Junk Science

This category contains 43 posts

Biological Politics? Out-Of-Touch Liberals And Fear-Mongering Conservatives

Love this line: “science readers should just ignore the conclusion woo.”

Seriously, the authors are evidently expanding their publication of research (along the line of this prior study, “Disgust sensitivity and the neurophysiology of left-right political orientations,”Free access at Pub Med), using eye movements and skin conductance changes in response to visual stimuli (pretty bunny vs. violent images and Republican vs. Democratic politicians) and conclude that there is an evolutionary purpose/causation.


The conclusions the researchers draw are not as grounded; rather than showing that tolerances are why people pick parties, they try to say evolution is at the root, claiming political leanings are at least partial products of our biology, which goes to show you that political scientists and psychologists who don’t understand biology should not invoke it, at least as cause and effect. But the new study’s use of cognitive data regarding both positive and negative imagery adds to the understanding of how liberals and conservatives see and experience the world and that has value, even if the more broad conclusions are not evidence-based.

UNL professor of political science and psychology John Hibbing goes too far when he tries to play evolutionary psychologist, claiming the results might mean that those on the right are more attuned and attentive to aversive elements in life and are more naturally inclined to confront them, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, he said. That would mean humans are two distinct species, but only in America, so science readers should just ignore the conclusion woo and focus on the negative/positive responses they found in people already left or right and see where it can take us.

via Biological Politics? Out-Of-Touch Liberals And Fear-Mongering Conservatives.

Cloning pioneer urges shift away from embryonic stem cells

Universal Truth at work again. I would have loved to be there in order to watch heads explode and hear the susurus of “Did he say that?” buzzing around the room.

Newer and safer forms of stem cell therapy will likely overtake research into the use of human embryonic stem cells, the scientist whose team cloned Dolly the sheep told his peers at a stem cell conference in La Jolla.

Direct “reprogramming” of adult cells into the type needed for therapy is gradually becoming a reality, Ian Wilmut told an audience of several hundred at the Salk Institute at the annual Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa. Such a feat was once thought impossible, but in recent years it has been demonstrated in at least two publications, he said.


But it’s been unclear which types of stem cells would prove most useful: the “adult” kind that have a more limited potential to change, or the embryonic kind. The emergence of direct reprogramming provides a promising new option scientists should consider, Wilmut said.

“I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been pursued more actively,” Wilmut said.

It is difficult to achieve purity in embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells because they are prone to forming tumors.

Direct reprogramming of cells from one type to the other avoids that danger, because the cells never enter the pluripotent stage to begin with, Wilmut said.

Direct cell reprogramming didn’t exist when California voters approved the stem cell program in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71. That program was mainly aimed at funding embryonic stem cell research the federal government wouldn’t fund.

However, the program can also fund research with other types of stem cells, such as “adult” cells from umbilical cord blood.

The use and value of embryonic stem cells is an intensely controversial issue.

Many people object to their use because human embryos, which they consider human individuals, are killed to get the cells. Critics also point to the success of adult cells in approved therapies, while no therapy with embryonic stem cells has yet been approved.

Only one treatment with embryonic stem cells is in clinical testing in people. And that company, Geron Corp., recently ended its involvement in what was described as a business decision.

via Cloning pioneer urges shift away from embryonic stem cells.

More on the Geron decision to end embryonic stem cell research, here, and on the “Stimulus” funds awarded to Geron and the employees that lost their jobs, anyway, here.

Geron Awarded Grants (under ObamaCare Stimulus)

Just one more failed “stimulus” project? This past week, Geron announced they are no longer pursuing their research in embryonic stem cells. They laid off 66 employees.

The US government should never have been in the business of picking and choosing business winners and losers. We certainly shouldn’t be giving money for destructive embryonic stem cell research.

Included as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the QTDP program provided a tax credit to encourage investments in new therapies to prevent, diagnose, and treat acute and chronic diseases. Companies, such as Geron, that cannot currently use a tax credit were allowed to apply for a cash grant

in lieu of a tax credit.

To be eligible for the program, projects must show reasonable potential to result in new therapies to treat areas of unmet medical need; prevent, detect, or treat chronic or acute disease and conditions; reduce long-term health care costs in the United States; or significantly advance the goal of curing cancer within a 30-year period.

In addition, preference was given to projects that showed the greatest potential to create and sustain (directly or indirectly) high quality, high-paying jobs in the United States, and advance United States competitiveness in the fields of life, biological, and medical sciences.

Projects were selected jointly by the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

via Geron Awarded Grants Under Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program.

Geron To End Embryonic Stem Cell Research : NPR

Geron is getting out of the business of doing Embryonic Stem cell research. Trust me, if there were any objective truth to the idea that destructive Embryonic Stem cells could make money, the Corp. would stay in.

