Skeptifem: Whining about Evolutionary Psychology

People pointed out to Jesse Bering that his study in evolutionary psychology didn’t prove about rape what he was trying to test; so instead of admitting that it missed the mark, he whined about how ethics committees wouldn’t pass the kind of experiment that would prove it. So? It’s not ethical to design an experiment that doesn’t prove something and then say that it does. Skeptifem has a good discussion.
Even the most piss-poor studies with questionable conclusions are reported in the popular literature, repeated in magazines, and end up in Reader’s Digest and soak into the “popular wisdom,” where they taint attitudes towards women for generations.

Can we eradicate polio?

The Economist has an article about the Campaign to wipe out polio.

ONLY one disease has ever been eradicated—smallpox—but Davos Man thinks a second is possible. In a packed congress hall today full of world leaders and celebrities, David Cameron and Bill Gates announced a bold campaign to wipe out polio over the next few years.Mr Cameron said Britain would double its aid spending on polio, from its current commitment of £20m a year in 2011 and 2012 to £40m each year. However, mindful of domestic politics in a time of budget-slashing, he insisted the new government money must be matched by five times as much in new contributions from others.

Ever the philanthrocapitalist of the hour, Mr Gates then announced that the leader of the United Arab Emirates is giving $13m to polio and, as he was walking off stage—rather casually, almost as if it were an afterthought—that his foundation will also increase its polio funding by over $100m, thus kickstarting the race for matching funds.

There’s a new bivalent vaccine that’s proving very effective.

Researchers in India and Switzerland have found that a relatively new vaccine may hold the key to eradicating Polio from the face of the Earth. Bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV) not only performs as well as traditional vaccines, it does so against a wider range of virus types. It may allow children in Polio hotspots to develop resistance to more strains of the virus quicker, cutting down on infections, and stopping pandemics from growing. The vaccine is already in wide use in Afghanistan. One in two hundred infected will develop paralysis and between 5-10% of those will die from inability to breathe.

WHO experts said as compared to triple vaccines, a significantly higher immune response was induced by the bivalent oral polio vaccine, known as bOPV. WHO spokesman Rod Curtis said that about 55.7 million who will receive the bivalent vaccine will be included in some 72 million children in 15 countries across Africa who this week would be vaccinated in immunization campaigns.

Cuts to BBC World Service

Two days ago, the BBC announced that it had selected its cuts to the BBC World Service to reduce its budget by 16%. It will have to cut to an annual saving of £46 million by April 2014, after which it will be funded entirely by licence. It’s saying goodbye to some of its 180 million listeners. More here: Beeb World Service cuts.

Are you a supertaster?

Supertaster tongue tip vs. normal taster tongue tip—check your own.

the tips of two tongues, one with many more visible taste-buds

Left, supertaster with more fungiform papillae

Distribution is 25% very strong, 50% medium, 25% non-taster for propylthiouracil (PROP) as tasting bitter, so it’s a single gene.

Palin the egomaniac doesn’t care what danger she spreads

Pallid Palin knew that her rhetoric was encouraging a climate of violence. The U.S. Secret Service told her that when she started her rhetorical campaign of violence against the Democratic candidate, death threats were up against the Obama family and asked her to tone it down. She refused.

From Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling “terrorist” and “kill him” until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric. But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further. The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks.


Details of the spike in threats to Mr Obama come as a report last week by security and intelligence analysts Stratfor, warned that he is a high risk target for racist gunmen. It concluded: “Two plots to assassinate Obama were broken up during the campaign season, and several more remain under investigation. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues.”

She knew what she was doing!

Hat tip to Sarah Jones, who reminds us of other violent reactions among Sarah’s followers. Go and read what she has to say, follow her links, and then let people know what kind of bully Palin is.

Ms Palin has seen the death threats her rabid, unstable “fans” have issued to anyone who dared to call Ms Palin accountable, including Senator Yee of California whose only crime was to ask the university where Ms Palin was speaking to disclose what it was paying her. For this, he received heinous death threats, faxes of a noose around his neck and President Obama’s neck, and ugly, vile disgusting rhetoric dripping with gutter hate only fit for the mentally unstable. But those are Ms Palin’s bestest fans.

I certainly hope that every single one of those threats fingerprinted or followed up by fax number and thoroughly investigated, with the threat-senders invited down to the police station for a little chat and criminally charged, every one, or at least treated to the sight of police officers, detectives, or Men in Black fingerprinting the fax machine, collecting the fax log, and correlating it against work attendance records in their offices.

Pleistocene fauna of Malta

Go to Tetrapod Zoology to read about giant swans and tiny elephants.

Wierd underwater statues

I’m not sure what the point is, but I like the statues. Jason DeCaires Taylor makes them by taking life moulds of ordinary people, then using the moulds to make statues of special, alkaline concrete that encourages the growth of corals. You can find them off the coast of Mexico. Environmental statement or tourist attraction?

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