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Skepchick Quickies 1.2

Amanda

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

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  1. The STATS Dubious Data Awards are very useful in order to rethink the way we interpret data. Our cognitive biases are hard and we need some effort in order to overcome them. One of the big problems is the qualitative way of thinking that not take into account the quantitative aspects… “Dosis sola facit uenenum”!

  2. The BPA thing is interesting. Health Canada has labeled it “toxic” and the FDA is hemming and hawing on it. I know that, in the 1930s, BPA was evaluated as an estrogen replacement but rejected after DES was found to be more effective. BPA was later discovered to be useful as a plasticizer and now shows up in a lot of food containers. Whether that translates into health issues is unclear.

    I’m on the fence about this. Should I avoid anything containing BPA under the assumption that it might cause health problems? Should I assume it’s OK until proven otherwise? I don’t know. For now, I’m minimizing unnecessary exposure to it but not avoiding it altogether.

  3. Eh, he never said he was an atheist. I’d say he’s likely agnostic, but since he said “I am not religious” instead of “I am an atheist” you can’t really say. He very well could be “not religious” yet still believe in god.

    That said, I like Danielle Radcliff. Not a huge Harry Potter fan, but he’s always been well spoken and intelligent.

  4. I’m going to take a break from my usual incredibly funny, witty and insightful jokes about genitalia and be a little serious for a second here:

    Daniel Radcliffe is/may be an atheist. Why should we care?

    Forgive me for being forward, but it’s always bothered me whenever a self-identified group tries to make itself more palatable to those outside said group by reminding people who ELSE is part of this club of super-friends (Canadians do this ad-nauseum: “Did you know William Shatner is Canadian? So is Jim Carey! DERP!).

    This bugs me for two reasons:
    1) Atheism should be doing outreach on its own merits, not by capitalizing on celebrity worship. If Radcliffe were a scholar, journalist or otherwise a person of power (influence alone is insufficient) , then that might be worth something, because those are positions where thinking is paramount. Radcliffe is famous for looking like Harry Potter, then getting the job as a child (Admittedly, he’s a decent bloke who will likely not end up being a child-star crack-whore). Lets stop using actors and singers as our public spokespeople (a role which they never asked for), when what we should really be doing is try to appeal to their higher, intellectual nature and reason people out of the dark ages (if we can)

    2) Ostensibly, mentioning Radcliffe’s atheist/agnostic proclivities is a way of making it more palatable to the huddled (around their bibles) masses, as a way of saying, “you like harry potter, right? Well, he’s an atheist too! I guess atheists can’t be all that bad after all, right?”, as though appealing to celebrity worship will work on turning people over (which, I’m sad to say, probably will work on some). But this is tactically unsound.

    What happens if/when an actor/singer/comedian who we like suddenly turns out to be sickeningly christian (Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg, Mr. T), or frighteningly cultish (Tom Cruise)? If we wish to remain consistent, then we either have to go back on our previous tactic of “look who else is awesome like me” or embrace the dangerous crap. Remember when Will Smith had Scientology rumors around him last year? Remember how sad it made people? That kinda irked me to see how powerful celebrityism (my word, copyright) has become, where even self-proclaimed “free-thinkers” all of a sudden view an actor differently because of a revelation into their personal life. Just enjoy his movies (or don’t), and do your best to ignore his personal life. If Will Smith becomes a Tom Cruise and starts hocking his wares in the way that Jim Carey has become an anti-vaxxer and is endangering public health, then fine…cut him down like an old oak tree.

    Otherwise, stop acting like the private lives of celebrities matter more than a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys, or we’re never going to get people thinking.

    That being said, boner.

  5. @Steve: That’s about how I take it, avoid it if/when I can until the data is in. The precautionary principle is alive and well. However, since the modern world is damn near made of plastic (in more than metaphorical ways), it’s going to be difficult to ignore. I understand it’s even detectable (at very, very low levels, in tap water.

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