Profile: Tabitha Powledge

On Science Blogs is written by Tabitha M. Powledge, an award-winning long-time science journalist and book author whose work has appeared on paper and online in many popular publications (among them Scientific American, Popular Science, Health, Salon.com, Archaeology, and the Washington Post) and journals (such as The Lancet, Current Biology, PLOS Biology, and Nature Medicine.) In previous incarnations, she ran the Genetics Bioethics Group at the Hastings Center, served as a Senior Editor at Na

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Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Harvey? Plus What to Expect in the Storm’s Aftermath

The astonishing ferocity of Hurricane Harvey may mark the moment when the discussion linking extreme weather with climate change got seriously widespread.
PLoS Blogs
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Category: Science

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The Upcoming Total Eclipse of the Sun has a Potential Dark Side

Ha ha. You thought the total solar eclipse on August 21 was going to be a fun thing as well as a glorious natural phenomenon, right?
Nope. Turns out that the eclipse is packing a collection of potential crises.
PLoS Blogs
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Category: Science

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Where Did Dogs Come From?

INVENTING THE DOG, CANIS FAMILIARIS
It once seemed as if the dog was a triumphant early human invention, our first domesticated animal many thousands of years ago, a deliberate product of ancient Homo sap ingenuity that has done us proud down through the millenia.
But now it appears as if dogs may not be evidence of paleolithic human cleverness after all. Perhaps, new research argues, the incipient dog was a genetic accident that we stumbled upon. Maybe dogs are just mutant wolves with a genetically based developmental disorder that we simply seized on and exploited.
PLoS Blogs
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Category: Science

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Human Cannibalism Through the Ages: Why?

Cannibals are an ancient human tradition. Cannibalism in the human line goes back more than 2 million years, and–given its ubiquity in the animal kingdom–probably far beyond.
PLoS Blogs
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Category: Science

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The New Dietary Guidelines, Fats, Salt, Sugar, Edible GMOs

If you read anything at all about the US Department of Agriculture’s 2015 dietary guidelines, which have finally been issued now that it is 2016, it was probably a diatribe arguing that the government was giving bad advice about what to eat.

Category: Health

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Earthquake in Nepal: Science, Media, Health Risks in Dispute

Perched as it is, smack in the Himalayas, that great climbing wall heaved up by the titanic tectonic shoving match the earthly regions we call India and China have been waging centimeter by centimeter for many millions of years; Nepal will always be shattered by earthquakes. We still don’t know how calamitous the one that hit Nepal in May will be on the future, but there are dire predictions.

Category: Science

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Does Breastfeeding Increase IQ & Income?

The media loved the idea that breastfeeding improves intelligence. And, even better, that a breastfed baby earns more in adulthood. Who wouldn’t? There have been other studies saying breastfeeding raises IQ (and some that say not). The New England Journal of Medicine‘s JWatch has made its past comments on these studies available free. But this new study, from Brazil and published in The Lancet, attracted so much attention because it went on for more than 30 years, which made it seem particularly persuasive.

Category: Health

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Do Twelve-Step Programs Work?

Are 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous effective treatments for addiction? That long-time dispute has just popped up again, prompted mostly by an Atlantic article with the click-worthy title “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous.”Gabrielle Glaser’s central argument is that there are other addiction therapies that work, but the 12-step programs are just not based on science. It’s a reasonable point historically. For one thing, many 12-step studies have tended to ignore a crucial problem in research design: selection bias. It’s reasonable to think that people in AA, NA, etc joined because they were especially motivated to quit. Members are probably not a random sample of addicts.

Category: Health

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Low Carb or Low Fat for Weight Loss?

Here we have a replay of the dueling diets thing, low carb vs. low fat. Low carb continues to appear to have a very slight edge, with many caveats. The sane advice continues to be that the best diet for weight control is the one you’re most likely to stick to. It’s easy to understand the craving for a conclusive answer. This rigamarole has gone on too long. There is certainly enough information now to at least make it clear that insisting on low fat as the only way to go is just plain wrong.
Low carb v. low fat for losing weight by by On Science Blogs, PLOS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Category: Science

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Prostate Cancer Screening: Is It Necessary?

It’s pretty much conventional wisdom among the experts that routine prostate cancer screening for the prostate-specific antigen can cause more harm than good. The recent results of the European study of routine PSA screening after 13 years of follow-up, also viewed population PSA screening with a jaundiced eye–even though its data showed that screening reduced the death rate from prostate cancer by about 20%.
How can your average aging man cope with that kind of seeming contradiction–and from the so-called experts too? We'll break down what all the numbers really mean, so you can decide for yourself.

Category: Health

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