I’m going to start with a recent pair of conversations in my life, and use that as a jumping off point to talk about who gets to define what abuse is, and who gets to set boundaries. People in my local community may well recognise the people involved from their behaviour, and while backlash due to that bothers me, it bothers me more that the abusive behaviour is tolerated.
Category Archives: health
I recorded a podcast on srslywrong, and it was released last night. I’m fairly pro-GMO (generally speaking), so I was asked to take the pro-GMO side of a debate. It turned into more of a discussion of GMOs rather than a debate, and I’m pretty happy with the results.
I’m interested in feedback here, but bear in mind a couple things:
1) My background is not biology or science. I regrettably misspoke a few times in this (e.g. when I conflated genes for Roundup resistance with genes for the production of BT, and when I had a brain fart about bacteria being prokaryotes).
2) I’m not interested in yelling at people.
3) I’m interested in pushing broad strokes and general understanding, rather than devolving down nit-picky tangents. There’s a whole bunch of areas where I could have jumped down Eric/Cody’s throat for things that he said that I considered to be just plain ‘wrong’, but as they were tangential to the discussion, I left them alone. (and, to his credit, Eric/Cody cut me the same slack.
One of the biggest problems in medical research today is that we don’t have complete access to the clinical trials that a company did when testing their new products. While this may seem to be an issue of privacy (for the company), it’s more correctly viewed as a public health issue. Why? Because lies and misrepresentations matter.
I want to talk about ignorance. I mean, I often talk about ignorance, but this post will be about addressing Jon Stewart’s ignorance, regarding Information Technology (IT), specifically as it applies to the healthcare.gov website. I understand that Stewart’s main goal is to ‘be funny’, and to poke fun at the politics and policies of the US government. I get that. But it would also seem that he sees his mandate as poking fun in an informed manner, given his endless barbs and jibes for those politicians and public figures who say all manner of ignorant things. And with regards to healthcare.gov, his attacks on the US administration are embarrassingly uninformed.
A few days ago, as part of a twitter conversation I was having with the basically anonymous @SafeWaterHfx, I was sent an article in support of their claims that fluoride shouldn’t be added to municipal tap water. The anti-fluoridation crowd make a lot of noise online (they’re not unlike the anti-wifi folk in that regard), but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence in support of their position. Moreover, all the evidence seems to say that adding fluoride to municipal drinking water is a win in every possible way: it has a large positive effect on the population, it’s cheap, and it’s effective.
The argument that SafeWaterHalifax is putting forward (and you have to read between the lines as they’re either unwilling or unable to make an explicit direct statement) is that the levels of fluoridation in the municipal water in the US and Canada is harmful. Sure, they might prefer to couch that as “could be harmful”, but that’s just hedging. Given that they are arguing for it to be removed, you can’t make that argument on the basis that something “could be” harmful, without some sort of belief that it actually is.
I generally don’t like to reblog things, but this piece should be spread far and wide.
It should be a deep embarrassment to progressives, but the truth is that anti-GM activists are as guilty of anti-scientific thinking with regard to their pet subject as the Koch Brothers or the American Enterprise Institute are on global warming.
While there are a tiny number of scientists that question anthropogenic global warming, the overwhelming consensus is that human activity is responsible for the sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past two centuries. Equally, while Gilles-Eric Seralini may be a professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that there is no risk to human health or the environment from GM as a suite of techniques. Pointing at Seralini’s work and shouting “Look! Science-y!” ain’t enough.
This 2013 statement from the AAAS on the subject really does give a sense of how anti-GM is as fringe as climate denialism:
“The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe. The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.”
Sometimes terrible things (for a certain value of ‘terrible’) make their way onto your Facebook feed, and sometimes it’s important to dissect them, to display their entirely non-functional innards to the world. To proclaim “Really? I mean, really? You believed this?”
In a transparent attempt to latch on to the general list-mania that Buzzfeed and others use to drive traffic, the Oracletalk website has posted 10 Foods Sold in the U.S. That Are Banned Elsewhere. I really don’t have enough info to judge the rest of their website, but this is quite the indictment.
Oh, and interesting point of fact: the links are *really* hard to see on the page (really? You have black-ink links on a black-ink page? You seriously have to be *trying* to hide your links…), and this whole thing has been stolen from MSN. So yes, MSN also sucks giant donkey turds for publishing this crap.
This is my position on epistemology. Actually not just my position, but the position held by many people. While the route taken to this judgement is uniquely mine, the judgement itself (if not this exact expression of that judgement) is shared by many others the world over.
I’m going to deal with a few notions, and I’ll try to be as explicit as possible. If I say that “if you believe that it’s ok to sell alt-med services without some sort of concerted effort to determine if the actually work or not, then you are a moron”, then I will try to define “alt-med”, “alt-med services”, “selling alt-med services”, how “to determine if they actually work or not”, and (of course) “moron”.
I’ve lived in Canada since 2006 (minus an 18-month visit to Japan), but I keep getting surprised by things. I guess I assume a certain standard of consumer rights and protections that are simply absent here, and when they pop up I’m shocked. And kinda outraged. A recent example of this is Vega One Nutrional Shakes.
My opening assumption here is that Health Canada is the government-run body that oversees things we put in our body for either nutritional or medical reasons. In order to sell things, you need their approval, and if you start to screw up, then they can slap you on the wrist and make you stop selling those things.
This is not apparently the case.
I am irate. Look, I realise that I am in a position of privilege, and I realise that I’m not angry about this all the time because I’m male and that this is something that I have the privilege of simply not-concerning-myself-about for the vast bulk of my life.
I rationalise this as that I pay attention only insofar as harm is brought to my attention. And Ireland has ever-so-slowly been moving towards legalising abortion since 1992. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t know that abortion was illegal in Ireland. My bad. Did you know that it was actually illegal for doctors to tell patients about their abortion options in other countries? And that it was illegal for people to travel to another country for an abortion? No? Well, anyway, we were focused on my privilege, so let’s keep on topic.