Social Sciences

Way to go, lefties. Via ATTP on Twitter I find Eric S. Godoy and Aaron Jaffe in the Op-Eds of the NYT1. I think it popped up because of Marx thought of the human body as part of the natural world and called nature an extension of our bodies. Following Marx, contemporary theorists like... and if you're trying to alienate the right wing - and indeed, almost everyone - invoking Marx is an excellent way of doing it2. The ostensible theme of the article - that it might be better to think of climate change in terms of "revolution" rather than "war" - I find uninteresting. The bit worth commenting…
You know the problem. Not just the release of the "I'd grab her ..." tape, but starting before that. Here, watch: A roughly written Facebook comment by me, reacting to much of the reaction I'm seeing: To everyone who is saying that Trump is out of the race because of his admitted preference for sexual assault as a way of getting women to like him: Sorry, you are wrong, and you may be living in a bubble. Do a transect across humanity, in the US. You will find that a double digit percentage of both women and men (though I'll allow you the possibly true but possibly not true idea that more men…
I first became more interested in dubious stem cell clinics nearly two years ago, when I learned that hockey legend Gordie Howe was undergoing stem cell therapy in Mexico to treat his stroke. Being from Detroit, I imbibed the hockey madness of this town growing up, and know that Detroiters hold Gordie Howe in incredibly high esteem. Prominent in stories about Howe were two companies: Stemedica Cell Technologies, a San Diego company marketing stem cell treatments for all manner of ailments, and Novastem a partner company in Mexico that uses Stemedica products. Also prominent in the stories was…
LATEST UPDATE IS HERE. CLICK HERE FOR LATEST UPDATE. Update: Wed Mid Day Matthew weakened, strengthened, strengthening Matthew has interacted with land masses in Hispaniola and Cuba to the extent that the storm weakened quite a bit, losing its temporary Category 5 status. But, now Matthew is already showing signs of strengthening, and is likely to grow back to Category 3 or 4 status as it moves over the Bahamas. How bad a hurricane is when it makes contact with land depends in large part on the angle of the attack, and Matthew will likely be affecting several spots in the Bahamas at a…
One of the most effective spin techniques used by advocates of “integrative medicine” (also sometimes called “complementary and alternative medicine,” or CAM for short) to legitimize quackery has been to claim basically all non-pharmacologic, non-surgical interventions as “integrative,” “complementary,” or “alternative.” Thus, science-based interventions such as diet changes to treat and/or prevent disease, exercise, and other lifestyle alterations are portrayed as somehow so special, so outside the mainstream, that they need their own specialty, “integrative medicine,” even though they are…
Back before The Pip was born, our previous departmental administrative assistant used to bug me-- in a friendly way-- about how Kate and I ought to have another kid. (She had two kids of her own, about two years apart in age.) "When are you guys going to have another baby?" she would ask, and I always said "We're thinking about it." About a week passed between the last time we had that exchange and the day I came in and taped ultrasound photos of the prenatal Little Dude to my door. "You sonofabitch!," she said (again, in a friendly way), "You were expecting this whole time!" "Yeah," I said…
This is a piece I wrote in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Originally posted here.) I believe that the sauntering I refer to has diminished. But instead of sauntering, our local and county police departments seem to have taken up a different hobby: Shooting unarmed people of color. I think the problems underscored in this essay are mostly worse now than they were five years ago, and the argument I make here for what happened since 9/11/2001 is stronger, more clearly demonstrated by event. Also, the link between 9/11 and the Donald Trump candidacy is as clear as a brand…
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been approximately 16 years since I first discovered that there was such a thing as antivaccinationists. Think of it this way. I was around 37 or so when, while wandering around Usenet (remember Usenet?), I found the newsgroup misc.health.alternative (or m.h.a. for short), a discussion group about, appropriately enough, alternative medicine. It was there that I first encountered the claim that vaccines cause autism, sudden infant death syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and a panoply of just about every chronic disease known to humankind. Much like when I had…
As the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) begins work under the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century (LCSA) – the updated Toxic Substances Control Act – more striking divisions are emerging between what environmental health advocates and what chemical manufacturing and industry groups want from the law. These go beyond what was voiced during the public meetings the EPA held in early August to gather input on the rules it will use to prioritize chemicals for review and evaluate those chemicals’ risks. A look at the written comments now submitted to the agency underscores…
One of the great things about having achieved some notoriety as a blogger is that readers send me links to articles that the believe will be interesting to me. They usually come in waves. For instance, after anything having to do with Stanislaw Burzynski, “right to try,” particularly egregious antivaccine idiocy, and the like hits the news, I can be sure that well-meaning readers will send me or Tweet at me about the same article several times. (So don’t take it personally if I don’t respond; I get hundreds of e-mails a day.) Sometimes they’re wrong and its something that I have no interest…
