Cherry picking data is easy to do, but it can lead to spurious results. often this is more of a problem with the media focusing on a particular issue and making exaggerated claims about the findings. in some cases, however, ther selection of data in the first place can skew the data. It is not always clear whether this is intentional or unintentional data manipulation and statics can give variable results depending on what analyses you apply to the data.
This Scientific American article does a good jobg of looking at the potentially very scarey conclusion that there is an increase in innfant morbidity on the US west-coast following Fukushima.
It seems that there is not an overall trend in infant deaths, so the previous analysis of data is misleading. Good thing about science is that it is skeptical and errors such as this can be picked up.
One of the things that has taken me a while to realise, and while obvious from a logical standpoint is much harder to really comprehend, is that we do not all think alike. Obviously, each of us can only ever experience (unless in the future there is some wonderful technological advancement that can change this, which is not here at present) one person's thoughts, our own.
This is most obvious when we consider individuals with thought patterns and ways of interpreting the world that is significantly different from the "normal". I actually hate that word, normal, as it implies there is a standard for humans that we are either part of or different to and I think that the spectrum of human traits is far to diverse for there to be any such thing.
I have synthesia for letters and words, seeing them as colours and sensations rather than as words, so I found this depiction of numbers and processing calculations rather fascinating.
I suspect that thought patterns vary rather widely, even within the so called "normal" spectrum. How much of our thought patterns are "hardwired" into our brains, either as a result of genetics/physiology at birth or by the experiences we each have that shape particular thought patterns and emotional responses to circumstances? To what degree can we change those thought patterns? Learned patterns can be unlearned but inherent differences can't be altered as easily if at all. All of this influences our perceptions of the world. I think if we could see the world through another's eyes, using their thought patterns, it would reveal some very interesting things.
One of those studys that seems to point out the obvious, discussed in this article.
One of the discussion points missing here, although might be included in the study itself (I haven't had a chance to check), is that joining the website in the first place is likely to be indicative of the marriage falling apart. If you have to seek sexual thrills outside of the relationship, whether in the form of fantasies or by physically cheating on a partner, then there is a fundamental flaw in the relationship in the first place. So the data is not at all surprising. I would point out that the population the data is taken from is rather skewed in favour of those who may cheat, considering the site they are on.
It is not surprising. It really isn't. I find myself further disappointed by the discrimination that occurs towards LGBT individuals.
Pharyngula has a recent post (silly_gay_people_don't_you_know......) about two specific instances in different states, details in the link (including links to the original articles). It looks like one situation can be addressed legally while other can't, simply because of the different laws about discrimination over sexual identity that each state has. Should this not be implemented at the federal level?
This is why there is still a fight for LGBT recognition and equal treatment under US law. Because of cases highlighted above, both of which had a religious "reasoning" behind the discrimination.
Gay Pride meetings happen across the USA. The San Francisco Gay pride parade is happening next weekend http://www.sfpride.org/ and there is also an atheist meet-up planned for the parade http://www.meetup.com/atheists-561/events/20291851/, details of which were sent to me by Allen Barth (-thanks). More support and voices are needed to end this type of them and us thinking.
Marriage laws across the USA.
These images (with recent updates) highlight the unequal distribution of laws surrounding same-sex relationships (from http://commons.wikimedia.org/).
I have used polyamory rather than polygamy as the -gamy suffix usually refers to marriage, and as yet it is not legal to marry more than one person at the same time (though should it become legal, i would be all for it).
An interesting blog posting about the reality and consequences of monogamy in humans, also referencing the low percentage of other primates that engage in monogamy, also raises the issue about perceptions of polyamory (or rather non-married individuals) in general society (I have not read the original article so am not sure of the demographics of the sample set).
