Tag Archives: neuroscience

One of America’s Great Student Newspapers

The Pitt News bills itself as “one of Amercia’s great student newspapers”. If only it were. Then again, maybe it is. *shudder*

In the 11 years I’ve been in Pittsburgh, I’ve watched the quality of writing and journalistic integrity of the Pitt News wax and wane with the arrival and graduation of classes. When it’s good, it’s no worse than any other small paper. When it’s bad, it’s awful. Sadly, it’s been bad more often than it’s been good. There have been years when the only feature I looked forward to reading was the comics page. Some years even that sucked. I’ve read articles that would make the journalism department go apoplectic – if Pitt had a journalism dept.

In the last couple years, though, I think the paper inproved a great. Perhaps there was an editor that was more interested in relatively unbiased news than sensationalism and sex columns. Those halcyon days may be over, though. Observe exhibits A and B:

Prices up for birth control

Joseph Mance remembers a time when packets of birth control pills cost $8 each. Today he is trying to spread the word to his student clientele that prices have hiked up once again, this time to the $40 range. “I hate telling these kids, ‘We’re raising your pill price,'” he said with a troubled look. “It’s like pulling a gun on them.”

Telling kids their birth control pills will cost more is “like pulling a gun on them”? First of all, if they’re kids, they’re too immature to be having sex. Secondly, what ever happened to advising people to keep their hormones in check? If expensive birth control is either going to majorly disrupt students’ lives or result in a lot of unintended pregancies, Pitt has much biggers problems than government economic policies. Granted, the Pitt News can’t be faulted for Mance making an ass of himself by allowing himself to be quoted uttering that nonsense, but the article is entirely one-sided. The entire front-page piece is written from the point of view that the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which is responsible for the price hike, is a bad law, at least as it pertains to offering cheap birth control for the masses. Reporting on the price hike is just fine and a public service announcement, but the second half of the article pertains to the politics of birth control discounts, which should have been presented in a more balanced fashion.

Gay sheep should look to Jesus, not science for cure

…[S]cientists have attempted to change the sexual orientation of sheep to help farmers, who have accused gay sheep of causing them financial loss. The scientists gave the sheep injections, adjusting the hormone levels in their brains and, amazingly, some previously gay rams became attracted to female sheep. Naturally, the gay and lesbian community was not happy. Their fear is that this success could be a gateway to experiments involving human sexuality and may one day be used to “breed out” homosexuals entirely. Personally, I think this experiment is debauchery. The scientists responsible should be tarred and feathered – or maybe tarred and wooled. Altering sexuality is a very slippery slope. But it seems as though these scientists have forgotten an important fact: If those sheep would just accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they could easily overcome their homosexuality.

At least this tripe was printed as opinion rather than news. Still, any newspaper that would print this should be embarassed and ashamed. It’s a sophomoric attempt at satire of Christian bioethics that reads like a secular Jack Chick‘s poor imitation of a “A Modest Proposal“. The kind of Christian presented in this article is straw man. Sure, there are Christians like the charicature the author presents; after all, stereotypes don’t appear out of thin air. Still, the author needs to realize that we’re not all fans of the 700 Club, any more than all gays are fans of Will and Grace.

You don’t have to be Fred Phelps to think active homosexuality is wrong. You also don’t have to hate or fear science if you’re a Christian. Heck, you can even believe that homosexuality has a biological component and still think it’s wrong to perform homosexual acts.

Christianity aside, arguing that a disorder of lower animals is natural and therefore acceptable in humans is ridiculous. Lots of lower animals practice cannibalism and incest. Will it soon be PC to defend those behaviors?

In summary, this article isn’t just bad satire, it’s ironically full of the kind of disgusting malice and prejudice that seems to have offended the author, and the ignorance and denial he specifically mentions.

Be sure to let the editor of the Pitt News know how you feel about these articles. Regarding the latter, you might want to let ACLJ and the Catholic League know, too.

An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part III)

Read Part I of "An Exchange on Gay Christians"
Read Annie's response to Part I.
Read Part II of "An Exchange on Gay Christians"
Read Annie's response to Part II.

Replace "homosexual" with "pedophile"

Why?? Homosexuals are consenting and sometimes loving adults. Pedophiles are predators in a relation that cannot be consensual.

