Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Causal v Correlative

There is a bunch of information available at our finger tips. Google and the spread of information around the web has been one of the major advancements of the spread of that information and... misinformation.

Years ago I took my kids to the pediatrician for a checkup. We discussed the importance of sleep, good diet and exercise. When I asserted that we gave our children multivitamins... there was a pause.... and he said that if the child gets a enough nutrition there was really no need for a supplement. I could tell by his interjection that he did not believe in supplements.

You can find anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of vitamins, the acai berry, antioxidants and a whole host of other remedies for good health. I believe that is born out of our belief that we can substitute good healthy habits for a pill. However, when you carefully evaluate the information on the web you discover that the claims have not been evaluated by the FDA. So you now see there is correlative evidence or anecdotal evidence but not a casual link between what the positive effect and the supplement.

This all turns evil when the correlative evidence starts to taint things that are important to our society’s health such as vaccines. This weekend a friend posted an link to a natural health site claiming that a vaccine was dangerous. When I "snopes" the information I found the evidence was correlative not causal. Millions of doses had been given of the vaccine and about 500 people had claimed side effects and 32 people had died. However there was no direct link to the reported symptoms and or deaths. I believe correlative evidence requires a study on something as important as vaccines and other medications.

However, there has been recent studies on the MMR vaccine and the correlative evidence that it causes autism. The studies have all shown there is no causal link to autism and the vaccine. However there is still an army of crusaders who are holding on the debunked belief. This is discussed in the Skepchick Podcast: 05 Just the Vax: Are Vaccines Safe? .

You can Google and find anything that supports your opinion or your beliefs even if they are wrong. Michael Specter gives this TED talk and discusses the dangers or science denial.

I quoted Sara Mayhew two posts ago but I think her quote here is again applicable.

"If I could get the world to respond to one question, it would be: do we have the courage to let go of our beliefs in order to grab on to what is true?” ~Sara Mayhew

Friday, April 16, 2010

Curmudgeon Starts a New Arts Blog

I have two big interest Arts and Skepticism (I have several moderate interests and a billion minor interests as well). I find myself sometimes concerned that those who know me as a theatre enthusiast will take offense to my skeptical blog. I also want folks to know me by my deeds not my thoughts or beliefs. I am not ashamed of my skepticism not will I stop blogging in the manner I have here. I just feel that a different topic requires a different venue.

So to feed my desire to discuss art and the Arts I have started a new blog. "Curmudgeon's Art Blog" is now up and running. You will find my latest endeavors with South Jordan Community Theatre, comments about shows I have seen recently, and new and events that affect the Arts in Utah and South Jordan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Young and Wise

"If I could get the world to respond to one question, it would be: do we have the courage to let go of our beliefs in order to grab on to what is true?” ~Sara Mayhew

.... are we seeing a corporation supporting skepticism?

Thanks to Rebecca Watson of Skepchick for putting this up!