ScienceSkepticism

Skepchick Quickies 6.18

  • Scans see “gay brain differences”– The brains of gay men and women look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex, research suggests.  Thanks Frankiemouse.
  • The Mother, The Child, The School Board And The Psychic– An educational assistant goes to a psychic. Psychic tells her that her student whose name begins with V is being sexually abused. Educational assistant tells the school. School calls mother of Victoria in for meeting. School then reports mother to Children’s Aid. WTF. From Ordinary Girl.  Some Canadian Skeptic has contact info for the school board involved. 
  • Soothe your child with placebo pills– “Manufacturers of Obecalp – placebo spelled backwards – claim that it works by convincing youngsters that they have taken real medicine so they must be feeling better.” As the article points out, whatever happened to “kiss it, make it better”? Thanks Tim.
  • McCain still to take money raised by total asshat– Said asshat, Clayton Williams, compared rape to weather during his 1990 campaign for Texas governor: “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

Amanda

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

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23 Comments

  1. Kiss it, make it better? Whatever happened to “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about?”

    Re: Mr Asshat
    This is why I can’t feminism seriously, an offhand remark made 18 years ago is dragged up to play the victim card. There isn’t a single person alive who hasn’t made SOME remark that someone else would find objectionable, but for some reason, only men are targeted.

  2. re:mxracer652

    Well, people started to care for their children. As for your second point, the “offhand remark” as you put it is one of several and was made on camera, in a public forum. I have, so far, heard no retraction. This is not the targeting of a careless man by a pack of raving feminist loonies, this is a person (who’s gender is irrelevent) being called out by some people (whose genders are irrelevent) for a comment about rape that is deeply offensive and demonstrates absolutely no knowledge of what the problem with rape is. It’s not just about physical damage, it’s certainly not the same as enjoying the experience of the rain. It’s something that can cause deep psychological damage and destroy someone’s self image and self worth for some, if not all, of their life. The issue of rape is one that should not be off the cards for a discussion, or perhaps even the occasional joke. This was neither. It was a ridiculously ignorant public comment on the issue by a public figure and, frankly, a few hundred thousand is nothing to the McCain campaign, but a huge amount to a rape support or prevention program.

  3. After reading the gay brain thing I am glad there is even more evidence to support the theory that gay people are born gay. But I am not really very thrilled to find I have a brain similiar in structure to hetro men, I understand the findings but on a personal level find it weird as many hetro men seem like foreign people to me.

  4. I understand the findings but on a personal level find it weird as many hetro men seem like foreign people to me.

    I felt the same way; especially when I was in Europe.

    But seriously, similar brain structure doesn’t necessarily mean personalities are the same. Assholes are still assholes, despite their brain structure and their hetro/homo status.

  5. I understand the findings but on a personal level find it weird as many hetro men seem like foreign people to me.

    That seems reasonable, really. Even leaving aside differences in the chemical cocktails that run through people, whole slew of cultural standards tend to have us hetero men acting in bizarre ways. I don’t even pretend to understand some of them, even when I do them.

  6. neverclear5,
    The first statement was a joke.

    Unless I’m missing something, Asshat’s rape comment wasn’t on camera and there was absolutely no context given, so you cannot make any kind of assumption of what the intent was, or his knowledge of certain societal evils. That is knee jerk feminism at its finest.

    On top of that, the youtube video feministing embedded is from a political hit piece his electoral competitor made, and we all know how those are 100% truthful, accurate & honest.

    Once again, that was 18_years_ago. He probably was/is a misogynist douche, but how does anyone know if his personal philosophy changed since then? I’m sure feministing checked on that. /eyeroll

  7. I can’t read the “gay brain” article, as the link seems to be broken, but my understanding is that they looked at adult brains, meaning it’s NOT evidence that people are born gay. I’m not exactly a neurologist, so I might be way off on this, but my understanding is that the physiology of the brain isn’t so simple as all that. That’s one highly complex biocomputer, and software CAN affect the hardware, if you take my meaning.

    I’ve never yet seen anything like strong evidence either way, and I highly suspect that the born that way vs choice we make argument is just yet another case of false dichotomy. Personally, I’d prefer to find that there’s no physical cause of any kind (one more point in the volition camp), but that’s just me. Wherever the science takes us, that’s where we need to follow.

  8. Oh, and I personally take “lie back and enjoy it” to be one of the most highly offensive things a person could possibly say on the subject of rape… but twenty years is a long time, and if this is the worst person giving money to the McCain camp, I’d be quite relieved and feel much better about the whole thing than I do. Alll politicians have douches in their camp, but something tells me McCain has a lot more, and worse, evil than that pushing him towards the White House.

