Science: May 2004 Archives

Dirt Baths

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McConchie on Bioethics writes:

Remember the doctor that recommended that you eat your snot? Well now two epidemiologists are claiming that the more kids bathe in dirt, the less likely they are to eczema. Under their theory, humans have learned to live with certain bacteria over the past few million years and actually now need them. Without the bacteria to keep them occupied, the body's two types of immune system cells attack the body for want of an opponent. The researchers believe that this helps point out that moderhygienene may actually promote allergic diseases.

Actually, the study seemed to me to be saying that if you have cats, multiple kids, or a farm then you're less likely to have eczema, asthma, or other allergic reactions, but the conclusion Daniel draws isn't too much of a stretch from that. So bring on the dirt baths. I assume dirt eating is part of this.

Here's a surrogate mother case that doesn't raise all the usual ethical questions (not even those raised by other family members such as a sister as a surrogate mother).

I wonder if we can get the right further connections her to make someone his own grandpa.

From One Hand Clapping, who also comments on the woman who married herself (on which see my comments).

New study on gender

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A new study gives an explanation for why women don't succeed as well as men in getting top positions in competitive situtions. Some postulate that it's mere sexism and that men aren't as willing to consider women for such jobs as they are to consider men. Some of that may well go on. However, there's one factor that should at least be part of the story. Women don't do as well in competitive situations as they might do without competition. This study shows an increase in men's performance when competition sets in. No such increase occurs with women. Competitive situations therefore produce a gender gap, from the mere fact that it's a competitive situation. The gender gap is even wider when women have to compete against men than when women and men are segregated by sex.

(I should say that this may also be relevant to wage differences as well as to who gets what jobs to begin with. Wages are often determined by competitive factors.)

We too often conclude that an inequality of outcome is due to an inequality of treatment. It isn't necessarily that way. Those who then read every action related to that situation as unequal treatment are going to create more problems while not solving whatever real problems are there.

Thanks to Fringe for the link.

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