Vox Day’s New Low

I love a crank that you only have to quote to utterly humiliate. From the guy who brought the logic of the Third Reich to bear on the immigration issue we have this thoughtful analysis of the real threat to science:

As I have demonstrated in “The Irrational Atheist,” religion is not a threat to any aspect of science: It does not threaten the knowledge base, it does not threaten the method and it does not threaten the profession. It never has.

But this is not to say there is not a genuine threat to all three aspects of science today. Unsurprisingly, it comes from the same force that is the primary threat to the survival of Western civilization: female equalitarianism.

The idea of biology classes being taught by lesbian professors who believe that heterosexual procreation is a myth or calculus courses being taught by women who can’t do long division may sound impossible today, but tell that to any software developer, and he’ll be able to provide you with plenty of current examples of computer science engineers, some with advanced CS degrees, who have no idea how to even begin writing a computer program.

Women love education; it’s the actual application they don’t particularly like. Whereas the first thought of a woman who enjoys the idea of painting is to take an art appreciation class, a similarly interested man is more likely to just pick up a paintbrush and paint something – usually a naked woman.

It is written that “women ruin everything”; having destroyed the liberal arts, the classics and the pseudo-sciences, it is now abundantly clear that the more rigorous sciences are next on the equalitarians’ destructive agenda. And so, in the not-too-distant future, two plus two will finally be determined to equal five if a women feels that it should, or at least it will as long as she happens to feel that way.

Wow. This guy really hates women. I mean, really hates them. Does anyone think this is too far even for the WorldNutDaily? Basically a screed calling all women stupid?

Women make great scientists, and I’m tired of these creationist idiots lecturing us on what is needed in the field they don’t even believe in. Especially if it’s just sexist garbage that is so out of place in this century even the WorldNutDaily should be deeply ashamed.

I can’t wait to see the little bigot try to explain away this latest insight into his small-mindedness.

Thanks to Ed.

* Update *

I’ll point out right on the heels of Vox days seemingly insane rant against women this turd of a satirical piece by Mike S. Adams at Townhall:

when they aren’t attending masturbation workshops and orgasm awareness festivals on unc campuses, our feminist “scholars” are usually thinking of new words to ban in order to make womyn feel more comfortable in the workplace. recently, one of the sociologists at unc-wilmington actually banned the use of the term “mankind” because of its “sexist” overtones.

having recently been named as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging first amendment retaliation, dr. (name deleted to ensure maximum comfort) still seems undeterred. but i write today, not for the purpose of ridiculing this seemingly outlandish feminist censorship. in fact, i’ve decided to join in with some new class rules i’ll use from now on (but not NOW on).

1. all capital letters will be banned. for some feminists, capital letters are a reminder of an erect penis. so, from now on, all my class correspondence will have erectile dysfunction.

The conservative movement has a problem with hating women that is pervasive. I don’t believe Vox day is exceptional, just exceptionally stupid for saying what he thinks out loud. After all, are these two pieces really that different? I think the only difference is that Adams was smart enough to only castigate the bogey-(wo)man feminists while Vox said what they really think. Women have no place in positions of authority or power.

The post in which I continue to attack the damn libertarians

Also pissing me off this week is the continuing nonsense from Cato’s anti-universal health care club which is suggesting that increasing health care coverage will lead to an increased number of deaths because of increasing medical errors.

Sack notes that “at least twice as many Americans are estimated to die each year from medical errors as from lack of access to care.” He quotes economists Helen Levy and David Meltzer’s conclusion that there is “no evidence” that expanding coverage would be the best way to improve health and save lives.

If there is no evidence that expanding coverage would deliver the biggest improvement in health for the money, then expanding coverage could actually increase death and disability compared to a superior policy. I’ll be debating Nichols tomorrow at a meeting of the National Association of Business Economists. Should be a good time.

