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Anti-Vaxxers’ Newest Scheme

Kenneth Johansson/Corbis

After years of alignment with anti-vaxxers, Jenny McCarthy says she’s not anti-vaccine—she’s pro ‘one poke per visit.’

So close, Jenny McCarthy. So close. Well… not really. But I’m trying to adopt the same conciliatory tone that McCarthy affects in a recent Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, in which she claims that she was never really “anti-vaccine” and that believing otherwise is just a big misunderstanding.“For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, ‘pro-vaccine’ and for years I have been wrongly branded as ‘anti-vaccine,’” she writes.Mercy me! How ever could we have come to such a misguided conclusion?Unfortunately for McCarthy’s new shtick of ersatz innocence, it took a whopping 20 seconds on Google for me to find an interview she did with Larry King back in 2008 in which she said quite emphatically that “vaccines play the largest role right now [in causing autism] and something needs to be done,” later telling a doctor who dared suggest that vaccines were good for families that it was “bullshit.

Breakthrough

When TB Was a Death Sentence

Spencer Platt/Getty

Dr. Robert Koch’s celebrated discovery of the tuberculosis bacterium was the first step in taming a ferocious killer. An excerpt from Thomas Goetz’s ‘The Remedy,’ about the quest for a cure.

On a brisk spring evening in March 1882, Robert Koch walked into the library at the University of Berlin, and prepared to change the course of medicine for all time.There were about 100 men gathered in the room, the greatest scientists in Germany. Koch barely acknowledged them as he began his demonstration. He showed his test tubes and cultures. He explained how he had tested and retested his work. There was no grandstanding, no theater. There was only evidence and explanation—and finally, a declaration.

Puhleeze

Eyerolling at ‘American Blogger’

First-time filmmaker Chris Wiegand recently debuted the trailer of his documentary ‘American Blogger,” and was met with ridicule. (Rightly so.)

Most objects of Internet derision only remain interesting for a day or two, tops. The outrage and mockery come fast and furious, and then we move on to the next opportunity for cathartic Schadenfreude, satisfied that the perpetrators have been duly chastened. But a blog post announcing the impending arrival of a movie about blogging, called American Blogger, has inspired a week of steady disdain in the blogosphere and on social media, including countless posts, multiple hashtags, parody Twitter accounts, and spoof videos.

GET REAL

Fat? You Got Yourself to Blame

Shutterstock

You want to lose weight, or give up smoking? Stop blaming the amount and availability of fast food, or the power of big tobacco companies—and just use your willpower.

As children, we were rarely given ‘puddings’. Instead, at the end of a meal, we’d reach for the fruit bowl: tangerines, apples or a handful of grapes. Puddings were treats for birthdays and special occasions: chocolate cake, or jelly and ice-cream. We weren’t actually ‘taught’ this – it was obvious to us, even as young children, that fruit was healthier than sweets and biscuits.Which is why I was surprised at the media furore over the latest health findings.

TOO FAR?

Tennessee to Criminalize Pregnancy

Peter Bauer/Daytona Beach News-Journal, via AP

The state legislature has passed a bill that would allow police to investigate drug-taking mothers if their unborn children are harmed by their addiction.

Tennessee may become the first state with a law that could criminally prosecute pregnant women if they harm their unborn children by taking illegal drugs. Miscarriages, stillbirths, and infants born with birth defects would be grounds for police investigation and charges that could put the mother behind bars for up to 15 years.Last week, the proposed legislation to allow for criminal assault charges to be brought against drug-addicted pregnant women overwhelmingly passed the Tennessee Senate with bipartisan support after already sailing through the House.

My Bumps

WTF Is Up With Measles?

The Daily Beast

If you’re vaccinated against measles, you can’t contract them, right? Wrong.

A recent report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases documented a fully vaccinated 22-year-old in New York City, who contracted measles and was contagious, transmitting the disease to four of 88 people she was in contact with. Two of those people were also fully vaccinated. It’s the first report of a fully vaccinated person getting and then passing measles.The measles vaccine works 95 percent of the time, said Mark Slifka, a senior scientist at Oregon Health and Science University, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Equality

Gay Marriage: Good for Your Health

Wade Payne/Reuters

A recent report says that gay marriage results in better health care, and less anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

The subject of same-sex marriage has been debated on many levels. It is undeniably a political issue, though one that seems to be growing steadily less divisive with time. Some frame the debate in moral terms, while others consider it a question of fairness and justice. And of course the legal ramifications continue to be scrutinized as various bans on same-sex marriage are challenged in court, wending their way inexorably to the Supreme Court.

Zzzzzzz

Is the ‘Ambien Defense’ BS?

David S. Allee/Getty

The theory claims people under the influence of the drug—like the Fort Hood shooter—act recklessly or violently with no recollection. But research doesn’t back it up.

