Six Colorado Republican candidates recently denied that man-made global warming exists.
The Republicans are running for the GOP nomination to face Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in November, notes ThinkProgress.org (video below).
The GOP hopefuls (Mark Aspiri, Ken Buck, Owen Hill, Tom Janich, Amy Stephens, Floyd Trujillo) all denied climate change science during a debate yesterday hosted by the Denver Post.
The candidates were asked by the moderator, "Do you believe our planet is being impacted by man-made global warming?”
Each candidate answered "no."
If the candidates were trolling for votes, they answered incorrectly as a poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication in 2013 stated, "Most Coloradans (70%) believe global warming is happening. Relatively few — only 19% — believe it is not. • Nearly half (48%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities."
Sen. Udall believes that man-made climate change is real, as do most scientists.
In 2009, CNN reported that 90 percent of the scientists agreed that global temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800s levels and 82 percent said human activity has been a significant factor.
In addition to denying man-made global warming, all six GOPers opposed Obamacare, same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage, noted the Associated Press.
Sources: CNN, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, ThinkProgress.org, Denver Post, Associated Press
John Ericson wrote an article titled The Price of Killing Off Animal Testing, which was published by Newsweek.com on February 20, 2014.
Ericson begins by stating that: “Each year, more than 25 million animals are used for scientific research in the U.S. More than 90 percent of those are mice . . .” The actual numbers are unknown but a more realistic estimate would be over 100 million. Even a former editor of Scientific American stated that around 100 million genetically modified mice were used annually in the US. (Mukerjee 2004) So anyone or any organization that claims less than that is clearly biased or uninformed.
Ericson goes on to paint a very black and white picture of animal-based research and testing. He cites the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as supporting it and quotes Frankie Trull of the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), as saying the usual: “An immediate end to animal research in the U.S. would be a death sentence for millions of people around the world . . . If you've ever taken antibiotics, had a vaccine, had chemotherapy, an MRI, a blood transfusion, dialysis, an organ transplant, bypass surgery or joint replacement, you have been the beneficiary of research that started with lab animals.” Although these claims are widespread they is also unsupported by a critical examination of the scientific literature along with currently known facts regarding species differences. Moreover it is an example of the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc. (See The Strengths and Limits of Animal Models as Illustrated by the Discovery and Development of Antibacterials and Are animal models predictive for humans? for a refutation of some of the above claims. See Trans-Species Modeling Theory for why animals are very poor models for humans.)
Ericson goes on to describe why the elimination of animal-based research would be a blow to “research on neurodegenerative disease” like Alzheimer's disease (AD). This is an odd choice for an example since research with animal models has misled researchers studying AD more often than not. (For example, see Evidence Supports TSMT. See Trans-Species Modeling Theory for a detailed examination of this claim as related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).)
I wrote the following in the comments section of the article:
Animal-based research and testing originated during a time when creationism was accepted as the norm. Under that paradigm, animals and humans were thought to be more alike than different. Today we know better. Animal testing is a failure from a scientific perspective and animal-based research results in something medically useful only a tiny fraction of the time. For more on why animal experimentation is scientifically nonviable see http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/pdfplus/10.2217/pme.11.89
The reason animal models fail to be of predictive value for human response to drugs and disease lies in evolution and genetic variability. This variability exists even within the same species, for example monozygotic twins. An article in Developmental Cell by Spector and Mélanie Eckersley-Maslin et al., (Eckersley-Maslin et al. 2014) reveals new reasons for this. A team from Cold Springs Harbor conducted research, which revealed that “some cells activate only one of their two gene copies during development, altering protein yields and raising new questions.” We have one copy of each gene from each parent. Usually both of these copies are activated. But in some cases it appears that only one copy is activated either in development or later. “Random monoallelic gene expression cuts the amount of a protein by half, suggesting that this type of variability may have significant implications for disease.” The researchers found that “monoallelic gene expression is truly a random process.” Spector stated: “It is not deterministic in any way . . . This significant amount of flexibility and randomness in gene expression is important for adaptation as a species evolves, but it is unclear how it functions in organisms today.”
The above differences in genetic make-up are in addition to differences in mutations like single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variants (CNVs) and differences in gene regulation and expression, among many others. Just one such difference between species could account for why a disease affects one species differently from another or why one drug affects one human differently from another. Species are defined by thousands of such differences and this is why we can eat chocolate but dogs should not.
