Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I promise, this is not going to be all ADHD, all the time - except insofar as my posting often reflects my expression of symptoms. But I'm rather irritated at the moment, arguing with ADD/ADHD denialists at Retrospectacle. The last post was to post some evidence, that ADHD is more than a figment of the imagination.
Denialism is something that really tends to annoy me. HIV/AIDS denialists really make me blow my top. The woo they peddle, is among the most dangerous denialism out there. When HIV/AIDS denialism manages to affect public policy (as it has in some African countries) the results can be deadly. By far, that brand of woo makes me the angriest, which is why I don't get involved in that discussion. People far more educated in the pathology of HIV/AIDS, are out there to fight it, far more coherently than my anger would allow. I have a lot of friends, many of them made while helping them out at home. On the off chance that anyone of that breed comes by, HIV/AIDS denialist comments, will be deleted out of hand.
So the denialism that runs a close second, in really pissing me off, is ADD/ADHD denialism. Especially, when (as it commonly is) coupled with neurological disorder denialism. I take it quite personally, because I have confirmed diagnosis of ADHD and a mild form of bipolar disorder. I actually question the legitimacy of the bipolar diagnosis, because I also have congenital insomnia, that is rather severe. On an average of less than four hours of sleep a night, since I was twelve years old, I imagine that the symptoms could be the result of lifelong sleep deprivation. Of course, the insomnia, is result of my neurochemistry. At least, there have been attempts to figure it out and the best assumptions of the doctors that have treated me, is that it's neurochemical in nature.
In short, though I will try to update this after our trip to the park, this sort of denialism is directly responsible for a lot of stigma. Stigma that makes growing up with neurological disorders very difficult. These are not issues that are easy to work with, not a weakness or desire for special attention. It is especially poignant for me, because I grew up with a dad who bought into a lot of the denialist propaganda. I also went to school, with a lot of teachers who did as well, because ADHD was not very well understood at the time. While things have improved a great deal in the last fifteen years, the stigmas still persist. Growing up is hard. Growing up with a neurological disorder is harder still. Growing up with the stigmas attached to neurological disorders is much, much worse, and unnecessary to boot.
So I am going to write more about this. I am going to try to get the stories of those who are dealing with other neurological disorders. I am going to fight this with everything that I can. I am angry right now, really need to calm down some, before I go on. When I continue, I will be inviting you into my world. What I dealt with growing up, in school and into adulthood. I hope that you will bear with me on this. I will try to get more human rights posts up, but this is something that I really need to do.
I am also working on a post about torture, morality and the neurology of violence - I haven't dropped the ball, but there is a lot of reading I need to get through for that one. I would really love to get some guest posts, to help fill the spaces here, preferably on the topic of human rights. If you are interested in contributing, please email me an outline of what you want to write, or even a post - or link to a post that I could cross post. I prefer that they be between 600 and 3,000 words, but leeway can be made. Thank you very much for visiting, please come back again. Also, please feel very free to comment, I am very interested in hearing what you think or just getting feedback.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
My respect for Pat Tillman was always high, but it just got higher here:
As bullets flew above their heads, the young soldier at Pat
Tillman's side started praying.
"I thought I was praying to myself, but I guess he [Tillman] heard me," Sgt.
Bryan O'Neal recalled in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press.
"He said something like, 'Hey, O'Neal, why are you praying? God can't help
"He said, 'I've got an idea to help get us out of this,"' said O'Neal, who
was an 18-year-old Army Ranger in Tillman's unit when the former NFL player
was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004.
I guess the phrase "there are no atheists in foxholes" didn't hold true
here. In this case, the theist (certainly Christian, but not enough info
here to be sure) would have died if it wasn't for some quick, rational
thinking by Tillman.
But it's no surprise to me that, a few days later, an unnamed chaplain
apparently tried to make Tillman look like scum for allegedly calling O'Neal
"sniveling" for wanting to pray for comfort.
Well, no. Not all atheists (at least those that I consider role-models for
myself and my future children) choose to insult theists any time they
express their often irrational beliefs. Instead, they do what's right
regardless, and use their rational thinking abilities to try to save lives.
The more that I learn about Tillman, the more I stand it awe of him. Shame
on all those so-called Christians, who have lied and obfuscated the truth in
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Is objection to torture, a universal moral axiom? Is there such a thing as universal moral axioms?
