Science & Society

Games Don't Cause Rickets

In the latest bad science reporting saga, many media reports are saying that scientists have said that gaming causes rickets.  Just do a Google search for "games + rickets" to see some examples.  As soon as I see the headline: "X causes Y,say scientists", I reach for my bovex* filter.

During my childhood in the 1950s I never met anyone with rickets.  It was a scourge of Victorian england.  Its rise was due to a change of lifestyles in the industrial revolution: most children worked in factories or mines, rather than in the fields.  I have observed that people who spend most of their time indoors tend to wear more clothing out of doors.
UK Ban On Explosives Detector Exports

The ADE 651 is a lump of plastic with a wobbly telescopic antenna attached.  It is claimed by its manufacturers to be able to detect many things and substances at long ranges. 

The US Government says that during tests on a similar device it failed to detect a truck carrying a tonne of TNT when it drove up behind the operator.
Source: TimesOnLine

Science : It's More Than Just Words

Science, like law and many another discipline is widely noted for its jargon.  I love jargon because I love language.  I love language because I was blessed with parents who loved language.  I came to love science through being taught its experimental and investigative methods at school, overlaid on a strong foundation of inquisitiveness built at home.  Through studying the science of linguistics I came to understand that language is a common thread in all human endeavors.  To understand any branch of human endeavor, one must understand first how language may lead or mislead.
Based on a survey of UK science journalists and 52 in-depth interviews with specialist reporters and senior editors in the national news media, researchers from the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies say that specialist science news reporting in the UK is in relatively good health, but also warn that a wider crisis in journalism poses a serious threat to the quality and independence of science reporting.
Malnutrition higher in children born to child brides -

Infants born to child brides in India (married before the age of 18) have a higher risk of malnutrition than children born to older mothers, according to research published on today.  However, low birth weight and childhood mortality are not significantly linked with the age of the mother, concludes the research, and the child's malnutrition was not related to the mother's body mass index.
As expected, this last round of information that corrected an error regarding the demise of the Himalayan Glaciers is now being touted as the latest evidence of the lies surrounding global warming.  Of course, the global warming "deniers" want to use this as evidence of deception, instead of acknowledging it as an error.

Instead of considering that it is the publication of such corrections which demonstrates how science works to resolve its mistakes and to validate its data, the global warming "deniers" just want to continue on their way with no more evidence than their beliefs.
I'm up in Ann Arbor, doing a little mathematical modeling of gene regulation here at the U. of Michigan.

On my way to find some Chinese food, I stumbled upon an amazing book store called Dawn Treader. Always in quest of finding old paperbacks on my list of post-apocalyptic sci-fi (I've been intending to write more about a little science and post-apocalyptic fiction project I've been working on; unfortunately my days are limited to 24 hours), I went in and found a treasure trove of sci-fi, especially from the 30's-70's.

Here's my haul, at $2-3 a piece:

When Worlds Collide - Philip Wylie&Edwin Ballmer, 1932
Jeffrey Shallit takes down creationist nonsense about information theory in Stephen Meyer's latest creationist offering, Signature in the Cell:

In Signature in the Cell, Meyer talks about three different kinds of information: Shannon information, Kolmogorov information, and a third kind that has been invented by ID creationists and has no coherent definition. I'll call the third kind "creationist information"...
And why they make a lot of money, according to The Economist:
Via Nobel Intent: A man with the non-existent but increasingly believed-in electromagnetic sensitivity disorder is suing his neighbor to get her to shut off her wi-fi and stop using her cell phone.

Apparently, fluorescent lights and dimmer switches are bad for this guy too.

Unfortunately, this guy is going to need to shut off a lot more if he's really sensitive to electromagnetic radiation: TV signals, radio stations, and the sun: