random quotes ... to amuse, inspire, enrage:
  [I]t was Darwin's chief contribution, not only to Biology but to the whole of natural science, to have brought to light a process by which contingencies a priori improbable, are given, in the process of time, an increasing probability, until it is their non-occurrence rather than their occurrence which becomes highly improbable. ... Let the [male] reader ... attempt to calculate the prior probability that a hundred generations of his ancestry in the direct male line should each have left at least one son. The odds against such a contingency as it would have appeared to his hundredth ancestor (about the time of King Solomon) would require for their expression forty-four figures of the decimal notation; yet this improbable event has certainly happened.

tagged: evolution, probability
  —R. A. Fisher, (Edited to clarify the apparent masculinity of "the reader").

federally funded censorship about abortion

Friday, April 4th, 2008 10:28 am

Jenna Freedman posted an outrageous story about a medical database: Popline has made the word “abortion” a stopword, meaning you can’t search on the term; the database ignores the word as it ignores words like “the”.

Why? Popline responded that “We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now.”

They recommend instead searching “fertility control, postconception”.

I fail to understand this rationale. Was their pressure from within PopLine or outside from the funders to hide information about abortion? Or did they decide for some reason that it was strategically better to hide information about abortion given the anti-choice climate at the Bush administration?

Either way, hiding information is not the right solution.

The contact information is:
Debra L. Dickson
POPLINE Database Manager/Administrator
INFO Project
111 Market Place, Suite 310, Baltimore, MD 21202
ddickson@jhuccp.org
Tel: 410-659-6300 / Fax: 410-659-6266

and more information is available at Jenna’s page.
cross-posted at sivacracy

update fri 3pm:
The Dean at John Hopkins (which manages Popline) has ordered the decision reversed. See statement from Johns Hopkins (link from women’s health news); see also crooks & liars coverage

algorithmically similar posts:

» google print: google’s evilness is beside the point (Bonus Rant Included), 2005-10-26 (score:27)
» middle-rite nation, 2008-10-31 (score:23)
» resurrecting my old abortion rights button, 2009-06-02 (score:21)
» google print postscript, 2005-12-06 (score:20)

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