I tend to think that there isn't, but my views on the nature of morality seem to be rather minority. Personally, I have an extreme objection to violence of any sort. The few times in my life that situations have forced me to use it, I have literally gotten sick to my stomach, as a response to inflicting pain on other people. Mind, each of the three times I have used violence, it was inflicting pain on others to stop them from inflicting it on someone else. I just seem to have a pathological response to using violence. I know a lot of people who have a similar response. So it seems to me that while I don't think that morality is ever universal, it is likely that there can be a deep seated cognitive response, that makes it extremely hard for some to commit any acts of violence.
This makes me curious about whether most people have this response as a baseline, requiring fairly serious conditioning to defeat it - such as training soldiers, or if response itself conditioned into us. Or is it possible that people who do not have this response are suffering some cognitive malfunction? I am going to do some reading and ask some questions, to try to find a reasonable answer to some or all of these questions. If you have an idea or suggested reading, please feel free to drop them in comments or send me an email. Any and all help would be appreciated.
By and by, I have a lot of ideas for posts in the works. Many will go up, soem may fall to the wayside. I apologize, but that is the way it goes with ADHD, especially when it's coupled with bipolar disorder (however mild it's expression) and parenting.
Friday, July 27, 2007
A mother has the right to a medical procedure to end her child's life in the womb, and you wonder about the rights of children?I will comment later, please feel free to comment.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
So how does this relate to human rights? While perusing some blog posts about it, I discovered that one of my favorite sci-bloggers, Orac, at Respectful Insolence, had a post on it. In the comments, Coin, a regular poster at several sci-blogs, said this;
Something that continually bothers me in discussions of both mainstream and "alternative" medicine is the enormous extent to which parents have basically complete leeway in performing anything they personally interpret as "medical care" on their children. This degree of leeway is rarely if ever questioned, and when it is questioned the reaction to said questioning is generally universal horror, with even quite modest limits on a parent's ability in this regard being thought of as some kind of horrible totalitarian abrogation of rights.This is a very difficult question indeed, not nearly as simple as it seems on it's face. Add to that the question posed in the next comment, by Jon H;
The rights of the child, on the other hand, don't seem to really ever come up, even if the medical care in question potentially has serious consequences for (or prevents entirely) the later life of the child the once they are no longer a minor.
If not the parents, then who?Indeed. While Dully's is obviously an extreme case, it is an important one. Especially when considered in conjunction with situations where parents choose to utilize non-evidence based medicine, over lifesaving or life-extending treatments for cancer. Cases that have even led to bad law. While I tend to be one who appreciates fairly definitive lines in the law, the rights of children is a very gray area indeed.
This is true far beyond the context of medicine. Parents make many decisions for their children, that will affect the lives of their children for the rest of their lives. The intricacies of the rights of children and the rights of parents to make decisions for them, is a very wide range discussion indeed. For the sake of simplicity, I would limit this post and the discussion I hope it provokes in the comments to parental rights and the limits thereof, to the context of medicine. I have some thoughts rolling around my head, that I may post to the front page later, unless comments overtake my ability to update this post, in which case, I'll just continue this there.
I am genuinely curious what others think about this and hope that you will click on the comments link and leave your thoughts.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Over at Jason Rosenhouse's EvolutionBlog, is an interesting post, discussing the issue of atheist writers who dare critique religion, without offering something to fill the void left behind, if someone actually leaves their faith. For more fun with ADHD, I have yet to click over to the article by Matt Nisbett of Framing Science, that Jason's piece is a response to. I keep meaning to do so, but between the spotty connection and general distractions, I haven't, sorry Matt. I would like to be clear that I really appreciate a lot of what Matt has to say, in spite of often disagreeing with him.
The issue that I have here is rather multi-faceted, but boils down to this; It is quite possible to have a moral framework, without religious faith. Probably the most moral, ethical person I know, is my atheist father. He is not only honest and forthright, a man of indelible integrity, he is also a man of deep compassion, who selflessly gives of himself simply because it's the right thing to do. The basis of his moral framework is not religious in nature, rather it is rooted in his perception of secular humanism.
Rather than write a whole new post, I am, in my infinite laziness and in the interest of watching season one of Numbers, procured today from our local library, I will simply link to the pertinent portion of the comment thread. Hopefully, I will soon write a post addressing the sentiments that I express in this thread. My comments are about two after those of Derek James, whom I reccomend checking out, along with Russell Blackford.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
I really appreciate Revere's writings on public health issues. As such, I thought it would be very appropriate to use a post he wrote about the state of health care in the U.S. to get the conversation about universal health care started. I will be adding posts from others on this topic, both pro and con, in the future, along (of course) with my own thoughts. This post was originally posted to Effect Measure, June 19th 2007. . .
From Effect Measure;
The Editors of Effect Measure are senior public health scientists and practitioners. Paul Revere was a member of the first local Board of Health in the United States (Boston, 1799). The Editors sign their posts "Revere" to recognize the public service of a professional forerunner better known for other things.
