On Aardvarchaeology, Martin Rundkvist tells the story of a 14-year old Swedish Muslim girl who also happens to be very good at karate. Recently this young woman was disqualified from a tournament because she wears a veil and the rules state “that the umpire needs to be able to watch for damage to each contestant’s throat.” She was also disqualified from solo performance, despite that lack of potential for neck damage. Martin writes, “Things are changing in the karate world. You couldn’t compete wearing any kind of veil until last year. When it became allowed, Iran’s women’s team immediately won a world cup medal at kata – wearing regulation veils.” Meanwhile, on Pharyngula, PZ Myers takes a few stabs at ‘ludicrous’ assumptions, saying they lead to “absurdities like the paleo diet, in which it’s assumed that we should eat like cavemen, because evolution.” And on Respectful Insolence, Orac calmly parries the ignorant fear-mongering of online activists fantasizing about cancer cells in vaccines.
On ERV, Abbie Smith reports on the phenomenal success of the HPV vaccine in Australia. The vaccine, designed to protect against several types of sexually-transmitted papillomavirus, was first administered to Aussie girls in 2007. Since then, total prevalence of the virus among young women has dropped from 11.5% to less than 1%—and to 0% among girls who actually got the vaccine. These girls are also protecting their partners and reducing overall circulation of HPV; infections among young men, who were not even vaccinated, dropped from 12.1 to 2.2 percent. Abbie calls this a “blatant, obvious example of herd immunity in action!” On Aardvarchaeology, Martin Rundkvist recently stood up for science against the false equivalence of “tell both sides” journalism in Sweden, where the HPV vaccine is offered to all twelve year old girls. Martin acknowledges the vaccine is not 100% effective, and there are very rare cases of adverse side-effects, but the same is true of any vaccine.