This came to me from the Jo S Wun Irregular Verbal site and I thought it was worth passing along to everybody. A cleaned up version of the flow chart from the Gnu Atheism page. If you are wondering whether you should circumcise your male infant, this will give you the definitive answer:If you need to ask.
The Christian Science Monitor, that well respected paper with the oxymoronic name, has a quiz up to test your scientific literacy. Needless to say there has been much discussion about whether the quiz is valid, and whether it actually measures science literacy. I took the quiz. I’m embarrassed by my score, which came in at 38 out of 50, or 76%, a bare passing mark. But I also think this test doesn’t measure scientific literacy so much as it measures fact retention, science history knowledge, and stuff that is easy to find with a Google search so why bother remembering it. I could see a Nobel Prize winning physicist getting a mark about equivalent to mine. How much science trivia and arcana does one need to remember to be considered scientifically literate.
I think a much more valid measure of scientific literacy would be the degree to which one is willing to set aside empiricism in favour of woo, and one’s understanding of the scientific method.
Perhaps questions like: If ten thousand people say that homeopathic medicine helped their headache, does this prove that it is effective?
Or: If two scientists disagree on the interpretation of evidence for an aquatic phase in human evolution, does this mean that scientific understandings are just a matter of opinion.
Of course the best questions could not be multiple choice: Flies taste through their feet, and have a reflex that lowers the proboscis when they taste sugar. Design an experiment to determine the sensitivity of a fly’s sense of taste.
I’d welcome your questions that would indicate scientific literacy, beyond merely knowing the difference between meiosis and mitosis. There are already some good suggestions in the comments at Skepchick, and I’m not trying to hijack that thread. Take a look and then add your thoughts here if you have energy left over.
Most people think of coming of age as the moment when a person faces great danger or difficulty and triumphs, or the moment when one enters the world of sexual maturity and gets laid. I think of it as the moment when the critical faculties start to take over, and reality is recognized as such.
My coming of age came shortly after seeing the horror movie, “The House of Usher” for the first time. I had been truly terrified, hiding behind the seat in front of me, looking through splayed fingers, as the prematurely buried heroine was escaping from her coffin in the family crypt. I’ll never forget my reaction to those bloody fingers, finally visible between the coffin and its lid.
But walking home, on a beautiful summer evening, I got to thinking. That woman was alive. She’s been buried alive, the poor woman. I should have been on her side. I should have wanted to help her get out of that coffin. How was it that I was afraid she would get out of the coffin? She wasn’t dead.
A few days later I went to the movie again with different friends. This time it wasn’t scary at all. It was just sad. Why would the brother bury his own sister alive, knowing she was alive, knowing she would come to her senses in the confines of that coffin, in that moldy crypt? That was the horror. And it was nothing to fear. Unless you were the brother, of course.
Since then, whenever something frightens me, I try to think about the reality of the situation. Most of the time, reality is a lot easier to deal with than anything my mind can invent. Might as well accept it and be calm.
P.Z. Myers posted recently on Pharyngula that Female Genital Mutilation has medical benefits, according to some wing nut Egyptian doctor, and an equally enlightened Egyptian female gynecologist. The justifications are remarkably similar to what we’ve all heard for Infant Male Circumcision, and one poor sap decided to bring that to the attention of the thread. Now, the thing I’ve learned is that when a thread is about FGM, a man better not step in and say ANYTHING about male circumcision, not even if it pertains to the post. If he does, he’s going to be be slapped down with great gusto.
The comment: danielrudolphsays:
10 January 2012 at 6:09 pm
The first part is startlingly close to the justification for male circumcision.
Which is 100% true and too obvious to be worth more than that one line. But the reaction… wow. Over the top or what?
Aaaaaaaaaand in this corner, the 2nd idiot weighs in, with no visible reading comprehension and with a complete inability to discuss the topic at hand, because it deals with that most unimportant of subjects, womeeeeeeeen!
Can’t discuss women unless it is somehow tied into the ever more important subject matter of…men!
#################End of Comments from PZ thread##################
And then it all got worse. I did not join in. I have my own blog where I can state my opinions and few enough readers that I don’t generally have to argue with anybody. So here’s the point I’d like to make:
IT’S THE SAME THING
Got that? I’m against gender segregation. It is wrong to talk about male circumcision without referencing FGM. It’s just as wrong to talk about FGM and flame the poor guy who makes one short and to the point comment that references male circumcision. IT’S THE SAME THING. It’s about taking a knife to a helpless child for no good reason. Can we get over the fact that some of those children are boys and some are girls?
Yes, I’ve read the Waris Dirie Story. It blew my mind and infuriated me. She’s one of my heroes for coming out as a spokesperson for this issue. That took real courage. And yes, FGM is often far worse than anything done to a male penis. Also yes, FGM is about controlling and dominating women whereas male circumcision is rooted in anti-sexuality in general plus the hysterical medical fad to combat masturbation.
