5 COVID-19 myths politicians have repeated that just aren’t true ; The Conversation

The purveyors of these myths, including politicians who have been soft peddling the impact of the coronavirus, aren’t doing the country any favors.

Source: 5 COVID-19 myths politicians have repeated that just aren’t true : The Conversation

8 Stunning Portraits of People With Autism That Shatter Stereotypes About the Spectrum

Original post  from Mic

‘……….Michael McCutcheon's avatar image By Michael McCutcheon

Autism is a buzzword surrounded by a slew of misconceptions. Young people with autism are far more likely to be misunderstood and bullied in school. They often end up being caricatured through Rain Man-like Hollywood stereotypes. And the narrative is often dominated with the statistic that 1 in 68 people born autistic are not capable individuals. But this is a myth.

Many who are on the spectrum are simply wired differently. And there’s one thing that advocates want everyone to be more aware of: the immense amount neurodiversity, and the value of being autistic.

Last month, the Art of Autism concluded an incredible online series called Autism Unveiled. It’s a collection of visual art and experiences from people with autism, from all over the world, that sheds a powerful light on participant’s inner emotions, thoughts and capabilities. It tells a very different story about what living with autism is like than the one that’s made its way through popular culture.

“The most important thing is that we all have diverse experiences,” Debra Muzikar, the co-founder of Art of Autism told Mic. “We need to appreciate other people for who they are as human beings.”

What follows is a collection of self-portraits and quotes in Autism Unveiled that pull back the curtain on what it really means to live on the spectrum.

Myth: Autism makes it impossible for kids to achieve their potential.

Many people with autism view it as a special part of who they are.

“The world would be drab if we were all the same,” writes Jeremy Sicile-Kira, who also has synesthesia, a condition where senses mix, like seeing colors while listening to music, because of differences in brains wiring. Research shows that people with autism are almost three times more likely to have synesthesia.

“Really, if it were not for my autism, I would not see the beautiful colors that I see everywhere, even in dust,” he writes.


Myth: Being on the spectrum has no benefits.

Research shows that many people with autism have unique abilities, whether it’s incredible pattern recognition or attention to detail, compared to the general population.

Nik Sebastian is an artist living in Pennsylvania who specializes in faces. “Details like laugh lines, moles and supposed imperfections … are more beautiful to me by far than any airbrushed Hollywood star,” he writes. “I feel that autism is what allows me to see minor details that most others don’t seem to notice.”

Source: Nik Sebastian/Art of Autism
Source: Nik Sebastian/Art of Autism

Myth: People with autism don’t process emotions.

People on the autism spectrum actually process emotion and sensory inputs quite intensely — it’s just how they process them is different.

“It’s not that I don’t understand something, it’s that I don’t know how to respond to it,” writes Amanda LaMunyon.

Source: Amanda LaMunyon/Art of Autism
Source: Amanda LaMunyon/Art of Autism

LaMunyon, who lives in Oklahoma, started painting when she was 7 years old, a year before she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Research shows that people on the spectrum actually have intense emotional experiences, it is just their coping strategies — how to deal with those emotions — that can be difficult. But they are anything but emotionless.

Myth: People with autism aren’t aware of how others see them.

People with autism can be greatly affected by others’ lack of understanding.

“One of the biggest challenges I face is the view of autism held by many people I meet,” writes Kati Mills. “It shocks people that I am happy with my neurology.”

Source: Kati Mills/Art of Autism

Mills, who lives in Arizona, titled her self-portrait “Secrets.” When she was younger, she struggled socially. It was only as she got older and found a social group that understood and accepted her that she began to feel less alone in the world and became proud to be part of the autistic community.

Myth: People with autism are unemployable.

Valuing neurological diversity in the workplace and the unique potential of people on the spectrum is an idea that advocates believe deserves greater attention.


“We have thoughts, feelings and ideas, and we have gifts to share,” writes Kateri Michaels (who uses a pen name).

