BioBlog

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

Human evolution and attention-grabbing headlines

Alison Campbell Jan 16, 2019

Every so often there’s a new story claiming that a study has overturned our understanding of human evolution. (Or something along those lines.) I’ve just come across another one**, & thought I’d write this post as a warning to year 13 biology students. As Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – something that’s lacking in this particular … Read More

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The sad state of science learning in primary school

Alison Campbell Dec 06, 2018

In 2011, Sir Peter Gluckman released his report, Looking ahead: science education for the 21st century. In it, he noted the need to improve science teaching in primary schools, commenting that: there should be an attempt to improve the confidence [my emphasis] of all teachers within primary schools to assist in science and that all primary schools should be encouraged to develop a … Read More

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A pivotal species? What’s that?

Alison Campbell Nov 20, 2018

By the end of the school year, Year 13 students preparing for Schol Bio should have a pretty good grasp of the concepts and content they’ve encountered in their studies. What tends to throw some, though, is the fact that the context used for each question will almost certainly be something that they haven’t come across before. I experienced that “what the … Read More

Agenda 21 and crank magnetism

Alison Campbell Oct 08, 2018

What with WAVES, and anti-1080 groups, and Rethink Fluoride (which, like FFNZ, opposes water fluoridation), there’s quite a lot of ‘alternative’ activity online these days. It’s actually quite interesting to look at the similarities that you can see in attitudes & opinions expressed on those sites. I mean, Agenda 21, anyone? Back when Making Sense of Fluoride was … Read More

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