The Other Contraception Mandate Fight

Remember you can vote once per day for the Atheism Awards.  I'm one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.I do want to do a substantive post on the contraceptive mandate later in the week, but, to set the stage, I want to talk about the conscience objection for pharmacists first..  Since we haven't all been having this argument to death (at least not recently), maybe it can give us a better lead-in to the more topical fight.A federal judge in Washington … [Read more...]

I’m like Beetlejuice, except you only have to say ‘Statistician’ once!

Remember you can vote once per day for the Atheism Awards.  I'm one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.The Bright Maidens, a trio of young Catholic women who try to dispel myths and misconceptions about their faith, frequently do themed blog carnivals, and this week their topic is "Instructing the Ignorant."  Elizabeth Hillgrove of Startling the Day covered a lot of topics in her post, but you can't be surprised to find out it was this one that caught my ey … [Read more...]

Good News and Bad News on HIV/AIDS

My time at AAAS has come to an end, and today, I just want to feature one session.  (The post on the Dialogue on Science Ethics and Religion panel will be up later this week).Julio Montaner: Toward the Control of HIV and AIDS: Comprehensive Treatment as PreventionWe think of the mark of success for a new medical treatment as scoring a significant result when all the data are in. That's pretty good, but there's an even better prize: having your study called off part-way through be … [Read more...]

The Geek Goes On

Day Two at AAAS Conference...Data to Knowledge to Action: Computational Science in a Global Knowledge SocietyI'm taking Sebastian Thrun's Programming a Robotic Car class starting this week, so I was particularly excited for Peter Stone's talk "Intersections of the Future: Using Fully Autonomous Vehicles" and boy oh boy did it not disappoint.  Behold the future:What I found particularly interesting about his system is that it depends on the human passanger not overriding the … [Read more...]

“So you’re on vacation at a science conference?”

Heck yeah I am!  Here are some quick highlights from my first day at the AAAS Annual Meeting:Fifty Years of the Pill: Risk Reduction and Discovery of Benefits Beyond ContraceptionHow could I skip this session given the topic's recent prominence?  According to the panelists, the non-contraceptive side effects of the pill are varied.  It is prescribed to women with certain risk factors for ovarian cancer, because it lowers their chance of incidence.  It's also used as treatment for Pol … [Read more...]

Parsing that “98% of Catholics use contraception” figure

I'll be back with a longer post on the actual substance of the contraceptive mandate and my ideas about the reasonable limits to the idea that religious mandates exempt you from the law, but I can't pass up the chance to geek out about social science statistics and methodology.You've all probably heard the "98% of Catholic women use contraception" statistic cited by now, and people have started to take a closer look at the relevant study.  Let me chat you through some of the … [Read more...]

Komen Concedes (but it still sucks)

Komen spent the last two days reaping a financial windfall from pro-life activists, after they pulled their funding for Planned Parenthood.  (Planned Parenthood had a funding surge, too, prompting a friend of mine to say the whole thing felt like a publicity stunt, or a pro-wrestling storyline).  Now, Komen has purged its new policy.But before any pro-choice readers I've got decide to put the money where their mouths are, let me make a plea that you not give Komen any of your money.  Not ev … [Read more...]