Source: Kateri Michaels/Art of Autism
Source: Kateri Michaels/Art of Autism

Michaels drew this self-portrait at 17. She writes that she often keeps her diagnosis private, concerned that it will negatively affect how people see her professionally (Michaels is an optometrist). Research shows that people with autism spectrum disorder face can face major employment hurdles and discrimination.

Myth: Autism is just a disability.

Simply labeling autism a “disability” doesn’t tell nearly the whole story.

“Autism is not a disease, and autistic people are not mentally challenged,” writes Aarti Khurana, whose daughter, Amrit, has autism.

Source: Amrit Khurana/Art of Autism
Source: Amrit Khurana/Art of Autism

Khurana describes how, when her daughter was first born, she hoped they would have a conventionally normal life. But as the first few years went by and her daughter never spoke, she worried that that would never happen. In time, she realized that everything she was experiencing with her autistic daughter was normal. It was just a different kind of normal; it was normal in the world of autism — and that was just fine.

Myth: Autism is something that desperately needs to be cured.

While autism comes with its difficulties, it’s not something that many people would want to be cured of.

“Society’s inability or refusal to understand us does not make us broken,” writes Chelsea Dub. “To ‘fix’ my autism would radically change who I am.”

Source: Chelsea Dub/Art of Autism
Source: Chelsea Dub/Art of Autism

Dub, who attends Ball State University, describes how she felt incredibly alone growing up, and that, as she grew up, many people misunderstood her different way of thinking as deficient. Many advocates aren’t looking for a cure for autism. Rather, they want people to prioritize recognizing the value that people on the spectrum bring to our culture.

Myth: Autism is a condition that some people just have to bear.

Autism isn’t necessarily something people are suffering through.

“My autism makes things shine,” writes Mike Allcock. “Playing the piano makes me very happy… Playing Beethoven is like your feelings — all of them — exploding.”

Source: Mike Allcock/Art of Autism
Source: Mike Allcock/Art of Autism

Allcock, who is 16 and from the U.K., was non-verbal until he was 10. According to his bio, he was first diagnosed on the spectrum at 2 years old. His parents were told to put in him in a special education program and that they shouldn’t expect much. Now, Allcock is an accomplished pianist, and a year ago, he started painting for the first time.

It’s past time to let the myths and misconceptions about autism go, and help other people know what it really means to be autistic — what it means to just be unique and different.

  Michael McCutcheon's avatar image

Michael McCutcheon

Michael is special projects editor at Mic. Previously, he worked at the Open Society Foundations on electoral reform. A native Seattleite, he’s still mad about the SuperSonics.     ……’

Opinion: Shouts of vaccine opponents drown out rational arguments

Original post from The Sacramento Bee


It’s a shouting match dominated with bullies who make threats, scream about personal beliefs and fill your voice mail with angry phone calls.

Richard Pan – the Sacramento state senator and doctor – is getting a steady dose of such vitriol amid the hottest political fight in California. He strikes a solitary figure in sensible glasses as he gets pummeled every day in the public square.

Pan has people on his side in the fight to immunize as many children against measles and other infectious diseases as possible. But Pan’s support is expressed rationally, scientifically.

His bill, SB 277, would eliminate personal-belief exemptions that allow parents to avoid vaccinating their children, and would require that children be vaccinated before attending private or public schools. Supporters include the state PTA, California public health officers, the California Medical Association and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The counties of Yolo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin and Los Angeles support this bill, as do the Pasadena Public Health Department, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the American Nurses Association and the San Francisco Unified School District.

There are many more, but you get the point.

None of these groups has demonstrated support by invoking the Holocaust or their “God-given” rights. It doesn’t appear that any of Pan’s supporters have threatened people on the other side. But Pan requires extra security now thanks to threats against him as he lobbies for 277 while it teeters on the verge of being shot down by irrational fears about vaccinations.

Pan’s fellow legislators have begun to buckle. Suddenly, it’s about making sure that those who object to immunizations are not barred from public education.

