White Coat Underground

Things that bug me

Blogging requires a thick skin. So does life, so I don’t get personally worked up about shit that happens on line. But some things do piss me off.


Chapter One: Blinded by…

I wrote a little piece about the Obama/Notre Dame flap. I wanted to look beneath the putative reasons for the protest (abortion). Some of my readers would not allow that. There were a few types of stupid responses:

  • The non sequitur: “I didn’t bother to read but abortion is BAD.”
  • The burningly stupid analogy: “If you let Obama speak, the terrorists win!!!”
  • The Reading Comprehension Fail: “Don’t accuse me of teh racism!!! I’m good people!”
  • The fail fail: “Babies are cuter than murderers so even if the Church says it’s wrong, let’s kill the murders. Oh, and don’t blame me for murdering doctors, that was someone else who believes everything I do.”

    I have a number of friends and colleagues who are anti-choice. I respect many of them because they understand the implications of their position, and have made a moral judgment (one that I think is wrong, but still…). Unfortunately, the vast majority of those speaking out about abortion aren’t so introspective.

    Chapter Two: Too crazy to be blinded by anything

    I sometimes write about controversial medical conditions, such as so-called morgellons syndrome. Yes, I’m sometimes snarky, but I pretty clearly point out the problem here—everyone who is writing about this thing is bat-shit insane. If they want to be taken seriously, the need to nominate someone who isn’t wearing the tin foil hat.

    Seriously, chem-trails???

    And I’ve never had so many people accuse me of censoring their comments. Srlsy. I had to explicitly put it in the comments that I have a spam filter and people get stuck there. And the response? Putting up nasty shit about me and closing the comments. Hey, idiot—you weren’t even in the spam filter. You’re either lying or too fucking stupid to post a goddamn comment.

    If these folks spent as much time getting help as they did excoriating (!) me on the morgellons boards they might actually get some answers.

    As the religious folks say, sometimes the answer is “no”.

    /end of rant

  • Comments

    1. #1 Comrade PhysioProf
      May 18, 2009

      YEAH! Embrace the anger! There are so many DUMBASSES ON THE INTERNET TO FUCK WITH, and so little time!!

    2. #2 Donna B.
      May 18, 2009

      This is funny. You and will probably never agree fully on any political matter, but we’re in 100% agreement on the medically batshit insane.

      As for abortion, I could never have had one myself. I’m way beyond the age where pregnancy is possible, but I addressed this question personally years before. And came to the conclusion that my personal morals were not legally binding on anyone else. Thus, a reluctant pro-choice political stance.

      But it’s a limited view. I cannot understand why a woman has the right to terminate a life that is sustainable outside her womb. I can support her view of not wanting to be responsible for that life, but not the idea that she has a right to terminate it. At the point it gains viability outside her body it obtains rights of its own equal to the woman’s.

      So, I’m not fully pro-choice and I have little sympathy for a woman who cannot decide before 25 or so weeks of pregnancy whether she should abort or not.

    3. #3 Isis the Scientist
      May 18, 2009

      You have to have an incredibly thick skin to blog and an even thicker skin to do it in such a public place.

      Hang in there, Pal, and keep writing the stuff you’re writing. It’s all amazing!!!

      **Just like you!**

    4. #4 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
      May 18, 2009

      Your blog is one of my favorites precisely because you don’t pull (many) punches. The fact that freaks are coming out of the woodwork to piss you off just means you’re being effective ;) Keep at it, brother.

    5. #5 Stephanie Z
      May 18, 2009

      Maybe this will cheer you up just a little: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgsJ9BTJDog

    6. #6 Rowan
      May 18, 2009

      I like what you write. I may not post often, but I do make it a point to read your blog daily. Don’t get discouraged. You provide an interesting viewpoint.

      Ignore as best you can the crazier commenters. Unfortunately the anonymity afforded by the internet makes it easier for people to say outrageous things they never would if they were to converse in person.

    7. #7 Joseph Hewitt
      May 18, 2009

      Keep up the good fight.

    8. #8 HCN
      May 18, 2009

      Obviously “Mr. Common Sense” is not terribly sure about his data, or he would actually be willing to involve himself in real dialog.

      A song comes to mind, it is about “Brave Sir Robin.”

    9. #9 Michael Johnson
      May 18, 2009

      Pal, I like you in general, and I agree with 95% of this post. I just wanted to take issue with your characterization of Lynn’s comment (the “fail-fail”), because I think the characterization is a fail.

      Lynn first starts out by saying that there’s a moral difference between killing the innocent and killing those guilty of serious crimes. I think that’s clearly true (Caveat: without making it clearly true that the latter is moral; perhaps it is just less immoral). She (falsely) believes that killing a fetus is tantamount to killing an innocent person, but we’re not having the abortion debate here. Your criticism is that the church says “life is sacred,” so being anti-choice and pro-death penalty is contradictory, and can only be motivated by the difference in “cuteness” of fetuses vs. murderers. But this is a failure of charity. One can have views motivated by one’s catholicism without needing to have them motivated by a desire to conform to everything the pope says. Most catholics are like this (for example, use birth control, but would never have an abortion). The catholocism buys you the fetus = person, and recognition of the moral difference between killing innocent people and killing guilty ones buys you the view in question. It may be wrong, ethically speaking, in the end, but how is it a fail?

