July 2012
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Archive: BioBlog July 2012

Blood and guts, surgeons and scientists: “the butchering art”

Alison Campbell Nov 22, 2017

The Butchering Art is medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris’s first book. And what a book! Descriptions that bring the horrors of pre-anaesthesia, pre-antisepsis surgery shudderingly into view? Very definitely. Science and history? Oh yes, lots of it, and beautifully told. And through it all, the humanity and vision of Joseph Lister and others like him, working to improve the outcomes of … Read More

Attitudes and antibiotics

Alison Campbell Nov 20, 2017

A recent FB post from Stuff discussed the rising concerns about the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (This is something that Siouxsie Wiles has often written about: here and here, for example; her excellent book on the subject is reviewed here.) Fairly predictably, it didn’t take long for the proponents of essential oils to turn up, soon to be joined by the … Read More

Another antivax myth (ingestion vs injection)

Alison Campbell Nov 08, 2017

There’s an oft-repeated claim by the more strident anti-vaxxers that ingesting and injecting are two different things when it comes to substances like aluminium. This betrays a disturbing lack of knowledge of biology and physiology (especially from those who boast of ‘having done their research’), but they repeat it nonetheless. (Red’s self-belief is mildly amusing.)     The … Read More

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Antivaxxers still ‘delusional’ and ‘dangerous’

Alison Campbell Nov 06, 2017

Aaron Leaman’s excellent storyA in the Waikato Times and in Stuff used those words, and I’m sticking with them – because those adjectives describe the majority of the comments on the relevant FB page. When Aaron interviewed me for that story, I commented that it’s essential for scientists and doctors to continue to confront the waves of anti-vaccine … Read More

Vegetarian spiders? What is the world coming to?

Alison Campbell Oct 17, 2017

Like probably everyone reading this, I have always thought that spiders are carnivorous, sucking the precious bodily fluidsA from their prey. I mean, those fangs! And I was wrong, for it seems that some spiders eat some plant material alongside their liquid meals – and some are almost fully vegetarian. A just-published paper (Painting, Nicholson, Bulbert, Norma-Rashid & LI, 2017) … Read More

Cancer, oils, and uncritical reporting

Alison Campbell Oct 11, 2017

On Sunday, the Stuff website carried a story about a particular brand of essential oils that may as well have been marked ‘advertorial’. This is because most of the article comprises positive commentary from those involved in selling the products – you have to scroll well down the screen to find a photo and brief comment from the Medical … Read More

Possum peppering – still totally implausible, seven years on

Alison Campbell Oct 09, 2017

“Kerikeri award entry turns possums into burning issue“, proclaims a headline in the Northern Advocate.  The story is about an entry in the WWF-NZ’s Conservation Awards for 2017; I hope the judges have a good grasp of science and scientific method. From the article: The entry from Kerikeri promotes a new take on an old-world biodynamic method of … Read More

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TL;DR: Antiperspirants don’t cause breast cancer

Alison Campbell Oct 07, 2017

Facebook certainly leads me to read papers that I normally wouldn’t.  For whatever reason, a post about deodorants popped up on my feed, from the Wendyl’s Green Goddess page. In the blurb for a sale of products was the following: Conventional products contain aluminium ingredients which have been linked to cancer. Do your skin and body a favour and … Read More