Archive for: March, 2007

Egnor and natural selection

Mar 16 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

Neurosurgeon and recent addition to the Discovery Institute's Media Complaints Division blog Dr. Michael Egnor is at it again. He's responded to Burt's latest response to his prior response to Burt's earlier response to his - you get the drift. Burt's been doing a great job of responding to Egnor, and I don't want to step on his toes, but Egnor says a couple of things this time that I think would benefit from the perspective of someone who is studying evolutionary biology.

First, though, I'd like to address this delightful bit of less-than-honest rhetoric:

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12 responses so far

The pedophilia thing again

Mar 15 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

After a great deal of thought, I decided that a large part of the discussion that had taken place in the comments thread of my post on pedophiles and the First Amendment had gone well beyond what I am personally comfortable with having on my blog. I closed the comments section of that post and removed several of the comments.

The comments thread of this post is available to those who want to scold me for shutting down and restricting comments on an article that was about First Amendment rights.

7 responses so far

Science and spirituality

Mar 15 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

New Scienceblogger Rob Knop has written a couple of posts explaining his own religious views and raising one of those questions that usually manages to get people worked up here: are science and spirituality compatible? That's a question that I've found myself thinking about more than usual lately, and with mixed feelings. I'm still not sure exactly where I stand on the whole religion thing, and I don't think I could describe my own views even at gunpoint. But I am comfortable saying this much: for at least some definitions of "spirituality," science and spirituality are compatible.

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23 responses so far

Military Deployments and Physical and Mental Health - Take 2

Mar 14 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

When I put up my post the other day responding to a Salon article accusing Army doctors of inappropriately changing physical profiles to deploy more people, there were some things that I didn't make clear enough. I did not address mental health at all, and my discussion of the physical standards was very limited - I addressed only the accusations involving doctors altering profiles to make soldiers fit the standard for deployment. I did not address the questions about whether the physical standards for deployment have been lowered. Both of these issues have come up since then - the question of changes to physical standards was raised in the comments to the first post, and Dave Munger has an article up at Cognitive Daily looking at the mental health issues.

I think that there's little doubt that the physical health standards for deployment have been lowered - and lowered considerably - since the start of the Iraq war. I'm not sure if the mental health standards have been lowered as well, or if there simply wasn't much in the way of detailed mental health standards to begin with. The changes are the result of the stresses to the military caused by the continued high deployment rate.

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3 responses so far

Pedophiles and the First Amendment: thoughts on a disgusting situation

Mar 13 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

Warning:

This post contains commentary on an issue raised at another of the blogs on this network. The topic material involves pedophiles and first amendment rights, and is not suitable for all audiences. I know for a fact that it makes me feel pretty damn uncomfortable.

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36 responses so far

Basic Concepts: Allele

Mar 13 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

One of the perennial favorite targets of anti-evolutionists is the field of molecular systematics. Molecular systematics, for those of you who are not familiar with the term, refers to the practice of using biological molecules - things like proteins, DNA, and RNA - to study the evolutionary history of groups of organisms. Molecular systematics is yet another one of those areas of evolutionary biology that is easy to misrepresent, and hard to understand. I'm going to (slowly) try to get posts up explaining the field in basic terms, starting with the basic vocabulary. This post is the first of the series, and will cover one of the most basic terms used in both molecular systematics and population genetics: allele.

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2 responses so far

Is the Army deploying medically unfit troops?

Mar 12 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

As I mentioned earlier, both Mike the Mad Biologist and Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas have commented on a recent Salon article that features accusations that medically unfit troops are being deployed. The situation, if true, is unacceptable. However, judging from my wife's experiences as a brigade surgeon prior to deployment, the situation is likely to be a bit more complex than the article would make it appear.

Before I get into the specifics of the article, it might be good to start off with some basic facts about the operational medicine side of health care in the Army. For most people, knowledge of Army medical care probably begins and ends with two things: M*A*S*H* and the recent problems at Walter Reed. Both the old sitcom and the new example of how troops are really supported share one thing in common: they focus on the health care given to the wounded. Operational medicine focuses on something else - the health of (non-wounded) troops prior to, during, and after a deployment.

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7 responses so far

Karpinski, Salon, Lies, and Pitiful Fact Checking.

Mar 12 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

There are a couple of posts up here at Scienceblogs about the situation in Iraq. Both Mike the Mad Biologist and Josh Rosenau discuss a recent Salon article that features soldiers who claim that they are being sent back to Iraq despite being medically unfit for duty. Josh also discusses another Salon article that discusses women in the military. Both articles touch on things that I pay attention to. My wife is currently a deployed battalion surgeon, and spent most of the year before deployment in the brigade surgeon job for her unit.

I'll comment on the deployment health article in a separate post. Right now, I'm just going to say a few things about the massive lack of skill demonstrated by Helen Benedict and her editors when they fact checked (or, more likely, didn't fact check) the women's health article.

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4 responses so far

An Overdue Retirement

Mar 12 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

According to AP reports, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley has announced his resignation as Surgeon General and his retirement from the military. Kiley joins Army Secretary Francis Harvey and Walter Reed commander Maj. Gen. George Weightman in the growing pool of individuals who have lost their jobs as a direct result of the Walter Reed crisis. Until a permanent replacement is named, his job will be filled by his deputy, Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock.

Kiley's retirement is certainly overdue. His performance as commander of Walter Reed from 2002-2004 has been called into question as investigations of conditions there have continued. His move to fire Weightman and name himself as interim commander was widely seen as an exercise in self-protection. That impression was only enhanced by his testimony before various congressional committees over the last couple of weeks. In his testimony, he appeared to be extremely reluctant to personally accept responsibility ("I don't do barracks inspections at Walter Reed"), and extremely willing to publicly blame others ("failure of junior leadership").

Based on what I've heard around base, Kiley had definitely managed to annoy not only his superiors but also his subordinates. (The phrase "fired the wrong general" has come up more than once in conversations around the hospital.) Fixing the problems with the delivery of medical care to wounded soldiers was clearly going to require skilled leadership. Removing Kiley should make that possible.

2 responses so far

Weekend Words of Advice:

Mar 10 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

If making pina coladas, first make extra certain that you have fully cleaned out all traces of the salsa you made yesterday from the blender.

5 responses so far

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