From NPR:

Earlier this week, the Geron Corporation announced it was abandoning its research into using embryonic stem cells to treat spinal cord injury. Geron was the first company to get the green light from the FDA to conduct clinical trials using embryonic stem cells. That was way back in 2009. And now, citing, quote, “capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions,” the company is looking to sell off that part of its business and focus on other work.

via Geron To End Embryonic Stem Cell Research : NPR.

Perry’s Energy Plan |

Since everyone is talking about that third Agency that Governor Perry forgot in last week’s debate, I decided to post this note from “Junk Science” from last month.

Rick Perry has performed terribly in the presidential debates… no argument… but unlike, say Mitt Romney, the energy plan he released today aims directly at the runaway Obama EPA.

Perry’s four main goals are:

Expand energy exploration offshore and on federal and private lands across the country by executive order, creating over 1.2 million jobs

Eliminate current and proposed activist EPA regulations from the Obama administration, saving 2.4 million jobs by 2020 and lowering projected costs by $127 billion

Reduce, rebuild, and refocus the EPA federal regulators, returning authority to the states

Level the playing field for all energy producers, removing Obama’s practice of picking winners and losers and ending the Obama war on coal and natural gas production

via Perry’s Energy Plan |

“If Only There Were A Vaccine for Hysteria” Redux*

World Net Daily sometimes goes off the path, but this time, they are posting emotional noise in the article, “’My headache’s about to explode’: U.S. girls just dropping dead.”  Author Joe Kovacs even goes so far as to support the claim by the organization, Judicial Watch, that the vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus, Gardasil, is harmful by citing a case of “meningococcal disease,” caused by the bacteria, Neisseria meningitides.

The article or the claims have no basis in fact. There was one case of anaphylactic shock, but no other deaths due to the vaccine. There has been no pattern of serious adverse effects and the major problems have been sore arms and fainting which looks like a seizure to those who haven’t seen it before. (I’m a Family Physician who has had fathers faint in my office and the hospital while watching procedures or shots. Mothers tend to sit when I ask them to, so they’re less likely to faint.)

Gardasil is not derived from the actual HPV virus. It is made the same way that insulin is made for patient injection for diabetes: bacteria is tricked into producing proteins that “look” like bits of the virus, but are never in any way active as an infectious agent.

The article notes that there have been over 35 Million doses of Gardasil given in the United States. We have 10 years of experience. Back in 2006, before Governor Rick Perry made news my adding Gardasil to the list of mandatory vaccines for school children, we already had five years of history and reviews of the vaccine. We have all sorts of studies and surveillance going on currently. Take a look at the world-wide surveillance.

Everything that has an effect is likely to have a side effect. However, this article and the hullabaloo over Gardasil is hysteria. There are mechanisms that allow us to predict bodily reactions and enable us to practice medicine: we know how the body is likely to react to disease, a new exposure or stress, or to medications. There is no mechanism for the “my head is going to explode” symptom.

We do know enough to be able to say what does not have a basis in science. Science and medicine are getting *better* at predicting outcomes, not worse. Read up on “biological plausibility.”

In the comments, people are saying that the CDC and FDA are part of big conspiracy, that people shouldn’t trust their doctors. The reason that there are more recommended vaccines is because we are doing research to find more vaccines to prevent diseases, not because some horrible conspiracy is growing.

* We don’t have a vaccine for hysteria, although Michael Fumento called for one back in 1999, in his op-ed on a similar hullabaloo surrounding the anthrax vaccine.

Coffee prevents depression?

The bloggers over at the Junk Science blog disagree with the statistical significance of researchers who published an article using data from the Nurse’s Health Study. The article is published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine.


Personally, I’d have bet on Chocolate, but that data is still being cooked.

I’ve posted on about the link that previous researchers found between coffee and death from all causes (but only for women, not for men) and between coffee and the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.

I have often thought that people who become addicted to nicotine and who regularly use other stimulants to calm down are probably self-treating hyperactivity, possibly chemical/neurochemical depression.

A more thorough review is at WebMD.

One more time: Perry, Gardasil and the facts

Governor Sarah Palin and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann went on Greta Van Sustern’s “On the Record” show on Fox News to accuse Governor Rick Perry of “crony capitalism” because of his Executive Order RP65, which would have mandated Gardasil and which did make it much easier for parents to opt out of all mandatory vaccines.

None of the players explain one very pertinent point: Merck was the only company making the only approved vaccine against the viruses that cause the changes that cause abnormal Pap smears and which lead to cervical cancer. (The only reason to get a pap smear is to check for changes from HPV. Gardasil provides immunity to the specific strains that cause nearly 3/4 of all cervical cancer.)

