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Skepchick Quickies 4.13

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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24 Comments

  1. That breast feeding article is indicative of a larger problem in medical literature. This may be a function of my having more time to read journals lately, but it seems to me that lately I’ve noticed more “scientific” medical publications are strongly biased- and manipulate statistics to create a point. I wonder if this is a new phenomenon. It seems especially prevalent when dealing with subject matters that some professionals treat as dogma- like breastfeeding. I could go on forever about groups like Le Leche, but suffice to say they have a clear agenda that they follow regardless of what the science says.

    I don’t understand why the peer review process isn’t keeping this tripe out of reputable journals.

  2. The pope isn’t going to be offended by a penis statue. They’re afraid of him getting aroused by it. Who knows what an infallible scion of God on Earth would do in a big Pon-Farr horn-dog rage brought on by seeing statue sausage? It’d be the Tenth Plague of the Egyptians all over again, and we all know how that one turned out. There’d be a boner-tornado made of priests ravaging Malta before you could say Ave Maria!

    I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.

  3. @DisplacedNortherner:
    I don’t understand why the peer review process isn’t keeping this tripe out of reputable journals.

    I have been told by people who review for journals that there are some serious flaws in the peer-review process. First, it is unpaid, sort of your civic duty as a scientist or doctor. But someone respected enough to be asked to review has lots of other responsibilities, including their own research. Second, if you do a very thorough job of reviewing, the journals love you and ask you to do it again and again until you are driven into the ground. Finally, a statistician (or one qualified in that area of science) isn’t always consulted. Most of us are not that great at advanced stats, but this is essential for drawing conclusions from research.

    That is all with the caveat that this is second-hand info, but if true, we need to re-evaluate the system. Unfortunately, it’s the best we’ve got at the moment.

  4. Now obviously first order of business when anyone posts an article about the pope and penises should be to instantly go for some cheap and smutty innuendo but I like to think I’m bigger than that.

    Anyway to move on from the nob gags, and believe me nobody finds that harder than I, can I just say how Friggin awesome is science. I know, I know preaching to the converted but honestly scientists are printing skin for burn victims, how insanely cool is that. I’m a pretty consistent visitor to TED.com so my mind gets blown on a regular basis (this week has already had a number of awesome lectures), and yet stories continue to come in that just make me marvel at the awesomeness that is humanity.

  5. @Glow-Orb: I actually don’t know whether this is true for most journals, but I know that for some journals specific reviewers can be requested/recommended. So in this case, if the authors picked prominent pro-breastfeeding reviewers it would increase the likelihood that it would be accepted with minimal revisions. So, yes, the process is flawed- I definitely agree with you.

  6. I understand the pope’s handlers’ reservations about letting the pope see that statue. It’s too big, and the pope might feel inadequate in the old ‘pope’ department. Every time the pope feels inadequate he compensates for it with a bigger hat. He is a old man, and has reached his hat size limit. Any larger of a hat, and the poor, well not poor, but insanely rich, man’s neck will snap like a dry withered branch. He is infallible, but he breaks easily.

  7. Agree with the comments about the peer-review process based on my experience from both sides. My biggest issue with the breastfeeding paper is that it did not include any sort of confidence intervals on their estimates. I went to the AHRQ report on which they based their analyses and those odds ratios had various levels of precision. It would have been much more responsible of them to have incorporated the uncertainty in their analyses. Resulting in a conclusion (aside from other limitations in the study) that the number of preventable deaths could range from, for example, -30 to +2, 432 (made up numbers on my part).

  8. I hope nobody informs the Maltese leadership that a similar fallic object hangs between the legs of near half of their population!! Granted, with a large number of priests in the region the civilian population would be well served to be gelded, but there’s probably a down-side we’re not seeing.

  9. My town did something even dumber than hiding a penis statue from the pope. I’m from Pueblo, Colorado. Our sister city, Puebla, Mexico, gave us a statue of the goddess Artemis shooting an arrow. A naked statue. Of course, this caused a huge, years-long debate in the town, and the statue sat hidden in a warehouse for all that time. A few years ago, they finally put the damn thing up downtown. When Joe Biden visited during the campaign, he gave his speech in front of the building where that statue is displayed.

    Our town covered the statue up with cloth for his speech. They dressed it up like a sorority girl going to a lame toga party. The thing is, she’s not even anatomically correct in any way. She’s smooth, like a Barbie doll. She has no nipples.

    What’s dumber than hiding a giant penis sculpture from the pope? Hiding a giant bronze naked Barbie doll from a vice presidential candidate.

    http://www.the-two-malcontents.com/2008/10/statue-of-goddess-kept-under-wraps-at-joe-biden-rally-in-pueblo/

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