Skepchick Quickies 7.1


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Re: “Negative Energy” lawsuit.
    And people claim that pseudoscience is harmless….

    “Negative Energy?” What, is her fetus made of antimatter? I mean, WTF? Seriously?

  2. I couldn’t tell from the article, is the new organism an ediacarian? Both the scalloped edges & ‘swirl’ occur in some edicarians.

  3. The BBC headline made me laugh out loud. As for the “negative energy” lawsuit, I’m stepping away from it… both sides have good reason to lie in that situation.

    And the first article? That one has disturbing implications… and I’m wondering how long someone reverses the logic, and starts trying to prevent gay men by increasing the prenatal androgens.

  4. @Mark Hall: I think we’ve only seen the beginnings of medical and commercial efforts at tailor made and design tweaked human offspring. It is a brave new world after all.

  5. My friend works as a temp for the HearthStone homes cited in the “Negative Energy” lawsuit. She says they’re total scum. Imagine a “Mad-Men” style culture without the drinking and smoking, just the constant misogyny and several successful sexual harassment lawsuits.

    She’s already had to speak with the psychic mentioned in the article, here’s the psychic’s site: http://psychicnirup.com/

    HearthStone also makes the worst cookie-cutter exurban flophouses imaginable, they deserve all derision possible.

  6. @James Fox: @QuestionAuthority: I’m always concerned about these sorts of things. In theory, I support the advancement of medical knowledge… but I can see this going all sorts of crazy ways, culturally; I think we can look at the impact of cochlear implants on deaf culture for an image of how weird it can get.

    A straight couple who wants straight babies. Is it ethical to give the fetus medication to encourage/discourage prenatal androgens? What if a gay couple (either adopting men or carrying lesbians) want their children to be gay?

  7. @Mark Hall: I’ve never been able to understand the objection by some in the deaf community to getting cochlear implants for their deaf children; and that the preservation of some nebulous attachment to a community versus being able to hear is even a discussion is beyond me.

  8. @James Fox: Most in the deaf community don’t find being deaf to be bad. They find it to be a different way to live. For instance, ASL is a language. Being deaf to them isn’t about being broken.

    You won’t really get it because you aren’t deaf. But the deaf culture is very different from what you’re used to. They’ve had to be.

  9. @marilove: I understand there is a deaf culture, however to preserve someone’s standing in a culture by not allowing someone to remedy a disability, increase their personal safety and expand their opportunities in life seems cruel, small minded and/or pathologically phobic.

  10. @James Fox: One big question to me is what are the side effects? Playing with things like androgens and estrogens is a practical as well as ethical minefield, as you point out above.

    @marilove: I wonder if the “isolation” (for lack of a better term) of the deaf community from “hearing” society until recently has caused that cultural shift? Know knowing anyone in the deaf community, I have no idea what their culture is like.

  11. @James Fox: Many don’t see it as a disability that needs to be remedied, though. Most deaf people live happy, fulfilled lives — and being deaf can actually award you many opportunities. My deaf friend, for instance, will be getting his PhD at one of the most prominent deaf studies programs in the nation and he couldn’t be more ecstatic about it.

    It’s much, much more complicated than, “Well, suddenly, you can hear, and now you have many more opportunities!”

    @QuestionAuthority: That’s certainly part of it.

    You know, I found out something interesting recently: There is a higher number of LGBT folks within the deaf community than there are in other communities. Many say it’s because of the language barrier.

    Anyway, much like many gay people think it’s wrong to “fix” them for being gay, many deaf people feel the same way. They don’t think they are broken.

    Personally, I think it should be a personal choice, and parents should NOT force their children to have implants.

    If they are born deaf, they should be welcomed into the deaf community, learn ASL, and how to lip read if they can, and also be involved in the hearing community. Then when they are old enough, they can decide if they want an implant or not.

    Also, the implant isn’t perfect and it does have some risks.

    I know someone who rejected his implant TWICE. It wasn’t exactly fun.

  12. Oh! And if anyone is ever curious, many local community colleges offer Deaf Studies classes, usually just one credit. They are fascinating and I highly recommend them. It might help to give you some insight.

    But, really, unless you’re deaf, you can’t really understand. Even I have problems understanding sometimes, and I have many deaf friends.

  13. @James Fox:

    There is a drug that can make people function normally on less sleep, increase concentration, and doesn’t seem to build up a “sleep deficit”. Clearly this would be beneficial for most people. Disregarding the possibility of side effects, should everyone take this drug?

    This treatment may actually be more beneficial than having the ability to hear. But since it’s not common, very few people would advocate it as a treatment for people who lack the ability to function normally on little sleep. Most people are just fine living without that extra ability. Some deaf people feel like their life is complete without that one ability, and that doesn’t change simply because most people have that ability. It’s not really just about some sense of community; it’s about not feeling the need to be “normal”.

