The ten most underreported studies from 2010

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One: Breastfeeding improves boys’ literacy

Are anti-breastfeeding feminists robbing boys? “Researchers found that children who were predominantly breastfed for six months did better in mathematics, reading, writing and spelling. The effect was strongest in boys,” reported The Telegraph UK’s medical editor, Rebecca Smith. “It is thought that the bonding between mother and baby fostered during breastfeeding may mean mothers are more attentive and supportive of their children.” Doctor Wendy Oddy, from the Centre for Child Health Research at Perth’s University of Western Australia, found more evidence “that breastfeeding for at least six months has beneficial effects on optimal child development.”

Two: California’s gay-on-gay violence is violent

Gay-bashers are ugly people. But when homosexuals assault homosexuals, the media seems suspiciously silent and disinterested (meaning no investigations). From the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research: “Nearly 4 million Californians report sexual or physical violence from a spouse or companion.” And: “UCLA Study Find that Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals Are at Particularly High Risk.” The study’s lead author said: “This is not a group commonly associated with violence.” Blame politics. For years, campaigning journalists have been focused on activist-first issues like DADT and gay marriage.

Three: American teens face culture of rejection

The US Index of Belonging and Rejection looked at America’s family culture and found evidence of a culture of rejection. The parents of a majority of teenagers have rejected each other, reports the Family Research Council. “55% of teenagers live in families where their biological parents have rejected each other. The families with a history of rejection include single-parent families, stepfamilies, and children who no longer live with either birth parent but with adoptive or foster parents.” Shockingly, “Only 17% of African-American youth — less than one in five — live with both married parents.”

Four: UK’s healthcare unhealthy

The Lancet medical journal’s focused study on four cancers — breast, bowel, lung and ovarian — in the UK (not including Scotland), Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, paints a grim picture. Based on survival rates between 1995 and 2007, the UK’s famous NHS is in the worst shape, although left-leaning Denmark displayed a similarly shoddy record. Australia, which looked more like the United States in the Bush era, turned out to be the best, followed by Canada, although most of the nations were socialist. (Side note: Canadians are known to travel to the States for cancer treatments.)

Five: Kids embrace abstinence-only education strategies

While some major newspapers gave this study time, it certainly wasn’t enough, in light of its explosive findings. So what did the husband-and-wife research team of John and Loretta Jemmott find? Their study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that not only is abstinence-only intervention remarkably effective but (and here’s where things get very interesting) it is effective in a randomized controlled trial. Penn Current notes: “Those results were staggering: The study showed a 33 percent reduction in self-reported sexual intercourse among the abstinence-only group, compared to the control group.”

Six: Softer-and-gentler dinosaurs were vegetarians

In science-y circles, evolutionists are never wrong, their theories just “evolve” or the science “matures.” New findings published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, have really evolved — suggesting that Joe Dinosaur was a vegetarian. Or as Doctor Lindsay Zanno of the Chicago Field Museum summarizes: “Most theropods are clearly adapted to a predatory lifestyle, but somewhere on the line to birds, predatory dinosaurs went soft.” Perhaps Joe was tapping into his feminine side. So, will nearly two dozen anatomical features linked to herbivory keep textbook publishers busy in 2011?

Seven: Natural climate changes killed dinosaurs

While it’s hard to hide preindustrial warming history, like the Medieval Warming, the Roman Warming, the Minoan Warming, and the Holocene Warming periods, it’s harder to gag the “vegetarian” dinosaurs (a.k.a. deniers, in Gore-speak). From the Telegraph (UK): “British researchers claim that a sudden plummeting in the sea temperature of 16F (9C) more than 137 million years ago was the first step towards their eventual road to extinction.” Before meteors were often blamed for killing off dinosaurs. Now Gregory Price, from Plymouth University, and his team’s study point to mysterious pre-McDonald’s “greenhouse” climate changes.

Eight: Schools are failing boys

The recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment study was widely reported in media circles, or at least certain aspects were. The results of the “65-country comparison…revealed that girls tie boys in math while soaring ahead of them by an astounding 39 points on reading skills,” noted William Brozo, a professor at George Mason University, and Richard Whitmire, author of Why Boys Fail. Are campaigning editors doing themselves a disservice when they underreport boys’ troubles? The irony: illiterate and underperforming students are unlikely to become broadsheet newspaper readers.

Nine: Burp — beer is good for your bones

Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California found that even a commercial beer is a rich source of silicon, and because dietary silicon is a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density, drinking a few at the pub might help prevent osteoporosis. Published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, it certainly highlights the positive benefits of what I call medical drinks. “Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon,” explains man’s best friend, Charles Bamforth.

Ten: Christophobia alive and well in Muslim World

“A 200-page study of religious freedom reveals that Christianity is under siege in the Islamic world and that the dwindling number of Christians still living in Islamic nations remain among the most oppressed,” according to The Daily Telegraph’s Piers Akerman. But the findings released by Pope Benedict have been ritually downplayed or hidden by Big Television. So why the media-approved silence? Here’s one theory: “In large part it is due to the insistent demands for tolerance made by the political Left, a tolerance which embraces Islam but denies Christianity the same comfort.”

Ben-Peter Terpstra is a freelance writer based in regional Victoria, Australia. He has lived and worked in the Northern Territory, Melbourne, Kyoto and London (England).

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