I read with a great deal of interest a report on Vox by their science and health reporter Julia Belluz (@juliaoftoronto on Twitter) on the recently publicized story of Pandemrix, an H1N1 pandemic influenza (a.k.a. “Swine Flu”) vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the condition of narcolepsy (a debilitating sleep disorder) that affected a small fraction of individuals who received this vaccine.
Do you dream of steak tartare? Are the names ossenworst, kitfo, crudos, yookhwe, or larb lu, music to your ears? You are not alone. Globally, including in the United States, countless people swear by these and other raw meat dishes. The question is – are you putting yourself at risk?
A couple of days ago, Paige Brown Jarreau, my Scilogs co-blogger (“From the Lab Bench“) and our intrepid, supportive, Scilogs-Community Manager, launched her own crowdfunding project on experiment.com to fund her research work on science communication. It is a worthy effort, and her results will be Open Access, which is an awesome plus. Please do visit her blog as well as the project page to support her endeavor if possible.
Bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoan parasites; we share our world with countless agents of infectious, disease-causing bugs. Globally, infectious (or ‘communicable’) diseases of various stripes – respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, and meningitis among them – together remain the fourth leading cause of death, with people from lower-income countries being disproportionately more affected. Children form an especially vulnerable group; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 6.6 million children under 5 years died worldwide in 2012, and over two-thirds of these deaths were attributable to infectious causes.
Poor wee “All Natural”, “Herbal” dietary supplements — ‘safe and effective’ alternative medical modalities so beloved of the pseudoscience aficionados and woomeisters all over the world: they can’t get a break!
On June 2, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning – via its Medication Health Fraud webpage – against 6 over-the-counter products for ‘Sexual Enhancement’, its second-largest single-day set of warning in this particular category. (The largest-yet set was warnings against 7 products in June last year.)
Over at Communication Breakdown, my Scilogs-brother and science communicator par excellence Matt Shipman has brought out an interesting post, highlighting the problems in health research coverage by reporters as well as public information officers writing news releases. Matt exhorts these communicators to pay attention to three important concepts: context, limitations, and next steps.
I don’t know why, but I have always loved those gentle giants, elephants. Whether it is because of growing up in India (a large part of the Indian subcontinent is home to Elephas maximus, the Asian Elephant), or listening to the stories of Ganesha, the cute-but-powerful and mischievous god of Hindu theology, or reading about Hathi, the old and respected head of the elephant troop, who becomes a friend to Mowgli in Kipling’s The Jungle Book, my perennial favorite – I don’t know… But these gorgeous animals fascinate me. [Confession: I felt immeasurably sad watching the Oliphaunts die under attack in Lord of The Rings.]
I have had on Twitter a fairly good response to my inaugural ScioLang post. A hearty thank you to all who responded. My post was shared and retweeted several times, and I have been able to find the names of a few more persons who, I think, can contribute meaningfully to this discussion.
Folks, folks! I have gotten myself involved in a grand and rather exciting project related to Science Communication, which followed my getting acquainted with Seattle-based scientist and science communicator Dr. Ivan Fernando Gonzalez (NOTE) quite accidentally, on Twitter. This project I referred to is borne out of Ivan’s desire to bridge multicultural communities in science. Christened Sciolang (its twitter avatar, of course, comes with its own hashtag, #Sciolang), this project aspires to initiate and sustain a conversation about sharing and extending science beyond English-speaking audiences. To the same end, Sciolang has been merged with a session taking place at a major science communication event, ScienceOnline Together 2014 (#scio14 on Twitter), scheduled for the end of February at Raleigh, North Carolina.
Every so often, some paper happens to grab my attention for various reasons. As I read the paper, often I have questions. Not all of those questions, unfortunately, can be easily submitted for answers. In recent times, one such paper was published earlier this month in PLOS One. The great benefit of the Open-Access model of PLOS is that it allows a reader to ask questions directly of the authors. This level of engagement is very laudable, especially to someone like me who has an interest in the communication of scientific facts.