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Comment Re:Cue the following: (Score 3, Informative) 1306

No he has a nuanced understanding of the term fact and theory. Stephen Jay Gould wrote an amazing piece on this in Discover in the early 90s. To quickly summarize: Creationist idiots use the vernacular meaning of theory (untested hypothesis or imperfect fact). However science has a different definition of theory which means a hypothesis that has been tested to a sufficient extent and proven to be an excellent model such that it should be called a Theory (big T) on par with Relativity for example.

So SJG suggested we use the term scientific fact to keep the creotards from using a semantics argument to suggest that even scientists don't believe that evolution by natural selection occurs or explains life on our world. He proposed a definition of a scientific fact as: "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent."

And in that regard Evolution is a fact (and a Theory with a big T.)

Comment Re:Evidence-based medicine (Score 1) 1064

The doctor examined her and explained when and why they might want to do a CT scan, but suggested that she should be fine without one. It sounded like many parents didn't want to hear no from him. Anyhow, we didn't get a CT scan because the benefits didn't outweigh the risks and the next day she was fine.

You are absolutely right. It always amazes me how many parents are completely unrealistic about risk with their kids. I can explain till I am blue in the face that given their child doesn't have symptoms/signs X, Y, and Z the chance of a clinically significant injury is minuscule, while a CT head in a kid under 15 will result in 1 extra cancer case in 1500 kids, so the benefits clearly don't outweigh the risks. 80% of parents will react like you do but there is a strong minority who will demand an unnecessary study. These are often the same folks who don't vaccinate their kids because they read on the internet that Jenny McCarthy thinks that vaccines cause autism. Because you know, a C-list actress is way more authoritative on these issues than your kids pediatrician and the large body of evidence in the medical literature that shows no link between autism and vaccines.

I would laugh and say this is proof natural selection is still operative in our society, but its just really sad that kids have to suffer because of the ignorance of their parents.

Comment Re:Evidence-based medicine (Score 4, Interesting) 1064

US emergency medicine guidelines, for example, are extremely aggressive and notorious for over investigating. The priority is protecting practitioners from litigation rather than appropriately treating the patient.

Actually one of the big reasons that EM diagnostic evaluation is more aggressive than usual is that (shock) patients actually do have a hint of what is important. That is, if you take a random person who goes to his family doc with chest pain versus one who goes to the ER the former is less likely to have significant coronary artery disease. So its not surprising that if you compare ER with primary care, it is good medicine to be more aggressive with diagnostic evaluations in the ER.

That said, hell yeah as an ER doctor I sometimes practice defensive medicine. If you place me in an environment where people can effectively sue me for what I might make full time in 20 years for a bad outcome that happens despite me practicing medicine that meets the standard of care in my practice environment I sure as hell am going to practice defensive medicine. The fact that I don't always do aggressive diagnostics in every patient is either me being a Pollyanna or perhaps taking my patient's best interests at heart. I'm willing to put my neck on the line somewhat to avoid a CT in a toddler who just has overprotective parents, but your fat, diabetic, smoking, sedentary, litigious ass is just not cute enough to get the my sympathy.

Comment Re:Old news is old (Score 2, Insightful) 485

For several reasons:

1. Money spent on cyber-crap takes away from irl-crap purchased in NY state. Who would pay $107 for your books at a brick and mortar bookstore when you can get them for $100 for them (with free shipping) on
2. Poor people don't have the wherewithal to purchase things on the internet. So taxing goods purchased irl while not taxing cyperspace transactions becomes a very regressive tax.

Comment Re:Variation (Score 1) 534

Correct me if I'm wrong


Some forms of hormonal contraception can cause amenorrhea (no bleeding) in many women. In particular if birth control pills are taken continually (i.e. skipping the placebo) this also causes amenorrhea. Women and gynecologists have known this for a while and used it to ensure no bleeding on vacation or to treat heavy or painful menstruation by skipping the placebos and starting the next pack. Currently there are a couple of oral contraceptives (Seasonale and Seasonique) that take advantage of this and only give the placebo pills that cause menstruation every 3 months.

The recommendation is that you have menstruation 4 times annually (or more if you like), but this would give female astronauts ample time to plan their menses at a time when they are not in low gravity environments.

Comment Re:Ethics and cloning (Score 1) 229

For what reason do we not allow experimenting on humans while we allow it on other animals?