      Second, your comment equating Lynn with an abortion bomber is totally silly. Maybe some of the other comments she mentions (I didn’t read them) say that, but nothing in her post singles her out as pro-bombing, and you certainly can’t with a serious face argue “those who believe what you do commit atrocity X, therefore you too can be blamed for X.” After all, Osama bin Laden likely believes the earth is round, but that doesn’t mean PalMD can be blamed for terrorism. You might respond “but that’s a disanalogous case, the abortion-bombers are motivated by their belief that abortion is wrong, and Lynn too has that belief.” But it’s not disanalagous. Abortion clinic bombers are motivated by their belief that *abortion is so wrong you should kill people who do it*, and Lynn doesn’t seem to have that belief. So you can’t equate her with someone with someone who has the same motivating belief as an abortion bomber, merely someone who overlaps in *other beliefs*, and I think your equation to is a fail.

      MJ

    10. #10 Michael Simpson
      May 19, 2009

      I come here for precisely one reason: I despise pseudoscience, and I learn a lot about things that matter to me personally and professionally. This blog tests my brain and my rational thinking, and I love that.

      I started reading blogs about three years ago, because a couple of creationists nutjobs were trying to push their point of view on the school board in the area I live in California. I had a sneaking feeling that the Intelligent Design was a religious viewpoint, but I wasn’t sure. I found Pharyngula, which lead me here, and which has increased my IQ by about 0.047% (note the Start Trek reference).

      I don’t believe that we can stamp out the anti-science in the world. My hope is that one person comes here (instead of that piece of crap that claims to be an encyclopedia called Wikipedia), and makes the right choice for themselves or for their family. Maybe one person reads this blog and decides that vaccinations are not only safe, but are important.

      That’s why we should all be as civil as possible to the anti-science crowd that come here. Let them look bad. Because if we appear to be dogmatic and a bit crazy, that one reader may just be convinced by the anti-science types.

      I’m really amazed at how Orac and PalMD maintain a cool and logical dismembering of the anti-science POV (while still be snarky enough to makes us all feel better). I enjoy watching the trolls and anti-science nuts just twist in the wind. I still enjoy watching Dana Ullman twist in the wind over at Science-based medicine, but that’s just a special pleasure right up there with popcorn and Reese’s Pieces.

    11. #11 Sally Kellerman fan
      May 19, 2009

      Don’t let it bug you. You should take pride in riling up idiots into a frenzy.

    12. #12 Ramel
      May 19, 2009

      Try not to get too wound up about the idiots, you can’t save them all from them selves. Although it is sometimes fun to bait them for sport…

    13. #13 Dianne
      May 19, 2009

      I have little sympathy for a woman who cannot decide before 25 or so weeks of pregnancy whether she should abort or not.

      No? What if she found out at 24 weeks that the fetus had a fatal anomoly? Or teratogenic damage incompatible with life? Or that she was unlikely to survive labor? Any sympathy yet? Because these are the big reasons that women get late abortions.

      But suppose that we’re not talking about any of that but about the mythical healthy woman with a healthy fetus who suddenly decides 25 weeks into her pregnancy that she doesn’t want to go through with it? Then what? Should she be forced to allow another to live off of her body? We don’t grant any person who has been born that right. Should she be given the option of inducing labor and giving birth then and there? That’s condemning the not yet but soon to be sentient newborn to a life of disability–and, realistically, most likely a very short life of severe disability (though a few 25 weekers make it without much damage.)Not to mention that such a baby would almost certainly be unadoptable and thus condemned to life in foster care.

      My feeling–and life Pal I think that there is considerable room for reasonable people to disagree on this issue–is that the best or least bad option in such a case would be to counsel the woman on her options, make sure that she isn’t clinically depressed, try to arrange support for her if she is considering abortion because she realizes she doesn’t have the means to raise a child and can’t stand the thought of losing the baby to foster care, etc. In other words, try all means but coercion and force to convince her to continue the pregnancy but in the end if she doesn’t want to continue, that’s her decision.

    14. #14 Suzanne
      May 19, 2009

      I like the new twist that is gaining momentum…”anti choice” rather than “pro life”. Actually I just prefer to respect God’s plan that our existence is for procreation and when a child is conceived there is no choice.

    15. #15 Rev Matt
      May 19, 2009

      If you’re pissing off people who are anti-science, then you’re doing it right.

    16. #16 catgirl
      May 19, 2009

      So, I’m not fully pro-choice and I have little sympathy for a woman who cannot decide before 25 or so weeks of pregnancy whether she should abort or not.

      Either this is a straw man argument, or you are just uninformed about abortion in this country. First of all, women who have abortions aren’t just airheads who do it on a whim. It’s not like they wake up one day and decide to have an abortion instead of going to the movies. If they do it later in a pregnancy, there’s a good reason. Secondly, the vast majority (over 90%) are done before the point of viability. Later abortions are almost always done only for the life or health of the woman, or because the fetus has health problems.