I was involved in a long term monogamous marriage and since its dissolution several years ago have found out that I am far happier in consensual, open and honest polyamory. My partners are made fully aware of the others, and meet them (the first time this happened was rather peculiar for me, but both men really liked one another). My relationships tend to be long term and committed, while at the same time allowing us to all have a significant level of freedom in our lives.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I am no longer the person I was at the time I was married. And as such, I can no longer understand the jealousy and fear i had at that time (occasional as it was) neither can I understand the perception I had that monogamy was the only moral partner status. Of course, at the time I was deeply religious, and that played a significant part in wanting to get married and end the living in sin perception. It also was a status symbol, one that I am now strangely reluctant to admit to. I was also completely sold on the 'til death do us part" aspect and envisioned our entire lives together, something i am sure other people do as well. I am sure very few people start out married life thinking anything but sharing their entire lives together.
But we, each of us, changed as we matured and for us, we grew apart. in the end, the concept that a single person can be everything and meet every need that we have as individuals is rather preposterous. We do not expect this in healthy friendships, or family relationships. Simply because I have 1 sibling does not make me love the other 4 any less, they simply fill different aspects of my life. I am really lucky to have several close friends and feel that each of them fills different needs I may have at different times. One female friend I love to go shopping with and discuss the intricacies of individual dynamics, another i can talk science to, another will be my best friend throughout life because our personalities match (science talk is banned in her presence) etc. So why do we change this for sexual relationships?
I personally feel there are several factors involved. For some people they really do meet a person who fits them like a glove and do not need to seek intimate relationships with others, but I think these people must be very well matched and are probably few and far between. For others, there is a societal indoctrination that we have learned to accept and thus it becomes the only way for us (this was definitely how i approached relationships for most of my life). And there is personal choice. Some individuals are perfectly happy with one partner at any one time. I have discovered that I am not one of those individuals and to get my needs (physical, emotional, general everyday partnerships etc) met I seek it with several partners while being open and honest with them. Also, what counts as polyamory? Is it full sex with several people, oral sex, intimate touching, kissing, emotional relationships, romantic love, swinging? Where is the line drawn? It varies depending on the people involved, some will engage inall of the above, other only some, keeping what they consider the more intimate aspects of their relationship monogamous. There are no black and white answers.
Another issue is the emotions involved. Do emotions get tangled in polyamorous relationships? Indeed, as they do with any relationship, sexual or otherwise. I still admit to the occassional twinge of emotion at favoritism shown between certain family relationships, let alone friends and my partners.The best cure for that type of thing is communication and not blaming anyone else for your own emotions.
No one can say what is exactly right for any other individual and different things work for different people. I am currently very happy in my situation and know that both myself and my partners have made ethical choices for us. I may one day decide to change or meet someone that I want to be monogamous with. The thing is, I have the freedom to decide and it is, ultimately, my choice.
Same sex marriage is banned in many (29) states in the USA, a country that portrays itself to support individual freedom. A recent judgement in California ruled that proposition 8, a state measure to ban same-sex marriages that had a voter distribution 52% for and 48% against, is unconstitutional and discriminated against same-sex couples who wish to marry.
Seeing as married couples have more rights with regard to taxes, medical information about their spouse etc., I see the granting of same-sex couples equal marriage rights to be just and that banning it is indeed discriminatory. The ban seems to be rooted in religious ideology that marriage should be between a man and woman only and the bible (I am not aware of other religious influences on the matter, it seems to be a Christian objection) specifically bans homosexual sexual relationships (certainly for male couples, I am not sure if female couples are mentioned specifically).
Sex and relationships between consensual adults is not something the state or government has any say in. Marriage is a legal confirmation of a committed relationship that grants spouses specific rights and as such no adult couple should be excluded. It does not make any difference that the bigoted voters in California (and other states. California had some slanderous commercial campaigns that I, new to the USA, was more than a little shocked by) banned the union. Mob rule does not make something moral. Might is not always right. And that is what we are fighting for, isn't? Equality and rights that apply across the board. Equality is not discriminating against people who are different to us, whether that is due to gender, race, age, sexuality or any of the other arbitrary factors that lead to groups of them and us. Simply because Californian voters decided to make their little aspect of bigotry legal does not make it right and the ruling is absolutely correct in that it is discriminatory. There are times when it is necessary to overturn the whims of children and do what is right, any parent will recognise this. And that is what is needed here. The issue is equality and what rights everyone should hold and that is the criteria that should be used. Not bronze-age mythology.
