links for 2009-01-22

  • The UK is a country obsessed by the threat of obesity. As the average person’s weight has grown, so has coverage of the subject.

    The chief medical officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, has said we are facing an “obesity timebomb”. Culinary celebrities like Jamie Oliver have launched campaigns, in homes and school kitchens, to fight the fat war.

    Yet the science of weight gain is less straightforward than the headlines sometimes suggest. Why, for example, do some people seem to eat what they like and not put on weight, while others limit their diet yet struggle to shed their bulk?

  • This past year the United States witnessed a measles epidemic that was the largest in more than a decade. About 135 people, mostly children, were infected with measles; some of those children were hospitalized with severe dehydration and others with pneumonia caused by the virus.Why did this happen? The answer can be found in a study published in December 2008 in the American Journal of Epidemiology that received little attention from the media. The authors, epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, examined school children in Michigan whose parents had chosen not to vaccinate them. They compared clusters of unvaccinated children with clusters of documented whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks. Not surprisingly, the clusters overlapped. The authors concluded: “Geographic pockets of vaccine exemptors pose a risk to the whole community.”

  • Bryan Appleyard is an ignorant hack. PZ Myers explains why

  • Two Roman Catholic priests have been accused of stealing $800,000 from the collection plate of their church in the US state of Florida.They allegedly planned to spend the money on property, holidays, gambling and to meet the expenses of mistresses.

  • Heavy metal veterans Iron Maiden are making their film debut in a new feature length documentary following them on tour.Titled Flight 666, it is also the name of Maiden’s specially-converted Boeing 757, which flies them between gigs.

    The plane is flown by the band’s singer Bruce Dickinson, who is also a qualified commercial pilot.

    Iron Maiden say the film, set for release on 21 April, gives unprecedented access to the band.

  • SkepticBlog is a collaboration among some of the most recognized names in promoting science, critical thinking, and skepticism. It also features the cast and producers of The Skeptologists, a pilot skeptical reality show.

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