The Odd Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘pharyngula’

Eurgh.

Posted by That Other Mike on 13/02/2011

Sometimes I get a little annoyed with PZ and the commentariat over at Pharyngula.

Backstory – PZ posted about the story of Alan, a man in the UK with learning disabilities; Alan has an IQ of 48. The median is 100. Rather than rehashing it, I’ll post a few paragraphs from the Telegraph article PZ linked to:

The 41 year-old had been in a relationship with a man whom he lived with and told officials “it would make me feel happy” for it to continue.

But his local council decided his “vigorous sex drive” was inappropriate and that with an IQ of 48 and a “moderate” learning disability, he did not understand what he was doing.

A psychiatrist involved in the case even tried to prevent the man being given sex education, on the grounds that it would leave him “confused”.

Mr Justice Mostyn said the case was “legally, intellectually and morally” complex as sex is “one of the most basic human functions” and the court must “tread especially carefully” when the state tries to curtail it.

But he agreed that the man, known only as Alan, should not be allowed to have sex with anyone on the grounds that he did not have the mental capacity to understand the health risks associated with his actions.

Final result of the case – the judge has essentially ordered a temporary stay of the man’s sexual activities while in sheltered housing because he is not at present able to demonstrate capacity to understand the consequences of his actions. This judgement is to be revisited after Alan is given some sex education.

Relatively simple, but it has unleashed something of a barrage of idiocy over at Pharyngula, with claims of ableism and homophobia, along with claims that Alan should just be left to make his own decisions on the matter.

While I respect PZ as a scientist and scientific populariser, and acknowledge freely that the Pharyngulites are a bunch of exceptionally intelligent people in many situations, in this respect they’re basically full of shit. Capacity is a complex and thorny issue in UK law, and is not ever treated lightly these days, at least not by any social work or legal professional who wants to remain licensed to practise.

By any standards, Alan is an individual whose capacity might be reasonably doubted: he has a very low IQ and learning disabilities, and has allegedly engaged in sexually-questionable behaviour (to wit, making lewd gestures at children in a dentists’ surgery and on a bus). In law, capacity is always assumed from the outset until something happens to put that assumption in doubt, and there is a rigorous structure of safeguards in place to protect vulnerable adults from being unduly deprived of liberties they ought to have, requiring medical and social work input in conjunction with the individual’s own input wherever possible. These are not decisions made lightly, and this kind of knee jerk reaction from otherwise intelligent people irks me; I can imagine it coming from Daily Mail readers, but from a group whose normal reaction to everything else in the world is to apply the scientific method, it rankles a little.

I’m also irked by it on a work level. I work with and observe social work professionals on a day-to-day basis. You wouldn’t believe how much abuse and crap gets flung at social work professionals daily which they absolutely don’t deserve – almost all of them are extremely hard-working, caring individuals who do their very utmost to ensure that our clients are given the very best service it’s possible to give them. This isn’t helped by people making ignorant judgements.

TL;DR: PZ was scandalised about something he knows next to nothing about, and his commenters went bugshit while maintaining the ignorance level at high red. This made me irked.

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Hitchens curbstomps Friel

Posted by That Other Mike on 12/04/2009

I’m not a huge fan of Christopher Hitchens, generally; he’s arrogant, boorish and often far too pleased with himself. I get enough of that looking in the mirror to want to spend my free time on someone else doing it. There’s also his lurch to the political right in recent years; he’s probably centre-right more than right, to be honest, but he’s still to the right of me, which makes his politics occasionally distasteful. Something I saw this morning, though, has utterly redeemed him in my eyes, at least for now. This comes courtesy of the righteous PZ; cheers, Professor!
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Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Fools, damned fools and Christians

Posted by That Other Mike on 27/07/2008

My wife is trying to kill me. She must be, because she keeps telling me to look at stuff which is so profoundly stupid that it makes my brain crinkle and go phutphut.

Like just the other day, when she was comment surfing and ended up at a blog called What I Really Think, which spectacularly fails to live up to the verb in its name, although the URL seems entirely appropriate. I swear, I keep expecting to look at the screen and see that it’s written in crayon.

Funnies, though – the writer doesn’t seem to realise that she has a pride flag in her header.
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Posted in Atheism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Crackerjack!

Posted by That Other Mike on 18/07/2008

PZ has another open comment thread to get yourself on his blog roll.

Anyone wishing to commune with the star of Crackergate should post something immediately.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Dunar’s Day Round-Up

Posted by That Other Mike on 15/05/2008

I’ve decided to start using old-style Saxon god names for the days of the week now; Monday would be Mani‘s Day, Tuesday will become Tiw’s Day, Wednesday is Wodin’s day as we know, Dunar’s Day will stand in for Thursday, and Friday will be Frige‘s Day. Saturday will change to Sun’s Eve, and Sunday stays the same.

Well, I say I’ve decided. What I actually meant was that I won’t do that, I just wanted to have a rationale for using Dunar’s Day in the title.

Anyway, handpicked by the gods of my ancestors, here are your selected links.

Lottie has an excellent post over at Rambling On about online romantic involvements. As you may know, this is something which has particular relevance to us. It’s called Getting to Know You (if you’re like me, you’ll soon start humming bits of The King and I), and she starts with the biggest question that couples who have met online usually face: How can you fall in love with someone you don’t even know?

Gary has a post highlighting the ridiculous, moronic behaviour some right-wing Christians recently embarrassed themselves with. The object of their misguided idiocy? Petrol.

Caitlin May has a post positing the Wizard of Oz as an Atheist film, which is certainly an interesting and overlooked perspective.

PZ spears Michael Medved for a ludicrous jamming together of pseudoscience and right-wing politics. Eugh. It’s one step away from advocating forced eugenics…

Mother Jones has Alyssa Quart analysing the new trend for fertility movies coming out of Hollywood. I have to say I don’t 100% agree with every syllable, mainly because I liked Juno rather a lot. Other than that, good article.(HT – Feministing)

And finally, in some good news, the California Supreme Court has ruled that the State’s Constitution requires equal treatment for homosexual couples in regards to marriage laws. Well done, California (HT – Alas, A Blog).

Edit to fix link.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

That nice Mr Myers…

Posted by That Other Mike on 06/02/2008

PZ Myers, of Pharyngula fame, recently made a post about opening up to newcomers the list of blogs he reads daily. Anyone wanting the esteemed Mr M to see what s/he’s writing should take a look.

PZ is heap big chief in science blogosphere, as well as a large cheese in the Atheist community. Oh, dear. That makes him sound rather strange. He’s a big guy in the atheo-science blogosphere; that phrase is unfortunate, given the fact that he looks like a big cuddly teddybear.

OK, let’s try again. He’s like a less cranky, American version of Richard Dawkins. Who looks like a teddybear.

Oh, I give up. Just read it for yourselves.

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