Doctors and Evolution

Pharyngula raises questions about the medical profession’s understanding of evolution by quoting from this report which states that when medical journals publish studies about things like antibiotic resistance, they avoid mentioning evolution when writing about antimicrobrial resistance. They they use words such as to “emerge,” “arise,” or “spread” rather than “evolve.” PZ Meyers asks, “are they poorly educated, cowardly, or do the granting agencies or journal publishers actually pressure them to avoid ‘controversial’ words?” My response as posted in the comments:

Personally I check on a person’s views about evolution as part of every medical history. If they don’t believe in evolution I stick with older, less expensive antibiotics like ampicillin and don’t both them with issues such as antibiotic resistance. I also give these patients one influenza vaccine and tell them that, according to their belief system, it should work for the flu in future years and there is no need to repeat it every year.

Ok, I’m just joking here. I’d try to stick up for my profession but unfortunately I realize that any defense of the medical profession could be refuted with just two words: Deepak Chopra.

Lieberman Threatens To Join Republicans If Everything Doesn’t Go His Way

Joseph Lieberman appears to be trying to exercise the most political clout today, knowing that in less than two years he will be irrelevant. Currently Democrats need this former-Democrat to vote with them to maintain control of the Senate. This allows Lieberman to make threats as Editor and Publisher report appear in the upcoming edition of Time:

Lieberman calls jumping to the Republican side, and tilting the Senate, “a remote possibility,” which means there’s at least a chance of that. Time seems to push Lieberman in this direction, as the article concludes: “Lieberman’s GOP flirtation has its risks–and a time limit….The longer he waits to capitalize on his moment, the greater the danger that he’ll be tagged as one of those politicians for whom having power is more important than using it.”

Politico has more:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties, but suggested Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind…

“I have no desire to change parties,” Lieberman said in a telephone interview. “If that ever happens, it is because I feel the majority of Democrats have gone in a direction that I don’t feel comfortable with.”

Asked whether that hasn’t already happened with Iraq, Lieberman said: “We will see how that plays out in the coming months,” specifically how the party approaches the issue of continued funding for the war.

He suggested, however, that the forthcoming showdown over new funding could be a deciding factor that would lure him to the Republican Party.

“I hope we don’t get to that point,” Lieberman said. “That’s about all I will say on it today. That would hurt.”

This contradicts previoius statements from Lieberman such as this in this interview in New York Magazine in August 2006:

Lieberman thinks of going independent as a pragmatic ploy, not an abandonment of his party. “I’ve been a Democrat for 40 years, I’ll die a Democrat, I’ll probably be a Democrat after my death, I may still be voting Democrat in some cities in Connecticut postmortem,” he jokes.

I think that Lieberman just wants to throw out this possibility from time to time to attempt to maximize his current political power. If he were to change parties, he’d be just another pro-war Republican that nobody would care about anymore. Republicans would no longer need to try to recruit him, and would’t be very willing to work with him on many other issues. Lincoln Chafee could explain to him what happens to those who run as Republicans in the northeast.

Update: Political Insider reports that even if Lieberman changed parties, Democrats would retain control of the Senate.

Update II:  History News Network also argues that a Lieberman flip wouldn’t give Republicans control of the Senate.

Chimpanzees Hunt Bush Babies With Spears

Some people without a background in science have difficulty with evolution because they see apes and humans as too different to be related (or more accurately, to have a common ancestor). DNA studies have already shown how similar humans and chimpanzees are, but now we see that their behavior is closer to human behavior than previously realized:

Chimpanzees have been seen using spears to hunt bush babies, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that demonstrates a whole new level of tool use and planning by our closest living relatives.

Perhaps even more intriguing, it was only the females who fashioned and used the wooden spears, Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani of Iowa State University reported.

Bertolani saw an adolescent female chimp use a spear to stab a bush baby as it slept in a tree hollow, pull it out and eat it.

Pruetz and Bertolani, now at Cambridge University in Britain, had been watching the Fongoli community of savanna-dwelling chimpanzees in southeastern Senegal.

The chimps apparently had to invent new ways to gather food because they live in an unusual area for their species, the researchers report in the journal Current Biology.

“This is just an innovative way of having to make up for a pretty harsh environment,” Pruetz said in a telephone interview. The chimps must come down from trees to gather food and rest in dry caves during the hot season.

“It is similar to what we say about early hominids that lived maybe 6 million years ago and were basically the precursors to humans.”

Chimpanzees are genetically the closest living relatives to human beings, sharing more than 98 percent of our DNA. Scientists believe the precursors to chimps and humans split off from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago.

Chimps are known to use tools to crack open nuts and fish for termites. Some birds use tools, as do other animals such as gorillas, orangutans and even naked mole rats.

But the sophisticated use of a tool to hunt with had never been seen.

Pruetz thought it was a fluke when Bertolani saw the adolescent female hunt and kill the bush baby, a tiny nocturnal primate.

But then she saw almost the same thing. “I saw the behavior over the course of 19 days almost daily,” she said.

The article continues to describe how the chimps showed evidence of planning and foresight. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s Sister has fun with the facts that 1) they were hunting Bush Babies, and 2) it was the females who were doing the hunting. If only we were smart enough to hunt down those Bush babies before they did all their damage.

Update: More at Washington Post

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Medical Marijuana Advocates File Suit

The New York Times reports that Americans for Safe Access is suing the Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA for issuing false statements about medical benefit sof marijuana:

Frustrated by government policy and inaction, a group of advocates for medical marijuana sued two federal health agencies on Wednesday over the assertion that smoking it has no medical benefit.

The group, Americans for Safe Access, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, filed the lawsuit in Federal District Court, challenging the government’s position that marijuana, “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

In its lawsuit, the group contends that federal regulators have publicly issued “false and misleading statements” about the medical benefits of marijuana.

The lawsuit, which named the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, seeks a court order to retract and correct statements that the group called, “incorrect, dishonest and a flagrant violation of laws.”

A lawyer for the medical marijuana group, Joseph Elford, said the lawsuit was filed now because administrative avenues had been exhausted and because of mounting scientific and anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Mr. Elford said a recent study by the Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital, which was approved by the F.D.A. and other federal agencies, found that smoking marijuana relieved pain and certain symptoms of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

If they win on this suit, is there anyone we can sue for government policies based upon false and misleading informaiton based upon evolution, climate change, or any other area where the right wing places ideology over science?