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Flawed study overstates link between fluoride and ill health: experts

Despite only finding an association between fluoridated water and underactive thyroid gland, the paper calls from reducing all sources of fluoride from the environment. Joost Nelissen/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Despite only finding an association between fluoridated water and underactive thyroid gland, the paper calls from reducing all sources of fluoride from the environment. Joost Nelissen/Flickr, CC BY-NC

By Reema Rattan, The Conversation

Researchers have widely criticised a new study that questions the safety of water fluoridation, arguing the findings were overstated and the study poorly designed.

The paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiological & Community Health, links fluoridated water to increased rates of hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland is under active, causing weight gain, hair loss, fatigue and depression, among other symptoms.

The study authors question the safety of water fluoridation as a public health measure.

“It’s simplistic and it’s extremely overreaching in its conclusions,” said Mike Morgan, chair of population oral health at the University of Melbourne.

“To do a study like this and say there’s an association without taking into account other factors, and then say, we should reduce the levels of fluoride, well it beggars belief that they should be able to say that in a reputable publication,” he added.… Read the rest

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Two More Craters Found in Northern Russia

inside_map_four_craters

Satellite image of the site before the forming of the Yamal hole (B1). K1 and the red outline show the hillock (pingo) formed before the gas emission. Yellow outlines show the potentially dangerous objects. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

 

Siberian swiss cheese.

via The Siberian Times:

Respected Moscow scientist Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky has called for ‘urgent’ investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears.

Until now, only three large craters were known about in northern Russia with several scientific sources speculating last year that heating from above the surface due to unusually warm climatic conditions, and from below, due to geological fault lines, led to a huge release of gas hydrates, so causing the formation of these craters in Arctic regions.

Two of the newly-discovered large craters – also known as funnels to scientists – have turned into lakes, revealed Professor Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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Teachers’ gender bias in maths affects girls later

Todd Petrie (CC BY 2.0)

Todd Petrie (CC BY 2.0)

By Sue Wilson, Australian Catholic University

New research has found some teachers mark boys’ primary (elementary) school maths tests more favourably than girls, impacting girls’ uptake of advanced mathematics and science subjects in high school. Entrance rates into maths and science degrees at university level can also be traced back to the impacts of teachers’ gender bias in primary school.

Higher levels of mathematics and science education have been linked to greater employment opportunities and higher earnings, meaning a primary teacher’s attitude towards maths can have a serious impact on a child’s future success.

Teachers assume boys are better at maths

The researchers followed nearly 3000 students from 6th grade to the end of high school. As a measure of teacher bias, they compared school 6th grade test marks given by teachers who knew the students’ sex, with external test marks for the same students, but with no identifying characteristics provided.… Read the rest

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The Water Wars

Michael Specter describes a thirsty, violent world fighting for water, at the New Yorker:

Angry protesters filled the streets of Karachi last week, clogging traffic lanes and public squares until police and paratroopers were forced to intervene. That’s not rare in Pakistan, which is often a site of political and religious violence.

But last week’s protests had nothing to do with freedom of expression, drone wars, or Americans. They were about access to water. When Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of Defense, Power, and Water (yes, that is one ministry), warned that the country’s chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable, he was looking on the bright side. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950. As the country’s population rises, that amount is falling fast.

2014-009 - dry folsom

Photo: Robert Couse-Baker (CC)

 

Dozens of other countries face similar situations—not someday, or soon, but now.

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How Crazy Am I To Think I Actually Know Where That Malaysia Airlines Plane Is?

Jeff Wise writes at New York Magazine “In the year since the vanishing of MH370, I appeared on CNN more than 50 times, watched my spouse’s eyes glaze over at dinner, and fell in with a group of borderline-obsessive amateur aviation sleuths. A million theories bloomed, including my own”:

The unsettling oddness was there from the first moment, on March 8, when Malaysia Airlines announced that a plane from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, Flight 370, had disappeared over the South China Sea in the middle of the night. There had been no bad weather, no distress call, no wreckage, no eyewitness accounts of a fireball in the sky—just a plane that said good-bye to one air-traffic controller and, two minutes later, failed to say hello to the next. And the crash, if it was a crash, got stranger from there.

Theoretical Search Area MH 370 en

Map of the area where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could theoretically be found, by Pechristener (CC)

My yearlong detour to Planet MH370 began two days later, when I got an email from an editor at Slate asking if I’d write about the incident.

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Get a Liberal Out of America

Max Hertz is a liberal, college professor, and artist — and he wants out of America. To do so, he’s set up a crowdfunding campaign. Hertz explains that he’s asking conservatives to put their money where their mouths are, as they are known to say things like: “If you don’t like America, you should just leave.”

Hertz explains, “I am worried about the growing anti-liberal, anti-art and anti-intellectual trends in America and I am actually concerned for my well being and safety.” A little melodramatic, maybe, but he seems hellbent on getting the hell out of here. By donating to his campaign, you will receive hate filled, right wing bumper stickers.

“I would like to leave America before the next scheduled installment of a right-wing president takes place.” Hertz explains.

You can check out his website/donate here.

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Bruder Spaghettus Seeks German Approval of ‘Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’

Rüdiger Weida, aka “Bruder Spaghettus”, founded a church dedicated to the worship of “the Flying Spaghetti Monster” in Templin, Germany. Credit: Matthew Bell

Rüdiger Weida, aka “Bruder Spaghettus”, founded a church dedicated to the worship of “the Flying Spaghetti Monster” in Templin, Germany. Credit: Matthew Bell

Pastafarians are after equality in Germany. Rüdiger Weida aka Bruder Spaghettus founded the“Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” in Templin, Germany of last year.

According to PRI.org:

Essentially, Weida wants to push for legal recognition for his own church in order to make a statement about the rights of non-believers. And he is having some success.

The mayor of Templin, Detlaf Tabbert does not go to any church himself. But he decided to give the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster permission to put up official signs in town letting everyone know where and when to attend “Noodle Worship” services.

You can listen to the story above, or go to PRI.org for the written story.

 

h/t BoingBoing.

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Rodney Reed: You can help save his life

Rodney Reed sits on death row in Texas, facing an execution date of March 5th for a murder that even the victim’s family thinks he didn’t commit. It would take a simple DNA test to prove his innocence – and you can force the Governor of Texas to make that happen. Here’s a website with more info – http://justice4rodneyreed.org/

BREAKING NEWS: 

We have just learned that the execution of Rodney Reed has been stayed for now, by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). The fight isn’t over until a new trial is granted, but this is great news!!

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Does Metaphysics Matter? Part 2: “Okay, stay with me here”

"Eternity of a moment" Giorgio de Chirico

“Eternity of a moment” Giorgio de Chirico

Read part 1 here.

Let’s start with a couple propositions:

The Identity of Indiscernibles 

Two objects are identical when they share all the same properties.

The Indiscernibility of Identicles:

If two objects share all the same properties then the two objects are identical. 

At a glance, they both seem obvious enough that even mentioning them feels like a waste of time.  Things get a little more complicated, however, when you consider the “position” of a property, since it’s also agreed upon by all that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.  If object x and object y truly share all the same properties, including position, then x and y are truly “identical” in that they are the same object.  Even this isn’t terribly controversial (although some have argued against it), but when you apply it to real life something odd can occur, as seen in the following example. 

Miami Rick bought a jacket two years ago and wore it often.Read the rest

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