Quickies

Quickies: Fairy Circles, Bile Beans, and Vaccine Refusers

  • Study: vaccine refusers helped spark recent measles and whooping cough outbreaks – “Children with vaccine exemptions are at much greater risk of being infected with measles than fully vaccinated children. In one study the researchers looked at, the risk was 35 times that of the vaccinated population. Of the total measles cases, 178 were younger than 12 months — babies too young to get shots.”
  • Teen girls who use IUDs to prevent pregnancy often skip condoms – “The study found that high school girls using LARCs were 60 percent less likely to also be using a condom during sex than the girls who were taking oral contraceptives. They were also more likely to have reported two or more recent sexual partners, which increases their risk for STDs and STIs.”
  • What Causes These Mysterious Fairy Circles? – “They think the circles occur because plants engage in a tug-of-war for water and other scarce nutrients. Due to their battles, the landscape “self-organizes” into rings of deep-rooted grasses, draining water from a central reservoir where no other plants can thrive.”
  • An unhealthy obsession with p-values is ruining science – “But even if you’re an optimist, the new study suggests the entire biomedical world has been furiously chasing statistical significance, potentially giving dubious results the appearance of validity by churning them through this increasingly popular statistical method, or simply suppressing important results that don’t look significant enough.”
  • The Problematic Rape Reporting On ‘This American Life’ – “The show’s fumbling of the story becomes particularly apparent when it’s compared to the reporting of The Marshall Project (in collaboration with ProPublica), which initially covered the story last year and worked with TAL on their segment. The Marshall Project won a Polk Award for their reporting, which includes some crucial components left out by TAL.”
  • Bile Beans, The Incognito Laxative That Claimed to Be A Cure-All – “Headache? Stomachache? Blackheads? Cramps? These days, such a panoply of ailments would require a variety of pills, if not a trip to the doctor. But if you were facing these symptoms in the early 1900s, you might just pop a couple of Bile Beans: black, gelatinous beans that—despite legal action, a foul smell, and general medical uselessness—captured the hearts, minds, wallets, and intestinal tracts of 20th-century hypochondriacs worldwide.”
  • How Can You Listen to Music When You Can’t Really Hear? – “Music is far more complex than speech, and people with the implants may be overwhelmed with so much auditory information. So Lalwani’s team of medical students and audiologists is pinpointing exactly which parts of music are critical for enjoyment and which can be stripped away.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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1 Comment

  1. March 16, 2016 at 10:51 am —

    This should surprise no one with the antivaxxers.

    Hey, one nice thing about the election is it’s given me the perfect metaphor for alties: An ideal medical system is Bernie, what we currently have is Hillary, and alties are Trump.

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