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Mercury-Caused Endocrine Conditions Causing Widespread Adverse Health Effects

Mercury-Caused Endocrine Conditions Causing Widespread Adverse Health Effects, Cognitive Effects, and Fertility Effects B.Windham(Ed.)http://www.home.earthlink.net/~berniew1/endohg.html

Introduction.
As will be documented in this paper, the majority of the population receives significant mercury exposures and significant adverse health effects are common. Mercury has been found to be an endocrine system disrupting chemical in animals and people, disrupting function of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, thymus gland, adrenal gland, enzyme production processes, and affecting many hormonal functions at very low levels of exposure . The main factors determining whether chronic conditions are induced by metals appear to be exposure and genetic susceptibility, which determines individuals immune sensitivity and ability to detoxify metals(405). Very low levels of exposure have been found to seriously affect large groups of individuals who are immune sensitive to toxic metals, or have an inability to detoxify metals due to such as deficient sulfoxidation or metallothionein function or other inhibited enzymatic processes related to detoxification or excretion of metals. Read more…

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Drink your sleep troubles away: tart cherry juice helps beat insomnia

Millions of Americans have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, resulting in excessive fatigue and even more serious consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression…it is also responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents.”

Of course, Big Pharma has come up with a huge array of supposedly easy solutions for those who have a hard time getting enough shut-eye. All you have to do is pop a pill such as the heavily hyped Sonata, Rozerem, Lunesta or Silenor and you’ll soon be snoozing away happily, the drug advertisements promise. Of course, you might decide that’s not the healthiest idea if you check out the side effects which can include hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, loss of coordination, fever, “sleep driving” while not fully awake and memory problems. Read more…

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Vitamin B6 Cuts Colon Cancer Risk

By Kathleen Doheny

WEDNESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) — High daily levels of vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of getting colon cancer by 58 percent, claims a new study from Harvard Medical School.

The research, published in the May 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, builds on other studies that have already indicated a strong preventive effect from the vitamin.

“There are several smaller studies that have found a protective effect from dietary intakes of B6,” said lead researcher Esther K. Wei, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. However, “this is the first large study of women to look at blood levels of B6” and find a protective effect, she added.

Wei and her colleagues evaluated nearly 33,000 women who were participants in the Nurses’ Health study, a long-running study that began in 1976. Since then, researchers have focused on subsets of the original 121,700 participants, all nurses between 30 and 55 years of age when they enrolled, to study various health issues. Read more…

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Tobacco firms bypass marketing restrictions with clever web campaigns

Tobacco companies may be bypassing marketing bans by secretly posting promotional videos online, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and published in the journal Tobacco Control.

“Tobacco companies stand to benefit greatly from the marketing potential of Web 2.0, without themselves being at significant risk of being implicated in violating any laws or advertising codes,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers analyzed the first 20 pages of YouTube search results featuring five different tobacco brands, consisting of 163 video clips.

“It is disturbing to note that some of the pro-tobacco videos appeared to be of a professional standard, many followed similar themes within a brand and large numbers contained images or music that may be copyrighted to tobacco companies but have not been removed,” they said.

Copyright holders regularly ask YouTube to remove materials used without permission, and the company nearly always complies with such requests. Read more…

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Dying cancer patients subjected to expensive, meaningless cancer screening tests

Earlier this year, we reported the kind of story that almost seems too far-fetched to be true. According to a study by University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) researchers that was published in the American Journal of Public Health, unneeded, expensive mammograms are regularly pushed on elderly women who are incapacitated and dying from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, especially if the patients still have assets of $100,000 or more.

Think the cancer screening industry couldn’t get any greedier than that example? Think again. Another study, just out in the October 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes a sizeable proportion of terminally ill cancer patients are being subjected to common, expensive (and often painful) cancer screening tests. And these tests provide virtually no benefit whatsoever to those dying of cancer — although they do hike up medical bills and profits for health care providers. Read more…

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Dangerous Fungus Now Endemic in Pacific Northwest: CDC

(HealthDay News) — Cryptococcus gattii — an airborne fungus that can cause life-threatening illness — is an emerging infection in the Pacific Northwest, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

While C. gattii infections are rare — only 60 cases have been reported since 2004 — they can be severe and even fatal, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in the July 23 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“C. gattii is still rare so we don’t want people to panic or to misunderstand the risk of infection, but it is serious,” said co-author Julie Harris, of CDC’s National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases.

