Grad school and abortion

There have been a couple posts and comment discussions over at Dr. Isis’s place about a question that was posed to her:

I found out I am pregnant, we want a child but I just accepted a PhD position. Should I have an abortion?

Isis does not want to get into the ethics of the question, but has instead expressed sadness that the question was even raised. Her second post clarifies in more detail that since she believes there is no “good” time to have children, if you want to have a child, you should have a child.

But while I agree with Isis that no one can answer that question for anyone else, and there probably isn’t a good time for children, I am not sure if folks would put out the same argument if the question was, “We want a child but I just accepted a PhD position. Should we use birth control for now?” I mean, Isis very well might feel the same way, I can’t say. But I feel like people’s eyebrows shoot up when it’s suggested that someone might consider something as drastic as an abortion.

And I mean, please. It only seems drastic because the rhetoric has painted it that way. My answer to this woman is that no one can answer that question for you, and if you want to have a child you should have a child, and if you want to wait because it’s not the right time in your life, then you should wait. Plain and simple. There’s nothing especially more shocking or dramatic about it because it would involve a termination instead of birth control. You choose if and when to have children, and that’s all there is to it. You might regret the decision whether you choose to have a child or not have a child right now, which is the risk with, you know, making a decision, so just do your best to make the right choice for yourself and your family. To repeat: many women regret having children.

After Isis’ post, drdrA wrote in response:

WOW, just WOW. To me the decision whether or not to bear a child and start a family should be based on whether or not one wants to be a parent. Period. If the answer to that question is yes, then you just figure out how to work around everything else. Is it going to be tough? Yes. Is it going to be stressful? Yes. Can it be done- OH FOR SURE!

Sure, it can be done, but this is not a question of whether or not to have a child, period. This a question of whether or not to have a child now, which is completely different.

I really don’t know what is up with all of the commenters who feel that it’s just so sad that a woman might consider putting off childbearing until a better time in her career. Ideally everyone would have access to reasonably long parental leave and good health insurance coverage and health care — and even then, many people will still decide not to have children during a particularly busy part of their career. That’s not all that sad. Some of those commenters seem to be coming from a position of having had children and been happy with that decision. But what made you happy won’t necessarily make someone else happy; you are projecting.

Weight loss

There is a lot of talk in the science blogosphere about weight loss these days. People are talking about their own personal experiences, which are interesting and can start up some good discussions. I have stayed out of them because 1) I’ve been busy and 2) it’s not my place to judge what other people do with their bodies. But bloggers are also posting some questionable scientific support for the benefits of weight loss and dangers of being fat, which are murky at best*… Anyway, I have confused feelings about the whole thing. I support FA and believe pretty strongly that the scientific evidence is much more mixed than the one-sided story generally pushed in the news. Lots of the studies that are spun to present evidence of extreme dangers/costs/impacts from being fat are actually very inconclusive without the spin. A lot of the statistical methods used in the studies that appear more conclusive are pretty much crap. We just don’t know that much, and there is a vested interest in keeping popular opinion firmly in favor of one point of view, science be damned. And scientists are people and are products of this society, too, and it’s hard not to mix your personal experiences into your scientific viewpoint. But a lot of people read science blogs (and Scienceblogs) as a kind of non-peer-reviewed scientific source on many subjects, so I wish other results were getting a little more attention there.**

* I’ll just link to Sandy’s whole series, if that’s all right with you.

** Though I kind of wish that about peer reviewed literature, too. When you design a study to examine possible relationships between health risks and obesity, and deliberately choose a sample pool of fat people with health problems, ignoring all of the healthy fat people (most of them), it’s awfully easy either for you or a journalist to turn around and lazily conclude that all fat people have health problems. There are some methodological problems there.

Still an asshole

Jack Shafer, FFS, shut up. The man really seems to think that because papers routinely offend readers with their sexist, racist, and generally bigoted writing and cartoons, there is something wrong with actually trying to move away from that pattern. In one whole instance. For serious?? Do you not even care about all of us who are saying, “Oh thank god!”? It isn’t edgy. It’s bigotry. Get over yourself. Also, while I really liked your articles about fake media-fueled drug crises and whatnot, you’re officially off my feed now. I can’t handle your sanctimoniousness about the untouchability of “edgy” (= pointlessly nasty) “journalism”.

FYI Not edgy:

Just a joke OMG!!

Oh hey, look, Jack Shafer is an asshole. But it’s not like he gets the joke or anything, since he “is not a fan of any kind of humor.” So since he isn’t offended, what’s the problem? Are you just all hysterical bitches or what?

FYI, Shafer, calling a woman a “mad bitch” is a nasty, bigoted slur. Last I heard those were generally considered unacceptable in public discourse in a great many circles, not just among those hypersensitive people who are always looking for things to get mad about.

But hey, don’t let me stand in the way of the humor you don’t like or anything. It’s clearly important to you to protect your right to make tasteless, offensive jokes without criticism, even though apparently you don’t like or make any jokes, because in principle that kind of criticism curtails one of your many entitlements as a white dude.

Also, how funny is it that the first line of the article is, “Will nobody stand up for Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza’s asinine horseplay on the July 31 episode of their video feature ‘Mouthpiece Theater’?” Because god forbid that for once it might go uncontested when a white guy calls a woman a bitch and actually gets called out for it. ha!!

Ahhhhh evo psych ahhhhhhhhh

Yesterday, when Melissa put up this post, I considered devoting an entire post here to it. But then my brain just exploded everywhere. So instead her post and the long comment thread picking apart the stupidity of [some] evo psychology is just recommended reading today.


Blogging has dropped off in Volcanistaland for the time being, because I’ve been traveling a lot and juggling a lot of things. I’m sure I’ll have something to say sooner or later, though. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please go watch the most brilliant version of a Sarah Palin speech I have ever seen. It never gets old!