Friday, August 17, 2012

Manchester United starting lineup vs Everton

Tomorrow the premier league starts again which I am really looking forward to. I am extra encouraged this year because my team (Manchester United) have signed to world class players over the summer. Kagawa from Japan was one of the best players in Bundesliga last year, and won the title for the second time in a row and then there is Van Persie, top scorer in the premier league last year. Vidic is also back which will certainly improve the defense. 

Here is my suggested line-up vs Everton on sunday, very offensive I know, but it seems to me that you cannot leave out neither Kagawa or Van Persie... Also both Rooney and Kagawa are responsible defensively...


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Misconceptions about sceince

A colleague at my University who also writes a blog called "Åse fixes Science" recently linked to an excellent resource where common misconceptions about science are straightened out.

If you believe in any of the following statements I recommend that you take a look at the site. My personal experience as a scientist confirms everything that is written on the page.

Science is complete! - No it's not
Science is not a creative process! - It is
Scientists are always objective! - No, they are people
There is one scientific method that all scientists use! - No there are many methods

On two points I would have added some information to the page however. First, when the author discusses whether all scientists are atheists it is stated and statistics are provided to show that this is not the case. It is stated for instance that 75% of scientist believe that religions convey important truths. I think that it would have been appropriate to add that compared to the population at large there are more atheists among scientists than in the population at large.

The second point which I agree with but would like to add to is whether there is one scientific method. Anyone who knows the slightest bit of information about science knows that scientists use an almost limitless number of methods - anything that will allow them to get a better model of reality. However, I think that in another sense there is a scientific method. All scientific methods (or "The scientific method") are systematic, it does not have logical inconsistencies, and any method used should possible to try again to confirm the results. Good scientists follow such basic principles...

Friday, August 10, 2012

The world is getting better

I recently finished Harvard Professor Steven Pinker's most recent book called "The better angels of our human nature: Why violence has declined". This 1000 page book Pinker argues convincingly that all categories of violence (war, murder, assaults, and rape) has decreased substantially throughout history. What about the 2WW with 50 million plus deaths. While this was indeed the most destructive war in terms of the absolute number of dead people, it is not the most destructive if you look at the percentage. Genghis Khan for instance, in his raids reached a 40 million figure almost a thousand years ago, a huge proportion of the people around at that time. In other words, for the average individual it was way more dangerous in Genghis Khans time than when Hitler was alive.

Importantly the number of wars have decreased throughout history and since the 2WW there have been fewer wars than ever before (despite serious tensions during the cold war I may add). It is of course easy to think that there are a lot of wars because almost every war is covered in the media in a way that is quite new.

Likewise the murder rate has gone from 50-100 persons per 100.000 per year in the middle ages to an average that is lower than 10 persons per 100.000 per year in the west today (in Sweden where I live the rate is more like 1 person in 100.000 per year).

Why has violence decreased so much? Pinker argues, and after reading his book I agree, that the main historical factor is the development of states i.e. an uninterested third party that can settle disputes that would previously spark violence. To call a state "uninterested" may be an overstatement since in order to flourish it is in the states interest that its subjects do not fight. Apart from this rationale Pinker also presents a large amount of data showing that the establishment of a state is correlated with a strong decrease in violence.

The other main factor Pinker argues is responsible for the decline of violence is rational-abstract thinking. Today we live in a global world, and like never before we get to peek into other peoples lives, even if they live on the other side of the globe. It is almost impossible and it is definitely not socially acceptable to dismiss other peoples suffering just because they live in another country.

If this sounds interesting, listen to the TED lecture with Pinker where he gives you a short outline.
Another authors who has similar ideas although his explanation is somewhat different is Matt Ridley, listen to him below.

Pinker, S. (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature. Viking Adult.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The important peer review comes after the peer review.

It is not a secret among scientists that the peer review system which is used as a sort of quality control prior to publication is flawed. When a scientists thinks that he or she has made a discovery the general procedure is to write up a paper containing an introduction to the questions addressed, the methods used (the "scientific method" should really be plural as in "scientific methods" because in science a wealth of different methods are used to create ever improving models of the "real world"), the results found and then a discussion in which you discuss your work and how it relates to other scientists results.

The paper is then sent to a journal. If the scientist thinks his or her paper is groundbreaking it may be sent to nature or science, but there are many other options as well. The editor of the journal may then decide whether the paper is rejected immediately (editors have a lot of power), or whether it will be sent out for a review (notice that editors cannot just go ahead and accept a paper, however fantastic it seems.).

