How would we get rid of every single mosquito?

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In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences?

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We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!

▹▹ Full show notes

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Pseudoscientific terror ended fluoridation in Calgary, now kids' teeth are rotting

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Five years ago, the city of Calgary gave in to a scientifically illiterate campaign against fluoride in its water supply; five years later, Calgary's grade two children each have an average of 3.8 extra cavities. Read the rest

Women in Zika-affected countries beg online for abortion pills

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Throughout latinamerica, many countries ban abortion under any circumstance, an historic artifact of the states' close relationship with the Catholic Church. This ban on abortion has always put women's lives at risk, but with the threat of Zika virus, the dire situation has turned urgent, and widespread. Read the rest

Health insurance must pay for exoskeletons

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An independent review board has ordered an unspecified health insurer in the northeastern USA to reimburse a patient for a $69,500 exoskelton from Rewalk, whose products enable people with spinal cord injuries to walk. Read the rest

Hollywood hospital ransoms itself back from hackers for a mere $17,000

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Last week, hackers bricked Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, encrypting all the data on its devices and demanding 9,000 Bitcoin (~$3.6m) to give the hospital's IT staff the keys needed to reboot it. Read the rest

Listen: podcast about the alleged "data" collected by wearable devices

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Rachel "Datapunk" Kalmar is a brilliant data scientist with a background in neuroscience, connected devices, sensors, and wearables. Read the rest

Hackers steal a hospital in Hollywood

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A hospital is a computer we put sick people into, so when ransomware creeps infected the hospital's IT systems and encrypted all their data, they asked for a whopping $3.6m to turn the data loose again. Read the rest

Ten hard truths about the Flint water atrocity

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Years before the complaints from Flint's citizenry about their water provoked action from the state, Governor Rick Snyder spent $440,000 to supply better water to the GM factory, where the new water supply was corroding the car parts on the assembly line. Read the rest

Breastfeeding stickers turn mom's nursing breast into “fruit”

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Ad agency Boone Oakley created a provocative campaign in posters and stickers for hospitals to promote breastfeeding to first-time moms.

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Hunger is a mood: the psychology of weight loss and self-control

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Michael Graziano, a psychologist, lost 50 lbs in 8 months by experimenting on himself to see how different dietary choices affected his feelings of hunger, reasoning that the major predictor of weight control isn't calories consumed versus calories burned -- but the extent to which your unconscious mind exerts pressure on you to eat more and exercise less. Read the rest

Michael Moore: Flint needs a revolution, not bottled water

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Michael Moore, perhaps Flint, MI's most famous son, has written an open letter to people who are heartsick at the thought of a whole generation of mostly poor, mostly black children being given permanent brain damage through lead poisoning, thanks to the deliberate indifference of the state's Republican administration and the greedy people who elected them. Read the rest

Health insurer loses 1m customers' health records

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Despite the fact that it "takes the privacy and security of our members' information seriously," the health insurance company Centene can't find six unencrypted hard drives with 950,000 customers' private health data, addresses, dates of birth and social security data. Read the rest

You can't "boost" your immune system with "health food," nor would you want to

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Your immune system has two approaches: the first wave is a bunch of attacks that make your body less hospitable to germs, like a fever, mucous, and achy lethargy (which keeps you at home, away from opportunistic infectious agents); the second is a tailored antibody attack that kicks in about ten days later. Read the rest

Stop taking "probiotics"

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It's true that your gut biome is awesome, complicated, poorly understood and crucial to your body's normal functioning. Read the rest

Majority of UK booze-industry revenues come from problem drinkers

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69% of the alcohol sold in the UK is sold to "harmful," "hazardous" or "increasing risk" drinkers, accounting for more than 60% of the industry's revenues. The number of alcohol-related hospitalisations in the UK has doubled in the past ten years, to more than 1m/year. Read the rest

Debullshitifying the "sleep science" industry: first up, sleeplessness and obesity

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Chris from Sense About Science writes, "Had trouble sleeping recently? This week Ask for Evidence is turning its attention to the multitude of claims about sleep -- how you should be doing it, what you should be wearing for it, what you should be doing it on. First up is Ben, who got the NHS to change the advice on its website after asking them for evidence about claims that not getting enough sleep could make you obese. (It turns out it's a little more nuanced than they first suggested)." Read the rest

TPP vs Canada: a parade of horribles

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Michael Geist has rung in the new year with the first in a series of posts that set out, in eye-watering detail, the bowel-loosening terror of the effects that the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership would have on Canada if the country ratifies it. Read the rest

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