Ben Goldacre wrote a great book called Bad Science, I’m just starting it so I really don’t know it’s great. If I said it was great it would be bad science, and it would also be a lie. Here’s a great talk about his work. Bad science is everywhere babies.
I have Twitter now, so if you follow me (you probably don’t), then these links are like… so 5 minutes ago.
News and Politics
- Massachusetts school proves large classes can still mean improved student performance – [NYT]
- Drug decriminalization in Portugal – many think it’s working – [Time]
- Friedman: China is spending $25B on highspeed rail and biotech. The US spends $25B on Afghanistan – [NYT]
- A primer on the U.N.’s Millenium Development Goals – [GOOD]
- What happens if you put your hand in the Large Hadron Collider? – [YouTube]
- Why the brain doubts foreign accents – [Scientific American]
- Hand sanitizers will not keep you from getting sick – [Salon]
- The lowdown on foodie elitism
- How food writers got High Fructose Corn Syrup wrong (aka stop the fearmongering) - [Atlantic]
I wrote a piece for K/W “cultural curator” Hilary Abel and her excellent blog/zine, Qatalyst. It’s about water fluoridation. You can read it below.
Over the past decade, water quality has become a greater concern for Ontarians. The (in)famous and tragic wake-up call occurred in May 2000 in Walkerton, where the public groundwater supply became contaminated with one of the few toxic strains of E. coli (0157:H7). Farm runoff from an intense storm impacted nearby municipal wells that were known to be vulnerable to surface contamination. This event resulted in at least seven deaths and 2,500 illnesses.
Although contaminants like E. coli are of significant concern to public administrators and water users alike, other water quality issues have received their fair share of attention. A prime example is the fluoridation of municipal water. Health units, researchers, and government bodies (including Health Canada) support water fluoridation, citing that the introduction of water fluoridation has resulted in improved dental health across the world (fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities).
Ontario drinking water engineers regularly monitor the concentration of fluoride in their source water, as many parts of Ontario experience high levels of naturally-occurring fluoride in their water supply. This is due to the dissolution of local minerals in bedrock or soil where groundwater is extracted. Anthropogenic sources of fluoride contamination do exist but are less common. Other jurisdictions which have low levels of fluoride fluoridate their water at treatment plants before it is distributed to users. Both Ontario and the World Health Organization have a Maximum Acceptable Concentration of 1.5 mg/L of fluoride in drinking water.
Although large government and scientific institutions continue to support fluoridation, significant opposition from the public and members of the scientific community has formed around the issue. Comprehensive studies from Canada (Locker, 1999), the U.S. (Yiamouyiannis, 1990), and New Zealand (Colquhoun, 1998) showed no significant differences in dental health between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. Western European countries have vocally opposed fluoridation and have experienced the same decline in dental decay as North America. Some studies have proposed many reasons why dental decay has decreased in non-fluoridated communities since the 1930s. They include the tremendous increase in nutrition and fresh fruit and vegetable consumption assisted by the introduction of household refrigerators. Cheese consumption has also greatly increased, which is known to have anti-decay properties (Colquhoun, 1998).
Even more interestingly, where fluoridation has been discontinued in communities from Canada, Germany, Cuba and Finland, dental decay has not increased but has actually decreased (Maupome 2001; Kunzel and Fischer,1997,2000; Kunzel 2000 and Seppa 2000). Other research indicates that the benefits of fluoride are much greater if they are applied topically (using toothpaste with fluoride to brush directly on your teeth) rather than systemically (drinking fluoridated water and spread throughout the body). This could make swallowing fluoride unnecessary and potentially harmful, increasing the risk of dental and skeletal fluorosis especially in young children.
So where does this leave us?
Questioned research from the original fluoridation studies in the mid 19th century, potentially better dental health in non-fluoridated areas, increasingly mixed opinions between the medical orthodoxy and new research, continued support from U.S. and Canadian health agencies, and the likelihood that all of fluoride’s benefits could simply come from your Colgate or Crest rather than your kitchen tap.
