Posts Tagged ‘disease’

Homeopathic Snake Oil Fuels the Measles Crisis

June 25, 2019

Homeopathic Snake Oil Fuels the Measles Crisis

Kate Birch, a homeopath based in Minnesota, is a leading quack in the lunatic anti-vaxxer campaign behind the raging measles epidemic plaguing America’s children. Homeopathic products are essentially small vials of very expensive water or alcohol masquerading as preventatives and cures for diseases and ailments. Substances they contain are so diluted that the products are essentially placebos.

Why, you may ask, doesn’t the FDA regulate this kind of bunkum? An original Senate sponsor of the 1938 “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act” was a dean at a Homeopathic Medical College, and made sure the act identified all homeopathic swill as drugs. Existing FDA regs are, appropriately, watered-down. Since umpteen-hundred scientific studies show that homeopathic medicine doesn’t work, even the woo-woo department of NIH, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, points out that homeopathy is bunk.


“US homeopaths claim ‘therapies’ prevent measles and ‘cure’ autism,” Ed Pilkington, The Guardian


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The Donald’s Diagnosis

July 9, 2015

The Donald's Diagnosis

In a three-page, 881 word statement Monday afternoon, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump clarified statements he made on June 16th. Mexican immigrants, he claimed, are not just drug dealers, killers, and rapists; they’re responsible for “tremendous infectious disease … pouring across the border.”

There would be good reason to fear immigrant-borne epidemics if vaccination rates in Mexico and Central America were not among the highest in the world. The measles vaccination rate in those countries, in fact, is higher than that of the US. “If anything,” points out Peter Weber, “those countries should be concerned about Americans coming down to visit.”

Of course, it’s not like Mr. Trump believes in vaccination … or climate change or Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth, come to think of it.

So Donald Trump is no physician. Neither is Maria Konnikova, but she offers a very convincing diagnosis of  Donald Trump: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.


“Donald Trump’s most delusional statement yet: ‘I’ll win the Latino vote,’” Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

“Donald Trump: The Democrats’ Best Campaign Asset,” Bill Humphrey and Stephan Richter, The Globalist

“Donald Trump is the ultimate opportunist: Why his racist theatrics—and surging popularity—explain everything about the modern GOP,” Heather Digby Parton, Salon



Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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In the USA, the Real Plague Is Fear-Mongering.

October 22, 2014

In the USA, the Real Plague Is Fear-Mongering.

The Ebola virus is deadly for those who catch it; i.e., most of them die. But it’s transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, so it’s not very contagious and spreads slowly. You’re very much more likely to catch and die from the Flu. Unlike the Flu, Ebola isn’t transmitted through the air, but that doesn’t stop American fear-mongers from poisoning the political and media atmosphere with Ebola panic:

“‘Fear-bola’ hits epidemic proportions,” Mel Robbins, CNN

‘Ebola Is Bringing Out The Worst In Cable News,” Joaquim Moreira Salles, Think Progress

“PBS science reporter: Fox’s Ebola coverage is ‘a level of ignorance we should not allow,'” David Edwards, Raw Story

“CBS Medical Correspondent Shuts Down Fear-Mongering On The Transmission Of Ebola,” Media Matters

“You’re more likely to die of a shark attack or bee sting than contract Ebola in the US,” German Lopez, Vox

“Some Fear Ebola Outbreak Could Make Nation Turn to Science,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker


Backyard Chickens Spread Salmonella

September 29, 2014

Backyard Chickens Spread Salmonella

Backyard chickens rule the roost at local regulation hearings, and designer coops and exotic chickens are the new status symbols. The media and Web may abound with pictures of cute kids cuddling hens, but pet family fowls are not an unmixed blessing:

“As of September 23, 2014, a total of 344 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 42 states and Puerto Rico.

31% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio.

78% of ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.”

— “Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


“Backyard Chickens: Cute, Trendy Spreaders Of Salmonella,” Nancy Shute, NPR


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Image from the National Nursery Book

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Facebook is Like a Disease, But Recovery is Near

April 3, 2014

Facebook is Like a Disease, But Recovery is Near

“A new study of Facebook has predicted that the social network’s rapid growth will prove unsustainable and that the site will lose 80 per cent of its users between 2015 and 2017.

A group of Princeton researchers has compared Facebook to a highly infectious disease, claiming that after it reaches a certain critical mass of ‘infected’ users, these individuals will ‘recover’ and quit the site.”

— “Facebook is an ‘infectious disease’ and will lose 80% of users by 2017, according to researchers,” James Vincent, The Independent

If you’s like to see how Princeton’s engineers apply an epidemiological model to social media, you can read study here:

“Epidemiological modeling of online social network dynamics,” John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler, arXiv