It's a myth that's hard to bust. The one that says the United States, the country that spends more on health care than any other, has the best medical care in the world to go with it. It hasn't been true for a long time. It doesn't. But it is part of the core belief of most Americans. I wonder who benefits most from that falsehood? But to the facts:
As early as 2000, the World Health Organization made the first attempt at ranking all the world's healthcare systems. The U.S. came in 37th out of 190 nations in the provision of healthcare. (France, according to the June 2000 report, was first.) The report was criticized for using inconsistent comparison measures and for failing to note that some countries deny expensive care to very sick patients. Americans could still reasonably cling to their long-held pride.
But in 2006, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international organization that aims to lift living standards by promoting economic development, compared health spending and health statistics in its 30 member nations. Its report was more detailed than the WHO rankings, and had more controlled and consistent measures. The data, taken more seriously than the WHO rankings, left Americans with little to brag about.
And [NIH's Dr. Ezekial Emanuel's] recent commentary [in the Journal of the American Medical Association] was published the day after another report released by the Commonwealth Fund, which supports independent research into healthcare issues, found the United States at the bottom among six industrialized nations on measures of safe and coordinated care.
If all of that doesn't seem damning enough, insurance provider UnitedHealthcare Group took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal on March 19 declaring: "The health care system isn't healthy.... A system that was designed to make you feel better often just makes things worse." One of the very industry giants that critics point to as a cause of the problem was defensively pointing back.
Amid stacks of reports, all with wonky measures of access, equity, efficiency and medical outcomes, two statistics stand out. The U.S. spends more on medical care than any other nation, and gets far less for it than many countries. According to the 2006 analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. spends an annual $6,102 per person -- more than any other country and more than twice the average of $2,571. Yet Americans have the 22nd highest life expectancy among those nations at 77.2 years compared with the analysis' average of 77.8 years. People in Japan, the world leader in longevity, live an average of 81.8 years.
The report also found that the United States had about 2.5 times the average years of potential life lost due to diabetes: 101 years per 1,000 people compared with the average of 39 years per 1,000 people. Americans had fewer practicing physicians, or 2.4 per 1,000 people, than the average of 3 per 1,000 people. Infant mortality rates have been falling in the U.S., but are still higher, at 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with less than 3.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland. (LA Times)
When Andrew Speaker used subterfuge to fly back to the US for treatment of his XDR-TB an Denver's National Jewish Hospital it was not only to get home to his family but because he believed the care in the US was better than anywhere else. In fact, Italy has the second best health care system by the international comparison rankings and some of the best TB experts in the world. You probably didn't know that. Number 1? France. I'll bet you didn't know that either. You can quibble about the ranking method (if you can claim some expertise), but the only thing everyone agrees the US comes out on top for is cost. Cadillac prices for a high mileage junk car.
When I was in medical school the prestige specialties were internal medicine and psychiatry. That's what the brainy students chose. Not any more. Why? Because you don't get to do "procedures" in those specialties. Doctors get paid for "procedures." Handsomely paid, I might add. Managing chronic disease? Sorry. No procedures.
For starters, the American system doesn't measure up worldwide in controlling chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension. Payment systems reward doctors for doing procedures, not for managing those chronic conditions, so a world-class center -- like Boston's Joslin Diabetes Center, which is supported by philanthropy -- stands in stark contrast to results seen by regular doctors treating the disease in average patients.
Kidney disease patients on dialysis have a higher risk of death in the United States. By an act of Congress in 1972, all end-stage renal disease is covered by Medicare, even for patients younger than 65. But because of Medicare funding cuts, patients on dialysis receive less time on dialysis than patients in Europe and Japan. That helps explain why Americans on kidney dialysis have a mortality rate of 23% compared with 15% in Europe and 9% in Japan, according to a May 2002 report in JAMA.
The US, alone among the industrialized nations, has no universal health care. Let me correct this. The average US citizen doesn't. Members of Congress already have their health plan. Even the CongressThings so adamantly opposed to "socialized medicine" are not giving up their government health plans. They'd rather hold the average American hostage to their ideological pecadillos.
Meanwhile, those of us who can afford to, pay. And pay. And pay. But we don't get our money's worth.
And those who can't afford it? You supply the answer.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The first post addressing Universal Health Care; from Revere at Effect Measure
Another post addressing fundamentalism with excerpts from Sheril Kirshenbaum at The Intersection
And finally a post called Vice is not Crime
I will try to get these up this afternoon, but it may not be until later this evening. Thank you for stopping by. . .