      I cannot understand why a woman has the right to terminate a life that is sustainable outside her womb. I can support her view of not wanting to be responsible for that life, but not the idea that she has a right to terminate it. At the point it gains viability outside her body it obtains rights of its own equal to the woman’s.

      If someone was dying and needed your blood or kidney to survive, should you be legally obligated to provide it to them? You have a right to your own organs, and no one can use them without your permission, even if it means their death. In fact, people can’t even have your organs to save their life after you die, unless you specifically agree to it. So if a fetus is completely a person, it still does not have the right to use someone else’s organs without their permission.

    17. #17 Danser
      May 19, 2009

      I have been dealing directly with Morgellons victims for over 3 years. I also work with scientists all over the world who are researching Morgellons along with the CDC.

      Morgellons is real and I pray that YOU never get it. Should you seek the truth, you can visit several sites where I have taken pictures of Morgellons victims before their healing and after their healing: http://brandytwirl.multiply.com/photos/album/1/Morgellons_Pictures_Before_and_After_Treatment

      Also: http://morgellonstreatment.blogspot.com/

      These people suffer horribly and are NOT delusional. A diagnosis of Delusion of Parasitosis is a sub-set of Schizophrenia and the people I speak with are NOT Schizophrenic; most are educated, successful people from all over the world.

    18. #18 Igor
      May 19, 2009

      “These people suffer horribly and are NOT delusional. A diagnosis of Delusion of Parasitosis is a sub-set of Schizophrenia and the people I speak with are NOT Schizophrenic; most are educated, successful people from all over the world.”

      This statement is highly indicative of your personal ignorance and stigma associated with diagnosis of schizophrenia. Many schizophrenics are highly functional and are able to achieve high levels of success in professional and educational circles. In fact, I am amused you would imply schizophrenic to equate uneducated and unsuccessful.

    19. #19 Donna B.
      May 19, 2009

      The arguments as to whether a woman must allow her organs to be used by a fetus (the supposed mythically healthy one) by analogy to forced donation of kidneys or blood over look the fact that woman had to engage in a particular act which allowed that fetus access to her organs.

      I’m all for Plan B and whatever birth control methods women choose to use and if those fail, I’m not proposing they be denied an abortion. I’m just asking the healthy women to do it early in the pregnancy.

      And I am simply asking. I doubt I would support any law that would make getting an abortion too difficult. There is a point in a healthy pregnancy that opting for an abortion should be at least as socially unacceptable as smoking.

      We have not a single right in the country that is unfettered. Why is abortion considered to be one?

    20. #20 wazza
      May 19, 2009

      Yes, let the hate flow through you…

      good… good…

    21. #21 Prometheus
      May 19, 2009

      I love it! As a minor-league ‘blogger, I get a lot of the same nonsense, but the one that really resonated with me was:

      “…everyone who is writing about this thing is bat-shit insane. If they want to be taken seriously, the need to nominate someone who isn’t wearing the tin foil hat.”

      Too true!

      I’d also say that if you want to be taken seriously, studiously avoid all discussion of “conspiracies” unless you can provide hard, documentary evidence. BTW, “My life coach told me” and “It’s gotta be a conspiracy – how else could they keep the data hidden?” don’t count as “hard documentary evidence”.

      Keep a stiff upper lip!

      Prometheus

    22. #22 RMM Barrie
      May 19, 2009

      /end of rant

      I thought, by definition, rants only started at more than 500 words.

      Seriously, snarky is good because the couched terms of the academic literature goes over many heads, mine included on occasion. Snarky leaves little to translate.

      So for Danser

      also work with scientists all over the world who are researching Morgellons along with the CDC

      Got anything to back that assertion? All I saw on your links was selling product with some woo.

    23. #23 Dianne
      May 19, 2009

      The arguments as to whether a woman must allow her organs to be used by a fetus (the supposed mythically healthy one) by analogy to forced donation of kidneys or blood over look the fact that woman had to engage in a particular act which allowed that fetus access to her organs.

      People voluntarily engage in acts that end up with them being at one end of an IV tubing and a blood collection bag at the other. In fact, they go through a fair amount of trouble to get themselves in that situation (answer a bunch of invasive questions, submit to a finger stick, re-answer a bunch of questions…) Yet if someone decides half way through the donation process that they don’t want to donate and demand that the needle be removed from their arm, it will be removed. No argument, no “hey, you got yourself into this”, no guilt trip about the person (actually, probably people) who may need the blood, no demand that your reason for stopping is acceptable. You can say, “Oops, I’m supposed to be getting my hair done now. Got to go. Take this needle out” and out it goes. So, the analogy stands. Quite apart from the existence of a crime called “rape.”

    24. #24 Donna B.
      May 19, 2009

      Comparing a healthy woman who consents to sex without a plan to prevent pregnancy, gets pregnant, and decides on an abortion after the pregnancy is more than halfway complete to someone deciding to give blood and changing their mind halfway through is frankly ludicrous.

      Rape victims, young girls not privy to the knowledge or means to prevent pregnancy, and other special cases are not the ones I’m talking about. And you say I’m making a strawman argument?