What people refer to as "peer review" is when a paper is sent to a few scientists (usually 2-3) in the same field, who will carefully read the paper and give their opinion on it. They may say the article lacks in news-value, that the method used has flaws or that one has forgotten to discuss a certain relevant paper (often their own...). Based on the reviews from these experts the editor makes a choice, will the article be published, rejected or they encourage you to do some changes and then send it in again.

So lets say you got through all this and managed to get your paper accepted by a top-notch scientific journal. Is your conclusions now established dogma, or scientific fact. Is it written into the holy bible of science never to be changed? No! When your article has been published the real peer review process starts, your article will now be discussed by other scientists in the field. When it is published it is open for everyone (with a subscription to the journal) to read and comment upon. It may be that after a few years a fatal flaw is found in the paper and no-one will believe in it anymore.

A good example is the faster than light neutrinos where the authors did not believe in faster than light neutrinos themselves but they still published their data allowing other scientists to add their interpretations/suggestions. Pretty fast someone figured out that the results was merely caused by a measuring error in so and so, which was later confirmed. Now no-one believes in faster than light neutrinos. The lesson is that although scientists are often stubborn and stick with their theories to the bitter end, science at large has proven to be extremely flexible, and almost on a daily basis theories and hypothesizes are questioned or modified to describe reality a bit more accurately.

For those who think that science is just another religion it is also interesting to compare how often you make changes in the bible (next to never), and how often you make changes to science textbooks, the foundation of what we teach new students in a field. In neuroscience may textbooks come out with new editions every 2-4 years to keep up with all the new facts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Video games and violence

A big and important question in our society is whether playing video games, which people of all ages do more and more, causes more violence/aggression. Popular videogames such as Grand Theft Auto (GTA) often involves a lot of violence/murder and it would not be an unreasonable hypothesis that this could affect the person playing the game through observational learning.

I will not argue that there is definitely no effect of video game playing on violence, however, if there is such an effect it is being overshadowed by the significant decline in all types of violence that we have been through history. This trend towards a more peaceful society have in fact been particularly pronounced in the last couple of decades, that is, since video games became popular. In short, while people are playing more videogames, our society is getting increasingly peaceful i.e. there is a negative correlation between the amount of time people playing video games and violence. This pattern is more consistent with the idea that video games makes people more peaceful although I do not think data would support that idea either.

I don't think anyone will question that people are playing more videogames today but if you do take a look at these charts. If you don't believe that violence has decreased in modern times (maybe you even think that it is increasing), then you should read this excellent book by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker where he gives you all the data

Pinker, S. (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature. Why Violence Has Declined (p. 832). Viking Adult.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Doves commuting to work

Sometimes animals do surprising things. There is the chimp Santino who, in his zoo cage, gathered a pile of rocks that he later tried to hit tourists with. What is impressive here is not the throwing (I believe that monkeys are quite good at that), but rather the fact that Santino gathered the stones before the tourists arrived.

Another example that many people have probably heard about is the crows in Australia who like nuts (see video below). The problem for the crows is getting the nuts open - they cannot do it themselves so instead they have developed a very clever strategy to achieve their goal. They fly to an intersection with traffic-lights and then wait until the cars stop (red light on), at this point they place their nut in their intersection and then fly up to a light-post of wire and wait for the cars to start driving. The cars then crack the nut and next time when the traffic light are red the crows fly down to the road and get their reward. Very clever indeed!

A third example that I only heard about yesterday, even though it was in our own Capital (Stockholm), is the doves who commute to work. In Stockholm there is a train network which is partially below ground and partially above. Doves have regularly been seen to board these trains, drive one station and then exit the train again. It seems that their rendezvous is "Farsta Strand" where there is plenty of cafes and restaurants where they find their food. The doves typically fly home however, sometimes they commute back from their work as well.

In some of the articles writing about this they say that the doves in London are even cleveler... They sometimes travel more than one stop.... My guess is that these behaviors (maybe with the exception of the chimp) are all extreme cases of operant conditioning. For some unlikely reasons the birds more or less accidentally dropped a nut or entered a train and then received a significant reward (either a nut or a lot of saved energy), which increased the likelihood that the behavior would occur again.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The secret: The Law of Attraction and Einstein

Rhonda Byrne, author of "The Secret" is an expert when it comes to grabbing quotes from dead scientists to make it sound as if their quotes support her crazy idea that what you are thinking affects the universe. By the way, Byrne when stating her "Law of Attraction" doesn't just mean that what you think changes how you behave which changes the way people interact with you (a statement even I would agree with). Rather Byrne wants us to think that there is a fundamental, universal law (like the law of gravity), which entails that everything that has ever happened to you (at least that is how I interpret it), came about because of what you thought - happy thought lead to good things and negative thought lead to bad things...

