Posts Tagged ‘science fail

01
Aug
13

Gay Sex is Still Illegal in Louisiana, or “Unconstitutional somehow doesn’t mean unenforceable in Baton Rouge.”

Louisiana Sodomy Sting: How Invalidated Sex Laws Still Lead to Arrests | TIME.com.

Apparently, a Supreme Court ruling isn’t even enough to keep law enforcement in Louisiana from harassing the LGBT community. It appears that the Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputies t has been conducting illegal strings against the gay community since at least 2011. The stings involved an undercover officer approaching men in a park, and getting them to agree to have sex in a private location. That’s it. Not men looking to have sex in public, with children, or even for money (this is not a judgement on my part, except for the sex with kids part. Just mentioning actual enforceable laws). No, they’re just looking for gay men willing to have entirely consensual, private sex for free, and arresting them for violating Louisiana’s “crimes against nature” laws. The trouble is, the Supreme Court very clearly struck down such laws in 2003 in  Lawrence v. Texas.

The Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office initially claimed that they had no idea that the laws were declared unconstitutional and were unenforceable and the their deputies acted on “good faith.” None of the 11 men who have been arrested in such stings since 2011 have been charged, of course. That hardly seems to matter; these men were still publicly outed, had their names and pictures published, had to endure the stress of arrest and detainment, and were forced to spend money on legal representation and bail. My research turns up no instances of straight people similarly targeted for this kind of treatment, even though the Louisiana anti-sodomy law covers both hetero- and homosexual acts. It seems a little crazy to think that someone would keep authorizing these stings (and their expense) if no conviction had ever resulted in if there were no ulterior motive. This appears to me to be either a very clear case of members of the Sheriff’s department specifically targeting the LGBT community for harassment and humiliation, or incompetence and mismanagement of a law enforcement office to an extent that someone should go to jail. Which side of this coin do you want to be, Baton Rouge? In either case, I would suspect that this sort of thing will end up costing the city severely in either a settlement or a lengthy and ugly civil suit.

Unfortunately, the ignorance (or just plain ignoring) of Lawrence v. Texas isn’t isolated to Baton Rouge. In Virginia, GOP Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Cuccinelli is fighting to keep anti-sodomy laws on the books and enforced. Cuccinelli is dredging up the long-since-debunked pseudoscience garbage connecting and equating queer people with pedophiles to built support for his effort. Not surprisingly, he’s also pretty well known for getting his ass handed to him during an climate-change-denying witchhunt. I guess jurisprudence and constitutional law aren’t requirements to be Attorney General in Virginia.

It’s hard to deny the long-standing culture of homophobia within police departments across the country, even if it often falls just under the radar (Amnesty International did a lovely piece of this a few years back). Cases like this certainly don’t do much to improve the already very tarnished image of law enforcement in the eyes of the LGBT community. With queer hate crimes remaining still all-too common, where are we supposed to turn to when even those charged with protecting us are complicit in our abuse?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it appears that, at the very least, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff, Ed Gautreaux, is at least putting forth an effort to make amends and effect change after these cases came to light a few days ago. While it certainly won’t undo the damage already inflicted on these men, but at the very least it might reduce the chance that such things will happen again in the future. Unfortunately, with anti-sodomy laws still on the books in many states, I fear we may see some copycatting of this behavior. The best solution, of course, is get these laws repealed officially. However, as controversial as all queer related topics remain politically, I don’t see this happening any time soon. Nonetheless, it remains of vital importance for us a community to know our rights, the laws that might affect us, and to vigorously defend ourselves and each other when these kinds of violations occur.

Advertisements
06
Jul
13

Some Horrible Science Journalism, or “You shouldn’t write about science and medicine if you don’t have a basic grasp for how science works.”

Autism May Start in The Gut, Study Finds – Autism Center – Everyday Health.

So basically, the above article is a pile of horseshit that completely perverts the study that was actually done. I’m absolutely disgusted and enraged reading it.

The basic finding of the ACTUAL research is that there a decrease in the diversity of intestinal flora in people on the autism spectrum, and the researchers believe that it may play a part in why autistics suffer from a lot gastrointestinal disturbances. What the article implies, however, is that somehow a change in intestinal flora is RESPONSIBLE and CAUSATIVE of the autism, and that perhaps by fixing this problem, we could cure autism. This is NEVER discussed by the researchers in their publication, and it doesn’t even make sense from a medical/science standpoint.

I have a lot anger and frustration at science journalism in the US, particularly when it comes to medical research. There is a constant tendency to over-read the research findings, draw false implications, and fail to understand the extremely basic premise that correlation does not equal causation. It’s a sensational form of journalism, and it’s wholly inappropriate for medical journalism. The public as a whole does not have the background to read the research itself, and when the data is sensationalized, you can create all kinds of public health scares and complications for the medical community.

But with autism, I think there’s an even bigger problem. Parents are often desperate for any explanation for why their children are autistic, and it’s already incredibly challenging to sift through the huge piles of information out there. Sadly, much of the information is misleading bordering on out-and-out falsified bullshit. Articles like this only add to that complication. And it really takes away from the fact that this IS a pretty major step forward. There are a number of unusual physical maladies that plague the ASD community, and GI problems are chief among them. If this research leads to a way to reduce just the GI problems that we have, that’s a wonderful thing and it will improve our lives. There’s no need to dig deep for false hope for some sort of miracle cure to come out of it.

When it come to science journalism, let’s stick to facts and appropriate conclusions and not twist the words of the researchers to fit the narrative you’re looking for.

