You’re gonna want to click this.
…So, we’re agreed that vaccines are potential money-makers for pharmaceutical companies (though, comparatively, not a lot). Let’s look now at those who started the most recent iteration of vaccine panic, including Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield is the British doctor whose study first drew an association between the measles/mumps/rubella (“MMR”) vaccine and autism. Except, first of all, it really didn’t if you look at the original article. And, you might note that article has a big “RETRACTED” notice at the top. This means that the journal took away its support of the paper–it shows that it never should have been published. That’s because, for that study and several others, Wakefield lied about data, unethically recruited test subjects, and/or just outright made shit up. Why might he do this? Well, a British lawyer had paid him to find evidence of this connection between MMR and autism, so that the lawyer could sue on behalf of the parents. Oh, and did I mention that Wakefield stood to make money for a replacement for the MMR vaccine as well? Follow the money indeed–though in this case, it didn’t lead to the pharmaceutical companies. Wakefield was tried in England and stripped of his medical license, but has since moved to the United States and still spreads misinformation about vaccines.
What about other anti-vaccine players? Jenny McCarthy has made millions selling books about how she “cured” her son Evan of his autism. Joseph Mercola makes millions selling dietary supplements (untested and largely unregulated, by the way), and lives in a two million dollar mansion. I know you’ve criticized creationists; well, these people are the creationists of the medical field. They distort, they cherry-pick their evidence, and they cause the public to lose confidence in credentialed scientists because of their writings. Credentialed scientists like myself, who carry out the vast majority of this research but certainly don’t live in million-dollar homes.
Because we explain THE FUCK out of shit.
Make sure you don’t read the comments. For gods’ sake. Don’t read the comments.
Never read the comments.
“Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - The White House
A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity. We contacted White at NASA and asked him to explain how this real life warp drive could actually work.
Holy science fiction, Batman!
“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”
- Marco Rubio, when asked about the age of the Earth.
What follows is a guest blog post written by Marty Nader, a political science PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; he specializes in campaigns, elections, political communication and public policy.
I would put Ed Gogek’s New York Times op-ed regarding the successful marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington in the same category as drug czar Gil Kerlikowske’s recent and disappointing response to popular legalization petitions: Full of long discredited factoids and old school prohibition apologetics. Both Gogek and Kerlikowske are simply regurgitating talking points from the DARE programs of the 1980s and 1990s without addressing any of the 21st century concerns of the contemporary marijuana debate (e.g., prison overcrowding, a clogged judicial system, the racial dimensions of drug arrests and convictions, drug war spending, failure of the drug war to accomplish any of its objectives, success of medical marijuana programs and decriminalization policies in the United States and abroad, and more).
I wholeheartedly disagree with Gogek that the Democratic Party should be cautious about being the “party of pot.” If the Democrats learn anything from the state legalization initiatives, it should be that Democratic voters are overwhelmingly on one side of this issue, that more states are bound to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, and that Amendment 80 received more votes in Colorado than did Barack Obama, illustrating a rare example of bipartisan support for policy reform. Democrats should be proactive in taking the reins on this issue both at the state and national levels. Support for marijuana legalization will continue to increase as the electorate begins to look younger and less white. Neither party can afford to pass on this issue for much longer.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next ten years Republicans began making calls for marijuana legalization, particularly at the state-level by using the libertarian frame of this issue: wasteful government spending and unnecessary government intrusions into private behaviors.
I understand that Congress, the DEA, the Department of Justice and the entire drug war establishment are reluctant to admit that for 40 years they have been sending people to prison for something that is now legal in two states, but that’s not a sufficient argument to support the continuing prohibition. That is, however, all I hear coming from prohibition advocates: keep doing what we’re doing and eventually it will work … maybe.
Dr. Gogek mentions that “every addiction medicine society” claims that marijuana is highly addictive. So does every law enforcement and prison organization. The vast majority of medical associations, however, argue that marijuana is no more addictive than coffee, chocolate or Diet Coke. If vaporized or eaten (as opposed to being smoked), marijuana has virtually no negative health effects whatsoever (the psychoactive ingredient THC is not harmful, but inhaling the smoke from a burning plant is). The negative public health effects of marijuana that opponents love to mention come from its prohibition, lucrative black market value and associated violence; not its biochemical composition.
As an addiction specialist over the age of 50, Dr. Gogek has a vested occupational and economic interest in keeping marijuana a Schedule I substance. The court system sends him marijuana users as patients for addiction therapy, and users are happy to take addiction therapy in place of jail time. I know several people who have been coerced into such therapy. They have to admit that they have an addiction, a problem, they must submit to a higher power, attend meetings, attend sessions, and so on. Every marijuana user I know who has gone through such programs has come out with a much better understanding of how marijuana is nothing like other addictive substances, including alcohol.