Mind the paranoid hysteria and Orwellian politics online, but educate yourself. Even as a water nerd, there are some big flashing signs to seriously question business as usual. Get on your boots.
And some top Google Search results for your consideration:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/fluor-eng.php – Health Canada “Fluoride and Human Health” document
http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/pub/ministry_reports/fluoridation/fluor.pdf – Benefits and Risks of Water Fluoridation. Please note the authors do not address topical vs systemic application of fluoride which can significantly impact its benefits and risks.
http://www.fluoride-journal.com/98-31-2/312103.htm – an article about New Zealand’s chief dental health official and why he changed his mind on water fluoridation
http://www.fluoridealert.org/50-reasons.htm – 50 reasons to oppose fluoride. At first I dismissed this “Fluoride Action Network”, but the list of researchers which are members of the network is compelling.
- Learn more about the eco-fee – It’s not a tax, it’s run by an arms length organization, no money to government – [Globe]
- New rules threaten future of US wood waste biomass power industry – [NYTimes]
- Arid Australia turns to desalination plants for water supply, despite costs - environmentalists often seem to omit desalination from their brains when it comes to the “water crisis”- [NYTimes]
- NYC launches a large tap water promotion campaign – [NYTimes]
- How to make béarnaise sauce – Everyone has their own tricks w french sauces – [Globe]
- Take a (food) day trip to Beamsville – [TasteTO]
- Servers can now type in orders to the kitchen on their iPhones – [TorontoLife]
- David Lee from Nota Bené discusses ‘terroir’ for vegetables – [Globe]
- Linking the farmers to the foodies – [Globe]
- Learn more about your new DJ Governor General – I bet lots of Waterlooians have stories, I’ve had many solid interactions with him as a semi-official UW apologist (aka student ambassador) – [Globe]
- Learn more about why Harper deserves credit for making his Governor General search non-partisan – Canada 1 – [Globe]
- Don’t mess with the census, statisticians tell Tories – [Globe]
- The federal government is senseless on the census - [Globe ed.]
- Huffington Post’s advice to American jobless – move to Canada – [Globe]
- Tim Hudak cops out – [Globe]
- Kabul rocked by guitars – [Globe]
- The true cost of living in the city vs. the suburbs – [NYTimes]
- Wedding expenses that aren’t worth it – [NYTimes]
- The paradox of parenting – parents are less happy than non-married peers – [NYT Freakonomics Blog]
- Gen-Y’s tough choice between entrepreneurship and corporate world - [Globe]
- You can be too rich – [Globe]
- TTC Stations could get cell service – [CBC]
- City of Toronto makes an excellent road construction (interruption) map
- Bellevue Cafe – 3 guys who make crazy, disparate, but tasty sandwiches - [NOW]
- Susur Lee’s new Toronto restaurant - [Toronto Life]
- Toronto road tolls go from abhorrent to approved: how’d that happen? - [Toronto Life]
- Ideas for Toronto: Personal Rapid Transit – [Spacing]
- Laws of hurricane power discovered – [New Scientist]
- Mass transit encourages exercise and weight loss – [New Scientist aka Duh! Aficionado magazine]
- Prozac prawns, cocaine crabs, trace elements of drugs in our waste water - [New Scientist]
- Learn more about what’s
- Instant expert: general relativity – learrrrn Einstein. [New Scientist]
- Robb Fraley: Monsanto is a champion of healthy eating – [New Scientist]
- Check out the discovery wishlists of top scientists – [New Scientist]
- Why climate stumps even the brightest scientists – [New York Times]
- New desalination technique in Vancouver – a possibly massive step in solving global water issues – [Globe]
- There is no peak oil, but there is supply and demand – [Globe]
- The pros and cons of woody biomass – [NYT]
- The money gusher – The oil industry’s decommissioning costs will dwarf those of nuclear power. The money being made now should be put aside to meet them [George Monbiot]
- Intensive farming ‘massively slowed’ global warming – [New Scientist]
- Inside the temporary G20 detention centre – [blogTO]
- UW President David Johnston – Governor General rumours abound – [Globe]
- The pros and cons of a Liberal-NDP merger – [Globe]
- The ultimate southern Ontario cottage guide – [Toronto Life]
- The man behind MaRS – [Globe]
- City plans for two new soil recycling plants – [blogTO]
- 2010 Polaris Prize long list proves that Toronto is the best – [Torontoist]
- Car sharing in Toronto – a sluggish start – [Spacing]
- Has technology changed the experience of music? – [Atlantic]
- Music and speech share a code for communicating sadness in the minor third – [Scientific American]
- Interview with Sook-Yin Lee – [Torontoist]
Diane Sawyer talking to Stephen Hawking about the relationship between science and religion.