Byrne writes that: 

"The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is as impartial as the law
of gravity."

"Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts. "

"Often when people first hear this part of the Secret they recall
events in history where masses of lives were lost, and they find
it incomprehensible that so many people could have attracted
themselves to the event. By the law of attraction, they had to be on
the same frequency as the event. It doesn't necessarily mean they
thought of that exact event, but the frequency of their thoughts
matched the frequency of the event. (p.28)"

Anyways, back to quoting dead scientist turning and twitching in their grave. On page 40 Byrne writes that:

"Marci Shimoff shared a wonderful quote from the great Albert
Einstein: "The most important question any human being can ask
themselves is, 'Is this a friendly Universe?'"
Knowing the law of attraction, the only answer to give is, "Yes,
the Universe is friendly." Why? Because when you answer in this
way, by the law of attraction you must experience that. Albert Einstein
posed this powerful question because he knew The Secret.
He knew by asking the question it would force us to think and
make a choice. He gave us a great opportunity, just by posing the

To take Einstein's intention even further, you can affirm and proclaim,
"This is a magnificent Universe. The Universe is bringing all
good things to me. The Universe is conspiring for me in all things.
The Universe is supporting me in everything I do. The Universe
meets all my needs immediately." Know that this is a friendly Universe!

Seriously? Does asking whether we have a friendly/magnificent universe mean that you believe in the (crazy) law of attraction. Of course not! What Einstein likely meant is how easy/difficult it is for us humans to live in this universe. Why have we not been blown up by a supernova already? For how many more millennia will we be able to live on earth like we do today?

Besides, I hardly think that the Universe Byrne is describing in The secret is a "friendly universe", rather it is a universe which gives back what you think. Those African children in Darfur must really have some nasty thoughts...

The next quote can be found on pp. 62-63:

"Time is just an illusion. Einstein told us that. If this is the first time
you have heard it, you may find it a hard concept to get your head
around, because you see everything happening—one thing after
the other. What quantum physicists and Einstein tell us is that everything
is happening simultaneously. If you can understand that
there is no time, and accept that concept, then you will see that
whatever you want in the future already exists. If everything is
happening at the one time, then the parallel version of you with
what you want already exists!

It takes no time for the Universe to manifest what you want. Any
time delay you experience is due to your delay in getting to the
place of believing, knowing, and feeling that you already have it. It
is you getting yourself on the frequency of what you want When
you are on that frequency, then what you want will appear."

I guess that the only real quote here from Einstein is that "time is an illusion", and there is actually some truth to this, although Einstein would not agree with the conclusions. What Einstein showed was that "the constant" in the Universe was "c" which is the speed of light in vacuum. The faster something moves the slower time will go. From this idea there is a theoretical, mathematical possibility that time travel will be possible but that idea is also associated with many difficulties. Why have we not been visited by someone from the future yet? Furthermore, even if time is relative, that says nothing about "The law of attraction". Does Byrne suggest that you need many parallel universes for the law to work?

The last Einstein quote associated with Einstein is on page 79-80 in The Secret:

"The great scientist Albert Einstein revolutionized the way we view
time, space, and gravity. From his poor background and poor beginnings,
you would have thought it impossible for him to achieve
all that he did. Einstein knew a great deal of The Secret, and he
said, "Thank you" hundreds of times each day. He thanked all
the great scientists who had preceded him for their contributions,
which had enabled him to learn and achieve even more in his
work, and eventually become one of the greatest scientists who
has ever lived."

Right... I invite anyone to show me that Einstein literally said thank you "hundreds of times" everyday. That sounds like a lot to me. However, even if Einstein did say thank you often, maybe he was just a positive dude who thanked people when appropriate. Regarding his thanks to his predecessors, it is clear for scientists that the work done by scientists through the ages is a very important foundation for modern science and we should be thankful for their contribution. Also, if we go by "The Secret" why not just wish for and think positive thoughts and then let the universe bring you a fantastic scientific theory, why all the hard work?

The core of Science: Being self-critical

One of the central theorems of science is being self-critical and to stay open to the idea that whatever the current consensus is, in whatever subject, things may change down the road. In the history of science this has happened many times, perhaps most clearly in the field of physics where we have gone from a geo-centric view of the universe (with the earth as the center), to a heliocentric universe with the sun in the middle.

