Zika, the new global plague

Zika is a virus that, in 80% of the cases, produces no symptoms.  But if a pregnant woman is infected, her baby might be born with microcephaly, a birth defect of the child having a very small head and consequent brain damage.  The virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes, though it can also be sexually transmitted and has been found in blood and saliva.  

So far the outbreak is mainly in Latin America, especially Brazil, which has gone so far as to recommend that women not get pregnant until the mosquitoes are brought under control.  This summer, though, the world comes to Brazil, with the Olympic games in Rio De Janiero.  The virus may threaten the games.)  And it is now in the United States, with 12 cases in Florida (though the patients picked up the virus elsewhere) and a sexually-transmitted case in Texas.  A case has also been confirmed in Europe

After the jump, I excerpt and link to a very useful site that gives questions and answers about the Zika virus. [Read more…]

Religious hospitals may refuse to perform procedures against their beliefs

In what may be an important precedent, a California court ruled against a woman who sued a Catholic hospital for not performing a sterilization procedure that she requested, arguing that since the hospital took federal funds it could not discriminate against her.  (This is also the argument being used to force religious hospitals to commit abortion.)

The judge ruled that there was no discrimination, since the hospital wouldn’t sterilize men either, which would also violate Catholic teaching; and, more importantly, that the government should not interfere with religious hospitals acting on their religious beliefs. [Read more…]

“I’ve heard a lot about purple”

We’ve blogged about the new technology that allows people who are color-blind to see in color for the first time.  Now these special glasses are available through optometrists.  After the break is an excerpt and a link to an article recounting the experiences of people with red-green color-blindness, who usually see both colors as a muddied brown, now being able to perceive those colors.

Favorite line from the story:

“I’ve heard a lot about purple,” Robison said before he tried his new glasses.

And after?

“It was everything I wanted it to be.”


[Read more…]

Biomedical studies that aren’t reproducible

A key principle of the scientific method is that experiments must be reproducible.  That is, an experiment has scientific validity only if another person tries the same experiment and gets the same result.

It has been coming out that a big percentage–possibly a majority of psychological and social science experiments are not reproducible.  That is understandable, since human beings are active agents and so cannot be expected to be as predictable as inanimate objects.

But now scientists are discovering that a large percentage of biomedical studies are also non-reproducible! [Read more…]

The vocation of being an advocate for the dead

An article on the real-life doctor featured in the movie Concussion says quite a bit about the Nigerian Christian’s understanding of “calling”; that is, vocation.  (Did any of this come out in the movie?) [Read more…]

The gift of pain

A 39-year-old woman was born with the inability to feel pain.  But this rare syndrome is no super power.  A new treatment enabled her to feel pain for the first time.  And she was glad. [Read more…]