Fifteen minutes is all it takes—then peaceful slumber. This is the promise of sleep medications like Ambien and its generic versions, whose billion-dollar sales numbers attest to just how many people rely on that promise. But for some, Ambien hasn’t only meant relief for struggling sleepers, but a possible shield against legal culpability—the so-called Ambien Defense, or the argument that one’s judgment or personality is impaired under the influence of the drug, and that it can cause one to commit crimes while not entirely conscious.

Ahhhh

Master the Art of Breathing

Shutterstock

Did you know there’s more than one way to breathe? Changing the way you inhale and exhale can help you feel more relaxed, energized, or focused.

Breathing: you do it more than 25,000 times on the average day. And for all sorts of reasons—overloaded lifestyles, hours spent at a desk hunched over a computer, or sitting on the couch watching TV—people tend to breathe incorrectly.Now you might be asking, how can I possibly be breathing wrong? Generally speaking, a good breath is one where you breathe in through the nose—deeply—from the diaphragm, filling your lungs with energizing oxygen, and then forcibly ejecting the waste product carbon dioxide as your lungs deflate.

Om

Swap Your Yogi for a Headset

NeuroSky

The positives of meditation are many, but mastering the practice can be a challenge. Enter NeuroSky, an EEG headset that detects brainwaves and helps you reach peak mental state.

I’ve always wanted to join the ranks of those who are able to generate calm and focus in their lives using ancient mindfulness techniques, but it was hard to learn with overwhelming attention deficit. The frustrating difficulty is that meditation, perhaps unlike any other skill, cannot be observed. I can’t pay a coach to tell me if I’m “focused” or not.Fortunately, there is new tech to the rescue: inexpensive, commercial-grade brainwave readers.

Bad Medicine

Why Your Doctor Hates Her Job

David Ramos/Getty

Nine of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession, and 300 physicians commit suicide every year. When did it get this bad?

By the end of this year, it’s estimated that 300 physicians will commit suicide. While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise.Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.

Final Frontier

Exploring Dark Energy

NASA/Reuters

Thanks to something called “dark energy,” our Universe is expanding. We don’t understand much about it yet, but a project called BOSS is aiming to change that.

The Universe is expanding—the space between galaxies is growing larger all the time. Not only that, but the rate of expansion is getting faster, a phenomenon we call “dark energy.” Right now, we don’t know what dark energy is, but thanks to detailed astronomical observations, we’re getting a better idea of how it behaves.One of those observations is BOSS: the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. Baryon oscillation is basically sound waves in the early Universe.

Tick Tock

Thank Anti-Vaxxers for Lyme

Hank Morgan

LYMErix, a promising vaccine for Lyme disease introduced in the ‘90s, was taken off the market due to pushback from anti-vaxxers (among other groups). Is it time to bring the drug back?

Well it’s springtime once again. Flowers are blooming, love is in the air, and hopefulness abounds for one and all.Except infectious disease specialists: for us, spring signals the start of Lyme season, a months-long slog through patient doubt and acrimony that makes us root for the bitter bite of winter to still the hopping, blood-sucking advance of the tick.  April is indeed the cruelest month, not only breeding lilacs from the dead but awakening countless nymph ticks from a months-long slumber, each desperate to find a leg or hairy back to set up shop and take a vampiric meal.

Below the Belt

Lab-Grown Lady Bits

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Four young women born with defective or absent vaginas now have fully functioning parts, thanks to science.

How does your lady-garden grow? In a lab, thanks to amazing new developments in U.S. medicine. Scientists have successfully engineered and implanted vaginas into four women with a rare congenital disorder, all of whom reported normal levels of “desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and painless intercourse” following the surgery.One of the women involved, who wished to remain anonymous, said of the treatment:  “Truly I feel very fortunate because I have a normal life, completely normal.

Popular Science

The Evolution of Jared Diamond

Joost van den Broek/Hollandse Hoogte/Redux

The author of ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’ is out with an adaptation for young people of ‘The Third Chimpanzee.’ He also has some strong words for his critics.

It turns out the incident of the chimp who tore off his owner’s friend's face was more family feud than disgruntled pet.Much like the humans he documents who came to rule Earth, Jared Diamond is out with a new book sure to increase his rule in the classroom. Most students known Diamond from the PBS documentary based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel. Now, Diamond is out with a new edition of his popular book The Third Chimpanzee, this time adapted “for young people” by Seven Stories Press and Rebecca Stefoff.

Better. Faster. Stronger.

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Lincoln Center, NYC | APRIL 3-5, 2014

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda

The fifth annual summit hits New York's Lincoln Center stage April 3-5, 2014. Hear stirring true stories that stretch from war zones to Washington, and learn how you too can get involved. Watch LIVE on The Daily Beast starting today at 6:30PM EST!