Sunday Science Update #4

It’s time for another Sunday Science Update – a brief rundown of three news items that I’ve stumbled across in my web surfing this past week. The Update is part of my year long resolution to further my knowledge by staying up to speed on the most recent news items from around the world of science. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. let’s get into it.

First up, ABC premieres a new show this week called Eli Stone. Normally I wouldn’t comment on ANOTHER courtroom drama making its way to television, but when I stumbled across this article, I decided to add it to the SSU.

Under pressure from the American Academy of Pediatricians, ABC tonight will include an extraordinary disclaimer on the first episode of its new series “Eli Stone” – reminding viewers that everything in the lawyer drama, which depicts real-life issues, is just fiction.

Why the unusual disclaimer? Because the show perpetuates an insidious myth – namely, that childhood vaccines are a cause of autism.

Very few things get me fired up as the bullshit idea that childhood vaccinations cause autism. Oprah and Jenny McCarthy have both tried peddling this garbage before along with a handful of other misinformed celebrities. There is nothing worse than a celebrity who has no idea what they are talking about spewing misinformation to the public. Just because they are on TV, doesn’t mean they know it all. The article makes a good point by stating:

“How outrageous is the episode? Consider how rare it is that a large group of physicians actually has the courage to take a stand like this – to risk coming off as censors. When else has such a large, mainstream group been able to reach a consensus and speak out against unscientific nonsense this way?

We should applaud the pediatricians’ move and encourage other serious science-oriented groups to take similar approaches in combating junk science.”

Eli Stone is just a fresh example of the way in which fictional entertainment can convey the wrong ideas to stupid people. The story is FICTION, but someone who doesn’t know any better will watch this show and automatically assume that there IS a link. Bam, fresh recruits for Oprah’s army. Truth be told: There is absolutely no scientific evidence that indicates vaccinations are linked to autism.

To further fortify this point I’m going to include this recent news item:

California Study Finds No Link Between Vaccines, Autism
The mercury-containing vaccine additive thimerosal is not a primary cause of autism, says a study published yesterday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.


Moving on, this next bit made me laugh.

NASA shuttle to launch Luke’s lightsaber
When the space shuttle Discovery launches the STS-120 crew in October, the force will be with them. Stowed on-board the orbiter, in addition to a new module for the international space station, will be the original prop lightsaber used by actor Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the 1983 movie “Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”. The laser-like weapon is being flown to the orbiting outpost and back in honor of the 30th anniversary of the George Lucas-created franchise.

Let’s hope the diatum power cell is fully charged and that someone has an extra Kaiburr crystals just in case.

Finally, something that has always intrigued me is the idea of exposing babies to specific types of music in order to promote higher levels of brain function. When I stumbled across this article in Scientific American’s Fact or Fiction section, I had to explore it.

Fact or Fiction?: Babies Exposed to Classical Music End Up Smarter
Is the so-called “Mozart effect” a scientifically supported, developmental leg up or a media-fueled “scientific legend”?

Regardless, while I won’t go so far as to put headphones on my future wife’s belly, my little squirt is going to have a Bose stereo chirping beside the crib. Mozart, Bach, and ah yes, John Williams.

That’s all for this week. Feel free to comment on any of the news items you read here.

Thanks for reading!


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