In my view, homosexuality and pedophilia are both psychological disorders of unknown pathologies. The difference between the objects of disordered affections is mostly accidental (in the philosophical sense). Obviously, pedophilia is a much more serious problem because children cannot consent to sex with an adult. Look at it from the sufferer's standpoint, though. If the neurological manifestations and/or causes of pedophilia and homosexuality are similar (an empirically testable hypothesis), shouldn't they be treated similarly? Pedophiles and other sexual deviants are subject to arrest and conviction, but homosexuals are increasingly treated as just another expression of human diversity. I think there's a fundamental failure in logic in that disparity. I'm not advocating decriminalizing child abuse or criminalizing active homosexuality. However, I do not believe that we can just wave our hands and declare that homosexuality is "normal" simply because those affected by it can reciprocate each other's desires.

Continue reading

An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part II)

Read Part I of "An Exchange on Gay Christians"
Read Annie's response to Part I.

It's much the kind of response I was hoping for.

Good. 🙂

The question is whether demanding celibacy of someone not called to be a priest isn't "inhumane." It is pretty easy, and not very charitable, for a heterosexual, from the fortunate heights of normalcy, to condemn a homosexual to that fate.

Continue reading

Stem Cell Update

Researchers in both the USA and Germany claim to have produced embryonic-like stem cells from testicular cells. The Germans published the results of their work on mice in Nature last week; the Americans claimed to have done similar things with human testes (ouch), but have not published in a peer-reviewed journal, but rather presented it at a conference. The group that did the work in America is also studying similar work on ovaries.

Presumably these cells can be entirely legitimate from a Catholic bioethical standpoint, provided that the germ cell (i.e., testicular or ovarian tissue) material is donated and procured in an ethical manner (which can get complicated, but we’ll leave that for another entry). The problem with embryonic research to date is that the process involves killing or harming human embryos, and perhaps involves involves cloning to boot. Since this embryonic-like cells are taken from adult donors, this intrinsic stumbling-block is removed.

In addition to avoiding that big ethical issue, this technique, if it works, would also avoid some serious technical barriers facing embryonic stem cells. If you give a patient stem cells derived from an embryo, you must either try to create a cloned embryo or else face the risk of tissue rejection. Human cloning has yet to done, now that Dr. Hwang was exposed as a fraud, and any therapy that involves such a concept faces quite a few issues with expense, technical validation, etc.

In other news, Geron Corporation, which holds the rights to the original human embryonic stem cell lines that Dr. Thompson derived at the University of Wisconsin Madison (thus sparking this whole debate) is preparing to launch a clinical trial of human embryonic stell cells on human patients–and just to clarify, unlike the embryonic-like stem cells that I mentioned above, these ones are derived from destroyed human embryos. I believe that this is the first such trial to happen in the USA in several years–in the last trial on Parkinsons Disease patients, the subjects’ symptoms got worse after getting the cells.

Have Christian Bloggers Lost the Plot?


[bloggerpatron.jpg]I’m worried that Christian bloggers have lost the plot.

My grandfather used to say that the habits or faults of other people that annoy us the most may be ones we are also guilty of. I guess that was his atheistic Quaker version of Luke 6:41. I am very often reminded of that lesson and it has been an important part of my maturation process and growth in faith. It’s a lesson I have to relearn over and over again. It’s painful; the saying is true – no pain, no gain.

There are times (too many to count) God puts me in a situation in which I find myself correcting someone for a fault I too am guilty of. Sometimes I get sort of a “spider sense” feeling as I reprove a friend, knowing all the while that I’ll learn Pop-pop’s lesson before I’m through. Other times, I’m too blinded by my own self-righteousness to see what’s coming. It’s a very humbling a experience either way.

What I’m trying to say is that the irony of this post is not lost on me. How can I reprove others for a sin I’m just as guilty of? This isn’t going to be a self-righteous lecture. If you insist on believing it is, then imagine me as the recipient rather than the deliverer.

If I had to summarize in one sentence the main reason I blog and how I choose what to blog about, I’d say that I’d like to help people stop begging questions, talking past one another, and calling each other silly and rude names, and start thinking critically, listening to one another, and treating each other with, at minimum, the same love they’d ask for themselves. That, of course, is easier said than done. Popular legend has it that G.K. Chesterton, among other eminent authors of his time, was asked by a newspaper to write an essay on the theme “What’s Wrong with the World?” His reply? “I am.” When it comes to the kind of acerbic and caustic blogging that I believe is poisoning the Body of Christ, and the rest of the world for that matter, I too am guilty.

Continue reading