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Month: September, 2010

Really? – The Claim – Gargling With Salt Water Can Ease Cold Symptoms – NYTimes.com

by Scott Smith

A sore, itchy throat and respiratory congestion are some of the more common symptoms of a cold, and gargling with salt water seems to help for several reasons. A saline solution can draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, making them hurt less, said Dr. Philip T. Hagen, editor in chief of the “Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies,” which is due out in October. Dr. Hagen pointed out that gargling also loosens thick mucus, which can remove irritants like allergens, bacteria and fungi from the throat.

Warning: Racism Is Bad for Your Health | Greater Good

by Robinson

The bottom line is clear: Harboring racist feelings in a multicultural society causes daily stress; this kind of stress can lead to chronic problems like cancer, hypertension, and Type II diabetes. But interracial interactions are not inherently stressful. Low-prejudice people show markedly different physiological responses during interracial interactions. In all three of these studies, people who had positive attitudes about people of other races responded to interracial interactions in ways that were happy, healthy, and adaptive.

the book… http://www.amazon.com/Are-Born-Racist-Neuroscience-Psychology/dp/0807011576

more info… http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/news_events/announcement/new_greater_good_book/

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog » How do people tell a story with Facebook?

by Scott Smith

and yesterday wanted to tell a fairly simple story about what it is like to spend one’s birthday with a Border Collie:

  1. drive to Costco
  2. put Ollie (15 weeks old) in a fabric crate in my car and roll the windows mostly down
  3. while shopping, receive call from the Costco tire shop saying that Ollie was with them (he’d managed to escape the crate, apparently, and then jump from a height of about 4′ out the car window and onto the pavement)
  4. once safely back home, turn around to observe Ollie throwing up a bunch of ugly-looking orange stuff on carpet (apparently there were some edibles in the Costco parking lot)
  5. use SpotBot robot to clean up hurl

FTC targets Pom juice health claims – latimes.com

by Scott Smith

Any consumer who sees Pom Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

S510 Revised: FDA Coming to a Farm Near You

by Robinson

S510 would give FDA significantly more power to regulate food, particularly food in intrastate commerce. For those who think it’s a good idea to give FDA more power, here are the agency’s views on your freedom to obtain the foods of your choice; these are direct quotations from the agency’s response to a lawsuit the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed earlier this year challenging the interstate ban on raw milk for human consumption:

  • “There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.” [A–p. 25]
  • “There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.” [A–p. 26]
  • “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.” [A–p. 26]
  • “There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract.” [A–p. 27]

For those that think it is a good idea to give the agency more power, here are some of the products FDA has allowed in the marketplace: MSG (monosodium glutamate as an additive), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), aspartame, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), Avandia (prescribed for type 2 diabetes) and Vioxx (arthritis pain medication).

Education: Is America Spending Too Much?

by Robinson

Some analysts warn that cross-country comparisons of spending on education ignore an important variable: the level of private or church spending for education.(14) In Japan, for instance, most students attend special private schools at night and on Saturdays. That type of expenditure is not reflected in UNESCO’s comparisons, but that doesn’t alter the finding that the large amounts the U.S. government spends on education are not matched by foreign countries whose children are better educated. It may well be (as argued below) that the private nature of educational activities in those countries is a crucial factor in their success.

Goat House Tour

by Scott Smith

A brief tour of the goat house. We are quite proud of our hay feeder and milking stand.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Issues Statement on the Release of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (Pcast) K-12 STEM Education Report | U.S. Department of Education

by Robinson

“Everyone has a stake in improving STEM education. Inspiring all our students to be capable in math and science will help them contribute in an increasingly technology-based economy, and will also help America prepare the next generation of STEM professionals-scientists, engineers, architects and technology professionals-to ensure our competiveness. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s (PCAST) report and work will be a valuable resource as we join efforts with the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, educators, the business community, non-profits and philanthropies, to provide better support for STEM education to schools, classrooms, teachers and students.”

To learn more about the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology or to read the report, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast/docsreports.

via ed.gov

The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach | NCSE

by Robinson

The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach — the new journal aspiring to promote accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience — is now published.

John Farrell: Bad Faith (in Science): Darwin as All-Purpose Boogey Man?

by Robinson

The claim that Darwin was an enthusiastic supporter of the term “survival of the fittest” fares no better. Denis Alexander’s point in the video West cites is entirely correct. In fact, Darwin’s younger colleague Alfred Russel Wallace, who for religious reasons was a more vociferous proponent of man’s special status in the order of nature, was also a more enthusiastic proponent of “survival of the fittest” in the scientific literature. But Darwin did not want the distinction between artificial and natural selection to be blurred, so he was very careful about how often the term “fittest” should be employed.

No doubt this is an historical detail that West does not want to get in the way of a good talking point. A more scholarly treatment of how ideology abuses science can be found in Biology and Ideology: From Descartes to Dawkins, a collection of historical essays edited by Alexander and Ronald Numbers.

Another book on the Amazon Wishlist.