If LGBT couples want to marry, why stop them? Can someone offer any logical reason for this (note - the bible or any other religion says so is not a logical reason). If marriage were solely a religious union, then it would be a different matter, but it is not. Its roots may be religious but it has developed beyond that in this day and age. The bible supports slavery, but that does not make it moral or right to own slaves, and slavery, in the traditional and biblical sense of the word (not the slavery between two consenting adults), is no longer legal in the USA. Society is moving forward, acceptance of diversity is gaining ground. These archaic ideologies are in the process of being relegated to history and this judgement is another step on the path.
Unfortunately, this does not mean Californian same-sex couples can marry just yet and it is likely to be appealed so that bigots can continue to interfere in the lives of others for a while longer. But it will happen eventually.
Personally, I am looking forward to the day when marriage is not necessary to recognise the rights of committed partners, regardless of sex. I also would like to see the day when polyamory is recognised and you can legally bond with more than one person. But those are hurdles for the future. For now I just hope this particular step doesn't take much longer.
This video is pretty cool, shown on the BBC news website. As unconsciousness is triggered through the application of anesthesia it seems like parts of the brain start communicating, possibly inhibiting brain functions. The imaging technique is called Functional Electrical Impedance Tomography by Evoke Response (fEITER) and it measures the electrical changes in the brain. A lot still needs to be done to work out the significance of the signalling, but certainly this is a fascinating first glimpse.
There has been a hiatus in the blog due to the development of conjunctivitis and feeling pretty sick. I amt on the road to recovery, although eyes still irritated and having to take eye drops regularly to stop the irritation. When the infection was first present it felt like sandpaper scraping over the cornea with every blink of the eyelid. At present it feels like I have been swimming in a pool with too much chlorine, a constant burning sensation, not as painful as before but still annoying.
By far the worst thing about living abroad is the confusion that results from trying to work out the best course of action during a medical necessity. In the first case, as it was on Friday, I was feeling panicky not really knowing (but strongly suspecting) what the issue with my eyes was, added to the concern that i may not be able to drive very far (I have no alternatives from living alone, although a good friend did offer to take me, as I was on my way I didn't take him up on it). I then had to work out how to get treatment, which was not an easy task in itself.
My PCP (primary care physician) was closed for lunch (really? everyone has to take lunch at the same time?) so I resorted to calling my insurance to find out how I could get to see someone that day. Urgent care, but only following referral from my PCP. Right. So bearing in mind my eyes were agonising and I had mucus pouring our of my eyes so much that I had to wash them every 10 minutes or so, I waited about the hour it took until the PCP office was open. Only to be informed that I didn't need to phone them to get a referral. hmm. Then I was told the urgent care was somewhere completely different to the location my insurance told me. Apparently they moved some time ago and the insurance had given my the wrong number and location etc. It was now 2pm. I had to wait until 6pm before I could go to urgent care as a walk-in (no appointments).
Have I mentioned how disgusting conjunctivitis is? those hours were not pleasant, neither was waiting in the urgent care waiting room trying to mop up my eyes every few seconds without a mirror. Awful. I eventually got shown into the examination room.
Now, i don't see the point in weighing everyone every single time they visit the doctors, especially when the condition obviously has nothing what so ever to do with your weight. It really annoys me and I said so to the nurse. Then a blood pressure check. Now, I think how ever designed the cuffs used in the US is a sadist. They don't have to hurt. Uncomfortable, that is a given, bt hurt, no. the nurse put it on and it tightened and took a long time before deflating. My nerves were pinched and so my fingers spasmed. This caused the fucking thing to fail, apparently, so it was tightened even further and was warned not to move. I told the woman that it was very painful and pinching my nerves, she ignored me. At least i stopped thinking about my eyes for a minute.
Another long wait. not a lot to do in those rooms and especially annoying was I had nothing to distract me from my eyes.