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
From Positive Liberty;
Jonathan Rowe is a 32 year old attorney and college professor. He holds JD, MBA, and LL.M. graduate degrees from Temple University, in Philadelphia, PA. He is an Assistant Professor of Business in the Business and Technology Division at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ. He lives in Yardley, PA.
Every year around this time I recommend a well-researched E-Book by theocrat Dr. Gary North, entitled Conspiracy in Philadelphia. North recognizes that the Constitution is an anti-theocratic document and opposes it for precisely that reason. It is more than simply anti-theocratic; rather its principles are religious neutrality. And even though the Constitution explicitly endorses no particular religion, unitarianism — which is defined by creedal indifference — is implicit in the document. And this shouldn’t surprise given that the principle authors of the Declaration, Federalist Papers, and Constitution were theological unitarians.
Theological unitarians are not to be confused with the Unitarian Church of the 19th Century. Jefferson and Madison were theological unitarians but members of the Anglican/Episcopal Church. Dr. North distinguishes between the two by referring to theological unitarians with a lowercase u and members of the Unitarian Church with a capital U. Dr. Gregg Frazer coins an entirely new term — theistic rationalism. And that’s because theological unitarianism (which in its most simple definition means denial of the Trinity) is but one element of the key Founders’ creed. Other elements include theological universalism (belief in eternal salvation), syncretism (belief that non-Christian religions contain the same truth as Christianity and are thus valid ways to God), Arminianism (rejection of key Calvinist doctrines like predestination) and rationalism (elevating man’s reason over revelation in determining truth). Whatever we call it, the key Founders’ creed was not orthodox Christianity, arguably not Christianity at all.
Jefferson and Adams, North notes, could be downright scornful of doctrines of orthodoxy. North, amusingly harsh on them, writes:
In their old age, Adams and Jefferson renewed their friendship in a long correspondence that lasted for more than a decade. Their letters reveal that they were almost totally agreed on religion. They hated Christianity, especially Calvinism.94….After surveying their letters, Cushing Strout concludes: “Whatever their political differences, Jefferson and Adams were virtually at one in their religion.” Strout identifies the creed of this religion: unitarianism.96 pp. 140-41.
Washington and Franklin, on the other hand, seemed to have had no problems with orthodox doctrines, believing them harmless. Though, as unitarians, they didn’t believe in those doctrines and also had no problem with all sorts of non-Christian religions such that they drew an equivalence between these systems that make incompatible claims of truth. As Ben Franklin put it:
Both house and ground were vested in trustees, expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia; the design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in general; so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.
North’s harshest sentiments are directed against James Madison:
James Madison was a covenant-breaking genius, and the heart and soul of his genius was his commitment to religious neutralism. He devised a Constitution that for two centuries has fooled even the most perceptive Christian social philosophers of each generation into thinking that Madison was not what he was: a unitarian theocrat whose goal was to snuff out the civil influence of the trinitarian churches whenever they did not support his brainchild. For two centuries, his demonic plan has worked. pp. 374-75.
Passage like that make much of the book amusing to read. North sounds not unlike James Renwick Willson another reformed covenanter of the 19th Century who scorned the unitarianism and anti-theocratic aspect of our Founding.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
My apologies, to revere and everyone else that I linked to, for my lack of clarity. I did not intend to imply that anyone I linked to is a fundamentalist. Quite to the contrary, I really meant it when I said that it is a label that should not be used lightly. I honestly don't believe the label is appropriate to use on anyone that I linked to. The reason that I linked to them all, was not to imply anything about their characters, but merely to show where the formulation of the post I wrote came from. While they are few, the fundamentalists come out in comments attached to the posts.
Ok, so I am on my second post here and already breaking my own rules. Yes, JuliaL, this means I will definitely move that post you mentioned over here, in an updated form. But first, I am going to address an issue that has been broiling around Seed magazine's science blogs, for a few days now.
First the roundup. It all began with this rather innocuous (for PZ Myers anyways) post at Pharyngula. To which Rob Knopp of Galactic interactions responded here. I recommend going to Rob's blog for the follow ups, he removed the aforementioned post from his front page. There were several reactions to Rob's posting. Here, here and here. To be sure, this is not a comprehensive listing, but it is pretty indicative of the situation. The culmination was at the last post I linked to, by Sheril Kirshenbaum, a poster at The Intersection.
The question that arises; Can an atheist, also be a fundamentalist? In short, yes, they can.
It was after reading the following comment by Rob, found here, that I formulated the following, which I posted to this thread.
The only people who seem to think, for instance, that a literal reading of the Bible describes the beliefs of Christians are science-ignorant fundamentalists, and religion-ignorant atheists. Strange bedfellows.