Sawyer: So, to the people who say science and religion are irreconcilable, you say. . .?
Hawking: One could define God as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of as God. They mean a human-like being with whom one could have a personal relationship.
Sawyer then asked him if there was a way to reconcile science and faith.
Hawking: There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.
Still lots of big questions to be answered. A lot of non-empirical questions that science will have a lot of difficulty answering.
Few but mighty this week.
- St. Lawrence Market North Building getting an amazing-looking re-design – [Spacing]
- Toronto’s transformation to Silicon Valley North – [Globe] – ummm…. Waterloo?
- More than half of Canadians support NDP-Liberal coalition, in some form – [Globe]
- Check out this year’s Top 40 under 40 – [Globe]
- How the private sector outsmarts regulators – [Newsweek]
- Margaret Atwood calls plan to close prison farms “dumb as a stump” – [Toronto Life]
- Toronto gets the swankiest 24hr diner ever in the new boutique NY-backed Thompson Hotel -
- We need to fix peer review now – [New Scientist]
- Wyoming coal plant illustrates potential and challenges of carbon capture and storage – [Scientific American]
- How livestock might revitalize degraded agricultural lands – [Scientific American]
- Night sight – our eyes scan the action in our dreams – [Scientific American]
- Gut bacteria may contribute to autism – [New Scientist]
- Walkerton led to Ontario water system cleanup – [CBC]
You may have seen this already, but wow real wow. “A combination of three-dimensional ultrasound scans, computer graphics and tiny cameras to capture the process from conception to birth’ of a number of animals including penguins, elephants, dolphins, dogs, and penguins. Yes, penguins. It was filmed for a National Geographic Documentary called Extraordinary Animals in the Womb“. Learn more and see more animal photos here.
- Home cooking for sale – young unemployed foodies vie for precious booths at local markets to make a buck – [NYT]
- Produce in the fridge – at long last, learn what should go in your fridge, and what should stay in the dirty fruit bowl – [CHOW]
- The dangers in deli meat – let them eat steak – [Healthzone]
- Bottled water has high level of bacteria, researchers find – [Globe]
- Barbecued meat causes cancer, so learn to bbq healthy - it’s easy, just pair with some veg – [Toronto Life]
- John Tory heading back into the mayor race? – the Toronto media has been going nuts hoping John Tory enters the race. I would undoubtedly vote for this man. That may surprise the politically minded of you bunch, but he’s a pro-transit centrist conservative. He’s smart and he’s sensible and I really think he’d cut some of the city hall crazy – [Toronto Life]
- Torontoist’s guide to the G20 summit – [Torontoist]
- The Gulf oil spill superimposed on Southern Ontario – [blogTO]
- A carbon price as a nuclear incentive – [NYT]
- How many cancers are caused by the environment? – [Scientific American]
- Commuting statistics across Canada’s major cities – [Spacing]
- McMaster eyes world water problems – [Globe]
- World power = the English language – [Globe]
- We can’t afford to live in health care denial – [Globe Editorial]
- Plan B – skip college – [NYT]
- Buzz Hargrove: ‘Globalization is largely a fraud’ – [Globe]
- Wind turbine link to ill health lacks proof: report – [CBC]
- Synthetic bacteria genome takes over cell – Craig Venter goes nutbars – [NYT]
- Music listeners like harmony’s math – [Scientific American]
- Mining garbage for tomorrow’s metals – [New Scientist]
- The taste of tiny: putting nanofoods on the menu – [New Scientist]
- Eat bacteria to boost brain power – [New Scientist]
- Tacit knowledge – you don’t know how much you know – [New Scientist]
- ‘Light from sound’ could spot cancers and terrorists – [New Scientist]
- Magnetic Hill mystery solved? – [Globe]
I’ve decided my links are the best on this side of Somerset. Happy reading.
