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Skepchick Quickies 3.13

Great talking Teller, it’s Thursday already.

Don’t forget, the skeptical Limericks contest ends on Monday, March 17!

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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17 Comments

  1. My mom had a border collie that understood numerous (40 ? 50? I never counted) English words. Of course it had learned them over time .If I went to the window and looked out it would come over sit next to me and raise its ears. It would respond totally different if I said cat, squirrel,mouse, or Rocky(a big mean cat that beat up all the neighborhood dogs).

    The whale story got me thinking again about whether animals act on pure instinct or can make choices.

    Just one of my animal observation stories:

    Two summers ago my neighbor put mothballs under woodchips around the base of a tree to discourage a squirrel I was feeding from burying things there. The next day I looked over to see numerous grackles rooting around in the wood chips. At first I saw an adult pick up a mothball and I thought oh no its going to feed it to a young one. But when I looked more closely they were all picking up mothballs ,holding them in their mouth and using them like a bar of soap rubbing them all over their bodies and wings. The young were less agile then the adults and constantly dropped and fiddled trying to determine the best way to hold it. In succeeding days more and more grackles would show up to take a mothball bath.The problem was that there were less and less mothballs because when done they dropped the mothball which would disipate in the heat. In the first days there were plenty for all ,everyone looked and found their own. I noticed in latter days, when mothballs were scarce and deeper digging was required, some would not even attempt to look but would sit idly by in small groups that would "mug" a digger when it found a mothball. Little fights would break out all around. Did the "muggers" decide it wasnt worth the effort to dig? If it was pure instinct, why were there no "muggings" the first few days?

    .

  2. What do you guys think about that dolphin rescuing the whales?

    Here’s the thing: my mother LITERALLY believes that dogs and cats can understand English.

    Once, while driving she passed a dog running in the street. She stopped, rolled down her window, and said to the dog, “Go home!” and drove away. I said, “Dearest Mother, canines comprehend not such lofty terms.” “Yes they do,” she responded.

    She used to say to her cat, “If you come and sit on my lap, I’ll give you some food.” And he would sit on her lap.

    But come on. She probably had the food waiting for him, and he came for the food, which happened to be on her lap. But try convincing her of that.

    So I think there may be a similar, but less obvious, explanation for this. I just have no idea what it could be.

    Or maybe the ocean is a giant water cooler populated by chatty Kathies. ‘Evs.

  3. Vox Day's hairstyle is its own punishment/birth control.

    When I heard about that study of the STDs, my first reaction was "what the hell, what about boys?". The Womyn in me thinks that this is very sexist, and by omission, implies that boys are cootie free while girls are disease-ridden strumpets. Nice.

  4. Quoted from the Vox Day article:

    "Women love education; it's the actual application they don't particularly like. Whereas the first thought of a woman who enjoys the idea of painting is to take an art appreciation class, a similarly interested man is more likely to just pick up a paintbrush …"

    *gasp*

    *splutter*

    *mouth opening and closing in disbelief*

    So I suppose that the music I play is just a fortuitous accident, rather than the daily application of 29 years of study? All the classes I took were just an indication that I'm a typical female with no interest in real accomplishment?

    I think somebody needs to be restrained and poked repeatedly with all our old Barbie dolls.

  5. Bee, that's what I "love" about people who are ridiculous, anything someone says to argue just proves their point that we're "apologists" or "fit the profile". And then they go "See?!" :)

    Writerdd, I certainly hope not!

  6. I think the news story about the STD’s is proof of the failure of the abstinence only policy in sex education. It is like telling teens to drive slowly, then taking seat belts and air bags out of their cars because, after all, they are going to drive slow like you told them, right?

  7. “Where are the stats on teenage boys?”

    I hate to be a killjoy, but every other representative national study of teenage STD rates has been on boys. This is the very first one ever done on girls.

    To answer your question, you can check here for some stats on both boys and girls from previous studies (noting that the data for the boys is both differently comprised and generally better than that for girls, due to the lack of this kind of study in 2006). You can also do a search on Pubmed and browse papers that discuss prevalence. “Sexually transmitted disease adolescent united states” will give you more results (and many irrelevant results) than you can shake a stick at.

  8. I, for one, and gald that the world has people like Vox in it. The more other people alienate the smart women out there, the less competition I have to worry about. It’s hard enough as it is.

  9. Oh, well, a TURBO PORSCHE! Now that makes a difference. If it was just a plain old Porsche 911, not a TURBO Porsche, then I’d think Vox Day was just another run-of-the-mill jabbering moron. But now that I know he has a Turbo Porsche, he just has more credibility somehow.

    And a record contract! My gosh, that makes him almost … attractive!

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