The Gardasil vaccine (more, here ) was recommended the FDA’s vaccine approval committee, more than 6 months before Governor Perry’s Executive Order. All girls who qualified for the Federal Vaccines for Children program were eligible to receive the vaccine free of charge: Medicaid, CHIPs, and uninsured or those with insurance that won’t pay for vaccines. The Texas Legislature had previously delegated unconditional authority to mandate new vaccines to the Department of State Health Services, which is under Governor Perry and the Executive Branch.

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann showed her profound ignorance about the germ theory and modern medicine in general, and the Human Papilloma vaccine, Gardasil, in particular. She seems ignorant of the fact that newborns (little, innocent newborns) receive a shot against the STD, Hepatitis B, on the first or second day of their lives, before they go home from the hospital. They get 2 more of the shots by the time they are 6 months old. And (little, innocent) 12 year old boys and girls get a (measles/mumps/rubella) MMR and a tetanus and diphtheria booster (Td)  about the same time. Tetanus, or “lock jaw” is not a communicable disease.

in her zeal to attack Governor Rick Perry, Bachmann did even worse in her post-debate interview with Greta Van Sustern on Fox News. Her emotional, anti-vaccine remarks should be an embarrassment to her.

She told Greta about a conversation with a crying mom who came up to her after the debate, saying that the woman’s daughter suffered from “mental retardation” after receiving the vaccine. “Mental retardation” would not be diagnosed at 9-12 years old. In fact, in over 10 years more than 50 million doses of Gardasil have been given in the United States. There has been more than the usual scrutiny and surveillance for adverse effects. The Center for Disease Control, the FDA and the Institute of Medicine have all reached the conclusion that even with this heightened awareness and concern, there have been no adverse effects from this vaccine other than fainting and allergic reactions that can happen with any medical procedure or treatment.

At the time, Gardasil had over 5 years of history of study in boys and girls, with an official “Four Year Follow Up” article published in the British Medical Journal. To learn more, please see “A Dose of Reason.”

Breaking: Obama asks EPA to withdraw proposed ozone rule |

Wow, this would be great if it goes through!

From the “Junk Science” blog:


President Barack Obama has asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the agency’s proposed toughened ozone standards, citing “the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.” The President’s statement is below.

These are rules that would provide no health benefits but cost $1 trillion per year in compliance and kill 7.4 million jobs by 2020.

If EPA administrator Lisa Jackson complies with Obama’s request (no guarantee), this will be a hugely important victory for American workers and the economy, as well as those of us who have been fighting the EPA’s proposed ozone standards.

via Breaking: Obama asks EPA to withdraw proposed ozone rule |

Critique of Judge Sam Sparks’ Opinion on Texas Ultrasound Law (part 2)

See Part 1, here
Media reports say that due to the injunction by Federal Judge Sam Sparks, the Texas Ultrasound law will not go into effect at all until a higher court rules on it. However, the Judge does note that there is a severability clause and that his injunction is narrow. I’m waiting to see opinions from lawyers as to whether abortionists will be held to parts of the law that are not specifically under injunction.

In the meantime, I wonder how many women will meet the abortionist before they are gowned and sedated for the procedure and how many will insist on seeing their sonograms?

In the second half of the Opinion by Judge Sam Sparks, the Judge outlines the specific complaints brought against the new law, HB 15, (text of the law, here ) . Most of those complaints are dismissed, even as the Judge continues to call the new law “unwise” and ultimately imposes an injunction against enforcement.

Sparks disagrees with the Plaintiffs, the Center for Reproductive Rights out of New York, that the definitions of “medical emergency,”  “sonogram,”  “in a quality consistent with current medical practice,” and “in a manner understandable to a layperson” are unconstitutionally vague.  He also disagrees with the Plaintiffs on whether or not “visit” and “abortion-related services” are unclear to most people.

The major complaints upheld by the judge appear to be that the law doesn’t allow for multiple-physician practices or for a switch if the original doctor who informed the woman about her ultrasound cannot, “through some unforeseen circumstances,” perform the abortion, requires a woman to sign an informed consent acknowledgement, and   forces the physician to “advance an ideological agenda.”  Sparks also does not like the word “soley,” for reasons that I don’t understand.

It is true that one purpose of the law was to ensure that women were given informed consent by the physician who was to perform the abortion, “in a private and confidential setting.” Most abortionists had been satisfying the 24 hour waiting period and informed consent the same way that Dr. Alan Braid’s Reproductive Services of San Antonio,  had:  over the phone  or by referring the woman to the information on the Internet.

However, it doesn’t appear that Sparks overturned these requirements, since the injunction overturns the objection to the requirement that women receive private and confidential informed consent and the exception for those who live more than 100 miles from the abortion clinic. The opinion only finds fault with the lack of accommodations for “unplanned substitutions.”