      If 90% of abortions take place early in the pregnancy, then I have no problem with 90% of abortions. If the remaining 10% are of the special case type, then I have no problem with those.

      And, if that’s the case, what would the effect be of not allowing an abortion after 25 weeks if both the mother and fetus are healthy? It would be zero because it never happens, right?

    25. #25 Paul Murray
      May 19, 2009

      “God hates aborion, the bible tells me so!” is unbiblical.

      In biblical times, a baby was not a real person with identity of its own until it took its first breath. This is inspired by the Genesis story, which clearly teaches that life is in the breath – the words for “spirit” in the bible all mean, in their respective languages, “breath”. And even then, a man’s wife, chilren, slaves, livestock etc were his property. The story of Jepthatah is instrucve, as is that of Abraham and Isaac. Why at no point did any party suggest that Isaac’s life was not Abraham’s to sacrifice?

      And, of course, there’s that law that a parent can simply have their kid stoned to death if he’s a brat, and the strange lack of laws forbidding infanticide, in a culture where women and therefore girl babies are devalued.

      A total nonstarter. A God that will casually drown all that liveth and breatheth on the face of the earth (puppies and babies included) has no trouble with a parent deciding to terminate a pregnancy.

      Provided, of course, it’s the woman’s owner (husband or father) who authorizes it.

    26. #26 Umlud
      May 20, 2009

      I had to laugh at #22’s comment. Your “rant” is nothing compared to those posted by the raving loonies. Of course, writing thousands of words – replete with spelling mistakes, bad punctuation, and only one paragraph – presents a rather difficult high bar to surpass (unless they are doing the high jump, and you’re doing the limbo).

    27. #27 Dianne
      May 20, 2009

      Comparing a healthy woman who consents to sex without a plan to prevent pregnancy, gets pregnant, and decides on an abortion after the pregnancy is more than halfway complete to someone deciding to give blood and changing their mind halfway through is frankly ludicrous.

      Possibly, but not at all in the direction that favors your argument. For one thing, people who donate blood are specifically and definitely donating blood. People who have sex may know that they have a certain chance of getting pregnant but the majority are doing it for fun, not in order to get pregnant.

      And, if that’s the case, what would the effect be of not allowing an abortion after 25 weeks if both the mother and fetus are healthy?

      The effects of a well written law (i.e. one that specifically allowed abortion after 25 weeks for fetal anomolies and maternal risk) in a country where barriers to early abortion (financial, access, legal delays) were minimal, probably none. For example, I see no real problem with the law in the Netherlands, which is even more restrictive than the one you’re proposing. However, in a country with serious access problems, such as the US, I’m less certain, though really, very few states allow abortion after the second trimester except for medical reasons though I think a few states don’t have defined limits.

      However, the point of principle remains: this does give privileges to fetuses that we don’t give to people. Quite frankly, I strongly suspect that we’d be in substantial agreement on practical issues of what should be legal and what not. I find poking at the theoretical underpinings amusing. If you don’t and are feeling uncomfortable, I’m willing to drop the conversation altogether. Just say the word if you’re tired of it.

    28. #28 Rev Matt
      May 20, 2009

      “Comparing a healthy woman who consents to sex without a plan to prevent pregnancy, gets pregnant, and decides on an abortion after the pregnancy is more than halfway complete to someone deciding to give blood and changing their mind halfway through is frankly ludicrous.”

      But no more ludicrous than the hypothetical of the woman who finds herself pregnant and doesn’t bother to make a decision on terminating the pregnancy for four and a half months. I suspect that situation is an extreme edge case.

      As has been noted, the vast majority of abortions occur prior to viability. Highlighting extreme cases and pretending they are the norm is a usual tactic for influencing the audience towards an emotional rather than fact based view on the topic and tends to cheapen the debate.

      I agree with Dianne’s comments and will simply reiterate what Gore once said: Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. I personally would love to see the need for abortion to plummet to near zero (I’m a realist, it will never be zero). Note I would love to see the *need* decrease, not the *access to*.

    29. #29 catgirl
      May 20, 2009

      The arguments as to whether a woman must allow her organs to be used by a fetus (the supposed mythically healthy one) by analogy to forced donation of kidneys or blood over look the fact that woman had to engage in a particular act which allowed that fetus access to her organs.

      So it all comes back to the fact that it’s considered naughty and shameful when women have sex, and so they should be punished for it.

      I’m just asking the healthy women to do it early in the pregnancy.

      Women already do this. You seem to have this idea that pregnant women just make this choice on a whim.

    30. #30 catgirl
      May 20, 2009

      And, if that’s the case, what would the effect be of not allowing an abortion after 25 weeks if both the mother and fetus are healthy? It would be zero because it never happens, right?

      I don’t know where you get your information, but late-term abortions are already heavily restricted in many states.

    31. #31 Donna B.
      May 20, 2009

      “So it all comes back to the fact that it’s considered naughty and shameful when women have sex, and so they should be punished for it.” — catgirl

      Finally. I knew someone would come to the conclusion that I think sex is “dirty”! Not hardly! I think sex is fantastic and that everyone should do it often.

