Category Archives: Nature of Science

Does Splenda cause cancer? A lesson in how to critically read scientific papers

Last week, researchers published a paper suggesting that sucralose (Splenda) causes cancer in male mice. This has re-sparked an old debate, and various media outlets have been quick to pounce on the results and flood the internet with articles like, … Continue reading

Posted in Nature of Science | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Understanding the reported risks of medicines, foods, toxic chemicals, etc.

We are constantly bombarded with news reports and claims like, “A new study found that chemical X increases your risk of disease Y by 100%” or “doing X makes you twice as likely to have Y,” but what do those … Continue reading

Posted in Nature of Science, Vaccines/Alternative Medicine | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Is the peer-review system broken? A look at the PLoS ONE paper on a hand designed by “the Creator”

The internet has recently gone nuts over a scientific paper published in PLoS ONE (a generally respectable journal) which contained several lines suggesting that the human hand was designed by “the Creator.” The paper was quickly retracted, but the brouhaha … Continue reading

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8 lessons that MythBusters taught us about science and skepticism

This is a sad week for me, because this week I must bid farewell to one of my all time favorite TV shows: MythBusters. In a world where educational television has degraded to the point that it consists largely of … Continue reading

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5 reasons why anecdotes are totally worthless

Personal anecdotes are often the primary ammunition of those who deny science. If you ask anyone in the alternative medicine or anti-vaccine movements for their evidence, you will almost certainly get flooded with anecdotes. A quick internet search will reveal … Continue reading

Posted in GMO, Nature of Science, Rules of Logic, Vaccines/Alternative Medicine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Research, you’re doing it wrong: A look at Tenpenny’s “Vaccine Research Library”

“I’ve done my research.” If you’ve ever debated someone who disagrees with a scientific  consensus, then you’ve probably encountered that sentence, especially if they were an anti-vaccer. It is the mantra of the anti-science movement, but it’s nearly always misused. … Continue reading

Posted in Nature of Science, Vaccines/Alternative Medicine | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

The hierarchy of evidence: Is the study’s design robust?

People are extraordinarily prone to confirmation biases. We have a strong tendency to latch onto anything that supports our position and blindly ignore anything that doesn’t. This is especially true when it comes to scientific topics. People love to think … Continue reading

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