Red Pines

GrrlScientist inspired me to upload some of my Up North pics.

Red pine groves on granite outcrops are a characteristic feature of Algonquin Park.

Red Pines have reddish bark which flakes off in thin scales.

Their needles come in groups of two.

L’affaire Lenski continues

When will the stupidity end?

Really. When?

As long as Conservapedia exists, the answer will elude us. The latest feculent flow of irrational idiocy concerns the Lenski Affair.

Just to remind you, a biologist named Lenski did a very cool experiment regarding evolution in E.coli. Some creationist cult leader was displeased. Since his god has apparently refused to smite the biologist, the cult leader has looked into legal remedies in the fight against biology. Apparently, his god isn’t smart enough to have come up with evolution.

Now it appears that an open letter is being drafted to the cultists. This is way too much fun.

I love careless stupidity

Sometimes things just fall into your lap. This evening I was working on a different piece, and not getting very far, when an email arrived in my in-box.

You see, when you write for the 21st most influential science blog, you get a lot of unsolicited mail (OK, fine…I get spam in my blog-related inbox. But my spam is cool.)

What’s great about a lot of this spam is that it is usually written by an actual person, and directed at me by name, which means they had to at least glance at the blog. In this case, a “glance” was all, or perhaps the writer simply suffers from poor reading comprehension. My latest correspondent is selling an herbal extract for diabetes. It seems unlikely that she’s read my writing about this particular topic. See, as an internist, I’m very well-trained in the management of diabetes. It’s what I do. And I hate, HATE, people who interfere with the treatment of this very serious disease with a bunch of cult medicine bullshit.
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Medical Hypotheses—“just make shit up; we’ll publish it”

Orac was kind enough to pollute my inbox with the latest idiocy from the journal that has never met a crank it didn’t like. As Orac says, “Medical Hypotheses [is] the journal where the editors encourage the authors to make shit up.”

Before I tell you about the latest “hypothesis”, let me give you an idea of what kind of thinking goes into this publication. The latest issue has an editorial that argues that it is the “maverick” scientist who makes the real scientific breakthroughs, and that teamwork is only for the “modestly talented”.
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Eating can be bad for your health. Oh, and don’t forget the phages.

Sure, we have obesity problems in this country, but we also have more direct food safety problems. Summer has brought with it news of the bungled tomato-Salmonella affair, and now, from the Midwest, contaminated beef.

One of our local supermarket chains has been forced to recall hamburger meat because of over a dozen cases of E. coli-related disease. These cases have occurred over a wide area, and the bacteria are genetically linked, indicating a likely common source.
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As goes Vermont…

I hadn’t realized that Vermont has passed a law requiring insurers to cover naturopathic care.

We’ve covered extensively the quackery that is naturopathy, but really, if a patient chooses to see a quack, it’s their business. But with health care costs soaring, requiring insurers to pay for voodoo is a rather bad idea. Already, many plans cover chiropractic, another unproven treatment. Throwing more health care dollars at more unproved and disproved treatments will help no one (except the quacks who have boat payments to make).

There are many causes of high costs of health care: we hate the idea of rationing, so many American cities have more MRIs than the whole country of Canada; we incentivize doctors and others to order tests and treatments that may or may not be necessary; we inadequately reimburse preventative care. The list goes on.

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