QuickiesScience

Skepchick Quickies 10.17

Amanda

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

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34 Comments

  1. I am also a big fan of dissection. No better way to learn anatomy.

    Mink testicles sound fun but you you really need to try a necropsy on a bottle nose dolphin.

    Especially if it has been in the sun for a couple of days.

  2. The first thing that popped into my head regarding “The Future of Lighting”:

    “Hey baby, why don’t we climb between the flexible OLED sheets so I can light up your world?”

    This is why I’m not allowed in public.

  3. Hi there!

    I’ve always believed that love and desire are completely different entities, and I’m pretty sure that most men would back me up on this.

    The counter-argument is, of course, that sex is much more fulfilling and enjoyable when you share it with someone that you really LOVE. This is, in fact, something that a lot of women say: “I don’t see the point of having sex with someone that you’re not in love with. Sex is so much better when you share it with with someone you love”.

    A … cheese sandwich … is better when you share it with someone you love. A bottle of cabernet sauvignon is better when you share it with someone you love. A dog-eared old copy of Fantastic Four #243 is better when you share it with someone you love.

    Is there anything that ISN’T better with someone you love?

    But I’ve never felt that love and desire are mutually inclusive. Which probably means that I’m a pathetic pervert whose life is empty, but somehow I feel that I’m right. [shrug] :)

  4. @ Amanda

    It was fun and I never got sick. Amazing what one can get used too.

    I have not had the “pleasure” of smelling saponified human but I assume most mammals stink about the same.

    The best part is when you first cut into the bloated corpse and it geysers a lovely smelling liquid.

    The strangest thing about the smell is that as unpleasant as it is I always end up feeling ravenous .

  5. @Draconius: Yep, of course they can be separate, but *entirely* separate like the article suggests and perhaps even inverse? That just seems out-there to me.

    @spurge: You probably had it worse, actually, unless you were working under a dolphin-sized vent hood. And yes, dissection makes me hungry, too. Though the mink turned me off of chicken for months- the little beasties smelled just like fried chicken to me.

  6. “But it’s also true that people can have sexual desires for people they don’t love. They can love people who don’t sexually arouse them.”

    Personal experience says “well, duh”

    Although I think things like love and desire are soooo complex that it is a dangerous thing to make broad generalizations.

  7. @Kaylia_Marie:

    Although I think things like love and desire are soooo complex that it is a dangerous thing to make broad generalizations.

    That’s why I always avoid making broad generalizations about anything. It’s too bad everyone else here is always making generalizations about everything.

    I am a Hedge

  8. Thanks for the Eddie Izzard clip. But I’m a bit disappointed, since when I saw him this spring, the original title of Origin of the Species was:

    “Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey…You!”

    Then again, that’s part of the good with the bad with Eddie – his “conversational” style means his stuff, well, evolves. But sometimes it didn’t need evolving ;)

  9. Is there nothing (technologically speaking) that OLEDs can’t do? Apart from be affordable?

    I only enjoy dissection when I am not using 50 year old scalpels that haven’t been sharpened in about 25. It was the reason I ended up opting for the computerized dissection in high school anatomy (a decision I actually regret, even at the time as I was the only one who chose to do the computerized dissection who did not have an issue with being around the actual dissection of the cats in that class).

  10. @flib:

    Babies thrive on a well-balanced vegan diet.

    That statement seems to be true by definition. That is, “well-balanced” would seem to imply that it contains everything necessary. How likely is it that an infant will receive a well-balanced vegan diet?

    A quick search shows, in addition to pro-vegan propaganda, reports such as:
    http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=mun0xp8w2hg79yjd&size=large
    which shows sever health problems in a vegan infant, and
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1769384.ece
    in which two parents murdered their child via vegan diet.

    In practice, it is difficult to provide an infant everything he needs to thrive on a vegan diet. If the child is not being nursed, it is especially difficult. I think the dangers are sufficient to recommend strongly against a vegan diet for an infant.

    Although, I suppose there’s an evolutionary argument for not interfering.

    I am a Hedge

  11. @Im a Hedge:

    That statement seems to be true by definition. That is, “well-balanced” would seem to imply that it contains everything necessary. How likely is it that an infant will receive a well-balanced vegan diet?