If that becomes the excuse to undermine the undeniable science that children should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease, then it would be refreshing to hear legislators admit that they caved because they were scared.

A myth debunked by science – that vaccines cause autism – has already killed attempts to bolster vaccinations in Oregon and Washington.

“Members just received a lot of calls and emails from the public – some were their constituents and some were from all over the state and the country – just very adamant that they didn’t like it,” said Washington state Rep. June Robinson, a Democrat, to Jeremy B. White of The Sacramento Bee. “I think it changed the vote, quite frankly, for some members who thought they would vote for it and changed their mind. I think people were swayed by the constant barrage of communication.”

What kind of communication?

“They tend to bully, use hyperbolic language,” Pan said. “They’ll call and call and call. Some guy from Texas keeps calling us.”

One Facebook posting compared Pan to a Nazi; another suggested he should be hung with a noose.

Who could forget Robert Kennedy Jr. comparing the rise in autism – which he blames on vaccines – to a holocaust during a speech at the state Capitol?

Kennedy apologized, but the tone has been set. A 1997 British study that linked vaccinations and autism has long been debunked by the scientific community, which finds no link at all. The idea nonetheless persists.

Many people spoke against SB 277 at the Capitol last week. Their reasons were often steeped in fear or in the idea that they could hold themselves separate from a broader community.

The issue that may scuttle SB 277 is the prospect, as expressed by some legislators, that kids would be forced into inadequate home schooling if their parents or guardians refused to immunize them. If a workable compromise can’t be reached – if a mob mentality scares enough legislators to embrace a no vote as an opposed to a compromise – then those who shout the loudest will have won.

There are reasonable people in Sacramento who feel Pan is orchestrating a self-serving overreach. The most recent – and highly publicized measles outbreak – wasn’t at a school but at Disneyland. So why dictate that school kids only gain admission to schools by getting vaccinations first?

Those who ask that question aren’t paying attention.

After being on the wane a decade ago, measles is coming back. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles exploded with 668 cases in the U.S. in 2014. There have been more than 150 so far in 2015, according to the CDC. Most of these are in California. Most of them occurred in people who had not been vaccinated.

It’s not just measles. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that clusters of unvaccinated people were one of several factors that led to the worst outbreak of whooping cough in California in 2010 – worse than any year since 1947.

“Why do we have to wait for someone to die?” Pan said on Friday. “One in five people who contract measles are hospitalized. This is not a benign disease.”

Pan said he is drawing a line at schools because it is where children cross paths and if you are allowing the pool of unvaccinated children to grow, you are creating more chances for more outbreaks among the unvaccinated.

“If you have a baby under the age of 1, that child cannot be immunized,” Pan said. “If your child has cancer or lupus, that child cannot be immunized. These are people that depend on everyone else being (immunized).”

In some respects, Pan knows he being outgunned by strident voices citing anecdotal evidence that vaccines are dangerous. Pan is appealing to supporters to speak up for increased vaccinations. But supporters of SB 277 are not vehement – and vehemence is carrying the day.

“We need to protect all children; that’s what this is about,” Pan said. “God help us if someone gets permanent disability or dies because a minority made choices based on misinformation. Shame on us.”………….’

8 Biggest Myths About Suicide

Original post from Care2


suicideSuicide is one of the most heartbreaking, confusing and misunderstood issues in contemporary culture. It’s no surprise, then, that many people’s understanding of suicide is shaped by the very taboo nature of the act. But it’s these very misconceptions that really hurt the victims — and potential victims — of suicide. Armed with the tools to understand suicide, you can help prevent it. Read on for some of the most common misconceptions about suicide.

1. If You Prevent a Suicide, the Person Will Just Find Another Way.

Many, if not most, suicide attempts are impulsive decisions. One study found that nearly 1/4 of people who survived a suicide attempt had decided to commit suicide less than 5 minutes before they attempted.