Then the doctor comes in with I think is the most inane question in the world "How are you today?" in a really cheery voice and in a tone that is expecting an "i am fine" comment in return. I didn't say what was going through my mind at the time. "Oh, I am fine, I just thought that i would spend a valuable two and a half hours of my life sitting around in one of the most bland buildings I have ever encountered, paying $10 for that privilege, all because i am feeling absolutely normal." Instead I did point out that this was urgent care and i was not actually feeling very good.
There are times in my life i like having a nice accent. This was not one of them. The doctor started off by telling me what a lovely accent I had and how he enjoyed listening to nice accents, asking where i was from etc. My eyes were rubbed raw, bright red and weeping, discussing my accent, lovely or not, is not why I had been waiting for so long. Unfortunately i suspect that the doctor focused on the sound of my voice and not actually what i was saying for the next 10 minutes. I explained how i had a history of developing step throat, that I had identical symptoms and had a strong suspicion that the two conditions were related. I had had strep throat for a week, but was still waiting for my PCP appointment (3 weeks, I don't know why i don't just predict when i will get sick so that i can plan in advance *rolls eyes*) to get treated, however, as my eyes had developed an infection overnight and i woke up like this that morning, that i thought I would get treatment faster.
I counted, 3 times the doctor asked me about my throat. The first time was whether I had a sore throat at all (...?...., had I not just been saying that? To which i replied, yes, for a week), the two other times were about how long I felt I had a sore throat (a week, as I have now said several times). He then postulated it was a viral infection in the eyes. At this point I patiently explained that it was unlikely that i developed two severe infections that were completely unrelated, especially one bacterial and one viral, and suggested he do a strep test. I had to suggest this twice and then insist before he took me seriously, between yet again explaining how long I had had the eye infection. On his way out he again asked how long the eye infection had been in place! Argh.
The result. Yes, I had strep, yes, it moved to my eyes and yes, i needed antibiotics. After waiting for 8 hours before finally getting any medication to help, and going through the rigmarole of seeking medical attention for a diagnosis that I had already been capable of making, i am wondering if i did chose the wrong career path after all.
Well, I doubt stem cells will have much influence on how hurt you are by the dissolution of a relationship. That said, it seems that new research, discussed in news articles on the Nature (Nature) and BBC (BBC news) websites (the research article is presented in Nature also) indicated that dormant heart stem cells can be woken up and set to work following a heart attack. Cardiomyocytes (heart cells) are damaged during a heart attack. A normal heart has limited repair mechanisms and once damaged the cells will inhibit the proper functioning of the heart, which could ultimately lead to further, and possibly fatal, attacks.
The research that has just been published, and previous research (referenced in the Nature news piece) indicate that a particular protein can help the natural heart stem cells generate new blood supply and muscle tissue, repairing sites that have been damaged. It seems there is a bit of debate about how effective the protein would be in humans and whether a preventative approach for high risk patients or injecting the protein following heart attack would have the greatest effect. Still, the results are very interesting and show promise of making a significant difference to heart patients in the future.
I have seen this type of phenomena fairly often, both in the kink and skeptic communities. What do i mean by witch hunts?
First, person X claims something about person Y. The community then rears its ugly head to go and attack person Y, without asking for their point of view, because person X's claim triggers fears that this might be true. Often, the only people who know what is and isn't true are the two (or more) people involved. Any dissenters or individuals who question this course of action then also become targets of the witch hunt, with varying consequences. And so the witch hunt then drags in not only the offender but any who may try to add some reason into the hysteria.
The second is situational, where situation A is perceived to be a problem and course of action M is proposed. Where i have seen it, there is a lot of investment in M and it is thought to solve all the issues of A. Individuals who question whether M will actually address A and who may or may not come to the conclusion that M will be ineffective are then targets for those who want M to work. Dissenters are then demonized and accused of actually encouraging A, and so the witch hunt begins.
Perhaps it is mostly an online phenomenon that has the very real potential to spill out into everyday life. still, I think the trend is a particular detrimental one and encourages the sort of blind faith and acceptance that X or M is right and fails to look from a more skeptical viewpoint. It is a trap that I think we should all be aware of falling in to.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!