      However, I do not think they should do it ignorantly. Harsh as it may sound, a woman who has unprotected (or unplanned, depending on the method) sex thinking she won’t get pregnant is behaving ignorantly.

      I raised three girls and two boys. I made damn sure they all knew about how babies were made and how to prevent it unless they were sure they wanted one. I encouraged abstinence, but was not foolish enough to think that precluded a need for education.

      That some view pregnancy as a punishment is a shame. I’m offended by that attitude. But it doesn’t change the fact that sex can result in pregnancy.

    32. #32 Dianne
      May 20, 2009

      That some view pregnancy as a punishment is a shame.

      Then why is having sex, getting pregnant and backing out half way through worse than volunteering to give blood, going through all the preliminaries, and then backing out half way through?

    33. #33 Donna B.
      May 20, 2009

      @Dianne — how is giving blood a punishment? I’m really not sure I’m following your logic here. It’s not as if one has sex and then is required to give blood to atone for it. Giving blood is a conscious decision, getting pregnant is a biological result of sex.

      I truly don’t understand where you’re going with this.

    34. #34 Dianne
      May 20, 2009

      Donna: First you’re saying that pregnancy is not a punishment for sex then you’re saying that bodily autonomy should not be allowed during some parts of pregnancy because the person who became pregnant voluntarily engaged in sex (assuming that she did). If pregnancy is not a punishment then why should anyone be prohibited from ending it at any time? Why is sex relevant to the issue at all?

    35. #35 Donna B.
      May 20, 2009

      Dianne — bodily autonomy requires, IMHO, knowing that sex may cause pregnancy. The pregnancy is NOT a punishment, it is a simple biological fact. How can you separate pregnancy from sex?

      It is unawareness (or ignorance) of biology that is punished, not sex. (And I do make allowances for failure of contraceptives.) Education and access to contraceptives is, to me, the ultimate answer.

      It is also anathema to me that a woman who was raped should feel punished by a resulting pregnancy. For what is she punished? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Pregnancy is not a punishment — it is a biological consequence of sex.

      The voluntary engagement in sex with its known possible consequence for a woman — pregnancy — is what differentiates it from a decision to give blood for which there are no (at least not very likely) biological consequences.

    36. #36 The Blind Watchmaker
      May 20, 2009

      “These people suffer horribly and are NOT delusional. A diagnosis of Delusion of Parasitosis is a sub-set of Schizophrenia and the people I speak with are NOT Schizophrenic; most are educated, successful people from all over the world.

      Posted by: Danser | May 19, 2009 2:25 PM”

      Let’s see your data. Where are the biopsy reports? Where are your case studies? Where is your peer reviewed data?
      For that matter, where is the plausibility of your claim?

      Let’s see the tissue. I’d love to see pictures of organic cells making inorganic material (especially material not readily accessible around the patient’s house).

    37. #37 Mr. Common Sense
      May 20, 2009

      Mr. Common Sense here. I repeat the post that never made it here for whatever reason. Why don’t you guys put up or shut up as it were. You claim you are scientists and yet all you do is sit back and scoff. Why don’t you instead help us? Was Pete D. for real, or what that somebody just playing around. Can you guys leave up to your end of the bargain, we’re living up to our end and suffering immensely. Why not do something truly great with your lives and track this down. PalMD, put out a post stating that you would like to put a team together and research Morgellons, you have guys around here claiming they can examine fibers, no doubt whatever volunteers you find we can find a sufferer within 20 miles of their office, that’s how wide spread this is.

      So, you can sit back and deny and mock and tell us, the sufferers we have to prove it which seems kind of backwards or you, the scientists can engage is something fun and exciting and track this down, maybe make a names for yourselves and do something you be remembered for long after the web site of rants has long since been 86’d.

      Was Pete D. for real? Where did he go? We are on scienceblogs.com aren’t we? I would think you could find open minded volunteers who would put in a little time on this.

      This is it, this is your chance, there are many claims our researchers are unqualified on your 5 or 6 Morgellons posts, why don’t you guys show us what your capable of?

    38. #38 Mr. Common Sense
      May 20, 2009

      Sorry, I’m tired and it’s late, will repost without the typo’s

      Mr. Common Sense here. I’ll repeat the post that never made it here for whatever reason. Why don’t you guys put up or shut up as it were. You claim that you are scientists and yet all you do is sit back and scoff. Why don’t you instead help us? Was Pete D. for real, or was that somebody just playing around? Can you guys live up to your end of the bargain, we’re living up to our end and suffering immensely. Why not do something truly great with your lives and track this down. PalMD, why don’t you put out a post stating that you would like to put a team together and research Morgellons? You have guys around here claiming they can examine fibers, no doubt whatever volunteers you find we can find a sufferer within 20 miles of their office, that’s how wide spread this is. But we can mail in fibers too.

      So, you can sit back and deny and mock and tell us, the sufferers, that we have to diagnose our own disease which seems kind of backwards or you, the scientists, can engage in something fun and exciting and track this down. Maybe make names for yourselves and do something you would be remembered for long after this web site of rants has long since been 86’d.