There is, of course, a theory of law. As soon as you ponder the question, you realise there must be. But it had never occurred to me (in my faint defence I find, now I look, that whilst wiki has a category for theories of law, it doesn't seem to have an overall article on the concept of theory of law). Nor, when I mention it to various friends, did the question strike any kind of "oh yeah, I know that stuff" answer. My children, who have done some "philosophy" in school, hadn't heard of the idea either. So this post is likely to be naive. But my dumb opinions are just as good as anyone else'…
There’s an old saying that basically asks the question, “With friends like these, who needs enemies? or, as Voltaire (or Marshal Villars, depending on the account) said, “May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.” The point, of course, is that friends or allies can sometimes be as infuriating as enemies, if not more so. Such is the case with Alice Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger, a book dedicated to describing how activists can undermine science in favor of ideology. I’ve written about her twice that I can recall, although both in the context of a…
I was checking out the award-winning American Physiological Society's I Spy Physiology blog and came across a couple of really interesting posts about animals: "If Only Birds Could Compete in the Summer Games" Photo of a frigatebird in the study. Credit: Max Planck Institute. This post reported a study of how frigatebirds manage to sleep during flights out at sea that can last for weeks. By measuring brain activity, the research team found that the birds were capable of actual sleep, during which time both sides of the brain showed sleep patterns for seconds at a time. In addition, they…
I am very excited to report that the American Physiological Society in partnership with the The Physiological Society held a joint meeting from July 29-31 in Dublin, Ireland. The keynote lectures were given by Dr. Jerry Friedman from Rockefeller University and Dr. W Jon Lederer from the University of Maryland. Dr. Friedman spoke about his research on obesity and how genetic factors might play a role. In fact, his team was responsible for discovering the obesity (ob) gene in mice in 1994 and identifying the similar gene in humans. The gene encodes the now iconic hormone leptin, which is…
Many are the bizarre, dubious, and downright crappy acupuncture studies that I’ve deconstructed over the years. Just type “acupuncture” into the search box of this blog, and you’ll soon see. (If that pulls up too many results, try typing “acupuncture” and “study” or “acupuncture” and “clinical trial” in the search box.) I’m not the only one, either. For instance, my good bud Mark Crislip did his usual excellent and highly sarcastic job of deconstructing the frequent claim by acupuncture apologists that acupuncture “works” by releasing endorphins. So when I first saw an even more bizarre…
When I was going through the huge collection of photos I have from the Forum in Rome, I kept running across pictures containing two young Asian women (neither of them Kate). This isn't because I was stalking them, but because they were everywhere, stopping for long periods in front of virtually every significant ruin and striking exaggerated poses for each other to take photos of. I had to carefully frame a few of my own photos to avoid them, but I did also take a few that deliberately included their posing, because it was so amusingly over the top. Tourists taking photos of each other in…
[Obvious warning is obvious: potential spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire novels/Game of Thrones TV series below]. While no one will claim that George R.R. Martin's epic series, "A Song of Ice and Fire," is historically accurate, there are a number of historical parallels that can be drawn from the characters and plotline--particularly from medieval Europe. While most of those relate to epic battles or former monarchs or other royalty, another of Martin's characters, so to speak, is the disease greyscale (1). Greyscale is a contagious disease that seems to come in at least two distinct forms…
Living and practicing surgery in Michigan, it’s not surprising that I am very concerned about a bill being considered in the Michigan House of Representatives. The bill, HB 4531, would license naturopaths as health care providers. In fact, it would give them a very broad scope of practice, defined by a newly created board of naturopathic medicine. Basically, HB 4531 would give naturopaths a scope of practice almost as broad as that of primary care providers, like internists, family practitioners, and pediatricians. The only difference, if HB 4531 passes, would be that naturopaths would not be…
Edward Feser thinks we atheists have overlooked a few things: The mentality is summed up perfectly in the notorious “Atheist Bus Campaign” of 2009 and its preposterous slogan: “There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” As if atheism promised only sweetness and light. As if the vast majority of human beings would not find the implications of atheism -- that human existence has no purpose, that there is no postmortem reward to counterbalance the sufferings of this life, nor any hope for seeing dead loved ones again, etc. -- far more depressing than any purported…
The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review Scholarly Communications: Less of a market, more like general taxation? “We don’t need OA in our field, everything is on arXiv”. Nope.>When is the Library Open? and the PS Scholarly Communication and the Dilemma of Collective Action: Why Academic Journals Cost Too Much Open Access: the beast that no-one could – or should – control? Open access: All human knowledge is there—so why can’t everybody access it? Why embargo periods are bad for academic publishers Infrastructure is Invisible / Infrastructure is…