The failures of animal modeling are best demonstrated by intra-human variation. A February 26, 2014, Mayo Clinic press release announces: Mayo Clinic Discovers African-Americans Respond Better to Rubella Vaccine. Scientists compared vaccine responses from Somali Americans and Caucasians and discovered that Somali Americans developed “twice the antibody response to rubella.” A non-Somali, African-American cohort also saw a high response and Hispanic Americans exhibited a low response as did Caucasians.(Haralambieva et al. 2014) Dr. Poland, the chair of a Safety Evaluation Committee for non-rubella vaccine trials being conducted by Merck Research Laboratories stated: “The significance of the findings is that in the future we may be able to create vaccines for specific groups or even individuals based on their genomic and other characteristics . . . That may mean adjusting doses for some or being able to treat larger populations with the same vaccine if the dosage is less.”
Vivisection activists should be concerned that the practice they are defending is based on a creation model of life. But they’re not.
(Photo from CDC and Wikiperia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rubella_virus_TEM_B82-0203_lores.jpg)
Eckersley-Maslin, MÈlanie†A, David Thybert, Jan†H Bergmann, John†C Marioni, Paul Flicek, and David†L Spector. 2014. "Random Monoallelic Gene Expression Increases upon Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation." Developmental cell 28 (4):351-365. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1534580714000586
Haralambieva, I. H., H. M. Salk, N. D. Lambert, I. G. Ovsyannikova, R. B. Kennedy, N. D. Warner, V. S. Pankratz, and G. A. Poland. 2014. "Associations between race, sex and immune response variations to rubella vaccination in two independent cohorts." Vaccine. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.01.090.
Mukerjee, Madhusree. 2004. "Book Review of Speaking for the Animals " Scientific American August:96-7.
A new bill has been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly that would require schools to give advance warning to parents that evolution was going to be taught in their child’s science class. The Kansas City Star reports that under House Bill 1472, introduced by Republican Rep. Rick Brattin, parents would then be allowed to opt their children out of the lessons. Should the proposed legislation become law, schools would also need to provide parents with the “basic content” of the lessons on evolution.
The introduction of the bill has many critics crying foul, arguing that evolution by natural selection is the foundation of modern biology.
David Evans, the executive director for the National Science Teachers Association, told the Star, “Evolution by natural selection is the unifying principle in the study of biology,” he said. “Would you want to pull your child out of class if you didn’t like grammar?”
Evans believes that allowing children to be pulled from class during lessons on evolution would make it more difficult for American students to keep pace with other students internationally.
Brattin has defended his bill, telling KCTV, "What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching," he said. "It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life.”
"Our schools basically mandate that we teach one side," Brattin said. "It is an indoctrination because it is not objective approach.”
Some parents agree. Brendan Eastwood, told KCTV, "Evolution is not taught in the Bible so it shouldn't be taught in the class," he said. "Even if I had to spend some time in jail I wouldn't subject my kids to that nonsense.”
Eastwood’s children are grown and he admits he never had to make the choice.
"They didn't teach evolution in the early 90s...that I know of," he said. "Otherwise they wouldn't have been in school.”
Brattin has filed three similar bills in the past, all of which failed. HB 1472 has not been scheduled for discussion in the General Assembly, according the Riverfront Times.
A new documentary "Questioning Darwin" features several religious creationists explaining why they reject evolution, science and even math.
Produced by Antony Thomas, a 73-year-old filmmaker, the documentary tries to educate viewers on Darwin, who was not an atheist and attended church until his death in 1882, notes The Washington Post.
“I would hope in a tiny way this film could contribute to a feeling from the creationist side that Darwin isn’t the devil,” said Thomas. “Let us consider what he actually said. And from the other side, I would like to see recognition that these people are not idiots.”
Airing on HBO (video below), the documentary includes Pastor Peter LaRuffa who states, "If somewhere within the Bible, I were to find a passage that said 2 + 2 = 5, I wouldn't question what I'm reading in the Bible. I would believe it, accept it as true, and then do my best to work it out and understand it."
A woman named Angel Dague adds, "I can't even fathom coming from this little thing that crawled on the ground to apes to being human. It sounds crazy to me."
However, the Biblical account, Genesis 2:7, teaches that the first man, Adam, actually came from dust on the ground.
"God made us in his image," states Dr. Charles Bonner (pictured). "And so to say that man is an animal, and God created man in his own image, so does one come back and say, 'Are you saying God is nothing more than an animal?'"
Dague also says she wants "Mr. Darwin and others that feel just like him to try God and see the transformation for themselves."
Creationist Museum Ken Ham claims in the special that dinosaurs died from brain tumors.
According to a poll by the Pew's Religion & Public Life Project in December 2013, about 60 percent of Americans believe that humans have evolved with time, while 33 percent believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.
"But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24 percent) say that 'a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today," reported Pew.
Televangelist Pat Robertson denied global warming science yesterday based on his observation that winter in the U.S. has been cold.
