A New Science Forum

November 25, 2019 at 11:41 pm (Activism, Alternative Medicine, Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Evidence, Good Science, Homeopathy, Vaccines) (, , , , , , , )

Excitingly, a new science forum Scrutable is here.

There’s a SCEINCE forum (officially known as the Nerd Lab) for discussion of, well, science – click here for breathless discussions of the latest research or to share your horror at the latest pronouncements from anti-vaccine commentators.

Science, Skeptic, Forum, Bulletin Board, PHPBB







There’s a second serious forum for Heavy Shit (AKA Weighty Matters) which contains serious topics for serious people. Click here if you’re seriously interested in such serious discussions. Srsly.

Discussion Forum, Politics, Environment, News, Business







You are also permitted to have fun, but only in the designated zones. No puns.

Oh, and one last thing: you might want to read the rules and abide by them.

Internet Forum, Bulletin Board, Moderators, Forum Mods

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For Ada Lovelace Day: Lucy Wills

October 7, 2011 at 1:01 am (Good Science) (, , , , , , , )

Lucy Wills was the haematologist who discovered folate, publishing reports of her studies into ‘anaemia of pregnancy’ in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.

Read the rest of this entry »

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For Ada Lovelace Day: Janet Lane-Claypon

March 24, 2010 at 8:30 am (Good Science, Miscellaneous) (, )

In honour of Ada Lovelace (one of the world’s first computer programmers), the http://findingada.com/ website aims to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science on March 24th – Ada Lovelace Day – with an international day of blogging. Here is my contribution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unsung Heroes

January 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm (Good Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In science and pseudoscience, some figures are much better known than others – but fame is not necessarily closely related to merit. I think the balance needs to be redressed somewhat. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defence Of Bloodletting

December 6, 2009 at 9:37 pm (Alternative Medicine, Chiropractic, Good Science, Homeopathy) (, , , , , , )

Bloodletting is sometimes used as an example of a medical treatment that we once thought plausible, but now view as ridiculous. It is compared with chiropractic, homeopathy, and other “Alternative Medicine” disciplines in order to ridicule them. However, we might have been unfair. It appears that bloodletting may actually be more valuable than the Alt Med treatments it is compared to. Read the rest of this entry »

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Measles and Vaccination

February 27, 2009 at 10:32 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Good Science) (, , , , , , , )

Today’s post looks at how serious measles is and what difference vaccination against measles has made. Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Psychology – Persuasion and the BNP

December 12, 2008 at 8:43 pm (Good Science) (, , )

The BPS Research Digest has a post up on the tools of persuasion used by the BNP. Here is a link to the abstract of the paper in question. There is discussion of the accentuation effect and essentialism. These are two concepts that are new to me – so it would almost certainly be better to read what BPS and the study authors have to say for yourselves rather than my uninformed witterings (or as well as I suppose, if you’ve got the time – I’ll try to be brief). There is also, later in the BPS post, reference to a “show concession” – this reminded me of Cialdini because his book Influence – Science and Practice refers to this phenomenon (albeit under a different name). Read the rest of this entry »

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Mmm… Mung Beans

August 13, 2008 at 8:12 pm (Good Science, Nutritionism) (, , , , , , )

Some time ago I wrote about a letter in J Biol Chem and referred, off-hand, to a paper on the Nutritive Properties of the Mung Bean. I am now returning to the Mung Bean [PDF]. Mung beans are not just for hippies and Gillian McKeith. Read the rest of this entry »

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Epidemiology – A Life Saver

April 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm (Bad Science, Good Science) (, , , , , , , , , )

This post might be more for the casual reader than skeptics and Bad Science bloggers. I’m sure they will already know far more about epidemiology than I do. Here we go anyway:

From time to time, I see criticism of epidemiology and the use of statistics. Usually on the basis that epidemiology “can’t prove anything” or is “not real evidence”. Sometimes a seemingly opposite tack is used: “oh, but you can use statistics to prove anything”. The criticism usually comes from someone whose own particular worldview is being challenged. Like, for instance, Dave Hitt. Dave Hitt features in this post on the Apathy Sketchpad blog. Or for another example of the statistically-challenged, there’s Gus from the JABS forum. [“Why is it you never listen to the evidence (the autistic children) and are only interested in the science and epidemiology provided by tabloid gutter press as it was hardly hard to see where the research had come from?”]

So what’s epidemiology ever done for us? There’s a couple of chaps I’d like you to meet first: Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill. Now quite apart from anything else Bradford-Hill did, he encouraged use of controlled trials (PDF) – something important in its own right. Bradford-Hill also helped to show, along with Doll, the part that tobacco smoking played in lung cancer. The original Doll/Bradford-Hill paper is available via Pubmed here and here as a PDF [which might take a while to download]. The authors concluded that “smoking is an important factor in the cause of carcinoma of the lung.” It’s now accepted (almost universally) that smoking is harmful – but how long might it have taken without the work of Doll and Bradford-Hill? Can you imagine what might have been if Doll and Bradford-Hill’s work had been ignored by a nation of Dave Hitts?

Another example of the usefulness of epidemiology and statistics is in the epidemiological approach to another notable condition. In Lange’s Medical Epidemiology (Third Edition – the Fourth Edition is available*), there is a description of a young man with no obvious underlying causes of immune dysfunction who is suffering from three concurrent infections. Within the preceding six months, three other patients with similar symptoms had been referred to the UCLA Medical Center. Other, similar reports were received by public health authorities and the CDC set up a task force to collect detailed information on those affected. Within months, the disease was named the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Epidemiological methods were used: to monitor the patterns of the occurrence of AIDS; to measure the rapidity of occurrence; and to search for causes by identifying risk factors. They were also used in determining case fatality, survival time and prognostic factors. Which I would have thought were all important things to know. Lange’s Medical Epidemiology tells us that “medical progress often is best advanced when the sciences that focus on subcellular and molecular basic research work in tandem with the population-oriented science of epidemiology. For example, as bench scientists were struggling to characterize the molecular properties of HIV, epidemiologists already determined that AIDS is a contagious disease that is spread through certain interpersonal behaviours. As the painstaking search continues for improved treatment, or even a cure or vaccine, public health professionals have recommended measures to prevent the spread of HIV by reducing the frequency of the fololwing high-risk practices: (1) casual, unprotected sex and (2) sharing needles among drug users.”

Cardiff University has a page with links to lists of Bradford-Hill’s principal publications and literature related to Bradford-Hill.
*McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division seems to be here, and the Fourth Edition of Medical Epidemiology is available here.

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