JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


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Australian Environment Conference Oct 20 2012


micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



There goes another consensus. Crash diets solve diabetes in 3 weeks

Sometimes the consensus deniers are right, which is exactly why the term is so pointless and so profoundly unscientific.

The medical associations were unequivocal. Crash diets were a fad, unhealthy, and only slow sensible weight loss could work. So millions of people were fed expensive drugs for decades, monitored, and some even given risky bariatric surgery. Patients with Type II diabetes were expected to be treated for years, or possibly the rest of their lives. Nearly a tenth of the national health budget of the UK was spent managing diabetes. Fully 8% of the population have the condition in the US.

Now a new (albeit very very small) study cured diabetes in some cases in as little as a week with a diet that was thought to be bad.

In the trial the very low calorie diet was done for 8 weeks. Sticking to 600 calories a day is not easy (some reports say it was 800 cals). It’s about a quarter of what a normal guy would eat. But it shrinks fat in the pancreas and liver, and that seemingly returns insulin levels to normal. The really amazing thing is that the benefits turn out to stay around far [...]

Fitness consensus takes a hammering. For couch potatoes, 12 minutes a week makes you fitter

Sorry to do this, but now there are no excuses (apart from arthritis, amputation and angina).

Don’t read on if you are a conscientious objector to exercise. The “I don’t have time” excuse doesn’t wash anymore. Though, if you are habitually running to catch the bus, you can now call that an exercise program (when your doc asks, you can say you do the 1-AIT training regime from NTNU — Trondheim).

If you are sedentary, new research from Norway suggests that if you do just four minutes of high-intensity training three times a week, within 10 weeks your peak ability to take up oxygen will have improved by 10%.

Do you care about VO2max? It’s a measure of aerobic fitness and it’s linked to that factor that trumps all others: “all cause mortality” (ACM). To put this study into perspective, a 10% improvement is only 10%. The fittest people have 100% higher VO2 max that the least fit (eg from about 20mL/kg/min to 40mL/kg/min). But even a 10% improvement in VO2 max can make a difference to your mortality.

A review of results from 102,000 people showed that if people are split into groups of “fitness” the least fit were [...]

Toxoplasmosis: could that latent infection affect people’s behavior?

This is disturbing news. What if eating undercooked meat, gardening, or having a cat could give you an infection which stayed with you for life, nested in cysts in your brain? Worse, those cysts somehow affected your personality, possibly putting you at increased risk of suicide, schizophrenia, or car accident? And here’s the stop-you-in-your-tracks point: up to one third of humanity may harbor this protozoan. That is one very successful parasite.

Infection rates are frighteningly high: as much as 10-20% of the population in the US, 30-40% of Czechs, and 55% in France.

Sounds like a plot for a bad sci-fi but we know that Toxoplasma gondii makes small mammals take life threatening risks – an infected rat finds cat-urine “attractive” and runs about more, being fearless, but getting eaten: good for the parasite, not so good for the rat. Our brains may be  larger but they are made with much the same building blocks and tools.  Rabies is known to stir larger mammals into a rage, and there are “a truckload” of examples from the insect and fish world of parasitic mind control. Hmmm.

Toxoplasmosis is thought to be a nasty parasite that affects pregnant women and immune-compromised people, [...]

On climate change, the wrong choice kills people either way

Here’s a topic close to my heart. Before I became involved in climate change and currencies, my hot topic-of-choice for years was medical research and health. In my honours degree I worked to get a tiny step closer to treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. When I saw that The Australian Government was threatening to cut medical research, I wanted to put a razor fine point on just what muddy thinking costs us. This article I wrote is published in The Weekend Australian today. We can’t afford to get the decision wrong on climate change. We must fight the battles that matter, not build fortresses against imaginary foes.

Wasting money on climate change betrays sick Joanne Nova From: The Australian May 07, 2011 12:00AM

Fabíola and Julio Licinio in 1964. She died of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a few weeks later.

LOST opportunities are invisible but deadly. On climate change, the call to buy insurance by pricing carbon is a cop-out. Where is the cost-benefit analysis? We’re thinking of axing Australian medical research yet we’re supporting solar panel manufacturers in China. It doesn’t have to be this way.

All the money spent employing green police, subsidizing solar or researching how to [...]

Cold times means more death, war, rebellion, drought and flood in China

Tomb of Hong Quan Fu. Photo Iflwlou拍攝

It seems a warmer climate might be bad, but a colder one is deadly.

Once upon a time, people thought that overpopulation triggered crashes, but in this study by Lee and Zhang the hard numbers suggest instead that it was climate, and of course, it’s not the warmer kind of climate that causes the problems but the colder kind.

Malthusian cycles of population boom and bust aren’t the drivers here (though presumably having a large population means there is little buffer when the deadly cold spells hit).

From NIPCC:  Cold Periods caused population crashes in China over the last millenium

…there were 5 major population contractions in China between 1000 CE and 1911, and all of them occurred in periods with a cold climate, when mortality crises triggered population collapses. [Abstract]

How much fun can you have in a long frost? Almost every kind of uprising, pain or plague.

In one population crash, the losses were as high as 49% of the peak. In the face of a 50:50 death rate, “perspective” doesn’t seem like quite the right word.

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