I’m amazed that they even bothered to fact-check Marshall’s claim that being gay “cuts your life by about 20 years,” since it’s obviously false. To their credit, they contacted the author of the study that constitutes Marshall’s evidence, who said that Marshall is guilty of a “gross misrepresentation” of his research, and that he is “misusing the data” by using his study “to support the notion that gay and bisexual sex is somehow the reason why people die early.” →
It’s been known for some years now that very few people who believe that they have peanut allergies actually have peanut allergies, but the precise number hasn’t been known. The University of Manchester tested this by giving peanuts to a bunch of kids with peanut allergies (a bold move, to be sure) and found that 80% of them had no reaction at all. The problem is that the standard test for peanut allergies has a high false positive rate. Parents know that their kid is allergic to something, get him tested for everything under the sun, and “peanuts” often shows up on the list. For whatever reason, parents of kids with peanut allergies think that death is the most likely outcome of peanut exposure so next these researchers intend to study the real severity of peanut allergies. →
Back in the 1980s, it was hypothesized that HIV caused AIDS. That proved to be true. But there remain a small, vocal group of conspiracy theorists who are convinced that the HIV/AIDS connection is a huge scam. That group includes people with HIV. But as those people die of AIDS, that group keeps getting smaller, but no less convinced that they’re right, evidence be damned. →
Using public records of grocery store locations and vehicle ownership, the USDA has mapped the locations of “food deserts,” regions where people lack access to decent food. Such areas have been popular to talk about and speculate about, but this is the first effort that I’m aware of to actually locate and measure them. →
- Double-Tongued Dictionary: hoghouse
"Connotating legislation that has been stripped of its original provisions and amended to accomplish a different purpose." This is a useful word.
- Office of Government Ethics: Executive Agency Ethics Pledge Waivers
These are the presidential appointees who were given waivers to exempt them from one or more ethics regulations, along with copies of the relevant documents that explain the circumstances warranting their exemption from ethics standards.
- Bulk Homeopathy
Save money by buying in bulk. They ought to dehydrate it, to save on shipping. Just add water!
- Nieman Reports: A Local Newspaper Endures a Stormy Backlash
This is the story of how the tiny Idaho Falls Post Register bravely uncovered a series of cases of pedophiles acting as leaders in area Boy Scout troops, as told by the managing editor of the paper. In the face of an angry public very much in denial and personal embarrassment heaped on the reporter (a closeted gay man, he was outed), they pushed on, eventually getting state law changed to help the victims and and winning the Scripps Howard First Amendment prize.
- Bret Victor: A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design
Whether or not you care about the phrase "interaction design," you'll probably be interested in these thoughts about the poverty of our methods of interfacing with gizmos when compared with the rest of our interactions with the world.
- Food Safety News: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey
Anything related to honey is filtered out of most honey, leaving a sugar solution. Why? In part because it allows Chinese businesses to dump their antibiotics-laced honey on the U.S. market without any pollen left that would allow the honey to be IDd as Chinese. If you want real honey, just buy it from a local producer or from a health food store.
- Science News: Columbus Blamed For Little Ice Age
Here's a fun theory of the origin of the Little Ice Age, lasting from around 1550–1850: that massive losses of New World population, as a result of disease spread by explorers, resulted in reforestation of huge swaths of the Americas, removing billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, decreasing its capacity to hold heat. The theory itself isn't new—it was first proposed six years ago—but this new theory is based on a combination of evidence that CO2 levels dropped then and archeological evidence that charcoal accumulation plummeted during the period, evidence that the smaller populations weren't burning trees to clear land for crops. No doubt the link between exploration and climate would have struck people as impossible at the time. Kind of like how many Republicans will feel about it now.
- LA Times: Dietary supplements linked to higher risk of death in older women
A longitudinal study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has found that women who take multivitamins regularly die younger than those who do not. Of all of the supplements studied (B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and more), only calcium appeared to lower the risk of death. More and more data show that supplements simply aren't useful, save for to compensate for a shortage resulting from a health problem, and prescribed by a doctor.
- AP: Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax
Republicans are complaining about how 46% of Americans pay no income tax, despite that the fact that half of them make no payments because of income tax cuts that Republicans championed and, in many cases, enacted. (The other half have little to no income, which makes criticism of their lack of payments particularly heartless.) "I'm so angry that my agenda has been enacted!"
- TPM: ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Opens Fire On Store Because It Ran Out Of Crawfish
42-year-old Larry Wayne Kelly—yes, middle name "Wayne"— opened fire on Pensacola's L&T Seafood Market with an AK-47 after they sold out of crawfish. When police tried to arrest them, he tried to run them down with his car. But it's OK, Kelly says, because he's a "sovereign citizen"—laws don't apply to him.
- Quora: Is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin a good idea?
This economist makes a good argument that Bitcoin is, at best, a terrible idea and, at worst, a scam.
- Wikipedia: List of IARC Group 2B carcinogens
I thought it was big news that the World Health Organization had classified cell phones as a potential carcinogen, until I read more about "Group 2B," as it's been classified. Also on the list is baby powder, carpentry, coffee, and pickles. These are things that may or may not be carcinogens—nobody knows for sure. Most humans on the planet have mobiles phones, yet brain tumors are no more common now than they've ever been—that seems to settle it for me, at least given the current paucity of evidence.
- Jacques Mattheij: Living in the zone
This is an instructive account of what it's like to be a programmer, for those who don't understand why we're working at 2 AM, or why a quick interruption can be so frustrating. I do my best skiing at the very edge of my abilities—it's trance-like, and a distraction would probably send me crashing down. The same goes for programming.
- New York Times: Is Sugar Toxic?
Answer: Quite possibly. This is an important article. It seems probable that what's dangerous about corn syrup isn't anything intrinsically corn-syrupy, but that it is so cheap that it's enabled Americans to consume stunning quantities of added sugar. Ninety pounds per year, in fact. A standard single-serving bottle of cola has over eleven teaspoons of sugar.
- Engadget: Comcast Extreme 105 serves up 105Mbps internet speeds for home users with deep pockets
A 105Mbps connection from Comcast? That's great! Too bad it's still limited to their 250GB cap, a monthly limit that you'd hit on their new service in…uh…five hours and twenty minutes. No thank you.
- Guardian: Honeybees ‘entomb’ hives to protect against pesticides, say scientists
Bees are awesome.
- New York Times: More Physicians Say No to Endless Workdays
I'm glad to see that more doctors are ditching the habit of working endless hours. Though I appreciate that a small-town doctor or a specialist has an obligation to always be available, it's great that doctors who have a choice are working 40-hour weeks. The inventor of the residency program wrote of a doctor's obligations: "What about the wife and babies if you have them? Leave them." Enough of that.
- Good: Scientist Beloved by Climate Deniers Pulls Rug Out from Their Argument
A climate change doubter funded by the Koch brothers presented a report to Congress on climate change the other day. He intended to expose existing global temperature data as inaccurate. And, after a bunch of research he discovered that…climatologists are absolutely correct. AWK-ward.