Harris explained that people get the infection by breathing in the spores of the fungus, which live in the environment and are usually found in the bark of certain trees and the surrounding ground. Read more…

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Liver diseases identified as Europes silent killers

LIVER diseases have become a silent killer in Europe, and are now responsible for more than one in six deaths in the European Union.

More than 10 million people in the region suffer from viral hepatitis alone but many of them will not even be aware of it, according to medical experts.

The European association for the study of the liver want the European Union to launch a public awareness campaign especially about viral hepatitis.

Professor Jean-Michel Pawlotsky told members of the European Parliament yesterday that viral hepatitis is one of the most common and lift-threatening communicable diseases in Europe, and yet it seems to have been forgotten by governments.

“It has become a silent killer because of the large and increasing number of individuals who carry hepatitis B or C, but have not been tested and are so unaware of their condition.

“Without treatment, viral hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death,” he said.

The condition should be recognised as an urgent health priority with awareness campaigns, primary prevention measures, earlier diagnosis and better management of the disease, said Prof Pawlotsky. Read more…

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Vitamins and Good Sense

By Bernadine Healy M.D.
Posted 3/4/07

Vitamin studies always seem to stir controversy, but certainly not visions of death. On that score, last week’s report on antioxidant vitamins, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was a doozy. The researchers concluded that people taking the antioxidants vitamins A, its precursor beta carotene, and vitamin E, for whatever reason, at whatever dose, and for however long, may be putting their lives in jeopardy. But before you toss out your vitamin pills, let’s examine this alarmist study a little bit closer.

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital set out to determine whether the antioxidant supplements lengthen one’s life. That’s difficult to answer, since most people taking vitamins are healthy. So the researchers identified antioxidant clinical trials large and small, as long as they reported at least one death. Any death counted, whether from heart disease or cancer, kidney failure or hip fractures, murders or suicides. Out of 747 antioxidant trials reviewed, 68 met the bill. Then, in what is called a meta-analysis, the 68 trials were combined into what is effectively one study. Read more…

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Malpractice Fears Can Influence Medical Practice

(HealthDay News) — Peer pressure and fear of malpractice lawsuits seem to be behind the decisions by some doctors to order unnecessary cardiac catheterizations, new research suggests.

When asked in a national survey why they might order this potentially hazardous procedure that measures blood flow to the human heart, even when it might not be called for clinically, the top two reasons that cardiologists around the country gave were the fact that other doctors do it routinely and that patients might sue if the test wasn’t done.

“We didn’t say unnecessary,” noted study author Frances Lee Lucas, an epidemiologist with the Maine Medical Center in Portland, whose report was published in the April 13 online edition of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. “We said how often for non-clinical reasons. We didn’t want to say unnecessary because we knew nobody would ever say they ordered an unnecessary test.”

The study of 598 cardiologists didn’t attempt to determine the number of catheterizations performed that weren’t really needed — an important issue in an era of rising worry about medical costs. That would be a very difficult study to do, and it would have to include errors in both directions, people who need one and don’t get it as well as people who get one and don’t need it, Lucas said. Read more…

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Amino acids are latest in growing list of nutrients shown to extend life span

Researchers are zeroing in on specific nutrients and natural therapies that not only can prevent and heal disease but promote longevity. For example, as NaturalNews previously reported, a research team from Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc., and LifeGen Technologies found that Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4), a traditional Chinese mushroom, is a powerful anti-aging food that could lengthen lifespan (http://www.dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=24075). And University at Buffalo endocrinologists recently documented for the first time that resveratrol, a phytochemical found in red grapes, grape juice and red wine, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in humans and may promote human longevity, too (http://www.dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=20422). Read more…

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Analyzing and Storing Genomics Data

In just the last 10 years, the cost of sequencing a million DNA base pairs has dropped from $10,000 to just $1. A single modern DNA sequencing machine can generate more data in a single day than could once be generated in a decade. Consequently, genomics researchers now face a looming problem, according to an article in Science – the speed and efficiency with which DNA sequence data can be produced will soon outstrip the ability of most computers to analyze and store the data! That’s right; despite huge gains in computer speed and storage capacity over the years, the computers are now lagging behind.

To combat this growing problem, bioinformatics specialists are increasingly turning to “cloud computing”, whereby data are analyzed and even stored on networks of computers off-site. But cloud computing raises complex new issues of data security, particularly when that data involves human subjects.

Perhaps if the cost of sequencing DNA continues to fall it may not even be necessary to store the data long-term; it could just be regenerated as needed.

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Smallpox – Gone Forever?