To dig a little deeper into this, we have to look no further than the world’s top suicide destination — the Golden Gate Bridge. The debate over whether or not to construct a suicide barrier on the bridge has gone on for decades. One of the most pervasive claims on the anti-barrier side has been that people will just find a different way to commit suicide. But, in a landmark 1978 studythat looked at the mortality rates of 515 people who had been prevented from jumping, this was found to be mostly untrue. Over the years, just about 5% of these people had successfully committed suicide after the earlier attempt.

So what does this mean? Well, it supports the idea that prevention is effective more often than not, and it is disingenuous to think otherwise.

2. Teens are at Greatest Risk.

The highest suicide rate of any age, gender, and race is among elderly white men over the age of 85. Seniors and middle-aged adults have the highest suicide rates — people under the age of 25 actually have the lowest. There are many possible reasons for this: older people have less resilient bodies, and are thus less likely to survive a suicide attempt. Older people are more likely to be sick, have experienced major losses, and more likely to feel the stigma around mental illness. While an elder person may choose to end their life for a variety of reasons, depression is one risk factor that should be monitored.

You can ready more about suicide risks among elderly people in this enlightening Washington Post article.

3. You Shouldn’t Ask Others if They’re Thinking About It.

One of the best things you can do as the loved one of others who you suspect to be suicidal is to ask them if they’re thinking about harming themselves. It’s not going to put the idea in their heads, and doing so may actually help save lives. By bringing it up, you can help struggling loved ones plan how to treat possible conditions and suicidal ideation.

4. Suicide Peaks During the Holiday Season.

It certainly makes sense that, at a time where many of us are celebrating and the weather is gloomy, suicidal people feel most alone, desperate and depressed. However, there is no correlation between suicide rates and the holiday season. In fact, suicide rates peak in late spring and early summer (Clauss-Ehlers, Caroline. (2010). Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology).


5. Suicide is selfish.

It’s easy to think this, but the reality is much, much more complicated. Over 90% of people who commit suicide have some form of mental illness. Mental illness is an illness like any other — and stigmatizing victims of suicide often makes it harder for suicidal people seek help.

Suicidal people often rationalize their thoughts by assuming that the world will be better off without them in it. They don’t see it as selfish, they see it as self-less. Suicide is, of course, not the answer to their problem, which is why it is so important to help those who are in turmoil.

6. Gun Access Has Nothing to Do With Suicide.

Gun shots are by far the most common, and most lethal, suicide method in the United States. The states with the highest suicide rates overall also have some of the highest access to guns and biggest gun cultures. Across the United States, the regional differences in suicide rates can be generally explained by gun access and ownership. Wyoming has the highest suicide rate, followed by Alaska, Montana and New Mexico — all states that have some of the least-restrictive gun laws in the nation, and the highest rates of overall gun deaths in the nation. On the other end of the spectrum, the regions with the lowest suicide rates are the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, which all have much more restrictive gun control laws.

7. Suicidal People Don’t Want Help.

Many people who experience suicidal ideation want help, and don’t want to die. It’s alarmingly common for people who are suicidal to be afraid to ask for help. Studies suggest that over half of people who commit suicide either sought or had medical treatment in the months prior to their act. The takeaway, then, is that asking a person you suspect to be suicidal is one of the best things you can do for them.

8. Copycat Suicides Are a Myth.

Suicide clusters are a very real, and very alarming, phenomena. They can happen in high schools and colleges, in the wake of a suicide that was a means of political protest or even after a celebrity’s suicide. Learning of the suicide of someone who a person feels close or similar to can serve as more evidence for a suicidal person to commit the act.

One of the ways authorities have attempted to mitigate this is by putting restrictions, or suggestions, on the press. The method in which a person took their own life isn’t always publicized, and, at the Golden Gate Bridge and other suicide destinations, local media have begun to stop reporting deaths.   …….’