04
Jul
13

The Geek World Has Lost a Great, or “The most important computer inventor you’ve never heard of has passed.”

Doug Engelbart, inventor of computer mouse, dies at 88 | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

Even if you’re a mega-nerd, you may not have ever heard of Doug Engelbart. He wasn’t a Silicon Valley billionaire like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, or Bill Gates. But his work is partially responsible for my ability to sit here and write this blog.

Engelbart’s most famous invention is the computer mouse, which he patented in 1979- nearly 15 years before it would become commercially available. It went on, of course, to become one of the most important input devices for computer technology for decades. He was also one of the earliest pioneers to consider the graphical user interface, and was an active researcher for the ARAPANET project that would later become the Internet as we know it.

Engelbart’s personal research philosophy was both simple and admirable. He desires to harness technology to solve complex problems and improve the lives of others. He spent most of his career working to improve the ways that people interact with machines. Because he was such a modest man, he spent much of his life in obscurity, despite his significant contributions to the world of modern computing. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that he began to receive recognition for his work, which include a Lemelson-MIT prize, the Turing Award, the National Medal of Technology, and Lovelace Medal.

Dr Engelbart was 88 when he passed. The geek world has lost one its humblest stars today.

01
Jun
13

A Rare Moment of Agreement with Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Sustren, or “The men at Fox News fail at science and get their assses handed to them.”

Megyn Kelly vs. Erick Erickson: Fox News host shreds pundit for views on dominant men and women..

http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/05/greta-van-susteren-calls-out-fox-news-colleagues-for-bashing-fem/

Here’s a situation that’s been making waves in the news for a couple of days now. And since the world “feminist” is right in the title of this blog, it’s probably about time I talk about it.

So the background is that the Pew Center released a report showing a marked increase in the number of female “breadwinners” in families with children; women are now the breadwinners in 40% of those households with kids (1). The oh-so-progressive programming folks over at Fox News decided that it would discuss the story in a panel format…a panel made up entirely of MEN. They then decided to pretty much deride the whole situation as bad for the country and for our children, and then went on to spout a lot of patriarchal, sexist bullshit that sounds a lot more at home around in a 1950’s office than on a 21st century news program. (1) Among my personal favorite highlights of this drivel is Lou Dobbs attempting to use “science” to defend his sexist views:

“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”

Now, as a scientist, this is like nails of a chalk board. I have to grit my teeth to not scream every time I hear or read the sentence. I had trouble even deciding where to START pulling apart this pile of verbal scat. Firstly, stating that males are typically dominant is just factually incorrect. In our two closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, females larges control the social structure on the individual groups or tribes. The entirety of lion society is controlled by females, particularly the social structure. This is even more pronounced in elephants, where males are generally forced to live well-apart from the complex social framework of elephant society. Female golden eagles are notably larger than their male counterparts, and have been more sought out for falconry for hundreds of years. Female spiders are often much larger males, and often eaten them during mating. The female anglerfish is many times larger than the male and physically absorbs his body at the time of copulation. But beyond being wrong about nature, Dobbs is making an incorrect connection. Humans are humans (I know, shocker, right?). We are not chimps, bonobos, or orangutans. Nor are we lions, elephants, or hamsters. And we are certainly not eagles, seahorses, spiders, or anglerfish. My point is…to compare anything about human behavior involving sex and gender to any other animals is absurd. It’s a false equivalency, plain and simple. Most trouble to me, however, is Dobbs’ re-entrenching of the idea that anything involving gender roles is some how natural or biological. Gender roles are a construct of the society in which we live in, that’s all. Over the many millenia of human existence, gender roles among human beings have been as varied as the cultures that have existed. Dobbs (and his compatriots who were quick to agree with his schlock) are clinging to the dying concept of men in control of society because they can’t handle the idea of their power and privilege bring eroded our evolving modern society. And it makes them look like sad, dated fools.

So much, in fact, that not one but TWO of their female colleagues on the network were appalled enough to publically deride the commentary. Megyn Kelly took the airwaves and dismantled Erick Erickson (another of the panelists), asking him “What makes you dominant and me submissive and who died and made you scientist in chief?. She continued her tirade against him on several other programs, ulimately leaving Erickson looking extraordinarily foolish, and trying like hell to walk back the statements. Greta Van Sustren was only slightly less outraged, and took to her twitter to account to say: “Have these men lost their minds?” While I OFTEN disagree with what both of these ladies spout off during their segments on Fox News, I have to applaud them for willingness to take their own people to task for this completely disgusting display of sexism. Thank you ladies, for taking these guys to task.

Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/05/greta-van-susteren-calls-out-fox-news-colleagues-for-bashing-fem/#sthash.3GvvW2z7.dpuf
Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/05/greta-van-susteren-calls-out-fox-news-colleagues-for-bashing-fem/#sthash.3GvvW2z7.dpuf
Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/05/greta-van-susteren-calls-out-fox-news-colleagues-for-bashing-fem/#sthash.3GvvW2z7.dpuf
Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother… maybe I need to have a little chat with them if it isn’t too late….) – See more at: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2013/05/greta-van-susteren-calls-out-fox-news-colleagues-for-bashing-fem/#sthash.3GvvW2z7.dpuf



A blog about nerdy things, feminist thoughts, and queer/trans life. It's full of rants, opinions, and personal stories. I don't claim to speak for absolutely anyone but myself. Read at your own risk.

Follow me on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,460 other followers

Follow Trans.Nerd.Feminist on WordPress.com