  14. @catgirl: You got it!

    Especially now, in 2010. Technology has been HUGE for the deaf community.

    Also, what is that drug? I WANT IT! I am horrible at sleeping, but if I don’t get enough sleep (which is often), I feel like shit.

    So, uh, I WANT SOME.

  15. @catgirl: Honestly I see this as an apple vs orange debate with regard to hearing, chemical enhancement/alteration, or “gender assignment” surgeries on infants. Any notion that being deaf is its own normal, as opposed to being able to hear because of one’s ability to compensate for an absence of specific functioning or enjoy the benefits of being in a community, is making truth by definition in a similar manner that post modernists are willing to do. Being able to successfully compensate for being deaf is just that, successful compensation.

  16. @marilove:

    The drug is called Modafinil but I think you’d have a hard time finding a doctor prescribe it. I’ve heard about people selling it illegally online, but I wouldn’t recommend that.

    @James Fox:

    Some deaf people don’t want to gain a particular ability for the same reason that you don’t want to gain a different ability. The only difference is that they skill they lack is far more common or “normal” than the one you lack.

  17. @James Fox:

    Any notion that being gay is its own normal, as opposed to being straight because of one’s ability to enjoy the benefits of being in a community, is making truth by definition in a similar manner that post modernists are willing to do.

  18. To drag this back around to the topic, though, where do the ethics of medical intervention stand on this? Assuming, for a moment, that it is a “cure” for homosexuality (that can equally be used as a “cause” for it), is it medically ethical to use it for that purpose, and not for correcting problems associated with CAH? If a woman is carrying an otherwise healthy fetus, is it ethical to use these treatments to enforce its parent’s choice for its sexual orientation on it?

  19. @Mark Hall: I think it’s highly unethical to “treat” homosexuality. Homosexuality isn’t “abnormal” or “wrong” or a “disease”.

    But many people *do* think of homosexuality as a disease that needs to be fixed.

  20. @Non Believer:

    I know someone who is prescribed Provigil and he’s given me a few before. It’s okay. Seems to effect me less adversely than caffeine, though.

    Edit: Oh, shoot! Hahahaha! It’s the same thing! Thank you, Google! I didn’t realize it was the same thing. Lolz.

    So, I actually have about 4, and can get more, but that’s because my friend has a form of narcolepsy and realllllly great health insurance and is overflowing with them.

    It’s okay. It doesn’t seem to keep me from sleeping, unlike caffeine, which is nice. But it does sometimes upset my stomach, but so does everything else.

  21. @marilove:

    I’ve taken it for “idiopathic excessive daytime sleepiness”, when I had hypothyroidism that just took a long time to show up on blood tests for some reason. I still haven’t figured it out, but at least I have to correct diagnosis and treatment now.

    I think that it’s most commonly prescribed for narcolepsy.

  22. As far as cochlear implants are concerned, aren’t they the most useful if they’re implanted *very early*?? I mean, from what I’ve heard, if you put in the implant after someone has grown up, and actually decided, “I want an implant”, their brain has already pretty much stopped making the pathways that would be useful for *using* the implant.

    I could be wrong in my understanding, obviously. But, if I’m right, then delaying the implant is essentially the same as saying, “No implant for you – and this little circle of people over here is going to *stay* your circle of people, unless you go to a massive amount of trouble.”

    Beyond that, I believe I’ve also heard about a *lot* of resistance in the deaf education community to the notion of emphasizing the teaching of regular English, parallel with ASL communication. So, you end up with these deaf students who can communicate internally using ASL, but who’s writing skills are significantly below grade level. It’s a really strange situation – you’d think that the deaf community would actually tend to write *more fluently* than the rest of us, since they don’t really have the spoken word option.

  23. @James Fox: You and I don’t think so, but many, many people do. Otherwise, why would there be so many pushing for a “cure”? Or claiming it can be cured? And why would we be having this discussion of, “If you could prevent your son/daughter from being gay…” at all?

  24. @sowellfan:

    “No implant for you – and this little circle of people over here is going to *stay* your circle of people, unless you go to a massive amount of trouble.”

    Actually, because of technology, it’s not a massive amount of trouble any longer. I was actually just signing up for ASL classes (I’m going to become an interpreter), and my counselor said that more and more hearing people have deaf friends, and are already well aware of and have already plenty of experience in the “deaf culture”. In fact, the Deaf Culture class for the interpreter program is now an elective, instead of a required class, because of that reason. (I’m still taking it, because it’s useful.)

    Technology has changed the way deaf people live and interact with others, in drastic ways.

