And now, the links…
- No, bacon doesn’t really cause cancer, not in the way the media’s coverage of the WHO designation would lead you to believe. This was a case of mass science ignorance at work.
- Chimeras are real! Well, again, not really, but there is a phenomenon in humans known as chimerism, where one of two twins in the womb doesn’t make it, and the surviving twin absorbs some of the lost sibling’s DNA. This led to failed paternity test last year which led to this significant scientific discovery.
- The NY Times covers the fraying narrative around the medical startup Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes. My favorite quote in the piece, from another reporter, is, “People in medicine couldn’t understand why the media and technology worlds were so in thrall to her.” Uh, maybe because she’s 31 and blonde and pretty?
- David Mitchell has a new book out, Slade House, and Wired has a piece praising it for being so beginner-friendly. I read Cloud Atlas this spring (that links to my review) and enjoyed it quite a bit. Still waiting for that second Luisa Rey mystery, though.
- Tokyo will have a bookstore-themed hostel starting next week. I’m a bit old for hostel travel now but there’s something decidedly romantic about this whole concept.
- SXSW is trying to undo the damage done by its earlier decision to cave to online harassers, now restoring panels on the problem of online harassment of women, although one of the panelists is himself accused of just such a crime.
- All the news on China this week focused on the end of the one-child policy, but the NY Times has a long read on the country’s construction of seven new islets in the Spratly Islands chain, ownership of which has long been disputed among multiple countries. This is a highly aggressive move that seems like a play toward gaining more control over undersea resources in the region.
- A small study in North Carolina found that parents’ vaccine-denial beliefs often preceded pregnancy, coming from cultural factors, often correlated with other anti-science beliefs.
- Subway earned plaudits for its decision to switch to antibiotic-free meats, but they gave themselves ten years to do it, and the linked piece details some of the challenges for ‘suppliers’ (that is, the people who raise the animals). Humans started using antibiotics prophylactically on animals because it allowed them to crowd more and more of the creatures into smaller spaces without incurring the wrath of bacteria that spread quickly when conditions are tight. Such practices are, in my view, inhumane to begin with, but antibiotic resistance is the very real cost on which there should be no disagreement. Evolution’s real, and it has little regard for our species’ whims.