Now, if you want to be a libertarian and think of no one but yourself all the time, that’s just freaking great, but it’s totally different if you’re going to start spreading around this crank nonsense about medical errors being a big bad killer. Inherent is this suggestion is that medical care is of net negative benefit, which is totally absurd. And the Institute of Medicine reports on medical errors are poorly understood as people fail to understand two critical aspects of the studies. For one, much of the medical errors resulting in injury have to do with inpatient care and an inpatient population is a really different beast from the types of medicine we’re talking about with universal coverage. People under universal healthcare won’t go into a hospital, lay in a bed for a few days and get a decubitus ulcer because they suddenly have free medical care. Much of the medical “mistakes” described in these reports aren’t really mistakes by doctors but represent fundamental problems with keeping people healthy in hospitals. Much of it has to do with nursing and support care, spread of nosocomial infection, and clerical errors (the last of which we’re improving on with increased digitization) and affecting a population which tends to be very fragile to start with. This stuff simply isn’t relevant to the type of outpatient care universal coverage seeks to provide.

The second idiocy here is that the type of medicine under a universal health system will hopefully be fundamentally different than what we have now. Currently, doctors are essentially penalized for providing more care, and rewarded by insurance companies for providing less care. There is also completely inadequate support for preventative medicine. Despite these measures to reduce cost we still manage to spend more per capita on healthcare than any other nation, are ranked almost dead last among industrialized nations for provision of care (mostly due to access problems), and have over 40 million uninsured. These facts make a prima facie case for the need to reform our medical delivery system. The current system is unjustifiably stupid economically, and the restructuring of healthcare delivery has the potential to gear medicine more towards better disease prevention, screening, and overall increased quality of care as people are less fearful of being dinged by their insurance company for the crime of getting sick or being diagnosed with a disease.

The third idiocy is to say the reason for universal healthcare is just improving patient outcomes. We’re also trying to prevent people from being bankrupted, whether they’re insured or not, because of medical problems. Even with insurance illness frequently leads to financial distress and even bankruptcy.

I want universal health care because I think it is the right thing to do medically, morally, and economically. Our current system is too expensive, poorly designed for delivery of good medical care, and ultimately is biased against people getting the care they need. If you can fix the system under a free-market approach that will prevent people from being financially ruined by health issues, will cover everybody, encourage the widespread adoption of preventative care and not cost five times as much per capita as any other country’s care, I’m all for it. As it stands what we have is too little care for too much money. The best Cato can do is make the absurd argument that more care = more mistakes. By this logic we should just stop all medical care from being provided if mistakes are such a net negative. If that’s the best the defenders of the free market can do, the free market is in trouble.

The post in which I pick a fight with Jake

Has anyone noticed how my sciblings are really ornery at the moment?
We’ve got PZ bringing out the angry stick over Wilkins’ criticism of Dawkins. Physioprof is getting ready to pop Greg Laden in the nose over this thread (and I tend to agree it needs a rewrite).

And then Shelley broke my heart by posting
this video mocking anesthesiologists that I posted a couple months ago. And here I thought my sciblings paid attention to me *sob*.

Mommy and Daddy fighting and my sciblings ignoring me are making me feel insecure and frightened and as a result I’m going to lash out at Jake for this libertarian nonsense. At issue is this article in the Lancet which makes the suggestion that the poaching of doctors from poor African countries should be banned by international treaty. They make a compelling argument, and I tend to agree that it’s a grossly immoral practice that results in harm to millions.

But Jake finds it unbelievable. Why?

What I am aghast at is the cavalier attitude that this article expresses towards the rights of the health care workers in question. In indicating that the health care worker “poaching” violates the rights of Africans, in what way are they construing the rights of the health care workers? Have they concluded that the nations in question are entitled to their own health care workers? Are they implying that the health care workers are a nation’s property?

True, they do include the obligatory homage to the health care workers’ rights:

However, this admission contradicts what they say about the rights of African citizens demanding care. Let me make this clear. The authors assert that the individuals in Africa have a right to health care. On the other hand, they assert that the health care workers have right to mobility and the right to pursue a career under any circumstances they find most fortuitous. Does the health care workers right to mobility not include the right to converse with and interact with any organization they choose? The authors seem to suggest that the health care workers should exist is some sort of socially beneficent darkness in which they have rights but no knowledge by which they could appropriately exercise them.