Newton later described, very accurately, the laws that governed the universe and using these laws allowed us to predict, to an impressive degree, how the planets, stars, and other objects in space move. Despite this success, Newton turned out to be wrong of course and Einstein turned out to be right, or at least more right than Newton was.

Does the fact that Einsteins theory have correctly predicted experimental outcomes up to a gazillion decimals mean that he is definitely right? No, only a religious person would take such a stance. If you are a good scientist you stay open to the idea that there may be even better and more exact theories up ahead. All we really know is that Einsteins theory predicts what will happen in the Universe we live in to an impressive degree, and that this is very useful when designing say computers or GPS satellites.

When I discuss whether science is really like I what I have just described, I often hear the critique that scientists are just people, that they have narrow-minded beliefs just like anyone else, and that there are corrupt persons on key positions in science as well. I think this is all true (although I don't think there is as much corruption in Science as there is in politics), however, what is different is that you can ask (almost) any scientist whether this or that theory is definitely true and he or she is very likely to say no. In other words, even though many scientists cling on to certain theories and ideas, they tend to stay open to the idea that it is wrong, and they stay open to the idea that if the right evidence comes in, they will change their beliefs. The examples above (and there are many more from all fields of science), also show that science does in fact change over time

This, of course, stands in stark contrast to the world of religion where it is claimed that one book presents the truth, i.e., they don't say that if so and so, then I guess there is no God(s). Religion is based on faith which is beliefs that are not based on logic or observations. This is what, at the core separates science from religion and it is a very important distinction to make in my mind.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nice experiment on Baboons show that monkeys can distinguish words and non-words

There is a common misconception that all animal experimentation has to be painful. Most people have seen pictures of rats being "tortured" or monkeys with sad faces taking part in some kind of experiment, and that type of picture tends to stick.

Of course, there is no denying that many experiments on animals will cause some level of discomfort however, researchers aim at (and are quite good at) minimizing the level of discomfort for animals in experiments. I would even go as far as to say that in most cases dying in a laboratory is probably less painful than dying in nature.

Anyhow, Science magazine recently published an article showing that baboons can learn to distinguish words and non-words. This was an interesting finding (although I must admit that i never surprises me when we learn that monkeys can do things we did not think they could do), however, the reason this study stands out is how "gentle" the study was.

The monkeys were housed in a 30mx25m cage with toys and friends and other types of stimuli that Baboons like. In an adjacent room there was a computer with a touch screen interface. The monkeys could, at their own will visit the computer room. When a monkey entered the room the computer identified the monkey and then the task of distinguishing words and non-words started. If the monkeys got the task right they were rewarded with a treat. When the monkey felt like hanging out with his/her buddies again it would simply leave the room. Sound better than being hunted by a hungry lion on the Savannah if you ask me...

Reference: Grainger, J., Dufau, S., Montant, M., Ziegler, J., & Fagot, J. (2012). Orthographic Processing in Baboons (Papio papio) Science, 336 (6078), 245-248 DOI: 10.1126/science.1218152

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Radiation exposure

Some forms of radiation is dangerous to you and some forms are not dangerous to you. Sunlight, which is a form of electromagnetic radiation, is good for you in moderate doses (it causes your skin to make D-vitamin), but not in large doses (can lead to skin cancer). As a general rule, high energy radiation (waves with a short wavelength) is dangerous to you whereas low energy radiation is bad for you. Radio waves for instance, are so low energy that they cannot do anything to you. At the other end of the scale you have cosmic rays that come in from deep space and hits the earth. Cosmic rays have a lot of energy and when they shoot through your body they may rip up a few DNA molecules, potentially causing the cell to become a cancer cell. Luckily the earths magnetic field protects us from cosmic rays and we generally do not have to worry about them (astronauts do however).

In between radio waves and cosmic rays you find microwaves. These waves have the special property of causing H2O molecules to jiggle. Now jiggling a molecule is the same as heating it up, that is why microwaves are great for heating foods which always contains a fair amount of water. For the same reason you do not want to stick your head in the microwave oven (your brain contains a lot of water to). Mobile phones also communicate using microwaves and when you are using a mobile phone will heat your head a little bit. I want to emphasize little because it is a minuscule amount of heating compared to other sources, and there is no scientific reason to assume that the heating would cause any adverse effects whatsoever.

