Our Common Good

"The question of rape always stirs the emotions whenever it is introduced into the abortion debate," Dr. Fred Mecklenburg wrote in 1972. "Unfortunately, the emotional impact of rape often clouds the real issues and the real facts."

Mecklenburg — an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Minnesota Medical School at the time — could not have known how prescient his words would feel 40 years later.

While U.S. Rep. Todd Akin cited only “doctors” as his source of information about the rarity of pregnancy resulting from rape, it is two pages, from Mecklenburg’s 1972 article, “The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician’s Perspective,” that have influenced two generations of anti-abortion activists hoping to build a medical case to ban all abortions without exception.

In Mecklenburg’s original article, he wrote that pregnancy resulting from rape “is extremely rare,” and cited as an example the city of Buffalo, N.Y., which had not seen “a pregnancy from confirmed rape in over 30 years.” Other cities — Chicago, Washington, St. Paul — also had experienced lengthy spells without a rape-caused pregnancy, Mecklenburg wrote.

The reasons were numerous: Not all rapes result in “a completed act of intercourse,” Mecklenburg wrote, adding that it was “improbable” that a rape would occur “on the 1-2 days of the month in which the woman would be fertile.”

Mecklenburg’s third reason seems to have been picked up by Akin.

A woman exposed to the trauma of rape, Mecklenburg wrote, “will not ovulate even if she is ‘scheduled’ to.”

[…]

Mecklenburg’s article was one of 19 in a book called, “Abortion and Social Justice,” published a year before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

In supporting his claim about trauma and ovulation, Mecklenburg cited experiments conducted in Nazi death camps.

The Nazis tested this hypothesis “by selecting women who were about to ovulate and sending them to the gas chambers, only to bring them back after their realistic mock-killing, to see what the effect this had on their ovulatory patterns. An extremely high percentage of these women did not ovulate.”

Finally, Mecklenburg said it was likely that the rapists — because of “frequent masturbation” — were unlikely to be fertile themselves.

The book was edited by a doctor and a lawyer, and funded by Americans United for Life, the major legal arm of the anti-abortion movement.

mothernaturenetwork:

The facts of life: A guide for Todd AkinWe explain the birds and the bees for Missouri congressman.

mothernaturenetwork:

The facts of life: A guide for Todd Akin
We explain the birds and the bees for Missouri congressman.

laboratoryequipment:

Parasite May Cause Suicide AttemptsA parasite thought to be harmless and found in many people may actually be causing subtle changes in the brain, leading to suicide attempts. New research appearing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry adds to the growing work linking an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite to suicide attempts. Michigan State Univ.’s Lena Brundin was one of the lead researchers on the team.About 10-20 percent of people in the United States have Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii, in their bodies, but in most it was thought to lie dormant, says Brundin, an associate professor of experimental psychiatry in MSU’s College of Human Medicine. In fact, it appears the parasite can cause inflammation over time, which produces harmful metabolites that can damage brain cells.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/08/parasite-may-cause-suicide-attempts

laboratoryequipment:

Parasite May Cause Suicide Attempts

A parasite thought to be harmless and found in many people may actually be causing subtle changes in the brain, leading to suicide attempts. New research appearing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry adds to the growing work linking an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite to suicide attempts. Michigan State Univ.’s Lena Brundin was one of the lead researchers on the team.

About 10-20 percent of people in the United States have Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii, in their bodies, but in most it was thought to lie dormant, says Brundin, an associate professor of experimental psychiatry in MSU’s College of Human Medicine. In fact, it appears the parasite can cause inflammation over time, which produces harmful metabolites that can damage brain cells.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/08/parasite-may-cause-suicide-attempts

mediamattersforamerica:

Well, this is unacceptable: This week scientists announced that melting over the Greenland ice sheet is breaking records. But major media outlets seem to be turning a blind eye to that. 

mediamattersforamerica:

Well, this is unacceptable: This week scientists announced that melting over the Greenland ice sheet is breaking records. But major media outlets seem to be turning a blind eye to that. 

John Boehner needs to be asked why he put someone like Todd Akin on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. (h/t abaldwin36)

John Boehner needs to be asked why he put someone like Todd Akin on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. (h/t abaldwin36)

Also, Todd Akin (the no pregnancy from legitimate rape guy) is on the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

abaldwin360:

Our fucking government, man. 

Insane. 

