Daily Archives: January 17, 2012

Tonsils: To ectomy or not to ectomy?

When my daughter was little, she had a series of ear and throat infections that were frequent enough that the pediatrician finally said “One more in the next two months and Imma recommend we consider taking out her tonsils” or words to that effect. Interestingly, Julia stopped getting the sore throats and ear infections just then. (Kids do stop getting the sore throats and ear infections eventually, and I guess it was time!) Had she continued to suffer these infections and the question of tonsillectomy come up, I’m sure I would have researched it and made a scientifically informed decision about what to do, in consultation with the pediatrician, who was in my opinion quite good.

But that didn’t happen, so it was with great interest that now, several years later, I find these blog posts about tonsillectomy:

Seth Roberts writes: Tonsillectomy Confidential: doctors ignore polio epidemics and high school biology in which he argues that tonsillectomies are overused and should be avoided, based on his reading of the evidence.

Maggie Koerth -Baker, an editor at Boing Boing (where Roberts’ post was published) writes: A doctor responds to Seth Roberts’ guest post about tonsillectomy in which she contextualizes Roberts’ post and points readers to …

Steve Novella’s Tonsillectomy Indications and Complications. Novella does not exactly come to the opposite conclusion from Roberts, but he points out some very important flaws in Roberts methodology of research and presentation, which should give pause to anyone basing a decision on Roberts’ essay.

This sequence of posts is a must read for anyone interested in Science Based Medicine, Skepticism, or my favorite subject, Skeptical Skepticism.

Court Refuses To Intervene In North Carolina Prayer Case

Press Release from American’s United:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not intervene in a controversy over sectarian prayer before meetings of the Forsyth County, N.C., Board of Commissioners.

The justices’ action leaves in place an appellate court decision barring the county from regularly opening its meetings with Christian invocations.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the groups sponsoring the lawsuit, said the high court was right not to intervene.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “When government meetings are opened regularly with Christian prayer, it sends the unmistakable message that non-Christians are second-class citizens in their own community. That’s unconstitutional, and it’s just plain wrong.

“All Americans ought to feel welcome at governmental meetings,” he continued. “The Constitution clearly forbids government to play favorites when it comes to religion.”

The record in the Joyner v. Forsyth County case indicates that 26 of the 33 invocations given from May 29, 2007, until Dec. 15, 2008, contained at least one reference to Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, Savior or the Trinity.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Janet Joyner and Constance Lynn Blackmon, two county residents and members of the Winston-Salem Chapter of Americans United. They are being represented by Americans United and the ACLU of North Carolina.

On July 29, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county’s prayer practice is unconstitutional.

“Faith is as deeply important as it is deeply personal,” wrote Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson, “and the government should not appear to suggest that some faiths have it wrong and others got it right.”

Americans United Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan said the appeals court came to the correct conclusion.

“America is extremely diverse when it comes to religious opinion and government must respect that diversity,” Khan said. “Government preference for one faith over others is a recipe for social discord.”

A word about South Carolina

I’m going to be going to North Carolina in a matter of hours (well, tomorrow some time) where I’ll be heavily engaged in ScienceOnline 2012. I don’t want to plan how much writing I’ll be doing here or a Scienceblogs, because I’m not sure what I’ll be doing there. Since the main reason to go to this conference aside from attending the really cool sessions is to see friend, colleagues, and loved ones I otherwise rarely see, I can’t count on a lot of bloggy activity. So, it would be especially helpful for me if you’d allow me to say one or two things about South Carolina and then leave it until after the fact.

Romney is the current leader and polling numbers for South Carolina, the general primary process, and upcoming Florida all show the same thing. We also see that Gingrich is a consistent second and Santorum and Paul are fluctuating around third place, with Santorum being more commonly ahead of Paul. The gap between Romney and second place Gingrich is large, and the gap among the second placers and lower is small.

The most straight forward interpretation, then, is this: Romney will be running against Obama, but there are well funded and not insignificant others in a position to move in if Romney falters. Attacks such as the Bain Bane have not hurt Romney so far. In a way, that is good news, because I interpret this as people not seeing Gingrich, who has led those attacks, as particularly credible. The fact that this one time Gingrich is right is a bit disturbing, but we are dealing with Republicans, after all. And they make no sense.

In short, I see a horse race with Romney several lenghts ahead until the end, unless he stumbles and then, well, chaos. Romney does have the best numbers in one-on-one polling against Obama, compared to all the others.

OK, now I’m going to go check the weather in North Carolina, then go buy a shirt.