Monday, October 20, 2014

The research paper behind a favorite Dr. Oz product was just retracted

By Julia Belluz, via Vox
NBC Newswire
Mehmet Oz, America's doctor, is known for many things, but being a proponent of good science isn't one of them. Last summer, he was even dragged up to Capitol Hill and berated by senators for his bunk weight-loss prescriptions. "The scientific community is almost monolithic against you," Sen. Claire McCaskill admonished him.

Now comes more evidence of Oz's wizardry: according to the blog Retraction Watch, authors have retracted a key study that the TV doctor used to tout a green coffee bean extract for weight loss. "The sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data so we, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham, are retracting the paper," the journal's retraction notice reads.

Even before the retraction, the study had attracted a lot of scrutiny for being too weak and flawed to support any health claims, let alone weight loss wonders. The Federal Trade Commission had also settled a $3.5-million lawsuit with the supplement-makers for its false marketing and bad science. This from the FTC's September press release about the settlement:

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Superior Court rules in favor of controversial street preachers

By Mensah M. Dean, via Philly.com

A CONTROVERSIAL group of black street preachers who spew hate speech at whites, Asians, gays, women and some blacks they find objectionable, has a right to continue preaching, the state Superior Court has ruled.

The Oct. 14 decision affirmed Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler's ruling from July 2013, and is another blow to the Shops at Liberty Place, which sued the preachers.

Operating under the name Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, the preachers since 2012 have held semiregular Friday-afternoon demonstrations on the public sidewalk at 16th and Chestnut streets, which is near the main entrance to the Center City retail complex.

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University of Wisconsin responds to dishonest petition attacking psychiatric research

By Blue Sky Science, via Speaking of Research

What do you do if your university is the target of an aggressive publicity campaign that distorts and misrepresents the work of one of your most highly respected scientists? What do you do if hundreds of thousands of people sign a petition calling for a research project to be cancelled, even though the petition contains numerous errors of fact? What do you do if a media campaign, backed by several of the world’s largest animal rights groups threatens to undermine academic freedom and the research evaluation process at your University?

Do you ignore it? Do you give in? What do you do?
Infant rhesus monkeys playing in nursery. Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. @2014 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents
These are questions that the University of Wisconsin -Madison has faced in recent weeks as a change.org petition that seeks to end a research project led by Professor Ned Kalin, chair of the University’s Department of Psychiatry. The petition, backed by many animal rights groups across the world, including PeTA and HSUS, has gathered more than 300,000 signatures.

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An old “friend” thinks Ayurvedic “auto-urine therapy” can cure Ebola

By Orac, via Science Blogs
I’m beginning to feel that I’m flogging a topic a bit too hard again. Usually, this happens primarily when I’m on a roll over some particularly tasty ridiculous tidbit of antivaccine nonsense. This time around, it’s not so much antivaccine nonsense (although some did manage to slip its way into the discussion) but rather Ebola virus disease. In particular, it’s the conspiracy theories and quackery that have sprung up in the media like so much kudzu smothering rational and science-based discourse, revealing the depths of distrust based on politics, pseudoscience, and just plain nonsense that our public health officials have to deal with. There really are people out there who believe that the CDC, the WHO, the government, big pharma, and medicine itself are in cahoots to inflict a virus that kills more than half the people it infects on poor people in Africa and allow it to spread to more developed countries, all in order to create a market for drugs and vaccines against it to enrich our pharma overlords. There really are people who believe that President Obama actually wants Ebola to become established in the US because he wants to infect white people in order make the US more like his “home” in Africa.

Then there’s the quackery, so much quackery. Be it homeopathy, high dose vitamin C, “natural biopreparedness” kits, or essential oils being sold to cure Ebola, truly outbreaks bring out the worst in people as demonstrated by increasingly outlandish conspiracy theories and quackery.

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New CSIRO head wants to help farmers find water

By Lucy Barbour, via Australian Broadcasting Corporation

PHOTO: The new head of the CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall, has
worked as a venture capitalist in recent years, but has family ties to
Australian farming.
The new head of the CSIRO knows exactly what it's like to have dry, thirsty dams.

Dr Larry Marshall grew up working on farms and his family run a property in drought-affected Queensland.

It's why he isn't afraid to talk about what he describes as an 'out-there' vision for agricultural research, on top of what's already being done at the premier science organisation.

He's interested in the development of technology that would make it easier for farmers to dowse or divine for water on their properties.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Homeowners at war with ghost hunters over ‘portal to hell’ located on their property

By Paul Choate, via My FOX 8

BLUE ASH, Ohio — If you believe some of the residents of Cincinnati suburb Blue Ash, Ohio, there is a “portal to hell” there.

Warning: Video above contains graphic language and content some viewers may find disturbing.

According to WCPO, the “portal” is a storm drain — that is on private property.

The site is attracting ghost hunters and it is causing headaches for both the homeowners and the local police.

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80 Sickened in Utah Campy Outbreak Linked to Raw Milk

Via Food Safety News

At least 80 people fell ill this summer with Campylobacter infections linked to the consumption of unpasteurized milk from a farm in Utah, according to Utah health officials speaking with state lawmakers on Wednesday.

Health officials said that the outbreak also contributed to the death of one immunocompromised man. Twenty percent of cases were hospitalized.

The farm linked to the outbreak, Ropelato Dairy in west Ogden, had its license reinstated on Oct. 3 after testing of samples showed no more sign of contamination, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

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