The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Archive for May 11th, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Women & Science

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 11, 2010

This post is going to be one of those stereotypical “I’ve got some good news and some bad news” kind of stories.  Since I can do nothing to avoid the cliche, I shall sally forth…

Good News! America’s favorite birth control method turns 50 🙂

A world without “the pill” is unimaginable to many young women who now use it to treat acne, skip periods, improve mood and, of course, prevent pregnancy. They might be surprised to learn that U.S. officials announcing approval of the world’s first oral contraceptive were uncomfortable. …

But on the flip side, there is also Bad NewsGroup Backs Ritual ‘Nick’ as Female Circumcision Option 😦

In a controversial change to a longstanding policy concerning the practice of female circumcision in some African and Asian cultures, the American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.

The academy’s committee on bioethics, in a policy statement last week, said some pediatricians had suggested that current federal law, which “makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl in the United States, has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation.

So let me get this straight… within a few days of celebrating the 50th anniversary of “The Pill”, probably one of the greatest inventions for sex education of women ever & a great triumph for medical science, the AAP is recommending that its pediatricians consider endorsing superstitious, misogynistic nonsense (female “circumcision” – read “genital mutilation”) as a way of somehow appealing to people who want to mutilate their daughters?  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Wow… sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

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Michael Specter: The Danger Of Science Denial

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 11, 2010

In a recent TED Talk Michael Specter, a science & technology journalist and author of “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives”, expresses quite eloquently the dangers of buying into various forms of nonsense such as anti-vaccination, opposition to genetically-modified foods while embracing “organic food”, and alt-med herbal woo

Hat tip to Phil at Skeptic Money 🙂

Posted in environmental hysteria, medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oppose Texas Theocratic Threats to Nationwide Education

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 11, 2010

I just wanted to pass along a very well-worded action alert from the folks over at the Secular Coalition for America

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Don’t Let a Few Theocrats Have a National Effect on Public School Curricula

A few theocratic members of the Texas State Board of Education—already infamous for their moves to indoctrinate Texas students with creationism in science classes—are falsely asserting a theocratic basis to America’s founding and removing, of all people, Thomas Jefferson from a list of influential thinkers. [Read more about this situation at the Texas Freedom Network’s website]

A handful of religious extremists can affect schools across America. Because other big states like California and New York do not impose statewide standards in the same way, Texas is one of the largest statewide textbook markets. Texas uses some of its $22 billion education fund to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually—which strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor products to fit Texas standards.

The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association have developed (and the Obama administration has embraced) common core educational standards, but they apply only to math and English language arts. As the New York Times recently noted, some basic, factual subjects, such as evolution may be deemed “controversial” in the 21st Century’s educational environment. If standards are to exist, federal financial incentives must apply with equal force to science and history just as they do for math and English. To do otherwise is to succumb to the pressure of religious extremists.

Let’s make sure our community’s voice is heard.

Write your Member of Congress now! Tell them that if they support national education standards and incentives for math and English, they should support standards that are just as strong for science and history, regardless of pressure from religious extremists.

Secular Americans believe that every student deserves to learn science and our nation’s history as they actually are, with no bias for or against any ideology or religion. Religious creation myths have no place in science classes, and religiously-based revisions and indoctrinations should be equally unwelcome in history classes. We should not be afraid to set standards because of religious extremists.

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Amen to that 🙂

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