    Quite likely indeed, assuming that the parents take an interest in their child’s nutrition. If not, then that’s a problem, as it would be for a non-vegan child. The USDA has stated that a vegan diet can be adequate for all stages of life, from infancy, through childhood, adulthood, pregnancy, and old age.

    http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-preview.axd?code=mun0xp8w2hg79yjd&size=large
    which shows sever health problems in a vegan infant

    Yeah, breastfeeding vegan mothers have to make sure they get adequate nutrition themselves, including vitamins B12 and D. Of course, it’s also unknown if this infant would have had health issues with a non-vegan mother.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1769384.ece
    in which two parents murdered their child via vegan diet.

    Murder is the correct word there. The cause of death was not veganism, it was neglect. The press handled this story in a ridiculous, sensationalistic, bigoted way.

    In practice, it is difficult to provide an infant everything he needs to thrive on a vegan diet. If the child is not being nursed, it is especially difficult.

    Not really, you just need to be conscious of the issues. That’s true of omnivorous kids also. There are soy formulas that provide balanced nutrition for infants.

    Although, I suppose there’s an evolutionary argument for not interfering.

    Nice.

  12. @flib:
    Hi flib,

    I’d love to be wrong on this one. I’ve looked a little further. I don’t question that it is possible to have a healthy infant on a vegan diet. It still looks like it’s very difficult, and much more difficult than on an omnivorous diet.
    Here’s an article (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16641572?ordinalpos=16&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum) about soy-based infant formula. They say “Soy is a source of protein that is inferior to cows’ milk, with a lower digestibility and bioavailability as well as a lower methionine content.”, but, “Soy protein formulae can be used for feeding term infants…”. They go on to point out some of the deficiencies of soy-based formula, and recommend against it’s use for pre-term infants. I’d call that a qualified point in favor of the possibility of a healthy vegan diet for infants. Most of the things I’m seeing are leaning the other way.

    A letter by three pediatricians to “Pediatric Critical Care Medicine” (Volume 7(2), March 2006, p 188) says,

    Vegan and vegetarian diets are insufficient to meet the nutritional needs of a child (3–5) and may damage a child’s health if they are not adequately supplemented.

    following a brief description of some problem cases. Note that this is a letter to the editor, and not a peer-reviewed article in the journal, They do cite three sources for their statement, which I have not checked out :

    Leblanc JC, Yoon H, Kombadjian A, et al: Nutritional intakes of vegetarian populations in France. Eur J Clin Nutr 2000; 54:443–449

    Hunt JR: Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2003; 78(Suppl):633S–639S

    Moilanen BC: Vegan diets in infants, children and adolescents. Pediatr Rev 2004; 25:174–176

    A search of pubmed produces many results that, judging solely by the titles, would indicate that extreme caution is warranted if one is inclined to feed a vegan diet to an infant or child.

    While it would be nice to think that everyone is a thoughtful, caring, and careful parent, it just isn’t true. Why else would there be such a thing as a “Happy Meal”? Also, in the vegan/vegetarian community I think there is more reliance on ideologically-based decisions than on evidence-based decisions. They may be very caring and loving parents, but they aren’t likely to be carefully evaluating the evidence. I think it is good to generally recommend that vegan diets be avoided for infants.

    Please do point me towards contrary evidence, as I am most interested. I’m quite sincere about this. Lest you think I’m one of the ravenous Red-Meat-Only People-Eating-Tasty-Animals If-I-Wanted-A-F%@#&$G-Salad-I-Would-Have-Ordered-One crowd, I have been a vegetarian since 1992 (that’s 16 years, for the numerically challenged) and my children are vegetarians (and have been from birth) – but not vegans. I was vegan for a couple years, but that didn’t last. A vegan lifestyle is difficult, and for infants I think it is risky enough to be avoided.

    I am a Hedge

  13. A letter by three pediatricians to “Pediatric Critical Care Medicine” (Volume 7(2), March 2006, p 188) says,

    Vegan and vegetarian diets are insufficient to meet the nutritional needs of a child (3–5) and may damage a child’s health if they are not adequately supplemented.

    Yes, vegans need to take B-12 supplements. Kids may need additional supplements beyond B-12. In a day when cheap vegan supplements are available, that’s not an interesting argument against veganism.

