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Skepchick 2.13

Amanda

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

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  1. Poor Jenny McCarthy. She’s have to make up some more stuff to keep her business, I mean crusade for truthiness, going. :-D
    We’re having debates here at work this morning about it. She’s done so much damage to the health community with her BS. So many smart people don’t understand the concept of “relative risk.”

  2. I was just thinking that the writings of the early feminists are a gold mine of quotes that could be used in that bus campaign.

    And, yeah, the rat with the teddy bear is unbelievably cute. You’d never know he’s PURE, UNADULTERATED, EEE-VIL!

  3. @Amanda: Pet rats (and pet mice) are far, far different from wild mice/rats and lab mice/rats, I assure you :)

    A friend of mine used to raise and breed them. They make great pets, are easy to take care of, and are super, super sweet animals :)

    (Male rats are best.)

  4. @Steve: It’s almost that bad, isn’t it? They’ll just ignore it or come up with some more excuses.

    For those that want to see what a confusing mess they have made for parents, go to the Washington Post website and read the 240+ comments on the article about the case so far. McCarthy and her ilk are making a fortune off of the fears that they are creating and stoking in parents that just want the best for their kids.

  5. Are there such things as sane animal-rights groups? Groups who could plausibly paint PETA as a crazy fringe?

    That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know. I’ve pondered going vegetarian for the sake of animal welfare. I’d like some reassurance that I wouldn’t be depriving myself of some essential protein, the absence of which would cause me to go fucking nuts.

  6. @Jacob Wintersmith: There are sane groups that care about animals. They use the term “animal welfare” as you did.

    Make no mistake. PETA doesn’t really care about animals. What they care about is indulging in their species-level self-hatred. When they dress up as Klansman or have massive kill rates in their animal shelters, or release a bunch of minks which slaughter all the local fauna, they are not making PR blunders or careless mistakes. They are just being themselves.

    Look at the glee in the quotes about the offensive nature of the Klan comparison or the exploitative Super Bowl ad. This is what they live for.

  7. The last few days have dealt body blows to the anti-vaxers, but they’ll be back. *sigh* They’ll be back.

    Re: the PETA story, I’ve been saying for years that dog breed fetishism amounts to canine racism. (It would be wrong to choose your human friends based on shape of nose and other physical characteristics, so why is it right to choose companion animals on that basis?) So on that I agree with PETA. But once again, their tactics are horribly over-the-top and offensive and hurtful. It reminds how they exploited a murder near my home town last summer, to try to drive home their anti-meat viewpoint:
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/08/06/peta-mclean.html

    In conclusion, Fuck PETA.

  8. I hate PETA and have always doubted exactly what they are after. This stunt with the KKK is well….awful. But then again…the leader(of PETA) also “saved a turkey” from a Butterball plant, put it in a room, gave it a bed and played music to the poor thing. Judging by the close up of the bird, I don’t think it dug classical.
    I wonder if the gap in communication here, is that many people just don’t consider themselves animals…we are all “special” and “unique” creations. you see.(smirk)It seems that PETA is trying to put us all on even playing fields by either elevating the animals they protect or reducing the humans we are. I get that. I just hate when they use such symbols to make the point. BTW, I have no evidence other than my own personal observations which are probably loaded with bias, but it seems when we push that “special” and “unique” thing it can give us permission to be better than other “special” and “unique” beings.
    Forgive me if my logic is flawed…I’m a brand new critical thinking skeptic.

  9. “Are there such things as sane animal-rights groups?” As far as I know, the ASPCA is sane, as are most local humane societies and rescues. Animal welfare people despise PETA and “rights” organizations. They do terrible damage to the efforts of people that are trying to help animals in distress.

    Look for “Animal Welfare” organizations rather than “Rights.” Look at their track record, actions and statements over time.

  10. @DMS: Oh, man, don’t call it racism. It’s not racism. Dogs =/= people. I don’t particularly agree with it myself, because mutts tend to make better pets anyway, but it certainly isn’t racism.

    Also, if you want a pet, you generally go out and choose a specific kind that will work well for your family — say, a labrador over a dalmation, because you have kids and dalmations aren’t great with kids. Would you also call that “canine racism”? Of course not.

  11. DMS says:”Re: the PETA story, I’ve been saying for years that dog breed fetishism amounts to canine racism. (It would be wrong to choose your human friends based on shape of nose and other physical characteristics, so why is it right to choose companion animals on that basis?) So on that I agree with PETA”
    I gave up on pure-breads in favor of ‘All American(Mutts) Breeds” years ago. I also agree there is something awful about choosing a dog on its nose or eyes or hair. Actually, my animal companions usually choose me…which may not say much for their tastes….Mostly, I am concerned about the incest breeding of animals…does anyone here know more about that?