      Was Pete D. for real? Where did he go? We are on scienceblogs.com aren’t we? I would think you could find open minded volunteers who would put in a little time on this.

      This is it, this is your chance, there are many claims that our researchers are unqualified on your 5 or 6 Morgellons posts. Why don’t you guys show us what you are capable of?

    39. #39 Shiritai
      May 21, 2009

      @Mr. Common Senses

      “I’ll repeat the post that never made it here for whatever reason.”

      This is not true. Your post made it through fine, and if you had bothered to check, you would know this.

      “Was Pete D. for real, or was that somebody just playing around?”

      He posted a contact email address. If you didn’t bother to email him, why the heck are you complaining?

      “So, you can sit back and deny and mock and tell us, the sufferers, that we have to diagnose our own disease which seems kind of backwards or you, the scientists, can engage in something fun and exciting and track this down.”

      Firstly, no one on this blog, to my knowledge, has denied the suffering of the people who say they have Morgellons. However, I think we do deny that Morgellons is a novel disease, since there is no evidence to the contrary. Also, it seems that many Morgellons sufferers insist on diagnosing their own disease, and even creating their own treatments. This does not appear to be the fault of their doctors; rather, the patients seem to assume that their doctors are either liers or fools, simply because what the doctor tells them doesn’t match up with what they’ve already decided is their illness.

    40. #40 Dianne
      May 21, 2009

      How can you separate pregnancy from sex?

      In vitro fertilization, birth control, turkey basters…

      It is unawareness (or ignorance) of biology that is punished, not sex.

      I thought you said that pregnancy wasn’t a punishment? If the pregnancy isn’t the punishment for ignorance (or ignoring) of biology then what is?

    41. #41 Dianne
      May 21, 2009

      The voluntary engagement in sex with its known possible consequence for a woman — pregnancy — is what differentiates it from a decision to give blood for which there are no (at least not very likely) biological consequences.

      Of course there are biological consequences to blood donation. Have you ever given blood? Why do you think that they give you cookies and apple juice afterwards and tell you to refrain from heavy exertion for the next 24 hours? Why do they carefully screen for health before allowing donation*? To make sure that the person donating isn’t at excess risk through donation and to ameliorate the consequences of donation, which include temporary dehydration and anemia. Losing half a liter of blood has consequences, whether the half a liter of blood goes out an IV needle or a bleeding ulcer. In a healthy person donating blood, the blood is rapidly replaced and baseline health is quickly restored**, but there are definitely consequences.

      So, here’s the basic situation: Person X engages in a behavior that, if she engages in it regularly for a year, she has about a 70% chance of having a specific set of changes in her body. Most of the changes are self-limited but there are risks and she has a chance of dying or having permanent health problems as a result of these changes***. Person Y engages in another activity which has a 100% chance of causing specific bodily changes after engaging in this act once. The changes are self-limited and the danger of dying is virtually nil. Both change their minds as the changes in their bodies become evident and withdraw their consent to allow their bodies to be used in this way. Why should person X be treated differently from person Y?

      So, neither should be doing what they’re doing unless they want the changes to occur, right? I would agree that anyone who has unprotected sex when they don’t want to become pregnant or volunteers for blood donation when they don’t want to lose any blood is acting in a foolish manner. So? People act foolishly all the time. Why should that strip them of their rights?

      *Ok, two reasons, the other being making sure that the blood is not going to harm the recipient.
      **Unless you manage to donate often enough to make yourself iron deficient. Like, say, you’re a vegetarian woman with heavy menses and Rh- CMV negative blood so you get called in a lot and don’t have the sense to say no. And no, I’m not violating HIPAA by giving those details.
      ***A rough calculation I once did suggests that the average risk of dying in pregnancy is about 10X that of dying in an airplane crash–on 9/11/01.

    42. #42 JohnV
      May 21, 2009

      Mr. Common Sense,

      First, I’m glad you came back. Second, there are practical limitations as to why people don’t just start investigating Morgellon’s.

      One being money. My research group is funded by a number of contracts and grants which are pretty specific in how they can be spent (the contract from DTRA, in particular). Second is time. For some of us, this probably isn’t too much of a deal breaker, but our research schedules tend to be pretty tightly booked. And since we’re paid to get something specific done (see above), it is hard and/or inappropriate to put that on the back burner for something else.

      There is also a paperwork aspect (seriously). Since we’d be taking in samples from human subjects, I think at the very least I’d need to clear it with the IRB. They also present a potential biohazard*** I suppose, which means more paper work and permissions and limitations on where we can do the work. In my case I wouldn’t be able to work with them on my bench top, and the only BSL2 work area I have access to is used for lots of fungal work (and then I’d pretty much guarantee contamination at that point :P)

      Because I’m a microbiologist and a nerd and I like doing “science”, I would find it interesting to do some simple experiments (16s and 18s library and sequencing from fibers compared to something like my arm hair, if you’re curious). However, the three things above, with time being the least important, pretty much preclude it from happening.

      On the plus side, if the cdc is spending some money on it, it means someone will be able to take a look at it.

