Debunking the sugar hyperactivity myth

And yet, I’m sure countless parents will rather trust their own anecdotal experience.

Let’s cut to the chase: sugar doesn’t make kids hyper. There have been at least twelvetrials of various diets investigating different levels of sugar in children’s diets.  That’s more studies than are often done on drugs. None of them detected any differences in behavior between children who had eaten sugar and those who hadn’t.  These studies included sugar from candy, chocolate, and natural sources.  Some of them were short-term, and some of them were long term. Some of them focused on children with ADHD. Some of them even included only children who were considered “sensitive” to sugar. In all of them, children did not behave differently after eating something full of sugar or something sugar-free.

Sugar, and candy, do not make kids hyper

What’s going on at Occupy Wall Street

Anyone who can work in two in-context Monty Python references deserves to be read.

By the way, while Wall Street may be responsible for bad things, it is Wall Street who financed putting a million miles of fiber optic cables crisscrossing continents and under oceans. It is Wall Street that financed the thousands of cell towers. It is Wall Street from which venture capital comes to finance startups like Twitter. Thus, tweeting “Down with capitalism” from your iPhone for those around the word to read seems to be the most ironic thing a person can do. The live stream from the protest site, shared with 12,000 (at this moment) people across the Internet is a testament to Wall Street’s allocation of capital that these protesters fight against. [Obligatory Monty Python reference]

That the protest is dominated by Internet savvy youths exploiting social media is frequently mentioned. But what is not mentioned is the fact that the protesters are overwhelmingly college students, or recent graduates who still haven’t found jobs. They aren’t just any college students, but the stereotypical sort that you might expect to be involved in campus activism, such as graduate students in “Gender Studies.” I found nobody with engineering or science degrees, but many from arts and acting colleges. After talking with one guy for a while about unemployment and his difficult in finding a job after college, I found out that he was a “poet.” I’m not sure he understood that employers aren’t looking to hire poets. The only person I met that had a political science degree was one of the police officers “keeping the peace.”

Errata Security: Independent reporting of #OccupyWallStreet

BPA harm not scientifically conclusive

While its hard to read the press release from the World Health organization below and make any sense of the tortured language, it basically says that while food is the main source of BPA exposure, the science as to its effects is inconclusive.  Also, BPA is eliminated from the body rather quickly.  Was it a good idea to rush to remove it from plastics, like baby bottles?  What do you think – better safe than sorry?

The meeting concluded that, at this stage, it is difficult to interpret the relevance of these studies in the light of current knowledge of this compound. Until these associations can be confirmed, initiation of public health measures would be premature.

WHO HT: Reason

The Breakthrough Institute: Why Energy Efficiency Does not Decrease Energy Consumption

We've done a number of energy-efficiency projects at our house over the last year. While it may help us lowering our own energy costs and usage, it'd be naive to think that it'll decrease overall energy consumption.  Harry Saunders has done the research to explain this effect, know as "the rebound effect".

Varying degrees of rebound occur because the phenomenon works in several ways. Increasingly efficient technologies effectively lower the cost of energy, as well as the products and services in which it is embedded. This results in firms consuming more energy relative to other production inputs and producing more output profitably. Firms and individuals benefit from cheaper and more abundant products and services, causing them to find many more uses for these (and the energy they contain). A more efficient steel plant, for example, produces cheaper steel that, in turn, allows firms and individuals to afford to find more uses for the same material.

Why Energy Efficiency Does not Decrease Energy Consumption

The shocking science behind vaccinations

If you read one article about the ingredients in Vaccines today, it should be this one. While it starts out as a bit of a rant, I did learn about the importance of dosages of supposedly harmful ingredients. And, some of these “toxic chemicals”, including NaCl, are in other everyday things that you may already be eating/drinking. Cue the scary music!

This is just plain ignorant. If you want to see the difference between an education over a weekend or two at Google University and actually understanding medicine, look no further than the above. Neomycin and polymixin are indeed antibiotics. They’re used in the manufacture of vaccines. Specifically, antibiotics like this are usually used to prevent bacterial contamination and overgrowth during cell culture and the growth of the viruses. After the manufacturing process there often remain trace amounts of these antibiotics.

All the facts are made more entertaining by wonderful gems like the following.

Not only did Dawn not stop digging when she was in a hole, but she got out a freakin’ backhoe. Heck, she did more than that. She got out the dynamite and started blasting. No, even that’s not enough. She actually decided to start digging by detonating thermonuclear weapons of stupid.

Babies brains more complex than once thought.

You don’t need to convince me that babies are more aware/intelligent than we give them credit for. They have to synthesize and absorb a lot of information to make sense of their world. And then, one morning, they surprise you by spontaneously saying “water” when you’re refilling the dog’s dish. Inside the baby mind – The Boston Globe

Now, however, scientists have begun to dramatically revise their concept of a baby’s mind. By using new research techniques and tools, they’ve revealed that the baby brain is abuzz with activity, capable of learning astonishing amounts of information in a relatively short time.

A smart thought about Evolution

Richard Dawkins, in reviewing the Intelligent Design film “Expelled”, states a positon on Darwinism that I’d never seen before, but it makes a heap of rational sense.

As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Stein (or whoever wrote his script for him) is implying that Hitler committed that fallacy with respect to Darwinism. If we look at more recent history, the closest representatives you’ll find to Darwinian politics are uncompassionate conservatives like Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, or Ben Stein’s own hero, Richard Nixon. Maybe all these people, along with the Social Darwinists from Herbert Spencer to John D Rockefeller, committed the is/ought fallacy and justified their unpleasant social views by invoking garbled Darwinism. Anyone who thinks that has any bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of Darwin’s theory of evolution is either an unreasoning fool or a cynical manipulator of unreasoning fools.

About the Creation Museum

You may not be aware of it, but someone has spent twenty-some million dollars to build a Creation Museum.  I hope you take the time to read and enjoy John Scalzi’s report about his trip to this shrine to creationsim as much as I did – especially the part about vegeterian dinosaurs.

It’s one thing to say to people that God directly created the dinosaurs and that they lived in the Garden of Eden. It’s another thing to suggest they lived long enough to harass the Minoans, and do it with a straight face. It’s horseshit, pure and simple, but that’s not to suggest I can’t admire the hucksterism.