We do allow human experimentation. Both human and animal experimentation are regulated based on certain ethical principles. However the rules are different with regard to what one may do in each type of research. The fundamental difference though is the concept of consent. Humans (or their surrogates) must give consent to being subject to experimentation while animals do not. I think the biggest question would be whether H. neanderthalensis would be intelligent enough to consent to such experimentation. Given what we know about then I think the answer would likely be yes and thus experimentation on H. neanderthalensis would be governed by the same legal and ethical principles as biomedical research on H. sapiens

Given that I also believe the same ethical principles that prevent us from cloning H. sapiens should keep us from cloning H. neanderthalensis.

Comment Re:Ethics and cloning (Score 1) 229

What would you do? Keep them in a lab? How would you justify that?

Public safety.

Because humans never kill, maim, or torture other humans. We'd um.... you know.... legitimately worry that H. neanderthalensis would... um, definitely be, um, more dangerous than H. sapiens.


No. Really. I'm serious.

Comment Re:One way to get more registered voters (Score 1) 1088

And most Unix nerds also prefer DIY when it comes to their laptops. However should they develop appendicitis, most would want a little help from a surgeon (even if they themselves were a surgeon).

The reasons you choose an OS seem like they would be a teensy bit different than the reasons you'd choose a system of government.

Comment Re:Great way to get LESS registered voters (Score 4, Insightful) 1088

Yes. Rural areas should not be held hostage by urban ones just because they happen to have more votes. This is the entire point of the US Senate and Electoral College.

So by your reasoning if there was a national (winner-take-all) vote for president, people who live in rural areas should have 1.5 votes (or some number >1.0). Your reasoning seems to be that they are a minority so they should have disproportionate power since they are otherwise vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority. If that is the case, why just use being rural as a minority status worthy of having ones vote count more than others? How about we also give 1.5 votes to the disabled? African Americans? LGBT people? Left-handed people? People with type AB-negative blood? Gingers?

Comment Re:One way to get more registered voters (Score 1) 1088

So if you were from Iowa and Iowa's popular vote was different from the national popular vote, your vote counts even less. How would this make someone from Iowa, or any state adopting this, feel like their vote counts more?

It would only make their vote count less if you think that every American's vote counts equally now. But that isn't the case. My vote as a California voter holds less weight than the vote from a resident of Delaware or Iowa. This measure would make the Iowa or Delaware votes equal to mine.

So the question is really would you prefer that every American have the same say in electing the president or should some get more say. If you feel the former is true, support electoral college reform. If you agree with the later support the status quo.


Submission + - FDA testing artificial liver (

NIckGorton writes: "Research is now underway in the US to seek FDA approval for an artificial liver. The Extracorporeal Liver Assist Device (ELAD) filters blood through a cartridge containing immortalized human liver cells with fiber tubes running through that allow the patients blood to interact with them. This allows the matrix of liver cells to perform both the metabolic (cleansing the blood of toxins/waste) and synthetic (producing albumin, clotting factors, etc) functions of the patient's failing liver. A small trial in China showed a statistically and clinically significant difference in 30 day survival with ELAD.

This sounds like where renal dialysis was in the 70s: really expensive and dangerous and you will probably die anyway. However in patients with acute liver failure (ex: toxin exposure), ELAD might give them enough time to regenerate their liver and obviate the need for a transplant. At a minimum it may help transplant recipients survive longer and be healthier when they undergo surgery.

On a related note, if you haven't talked with your family about your wishes regarding organ transplantation yet, please do so! Just checking that box on your DL isn't enough, because your next of kin is the final decision-maker."

Comment Re:Do it for the money = be a crappy doctor (Score 1) 203

Honestly, I love my fucking job, and would still do it, even if I won the lottery. Just would work less than 50 hours a week, instead of 80.

Exactly. I would soooo be a hobbydoc if I won the lottery. I would still do 10-15 hours a week at the ER because its fun (for the most part), but I would open a private general practice out of my house. I would see people who don't otherwise have access to care and see them the way I want to: 60 minute visits over a cup of tea, maybe even sitting in the garden if its a nice day. And I would even make a house call when its really needed. I wouldn't take money or insurance (in fact I wouldn't see insured people unless we get universal access and everyone is insured). Though I would take a pie or some fried chicken, or a bird feeder, or a nice plant for my garden.

I may just jizz in my pants thinking about that.

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