A deadly viral disease called smallpox killed several hundred million people in the 1800s. Thanks to the development of smallpox vaccines and a concerted effort worldwide, the disease was finally declared eradicated in 1979. To this day, smallpox is the only infectious human disease ever wiped out completely.

Nevertheless, the spectre of a return of smallpox remains. That’s because more than 500 vials containing the smallpox virus remain in tightly guarded, allegedly secure facilities in the U.S. and Russia. The question is, what to do with these vials? Some scientists and politicians (particularly in the U.S. and Russia) argue that stocks of the smallpox virus are still needed for research and for the development of new diagnostics, safer vaccines, and effective antiviral drugs. Others argue that over the past several decades we’ve learned just about all we can about the virus, and that the mere existence of these vials represents a risk that some day the disease could return, particularly if a vial were to fall into the hands of terrorists.

The World Health Organization (WHO) will decide in May whether to recommend a firm deadline for the final destruction of all remaining vials. But don’t count on the elimination of every last smallpox virus from the planet any time soon, even if a deadline is announced. An earlier deadline of 1990 was postponed indefinitely when both the U.S. and Russia argued against it. It’s more likely that a compromise will be reached to reduce stockpiles without eliminating them completely.

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Reducing Test Anxiety

Some students get so anxious before tests that their test performance falls well below their abilities. The effect is usually greatest on high-stakes tests such as finals and standardized entrance exams. Why do such students “choke under pressure”?

According to current learning theory, anxious thoughts compete for space in the short-term working memory system. If the short-term memory system is concentrating on anxious thoughts, so the theory goes, it can’t focus as well on the information that might be most useful for the test.

If the current learning theory is true, then getting anxious thoughts out of one’s head before the exam might result in improved exam scores. Indeed, in a recent study, students who suffered from test anxiety had better final exam scores in high school biology when they sat down before the exam and wrote their anxious thoughts down, compared to students who didn’t write.

Just 10 minutes of writing was enough to raise the students’ final exam grades from a B- to a B+.

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Greenhouses in the Desert

The very real possibility of shortages of energy and freshwater some day are prompting the development of all sorts of innovative technologies, especially in the hottest, driest regions of the world. How about this – greenhouses in the desert that produce freshwater, powered only by the sun and using only saltwater drawn from the sea?

Here’s how it would work. Concentrated solar power would produce steam to drive turbines, producing electricity for power. Evaporation of saltwater would produce cool, moist air for the greenhouse. Hotter, more humid air leaving the greenhouse would be further heated and humidified using solar energy, then cooled (by cool seawater), producing freshwater by condensation. The freshwater would be used to irrigate crops both within and outside the greenhouse, and would support a local settlement. Presumably most of the saltwater (now saltier than before) would be returned to the sea.

An 8-acre pilot project is expected to begin operations in Jordan within five years. If it works, other larger projects may follow.

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Transgenic Chickens Resist Bird Flu

By inserting a small piece of DNA into chickens that interferes with bird flu viral replication, scientists have developed transgenic chickens that are genetically resistant to infection by the bird flu virus. The inserted DNA fragment blocks a key enzyme required by the bird flu virus for replication of its RNA. Transgenic chickens exposed directly to the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus still get the flu and die, but they don’t pass it on to other birds in the flock. From an economic point of view, losing a few chickens is a lot less damaging than having to destroy a whole flock to try to prevent the spread of the disease. Flu-resistant transgenic chickens might also reduce the risk of a bird flu pandemic among humans some day.

Flocks of transgenic flu-resistant chickens could be widely available within a couple of years. That’s IF regulators decide that they and their eggs are safe to eat, and IF the public accepts them. Both are big “IF”s.

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Climate Change Casualties

The evidence keeps getting stronger that climate change brought about by global warming is likely to cause disruptions in food production and mass migrations of some people from their homes and homelands within the next century. The latest article, in the January issue of Scientific American, describes three critical “hot spots” to watch – Mozambique, already experiencing more frequent droughts and floods; the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, a rich farming area that is likely to face severe floods and loss of food production as the sea level rises; and Mexico and Central America, likely to be hit with increased numbers of tropical storms and crippling droughts.

Do we have the will to do something about climate change? Frankly, I’m not sure we do – the problem of global warming is still seen by many nations as either not severe enough, slow to develop, or not their fault (or at least not sufficiently their fault). Most nations have other more urgent issues to worry about first.

My prediction is that nations will spend more money over the next century dealing with the disastrous effects of climate change than they will in joining together to prevent the problems from ever happening in the first place. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

But then, I won’t be here to see it, will I?

