Science smorgasbord

It is been a while since I last posted, but I kept collecting links of interest (to me, at least), so I’ll make a few group posts about correlated issues.

The first (this one) is about a number of disjoint science items that share in common the good kind of skepticism.

First of all, yet another takedown of climate change denialism: The top ten global warming ‘skeptic’ arguments answered. I hope that Neil deGrasse Tyson’s didactic exposure of the underlying science will finally convince those who still can be convinced that this is a real "thing"…

Second, the same scientist who posited that there might be other health issues related to gluten than just celiac disease now indicates that this is not true: Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist. This is actual science in action, but I doubt it will have any effect on the "gluten-free" craze.

A promising story made the rounds: Modified measles virus destroys cancer in early clinical trial. But, as always, it is worth repeating the cautionary note: "Despite promise in the treatment, it’s important to note that this is still extremely early. Other promising virus-based cancer treatments have been tested many times in the past but none have advanced far through clinical trials. Incredibly thorough trials with far more patients will be required as these results are far from definitive. Dr. Stephen Russell warned: ‘We have an enormous amount of work to do to determine if this is generalizable and how to best apply the approach to other cancer patients.’ He added, ‘We haven’t discovered a cure for cancer here". (emphasis mine)

Finally, a scientist who is also a mother and a pregnant woman addresses some of the mythology around home births: Childbirth: why I take the scientific approach to having a baby. Two excerpts, just to give an idea: "When it comes to the safety of giving birth in different settings in the UK, a mammoth piece of research was published in 2011: the Birthplace in England research programme looked at 65,000 women, with births planned to take place at home, in midwife-led units, and in hospital. In all those births, there were just 250 where babies died or suffered injury (about four per 1,000). The study found that, for first-time mums, the risk of adverse outcome was higher in home births compared with hospitals (9.3 per 1,000 births compared with 5.3 per 1,000), but there was no difference in risk for women who’d had children before."

And this is, im my opinion, the key issue: "Another problem is the politics of birth. It can be quite hard for mums-to-be to access impartial evidence and advice when it seems there are plenty of people wanting to influence your decision in one way or the other".


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