The Daily Dose: Misinformation about science takes a body blow; America’s worsening COVID-19 outbreak

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If you’re feeling a little disheartened about the unrelenting torrents of pseudo-scientific misinformation coming at you on a daily basis, there’s some good news on that front. As per Nature, “At a time when misinformation seems to be ascendant, a decades-long effort aided by the scientific community is bearing fruit. Results published on 10 June show that the proportion of US secondary-school biology teachers who present creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to evolution fell from 32% in 2007 to 18% in 2019 (E. Plutzer et al. Evo. Edu. Outreach 13, 14; 2020). And the amount of class time devoted to human evolution shot up by almost 90%.” These gains come after long, active outreach by the scientific community. There’s no time for letting up. If anything, fighting pseudo-science is more important than ever.

While media coverage has shifted recently from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial inequality/police reform, that doesn’t mean the virus has gone away. In fact, it’s raging more uncontrolled than ever. That’s especially true in the United States. The Guardian reports on the country’s passing of the 2 million mark. “For Americans, coronavirus went from being a mysterious affliction that occurred in far-off lands to 1m confirmed cases on US soil within 14 weeks. Now, just six weeks later, the US has broken through the grim milestone of 2m positive tests for Covid-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.” With more states continuing to reopen despite warnings from public health officials, there’s no end in sight.

Mother Jones’ David Corn hits the nail on the head in a recent opinion piece regarding President Donald Trump’s recent lack of acknowledgment of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. “In the past week, the coronavirus has killed more than 5,000 Americans. Yet during this stretch, Donald Trump has said nothing about these lost souls. And since the gruesome 100,000 mark was hit at the end of last month, Trump has tweeted about the pandemic only a few times. Once to note this milestone, once to blame China for this “bad ‘gift,’” once to vaguely claim there was “good news” coming on a vaccine, and once to hail the National Guard.” Until it becomes politically necessary for him to comment, expect further silence from America’s president.

This news is a couple of days old but no less important. According to work done by researchers at Harvard Medical School, the novel coronavirus may have emerged in China much earlier than believed. Instead of early winter we’re talking early autumn. As per ABC news, “Using techniques similar to those employed by intelligence agencies, the research team behind the study analyzed commercial satellite imagery and ‘observed a dramatic increase in hospital traffic outside five major Wuhan hospitals beginning late summer and early fall 2019,’ according to Dr. John Brownstein, the Harvard Medical professor who led the research.” The exact zoonotic transfer event remains a mystery.

As the barrier to entry for space travel continues to drop, more countries are moving to join the ranks of a once-select group of nations. The United Arab Emirates setting its site on membership to the club. Their reasoning may be surprising. As per The Guardian, “The ‘Hope Mars mission’, due to be launched on 15 July, has been in preparation by the United Arab Emirates since 2014, and according to the project manager, Omran Sharaf, is seen as integral to the country’s long-term economic development. ‘It is about the future of the UAE and our survival,’ Sharaf said.” In our eyes, this revelation falls under the “they get it” category.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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