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It’s amazing. This is the universal comic, it applies to everything right now.

Except spiders and cephalopods, that is. They’re looking better and better.

Monckton’s knickers twisted

Last month, I posted about that devastating critique of Monckton and global warming denial from John Abraham. Abraham teaches at St Thomas University, here in lovely Minnesota.

Monckton replied in a foaming, frothing lather of noise and evasion. It didn’t help his cause. The “response” is “magnificently bonkers”, and it’s mainly getting horse-laughs from the reality-based community. (The denialist community, on the other hand, thinks Monckton has Abraham trembling on the ropes, but then, they’re nuts.)

One telling point from Monckton is that he is demanding that St Thomas University take down Abraham’s talk and begin a disciplinary inquiry into Abraham. For what? I don’t know. I guess it’s just a desperate effort to silence his critics. Go ahead and leave a note in support, but right now, it’s not a worry. St Thomas has replied to Monckton.

We received your email response to our June 25, 2010 letter. The University of St Thomas respects your right to disagree with Professor Abraham, just as the University respects Professor Abraham’s right to disagree with you. What we object to are your personal attacks against Father Dease, and Professor Abraham, your inflammatory language, and your decision to disparage Professor Abraham, Father Dease and The University of St Thomas.

Please be advised that neither we nor the University of St Thomas will communicate with you any further about your decision to sully the University of St. Thomas, Professor Abraham, and others rather than to focus on the scholarly differences between you and Professor Abraham.

Signed: Phyllis Karasov, Moore Costellow and Hart, P.L.L.P.

Good work!

Al Gore gets a poll

Here’s a Fox-News-driven poll for you.

Should Al Gore remain on Apple’s Board of Directors?

Yes 48%
No 49%
Unsure 4%

What did Al Gore do to win this vote of no-confidence? Was he flirting with Linux, caught running Windows, abusing insider information to reap illegal profits from the booming iPhone business? None of the above. He attended a business meeting of the Apple board, and a few idiot stockholders carped about global warming. Which he ignored.

Look at the amazing reporting given by Fox News ‘reporter’ Gene Koprowski.

“Al Gore won a Nobel Prize and an Oscar for his film, An Inconvenient Truth. But in the last three months, as global warming has gone from a scientific near-certitude to the subject of satire, Gore — the public face of global warming — has been silent on the topic,” Koprowski reports. “The former vice president apparently finds it inconvenient even to answer calls to testify before the U.S. Senate. You can call him Al… but he won’t call back.”

“On Tuesday, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe — a prominent skeptic of global warming theory and the Republican leader of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee — issued a request for Gore to come testify on global warming,” Koprowski reports. “In an interview with FoxNews.com, Inhofe said he wants Gore to appear because ‘it will be interesting to ask him on what science he based his movie,’ a film the senator considers ‘science fiction.'”

“Gore has yet to respond, but that didn’t prevent him from causing a stir at Apple’s shareholder meeting Thursday. According to CNET, Gore was seated in the first row while several stockholders bashed his high-profile views on climate change. One reportedly said Gore ‘has become a laughingstock. The glaciers have not melted,'” Koprowski reports. “Gore did not reply, and he has not commented on his blog or Twitter feed.”

I knew Fox was bad, but I didn’t know it was that bad. The scientific consensus on global warming hasn’t changed a bit — it’s only become stronger over the past years. James Inhofe is a flaming moron, and when the scientific authority you turn to is a Republican politician, you’ve got to be desperate.

I was sent these nice graphic designs to illustrate denialism. Fox News is the consolidator of all those dishonest red hexagons that turn people into infectious disseminators of lies.

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The vaccine-autism argument suffers another failure

A special court has reached a decision: vaccines don’t cause autism. On one side were families with sad and tragic anecdotes of children with serious developmental disabilities, and on the other…

The government argued during the 2007 bench trials that the plaintiffs’ claims linking the vaccines with autism are not supported by “good science.”

Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine have found no credible link between vaccinations and autism.

It does not diminish the pain the families have gone through, but it’s not enough to announce that you suffer, and therefore you get to lash out at a target. The causal relationship has not been discovered to the satisfaction of either science or the law.

Anti-vax study a case of scientific fraud?

If you want to know where the current ridiculous anti-vaccination scare came from, there’s one well known source: Andrew Wakefield. He published a paper in 1998 that claimed there was a link between vaccination and autism that was a popular sensation, and had a dramatic effect.

Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.

Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.

Now for some shocking news — it looks like the data may have been faked.

The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.

Will this revelation matter? Not one bit. The anti-vaxers have ignored all the evidence that they are wrong so far, so one more demonstration that one of the primary promulgators of this nonsense was an outright fraud won’t change a thing, I’m afraid. This is still a clear-cut case where delusions can kill.

(via Phil)

Even sleazier than the DI

Climate change denialists have something in common with evolution denialists: they have a list of “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares,” just like the Discovery Institute’s list of hundreds of ‘scientists’ who “Dissent from Darwinism”. There is a difference, though: the DI got it’s list by asking crackpots and specialists in irrelevant disciplines to volunteer to sign on, so it is a real (but silly) list that exposes the existence of a tiny minority of loons within science.

The Heartland Institute, a think-tank for right-wing denialists, isn’t even that honest. They put their list together without consulting any of the authors they added to it — basically, anyone who published anything discussing the complexities or problems of climate analysis found their name added on to this list.

“I was surprised to find my name in the list of ‘Co-Authors’ in the Heartland Institute’s web page,” says Edward Cushing, professor emeritus in the U of M’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. “I resent their implication that I agree with one of more of their statements.”

Herbert Wright Jr. is a former regents professor in the U of M’s Department of Geology, Ecology and Botany who was also named by Avery. “I requested that my name be removed from the list,” Wright said, “but the perpetrator refused to do so.”

Dozens of scientists have demanded that their names be removed from the list and that they be issued an apology, but the Heartland Institute opted instead to simply change the name of the study from “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares” to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares.” In a release accompanying the name change, Heartland Institute’s Joseph Bast said the scientists “are embarrassed — as they should be — to see their names in a list of scientists whose peer-reviewed published work suggests the modern warming might be due to a natural 1,500-year climate cycle.”

“I suppose the list included anyone who had published on past climatic changes as inferred from the dated geologic record, even without reference to human factors,” said Wright, who did not seem the slightest bit embarrassed.

Wow. I never thought I’d find an anti-science outfit sleazier than the DI, but they’ve been topped.


Oops, spoke too soon — DI is pretty sleazy, too.