Coronavirus, diets, language, and more…


Wash your damn handsA guide to hand washing in the setting of COVID-19.

Just how contagious is COVID-19? This chart puts it in perspective: With so much fear and misinformation about COVID-19 going about, it’s good to put things in perspective. Here is a comparison of the infectivity of various diseases, and discussion of comparative “case fatality rate” (CFR). Another important number for understanding diseases is the seasonal flu has a low CFR, but enough people get it every year that the CDC estimates as many as 30,000 Americans may have died from it between October 2019 and February 2020.

Vital surveillance – The epidemiological characteristics of an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020: “COVID-19 epidemic has spread very quickly taking only 30 days to expand from Hubei to the rest of mainland China. With many people returning from a long holiday, China needs to prepare for the possible rebound of the epidemic.”

Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo: “In case you don’t feel like reading this article, let me give you a spoiler alert – homeopathy is 100% water, and it will do nothing to treat or prevent anything. It’s useless.”

Herbal supplements ineffective for weight loss: ‘In the first global review of herbal weight-loss supplements in almost two decades, investigators found there was insufficient evidence to recommend any of these “medicines” for this purpose. “There was no evidence to suggest people should be taking herbal medicines for [clinically meaningful] weight loss,” study investigators Erica Bessel, MND, and senior author Nicholas R. Fuller, PhD, both from the University of Sydney, Australia, told Medscape Medical News via email. The study findings suggest “healthcare practitioners should continually prompt their patients regarding any over-the-counter weight loss medications they are taking, so they can steer them towards evidence-based care,” they added.’

The FODMAP diet is everywhere, but researchers warn it’s not for weight lossThe FODMAP diet is gaining popularity as a way to manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) symptoms – but experts warn this is not a weight loss diet.

How much food should my child be eating? And how can I get them to eat more healthily? Children need healthy food in the right amount so they get all the nutrients needed to grow, learn and thrive. The Australian dietary guidelines outline the number of daily servings children need each day from each food group, based on their sex and age.

Great Moments in Health and Science 

The Development of the Autoclave:  Using similar principles to a pressure cooker, the autoclave is an important sterilisation tool to clean utensils used in research or health care environments.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Loaded Language: “Loaded language (also known as loaded terms, emotive language, high-inference language and language-persuasive techniques) is rhetoric used to influence an audience by using words and phrases with strong connotations associated with them in order to invoke an emotional response and/or exploit stereotypes. Loaded words and phrases have significant emotional implications and involve strongly positive or negative reactions beyond their literal meaning.”

In promotion of science we will often encounter anti-science arguments that include terms designed appeal to emotional reactions to make up for a lack of other support. This terms IMPLY claims, values, and premises that have not been established in the argument, or that perhaps aren’t supported by evidence. They can insert additional concepts out of context to make an argument more convincing or create reactions against potential counter arguments.

• Anti-vaccinators will refer to “Chemicals”, and “Poisons” etc.
• Alt Medicine proponents will refer to “Natural”, “holistic” “supportive” etc.
• Big Pharma conspiracies will refer to “greedy”, “criminal”, “shill” etc.
• Animal advocates may bolster their arguments by simply adding the words “cruel”, “suffering” and “torture” to their descriptions, ie “There are xxxx animals in this industry” becomes “There are xxxx animals suffering in this industry”. And anyone taking the “correct” side on the argument can have the words “ethical” and “empathy” added to their descriptions.

While this technique doesn’t make a person wrong in their convictions per se, it often makes their arguments invalid as it can be so hard to separate their logic from their emotional content. The effect is that a logical response to the proffered argument becomes suppressed and more difficult. A response now needs to address both the logical literal content, and the context of the implied content, and the emotions that have been aroused by the emotive language. At the same time any disagreement has with the proffered argument can be accused of being an attack on the emotional reality of the presenter. As such it is important to recognise the use of emotive appeals in logic. Those who are able to compartmentalise their emotional appeals from their logical appeals are far more self-aware, and have a much better chance of competently avoiding bias, fallacies, and error.