5 myths about daylight saving time

Original post from The Washington Post


Rachel Feltman

Daylight saving time strikes again Sunday at 2 a.m., at least for every state outside Hawaii and Arizona. Though DST has been part of life in the United States since World War I, its origin and effects remain misunderstood, even by some of the lawmakers responsible for it. Here are some common myths.

1. Daylight saving time was meant to help farmers.

Many of us heard, at some point in elementary school, that DST was developed because of farming. The idea that more daylight means more time in the field for farmers continues to get airtime on the occasional local news report and in state legislatures — “Farmers wanted it because it extends hours of working in the field,” Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn offered after filing a bill that would abolish DST. Even Michael Downing, who wrote a book about DST, has said that before researching the subject, “I always thought we did it for the farmers.”

In fact, the inverse is true. “The farmers were the reason we never had a peacetime daylight saving time until 1966,” Downing told National Geographic. “They had a powerful lobby and were against it vociferously.” The lost hour of morning light meant they had to rush to get their crops to market. Dairy farmers were particularly flummoxed: Cows adjust to schedule shifts rather poorly, apparently.

Daylight saving time, in this or any other country, was never adopted to benefit farmers; it was first proposed by William Willett to the British Parliament in 1907 as a way to take full advantage of the day’s light. Germany was the first country to implement it, and the United States took up the practice upon entering World War I, hypothetically to save energy. How did farmers end up being the mythical source of DST? Downing suggests that because they were such vocal opponents, “they became associated into the popular image of daylight-saving and it got inverted on them. It was just bad luck.”

2. The extra daylight makes us healthier and happier.

That additional vitamin D is good for us, right? Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)thinks so. “In addition to the benefits of energy savings, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity, Daylight Saving Time helps clear away the winter blues a little earlier,” he said in a statement last year. “Government analysis has proven that extra sunshine provides more than just smiles. . . . We all just feel sunnier after we set the clocks ahead.” Gwyneth Paltrow agrees, opining to British Cosmopolitan in 2013: “We’re human beings and the sun is the sun — how can it be bad for you? I think we should all get sun and fresh air.”

A little more vitamin D might be healthy, but the way DST provides it is not so beneficial to our well-being. Experts have warned about spikes in workplace accidents, suicide and headaches — just to name a few health risks — when DST starts and ends. One 2009 study of mine workers found a 5.7 percent increase in injuries in the week after the start of DST, which researchers thought was most likely due to disruption in the workers’ sleep cycles. An examination of Australian data found a slight uptick in male suicides in the weeks following time shifts, to the effect of half an excess death per day, which the researchers blamed on the destabilizing effect of sleep disruption on people with mental health problems. And some physicians warn that changes in circadian rhythm can trigger cluster headaches, leading to days or weeks of discomfort.

The literature on these health effects is far from conclusive, but spring sunshine does not outweigh the downsides of sleep disruption across the board.

3. It helps us conserve energy.

Congress passed the Energy Policy Act — which extended DST by a month — in 2005, ostensibly to save four more weeks’ worth of energy. “An annual rite of spring, daylight saving time is also a matter of energy conservation. By having a little more natural daylight at our disposal, we can help keep daily energy costs down for families and businesses,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who co-sponsored the legislation along with then-Rep. Markey,said in a 2013 statement.

But in a follow-up study on the effects of the extension, the California Energy Commission found the energy savings to be a paltry 0.18 percent at best. Other studies have indicated that people may use less of some kinds of energy, such as electric lights, but more of others. More productive daylight hours might be meant to get you off the couch and recreating outside, but they’re just as likely to lead to increased air-conditioner use if you stay home and gas guzzling if you don’t.

A study in Indiana actually found a slight increase in energy use after the entire state adopted DST (for years, only some counties followed it), costing the state’s residents about $9 million; the researchers believed that more air conditioning in the evening was largely to blame. That’s a far cry from the $7 million that Indiana state representatives had hoped residents would save in electricity costs.