- Banksy comes to Toronto, people deface his loveliness – [Torontoist]
- Toronto the good? Try great – [Globe]
- Markham votes to build over “best farmland in Canada” – [Toronto Life]
- Bixi Toronto bike sharing program starts May 2011 – [National Post]
- TTC wants you to meet your new ride – [Spacing]
- Turning the Gardiner Expressway into a park – an idea becomes safe for Toronto when New York does it first – [Toronto Life]
- Richard Florida – 10 things I can’t live without – [Toronto Life]
- U.S. Climate bill arrives in Senate – cap and trade by 2025. Yay? – [Scientific American]
- Securing the smart grid – [Scientific American]
- Google’s energy foray: what’s up? – [New York Times]
- Cactus gum could make clean water cheap for millions – [New Scientist]
- What are dark matter and dark energy? – [HowStuffWorks]
- Southpaws – the evolution of handedness – [New Scientist]
- Water ice found on the surface of an asteroid for the first time – [Scientific American]
- CBC execs head to L.A. to poach Canadian writers – [Toronto Life]
- Watch Conan’s visit to Google Headquarters – [Gizmodo]
- The Guardian profiles Brian Eno – [Guardian]
- Liberals, Tories agree: MP expenses aren’t for the public to see – [Toronto Life]
- All the Obama 20-somethings – [New York Times]
- Electoral dysfunction: why democracy is always unfair – [New Scientist]
- Mark McEwan tapped to be head judge of Top Chef Canada – [Toronto Life]
- The rebirth of booze – [Toronto Life]
- Jane Jacobs says: go for a walk – [Eye Weekly]
- Toronto gets a new area code ’365′ – [Toronto Life]
- A new campaign for better TTC user etiquette – [BlogTO]
- 5 Reasons why Nuit Blanche 2010 won’t suck – [Toronto Life]
- Hot Docs Festival Preview – [BlogTO]
- Details magazine takes on Toronto culture – [Toronto Life]
- Top Chef Canada – it’s happening – [Toronto Life] – let’s pray for no cardboard cut out sets and Canadian production quality.
- Organic farming: what’s next? – [Globe]
- A new food channel focusing on cooking and not on BS reality and 8 feet high diner burgers with a bleached-haired host – [Toronto Life]
- Meat isn’t as bad for the environment as previously thought - [Toronto Life]
- Apes found to suffer from self-doubt - [New Scientist]
- Fast food thoughts leads to general impatience - [Scientific American]
- Bacterial mat the size of Greece found on Pacific floor – [New Scientist]
- What is the memory capacity of the human brain? – [Scientific American]
- ‘Junk’ DNA gets credit for making us who we are – [New Scientist]
- Hear the new National LP, High Violet right now - [NYTimes]
- Sarah Harmer is BACK - [Chromewaves]
- RIAA and MPAA call for government-mandated spyware on computers to fight piracy – [BoyGeniusReport]
- Is smart growth the future of American cities? – [Spacing]
- The battle over bottled water - [NYTimes]
- Clean tech sector thriving, survey finds – [NYTimes]
- Polluting ships have been doing the climate a favour – [New Scientist] – turns out sulphur emissions cool the planet.
- Inside the Toronto Coffee Conspiracy – [Globe] – Indie cafes join forces.
