BioBlog

Thoughts on a question about kākāpō

Alison Campbell Mar 21, 2019

My interest in kākāpō began way back in my honours year at uni: a guest speaker told us that as far as anybody knew, the last remaining birds were a few males, somewhere in Fiordland. I remember feeling that that sounded really sad – those lonely males booming for females who never came. Shortly after that, a relatively healthy population … Read More

A new critical analysis of the Wilyman thesis

Alison Campbell Mar 06, 2019

A few years back, University of Wollongong student Judy Wilyman received a PhD for a thesis that claimed to offer a “critical analysis of the Australian government’s rationale for its vaccination policy.” Both the thesis, and the processes at Wollongong in relation to PhD study and examination, attracted a considerable amount of scrutiny and criticism (see here … Read More

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No link between MMR vaccination and autism

Alison Campbell Mar 05, 2019

One of the myths (and there are a lot of them) continually pushed by those opposed to vaccination, is that “the MMR vaccine causes autism” – often coupled with claims that “there are no studies comparing the health of vaccinated & unvaccinated children”. (That’s another myth, by the way.) The origins of this claim can be laid squarely … Read More

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Ardipithecus and bipedal walking

Alison Campbell Feb 25, 2019

The hominid known as “Ardi” (a specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus) was discovered in 1994, at a site near Ethiopia’s Awash River. Once excavated, it turned out that this was – for its age – a remarkably complete specimen: 125 fossilised bones, comprising most of the skull, teeth, hands & feet, pelvis, and the lower sections of the arms & legs.  This … Read More

Smallpox stories & shill accusations

Alison Campbell Feb 01, 2019

A couple of days ago Newsroom published an article about smallpox, by Farah Hancock. It’s a very good story that covers the nature of smallpox and the history of efforts to develop a vaccine for this particularly nasty disease. And it’s the first of a science-based series about vaccines. Smallpox is a disease that’s extinct in the wild, with … Read More

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Measles outbreaks and the role of anti-vax misinformation

Alison Campbell Jan 28, 2019

Recently Grant Jacobs discussed a paper which indicates that many people strongly opposed to genetic modification think they are well-informed, but in reality know little about the subject. On current evidence, the same applies to those opposed to vaccination. I originally sat down to write about this piece of nonsense, but it can wait. Instead – NZ readers will probably … Read More

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Ocean acidification may have unexpected impacts

Alison Campbell Jan 20, 2019

A substantial proportion of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere, via burning fossil fuels, ends up dissolved in the ocean. The impact of this is a change in the ocean’s acidity: the pH drops. According to the Smithsonian, oceans have become substantially more acidic over the last 200 years (the period of the Industrial Revolution) – waaaay … Read More

WHO: ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is one of the top 10 health threats in 2019

Alison Campbell Jan 17, 2019

You read that right. Vaccine hesitancy – “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines” – is viewed by the World Health Organisation as one of the top 10 health threats we face in 2019. And worse, that hesitancy will have an effect on other threats in that top 10 list. Ebola and the potential … Read More