Thursday, April 13, 2006

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

At home

A quick snipped from SA: under pressure from several AIDS activist organization, the government has lifted its ban on the Treatment Action Campaign attending an upcoming international conference on HIV/AIDS. The government attempted to bar the TAC from attending the meeting due to "a concern over its position on HIV". Government should very well be concerned over TAC's position, as it is quite simply that government is fucking over the south african people when it comes to AIDS education and treatment. And they're right. Government is only afraid that TAC might bring this up at an international conference and make the health ministry the laughing stock of the meeting. I sincerely hope they do.


Archaeologists have unearthed a fossil in a rich human ancestry site in Ethiopia that may very well be a missing link between Ardipithecus and Australopithecus. The importance of the find rests on the fact that fossils from a massive span in the evolutionary history of homo sapiens have been found in a single area, making the argument for their evolution from one to another far stronger than if they were scattered all over the world. People like Erik von Daniken would have us believe that people had cars and space ships back then, but really early man didn't travel much outside of his area of birth, so the fossil finds in this area now form the most complete chain of human evolution ever found. Of course creationists would have us believe this is all a hoax, because according to them no archaeologist has ever found a transitional fossil. Ever.

On a subject with much more tangible impact on daily life, Iowa is in the throes of an outbreak of the Mumps. Whenever something like this happens, the anti-vaccination liars crawl out of the woodworks to lie about how this means that vaccines don't actually work. Of course it seems that none of them are capable of either reading or simple maths, as aetiology and good math, bad math point out. No one ever said that the MMR vaccine is 100% effective; in fact about 5% of the population never respond to the vaccine and do not produce the required antibodies. Even so, the actual number of infected in this 'epidemic' equates to only a tiny percentage of the 5% who are in danger of contracting mumps. That leaves about 99% of the population utterly unaffected by the outbreak. In addition, Iowa is accustomed to about 5 cases of mumps annually, which is why 500 seems like a lot. But it's nothing when you discover that prior to the introduction of routine vaccination, it was not uncommon to experience 20,000 cases a year. And that's just in Iowa.

Even more interestingly, the CDC suspects the outbreak is linked to a previous outbreak in the United Kingdom. And that outbreak, which was much worse, was directly linked to a run of children NOT being vaccinated.


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