One of the critical problems here is the failure to recognize that states invest significantly in healthcare worker education. I can’t speak to the policies in each of these nations, but as a generalization, medical education does not occur without state subsidy. Here in the US, entitlement programs contribute about $100k a year for each resident’s training (they get paid about half, and the hospital takes the rest), and medical student education is heavily subsidized by state and federal governments. Your tuition, as ridiculously high as it is, is only a fraction of what it costs to educate a medical student. I also am secretly hoping that Jake is in the MSTP program. It amuses me endlessly when people are libertarians while receiving education that is 100% subsidized (and stipended) by the federal government.

My point is that yes, the government does have enough invested interest in medical education that they’re naturally going to expect a return for that investment. When rich states actively take doctors from poor states, it’s a truly disgusting and unethical behavior that is effectively stealing money from already strapped states. From the Lancet article:

In comparison, by recruiting Ghanaian doctors, the UK saved about £65 million in training costs between 1998 and 2002, while their contribution to service provision is estimated at around £39 million a year.30 The benefiting countries should make amends through supporting repatriation of professionals who have left the country, training initiatives, the building and staffing of new health schools, and support for the development of retention frameworks, including improved salaries, pensions, recruitment of retired workers, and rural-worker incentives.

We have money to pay for healthcare (ok, maybe not but more than these countries). It’s really screwed up that to save money on our healthcare training we’re letting poorer countries do it, then just snag their trained docs.

Jake however disagrees and brings up some really silly libertarian views on what our rights as Americans entail.
Continue reading “The post in which I pick a fight with Jake”

The Heartland Institute Crankfest

There is no way I could let the Heartland Institute’s Global Warming conference go by without comment, especially since it’s so beautifully conformed to my expectations of what a gathering of cranks would be like. I think DeSmogBlog’s coverage has been the best.

But back to my expectations, we have experts of dubious quality speaking to a group of people that clearly have no ability to judge sources (from the WSJ ):

Given that line-up, and the Heartland Institute’s stated mission–“to discover and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems”–two of the presentations seem a bit jarring: They’re given by Vladmir Putin’s science advisor and Mr. Putin’s former chief economic advisor.

We have the complete disregard for synthesis – that is, real scientists don’t get together and celebrate their complete inability to create a cohesive picture of the data (from the NYT article

One challenge they faced was that even within their own ranks, the group — among them government and university scientists, antiregulatory campaigners and Congressional staff members — displayed a dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate.

This is a feature of cranks we discussed in our Unified Theory of the Crank almost a year ago. There is no interest in creating an explanatory theory or framework to incorporate the data into a useful picture, just a desire to crap on that which they don’t want to hear.

It explains the tendency of cranks not to care if other cranks (and denialists in general for that matter) have variations on their own crazy ideas, just as long as the other cranks are opposing the same perceived incorrect truth. Cranks and denialists aren’t honest brokers in a debate, they stand outside of it and just shovel horse manure into it to try to sow confusion and doubt about real science. They don’t care if some other crank or denialist comes along and challenges the prevailing theory by tossing cow manure, as long as what they’re shoveling stinks.

And consistent with the HOWTO their struggle comes with a built-in sense of persecution:

such events were designed to foster the impression of “little Davids battling the Goliath of the environmental establishment.”

It’s too bad the author of the article didn’t know that the standard comparison is to the fight between Galileo and the Catholic Church.

In perusing the various discussions of the conference I have to admit that this time Nisbet does have a point. I disagree with him that the crankfest will really amount to much, but I do agree with him that the real problem here isn’t scientific but personal. Global warming crankery, more than anything, isn’t a generalized dismissal of science but an extreme dislike for the people identified with the science. Consistently through these arguments you see this streak of defiance, that no one should be able to tell anyone else how to live. If they want to spend their free time disposing their used motor oil by pouring it onto a pile of burning tires, that’s their business, and Al Gore can go screw himself.