  9. Once again, that was 18_years_ago. He probably was/is a misogynist douche, but how does anyone know if his personal philosophy changed since then? I’m sure feministing checked on that. /eyeroll

    Sorry, it seems a valid concern to me. There are some acts and comments that don’t really ever get a pass, no matter what and no matter how long ago it was. If he’s not done anything notable in correcting that particular gaffe, the onus is on him.

  10. They really need to do the brain study the other way around: scan random slice of baby brains, then again every couple of years, and then wait 20 years, see who’s gay and look back and see if you can match it up to the baby brains.

  11. JasonW,
    Who gets to decide what comments do & do not get a pass?

    We all do. I can’t make that decision for you any more than you can for me, or for feministing.

    How much effort does one have to put in to be pardoned for their “sins”?

    You act like there’s some formula for people to be forgiven for things. You realize that my saying some things don’t ever give a pass means that, for what it may or may not be worth, there are some things I, at least, consider unforgiveable, yes?

    As far as how much effort someone puts in, I suppose that depends on how much one cares about the the problem in question, and the people whose forgiveness one is seeking.

    Just because you’re apathetic about the situation in question or are fine with it, doesn’t mean that people who aren’t OK with it are suddenly terrible people for not being OK with it.

  12. That mother/school board/ed. assistant thing is just ridiculous. But that is frigging awesome about the GPS, incidentally.

    Laws here in Canada are that you just have to get a weird vibe and that’s enough to report abuse, which is basically no evidence. However, in this case the “information” was based on a reading FROM A PSYCHIC and not even as much as a weird vibe. So the investigation was based on LESS THAN NOTHING. Sigh.

    What a waste of resources this EA has caused. Is this the new “guided hands” thing for autism? Now instead of them “gaining a voice” to tell us firsthand of the abuse, their EAs can go to psychics and find out?

  13. Laws here in Canada are that you just have to get a weird vibe and that’s enough to report abuse, which is basically no evidence. However, in this case the “information” was based on a reading FROM A PSYCHIC and not even as much as a weird vibe. So the investigation was based on LESS THAN NOTHING. Sigh.

    Reading the article, it sounds like it was a combination of the psychic reading and mis-interpreted observed behavior. Luckily, the CPS (or Canadian equivalent) officer involved was astute enough to dismiss the charge as “ridiculous.” But yeah, someone dropped the ball by failing to ask the question: “Wait a minute, if the psychic hadn’t said anything, would we even be considering filing this report?” It sounds like that was just enough to get the EA suspicious and to start looking for confirmation.

    If it were my kid, I’d certainly be looking to get the EA fired. Possibly even look at suing the psychic for reckless disregard or something. Unfounded allegations of sexual abuse can ruin lives.

  14. Some friends of mine are teachers, and they have to be very careful about what information they hear, and what they report. I also remember a teacher explaining it to the class when she was teaching sex ed. If a teacher has any suspicion of abuse, any suspicion at all, any rumors, or half-uttered suggestions, they are obligated by law to report it. And reporting a false claim could cost a teacher their job.

    It’s a bit of a catch-22. If you hear a rumor, you’d better hope it’s right, because you’ve got to report it, and you’re in shit if you falsely accuse someone.

    So, yeah, reporting abuse based on the claims of a psychic may be stupid. But from the teaching assistant’s perspective, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  15. I’ll clarify that I wholeheartedly agree with the laws in Canada. If abuse is suspected, it should be reported just in case because you never know. I appreciate that kids are protected in this manner. But in this case, the report was based on nothing at all. From what I gather, the idea wasn’t firmly planted in the EAs head until the psychic put it there. This wasn’t word of mouth or a bad feeling from facts not adding up, this was a whim of information from some stranger who had never even met the child. That psychic should be investigated and fined, at the very least.

  16. re:mxracer652
    Okay fine, if it was a comment taken out of context (it would need to have some pretty damn impressive context to justify) that he made 18 years ago then he needs to make it very clear that it is no longer his current opinion. And before you say it, yes. If I’d made a comment like that 18 years ago (when I was 6) I would make a public denunciation of the statement. However, my point stands. Giving that money to a rape relief charity would be a puny gesture for McCain and a huge benifit to the rape relief cause. Whether or not this man is the worst donor to McCain is also not the issue. I know that the world tends to come down to choosing the lesser of two evils, but that doesn’t mean that the evil in question should be ignored when discovered. Political candidates face the firing squad for wearing too few flag pins or spending slightly too little time staring, misty eyed, at the flag. This is orders of magnitude more important that either.

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