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.

autism_vaccines_makinaro.png.CROP.original-original.png

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.

Genitals are the fastest-evolving organs in the animal kingdom. Here’s why:

Genitals are weirdly shaped, which is strange. They only really NEED to be a pipette like device to inject sperm into a cup like device. But what we see in nature is way more complicated and bizarre. The reason? “They’re the result of a furious evolutionary tango of sex, that has been going on of millions of years.” Check out this cool video from TED-Ed to marvel at how odd genitalia are:

The Immortal Life of HeLa Cells

The problem with research on humans is that everyone wants it, but no one wants to be the guinea pig. Enter cell lines! The problem is that most human cells don’t survive in the lab. In fact, prior to HeLa cells, all cells died within 24 hours or so.

The excellent book by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, details how the HeLa line came into being, and raises the questions if she should have had consent over what was done with the cells from her tumor. And while I think that it’s misleading to say “Henrietta lived on through her cells” (hence the title of this post), it is worth considering the bioethical quandaries that have resulted from the HeLa lines, and other potential cell lines.

And the new Oprah movie, these questions are likely to be raised again soon.

Read about it here!

Screen_Shot_2017_04_21_at_10.16.53_AM.0.png

 

Thanks for Marching

I am not sure how to measure the success of protests, but the March for Science was unquestionably heard around the world. People Marched in 600 locations around the globe to stand up for scientific research in the face of the US President being an unabashedly against science funding/communication/reality. So to celebrate scientist and science enthusiasts standing together, I have collected a few of my favorite videos. Or read more about the march here.

March of the Penguins for Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

The Underwater March for Science at Wake Island:

And a video summarizing some great signs from the March for Science on Washington DC.

And just remember, this is only the first 100 days. Curbing the potential damage this administration can have on the planet will require staying vigilant for the next 4 years. As Aminatou Sow said during the women’s march “I can do this every week”. Bring it.

Arguments against anti-science arguments

In the best titled blog post ever “Scientists aren’t Stupid, and Science Deniers are Arrogant” the anonymous author Fallacy Man openly confesses:

“Debating those who reject scientific facts has been a hobby of mine for several years now. It’s not a very rewarding hobby, and it comes with high stress levels and periodic fits of rage, so I don’t particularly recommend it.”

This in and of itself would make me love this post. But he then goes on to talk about how the biggest problem with science deniers is their arrogance. They genuinely believe that they know more than people who have years, and sometimes decades of experience studying science. While this makes my blood boil, the more important part of post for me was an outline of different arguments that science deniers have made, and good peer-reviewed sources to respond. 

Read it here!

epitome-of-arrogance.gif

 

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.

21ZIMMER-master768.jpg