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Eradicating a Disease

How hard is it to eradicate a disease from the planet completely? In all of history, that goal has been achieved only once – smallpox disease was eliminated finally in 1980. The smallpox virus now exists only as frozen samples in government laboratories in Russia and the U.S. It’s worth noting that it took 180 years to eradicate smallpox!

Other eradication programs, most notably one for malaria begun in 1955 and abandoned in the 1960s, have failed miserably. A few, like the ongoing $8 billion polio eradication program, have sharply reduced the economic burden and number of deaths from their respective diseases. But achieving complete eradication has proven elusive. A recent outbreak of polio in West Africa is one of the deadliest since the polio eradication program began 22 years ago.

It may be time to re-think whether eradication of any disease is a feasible goal. Perhaps containment and treatment make more sense. In all likelihood, future disease eradication proposals will be subject to careful cost-benefit analysis before they are launched.

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The "Not Tonight, Dear" Pheromone

An online report in Science last week demonstrates rather convincingly that women’s emotional tears contain an odorless chemical signal, or pheromone, that reduces sexual arousal in men. The press immediately dubbed it the “Not Tonight, Dear” pheromone, though that may be a bit simplistic.

Nevertheless, the evidence is clear; the men in the study rated pictures of women’s faces as less sexually attractive after sniffing tears collected from women who cried while watching sad films. They also exhibited progressive reductions in testosterone in their saliva, reductions in several psychophysiological measures of arousal, and even reductions in the activity of regions of the brain associated with sexual arousal compared to the control group. (In the control group, the same men sniffed plain saline that had been trickled down the cheeks of the women who had previously generated the tears.)

The identity of the chemical compound in women’s emotional tears is not yet known. Nor is it known whether the compound produces any other responses in men besides sexual disinterest, or whether men’s tears might also be sending some sort of signal to women.

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Why Did Swine Flu Kill Healthy Adults?

One of the most intriguing questions about the swine flu epidemic last year was why most of the deaths occurred in healthy young adults. Why were the very young and the very old generally spared?

A recent paper in Nature Medicine provides a clue, according to a news article in Science magazine. The gist of it is that the immune system of most adults is not very effective against first exposure to the H1N1-type virus. Unable to kill the virus initially with just a normal first immune response, the immune system in some patients mounted an all-out “do or die” effort to kill the virus. The result was a severe inflammatory reaction in the lungs that ultimately killed the patient instead of the virus.

The theory of a hyperactive but ineffective immune system would explain why the very young and the very old were spared by swine flu. The very young do not have a fully developed immune system with which to mount even a normal immune response, much less an exaggerated one. And many older persons may have had at least some effective antibodies against H1N1 by virtue of having been exposed to the previous H1N1 strain that was around until the late 1950’s.

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Does Aspirin Reduce the Risk of Cancer?

In addition to its known blood anticoagulant properties, aspirin might also help prevent cancer, according to an article soon to be published in The Lancet. The authors of the study examined past data from the medical charts of over 25,000 patients in eight different studies who were taking aspirin to reduce their risk of a cardiovascular event. They found that daily doses of at least 75 mg of aspirin for at least five years reduced the overall death rate due to cancer by an astonishing 21%.

So should we all start popping aspirin? Not necessarily, says the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society in his blog post of Dec. 6. Although he finds no fault with the reported results as an interesting observation, he points out that the study was a retrospective (in the past) examination of cancer deaths in studies originally designed for other purposes – far better would be a randomized prospective (looking into the future) trial, in which both the risks and benefits of aspirin could be studied together. But such a study would take another 20 years! Who wants to wait that long?

It’s a quandary often faced in medicine – what to do when there’s tantalizing new information that seems to point in a certain direction, but no way to know for sure. No doubt, some of you will start taking aspirin as a result of this new study. Before you do, consider carefully that taking aspirin may be a double-edged sword; risks associated with taking aspirin include (in some people) gastrointestinal bleeding and bleeding in the brain. It’s your call.

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Cellulosic Ethanol? Not Any Time Soon

Old conventional wisdom: ethanol made from farm and forest organic wastes (cellulosic ethanol) would soon be powering our cars and trucks. New conventional wisdom: cellulosic ethanol is dead, at least for now.

Not five years ago the government was pouring money and tax credits into various cellulosic biofuels projects. Although there were technical hurdles still to be overcome in extracting ethanol efficiently from cellulose and lignin (the primary energy storage molecules in most plants), there was optimism that the problems would be solved in short order. Today, plans for large-scale demonstration plants have been shelved, venture capital has dried up, and the industry is producing just 10% of the production goal once set by the Environmental Protection Agency. What happened?!

