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Understanding Of Science Tutorial Section

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Headline: Online mattress retailer admits new line of mattresses is causing nightmares

This headline originated as a radio segment on a show titled “This is That” which runs through CBC radio. The article discusses the issue of a particular mattress brand that was allegedly causing nightmares and should avoid being purchased. The brand “Snugsie” was at fault for this atrocity and the CEO of Snugsie, Darin Reebling spoke out on such matters“ There’s a chemical reaction in the memory foam in our queen-sized bed that is disrupting sleep.”

The CEO was not the only one to speak to CBC radio on the mattress issue “Consumers are alleging that the Canadian mattress retailer is selling a product that causes nightmares, night terrors, nocturnal screaming and sleep paralysis.” Moreover, the Chemtox article states that some mattresses used to be made of synthetic and potentially carcinogenic materials, which can cause disease and sickness among those who are exposed to them. Additionally, the Chronic Fatigue blog did not express any frustration with their mattress after it had been purchased. Just the nightmare that was buying the mattress. The blog did not make claims that stated their new mattress gave them any nightmares, only the restless sleeps they had before deciding to return the mattress.

Verdict: After investigating the company and looking further into toxic mattresses, it has been decided that this is a false claim. Snugsie is not a real brand but merely a fake one who has no other information available on them apart from the CNN article. That is a satire show where they don’t talk about the issues, rather fabricates them. The other two articles did not relate to the headline directly, therefore making them irrelevant to the decision. Additionally, there have been no other claims made about mattresses being toxic and causing such side effects.

Headline: Drug Company Faked Cancer Patients to Sell Drug

This headline was published by CNN Politics in early September of 2017. The article informs its readers that the drug company Insys was responsible for convincing their clients that they needed this ultra-powerful opioid called Subsys for cancer patients in 2012. The drug maker falsified medical records, mislead insurance companies and provided kickbacks to doctors in league with the company according to a federal indictment. This article also provides readers with the story of a young patient named Sarah Fuller who died as a result of a Subsys overdose and how her doctor was petitioned by state authorities to have their licence suspended. Senator Claire McCaskill, a democrat from Missouri, was doing the congressional investigation. Like the CNN article, the Gizmodo article relays the same information to its readers. It discusses the crimes that Insys committed, the work that Senator Claire McCaskill had been doing on the situation as well as the story of Sarah Fuller. In addition to the two articles relaying the story, the report from Senator Claire McCaskill’s office outlining the drug company’s elaborate scheme to get paid for a cancer pain medication by faking diseases adds to the puzzle. According to this report;“Insys Therapeutics allegedly falsified patient files, manipulated insurer approval processes, and bribed doctors into prescribing the opioid fentanyl to patients who didn’t need it”

Verdict: Based on my findings, I am deciding that this claim is true. Both articles relayed similar information to tell the same story and the senators report was able to confirm some facts states in the first two articles. There was no irrelevant information stated, all were strictly factual. Additionally, the articles all provided external links to other reliable sources to further legitimize their story. After doing personal research it was determined that all of the sources can be trusted, therefore making this claim true.

Headline: A 2016 Report Released by the US National Academy of Sciences Concluded that Food from Genetically Engineered Crops is Safe for Humans to Eat

This headline was published by the Food Insight article in May of 2016. The article relays information to readers that Genetically Engineered crops are not harmful to health and are not responsible for conditions such as allergies, obesity, type II diabetes or autism. This article is mostly a summary of a comprehensive report released by the National Academy of Sciences today. The article states; “according to a report published yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), there is no difference in potential or adverse health effects in GMO crops compared to non-GMOs. In other words, GMO crops are safe to eat as their non-GMO counterparts” ScienceMag also provides readers with information that might clarify some of the misconceptions regarding Genetically Engineered crops. The article says that scientists say that;“There is reasonable evidence that animals were not harmed by eating food derived from Genetically Engineered crops and epidemiological data shows no increase in cancer or any other health problems as a result of these crops entering our food supply”.

Additionally, the article published by National Geographic discusses the benefits of Genetically Engineered crops in terms of food supply and growth, as well as the importance of appropriate regulation. The article states that there is no evidence of harm in eating Genetically Engineered crops and that the committee on case has not found any evidence of these crops increasing allergies, have significant effects on the gastrointestinal tract or pose a risk for horizontal gene transfer.

Verdict: Although all of the sources I found have been proved to be reliable, I am deciding that this claim is false. Although all of the sources provided logical and scientific information explaining why Genetically Engineered crops have not proven to be detrimental to humans in any way, the articles never used the specific phrase “Genetically Engineered Crops are safe for humans to eat.”

Headline: Dick van Dyke Rescued by PorpoisesIn an article published by The Guardian, celebrity Dick van Dyke tells the story of the time he was paddle boarding and fell asleep out of sight of land. What he thought was sharks surrounding him when he woke up turned out to be porpoises who towed him back to shore. “I’m not kidding” he says afterwards. Due to van Dyke’s fame, another article was published in Time telling his porpoise story. Additionally, there is one more article that tells the same story that was published by Telegraph.

Verdict: Based on what I’ve read, I am basing this claim to be true. All of the sources have said the same/very similar things and despite the story being humorous and light hearted, I believe that it is the truth. The original source is Dick van Dyke and ultimately not the publisher’s or authors fault if his information to them is false.