    Also, in the vegan/vegetarian community I think there is more reliance on ideologically-based decisions than on evidence-based decisions.

    I know there’s plenty of intellectually dishonest information spewed by the likes of Peta, and I know that there’s plenty of fallacious reasoning among the vegan community. As a vegan skeptic, it makes me cringe. But if you’re arguing that those who are vegetarian or vegan are more likely than the general population to fall for woo, I have to disagree. I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but it almost sounds like you’re saying that vegans are generally less capable than others of mapping out a balanced diet for their kids, and I would disagree with that also.

    Please do point me towards contrary evidence, as I am most interested. I’m quite sincere about this.

    One of my favorite sources for woo-free information about nutrition is the Vegetarian Resource Group. Here are a couple of links to articles on properly feeding vegan kids, complete with references:

    http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/pregnancy.htm

    http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm

  14. @flib:

    But if you’re arguing that those who are vegetarian or vegan are more likely than the general population to fall for woo, I have to disagree.

    I can see how I seemed to be implying that. I shouldn’t imply this. I don’t have anything but personal experience to back it up, but my experiences have given me this impression. Some of my earliest exposure to skeptical clashes with nonsense was related to an Organic Foods co-op. I use to go there for food, as they had a good selection of vegetarian/vegan items (I especially frequented them when I was a vegan and had an urge for ice cream). They also had an assortment of non-food items, including crystals, ear candles, pamphlets on protecting yourself from EMF (really), and a large selection of homeopathic remedies.

    A friend convinced me to try the ear candles. If you’re familiar with these things, you can guess what happened. I burned one of the ear candles in a glass bottle to see what would happen. The results looked identical to the ones we used in our ears. I concluded these things didn’t work, and the people who made them probably knew this. The next time I was at the co-op I explained this to the manager, assuming he might check for himself, then stop carrying them (so as to avoid ripping off his customers). He was not interested.

    Then I read a (favorable) book on homeopathy. It made a little bit of sense at first. Then they got to the part about how many serial dilutions you do. That didn’t seem right, so I dug a little deeper. I learned what I assume everyone here already knows about homeopathy. So I went to the co-op manager again. This time he was interested, but not in the way I had hoped. I heard all about “allopathy” and the medical establishment, etc. Eventually, I stopped shopping there. I think the result of all of this is an association in my mind between veg. and kook.

    It’s probably not a fair association. While I didn’t specifically mean to imply that they are more kooky than the general population in my earlier post, I also didn’t specifically mean to not imply that. If you take my meaning. That is, it wasn’t a conscious implication, but I can’t deny there is some implication there. I shouldn’t do that.

    Still, if they are no more or less likely to be kooky than the general population, then…

    II will check out the links you provided. Thanks.

    Seriously, I have a lot of respect for vegans. My concern is only about the children who don’t have the choice and may suffer greatly as a result of parental neglect – for whatever reason. Someone who lets their baby die because they don’t like to hurt cows has bad priorities. I’d kill my neighbor and feed him to my kids before letting them die. Hey, there’s an AI question for you: “Would you kill your neighbor and feed him to your children rather than let them starve to death?”

    I am a Hedge

  15. Ditto on the woo-centric co-ops and health food stores. It would be interesting to analyze their receipts to find out how much correlation there is between vegan food sales and homeopathy sales.

    Someone who lets their baby die because they don’t like to hurt cows has bad priorities.

    No doubt. I don’t think I’ve ever known a vegan who would make that choice, and I’ve known some pretty hard-core vegans. Veganism is about minimizing unnecessary animal suffering, not sacrificing humans in favor of cows.

  16. The best disection smell story I’ve heard was from one of my college profs. When he was in college he was rearranging a storage room, when he dropped a jar of fish, which turned out to be improperly prepared about 50 years previous.

    To make matters worse, the building was being re-modeled, and the ventilation intake was right outside the window, so the smell was carried throughout the building in seconds.

  17. @Weatherwax

    Large rotten stinky mammals pretty much smell the same. It all depends on how long it had been outside and how hot it was.

    Not only did we do ours outside, we did them on a small sub campus where hardly anyone ever went.

    The dropped jar sounds awful. I hope it was not ion formalin? I hate that stuff.

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