  25. The deaf community is worthy of the respect any other minority community is, and like any other, it is also equally susceptible to self-indulgent, irrational idiocy. Such as this. To actively deny your child the incredibly rich world of human aural sensation merely out of some narcissistic desire to make them more like yourself, is repugnant. If science, through some incredible feat of technological refinement can restore that sense to your child -and it CAN-, you GIVE IT TO THEM. I dare you to watch that video and attempt not to cry.

  26. I watched the video and didn’t cry. What do I win? ;) I would have gushed if it was a puppy or kitten, but baby humans….not so much.

    I’m in Marilove and catgirl’s camp on this one. I saw a documentary about cochlear implants–called Sound and Fury or something like that. It was fascinating.

    Another issue regarding these types of technological advances, in the US at least, is who’s going to pay for it? Not all families have good, or any, health insurance. Actually, that’s kind of the case with any mandated treatment.

  27. @Magnus H.: It’s a lot more nuanced than “Well, I want them to be like me!!!”

    And I watched it, and didn’t cry. I don’t think being able to hear is the most amazing thing in the world. I have far too many deaf friends who are amazing and who don’t wish to hear even if they were given the choice for me to think that.

    To actively deny your child the incredibly rich world of human aural sensation

    This is highly subjective and based on the fact that you can hear. Your basing your opinions on your experiences.

    And, yep. Not everyone can afford it. AND, it’s not risk-free. No surgery/implant is.

  28. Well you guys win this Margaret Thatcher shaped, Cold, Heartless Reptilian Of The Month award. Here, I’ve fashioned it from sharp-edged, 1″ thick stainless steel and dipped it in liquid nitrogen for you!

  29. No one’s arguing it’s the end-all be-all of anything, but the fundamental, intrinsic value of sensory information to a developing human brain’s experience of perception, is undeniable and not at all subjective. Hubel and Wiesel showed definitively in the early ’60s that sensory deprivation in the developing brain has irreversible, detrimental consequences. I see no way to escape the fact that volitionally denying a child one of it’s senses is morally wrong.

  30. lot’s more respect for fucked up sociopathic behavior than I would expect here. I don’t care how many deaf friends you have, and I respect the deaf community, but purposefully removing one of your child’s senses is goddamn child abuse and it’s fucked up.

  31. keep in mind that the same people probably would argue vehemently against genital mutilation, and sexual sensation is not the “be all end all of experiencing life” either. In fact I’d go out on a limb and say that I’ve had as much pleasure from music as I have from sex in my life. Mutilating your kids to make them “like you” is sick and wrong in all instances

  32. @lkregula: mhm, yeah, don’t let the fact that they’re usually paid for by Medicaid and most private insurers get in the way of clinging to your precious cynical worldview.

  33. @mikerattlesnake: “purposefully removing one of your child’s sense” …. erm.

    No one is talking about that.

    No one is advocating making people deaf.

    For the record, my deaf friend was married to a deaf woman and they had a hearing child. He’s three. He can still hear. They aren’t changing that.

    Had their child been born deaf, they likely wouldn’t have opted for the implant, even if it was an option. (Considering their recent lack of employment and health insurance, well, it’s all moot anyway.)

  34. @marilove:

    No one is advocating making people deaf.

    That is exactly what “John and Karen” wanted to do in the Nature article Magnus H. cited. Another couple succeeded by specifically selecting a sperm donor with a certain form of genetic deafness.

  35. @pciszek: LOL, I thought he was linking a different article, but I couldn’t view it on the computer I was on at the time. I think we had our wires crossed!


    THAT is what I thought he was referring to.

    Assumptions: They make an ass out of you and me.

    Anyway, no, I don’t advocate making a child deaf. I don’t think that’s a common way of thinking in the deaf community, either. I think that’s pretty extreme.

  36. @James Fox: There’s a difference between making a child deaf, and not wanting to change a child that is already deaf. Huge difference.

    Once again: Implants are medical procedures that are neither free or free from side-effects, not to mention the social implications.

  37. @marilove: “… I have far too many deaf friends who are amazing and who don’t wish to hear even if they were given the choice for me to think that. …”

    That, and much of what you say on this topic is an interesting position. Let me re-frame the entire thing. What if we were talking about sight instead of hearing? What about just talking about color blindness? What if there was an implant, covered by health care, that would allow color blind children, (any type of color blindness, or if we go with the blindness question lets presume for a moment that we have implants that can restore sight), to be able to see the same range of color that the rest of us see?

    Sure, those adults who had grown up without color, (or sight… depending on which of my analogies your going with), would probably say, “Well, I don’t see any point in this. I live a full life and don’t feel I’m missing out on anything. Why would I want to be able to see colors just because some other people can?” (Admittedly this is less likely with full blindness but I have met such people).

    Would that make it ok for such adults to then deny that treatment to their children? How about actively breeding to insure that their children were also color blind, (or blind)?

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