According RightWingWatch.org, Robertson claimed that a cold winter in America is evidence that global warming is "idiocy" (video below).
Apparently, Robertson is oblivious to the fact that it is not actually winter everywhere on the globe. Australia is experiencing a brutally hot summer right now, reported the BBC.
Robertson was reacting to Secretary of State John Kerry who recently compared climate change poverty, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, noted CNN.
“I don’t know where Kerry has been spending his time, but maybe he’s so wealthy they have a special house that has tropical plants in it so he feels like he’s in the tropics, but for the rest of us, it’s been cold as the Dickens!” stated Robertson.
“It’s idiocy and they’re laughing at people who go outside and it’s freezing!” added Robertson.
The televangelist then claimed environmental advocates are using climate change to introduce socialism and “take over all of the plants and the manufacturing of the world."
Robertson also said that environmental “extremists” want to “kill off people."
However, he presented no proof of his wild claims.
Americans are good at a lot of things – business, football, eating, and making muscle cars, to name a few.
Want to know something thing we’re not good at? Science. For all of our money and international prowess, America is ranked just 17th in the world in science education. Not good.
In 2010, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called America’s mediocre educational rankings “an absolute wake-up call for America.”
“The results are extraordinarily challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth,” Duncan said. “We have to get more serious about investing in education.”
Well, here we are four years later and still not doing much better. The National Science Foundation just released the results of their latest scientific survey, and the findings are embarrassing. Let’s take a look at what some of our fellow countrymen and women think about science.
One in four Americans doesn’t realize the earth revolves around the sun. Let that sink in. It’s been over 400 years since Copernicus proved that all planets revolve around the sun, yet over a quarter of people in the richest nation on earth don’t know it.
21% of respondents answered that the sun revolves around the earth, while 7% were humble enough to admit they didn’t know the answer.
Next up: light.
Despite the best efforts of Queen, Chris Brown, and your science teacher, nearly one in four Americans doesn’t know that light travels faster than sound. It is a basic fact that nothing in the known universe travels faster than the speed of light. Einstein told us this over 100 years ago.
Here are two more head-shaking findings.
63% of respondents thought antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
43% said that electrons – tiny, negatively charged particles inside of atoms – were bigger than atoms. 37% were unsure which particles were bigger, and just 20% answered the question correctly.
The survey asked participants nine basic scientific questions. The average score was a 6.5 out of 9 – good for a 72%. America was three points away from getting a D on a test of things we should have learned in 5th grade.
Millions of Americans deny global warming exists, but millions do believe that astrology is "scientific," according to a new study.
The National Science Foundation's 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators study says that only 55 percent of Americans in 2012 did not think astrology was scientific.
According to Mother Jones, 31 to 45 percent Americans, depending on their age group, believe that astrology is either "very scientific" or "sort of scientific."
More than half of Americans, ages 18 to 24, are most likely to believe astrology is at least "sort of" scientific, notes UPI.
In comparison, 92 percent of people in China do not believe astrology is scientific.
The highest percentage of Americans who did not believe in astrology was scientific was in 2004, when 66 percent did not believe in it.
Azra Raza, M.D. Professor of Medicine, Director of the MDS Center, at Columbia University recently wrote the following regarding mouse models of cancer. Azra was answering the question: “What Scientific Idea Is Ready For Retirement?”
An obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed in cancer research is that mouse models do not mimic human disease well and are essentially worthless for drug development. We cured acute leukemia in mice in 1977 with drugs that we are still using in exactly the same dose and duration today in humans with dreadful results. . . . there are no appropriate mouse models which can mimic the human situation.
Raza quotes Robert Weinberg of the Whitehead Institute at MIT, as stating that the reason people continue to use mouse models are: "Two reasons. First, there's no other model with which to replace that poor mouse. Second, the FDA has created inertia because it continues to recognize these models as the gold standard for predicting the utility of drugs." (See here for more on the comments of Robert Weinberg. I will also address some of his comments on the FAQs section of the new website.) Weinberg’s first reason is fallacious as there are many times when doing nothing is preferred to the status quo of doing something. For example, doing research that is misleading is worse than doing no research at all. Weinberg’s second reason, while true is just an excuse to maintain the status quo. Scientists do not have to use models that do not work just because someone in a different department of the federal government suggests they use mouse models.
But Raza adds a third reason that is more to the point:
There is a third reason related more to the frailties of human nature. Too many eminent laboratories and illustrious researchers have devoted entire lives to studying malignant diseases in mouse models and they are the ones reviewing each other's grants and deciding where the NIH money gets spent. They are not prepared to accept that mouse models are basically valueless for most of cancer therapeutics.