4. DST benefits businesses.

We know that businesses think daylight saving time is good for the economy — just look at who lobbied for increased DST in 2005: chambers of commerce. The grill and charcoal industries, which successfully campaigned to extend DST from six to seven months in 1986, say they gain $200 million in sales with an extra month of daylight saving. When the increase to eight months came up for a vote in 2005, it was the National Association of Convenience Stores that lobbied hardest — more time for kids to be out trick-or-treating meant more candy sales.

But not all industries love daylight saving time. Television ratings tend to suffer during DST, and networks hate it. “Come March, when daylight savings time and the HUT [households using television] level goes down in the early evening, it really takes its toll on the 8 o’clock hour, particularly for comedies,” Kevin Reilly, then chairman of Fox Entertainment, said in 2014, explaining his decision to cut the network’s 8 p.m. comedy hour.

Airlines have also complained loudly about increased DST. When DST was lengthened, the Air Transport Association estimated that the schedule-juggling necessary to keep U.S. flights lined up with international travel would cost the industry $147 million. DST hurts other transportation interests, too: Amtrak is known to halt its overnight trains for an hour when clocks change in November so they don’t show up and leave from their 3 a.m. destinations early. In the spring, trains have to try to make up lost time so they can stick to the schedule.

DST might also cost employers in the form of lost productivity. A 2012 study found that workers were more likely to cyberloaf — doing non-work-related things on their computers during the day — on the Monday after a DST switch. Study participants who lost an hour of sleep ended up wasting 20 percent of their time.

5. Standard time is standard.

Guess what time we’re on for eight months of the year? Daylight saving time. In what universe is something that happens for only one-third of the time the “standard”? Even before the 2007 change, DST ran for seven months out of 12.

In fact, some opponents of DST aren’t against daylight saving time per se: They think it should be adopted as the year-round standard time. Because it basically already is.  ……………..’

The ten ‘quack’ cures that actually work!

Is this true or not?

Who knows, do you?

Original post

An extract

‘…….He’s known as one of alternative medicine’s fiercest critics, devoting decades to debunking myths of what he calls ‘quack medicine’. In his new book, A Scientist In Wonderland: A Memoir Of Searching For Truth And Finding Trouble, no one from the world of alternative medicine is safe from Professor Edzard Ernst’s firing line.

He claims chiropractors and osteopaths are filling the public’s head with ‘bogus’ claims about the benefits of spinal manipulation. And he adds that homeopathy is at best useless, and at worst life-threatening.

But there are some alternative treatments that Prof Ernst, the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, says do get results……………’

To see more

For video


10 Biggest Myths About Autism From Moms Who Know

Why do we have myths and labels?  Are we not are all different, so are persons with autism, surely by labeling are we not trying to say they are the same. But then why myths, is it because we have to know why or at least we believe we know why.

Original post from The Stir

An extract

‘…………By now you’ve probably seen the numbers. One in every 88 kids today is being diagnosed with autism. There are autistic kids on TV shows, autistic kids in the news, autistic kids in your kid’s classroom. It’s safe to say Americans know that autism exists.

But that doesn’t mean they know the first thing about the spectrum disorder. This is the next hurdle for parents of kids on the autism spectrum: breaking down the myths that follow their kids everywhere they go. Think you know better? Test your knowledge with these autism myths: …………………..’

Persons on Benefits: Scroungers or not?

Is the media and Government correct or are they labeling the majority from the deeds of a minority?

See this link We will all benefit  from Learning Disability Alliance England

An extract ‘My Life My Choice is an Oxford-based advocacy charity run by and for people with learning disabilities. Today, Monday 1st December, they have launched a film as their contribution to the national ‘Who Benefits?’ campaign.

Who Benefits?’ was originally formed by leading charities Crisis, Gingerbread, MIND, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Children’s Society to give a voice to the millions of people who have been supported by benefits at some point in their lives.

My Life My Choice believes that labelling benefit recipients as scroungers has started to erode some of the important gains made by the disability movement over the past 20 years.  ……………..’

What would you say and who do you believe?