A group of cave explorers and scientists have made a rare discovery:  an entirely new taxonomic family of spider in the caves of southern Oregon.
Only two other spider families (the taxonomic group above both genus and species) have been found since 1990, and this is the first newly discovered, native one uncovered in North America since 1890, said California Academy of Sciences researcher Charles Griswold, lead author of the study that described the species. 
So far, the family consists only of the one species described, which the researchers named Trogloraptor marchingtoni. The species is named after Neil Marchington, a member of the Western Cave Conservancy, who first discovered the spider. The genus name, Trogloraptor, means “cave robber.”
It’s an apt name for a spider with unique hooks, or claws, on its legs, which the researchers believe are used to snatch flying insects, like midges, out of the air. With its legs outstretched, the spider measures up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) long.
[…]
The spider was first found by citizen scientists from the Western Cave Conservancy and taken to Audisio, who showed it to Griswold. At first, they thought it was a brown recluse, a poisonous type of spider. But closer examination revealed it was unique, and they spent two years determining that it is a new family. Their results are published today (Aug. 17) in the journal ZooKeys.  
(via Hook-legged spider found in Oregon cave - Yahoo! News)

A group of cave explorers and scientists have made a rare discovery:  an entirely new taxonomic family of spider in the caves of southern Oregon.

Only two other spider families (the taxonomic group above both genus and species) have been found since 1990, and this is the first newly discovered, native one uncovered in North America since 1890, said California Academy of Sciences researcher Charles Griswold, lead author of the study that described the species. 

So far, the family consists only of the one species described, which the researchers named Trogloraptor marchingtoni. The species is named after Neil Marchington, a member of the Western Cave Conservancy, who first discovered the spider. The genus name, Trogloraptor, means “cave robber.”

It’s an apt name for a spider with unique hooks, or claws, on its legs, which the researchers believe are used to snatch flying insects, like midges, out of the air. With its legs outstretched, the spider measures up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) long.

[…]

The spider was first found by citizen scientists from the Western Cave Conservancy and taken to Audisio, who showed it to Griswold. At first, they thought it was a brown recluse, a poisonous type of spider. But closer examination revealed it was unique, and they spent two years determining that it is a new family. Their results are published today (Aug. 17) in the journal ZooKeys. 

(via Hook-legged spider found in Oregon cave - Yahoo! News)

Enough on Mars. Must get back to making Earth hotter, cutting science budgets and amp up killing each other over religious differences.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (via yobaba)
First, cast doubt on the science. Second, question the personal motives and integrity of the scientists. Third, magnify genuine disagreements among scientists, and cite nonexperts with minority opinions as authorities. Fourth, exaggerate the potential harm caused by the issue at hand. Fifth, frame issues as a threat to personal freedom. And sixth, claim that acceptance would repudiate a key philosophy, religious belief, or practice of a group.

Six tactics used by denial campaign. Keep them in mind so that you’ll be able to distinguish denial from legitimate scientific debate. - Flavors of Uncertainty: The Difference between Denial and Debate

(via scipsy)

Great piece.

theatlantic:

Here Comes Super Gonorrhea

Over the past decades, gonorrhea has been mowing down our antibiotics. If this was the Olympic 400 IM, gonorrhea would be the Ryan Lochte and our antibiotics would be the guy from Moldova.
The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now it’s down to one.

Read more. [Image: tonrulkens/Flickr]

theatlantic:

Here Comes Super Gonorrhea

Over the past decades, gonorrhea has been mowing down our antibiotics. If this was the Olympic 400 IM, gonorrhea would be the Ryan Lochte and our antibiotics would be the guy from Moldova.

The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now it’s down to one.

Read more. [Image: tonrulkens/Flickr]

climateadaptation:

Elegant and measured reply by the prof to a climate denier! I feel for the prof (just imagine the froth in my inboxes from deniers). But, I do like the contours of this particular questioner’s question. Deniers usually attack climate scientists as liberal cranks who are dependent upon federal dollars. It’s usually a hit-and-run, so there’s no dialog or exchange of ideas. Just “F*ck you, you stupid lefty! Get off my lawn!” And, in the eyes of the denier, this attack somehow invalidates the climate science.

politicalprof:

I was asked to make a previous answer to a question rebloggable. So sorry for the repeat …

Recently, I was asked the following question:

It really bothers me that scientists keep claiming that the cause of climate change is caused exclusively by humans. There is compelling evidence that exists that would prove - or at least point out - that that’s not entirely the case. Seeing as most scientists seem to lean left on this issue, do you think that scientists would leave out information in order to further an agenda?

