RCimT: Religion/sexuality link roundup

Been a while since I’ve done one of these! I have to get some tabs off my Firefox and I don’t really have a lot of time to blog them individually, so here you are.

In case you haven’t seen it, Stephanie has weighed in on the hilarious conflation of sex-positivity and pedophilia a theist has accused Justin me of recently. As is her wont, Stephanie did not address the hilariousness of the religious apologist’s claims. Instead, she posted an essay, and a suicide note, that will cut you to the quick, no matter where you believe the source for morals might be. Hopefully the apologist will simply shrivel up and blow away at this. I mean, I doubt it, but I can’t help but hope so.
[Read more…]

British Medical Journal: Wakefield study “an elaborate fraud”

To anyone who’s been at all interested in the pseudoscientific nonsense that’s sprung up around vaccines, claiming to link them to autism, this is excellent news. Andrew Wakefield, now stripped of his medical degree for admitting to falsifying data in his infamous MMR-Autism study (the lie that launched Jenny McCarthy’s “mommy knows better than science” career) has been outright accused of “elaborate fraud” by the British Medical Journal after a very thorough investigation into his study. This is important, not only because the UK is one of the most hostile jurisdictions to libel/slander in the world (and therefore this case against him must be exceedingly well documented), but also because this is the first time someone has unearthed solid evidence and accused Wakefield of mendacity rather than error in building his false case against the MMR vaccine. The BMJ’s summary table:

How the link was fixed

The Lancet paper was a case series of 12 child patients; it reported a proposed “new syndrome” of enterocolitis and regressive autism and associated this with MMR as an “apparent precipitating event.” But in fact:

  • Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism

  • Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were “previously normal,” five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns

  • Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioural symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination

  • In nine cases, unremarkable colonic histopathology results—noting no or minimal fluctuations in inflammatory cell populations—were changed after a medical school “research review” to “non-specific colitis”

  • The parents of eight children were reported as blaming MMR, but 11 families made this allegation at the hospital. The exclusion of three allegations—all giving times to onset of problems in months—helped to create the appearance of a 14 day temporal link

  • Patients were recruited through anti-MMR campaigners, and the study was commissioned and funded for planned litigation

Andrew Wakefield spawned a legion of pseudoscientists who have sowed misinformation and uncertainty about vaccines, and CHILDREN HAVE DIED BECAUSE OF IT. And he did it all because he had a patent on a competing way to vaccinate kids. And he was paid over £450000 by lawyers who were involved in trying to build cases against the medical community on behalf of parents of autistic children.

Fraud doesn’t even begin to cover it. The man is a mass murderer, and beyond that, has spawned a movement of well-meaning but misguided mothers to perpetuate the lies that are empirically harming children. Harming children and breaking down herd immunity against certain diseases, potentially giving them purchase to resurface in new and novel ways. If some kind of super-mumps appears and decimates populations, that blood should rightly be on his head.

Maybe all the money he’s made off these dead, dying and potential future dead kids, will help him buy a new conscience.

Wow, out of context much?

Written by my wife, Jodi. Her account didn’t get migrated for some reason.

Wow, just wow.

Anyone who read my sex-positive post a few days ago (if you haven’t you should) really needs to see this for a laugh.

I’m quoting the whole post here since it’s fairly short and I want to preserve it in the case that it gets removed. Clicky to read.
[Read more…]

Undead Nightmare OST: Bad Voodoo by The Kreeps

This song started playing right before the final mission of the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare single player campaign. This song alone made me very happy to have gotten the pack. You know, never mind that it was a cowboy game about zombies… as if that wasn’t fucking cool enough on its own. For ten bucks, it added easily another 30 hours of gameplay to the game, and probably twice that if you want to get all the trophies. (I haven’t yet. Still have to save all the Missing Souls and finish the treasure hunts. And Jodi’s been helping with the challenges to a significant degree — to the point of practically having done them all herself, even.)

Anyway, good song. Good add-on. Worth the money. RDR is also well worth the money in and of itself, for however much stock you put in my gaming opinion.

How does one prove astrology? BY STARTING OVER.

The undying zombie astrology thread has attracted another latecomer to the party, this time Curtis Manwaring of Astrology X-Files, an astrology software developer who put together a seemingly testable hypothesis and added it as a comment on that thread. I’m moving my response to its own post, because frankly, nobody seems to be reading any of the follow-ups that have linked to it, and would rather continue the fight there. I’m tired of the single zombie thread, which is responsible for the vast majority of my database difficulties, causing me to hack my website to absurd degrees as a result. If it keeps attracting newcomers, I’ll close it, and add a comment saying “this post is closed, please visit any of the posts linked on page 9 of the comments if you want to continue the discussion.”

The meat of Curtis’ comment appears to be a way to test astrology, or at least one aspect of it. My problem with the suggestion is the same that I’ve had with the concept of astrology as a whole — it depends on a foundation that is simply not there. It builds on hypotheses that have simply never been proven, but rather always taken for granted. For instance, the hypothesis that there is any sort of correlation between the planets’ movements and people’s individual lives. Beyond this, much of what he suggests appears to disagree with other astrologers in the thread — even if you exclude Jamie “Darkstar” Funk of Dark Star Astrology (who has since attempted to shed his association with his ridiculous arguments here by changing his name). And to make matters worse, it appears to misunderstand statistical significance, the importance of sample sizes, and the importance of controlling for variables.

This is, as all my discussions against unfalsifiable and self-perpetuating memes, a long one. Grab a coffee.
[Read more…]

This world is overpopulated. We’ve outstripped our planet’s resources.

National Geographic’s video about the exploding human population. To be clear (though the video says as much): the human population problem is not about geographical space. It is about sustainability, e.g. food production and water availability, and how much CO2 production that we produce that can be absorbed by the trees that we’ve left standing.

Hat tip to Brian Gregory, and my beloved wife for pointing me to it.

Assange and the Fallacy Fanboys

The Julian Assange rape case, as I’ve asserted elsewhere, is separate and distinct from the ongoing Wikileaks fallout. However, as with most such celebrities in a sudden and potentially career-ending scandal, the advent of the rape allegations against him have caused any number of conspiracy theorists to emerge from the woodworks — not only to defend Assange as the victim of an international conspiracy perpetrated by the Evil American Empire, but to simultaneously smear the two women who allege he took advantage of them, using any number of rape myths to do so. Among the more galling of these fallacies is the repeated assertion that the allegations against him are “sex by surprise”, which is in actuality a “polite company” euphemism for rape in Sweden.

In taking to the field on various forums discussing the rape allegations, Stephanie Zvan has evidently noted some disturbing trends amongst those conspiracy theorists and other fanboys. She’s begun cataloguing them in the following posts:
[Read more…]