News that Vexes

News that Vexes

It's so tiresome to read 'new studies' that reveal Smoking, Stress or Obesity are Bad for you. Yet these studies appear all the time. It's time to take back the newswire from so-called Scientists!

Friday, September 09, 2016

5-Second Rule Revisited [but it's still vexing]

Long-time readers of News That Vexes may remember this little post from June 2006 - a scant TEN years ago.  That article's link doesn't work any more, but we care about you, so you can reread that reported "news" here

That 10-year old article basically said the 5-second rule for food dropped on the floor IS TRUE.  Caveat: "Sticky food though, will pick up bacteria faster than dry food."   REALLY?  Yes, really.

Now comes NEW research from Rutgers (It appears 'Rutgers' is Latin for "We have nothing better to study").  This hard-hitting article says that

Rutgers researchers have disproven the widely accepted notion that it's OK to scoop up food and eat it within a "safe" five-second window. Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science, found that moisture, type of surface and contact time all contribute to cross-contamination. In some instances, the transfer begins in less than one second. Their findings appear online in the American Society for Microbiology's journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
One of my favorite parts of this 'news' story is that the researchers preemptively attempt to tell us that this is not dumb, nor are the researchers stupid:
"We decided to look into this because the practice is so widespread. The topic might appear 'light' but we wanted our results backed by solid science," said Schaffner

Another jewel: the subtitle of the press release is, "Eating food off the floor isn't safe."  Thanks Doc - But where were you yesterday when I was having dinner on the linoleum??! 

Personally I'd pay good money (25-30 cents) to see a Matt Lauer-moderated debate between Peter Blaschek - the U of Illinois researcher who said the 5-second rule is TRUE and this Rutgers professor who says it's FALSE.

Why not drop Dr. Shaffner an email congratulating him on his research?   He's had the last word at least.  Well, that is until some 4th grader corroborates - or disproves! - this research at their elementary school science fair.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

So THAT'S what 'mandatory' means

Today's story is truly vexing in every sense of the word - we can't make this stuff up.  But of course we NEVER make stuff up here at News That Vexes.  ["We're vexed so you don't have to" - note, we're still working on this slogan.].  We are proud to say we can't make this stuff up because we're simply not insane enough.  Here we go:

Mandatory flu shots tied to surge in health worker vaccinations

According this simultaneously stunning yet mind-numbing research,

Mandatory vaccination policies may encourage more healthcare workers to get annual flu shots and help prevent the spread of influenza.  ... After a mandatory vaccination policy, the study found that 94 percent of employees got inoculated for the 2013-2014 flu season.

Wait for it:

“Mandatory flu vaccination programs are the most effective mechanism for increasing health care worker vaccination rates,” said lead study author Dr. Elizabeth Frenzel, a researcher in infection control and employee health at MD Anderson.  Failure to comply could result in termination.

SHOCKING!  You may not be an expert in reading highly technical papers, so let us help you: this paper says that threatening to fire employees unless they get a flu shot causes employees to get a flu shot.  It's some sort of amazing and bizarre cause-and-effect reaction. 

This is science at its best.  Feel free to email the amazing Dr. Frenzel to congratulate her!  Best yet: this article required EIGHT authors.  Super bonus, read the original 'research' here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Now we know; now we know...

You know how it is when you're trying to sleep and there's a bright light shining on you that makes it hard to sleep?  Gosh I hate that.

Well get this - if you live somewhere where there are bright lights shining on you, it just may actually be hard to sleep!  But don't worry - this is science from News that Vexes, so we're not totally sure about it.  I don't want to get ahead of the news though, so hang on...

First the breaking news:

Light Pollution May Trigger Insomnia

Now let's look at the science.  Literally the first sentence is:
People who live in neighborhoods that are lit up at night with neon signs and streetlights are more likely to report sleep problems, new research suggests.
Awesome, I love bright shiny new research.  This time it's from actual real scientist Dr. Maurice Ohayon from the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center, which is a real thing.  Drop him a note to congratulate him here for making it on News that Vexes: 

Also, in the spirit of true cash-squandering boondogglery, he'll be presenting this research at the Convention Center in beautiful downtown Vancouver Canada on April 15-21, 2016. Maybe tickets are still available!

Here are some more choice tidbits: 
“Exposure to light at night can have powerful biological and behavioral consequences,” 
said  George Brainard, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who called the Stanford team’s analysis an important epidemiological study.”  (Is he getting some kind of kickback or something?)


But check out this bold assertion by this Brainard guy again:
“Do I think that light is part of the culprit? Absolutely, I do,” Brainard said.
Whoa whoa whoa, simmer down now Dr. Brainard!  I beg you, please tell me there are some caveats before I believe this far-fetched nonsense:
Although the study doesn’t prove cause-and-effect, the scientists believe that intense outdoor illumination in the evening interferes with quality of sleep.
Thank you.  I thought for a second there you were trying to tell me you were certain annoying lights at night are actually annoying.   Much more study is in order, perhaps to present at conferences in Hawaii or New Zealand or Paris?

We can't fault these guys for not being thorough:
Those exposed to higher light levels also were more likely to report fatigue, wake up confused during the night, and have excessive sleepiness and impaired functioning.
Almost like they didn't sleep well the night before with all the bright lights shining on them.  But I should keep my mouth shut, I'm no scientist.