- Toronto given strong credit rating: Miller dodges money management – [National Post]
- Toronto’s water main mess – [Toronto Life]
- Subway etiquette primer – dos and don’ts of the TTC – [National Post]
- Toronto sewer explorers get arrested – [Toronto Sun] – I shouldn’t be sad about this, but I am sad about this.
- Toronto braces for G20 logistics crunch – [Globe]
- Unearthing the sex secrets of truffles – [NYTimes]
- Junk food and cocaine pretty much the same thing – [Toronto Life]
- The pros and cons of induction cooking – [NYTimes]
- The science of climate change: the clouds of unknowing – [Economist] – Thanks be to Eric.
- Earth struck by most powerful space storm in years – [New Scientist]
- New “gene bandage” rejuvenates wasted muscles through mutations – [New Scientist]
- Incineration – a recycling killer? – [Star]
- I’m with the intolerant Quebecers – [Maclean's]
- Mile End – Montreal’s neighbourhood – [Globe]
- Many homeowners should have rented – [Globe]
- Watch Wilco do a Take-Away Show – [Pitchfork/Blogotheque]
- NY chef takes locavore to the extreme – you’ve heard this, it’s bloggerfodder. The breast milk cheese chef. I would definitely try it.
- Master Chef Susur Lee says Torontonians are more adventurous eaters than New Yorkers – more back patting for the Big Smokers.
- Learn the art and science of perfect popcorn – know those methods.
- Know umami – the elusive fifth taste, it’s becoming the foodie buzzword of the past couple of years.
- Toronto goes for a garden sharing program – live in an apartment and dying to garden? Have a big yard but too lazy to garden? Boom.
- It’s Canadian Music Week – preview here c/o BlogTO.
- Water-conservation rating considered by Ontario – like Energy Star, but for agua.
- Introducing the WaterPebble – monitor your water use whilst showering.
- George Monbiot rips into the feed-in-tariff system – Climate change skeptic offers his take on how green energy policy will make costs rise for the middle classes.
- Private transit more common than you think – Amidst talks of privatizing the TTC with new mayoral candidates, learn more about partial privatization of transit.
- Algae worse than corn in the biofuel industry? – It better not be, this is the trojan horse.
- Knowing the mind of God: Seven theories of everything – Learn more about the frontrunning theories of how this universe/multiverse of ours works. Everyone should bone up on their String Theory.
- Researching the atheist mind – questioning the cognitive connection to religion
- 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = Hella – An online petition to make “hella” the new prefix for 10 the 27th power. I.e. The sun weighs 5 hellatons. Vote YES!
- All you ever want to know about the craziness that is pubic hair – There, I said it.
- Why didn’t Chile’s 8.8 earthquake do more damage? – 8.8 is unfathomably massive, thank goodness the specific nature of this quake helped prevent further disaster.
- Can we trust the IPCC ? – We know the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change isn’t infallible, but what about the big picture?
- Why aren’t we talking about desalination? – The water supply of the future, but environmentalists don’t seem to be talking about it. I don’t understand why. It’s more expensive and takes more energy now, but that’s now. Reverse osmosis technology will only improve.
- Basement bands rejoice, eliminate that bass! - Latex can help eliminate low frequency sounds.
- Woodstock pioneer planning massive Toronto concert – see ya SARSstock.
- Under-the-table dining in Toronto – places where industry cats go, besides the Harbord Room.
- Toronto’s psychogeography – I hate that word, it’s a very white and educated word. But it makes sense… An Eye Weekly article on how big city dwellers make their life manageable.
- Toronto’s Wilco Sandwich Shop – expensive sandwiches and Wilco? StuffWhitePeopleLike would say revelryyyy.
- Toronto hippies want to tap your tree for syrup – and the city says mmmm… no.
- Mancakes! – Toronto bakery is selling tons of these things. Just cupcakes with manly things made out of fondant on top. If only men could gracefully pronounce fondant.
- Toronto is now out-partying Montreal – eat it poutinies!! We need to be good at something!