Sound familiar? I wonder if David Gorski MD, PhD agrees with her? (You can read her entire essay at http://www.edge.org/responses/what-scientific-idea-is-ready-for-retirement.) Furthermore, I wonder if any scientists will speak out and support her in this position? I doubt it. Growing a spine could result in their colleagues talking behind their back or the university speaking sternly to them about their tenured position and being a team player. I cannot imagine anyone asking a full professor to endure that kind of horror just to save the lives of few billion human patients.
Raza’s position is consistent with a December 19, 2013 press release from Jackson Laboratory that announced the response to cocaine and methamphetamine differs between 2 substrains of the commonly used Black 6 mouse. The C57BL/6J mice appeared to have a weaker response to the drugs than the C57BL/6N mice. The reason appears to be a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the gene Cyfip2. The press release states that: “This means that researchers should be very cautious when comparing behavioral data from studies using 6J and 6N strains.” (For more see reference .)
As I have stated many times, when strains of mice differ in their response to drugs and disease and monozygotic human twins do the same, trans-species extrapolation is not going to have any predictive value. (See Trans-Species Modeling Theory for more.) But it will be a hard to convince people of this when they have a vested interest in animal models. And by vested interest I do not just mean a financial interest.
Recently Universities and Science Minister of the UK, David Willetts stated: “Animals are only used when there are no suitable alternatives. But the results we get from research can transform lives and pave the way for new and ground-breaking medical advances.” Needless to say the Science Minister provided no references for this claim and refuses to support a proper debate as I outlined here or even consider the notion that vested interest groups might lie. Willetts supports the status quo as long as he benefits. Moreover, as I have also stated, there are no alternatives to something that is not viable in the first place. There are no alternatives to using animals as predictive models for human response to drugs and disease.
Interestingly, in the same article that Willets was quoted in, Minister Norman Baker was quoted as saying that “the scientific case for developing new techniques that do not involve animals is ‘as strong as the moral one.’ ”
Raza is not the first to point out that mouse models have failed. The list of scientists who have stated more or less the same thing in science journals is long. Despite this, nothing seems to be changing. Perhaps that is because society seems to be under the impression that all scientists support the use of animals as predictive models in drug and disease research. As long as the vested interest groups get to phrase the survey questions, can buy advertising space, have the support of the media, and refuse to debate specific questions in the presence of unbiased experts, this will not change. Must be nice to have that kind of job security.
1. Kumar, V.; Kim, K.; Joseph, C.; Kourrich, S.; Yoo, S.-H.; Huang, H.C.; Vitaterna, M.H.; Pardo-Manuel de Villena, F.; Churchill, G.; Bonci, A.; Takahashi, J.S. C57BL/6N Mutation in Cytoplasmic FMRP interacting protein 2 Regulates Cocaine Response. Science 2013, 342, 1508-1512. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6165/1508.abstract
The heavy winter storms in the US have prompted some people to deny global warming and others to come up with a new anti-government conspiracy: "fake snow" that will not melt via a lighter.
Several folks have posted videos online claiming their snow doesn't melt and there is a weird "chemical smell."
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this conspiracy is especially popular in Georgia, which is experiencing unusual amounts of snow due to the polar vortex (video below).
Conspiracy theorists are writing on YouTube with their videos:
You're being distracted from all fronts, you're preoccupied. They're up here signing bills, the government, to pretty much take away more of your rights and freedoms.
The blog Resistance Journals suggests this snow is actually "geo-engineering" and the US government is manipulating weather to use as a weapon against its own people.
However, this conspiracy was easily debunked by a news reporter on WTVR, who demonstrated that when a flame is held next to snow, the snow doesn't melt, but rather turns into vapor in a process called "sublimination." The "scary" chemical smell is from the butane of the lighter (video below).
Scientists in Australia are trying to figure out exactly what the mysterious creature that washed up on an Australian beach could be. Many call it a “snot-fish” and preliminary reports say that it is a part of the jellyfish family.
A family was out collecting shells on the Tasmanian beach when they stumbled upon the creature, which literally looks like a puddle of snot. The family took a picture of it and sent it to a marine biologist who confirmed that it was some sort of jellyfish. Even though it has been scene before, the marine biologist was shocked that it was measured almost five feet, saying that was the biggest he’s ever seen.
“We know about this specimen but it hasn't been classified yet, it hasn't been named,” said scientist Lisa Gershwin, adding that the specimen is, “so big it took our breath away.”
Researchers say that the creature isn’t life-threatening, but it can hurt if contact is made with it.
"If you touched it or whacked into when you were swimming it is very painful," said Gershwin. "It's not life-threatening, but it will sting you, it will wake you up."
Scientists are actively trying to classify this specimen, but in the meantime, the nickname “snot-fish” seems entirely appropriate.