The judge makes a surprising statement about the requirement that a copy of the informed consent be inserted in the medical record of the woman:

Compounding this problem is newly-added section 171.0121, which requires both that a copy of the above certification be placed in the pregnant woman’s medical records (presumably permanently), and that the facility that performs the abortion retain a copy for at least seven years.See H.B. 15, Sec. 3 (adding TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 171.0121). Given the nature of the certification and the Act’s retention requirements, it is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion that the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women.

Sparks says that the medical record is “semi-private,” and is concerned that it might someday be subpoenaed for use in a court case. The only time that these would be seen in Court is if the woman herself sues the doctor.

Sparks also engages in a bit of ideological speech of his own about the requirement for the abortionist to describe  “the presence of cardiac activity,” and “the presence of external members and internal organs.”

“ The Court does not think the disclosures required by the Act are particularly relevant to any compelling government  interest, but whatever relevance they may have is greatly diminished by the disclosures already required under Texas law, which are more directly pertinent to those interests.”

and, from page 50:

The net result of these provisions is: (1) a physician is required to say things and take expressive actions with which the physician may not ideologically agree, and which the physician may feel are medically unnecessary; (2) the pregnant woman must not only passively receive this potentially unwanted speech and expression, but must also actively participate—in the best case by simply signing an election form, and in the worst case by disclosing in writing extremely personal, medically irrelevant facts; and (3) the entire experience must be memorialized in records that are,at best, semi-private. In 7 the absence of a sufficiently weighty government interest, and a sufficiently narrow statute advancing that interest, neither of which have been argued by Defendants, the Constitution does not permit such compulsion.

Edit to add this question: How can a doctor “not ideologically agree” with the facts visible on the sonogram when describing heart or limbs?

In my opinion, the worst part of the ruling is Spark’s legal-speak on “compelling’ and his insistence on bringing back the ever-moving line of “viability:”

Second, while Casey refers to the government’s interest in potential life as “important,” “substantial,” and “legitimate,” it stops short of characterizing it as “compelling.” Indeed, one of the holdings of Roe v. Wade, and one this Court does not interpret Casey as having overruled, was that “[w]ith respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the ‘compelling’ point is at viability.”

Tell me, Judge Sparks, just what is “viability?” 24 weeks, 20 or 18 weeks?

link to Part 1 and “sticky” added September 5, 2011 12:19 PM BBN

Doctors wary of Perry’s stem cell treatment – The Boston Globe

Yeah, Daley destroys human embryos to harvest stem cells, even made a few designer embryos with the intention of destroying them. The International Stem Cell Research group fawned all over the faux Korean cloner.

These people to be have no business talking about ethics or “wise decisions.”

[S]ome scientists are questioning the safety and wisdom of Perry’s treatment, especially because it was not part of a clinical trial in which unproven therapies are tested in a way that helps protect patients and advances medical knowledge.

Perry “exercised poor judgment’’ to try it, said Dr. George Q. Daley of Children’s Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. “As a highly influential person of power, Perry’s actions have the unfortunate potential to push desperate patients into the clinics of quacks’’ who are selling unproven treatments “for everything from Alzheimer’s to autism.’’

Daley is past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, a group of 3,000 scientists and others in the field. He favors stem cell research. But of Perry’s treatment he said: “I would never in a million years accept for one of my family members to undergo this.’’

via Doctors wary of Perry’s stem cell treatment – The Boston Globe.

The United Nations Bans Opposition to Its Global Tax Design Meeting

News on UN meeting on taxing carbon and energy, in Japan July 13-14, from Cathie Adams and the Eagle Forum:

The Committee consists of representatives from 40 nations, including the U.S., who are considering taxes on carbon, international aviation and shipping, international financial transactions and a wire tax for producing electricity. The UN is also pushing for removal of fossil fuel subsidies and redirecting them to its international green agenda, which would cause the U.S. to be even more dependent on foreign oil.

The purpose of the Fund is to enable the UN to implement its global blueprint for sustainable development called Agenda 21. This green agenda is the new Marxism that requires government ensured economic equity and environmental neutrality. Agenda 21 is not a treaty, but a plan of action produced by the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

via The United Nations Bans Opposition to Its Global Tax Design Meeting.

Meatheads: MD Anderson grilling scare won’t cure cancer or cover up failure |

When will our experts  learn to be responsible and careful? Junk Science exposes a silly press release from what should be a careful, reliable source.

Meatheads: MD Anderson grilling scare won’t cure cancer or cover up failure |

@bnuckols tweets

Click here to get your “Choose Life” license plate

Rick Perry RickPAC

Yes, I'm still for Governor Perry!


What to read around here