Gogek also refers to the “phony science” behind medical marijuana in his op-ed. This is a true sign of any drug warrior. It isn’t phony science; it may be controversial, it may conflict with your preexisting understanding of medication, but there is nothing pseudo-scientific about it. Universities around the country and around the world are conducting medical marijuana research; some of it even being funded hypocritically by the federal government.
Marijuana is a preferred treatment for cancer patients dealing with nausea from chemotherapy and radiation because the pharmaceutical alternatives have too many adverse side effects. Aside from these conditions, there are only a few diseases and ailments that marijuana uniquely treats. While I do support medical marijuana laws out of compassion for the truly sick, I don’t think marijuana should be legalized for its medicinal purposes only. It should be legalized for adults who want to responsibly use it recreationally … just like we allow for alcohol and coffee. Medicinal access should be a by-product of general legalization; recreational access should not be attained through loopholes in medical marijuana programs.
Gogek also tries to equate marijuana use with the domestic violence associated with alcohol, crack/cocaine, and prescription drug abuse. In fact, many (if not most) women’s advocacy organizations support marijuana legalization because marijuana use is not associated with domestic violence. Worst case scenario, marijuana legalization leads to increased laziness and couch-potatoism; not the violent and abusive behavior associated with alcoholism. Tying marijuana with the damage and destruction of more dangerous drugs has been and continues to be a common ploy used by prohibition advocates.
In reference to Gogek’s concerns about young marijuana users performing poorly in school: Are under-performing students more likely to seek out marijuana, or does marijuana make students perform worse? I don’t know the answer. Anecdotally, I would guess that it depends on the person. Some people can have a few drinks each week and not have their life negatively impacted; some lack the ability to control their drinking and therefore face the consequences. It’s likely the same with marijuana. I agree with Gogek that marijuana, like alcohol, should not be available to people under 18. But as long as marijuana remains illegal, young people will continue to purchase marijuana from dealers who do not check IDs. Currently, marijuana is much easier to acquire than alcohol for minors. Regulating it like alcohol will make it harder, though still not impossible, for young people to purchase.
Finally, drug courts, contrary to what Dr. Gogek says, are not a successful program. Not at all. They are designed to streamline the drug prosecution process to free up the court system for non-drug cases. The problem is that there are too many drug arrests for the drug courts to handle (~800,000/year). State and federal courts continue to be overburdened with victimless possession and cultivation offenses. Drug courts also overwhelmingly sentence people to addiction treatment for small possession offenses. While this does slightly mitigate the over-incarceration problem, it also creates a complex wherein people like Ed Gogek become dependent on and encourage the continuance of the War on Drugs.
Simply put, Dr. Gogek is a devotee to and beneficiary of marijuana prohibition. He and others like him refuse to see the changing tides on this issue. He clings to half-truths and drug war talking points that have fallen on deaf ears. I support his work in treating patients with real addictions to seriously destructive drugs, but I sincerely disagree with his position on the perils of marijuana legalization. If legalized, people who feel as though they are addicted to marijuana can still seek out treatment (a la alcoholism), instead of being forced through court orders to “voluntarily” submit themselves for addiction treatment.
Will the repeal of marijuana prohibition go off without a hiccup? I expect not. The prohibition of alcohol and its repeal required adjustment periods. It’s a good bet that the same will happen with marijuana. I’m just glad the ball is rolling and the era of marijuana prohibition is seeing its last years.
That’s Rush Limbaugh, quick to find a political conspiracy in the weather report.
As I know I’ve been saying for years, you have to watch out for those elite liberal hurricanes!
I’m assuming that Limbaugh brought similar concerns to his listeners’ attention when the Department of Homeland Security used to raise the Terror Alert Level right before every election of the past decade. Right?
(via Wil Wheaton)
Jesus fucking Christ man, seriously?
What’s the value of space exploration?
This week, elated by the Curiosity rover, I posted something about how great NASA is to my FB page. Someone immediately commented that it cost $3B already (which I don’t think is even accurate), and complained that it was a waste of money that would be better spent on immediate needs back home.
Of course, I ranted about how the space program has provided nearly limitless value in terms of the technology it’s provided the United States and the world. And of course, he was unconvinced, calling quantifiable and demonstrable advances in communications, medicine, public safety, engineering, transportation, etc., “subjective benefits.”
So in the interest of assisting anyone else who may have encountered such a myopic lack of vision and, what else can I call it but flat-out ignorance, and since NASA’s budget is forever on the chopping block, here are a few links to more information about what is known as NASA’s “spinoff technologies.”
back issues of Spinoff magazine, a free annual PDF that’s over 200 pages of details about NASA advancements
Top 10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day from Discovery.com
10 Best NASA Spinoffs from Wired
In a nutshell, if you drive, fly, walk, use a cell phone, use a computer, use a smoke detector, use a GPS device, wear shoes, sleep on a bed, wear glasses, check your kid’s temperature, check the weather, or ever had a CAT scan… your life has been positively impacted by NASA technologies.