My response was:

Well, aside from the fact that no scientist ever makes the claim that humans are the sole cause of global climate change, I do seem to recall hearing about a time when the Roman Catholic Church got really tired of hearing some guy named Galileo claim that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe. So they threw him in prison (well, a villa) and threatened to kill him unless he recanted. Alas, getting annoyed by something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

As for the question of scientists being corrupt lefties, a few thoughts:

1. Most scientists I know, who study natural phenomena using scientific methods, are fairly apolitical. They — unlike politically-minded people — are reluctant to talk or make claims about things they don’t know anything about. 

2. I assume you believe that it is safer to travel in a car with airbags, antilock brakes and crumple zones than in a car without these things. I assume you believe the best way to avoid measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox (not to mention smallpox) is to be inoculated with a weakened version of measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox that stimulates the body’s immune system. I assume you believe that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second and that the US just landed a rover on Mars using math. I assume you believe tobacco is addictive. All of these things, of course, were proven or achieved by science. So your “worry” isn’t about “science,” it’s about climate science.

3. Science has an ultimate touchstone of right and wrong: falsifiability. If you can show that distilled water doesn’t freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or that gravity doesn’t operate at 32 feet per second squared, then claims made based on those observations (and the theories that underlie them) are discredited. So for your “worry” to be credible, it would have to be the case that thousands of scientists, any one of whom would get famous and would score lots of funding if only he or she could disprove the notion of climate change, have in fact engaged in a vast conspiracy to lie about it … why? Because they hate capitalism? Or something?

The conservative line that climate scientists are engaged in a vast deception defies logic, common sense, and the rules of science itself. 

You all know that this is a traditional (and quite effective) ad-hominen attack. It’s supposed to discredit the science, while at the same time prop up the denier’s position. The key: Little to no evidence is needed by the denier. And it’s very clever because the responder is left defending both their name and the science. In other words, the denier’s attack is intended to leave the responder floundering in defense. And, believe me, it works like a charm. So effective is this tactic that the very question, “Is climate change real?” is based on this approach. I find it fascinating.

The question that the professor faced below is so classical. The denier doubts climate science, calls scientists names, and then puts the responder (the prof) in a defensive crouch. The prof didn’t fall for it, completely and responded intuitively.

Final thought. What’s really interesting to me about deniers is that they’re not arguing against the science. No, they’re arguing against regulations. It’s an incredible mind-fuck, but think about the denialists’ end game: if climate change is found to be false, then governments would not have to regulate various greenhouse gases, such as those from oil, gas, and coal.

Think about how amazing this is, millions of people (usually) of a certain political persuasion are unknowingly committing a sort of mass-cognitive dissonance on behalf of big oil. Evil has it’s brilliance…

anarcho-queer:



The Last 12 Months Were The Hottest On Record In America
July was the hottest month in the contiguous United States since record-keeping began in 1895, government scientists have said, a trend that meteorologists attribute to climate change.
The searing July heat contributed to a widening of troubling drought conditions, now affecting 63 percent of the nation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Wednesday.
The average temperature in the contiguous United States — excluding Hawaii and Alaska — was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25.3 Celsius), 3.3 degrees higher than the average for the entire 20th century, NOAA said.
The previous hottest July on record was July 1936, when the average temperature was 77.4 degrees.
The warm temperatures in July helped make the last 12 months the hottest on record in the United States, and contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year, according to NOAA statistics.

anarcho-queer:

The Last 12 Months Were The Hottest On Record In America

July was the hottest month in the contiguous United States since record-keeping began in 1895, government scientists have said, a trend that meteorologists attribute to climate change.

The searing July heat contributed to a widening of troubling drought conditions, now affecting 63 percent of the nation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Wednesday.

The average temperature in the contiguous United States — excluding Hawaii and Alaska — was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25.3 Celsius), 3.3 degrees higher than the average for the entire 20th century, NOAA said.

The previous hottest July on record was July 1936, when the average temperature was 77.4 degrees.

The warm temperatures in July helped make the last 12 months the hottest on record in the United States, and contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year, according to NOAA statistics.

The child, whose name, age and sex have not been released, is believed to have died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis caused by Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that thrives in warm freshwater.

"Through swimming or diving, it can enter through the nose and gain access to the brain," said Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Health officials investigating the death said the child had been swimming at Lily Lake in Stillwater Minn., which has been closed until further notice.

While exceedingly rare, Naegleria fowleri infections are almost always fatal. Only one person out of 123 infected in the United States between 1962 and 2011 has survived, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

kp777:

by James Hansen
August 7, 2012

From the article: … In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.

Read more.