vaccine was developed when lyme disease was first discovered to be a serious problem on Cape Cod. AWESOME! FIGHT THOSE TERRIBLE DISEASES!

But anti-vaccine advocates protested that the vaccine caused arthritis (a symptom which was never seen in clinical trials, and there is no evidence linking arthritis to the vaccine) and in the media backlash it was taken off the market.

So although it exists, and your dog can get vaccinated and live a lyme disease free life, we the people cannot. Read all about it here.

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Superbugs: A list of priority antibiotic resistance bacteria

The World Health Organization announced its first list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” on Monday, detailing 12 families of bacteria that agency experts say pose the greatest threat to human health and kill millions of people every year.

The list isn’t meant to scare people, but to call attention to microbes for which research into antibiotics is needed.

Read about it at the Washington Post.

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