Three must-read entries.

Blogging will continue to be a bit light around here as I’m actually doing some work, but here (in no particular order) are three articles you shouldn’t miss:
1. Rejecting Vaccine “Choice”

Focus on the Family’s position statement [PDF] – “Focus on the Family supports widespread (universal) availability of HPV vaccines but opposes mandatory HPV vaccinations for entry to public school.” – looks, at first glance, like a reasonable compromise.
But “choice” is a red herring. Focus on the Family has religious objections to the HPV vaccine? Religious exemptions to mandatory vaccines are already available in every state but West Virginia and Mississippi. (Anyone think that Focus on the Family would have trouble convincing the Mississippi or West Virginia state legislature to add in a religious exemption for the HPV vaccine? Me neither.) They will have the right to opt their daughters out of this health-, fertility-, and potentially life-saving vaccine, mandatory or not. What they’re really angling for is a way to deny it to other people’s daughters.
If it’s easy to opt out, why the battle over mandatory? Because mandatory = affordable. States cannot make a vaccine mandatory for school entry unless they are willing to provide it to those who cannot pay. And thus, through the CDC’s Vaccines For Children program, every state supplies children with required vaccines free of cost. But optional vaccines are a different story.

Dr Rivka is back and in fine form. I’ve elided her links and there’s more to the whole entry, so go read it.

2. The Federal Marriage Amendment and the New One Drop of Blood Rule

The Federal Marriage Amendment, like many of the proposed state laws and amendments, says “marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” Simple, right? No. Sex, like race, turns out to be a lot more biologically complicated than it first appears.

Here’s a view of gay-vs-straight marriage that simply hadn’t ever occurred to me. Fascinating stuff from Dr Alice Dreger, a serious expert in the fascinating field of intersex identity. Do yourself a favour and read it. If you like that, you’ll also like her blog; check out the essays in the linked entry.
Obaddedvalue: I’ll make a small prediction. Just as homosexuality will eventually be normalized, that is, accepted as an ordinary part of the human condition, so too intersex will one day be seen as normal. We — humans — tend to react to physiologies and behaviours that stand at a significant distance from the mean by treating them as disorders, but if those conditions are not harmful we do eventually realise that and come to accept them. The “normal” part of the spectrum slowly expands, and it’s my hope and my belief that eventually nothing but true pathology will lie outside it.

3. Answering the AAP critique of FRPAA

The latest AAP/PSP critique of the latest US Public Access Bill (FRPAA) makes the same points (already rebutted two years ago) that they made in their prior critique of the NIH Public Access Proposal. […]
There is zero evidence that mandating self-archiving reduces subscription revenue….But even if self-archiving were ever to reduce subscription revenue, surely what is in the best interests of publishers’ current revenue streams should not over-ride what is in the best interests of research and of the public that funds it….
AAP provides no evidence of how making research findings accessible for free to would-be users who cannot afford access would “seriously jeopardize the integrity of the scientific publishing process.” AAP merely stipulate that it would….
[M]any researchers cannot afford access to much needed research, and the proof of this is the fact that when subscription access is supplemented by author self-archiving, research usage and impact increase dramatically….Researchers do not now have nearly as much access as they need, because no research institution can afford all or most of the journals in which the research appears. The demonstrated impact advantage of self-archived research is the direct evidence of the substantial access shortfall there is for research that is not self-archived….
[R]esearch is not funded, conducted and published in order to generate revenue for publishers, let alone in order to guarantee their current revenue streams and insulate them from any risk. […]
Surely it is not the business of American Association of Publishers to concern itself with the cost to tax payers of providing open access to government-funded research. But studies have indeed been done, across disciplines, and they have found that self-archived research has substantially higher research impact (25% – 250+%), and this translates into substantially higher return on the tax payers’ investment in research than what they are getting for their research money today….[I]t is a self-serving red herring for publishers (in reality fretting about their own current revenue streams) to portray this as a “tax payer” issue….

If you already know what AAP and FRPAA stand for, this one’s for you. Please consider writing your Senators to ask them to co-sponsor. If you have a blog or some other way to publicise the issue, please use it. If you don’t recognise the acronyms, I have all kinds of good intentions of writing introductions to open access/open science and why it is the last best hope of the free world, kind to puppies and good with ketchup — but, um, don’t hold your breath. I’m really busy.

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