Ted Cruz told to butt out by Australian political leader

The chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory did not take kindly to Ted Cruz criticizing his vaccine mandate, and told him to buzz off.

The scientific consensus on climate change is overwhelmingly strong

A new study finds that the scientific consensus that humans are altering the climate has passed the 99.9% level.

The degree of scientific certainty about the impact of greenhouse gases is now similar to the level of agreement on evolution and plate tectonics, the authors say, based on a survey of nearly 90,000 climate-related studies. This means there is practically no doubt among experts that burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, coal, peat and trees, is heating the planet and causing more extreme weather.

One has to parse statistics like this carefully to see exactly what has been measured.

The latest survey of peer-reviewed literature published from 2012 to November 2020 was conducted in two stages. First, the researchers examined a random sample of 3,000 studies, in which they found only found four papers that were sceptical that the climate crisis was caused by humans. Second, they searched the full database of 88,125 studies for keywords linked to climate scepticism such as “natural cycles” and “cosmic rays”, which yielded 28 papers, all published in minor journals.

“It is really case closed. There is nobody of significance in the scientific community who doubts human-caused climate change,” said the lead author, Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at Cornell University.

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Medicine by law

People increasingly use the internet to explore medical issues. That is in general a good thing, provided they are careful about using credible sources for their information and are not too credulous about what they find. Being more knowledgeable about their own health can make for more fruitful conversations with their physicians.

But the old saying ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ can sometimes kick in and people can decide that they know more than their physician, or indeed the entire medical profession, and demand specific treatments. They especially do this when it comes to ‘off-label’ uses of drugs, when people ask that a drug that has been shown to be effective in treating one condition be used to treat a different condition where its efficacy or even safety has not been established. People sometimes seize upon anecdotes about its use to demand that it be prescribed for them.
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Prevention and cures

There is an old proverb that says that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. While it is good advice generally, when it comes to health care, one has to be cautious about overdoing prevention.

My former physician in Cleveland before he retired was very much into preventative care. At any sign of something that seemed like an early warning sign, he would suggest prophylactic measures. He would prescribe diagnostic tests and look for signs that something needed attention. So when it seemed like my bone density was slightly lower than it ought to be, a symptom known as osteopenia (which is not the same as osteoporosis which is manifestly low bone density), he suggested that I take daily doses of the drug alendronate (which is marketed under the name Fosomax) which purports to increase bone density. I bought a supply but never got around to taking it and decided to wait awhile. Why? Because in general, I try to avoid routine medicine intake. Since my bone density was still close to normal, I decided to not take any medication to treat it until the signs worsened. After all, I was being compared to the western norm while that may have been my bone density all along. I told him of my decision and he understood it.
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Who knew?

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Fantasyland) said that the horse de-worming medicine Ivermectin that the nutjobs are pushing as a covid treatment, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Surely she could take a little more care when making stuff up and at least say that it won the prize for medicine, though even then the prize is given to people and not products. We are entitled to expect better lies from our elected representatives. These people really have contempt for their followers.

Show some respect, Marjorie!

If you thought that misinformation on English internet sites was bad …

… John Oliver walks us through the nightmare on the internet in the languages of immigrant communities where it seems to be totally unchecked. For example, while Alex Jones has been booted from YouTube for spreading falsehoods, a Vietnamese clone of his is running wild saying pretty much the same things. For many older immigrants with poor knowledge of English, these ‘news’ feeds are their only sources of information. Oliver says that young immigrants despair of how their elderly relatives are being misled.

Getting vaccinated is not just a matter of personal choice

The demand by some states and companies that people must be vaccinated in certain situations is playing out in an interesting manner in the National Basketball League. Two prominent players Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving had both refused to say whether they were vaccinated and had told people to respect their personal choice. That could have resulted in them not being allowed to play in states that require vaccinations and this would mean that Irving would be prohibited from playing in all home games in New York and Wiggins in San Francisco.
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Seeing the beautiful but invisible world around us

I love watching videos of animals and plants that use camera technology to reveal what is invisible to the naked eye, either by using time-lapse techniques to speed up the extremely slow or high speed cameras to slow down the incredibly quick.

In this video, biologist Adrian Smith films seven species of moths with high-speed cameras to show how beautiful and graceful they are. Films such as these remind me how limited is the range of our senses. There is an incredibly beautiful world that is all around us that we just do not see. Thanks to this technology, we now can.

You might think of moths primarily as the pesky creatures that get drawn to your lamplight and love nothing more than gnawing through your well-worn knitwear. However, as this video from the Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University shows, they can also be quite majestic – especially when captured on ‘fancy science cameras’. Shooting seven different moth species at a whopping 6,000 frames per second (fps) – compared with the standard 24 fps for film and television – the biologist Adrian Smith, who heads the research lab, guides viewers through the incredible biophysics of moth flight.

The other vaccine we need

The WHO has rolled out the world’s first malaria vaccine to all children in Africa. The vaccine was developed way back in 1987. It is only 30% effective and administering it is cumbersome because it requires four doses and protection fades after four months. But given that there are more that 200 million cases and 400,000 deaths per year due to malaria, the impact could still be large.

Because of the heat and poverty, many children in Africa sleep out in the open without protective nets covering them, making them highly vulnerable to mosquito bites.

Malaria is a major scourge and the world needs a much better malaria vaccine. Maybe the new vaccine-making techniques developed to deal with the coronaviruses can be adapted to find one for malaria.