Wednesday, August 02, 2006

From today's news

The NYTimes has a story today titled "Study Links Military Duty in Iraq to Lapse in Some Mental Ability". It reports measured deficits in short term memory and learning among soldiers recently returned from duty in Iraq. The effects may clear up in a month or two...let us hope this is so for every last Iraq war vet. This finding should not surprise anyone who tracks research in neuroendocrinology. There are several studies over the last few years that show stress, perhaps through the effects of its increase of cortisol levels, impairs learning and short term memory. What would do us more good is to have someone study how a Lapse in some mental ability is linked to duty in Iraq.

Kansas is recovering from an embarrassing bout of minority fundamentalists insisting their religious dogma be taught in science classes.
The curriculum changes, coming after years of see-sawing power struggles between moderates and conservatives, drew widespread ridicule and, critics complained, threatened Kansas’s high standing in national education circles. But Steve E. Abrams, the chairman of the board and a veterinarian from Arkansas City, said the changes only subjected evolution to critical scientific scrutiny.
In downplaying the derisive attention this brought on the state's education system, Abrams neglects the more salient development: creationist's biblical literalism crawled out from the parochial dark places where civil tolerance had left it undisturbed and IT withered in the glaring analyses it provoked. No good was done for science or for religion so let us hope the befuddled fundies learned to keep their story telling to themselves and leave science and other foundations of shared and civil culture alone.