Headline: Woolly mammoths were still alive when the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. The article published by World Atlas explains to readers that woolly mammoths are ancestors of the present-day Asian elephants evolved in the Pleistocene epoch and are one of the most extensively studied animals of prehistoric times. It claims that the woolly mammoth coexisted with the humans who exploited the creatures for their meat. The article published by the Huffington Post states that the woolly mammoth became fully extinct around 1700BC, and the pyramids in Egypt were built approximately 4000 years ago. However, the National Geographic article states;“Mammoths were still around for 500 years after the Pyramids of Giza were built in 2560 BC. Pygmy mammoths survived on the remote Siberian Wrangel Island until around 2000 BC before dying out.” V

erdict: This claim is false because what was thought to be woolly mammoths turned out to be pygmy mammoths instead. Nowhere in any article did it say directly that woolly mammoths were the ones to survive as long as people.

Headline: European Scientific Journal Concludes 9/11 Was A Controlled Demolition

Fact checking website Snopes published an article with this title, describing the conspiracy surrounding the demolition of the World Trade Centre and debunking the myth that it was controlled. The European Journal website who apparently posted the original article and it is a high quality, peer reviewed mega journal. After searching the website using key words “9/11”, “controlled demolition”, and “controlled terrorism” – it is proven that the article either did not exist or has been taken down after proven to be false to try and protect the reputation of the website. Additionally, there was a Facebook link with the same title and up came up “Error 404! The page you requested does not exist or has moved.” This implies that there may have been an original article that had been taken down or removed or that it never existed in the first place.

Verdict: Since Snopes was the only website where I was able to find information regarding this headline, I am determining that this is a false statement. On their website under the “about” section it says: “Snopes has long been engaged in the battle against misinformation.” The whole purpose of Snopes is to fact check and make sure that the information that is on the internet is true, therefore making them a trustworthy website.

Headline: Russian Internet Bots and Trolls Create Fake Online Debate about Vaccine Safety

In the article posted by The bmj, went into great detail explaining the fiasco with Russian internet bot trolls and the fake debate they participated in regarding vaccinations in the United States. The Russian bots were following the debate on the #VaccinateUS trend and adding numbers and generated opinions to the debate. The article stated that;“A full 93% of tweets about vaccines are generated by accounts whose provenance can be verified as neither bots nor human users yet who exhibit malicious behaviours.”

Stated in The Guardian, Scientists at George Washington University, in DC made the discovery while trying to improve social media communications for public health workers. They instead found trolls and bots skewing the online debate and upending consensus about vaccine safety. “Messages in the #VaccinateUS campaign were often explicitly political, tying vaccination to controversial themes such as religious freedom and immigration. A measles outbreak among Somali immigrants in Minnesota was mentioned several times and antivaccine messages.” CNN reported that there was a study published in the American Journal of Public Health that suggests that what appeared to be Twitter accounts run by automated bots and Russian trolls masqueraded as legitimate users engaging in online vaccine debates.

Verdict: The verdict to this headline is that it is false. Although the story lies very close to being true to the headline, there is one key detail that is preventing it from being the truth. All of the reliable resources discussed how the bots were part of a pre-existing debate, but never did either of them state that the bots were the ones to start up the debate. The bots and trolls joined the debate to bring up the numbers and make it appear that the United States was having a serious feud with their vaccine policies. In reality it was a few people discussing it online and the bots blowing it up to extreme proportions.

Headline: Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists to Point Obesity Blame at Fat

The New York Times finds that the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960’s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, as newly released historical documents show. The documents show that a trade group called the sugar research foundation paid three Harvard scientists to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. Nutrition department head at Harvard said that the academic conflict-of-interest rules had changed significantly since the 1960s, but the industry papers were a reminder of “why research should be supported by public finding rather than depending on industry funding On the contrary, the study found on PubMed finds that the sugar industry did not fund the original study, however when the Sugar Industry found that the original study worked out to their favour, they continued to pay for additional studies, which sparked the initial debate. Moreover, the article published by National Public Radio finds the similar information to that found on PubMed. It states that the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to refute concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart disease. The Sugar Research Foundation then sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that and the result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967 with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding. There is no evidence that the Sugar Research Foundation directly edited the manuscript published by the Harvard Scientists in 1967, but there is circumstantial evidence that the interests of the sugar lobby shaped the conclusions of the review.

Verdict: The New York Times has been a proven reliable source in the past. PubMed is a free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical related topics. PubMed has been given as a resource to university students in science programs. As well, National Public Radio has a mission to work in partnership with Member Stations to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. After reading their mission statements, other articles and reviews they have been deemed a trustworthy resource. The Sugar Research Foundation funded studies to take the harsh views away from them, but did not fund the original study, therefore making the statement false.

Headline: In the 1870’s, The City of Liege, Belgium, Used Cats to Deliver the Mail

In the article published by Mental Floss, the topic of mail delivery cats is discussed in a humorous but serious way. In the 1870’s, 37 cats were hired to deliver the mail. Messages were fastened around the animal’s necks in waterproof bags, so the citizens of Liège and surrounding villages could easily communicate with one another. The Unknown List article relays the same information to readers but in a more satire way. The original New York Times news piece where citizens of the community are informed about the messenger cat system. The article states that apparently one cat made it to his destination in less than 5 hours.

Verdict: The New York Times has been proven to be a reliable source for readers to catch up on legitimate news. Mental Floss is a news source aimed at millennials, following the format of other mainstream news outlets. Despite the Unknown List being not the most reliable source, I am deeming this claim to be true because the other articles have proven the story.

Headline: Pluto has been officially reclassified as a planet

Verdict: Futurism tried to prank readers into believing that Pluto has been reclassified as a planet on April Fool’s day of 2017. At the start of the article, an edit had been made to inform readers that this was in fact a prank. Another article by Science Tech Universe, informed readers by using satire language and made up words. Additionally, fact checking website Snopes had also confirmed that the statement was false. Therefore, I am deciding that this claim is false.

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