September 20, 2006

Evolution and Hunger Strikes: New Articles/Podcast Up at The Bottom Line Online

Hey all, I have two new articles and a podcast up at TBLO.

My column this week addreses some of the common myths associated with evolution (just to get everyone on the same page for the next year), but the best part about it was constructing this cladogram of the hominids:

The podcast is a primer on natural selection. It was a lot of fun to do, and I hope I can turn some of my earlier posts here into future podcasts (like the spiders/bugs posts, and perhaps the red panda).

This week I also covered the story of a student so fed up with the treatment of the LGBT community by the government/media, that he went on hunger strike. As of today, he is 10 days into it:

Ron Correa declared a hunger strike early in the morning of Sunday, September 10. Correa had had enough. He was tired of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals being pushed aside by the media and the government.

Correa will not eat again until sufficient media attention is given to the inequalities between heterosexuals and the LGBT community.

There have been extensive studies on the effects of starvation on the human body. Once the body has been deprived of calories for an extended period, it falls into a state of catabolysis, where it begins to break down muscle tissue for nutrients, leading to a serious reduction of lean body mass, and in eight to 12 weeks, death.

A recent study on hunger striking determined that the psychological effects of hunger striking itself, such as impaired decision making skills and unusually high levels of impulsivity and aggression, can actually prolong the strike unnecessarily.

Correa did not consult a doctor before he made his decision.

"Actually, one of my friends is a nurse," says Correa. "She tried to talk me out of it. Basically, she told me to drink lots of water and take vitamins."

Correa is not taking vitamins. I looked at several studies on both starvation and hunger strikes in particular before publishing the article, which only confirmed my suspicions about the long term physical and psychological effects of starving oneself.

Correa's strike is foolish on several levels, which I will specifically address later today or tomorrow morning. I also have a bit to say about youth, idealism and arrogance. I'll explain later.

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