What about radioactivity? Radioactivity is the high energy radiation that is generated when larger atoms fall apart. In general radioactivity is bad for you because just like cosmic rays it can destroy DNA molecules, however, some forms of radioactivity (alpha particles) are only dangerous if you first eat them (this is because, unlike gamma radiation, they cannot penetrate the skin). For this reason you want to avoid radioactivity as much as possible. Having said that, there is no way that you can avoid radioactivity completely because atoms are falling apart all around us all the time. This informative chart shows how much radioactivity you get from various things you are more or less likely to encounter in your life. For example tonight, when I sleep next to my wife, a certain number of atoms in her body will break, radioactivity will be emitted, and I will receive 0.05 micro sieverts of radiation. You get a hundred times more (5 micro sieverts) if you visit the dentist and get a teeth x-ray, that is why the dentist leaves the room when the picture is taken. If this sounds bad though, consider that a transatlantic flight will give you a full 40 micro sievert, four times as much as a dental x-ray!

All of this pales in comparison to a regular CT scan, a standard technique in medicine that gives you a full 2 milli sieverts, that is 2000 micro sieverts. A chest scan (which I have taken) will give you 7 milli sieverts. Still even at 7 milli sieverts there is no proved risk of adverse effects, although it is not clear that there is no risk either. The lowest dose that has been clearly linked to cancer is 100 milli sieverts. To get radiation poisoning you need 400 milli sieverts and if you get 4 sieverts (4000 milli sieverts), it is usually fatal...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The scope of your brain and your connectome

One cubic millimiter of brain tissue contains a hundred thousand (100.000) neurons. Between these 100.000 neurons there is 1 billion ( connections. In one cubic millimeter that is!!! Your brain contains millions of miles of wiring, tens of times longer than the circumference of our planet.

Sebastian Seung recently published a book called "connectome" where he lays out the hypothesis that "you are your connectome". What is connectome you ask. Your connectome is all your neurons and the connections between all of your neuron. This statement is more attractive than the statement "you are your genes" because unlike genes, your connectome changes in response to everything that happens to you. I have not looked up the numbers, but I am in no doubt that every second of your life is associated with the formation of new synapses, destruction of other synapses and change in strength of yet other synapses.

The only way this hypothesis can really be tested is by mapping the human connectome, which, according to Seung (and I agree), won't happen for a few decades at least...

In the TED lecture professor Seung presents his ideas.

By the way, the brain actually does not contain 100 billion neurons but more like 86 billion neurons. And we do not just use 10% of our brain - we use 100%!

See also: The Human Connectome Project

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Use Google Reader to get most recent publications from specific author or journal

As a PhD student you are often overwhelmed by the huge number of science articles that are published all the time. It is simply impossible to keep up with everything that is going on even in a rather small field. According to this article in science, as many as 27.000 articles are published weekly!

In this information overload, one of the best tools you can have is google reader (or your RSS reader of choice). Pubmed (best place to search for scientific publications) allows you to generate RSS feeds based on any search that you do.

For example, one prominent researcher in my field is Christopher Yeo, at UCL in London. Whenever he publishes a new article, independent of whether it is in Science, Nature, or J.Neuroscience, I want to know it immediately. The times when you would simply browse each individual journal are gone, so how do you do it? This is how I do it. (All you need is a google account).

1. First, go to pubmed:

2. Second, search for whatever it is that you are interested in. In my case it is an author "Yeo CH", but it could also be a number of search terms, e.g. "Classical conditioning" and "Cerebellum".

3. When you get your search results, push the red button saying "RSS" just below the search bar. Choose how many items you want to be able to see (usually I just take the maximum which is 100).

4. Right click on the xml symbol and choose copy link adress. 

5. Next go to google reader:, and log in with you google username and password.

6. Press the red subscribe button in the top left corner of your reader window, paste the link adress from Pubmed and press subscribe. 

7. Now you have a list of the 100 most recent articles that match the search terms that you used - and better yet, whenever there is a new item on Pubmed that matches your search terms, this list will get automatically updated. 

Personally I have created an RSS feed for around 20 individual authors that are of particular interest to me. I have also created a feed for about 20 scientific journals that I pay extra attention to.

Below you will find pictures describing the same process.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dead salmon sensing human emotions...(?)

As anyone who know me will testify, I am a strong proponent of the scientific method. It is quite simply the best available method we have to gain knowledge about the universe, and it has a fantastic track-record.

Theoretically, science is I think, flawless. However, science is done (mostly) by scientists, i.e. people, and we all know that people are, in general, not quite perfect. This is why scientists are so obsessed with writing out the method. Doing so means that other scientists can replicate the experiment and see if they get the same results.

