Saturday, January 19, 2019

Shark week gets it wrong

I know when it is (cue the music) Shark Week!!!!
I get a few calls every time Shark Week comes around. The caller is a scared TV viewer that has lost sleep because of her fear of sharks. 

I have to worry about sharks!
I try to reassure her that she is safe because she doesn’t live by the ocean. She is usually not impressed by this information. I continue, “We live in Redding, California, a long way from sharks. Plus, Redding is pretty much a desert. In fact, this year Redding is a desert on fire. Sharks want no part of our very hot and dangerously dry environment.
Shark week may be good programing for selling commercials, but it is poor programing in terms of what we should be cautious about. So, let's play a game. Here is an alphabetical list of dangerous animals. See if you can rank this list from most dangerous to shark. That is right, the shark is the least dangerous animal on this list.

Dangerous Animal List/Alphabetical
____ Ants
____ Bees
____ Cows
____ Deer
____ Dogs
____ Hippopotamuses
____ Horses
____ Humans
____ Jellyfish
____ Mosquitoes
13   Sharks
____ Snakes
____ Spiders

Answers below:

01. Humans 
About 17,000 people die due to homicide in the US every year. (Yep, people are animals.)
02. Mosquitoes
About 650,000 people die worldwide every year because of protozoan parasites transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.
03. Hippopotamuses
About 3,000 people are killed a year by these highly territorial, semiaquatic mammals, especially during the mating season.
04. Deer
About 125 people are killed by deer in the US alone, mostly due to car accidents. 
05. Bees
About 70 folks are killed a year by our busy buzzy friends in the US alone due to allergic reactions to being stung. This number includes the bee “cousins,” wasps and hornets.
06. Dogs
About 40 Americans are killed each year due to dog bites. This does not account for the deaths, most often elderly people, who accidentally fall due to their pet dog.
07. Ants
About 30 people a year are killed in Africa because of swarm stinging leading to a deadly allergic reaction.
08 Jellyfish
In the warm waters of the Philippines, about 30 people die from a severe allergic reaction to Jellyfish venom each year. 
09. Cows
About 25 people are killed by bovine.
10. Horses
About 20 people die from horse kicks or from falling off their mount. 
11. Spiders
About 6 people die per year in the US from spider bites. 
12. Snakes
About 6 people die in the US each year due to snake venom. (Most snakes are not venomous.)
13. Sharks
Less than 1 person in the US dies per year from shark attacks. You can up your chances by going to Australia and purposefully swimming in shark-infested waters. (About 3/year).
And for the vegetarian reader that loves coconut, about 150 people die every year due to falling coconuts. 
Stay safe and please use your seat belt. (Cars are very dangerous.)

Please let me know what you think by clicking the “comments” below.

Friday, September 7, 2018

CDC new guideline for diagnosing and managing concussion or mild traumatic brain injury in children

Philip Copitch, Ph.D. ~ Author of Basic Parenting 101: The Manual Your Child Should Have Been Born With

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the first evidence-based clinical guideline in the United States for

•diagnosing and 
•managing concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) 

from all causes in children.

The guideline was published online September 4, 2018 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Study finds a correlation between food allergies and autism spectrum disorder

Researchers looked at almost 200,000 US children ages 9 to 17 years of age. 
The researchers found, “children with food, respiratory, and skin allergies were significantly more likely to have autism spectrum disorder than children without these allergies.”
This is a correlational finding. It means that the two observations occurred, in this case, allergies and autism spectrum disorder, together at a significantly higher level than by chance. It does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.

Read the study in JAMA Network Open

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

4 of 10 Doctors Feel “Burned Out”

“When I grow up I want to be a doctor,” is a common statement heard from children. Our society respects doctors and often pays them well, but on the other side of the equation—the work of a doctor is often long and hard.

Free cartoons at

The survey says:
Alicia Ault reports on Medscape Psychiatry, that:

42 percent of doctors say they are burned out with their job
15 percent feel depressed 

Over 15,000 physicians from 29 medical specialties answered the survey.

Medical specialties that are not happy at work:
  • Critical care physicians (48%)
  • Neurologists (48%)
  • Family medicine doctors (47%)
  • Oncologists (39%)
  • Orthopedic physicians (34%) 
  • Ophthalmologists (33%)
  • Pathologists (32%)
  • Dermatologists (32%)
Plastic surgeons reported the lowest level of burn out at 23 percent.
Female physicians report more burn out than their male colleagues.

The survey takers reported that too much bureaucracy and paperwork was the main factor contributing to burnout (56%).

Friday, January 12, 2018

James Randi Educational Foundation - 2017 Award

James Randi Educational Foundation announced today their award for 2017.

The honor was given to Susan Gerbic and her team of "guerilla skeptics" for their work "to enlist and train a team of editors who continually improve Wikipedia as a public resource for rationality and scientific thought."

For more information about the James Randi Educational Foundation see: JREF - Home

Learn more about Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia.

Congratulations Susan and all the Guerrilla Skeptics.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Should you call an ambulance or drive a gunshot victim to the hospital?

Let’s start off with a theoretical problem: 

You come out of a restaurant just as a man you do not know gets shot right in front of you. The gunman runs off and the gunshot victim and you lock eyes.
The victim is bleeding from the center of his body, you find yourself taking your shirt off, putting it to the man’s abdomen, and applying pressure. You can’t believe what is happening, as you yell, “Call a doctor! Call a doctor!”
Your thoughts are racing. “What if he bleeds out before the ambulance arrives?”
You think to yourself, “My car is right there, should I drive him to the hospital? It’s not far, but I’m not an ambulance driver. I have no idea what to do! I have no emergency medical training.” 

Should you transport a gunshot victim, or should you wait on emergency medical services?
Before you read on, take a minute to play the thought game. You desperately want to save this person’s life, what should you do? Wait for help, or get your patient to the ER?

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A study in JAMA Surgery found…
Do whatever gets the patient to the Emergency Room the fastest. For most injuries, the prehospital support of an ambulance was often best. But when it came to gunshot or knife wounds, the evidence showed that time was the most important factor. The faster the victim got to the hospital the better. 
The senior researcher, Elliott Haut, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says:
Typically, protocols for prehospital interventions are established at a regional or statewide level, which allows first responders to determine what, if any, medical procedures should be performed prior to and during transport to the hospital, Haut says. But research studies have rarely, if ever, evaluated or compared all of the effects of system-driven pre-hospitalization policies, leaving ideal prehospital care strategies undefined, he adds.