Reads from around the web

1. 23 and Me and Me: A doctor struggles to understand his own genetic testing results. I especially love these bits:

“In arranging for the test to be performed, I broke two of my usual rules as a doctor; don’t try and practice medicine on yourself (I usually outsource my personal medical care to my excellent GP) and don’t request a test where you don’t know what to do with the answer.”

“I have acquired enough genetics knowledge to bluff at a dinner party of non-geneticists.”

2. Gender Judo: An interesting article on being a woman in the workplace. I don’t agree with everything here, but it’s very topical for me as the only chick in my group at work, struggling with being put in the “nice” box, and finding a way to make sure my voice heard.

3. America’s Temple of Pseudoscience:

“The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver.”

“I invited a biologist friend who studies human gut bacteria to come take a look with me. She read the healing claims printed on a handful of bottles and frowned. “This is bullshit,” she said, and went off to buy some vegetables.”

“Whenever we talk about science and society, it helps to keep two rather humbling premises in mind: very few of us are anywhere near rational. And pretty much all of us are hypocrites.”

4. Breastfeeding benefits have been drastically overstated: This is a sort of follow up to this excellent 2009 article on the same subject. Basically, the breast is best movement isn’t as clear and simple as advertised. I had a really interesting discussion with some friends about this article/issue this morning, and it’s far from simple, but I’m happy to see some new Actual Science on this topic, and hope it will help those of us who struggle in this area feel less guilty. (Damn, Gina, what’s with all the guilt?)

5. The Blood Harvest:
Ok this is just kind of cool. Horseshoe crab blood –> science. Also, tangent: my mom once skewered her leg on one of these bad boys. Yeowch, I bet that hurt.

6. A multipart mess on BPA and friends. First up, the good: Maybe That BPA in Your Canned Food Isn’t So Bad After All

“It was only when exposures were millions of times higher than what people typically get that the scientists saw changes like those caused by the body’s own sex hormones.”

I actually have colleagues participating in research in this area, and I wish I were seeing more media reporting on a few studies in particular, as opposed to the usual – such as this:
The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics.
Another example of truly terrible science reporting, and also scientists behaving very badly. I won’t argue that there are legitimate issues with the toxicity testing for BPA replacements, and that I personally prefer the known not-particularly-evil that is BPA (seriously, if they have to look THIS HARD for adverse outcomes? It is a waste of time. There are actual toxic things we could be focusing on.), but on the scale of things I’m worried about in my day to day life, it’s somewhere below mopping the kitchen (i.e….. no.) Motherjones has done really bad, imbalanced pieces on BPA before, and they love to a) quote this total crackpot Fred vom Saal, and b) target legitimate science, without c) acknowledging their bias in doing so.
My favorite part is the quote of vom Saal’s that they feature:
“A poison kills you,” says biology professor Frederick vom Saal. “A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him.”

I mean, that is just terrible, fear mongering horseshit. BPA ain’t gonna kill anybody.

Here is MotherJones attacking a colleague of mine last year, and here is an interesting post on Forbes from 2011 about why this whole thing is absurd (complete with a breakdown of a scientist bitch fight!). These last two links are old but the point stands.

This entry was posted in breastfeeding, ephemera, Grumpy Toxicologist, Science!, times when people annoyed me, trawling the interwebs. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Reads from around the web

  1. Megan says:

    “I mean, that is just terrible, fear mongering horseshit. BPA ain’t gonna kill anybody.” Should be your tagline everywhere. Replace BPA with aspartame as necessary.

  2. Nimble says:

    I’m glad to hear your BPA anxiety level. I wasn’t planning to stop eating canned tomatoes any time soon.

  3. Robin says:

    I was literally going to ask you today about your thoughts on that (shitty, fear-mongering) Mother Jones BPA piece. I couldn’t even read the whole thing.

    • snoozical says:

      Robin, I had to read it in pieces because it made me so mad. Their reporting in general, but especially their science reporting, tends towards fear mongering and sensationalist and it seriously chaps my ass.

  4. HereWeGoAJen says:

    Crabs! Crabs with blue blood! Absolutely fascinating!

  5. Purdy Bird says:

    Yay! Now I have some good lunchtime reading. Thanks!

  6. Miranda says:

    Yeah, why aren’t you telling me what to read more often???

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