Skepchick Quickies 11.28

The first performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, took place in Leipzig on November 28, 1811. It’s not exactly science-related (unless you consider music theory), but it was his last piano concerto and it’s nice to listen to in the morning.


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. If you look at the breast cancer article, and drill down thru the external links you will see this pdf from the Western Australian government


    I would urge all skeptics to read that one. It contains an exemplary discussion of principles and guidelines applicable to all diagnostics testing, not only for breast cancer screening.

    It has WHO guidelines, diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, the effect of prevalence on predictive value, the whole 9 yards!

    1. I should also say, it was a mammogram in the very nick of time that saved my dear wife’s life!


      Sorry for my usual double post.

  2. I was disappointed by the “50 reasons to boycott the Catholic Church”. About half were variations on “pedophile priests,” and they left out some of the Church’s more pervasive but less sensational evils.

    They punish and preach punishment of anyone who has sex other than loveless sex for procreation. I have a good friend who was essentially forced by her parents and her family’s priest to marry her boyfriend at age 19 because they got the impression (from reading her diary!) that she had slept with him. No surprise that she converted to her boyfriend’s religion — Judaism — or that her husband eventually left her. And need I repeat the horror stories of Catholic-run homes for unwed mothers?

    BTW, the story of Savita Halappanavar (the woman who died of a miscarriage in Ireland) didn’t surprise me. It could happen here in the USA, if you go to a Catholic hospital. A surgeon friend of mine in New York City warned me 30 years ago that the medical care in the Catholic hospitals was not to be trusted when it came to anything to do with reproductive organs.

    (Note that some neo-conservative groups in the USA want to outlaw abortion even to save the mother’s life, so it may not be just Catholics.)

    They condemn divorce and counsel people to remain in bad marriages regardless of how bad or abusive the marriage is. FWIW, my divorce attorneys blamed the legal obstacles to divorce in New York State on the influence of the Catholic Church. (NYS finally instituted no-fault, but not until years after my divorce was final.) I know a number of divorced Catholic women who (in their view) stayed in loveless and oppressive marriages for years after they should have left because their priest kept telling them that this was God’s will. (And so did everyone else in their 100% Catholic community.)

    I am not (and never have been) a Catholic, but when I talk to lapsed and ex-Catholics, I hear one horror story after another of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of priests, monks, and nuns. When I lived in Brooklyn, I heard from homeless gay teenagers about the abuse they suffered in Catholic-run homes for homeless teens (Covenant House comes to mind), experiences which led them to decide they were better off living on the street.

    Then there’s the doctrine of Obedience, which says that if your conscience disagrees with what anybody above you in the hierachy (which, if you’re a mere parishioner, means anyone in the Church) says, you’re to ignore your conscience and obey. Shades of “I was only following orders”!

    Now, it’s not just the clerics and employees of Teh Church, of course, it’s a whole culture which pervades those communities that are mostly or entirely Catholic. But the Church (by which I mean the clerics and other members of the hierarchy) uses every trick in the book, fair or foul, to keep their sheep in line.

    To be honest, I’m not really an atheist. I don’t care if folks want to pray, in vernacular or Latin, or believe in Jesus, Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What I do care about is what people and groups of people do on this earth, and especially, how they treat people (and other creatures — one might even say “God’s creations.”)

    By this standard, the Catholic Church is no better than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. I am no more willing to support the Catholic Church for the occasional “good deed” it does than I am willing to support any of the various Communist parties (or tht Taliban), even though they’ve been known to do “good deeds.”

    1. I feel quite fortunate to have never sufferred from a clergy member when I was a catholic.
      There was my dad of course, but I consider that bad parenting (and he wasn’t ordained until a few years ago).

      It’s amazing of all the crap that’s been going on with the church that I never heard of. Of course, they’ll never really admit their faults, will they?

    2. It’s not the pedophile priests that are the issue. They at least have an excuse. It’s all of the other people in the church hierarchy that enable them and do a number of terrible things to cover up those crimes that are the issue.

      I do agree that their attitudes toward sex are a huge problem that have lots of major and minor negative effects on people’s lives. I agree that they certainly deserved mention on this list.

      I believe that history will probably lump those issues in with the church’s pedophile friendly activities. I suspect it’s not a coincidence that God really hates anatomically correct dolls and children knowing what the parts of their own body are called.

  3. Mary,

    I really hope Sanal Edamaruku doesn’t go to jail for debunking that “weeping Jesus” was just faulty plumbing, and I really hope they get rid of that stupid law in India.

    Glad you were able to link to the story after I sent it to you.

  4. That warehouse story… Shit, I’ve had some awful fucking jobs in my life but even the worst (dishwashing in a restaurant about 50+ hours per week) wasn’t as bad as that. At least I got good food and coffee for free, could listen to radio or cd’s while I worked and wasn’t constantly told I wasn’t working hard enough.
    I’ve got some books that I wanted to get on Amazon but I think I’ll try again to see if I can’t get a local bookshop to get them for me.

    1. I actually just bought a graphic novel today at a local comic shop despite the fact that I could have gotten it significantly cheaper at Amazon. Now, I still use Amazon services (mostly Kindle related), but beyond the fact that I don’t like their labor practices, my local shop took a big hit when Sandy hit because of lack of power and the disruption of deliveries. So, sometimes it’s nice to help out the local economy even if it doesn’t necessarily make monetary sense for yourself :)

    2. Yeah, I’m really sad about the Amaz– wait, Amalgamated warehouse story. Silly me, I had figured they would have used robots for manual labor like that. It makes me sick enough to not even want to shop there, despite what an inconvenience that is for me. Seriously, after Borders went under, there weren’t any more book stores where I live.

      Also, I have a friend who I know is temping for Amazon right now. I feel really really bad for him.

  5. I’m perpetually confused by the Catholic church. So they basically are ok with paedophilia, yet condemn homosexuality by equating it with paedophilia. Huh?

    1. It’s all about maintaining and increasing the power of the Church.

      I don’t think they approve of paedophilia, it’s just that they thought that letting anyone find out about it would damage their aura of holiness? infallibility?, and maintaining it was far more important than any damage done to their parishioners. They wanted to get back to business as usual as quickly and smoothly as possible, and taking effective action would not have done that.

      Their stand against homosexuality I see as part of their general stand against sex. By making something as inevitable as sex a sin, they make sure that their parishioners always see themselves in need of what the Church has to offer — absolution. Sort of the way company towns would keep their workers in permanent debt.

  6. ‘Progressive’ Fellow In ‘Men’s Rights Movement’ Has Inspirational Posters For Manly Men – NSFW. From CriticalDragon1177.

    Is this link broken, or is it my computer?

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