- Alex and Luke’s Excellent Adventure – Canadian couple go on a massive road trip in their tiny VW Rabbit, use social media to dictate what they do.
- Snoetry – Not boogers. People like to draw big things in snow so all high rise condo dwellers can see their “work”. This time around, a nice man turned a big snow outline of a schlong done by teenagers into a “work of snoetry”.
- The Knife + Darwin – made for internet publicity, the band tries something new – evolutionary rock opera.
- Roger Ebert continually proves his brilliance – an interesting response to his Esquire article. This man is brilliant, and he’s been writing a ton since his diagnosis. Seriously brilliant.
- Sarah Polley is punk rock – she pulls her name from the Oscar list as she discovers her short “Heart” done for the Heart&Stroke Foundation will be used to sell margarine. Good for you man. I’d put my name on butter, but hell no margarine. Marjareen.
- The organic food showdown…. Whole Foods vs…. Wal-Mart? – get ready to erase those liberal bourgeois impressions of your flourescent lighted, linoleumed neighbourhood Wal-Mart.
- The chicken hipsters – Things weren’t supposed to be this way after I graduated from architecture school, but here I am back on the farm and collecting eggs
- Downtown Brantford’s destruction – city councillors vote to demolish original construction buildings in the city core.
- Canadian internet slow and expensive – Harvard study lays it out.
- Rogers bandwith limit fees go up – mind those seasons of Battlestar Galactica and Six Feet Under.
This took me forever, so you better read. Read it good.
Toronto Bixi rumours – first it was a go, now there are rumours that Toronto may be cooling off on bike sharing.
Whole Foods x more – Whole Foods expands to Mississauga and North York over the next few years.
Torontonian urban farmers fight for their poultry pets – The move towards cities incorporating urban agriculture into policy, and not pissing people off in the process.
Toronto’s R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant – I love water treatment plants. I love things we drive by but don’t see. See the beautiful architecture of one of Toronto’s finest, thanks to the lovelies at Spacing.
A caring God did not create DNA – It’s New Scientist [meh], but an interesting article featuring a new book rejecting the case for intelligent design.
Radiation exposure at Bruce nuclear plant – damn nuclear, why do you have to be so expensive and occasionally unsafe? I want you to be good.
More on wireless electricity – throw some coils in your walls and you’re done.
Stephen Hawking actually coming now – Waterlooians, you know this, but you still need to strut.
How to land that killer opening gig – the power of the booking agent in the music industry.
Cape Wind – an offshore wind energy project could save New England billions of dollars over 25 years.
Arctic warming will cost us billions – a Pew study says it will cost us over a billion, just in 2010. Gorsh. By choice or by consequence?
Bill Gates likes geoengineering – governments will throw money at it, and that money will be mostly wasted.
Why water is so weird – the universal solvent is the strangest liquid.
Political battles on suburbia – We’re all becoming more city focused, and so should our politics?
Denmark’s clean coal – see how their dirtiness works doubletime.
Algae isn’t all roses, maybe – some heat on the algae energy industry, although this article has been under scientific scrutiny.
University student gourmets – more students are getting into cooking, and YouTube has helped bring their recipes to the world.
Digital food – MIT geeks create the ASCII Food Printer. AKA Cornucopia, it combines basic flavours, changes the temperature and extrudes a flavour. Yep.
The rise of the butcher – the newest and bloodiest of the culinary rockstars.
More Prince Edward County wine buzz – the wine is getting better, babies.
Cooking for the Mayor – see what Corey Mintz (Toronto food critic and culinarian) cooks for David Miller.
DIY Butchery Trends – now in Toronto. Bring your knife steel.
Google Street View goes national – Thank goodness, thanks Google.
The new Heinz ketchup packet – It was certainly time. I used to push out ketchup harder than my toothpaste tube. Nothin like a good ol fashioned dip n squeeze.
How curiosity works – If I had to impart one thing to my potential children, the first would be compassion. The close second would be curiosity. It is my fuel.