Monday, May 15, 2006

Captive minds

I gain the most fascinating insights into right-wing self-deception at Greta's blog.

I posted this...

It’s not a partisan issue, it’s about child safety

Greta has frequently blogged about her concern for children, at least when it comes time to bash the ACLU. Here’s a child-safety issue. What might the cause and solution be?:

CHICAGO - America may be the world’s superpower, but its survival rate for newborn babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia.
Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia’s rate is 6 per 1,000.

The first comment took me completely by surprise, as I had never encountered this meme before. I think it comes from the self-labeled 'culture of life' that seeks to use concern for the unborn to justify various inhumane policies:

"Well, here’s another example of numbers being printed and just left hanging with no explanation. Anybody who works in a NeoNatal environment in the US can tell you that our numbers are “higher” for the soul reason that we are the only country who in many cases will try to save the “hopeless” cases. Children who would not even try to be salvaged in European countries are routinely given every chance to survive in the United States. Unfortunately, when you are talking about a child weighing 2 pounds or less, efforts are often not successful. But, this is recorded in the US as a live birth, and then a death (even if they only “lived” for a few hours). And those are the children who push our numbers out of whack."

I did a little research and commented:

"I am under the impression that the infant mortality rate is the number of newborns dying under a year of age divided by the number of live births during the year. One assumption in your theory is that babies born with a heartbeat but premature in merciless places like Europe are not even counted as deaths if they die.

My hunch is that if we accept your explanation, it would take an unreasonably LARGE number of preemies to get us to five newborn deaths as compared to 1.8 per 1,000 for Japan. In 2003, about 490,000 babies in the U.S. were born prematurely. This is 12 percent. As of July 2006, there are an estimated 298,444,215 people in United States. That’s one preemie per 609 people. I’m not very good with math, but with a 2005 population of 128 million, Japan would need to be not even trying to salvage 2.77 times as many preemies as we do to explain, per your theory, why our mortality rate is 2.77 times as high (5 divided by 1.8). That requires 1,357,300 preemies to be not salvaged and not counted in Japan, or one per every 94 people. But the birth rate in Japan is 9.37 births per 1,000 population (2006 est.), or one for every 106 people. According to your theory, the prevalence of unsalvaged an uncounted preemies in Japan has to exceed the official number of live births!

Based on the numbers, I think that you may be in possession of some spin that someone wanted you to believe: “Oh no it’s just because we CARE enough to try to save them”. Or I could be totally wrong. I’d love to see the evidence."

Just when I thought it was over:

"Maybe it is Partial Birth Abortion. Maybe they are counting the children as alive if they come out capable of living, but who the doctors then kill while they are in the process of being born."

Amazed, I wrote:

"Good one Don. You never give up, even when you have no point. I admire your determination.

But if that absurd scenario explains our higher infant mortality rate compared to Japan, it would have to be a HUGE number of instances. I am laughing at you. If you want to do the math, go ahead. "

Then another one...

"I don’t know brain, I was thinking the same thing... I think it’s a pretty valid and poignant point.

What’s your explanation, brain?"

I replied:

"It’s poignant, all right, which is why I think it jumped up in Don’s mind. (Don, I would like to acknowledge that in my last comment to you, I was being offensive and derisive. On purpose).

But ... this is such a ridiculous notion. It shows how your thoughts are controlled by your ideology, rather than the other way around. You think what your religion and politics tell you to think — even if it means naking utterly fatuous statements like Don did.

So-called PBA (an innaccurate, political term) is extremely rare. No POSSIBLLE way it could account for a 2.77 times higher infant mortality rate versus Japan.

But even if it did — Don’s notion that doctors would CHOOSE to count the baby as LIVE and then KILL it — is absolutely insane. Delusional. Sorry to say it, the idea is just plain stupid and not worthy of even Intelligent Design Don.

> What’s your explanation, brain?

I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that our infant mortality is so high because we neglect the medical needs of mothers and children. That’s my hunch in a nutshell, though there are doubtless many ways that it unfolds."
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