      ***I’m not concerned about a purported Morgellon’s pathogen nearly as much as I am about whatever random bacteria might present in the sample.

    43. #43 daedalus2u
      May 21, 2009

      Dianne, you are missing multiple points. “Punishment” is an adverse consequence administered by an authority in retribution for doing something bad.

      Who is the authority that is administering pregnancy as retribution for sex?

      Pregnancy is only an adverse consequence if you don’t want to become pregnant. If you want to be pregnant, it isn’t adverse at all.

      Who is the authority that has imposed pregnancy for doing something bad? One might say God and pregnancy is the retribution for having sex. It would be equally valid to say that the “bad” action is having sex without using birth control, and that the retribution is self-imposed, or imposed by those who have denied access to birth control and the knowledge of how to use it.

      It seems pretty disingenuous when some of the strongest anti-abortion proponents are also strongly anti-birth control and strongly anti-sex education. What they are really demonstrating is that they are anti-sex, and want sex to be thought of and acted upon as if it is something bad, and something that everyone (else) should be punished about.

    44. #44 Donna B.
      May 21, 2009

      Dianne — I thought we were talking about undesired pregnancies. I doubt anyone using a turkey baster or paying for in vitro is doing it with the intention of not getting pregnant.

      Birth control does not separate sex from pregnancy. It’s use is acknowledging that the link exists! That’s why I always support its availability and education on its use by both sexes. We do agree that education and availability of birth control is the best way to prevent abortions, don’t we?

      deadalus2u — thanks for explaining much better than I could the difference between punishment and natural consequences.

      The confusion is easy to understand because of the way we are raised. We use punishment to rid our children of certain behaviors because we don’t want them to experience the probable natural consequence of that behavior. To keep your kid from falling and busting his skull open, you punish him for running on the wet concrete around the pool by making him go to time-out, or for repeated offenses, leaving the pool altogether.

      It’s easy to see why undesirable natural consequences can be seen as punishment, but it’s not an accurate view.

    45. #45 Dianne
      May 21, 2009

      I doubt anyone using a turkey baster or paying for in vitro is doing it with the intention of not getting pregnant.

      Hopefully not or they’re really confused:). I could, however, imagine a scenario in which someone went into AI not knowing exactly what a pregnancy was going to be like and wanting to quit half way through because they couldn’t tolerate the effects.

    46. #46 Donna B.
      May 21, 2009

      “I could, however, imagine a scenario in which someone went into AI not knowing exactly what a pregnancy was going to be like and wanting to quit half way through because they couldn’t tolerate the effects.” –Dianne

      Another failure to educate? I can’t imagine a woman going for AI not wanting a baby enough to give up halfway through because of the effects on her body of pregnancy. Nor can I imagine such a woman not gaining all the knowledge she can about pregnancy. Ethical doctors would not recommend AI for a woman who was not deemed physically able to go through a pregnancy without harm to herself. And an ethical AI lab wouldn’t work without that assurance.

      Insert Octomom disclaimer here…

      I guess what we’ve come down to is a disagreement on which effects are intolerable. I certainly remember some excruciating side effects of pregnancy. Hormones do strange things to a body.

      Most, I’d say an overwhelming majority, of women who desire pregnancy will jump through hoops to nourish it inside their body as long as possible.

      Why, in our culture, has it become socially unacceptable for a pregnant woman to smoke, drink, give up caffeine, avoid ibuprofen, stop bungee-jumping, etc., to prevent harm to an entity that it’s okay for others to abort without question? The law in some states allows mothers to endanger their fetuses to be charged with child abuse. In other states, if a pregnant woman is killed, the murderer can be charged twice.

      I don’t understand the inconsistency. If a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases (and I generally agree with that) then why is a woman who desires to be pregnant not given the same social freedom as one who chooses to end the pregnancy?

      It’s this disconnect on the status and value of the fetus that I don’t understand.

    47. #47 Igor
      May 21, 2009

      Donna, are you more concerned with abortion being socially unacceptable or downright illegal in some instances? It is one thing to say that certain actions should be less acceptable than others, it is entirely different to say that they should be illegal.

    48. #48 Donna B.
      May 21, 2009

      Igor – I’m more concerned about it being more socially unacceptable and am as frustrated with those who promote abortion as no big deal as I am with those who think birth control is as bad as abortion.

      I have never said I’m in favor of making abortion illegal. I said I was in favor of more and more restrictions on it the further along in the pregnancy it’s sought.

      I’m seldom in favor of making something illegal, even things I personally think are damaging. I’d like to go in the other direction and make more things legal, but not go so far as to insist that their legality makes them socially acceptable.

      That smoking is socially unacceptable is super fine with me, that more states are banning it in more and more places is not.

      I’d like to see more adoptions, they should be much easier and cheaper. More young women should be provided financial support throughout their pregnancy in turn for putting the child up for adoption instead of choosing to abort.

      Believe me, I can understand why some women feel they have no choice but to abort. If society is serious about reducing the number of abortions, another ‘safety valve’ is going to have to be installed.

