Vitamin A is commonly added to sunscreens because of its supposed anti-aging effect but an FDA study from ten years ago showed that Vitamin A accelerates the growth of cancerous tumors in rats.
Moral hazard: people who buy high-SPH sunblocks tend to stay out in the sun longer because they think they are better protected.
Lab conditions versus reality: people who buy high-SPH sunblocks fool themselves in a different way; they apply only a quarter of the recommended amount, which means that the protective effect reported by the manufacturer is vastly overstated.
Comments on the graphs can be found on Junk Charts.
Using a Freakonomics-style argument, one can say that Dr. Andrew Wakefield may have endangered lots of children. He was the one who published discredited research that purportedly linked autism to the combined vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR).
As a result, vaccination rates have dropped (roughly from 90% to 80% in the U.K.), and measles have made a comeback in Western countries, with worrisome consequences (from under 100 cases to 1400 cases). But note that the 10-fold increase most likely came from the 10% who switched from the vaccinated to the unvaccinated category. There have, thankfully, only been a few deaths.
In the wake of the controversy, Dr. Wakefield moved to Texas but has recently left the clinic he founded.
Several attempts to replicate his research have failed. He also was found guilty of various counts of unethical conduct, including testing a new vaccine on a kid without permission, and taking blood samples from unsuspecting kids attending his son's birthday party (by offering 5 quid each).
The original Wakefield study had a sample size of 12.
Ben Goldacre of the Guardian did exemplary work in bringing attention to the MMR scare in the UK. He believed that the blame should be placed squarely on the media for promulgating Dr. Wakefield's "research" for years while ignoring available evidence to the contrary.
Martin Gardner, 1914-2010
Brian Hayes remembers a man who entertained many with mathematical puzzles.
Jacques Bertin, 1918-2010
Reader from France Bernard L sent in this note:
It is with great sadness I've learnt of the recent departure, early May at the age of 92, of Jacques Bertin, author of the Semiology of graphics
Through his work he laid down the foundation of information visualization.
I'll keep the fond memories of the time I've spent with him when he accepted to preface my book, of his wits and ever amused child gaze when we discussed the data visualisation topics. He left us for a new territory to charts and maps...