Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 3.2

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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25 Comments

  1. Feel the fucking Xtian love. Barbarians. Why has no one then decided that Ted Haggerty should be executed for being tEh Gay?

    Oh, wait– Double Standards. Right.

    Erm, and that "Love your neighbor" shite? And the "Love your enemy" narishkeit? Fuggit. What Jeebus really wants is for you to murder anyone who doesn't conform.

  2. Unless there's someone else by that name, my quick search tells me that Bishop Sheen died in 1979! So this "quote" couldn't have come from him. A quick perusal of the cited article indicates that someone used one of Sheen's statements to support his own hateful view on the killing.

    Now don't get me wrong. Sheen may well have been a homophobe of the lowest order. I'm not trying to defend him. I don't know anything about him other than what Google/Wiki shows. But it's ridiculous to state, as Greg does, that Sheen (who has been dead for almost 30 years) is responsible for this "quote."

    Is the Catholic Church anti-gay? Certainly! But this kind of sloppy research doesn't help anybody.

  3. "I hate the attitude that everyone has to choose the same lifestyle and that people without kids are somehow deficient."

    And I hate the same thing when it comes to only having one. We planned on one, we're happy with one, don't tell me to have more! Read Maybe One by Bill McKibbin. He puts thqat whole "Only Child Syndrome" malarky to rest.

  4. I was angry to read about that "Demographic Winter" piece which sounds like scaremongering. Don't they know the Earth is -already- overpopulated and that it's going to get worse before it gets better? Not to mention that the more people there are the longer it will before they all have a chance to live a prosperous lifestyle. But it sounds like they do know this, but dismiss it as "environmentalist propaganda" which is a lot easier than rebutting it with facts.

    I agree that having children should be a choice not an obligation. Of course, the evolutionary pressures to have children are so strong that its sadly easy to see why many adults look strangely at people who don't.

  5. "Don’t they know the Earth is -already- overpopulated…"

    Well, that sort of depends on how you measure it. It is definitely way overpopulated if you assume as a baseline the current western world lifestyle. This isn't necessarily a bad baseline when you consider that the rest of the world is in the process of trying to emulate this lifestyle.

    H0wever, population drops do have negative consequences. In general, it tends to suck to be old when the population is going down.

  6. But I hate the attitude that everyone has to choose the same lifestyle and that people without kids are somehow deficient.

    Yeah. Some time ago someone I didn't really know very well was introducing me to someone I didn't know at all, and the subject of children came up. I was described as "childless." It turns out that my response, pointing out that no, I was "child free," was an excellent way to make friends among those who think I should be the same way they are. I may as well have offered them a dead rat for an hors d'oeuvre.

    Still, I object to having my carefully planned choice to not have children characterized as an oversight or malfunction.

  7. It puzzles me why everyone can't make a little effort to respect whatever each individual chooses for their lifestyle. We could be talking about the poor young gay kid or the decision to have kids at all. With the latter it seems no matter what you choose you will get some criticism from someone.

    No kids = selfish, not contributing to the next generation (I never quite got how it was selfish but that's what people say)

    One kid = not enough to replace yourself, lonely child, etc

    Two kids = we're over-populated, you've wasted your life on breeding

    More than two kids = you obviously don't understand how this contraception thing works

    (Disclaimer – the above are not my opinions just my examples of the crap any choice gets you)

    There was an interesting explosion in the comments over at Feministing on this issue (http://feministing.com/archives/008681.html#comments) around whether the poor should be allowed to have children. The Simpsons quote in the Feminishing post is darn funny too.

  8. Geoff Pullum takes on David Gelernter:

    The danger when encountering a misogynist prescriptive grammar rant as extreme as the one just published by David Gelernter in the Weekly Standard (vol. 13 no. 24, 03/03/2008) is that one might get as angry and fired up and beyond reason as he is. That would be a pity. I will try to remain calm (it's not exactly my forte, though I have occasionally tried it). The right reaction for this one is sadness rather than indignation. Gelernter is a distinguished computer scientist at Yale; yet here he makes a complete fool of himself.

    I particularly like this example, attributed to C. Badendyck, of a case where the pronoun he is clearly not gender-neutral.

    The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work. As he shaves or blow-dries his hair or pulls on his panty hose, he is easing himself by small stages into the demands of the day.

  9. I have no desire to have children, and could care less what anyone else has to say about it. This attitude may change, but it may not.

    If someone wants to call me selfish, I'm totally cool with that. I'm a pretty well practiced misanthrope, so it'd be no stretch to come up with a lot of suitable names to call them, but I'll keep it to myself. I may be selfish, but at least I'm not a prat about it.

  10. alan_lund,

    On the contrary, although it wasn't explicitly stated that Bishop Sheen had made these comments, that seemed clearly to be Greg Laden's implication with his very first line…

    "…according to mainstream Christian leaders."

    Greg then goes on to quote the original poster that "Bishop Sheen blames…" using the present tense. Not unless you follow the link back to the original comment do you find out about the actual source of the opinion. And not until I did my own Google search did I find out that the “mainstream Christian leader” had been dead for 30 years!

    I think it’s damn sleazy to use this kind of innuendo to smear someone who can’t defend himself! If Greg Laden wants to claim that “mainstream Christian leaders” think a 15yo boy deserved to die because he was gay, he ought to have the decency to find a quote by someone who is actually alive and has made a comment about a case such as this. I suspect they are out there, as there is no shortage of Christian a$$holes. As I said before, this is just plain sloppy “journalism.” Shame on Greg!