The main targets at the meeting were former Vice President Al Gore, who has portrayed global warming as a “planetary emergency,” and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…

That’s a much harder problem to face. I can’t make Al Gore more likable to the psycho libertarian wing of the country, and since he, for better or ill, is intimately attached to the science we might just have to call it a wash. After all, there is no actual knowledge of the science associated with such dismissals. The popular dissent over global warming doesn’t come from people pouring through scientific journals and thorough reading of material that’s challenging even for specialists in the field. It’s about personality.

The meeting was largely framed around science, but after the luncheon, when an organizer made an announcement asking all of the scientists in the large hall to move to the front for a group picture, 19 men did so.

Know what I mean? Global warming isn’t being rejected because the science isn’t sound. It’s critics don’t tend to be scientists, and the ones that are, well, let’s just say they could have fooled me. The issue is the effective framing of the scientists and supporters of global warming as snooty liberals who want to tell you what to do and the media who want to scare you (they do have a point there). What is surprising is that how ineffective environmental groups have been at fighting this impression.
Continue reading “The Heartland Institute Crankfest”

Things that suck about medical school

My least favorite thing? Being constantly ill. Of the eight weeks or so I’ve been back, I’ve been sick for about four of them. I managed to get by the first three or four weeks cold-free through neurotic hand-washing before the current cold circulating the hospital got a whack at me.

It was a pretty obnoxious cold and I still was just getting over it when I got hit by this second cold, a gift, I believe, from a friend working on a pediatrics rotation. This one actually floored me with a fever of over 101 and now I’m finally coming down below a hundred. And you know what the real pathetic thing is? I wish these things would hit me over the weekend so I don’t have to miss school.

Bad Charlottesville News

I’ve lived in Charlottesville Virginia now for about 8 years and one of the great things I love about it is the Corner community. I have a bar I like, there is a good music at the Satellite Ballroom where I plan on seeing They Might Be Giants this month. We’ve got lots of local businesses and restaurants where you feel like you’re experiencing something unique and your money goes to local people you know and like.

Then you hear crappy news like 4 local businesses are going to get shut down to put in a national chain store like a CVS and it’s like a punch in the gut. In this case, the Corner is losing Plan9 (our local record store), Higher Grounds (the non-Starbucks coffee joint), the Satellite Ballroom (the last remaining music venue on the corner), and Just Curry (the best meal you can get in under a minute not to mention the source of my favorite local ad).


This just breaks my heart. 4 local businesses gone, and probably a couple more after CVS drives out the local competition. I realize this is just capitalism at work. The landlord will surely enjoy a regular check from a national corporation rather than rely on 4 locals whose business may fluctuate with the economy. But still, just the complete absence of consideration of what this will do to the community, to these local business owners, and just for the culture of the Corner is so disappointing. After all, what do we get out of this move? Another convenience store to join the 3 others on the corner (which likely will also sink)? Another CVS to join the half-dozen others scattered about town? And what do we lose? We’re losing what I think is the best music venue in town in terms of cost, variety (everything from local to national bands), and location (the only one on the corner), a great independent music store with wifi access and coffee shop that’s fun to hang out in, and an awesome little restaurant. I wish the landowners involved would think a little more about what impact their decisions have on the community rather than just their individual self-interest as naive as that sounds.

Worse yet, since it is the Corner our local news magazines the C-Ville and the Hook will likely ignore it since they rarely pay attention to what happens in the Corner/student district. I hope they decide to slum it for a while, come down here, and start reporting on this disaster because once businesses like this leave, they’re gone forever. Otherwise one day I’ll return to Charlottesville and the culture that once made it so interesting will be gone. If we don’t stand up for our local businesses our little community will one day consist of nothing but Starbucks and Applebee’s. I’ve lived in towns like that before, it sucks, trust me.