BioBlog

Neandertals’ genetic legacy extends into africa

Alison Campbell Feb 03, 2020

For the last few years it’s been pretty much received wisdom that African populations shared only a tiny proportion of their genes, if any, with Neanderthals. In contrast, other non-African sapiens populations had a small but significant admixture of Neanderthal genes. The underlying reason for this, it’s been assumed, is that Homo sapiens and neandertalensis only bred with each other in Europe … Read More

Controversy? Or Manufactroversy?

Alison Campbell Jan 22, 2020

A few days ago, New Zealand’s Minister of Education announced the wider release of a resource on climate change, which was initially trialled at a Christchurch school during 2018. According to the Minister, children will learn about “the role science plays in understanding climate change, aids understanding of both the response to it and its impacts – globally, nationally … Read More

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anti-vaxxers in a measles epidemic: so many ways to be untruthful

Alison Campbell Dec 02, 2019

“Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa over the past twenty-four hours. “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa over the past twenty-four hours. The fight to vaccinate continues with the Nation’s health … Read More

Advice about measles: when ignorance is definitely not a virtue

Alison Campbell Nov 28, 2019

As the rate of measles infection, and of deaths, continues to climb in Samoa, antivaccination activists infectious disease proponents seem intent on doubling down on their claims about vaccination. (Check pretty much any news-media FB post about measles & you’ll see exactly what I mean.) Unfortunately, some of them have a greater reach than others. On a global level … Read More

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Measles deaths and antivax misinformation

Alison Campbell Nov 26, 2019

Today the death toll from measles in Samoa rose to 32. All but four of the dead were less than 5 years old. Absolutely terrible, heartbreaking, news. That statistic alone should be enough to give the lie to the common claim by antivaccination activists plague enthusiasts that “measles is a benign childhood disease”. Clearly, it is not. (And never … Read More

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Measles: the quackery that is homeopathic “vaccination”

Alison Campbell Oct 22, 2019

A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a health-related FB page that had published a post from a homeopathist, offering homeopathic “vaccination”¹ against measles (using something called a “Morbillinum nosode” at a “potency” of 200C, which I’ll explain shortly). I followed the link, left a comment asking for evidence that this actually, you know, works, & … Read More

Zombie ants, updated

Alison Campbell Oct 22, 2019

Back in 2010, I wrote about the strange tale of the zombie ants, which do the bidding of their fungal overlords. (They’re not an isolated example; a range of parasites change their hosts’ behaviour. See here and here for example – though as you’ll find, the toxoplasmosis story may be even more complex than first thought.) There’s … Read More

Journalism, clickbait, & ideas of classical beauty – but not science

Alison Campbell Oct 21, 2019

A couple days ago the NZ Herald published a story with the headline, “Science says Bella Hadid is world’s most beautiful woman“, and followed up with the ridiculous statement that Supermodel Bella Hadid has been declared as the world’s most beautiful woman following a scientific study into what constitutes as a “perfect face”. Really, NZ Herald? Really? Were you … Read More

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Measles: a ‘gotcha’ moment that is nothing of the sort

Alison Campbell Sep 12, 2019

On Monday this week, Seven Sharp carried the story of a Whangārei school where so many of the students are immunised that the school has attained herd immunity against measles. This is an enviable achievement – tautoko, Hora Hora Primary School! Most of the comments are strongly supportive at the moment, but – predictably, not all. Including one, … Read More