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08/10/2010 - 2:35pm

A philosopher and sometime science fiction author takes a look at what’s happening with his old favorite comic book series.


08/10/2010 - 1:51pm
The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) marks its 20th anniversary in 2010.  The Center for Practical Bioethics is marking this milestone by convening leading voices in law, medicine, theology and ethics.  Participants will explore a controversial and difficult topic rooted in these two landmark events (PSDA and the Cruzan case), artificial nutrition and hydration.  The impact of technology and the evolving definitions of states of consciousness make this conference timely and relevant as clinicians, patients and their families, and policymakers grapple regularly with decisions regarding the mandatory use of medically-administered nutrition/hydration.  Here is the schedule:Friday, November 12WelcomeMyra Christopher, President and CEO of the Center for Practical BioethicsVideo message from John C. Danforth, former US Senator, co-sponsor of Patient Self  Determination ActCommemoration and historic overviewWilliam H. Colby, attorney for Nancy Cruzan familyPatients with altered states of consciousnessArt Caplan, Joe FinsModerator: Glenn McGeeDinner honoring the Cruzan family. Overview of Patient Self Determination Act, Myra Christopher.Saturday, November 13Patients with advanced illnessDavid Casarett, Dan Brauner, Joan TenoModerator: John CarneyReligion and PoliticsCharlie Sabatino, William F. May, Ron HamelModerator: Terry RosellConcurrent Sessions:Disability Advocacy, presenter TBDMedical Economics, presenter TBDSocial Policy in a democratic, pluralistic  societyPresenter: TBDClosing message: Richard Payne, MD
08/10/2010 - 11:34am

The main value of repugnance is for it to function as a starting point for a conversation.


08/10/2010 - 10:52am

Most of the hopes and fears about genetic testing are based on a mistaken idea, not of what it does, but of what genes do.

Basically, identifying “the gene for” is nothing else than finding an statistical correlation between a chemical pattern in DNA and a characteristic in the organism. It doesn’t guarantee that the characteristic will be present, explain how it works, or — if the characteristic is an unwanted one — provide a cure. It’s a very useful first step on the path of figuring something out, but it’s usually very far from an explanation or an applicable technology. Gene tests rarely tell you anything that medical checkups and your family history won’t....

08/09/2010 - 3:30pm

True Blood seems to continuously illustrate all the things that could go wrong with human enhancement. Whether it’s non-humans being taken advantage of by humans, or non-humans being unable to control their powers, it all looks pretty bleak.

We’ve seen Sookie rescue her vampire boyfriend Bill on the brink of death, only to have him turn on her and in his weakened state uncontrollably feed on her. When she awakes from her coma it seems as though their relationship may finally have reached an end, but of course theirs isn’t the most twisted one around. That distinction perhaps falls on the werewolf couple Alcide and Debbie. After forsaking Alcide for another werewolf and an addiction to vampire blood, a confrontation forces Alcide to kill Debbie’s mate to save Bill and Sookie. Debbie sets out on a path of revenge to destroy all that Alcide loves, and despite this a part of Alcide still seems to love her....

08/09/2010 - 2:48pm
A brief update on some of our busy fellows.
08/09/2010 - 11:11am

Can current approaches to doing science sustain us over the next one hundred years? An increasing reliance on technological fixes to global challenges demands a radical rethink of how we use science in the service of society.

Over the next century we will face perhaps the greatest challenge in the history of humanity: sustaining six billion plus people on a planet where natural resources are running scarce and our every action results in a palpable environmental reaction....

08/09/2010 - 9:41am
We are pleased to announce the appointment of V.R. Manoj as an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET.
08/08/2010 - 2:58pm

In a new article in the Journal of Perinatology, John Paris and colleagues respond to Robert Truog's provocative New England Journal of Medicine piece in which he defends providing futile CPR for a 2-year-old-boy who "might already be dead."  

08/08/2010 - 2:41pm

In an new editorial in Critical Care Medicine [38(8): 1742-43], Randall Curtis and Robert Burt argue that we should not abandon the ideal of shared decision-making for even the tough futility conflicts.  They argue that when there is "persistent disagreement with families" that simply "requires even more persistent efforts to find a mutually acceptable resolution."  After all, they argue, the majority of conflicts can be resolved "through deliberate communication and negotiation."  Therefore, we ought not develop rules (e.g. Texas-style) that are "designed to settle" the rare intractable case because such rules could have "an unfavorable effect of the resolution of more common and less intractable disputes."