Lots of things happened, it turns out. Ethanol production from corn (technically easier) increased four-fold and is at an all-time high. Oil got cheaper again, technical problems in producing ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks have not yet been overcome, and investors are worried that government support (i.e., subsidies) for the developing cellulosic biofuels industry may dry up. Unless something changes, don’t expect to hear much about cellulosic biofuels for a while.

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Dinosaur Proteins Found in Fossils

Paleontologists have generally assumed that the only useful information that could be obtained from ancient fossils was in the sizes and shapes of the organism’s bones. The prevailing view has been that the soft tissues and any organic molecules or cellular structures within the bones themselves would have long since disappeared, leaving behind only fossils comprised of the same minerals found in rocks.

That view is slowly changing. It now appears that under the right conditions of fossilization, organic molecules may still remain in some fossils. So far, researchers have identified molecules that appear to be collagen and even fossilized osteocytes (bone-forming cells) and red blood cells, from the bones of dinosaurs as old as 80 million years.

No one is suggesting that we could ever resurrect dinosaurs from these ancient materials – cloning dinosaurs is still in the realm of science fiction. However if we could identify the precise sequences of certain ancient proteins, we’d have a better understanding of the function of these proteins within the organism. We might also be able to more accurately map out the evolutionary relationships between organisms, both ancient and living.

Reference: Schweitzer, Mary. Blood From Stone. Scientific American Dec. 2010, pp. 62-69.

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New Uses for DNA Identification

It’s now possible to synthesize a nearly infinite number of unique DNA sequences. It’s also possible to identify the sequence of even a small sample of DNA quickly and cheaply. Taken together, these two advances are likely to lead to some interesting new uses of DNA technology.

According to an article in The New York Times, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, police are experimenting with synthetic “DNA sprays” as a way to discourage robberies or to catch robbers of local businesses. When a store is robbed, the store clerk activates a security system that sprays the robber with a fine mist containing a unique synthetic DNA sequence as the robber departs. The system also notifies police that a robbery is in progress. Suspects who are apprehended within a certain time frame can then be tested for that specific DNA sequence.

Another idea: “DNA crayons” – each with a different DNA sequence – to mark valuable items that belong to you. Items suspected of having been stolen could then be tested and returned to their rightful owners. We’ll probably hear about other practical uses of DNA technology in the future. Have YOU got any good ideas?

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Obesity and Body Size Misperception

According to a recent report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, about 8% of obese individuals don’t recognize that they need to lose weight. Researchers call the phenomenon “body size misperception”. Obese individuals who misperceive their body size tend to be more satisfied with their overall health and are more likely to believe that they have a low lifetime risk of chronic diseases related to obesity, than are those who acknowledge that they are obese. Two-thirds of them actually believe that they are at low risk of developing obesity in their lifetimes, even though they already ARE obese according to the standard government definition.

But are there other possibilities for these people’s failure to acknowledge their obesity besides body size misperception? Perhaps these individuals do know that they are obese, but because they don’t think they can lose weight or don’t want to try, they are unwilling to acknowledge it even on a survey. It’s called denial. Or perhaps they just don’t accept the current definition of obesity (a Body Mass Index of 30 or above) and/or its health consequences.

How people perceive obesity and its consequences need to be explored further if we wish stem the rising tide of obesity in the U.S. and around the world.

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Why is Global Warming Such a Hot-Button Issue?

Why can’t we hold a civilized conversation about global warming any more without the feeling that everyone’s minds are already made up? Some people argue that global warming is an established fact, and that human activities (most notably the burning of fossil fuels) are responsible. Others insist that the evidence in support of global warming is either not convincing, deliberately misleading, or even just plain false. It’s getting to be almost as bad as talking about abortion. How did it come to this?

One science writer suggests that part of the problem lies with a failure of climate scientists to communicate the meaning of scientific uncertainty adequately to the public. Predicting climate change far into the future IS an inexact science at the moment, but that does not mean that the climate isn’t changing. Not knowing everything is not the same as knowing nothing. I’m reminded of the common anti-evolutionist argument that evolution can’t be true because (gasp) “there are GAPS in the fossil record!”

In addition, scientists may sometimes come across as having a “we know best” attitude toward dissent, rather than a willingness to engage the dissenters in a dialogue. Scientists may need to acknowledge openly that there are things about climate change that they do not know yet. But rather than representing a failure of the scientific method, these uncertainties represent an opportunity to develop better methods and testable hypotheses so that in the future we CAN be more certain.

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