But, and you knew there had to be a but here someplace, FGM is often not nearly as bad as male circumcision. There’s as much ignorance about FGM as there is about Infant Male Circumcision. People who have only been exposed to the Waris Dirie story assume it is always like that, and it isn’t. The Waris Dirie experience is beyond horrible, and involves not just removal of the clitoris and labia but also restricting the vaginal entrance to a tiny hole, causing endless pain with menstruation and urination. It is a brutal attempt to desexualize a woman completely and the male equivalent would be removal of the whole penis. But for some Muslims cultures only the labia, all or part, is removed and that is virtually equivalent to male circumcision. For many other Muslims it’s a ceremonial “nick” on the clitoral hood, a pinprick. Some forms of that ceremony, known as Sunat, leave the woman virtually unchanged as an adult. Whatever the level of inflicted horror, most forms are perpetuated by women and accompanied by the same denial of loss we find with male circumcision victims. Of course it’s still wrong and stupid and, most of all, illegal in America.
My point is that FGM is the same thing as male circumcision in that it’s a violation of the bodily integrity of an infant or a young person without consent. It should be illegal in ALL forms, male or female.
Let’s cut the gender segregation here and stop flaming people who mention male circumcision on an FGM thread. Once again: IT’S THE SAME THING.
Ah, the dreaded limp noodle. Erectile dysfunction. It finally got me and left me…. limp.
Since my partner is also bisexual, and has had lovers who are women, I can console myself with the thought that she has been sexually satisfied with no penis involved at all. Somehow this is no comfort when my dick refuses to so much as twitch, when it demonstrates active disinterest, when it absolutely refuses to join in the celebration of our mutual lust, no matter what provocation is offered. And it isn’t that the lust is missing. I can be as horny as ever, as randy as a teenager on his first date. It doesn’t matter. It’s a physical failing.
This condition has hit in the past, but always in the past a little patience would overcome the problem. This time it was different. This time nothing worked. If I managed to get enough of an erection to make the penis an internal organ, it lost interest after a few strokes and I found myself trying to push on a rope. Fuck. Fuck indeed. Fucking frustrating.
There’s a movie about Ty Cobb, the baseball superstar. Always a right nasty human being, in his later life he’s in Vegas and has hired a very attractive prostitute, but his cock is not cooperating. In the movie he’s sitting on the edge of his bed berating his flaccid member. “She’s a beautiful woman. (almost in tears and completely disgusted) She’s a beautiful woman.”
That was my scene the other night. Perhaps part of the problem is the male habit of treating the cock as a separate individual, but that’s the way it behaves. A tiny little mind of its own. Little fucker.
Accordingly I decided it was time to face facts and track down some pharmaceutical intervention, which turned out to be easy. Viagra is a non-prescription drug in my current location. Actually, I couldn’t find Viagra but went with what I could get, which was Cialis and turns out is better – fewer side affects and headaches – according to a more experienced buddy of mine. I bought my four pills in a pharmacy with a wide variety of CAM (Complementary and Alternative “Medicine”, or as I prefer to call it, Big Placebo), and had to argue with the “doctor” in charge that I did not want Extract of Kangaroo. But that settled she directed me to the real goods.
The price for four little pills was a shock. I could hire professional help for less money, not that I’m interested in that and not that professional help would solve the problem.
In assessing the effectiveness of a potency drug, it’s very hard to ignore the psychological/placebo component. I got a pulge just buying the package. That didn’t deter me. I was pretty sure I would know if the pills have any actual value.
I had no idea how many of the pills to take, or how long they might last. Now that I’ve read up on the subject a bit, it turns out that I should have taken two pills and that would be good for a weekend. I took one, and that was enough. I guess the good news is that one pill worked. Not dramatically. I didn’t have to swallow quickly to avoid a stiff neck. But at least I could get enough of a stiffy to get off.
So is that it? I now need glasses to read. I now need a pill to fuck.
Aging is a drag, and all those jokes aren’t funny.
In the past I’ve had a rather superior attitude to men suffering from erectile dysfunction. Obviously they are just couch potatoes. A healthy diet and a bit of exercise and they wouldn’t have the problem. Well, no. I’m careful about my diet, and I get enough exercise. It turns out you can’t fight aging. Or maybe I haven’t fought hard enough. I shall renew my efforts. I’m not ready to give up my sex life and I don’t want to become dependent on a pill.
I don’t know who deserves the photo credit for this. It’s one of those pictures that floats around on the Internet with nobody getting credit for it. If it’s yours, please let me know and I will be happy to add what I can to your fame. It’s a great picture.
I thought about putting thought balloons on the people in this photograph, but that got too depressing. Also, it would detract from the mystery of the picture and trivialize the distance between the couples. What I find amazing is that the couple sitting apart from each other, with the woman wearing the burka, would want to live in the world they inhabit. Worse, that they would see the world of love and comfort as somehow evil and sinful. That is so very sad. I could say a lot more about this picture, but no doubt it brings up your own thoughts.