      If society is not serious about reducing the number of abortions, then a legal declaration of the rights of the fetus still remains unsettled. It is legally unconscionable to allow a woman to decide whether a crime has been committed or not merely on her emotional attachment to an unborn child.

      Either fetuses have rights or they don’t. And that has nothing to do with deciding when life begins. It’s deciding when civil rights accrue.

    49. #49 Mr, Common Sense
      May 21, 2009

      Thanks John, I understand and feel you’d probably help if you could, it’s funny, you have to be careful in the lab to not contaminate things or yourself and yet here we are out here walking around society. I speak to Trisha Springstead and she has gotten literally thousands of letters from folks since the recent natural news publications, I’ve read them and consider myself lucky, there are so many people really sick and suffering, and most likley, spreading it everywhere. Anyway, Best of luck to you. I’m not one to whine about the cards life dealt me, people in the third world suffer terribly. It’s funny, you tell a doctor you think you might have parasites and the first thing out of his mouth is where have you traveled as if they don’t exist here, the CDC just published that at least 1 out of 10 pet owners are infected with roundworms, toxicar, hookworms and alike from their dogs and cats and quickly becoming the leading cause of blindness here in the US. I’m not saying Morgellons is parasites but doctors are so far behind here, and there are virtually no trained parasitologists.

    50. #50 PalMD
      May 21, 2009

      I’m not disputing it yet, but where did you get your pet owner stats?
      Its not from here:
      http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5805a1.htm

      Or from here: http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/

      I’d like to know so that I can read it.

    51. #51 Jimbo Jones
      May 22, 2009

      Donna B. says:

      Another failure to educate? I can’t imagine a woman going for AI not wanting a baby enough to give up halfway through because of the effects on her body of pregnancy. Nor can I imagine such a woman not gaining all the knowledge she can about pregnancy.

      So… when you were pregnant, the first was exactly the same as the second, etc., and each pregnancy was exactly the same as what you’d researched it would be like? That would be highly unusual.

      For the most part, women tend to get morning sickness for a while. Some get morning sick once and then never again. Some don’t get morning sick at all.

      Some hurl up their guts, including stomach lining, every morning and most lunch times as well. Some feel nauseous all the time. And if a given woman has never been pregnant, she doesn’t know to what degree morning sickness will hit her.

      Let’s go back to your hypothetical 25-week-old pregnancy. Only, let’s apply the idea that the woman in question wanted the child, but hasn’t kept a meal down in days. She thought that the morning sickness would pass, but it’s at least as strong as it was initially. She’s been convinced that she should hang on but is finally desperate enough that another 15 weeks of carrying a child sounds like suicide. Medically, there’s no problems, so she doesn’t fit into your “special cases”.

      Now assume she has a life partner that is female. As such, turkey basting time, or some variety of AI. It’s really not hard to imagine wanting to terminate an AI pregnancy.

    52. #52 Mr. Common Sense
      May 22, 2009

      CDC Reports Prevalence Of Worms Transmitted By Dogs And Cats To Humans Is Higher Than Previously Understood

      About 14 percent of the U.S. population is infected with Toxocara, or internal roundworms, contracted from dogs and cats. That’s according to the results of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study announced at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia.

      http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/87767.php

      Now, if you know anything about parasites they’re extremely difficult to find through testing, so you can bet the actual number is higher 14%. Getting a positive parasite test is extremely difficult, I can find you an article taht states that 98% of those with parasites have stool samples come back as negative.

      So, given the CDC report why do doctors ask if you’ve been to Africa? People shold think twice before bringing animals into their homes that have to be dewormed, I mean what did they think, that these worms don’t infect humans, wonder where they got that idea?

    53. #53 PalMD
      May 22, 2009

      The medicalnewstoday link leads to a cdc link which leads to an abstract presented at a conference.

      http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/reprint/77/5_Suppl/1.pdf

      See page 30.

      I’m not entirely sure what the significance of this is.

    54. #54 Dianne
      May 22, 2009

      I’d like to see more adoptions, they should be much easier and cheaper.

      I disagree. Adoption is extremely damaging to the birth mother psychologically and essentially every study of the effects find that that the effects are long standing and severe. (I’ll link to references if you’re interested.) I don’t object to adoption as an option if the birth mother knows what to expect and is ready to cope with the consequences and has a lot of support and counseling to deal with the damage done by the adoption. (Which means, of course, making adoption more, not less expensive since long term counseling isn’t cheap.) Open adoption does seem to ameliorate the damage a bit and so might be a good option.

      Adoption can be a good option for some women, but it isn’t risk free or something that should be taken lightly. Given the level of risk involved, I don’t think it should be encouraged.

    55. #55 Donna B.
      May 22, 2009

      Jimbo… seriously, do you think that severe and long lasting morning sickness is not a special case with medical ramifications? Anyone who hasn’t kept a meal down for days needs medical attention.

      There are ranges of normal, so variations of severity are not necessarily medical problems, but that certainly does not mean that all morning sickness is normal.

      Dianne… please send me the links on adoption.

      However, as far as something NOT being risk-free taken lightly, that’s what I’ve been saying about unprotected sex all along. (It applies to protected sex also.)

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