    As skeptics, we have to be very careful when we come upon a statement that confirms our prejudices against someone we don’t like. It’s way too easy to just post it verbatim and say “See! See! They’re just as bad as we thought they were!” Frankly, I think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard than that. You should never let your hatred of someone or something blind you to the need to be truthful.

  11. I think there's really only one major problem with the planet and that's the overpopulation of humans. I think if we kept the level even at 1 billion, things would be great. Oh, wait, it was too late for that even when I was born. And that was a looooong time ago. Oy.

  12. SteveT: Got it. I followed the link chain to the end and found the source, and examined the quote where it is actually quoted, but didn't follow it back to Greg and notice how he was attributing it. And you are quite right: Greg was at best sloppy, and for that matter, linking to a sloppy (or worse) post is also sloppy. We should do better. (I should have done better. My apologies.)

  13. The animal research thing is really scary. I used to work in an animal research lab (well, actually, I worked in 3 different animal research labs) and we had the tightest security I have ever seen. It puts the airport to shame (not that it's terribly impressive to do so I suppose, but still – there were keys to get to that floor on the elevator, mechanical locks with magnetic pass cards that would deactivate themselves if they weren't used properly, etc – crazy) and it was there not only for our protection as researchers, but to protect the poor animals from those freaky beatniks bursting in to "free" them into a life of starvation and death at the hands of wild animals and the elements.

    Yeah, the lab where we fed them daily, gave them constant access to water, gave them appropriate veterinary services, named them like they were pets, cared for them like they were family, respected them for their contribution to society, and kept them at optimal living conditions (temperature, humidity, etc) was just eeeeevil.

    Good on you, activists, for disrupting that garbage right quick! Especially the way this time you've so successfully failed at separating someone's personal life from their professional career by attempting to thwart them at their own private home.

    Sigh… choked. up. with rage.

  14. "The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work. As he shaves or blow-dries his hair or pulls on his panty hose, he is easing himself by small stages into the demands of the day."

    What part of that isn't gender-neutral?

  15. Languages that have masculine and feminine pronouns often use the masculine to mean men or mixed groups, and the feminine for groups of only women, revealing that the gender neutrality is really a farce. English is actually less guilty of this than many other languages, since a lot of people use "they" as a gender neutral singular pronoun, or more recently, at least show awareness of the issue by using he/she or switching between he and she in different examples in their text.

  16. Alan and SteveT: You're right about Greg's post being sloppy by implying that a 30-year-dead theologian was in a "mainstream Christian leader." But the sloppiness was compounded by the link from here. The use of quotation marks clearly implied that "Deserved what he got" was something said by the mainstream Christian leaders, not an editorial interpretation from Greg. Thus the original poster's point — that boys shouldn't be allowed to go to school wearing dresses — was transformed by two skeptical links into an endorsement of murder. Poor show.

  17. I'm a bit of a role playing game hobbyist. It has traditionally been a very white and very male hobby, though that is now less true on both counts than ever before.

    For years now, there has been a convention in role playing game books that has many using feminine pronouns as the default. You see it all over the place now, though less so in the biggest product lines. It started as a rather dorky way of sounding inclusive, and it just took off from there. You'd expect people to complain about it, but only a few do.

  18. “The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work. As he shaves or blow-dries his hair or pulls on his panty hose, he is easing himself by small stages into the demands of the day.”

    What part of that isn’t gender-neutral?

    Seems perfectly fabulous to me.

  19. I have an explanation as to why people might be having fewer children that relates to my nitric oxide (NO) research. One of the things that stress triggers is low NO. It turns out that oocytes need a supply of NO and that how much NO is in their local environment determines how long the "window" of fertilization is. Lots of NO, long window, little NO short window. In discussing this with one of the researchers who discovered it, we thought that it was a "feature", something to reduce fertility under times of high stress, which tend to be not good times go get pregnant. Low NO is important in infertility related to diabetes. It likely is important in other instances of infertility too. It might even alter the psychological desire to have children. Estrogen is regulated by NO, and increases NO production. NO levels peak at the time of ovulation. Oxytocin also has effects mediated through NO.

    My research indicates that NO levels in individuals decline when the region undergoes development. The decline in the birthrate that has always been observed when a region undergoes development might be related to the decline in NO levels. Some of it might be the ability to control fertility, but some of it may also be putting off reproduction because the time just doesn't feel "right".

  20. It turns out that my response, pointing out that no, I was “child free,” was an excellent way to make friends among those who think I should be the same way they are.

    That's the greatest response ever. I've been looking for a way to succinctly defend my lack of children and piss off my boyfriend's overbearing family all at once and that will work perfectly. Thanks, blue collar scientist!

  21. We had this very discussion in class when I was in my 4th year of secondary school (10th grade I think?).

    The original discussion point raised was:

    "Are childless couples selfish?"

    The discussion's conclusion:

    "No, but what about couples with children, aren't they being selfish by having kids?"

    All accidents aside, seeing how so many people are having kids while being totally unqualified to even raise them properly, their decision to have the kids anyway is definitely selfish. They have the kids because THEY want them, not because they want (or are even capable) to provide the world's population with another valuable addition. Some of them should definitely opt to get a pet rather than a kid to cure that parenting itch.

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