Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wired Gets It - Again

I just got my monthly dose of "Wired"... still in the print form, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a short, but very good interview with Simon Singh. If you don't know him, I'd recommend one of his excellent books:

He has spent the last two years fighting British Chiropractic Association's bogus libel lawsuit, and won!!!
In the interview, he talks about the lawsuit and science vs. pseudoscience struggle in general. In all, it's another proof that Wired is one of the few mainstream media outlets that promotes good and sound science.
As soon as the link is up on their page, I'll post it here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After the Debate

So, while I was unable to actually attend the debate, it seems that there was something interesting that happened there: John Tracy took a very typical right wing road, offending everyone and painting himself as the only one with any values:

John Tracy's comments at Pasco School Board candidate debate offend his rivals
So Tracy told the audience at Thursday's candidate debate at Pasco-Hernando Community College that he was the candidate of family values and integrity. Not just one of them. The one.
How funny...

There is more in the Gradebook Blog:

Pasco School Board candidate Rev. John Tracy defends his debate night comments

You have to love what Mr. Tracy concluded:
This particular article misrepresents my statements and fails to accurately set the context of the debate forum. Lesson learned. Voters beware! Do not trust the press.
That's right, blame the media for your own statements and try to twist the facts around, to make up your own reality. This attitude is so typical of the far right found everywhere, not only in this country.

We have to make sure we vote for someone much better to have any influence over our school system.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pasco School Board Candidates Debate

Interestingly, there will be a live debate tonight between 12 candidates for the Pasco School Board, as reported by St. Pete Times:

Hear the Pasco School Board candidates debate

I would love to see it, or at least have a chance to read an extensive report on what all of them had to say.
More to come...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time To Vote

Early elections are on around Pasco County, and this year one set of votes is the dearest to my heart: County School Board members. That's because I will soon have my son in the local school system and I would like to ensure that the system gets better, remains focused on good education and is not influenced by any ideology.
There is a broad set of candidates to select from, but one stands out of the crowd as particularly BAD. That's John Tracy. I have seen it coming long time ago, as I wrote here. While Tracy's web page has softened up a bit since last year, he still is for teaching creationism in public schools, as indicated in his very recent interview with St. Petersburg Times:
Tracy said he is not out to change the curriculum. Still, he said, students should have a choice about whether they want to learn about evolution in science classes. He also called for making sure that religious references are not wiped out of history books.

Tracy spoke about student equality, saying that schools should be neutral ground for people of all political and religious beliefs. He said schools need to deal with drug problems, which are growing. And as a parent who has his children in a private church school, he backed school choice.
The whole article: Pasco School Board race features five candidates with diverse views

No, students should not have a choice what to learn in science classes! They should learn SCIENCE! If Mr. Tracy wants to teach his (or any other views) in his church, that's fine with me, but science is not based on personal opinions and beliefs. That makes it easy on who NOT to vote for.

Florida Citizens for Science has a nice summary of this issue for Pasco County: Details on Pasco school board races

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: "Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search For a Cure

I've been gearing up to write something about this book for a few months now, but due to a complete lack of free time, as always it took me a bit more than I anticipated.

There is one simple sentence to describe this book: every new parent should read this one!!!
I wish this book had been out when my son was born, and my wife and I had to battle misinformation and pure nonsense of the anti-vaxx movement. It is consoling to know that we made all the right decisions at that time, even when the level of propaganda from the anti-vaxxers was reaching its peak.
"Autism's False Prophets" gives your an amazing perspective from the best source: Paul Offit is the top pediatrician and infectious diseases expert in the world. He's also an authority on vaccines, having co-invented one that's credited with savings hundreds of lives daily (see more info). He's been involved with the whole vaccines/autism controversy (not a real one, but that's how it is perceived) from the beginning and knows the details first hand.

The original publication date of this book was in 2008, which makes it slightly out of date, especially in light of recent events (Andrew Wakefield's original MMR paper retraction by Lancet, his medical licence being revoked in U.K. and numerous studies further discrediting any link between vaccines and autism), but the real value of this book and all the information it contains is in the fact that it shows how the whole MMR and autism link (and later just general vaccine/autism link) was manufactured and how the real data kept coming, showing there is no link at all. It also shows the unseen links behind some of the people "on the other side". We are used to hearing that it's the "big pharma" that influences our doctors, and it's the corporate interest and profit seeking that drive our medical establishement, but it is very educating to see that money might be behind some of the people who claim they are fighting for us, the consumers.

Unfortunately, even today, I still encounter people who refuse to believe and cause more harm than good, by spreading misinformation and sometimes pure lies to benefit their own, misguided causes. As we all know, the era of information abundance on the Internet makes making decisions much harder for many of us. It is even more important to find the right sources, and this book is the perfect one!