But are they really that strange of bedfellows. They are, in fact two differing fundamentalist viewpoints, in polar opposition to one another. I think that when people decide to couch their attitudes and beliefs in absolute terms, it does not matter which end of a spectrum they exist upon, they will be in strong agreement on a number of points, even while in opposition.
It is no coincidence that the only people who accept the notion that acceptance of evolution is inherently atheistic, are extremists who are either religious or atheists. The further you go in either direction you will find that they agree that secular humanism is inherently atheistic. Until you reach the end ( at least the furthest extreme that I have seen) where even the very notion of being a scientist is inherently atheistic. I have indeed been involved in this very debate over the last few days, with he who shall remain nameless, lest his vitriol and petty bigotry rear it's ugly head.
This is not just true of theism versus atheism, but in any ideological posturing. Take an extremist marxist and contrast them with an extremist libertarian and you will see the very same thing. Even more bizarre, is that the desired ends are the same. With marxism v libertarianism, the goal is absolute power in the hands of the individual. With theism v atheism, it is a desire to find, or a belief in, an absolute truth. Keep in mind I am talking about fundamentalists, this is not meant to paint all theists or atheists, with the same brush. Ultimately this is the definition of fundamentalism, a belief in absolutes.
This is what makes fundamentalism so appealing. Absolutes are easy. Absolutes are clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, life is not black and white. Life is neither clean or comfortable, at least not all the time. It takes great courage to face the reality that, no matter how hard we try, absolutes are hard to come by. Ideals are just that, ideals. It doesn't mean we stop trying, most certainly we shouldn't. I daresay that to even accept that the ideal cannot be achieved, is to accept defeat. What it does mean though, is that we should be ever skeptical, even fearful of those who make claims of absolute truth.I would just finish with saying that it is ineffectual to use the label of fundamentalist too freely. Like terms such as fascist and denialist, if used inappropriately it loses it's true meaning, becoming nothing more than an epithet.
Monday, July 16, 2007
First, as I am alive, in this, my very own body, I should have a right to end the life of this body. I should not have to find some unpleasant way to end my life, if I so chose. Indeed, I should be able and allowed to get assistance with the ending of my life. To me, it is an absolute, that if I am in an accident, or contract some disease, that will seriously detract from my ability to function and reason, or seriously detract from my quality of life, I should be allowed to die. Not by starvation, dehydration, refusal to resuscitate or being pulled off life support, but by a humane, painless lethal injection, administered by qualified medical personnel. Even outside the parameters of serious trauma or disease, there should be very few restrictions placed on the right to seek help in ending one's life. As long as one can show they are not being coerced and can prove competency, in the broadest sense of the word, people should be allowed to get a prescription for euthanasia.
Second, if people choose, they should be able to put whatever they wish, into their body. From foods that are generally unsafe, to various enthogens, it should be their choice to put what they please into their body. For many substances, I also believe this should be an informed choice, so I do support legislation that would require many things that are known to have serious dangers affiliated with them, be labeled or warnings otherwise given, before they are sold. But the final, informed choice, should be made by the individual that wishes to partake of them.
In the case of enthogens, there should also be laws that protect the rest of society from those who choose to use them. I support very harsh penalties, for people who get inebriated and subsequently cause harm to others. As an example, I believe those who choose to drink and drive, whether they actually harm someone else or not, should be charged with attempted manslaughter, if they kill someone, the charge should be murder. While I believe that people should have the right to use recreational drugs, whatever ones they wish, I also believe that they absolutely must be responsible when using them. If they are not, the fact that they are high, should not be any sort of excuse.
Finally, I will finish this post with sex, something most people get a fair amount of enjoyment out of. I believe that people have a right to have sex with whomever they choose, as long as they are of age. If they wish to get paid for having sex, or to pay for it, there is no good reason to stop them. As long as the sex is between consenting adults, those adults should be able to have sex under whatever conditions they choose. Prostitution has been around for a very long time and will not go away any time soon. Making it legal, makes it safer for everyone involved. Like any business, I think that the sex trade should also be regulated. There are a lot of very reasonable regulations that would make prostitution a lot safer on so many levels.
Like I said, I will address these issues in the future with far more detail. For now, I just want to go through and provide a brief overview of what my positions are. The next post I put up, will talk about my beliefs in human rights as they apply to families, indeed providing my fairly broad definition of what family really means. From “traditional” family units, to a host of very non-traditional families and what rights and security they should have in society. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have or leave any opinions you might have, in comments or send me an email. I only ask that you be polite to me and each other, if you choose to leave a comment.