One excellent replication of a scientific method was done by Bennet et. al. Bennet and his colleagues were concerned that a popular statistic method used for fMRI data actually produced statistically significant results that did not represent any real activity. fMRI, in short, is a method that that measures blood flow in the brain, which in turn, is a measure of neural activity (because brain regions with active neurons will consume more oxygen which is delivered by the blood). A statistically significant result is a result that is very unlikely to happen by chance alone.

As mentioned Bennet et al were concerned that a popular method for analyzing fMRI lead to unwarranted conclusions. To prove this he took a trip to the local market were he bought a Salmon, a dead, frozen salmon. He took this fish back to the laboratory and put it in the fMRI machine. The salmon was then shown pictures of situations depicting different emotions (e.g. anger). Bennet then used the fMRI data to see if there were differences in the dead and frozen salmon brain, depending on what type of situation it had just seen, and guess what, there was! Does this prove that dead and frozen salmon have the ability to see what type of emotion a particular situation depicts? No, of course not. Rather, the experiment is an elegant way of showing that the statistical method used lead to invalid conclusions.

See the poster, which is actually quite funny, here.

In a second example appeared in the excellent journal "Psychological Science". This article was perhaps more worrying since the the author Simmons and co-workers reached absurd conclusions using perfectly valid mathematical/statistical methods. Specifically the authors showed that when you listen to music about old age, you become younger - you don't feel younger, you actually get younger. They reached this conclusion simply by varying some decisions about the analysis, after the experiment was done, which is something I believe many scientists do. Ideally you should decide which exact tests you will use before the experiment and then stick with that analysis - if you find unexpected results these have to be checked in another experiment.

The good news is that science is self-correcting i.e. science, unlike say religion, eventually detects its own error, and it is also worth noting that in both examples above, scientists, following the scientific method, found the problems and reported them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The rise of antibiotic resistance and the meat industry

This post was inspired by an interview with Maryn McKenna, published by Scientific America

I think that most parent are aware of the importance of being strict with the use of antibiotics. When you have started taking it or (more likely) giving it to your child then you have to continue giving the antibiotic for the period prescribed by your doctor, even if you or your child get well before that. Why? Because you want to make sure that you kill all the bacteria. You want to do this because otherwise a few hardy bacteria that survived the antibiotics will hang around and procreate until there is a whole army of bacteria that know how to survive this type of antibiotic. In other words, if you are unlucky you will end up with a whole army of the bacterial equivalent of "William Wallace" in Braveheart.

Lesson: Finish your prescription.

However, it turns out that people's misuse of antibiotics pales in comparison to the misuse within the meat industry. An astonishing 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US are used in animals. To make things even worse, these antibiotics are not primarily used (as you would think), for sick animals but rather they are given to healthy animals in small doses at regular intervals. Now if you are really really eager to get antibiotic resistant bacteria, this is the way to do it. Why, you may ask, is antibiotics given to healthy animals. The reason is that the animal reach its goal-weight a little bit faster. That is it!

What happens then? Well, as mentioned the bacteria in these animals learn to deal with the antibiotics and become resistant. When the animal is slaughtered these bacteria frequently end up all over the meat. Commonly resistant bacteria thrives in the meat storage facilities as well. What about the meat bought in the stores? About 25% of it has antibiotic resistant bacteria on it. Usually they die when you cook it but sometimes they survive and they are becoming a major health problem, throughout the world.

Other examples of this dangerous misuse of antibiotics include over the counter, non-prescription sales of antibiotics, and non-prescription sales of antibiotics online...

For another great blog post on this, with more details, visit:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Atheism 2.0 and an atheist sermon

I noticed that I have recently started recommending things other do more than I produce new material myself (with regards to this blog). Nothing wrong with that I think!

Today I want to recommend one TED lecture by Alain de Botton who in beautiful English suggests that we can be atheists and yet steal the good things that religion has to offer. Don't accept the argument that if you are atheist you cannot celebrate christmas - I for one have always loved christmas - getting the family together and getting that Galaxy Nexus that I have dreamed about for a year (true story)!

Anyway, great speech about Atheism 2.0:

I also want to recommend, wait for it, a sermon. Yes, that is right a sermon (defined as an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy). However, this is a special type of sermon, it is an atheist sermon by Jeremy Beahan. Jeremy Beahan is one of the hosts for one of my favorite podcasts - reasonable doubts. In this sermon which is in a church Jeremy answers questions such as "from where do atheists get their morality" (and do they have any?).

Link to Sermon:

Thats it for now...