Study challenges LGBT assumptions 

Public opinion, government policy, and Supreme Court rulings about LGBT issues has been predicated on the notion that same-sex attraction and having a gender identity different from one’s biological sex are innate, fixed conditions.  In the words of the Lady Gaga song, “I was born this way.”

But a Johns Hopkins study has found otherwise.
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Doctors push back against assisted suicide

Vermont has a law allowing for physician-assisted suicide.  State agencies are interpreting the law so as to require doctors to tell their patients about this option.  Also, doctors who don’t want to kill their patients must refer them to another doctor who will.

A number of Vermont doctors have decided to fight these requirements and are suing the regulators that are forcing them to violate the Hippocratic oath. [Read more…]

The Zika mystery & Zika abortions

Some women who get Zika have babies with severe birth defects, but some don’t.  In Brazil, some regions plagued with Zika have a huge percentage of babies with microencephaly.  But adjoining regions also plagued with Zika don’t.  Also, young, black, and poor women are being hit especially hard.

So researchers are now investigating whether Zika does its damage by being paired with other factors.  There had been speculation that the birth defects were caused by a government-administered pesticide.  But researchers have confirmed a direct link between the virus and the birth defects.  Still, things may not be so simple.

Now that Zika has come to the United States, 15 babies have been diagnosed with microencephaly related to the Zika virus.

Also of concern:  Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes or sexual contact, is being used as a pretext for abortion, even late-term abortions, since microencephaly can’t be diagnosed until late in the pregnancy.  Read Zika Outbreak Could Reignite Abortion Debate.

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A pig with a human brain

The ethical issues involved in combining human DNA with animal DNA are so great–and so obvious–that the federal government at first refused to fund those kinds of experiments.  But now, reports Timothy Willard,  the National Institute for Health has rescinded the ban.

Willard reports on the kind of experimentation your tax dollars will be going towards:  A researcher from the University of California, Davis, that is planning to inject human embryonic stem cells into a pig embryo.  The fetus will then be implanted into the womb of a pig, who will give birth to the human/pig organism (known as a “chimera” for the mythological monsters who are combinations of various animals).

The researcher says he is doing this for the universal excuse of some day curing disease and making more compatible organs to transplant.  But he openly acknowledges what can go wrong.

Since he can’t really control what those human stem cells might turn into, if two adult chimeras mate, the result might be a a human baby with a pig as his or her parents.  Or we might have a pig with a human brain and human consciousness.

But don’t worry, he says.  If anything goes wrong, he will abort the fetus.  This is apparently what convinced the NIH that the experiments can be ethical.

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Empiricism, common sense, and flossing

First we were told that we should avoid food that is high in cholesterol; then we were told that such food doesn’t get into the blood so it doesn’t matter. We were told to avoid eating fat; now we are told that fat can be good for us. Sometimes coffee has been described as harmful and sometimes as helpful.  Drinking alcohol used to be considered unhealthy; now we are told it’s good for the heart.

But there has always been an eternal healthcare verity:  Be sure to floss.

Now that maxim too is under assault:  Researchers are now saying that there is little to no evidence that flossing actually works.

Read the story excerpted and linked to after the jump, and then consider what I say afterwards, how this may reflect a bigger intellectual issue:  the difference between valid deductive reasoning and empirical proof. [Read more…]

Update on the Zika plague

The Center for Disease Control has issued a travel advisory warning people to stay away from Miami’s Wynwood district, an artsy area where the particular mosquito that carries the Zika virus is resisting efforts at eradication.  Fifteen people in the district have come down with Zika, which causes birth-defects in new-born babies.  This is the first time that the CDC has issued a travel advisory for the United States.

Scientists have proven the direct link between the virus and micro-encephaly, or extra small heads in babies.  The center of the plague is still Rio de Janeiro, where the world’s athletes and fans are assembling for the Olympics.  Despite efforts to allay concerns, experts say the danger of spreading the disease throughout the world is real.

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