  12. marilove, hear are two definitions from dictionary.com:
    1. “A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.”
    2. “A group of organisms having common ancestors and certain distinguishable characteristics …”

    Really not that different.

  13. @DMS: Um, you must also remember that racism has social and emotional connotations that a dictionary is not going to note.

    It’s pretty offensive to compare dog breeding to human racism.

    PETA’s campaign is offensive, and anyone who thinks differently is not thinking.

  14. @virginskepchick: Responsible breeders don’t breed closely related animals very often, if at all, because they want healthy animals. Much of the “incest” animal breeding is done by backyard breeders and puppy mills, not the responsible breeders that monitor their dog’s genetics.
    Dog breeding is about far more than looks. It’s also about temperament and traits like herding ability, tracking, retreiving, etc. These traits breed true and follow bloodlines. It’s more about predictability in results than anything else.

  15. Okay, if we will defer to the argument of authority here’s what I found on race in Answers.com’s Dictionary…n.

    1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
    2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
    3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
    4. Humans considered as a group.
    5. Biology.
    1. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
    2. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
    6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

    the word “race” derives from lineage or blood line (Italian) I didn’t see anything yet saying this referred to “species” or “beings” and the term on organisms was used especially in biology.
    It also refers to wine.

  16. 6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

    Beats me! I learn something new every day

    But I may have to reverse myself of the “race” definition. I did some reading in the biology field and it seems there are times when breed and race are interchangeable. Thus, the lively discussion.

  17. Thanks to QuestionAuthority. I always look for the temperament of the dog just like the humans I encounter.
    My neighbor had pitbulls, one was finally put down after two years of trying to bite neighbors in their yards and killing other dogs. Diva was beautiful but mentally ill. I don’t think its the breed…because I’ve met some very gentle and loving pits.

  18. This is a subject that crossed my mind just the other day, the AKC and its ‘racism’, most, if not all of the animals in their shows are not pets, they are prizes which are polished and pampered like antique cars. The AKC standards are at times insane, why should a breed whose ears are big an floppy have them clipped and shaped, or a breed whose tail is long have it lopped off, (let’s not forget the diseases that inbreeding brings) this isn’t about the animals breed, but about rich people’s standard of beauty, who else but the rich can afford to have these animals constantly groomed and trained. Most of us, I think are averse to spending 100’s and maybe 1.000’s of dollars on a specific breed and would much rather save an animal form a shelter.
    As for the PETA thing, I think they are more radical than Greenpeace (another group whose stunts are over the top). I honestly don’t think that PETA has the rights or welfare of animals, or humans, at heart, they just want to shock. I think that these shock stunts do more harm thatn good, because after the initial shock, all people are going to remember the stunt and not the alleged message that was behind it. I am not an animal lover, I don’t want pets either inside or outside the house, but I do think that both wild and domestic animals need someone to advocate for them, certainly there has to be a number of organizations that do that without insane stunts.

  19. Something is wrong with the human hair story:

    “In the fossilized hyena waste they collected they found the remains of human hair dated 195,000 to 257,000 years ago! This predates the earliest known sample of human hair by 200,000 years.”

    Should you also include the error bars in the predating estimate? Either that or the oldest sample of human hair is going to be collected from Larry King 5000 years from now.

  20. Dog breeding = racism? Seriously people?

    I didn’t think dog breeding was a consistent expression of fear/hatred/disgust towards a group of people whose coloration is different from ones own, resulting in persecution and prejudice against said group.

    This is like some bizarre version of Poe’s law. Animal farming is not the Holocaust, dog breeding is not racism.

  21. @QuestionAuthority: “Much of the “incest” animal breeding is done by backyard breeders and puppy mills”
    mmm… I slightly have to disagree; much of the incest breeding is down by those on the professional dog show circuit. Say your trying to breed the “perfect” dog, (to an irrelevant standard), you would take the bitch that closest met that standard, and breed it to the stud that also was the most closest met that standard, well, phenotype and genetics being related the way they are, the most “perfect” bitch is probably very closely related to the most “perfect” stud, be it it’s father, brother, or son. I watched a documentary on dog shows (not Best of Show though that was a excellent movie) and a women with champion dogs proudly proclaimed how she had the foresight to perfect her animals by interbreeding them, homing in on phenotype characteristics till she had perfected her art. Listening to her describe the family trees of some animals was listening her describe an intertwined bush. I have no love for the dog show.

  22. @virginskepchick: I just had to have a Sheltie/Spitz rescue dog put down on Tuesday for aggression. I was there for his final trip, scratching his ears and belly, even though he had hurt me two weeks before. (I’m involved in rescue and this foster bit me but good on the left hand without provocation. http://www.vadsr.org ) This dog was just thoroughly messed up in the head – by human abuse.

    A good thing to remember is that (in general) “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.” Even pit bulls have to be bred and trained to kill. It takes dirty work to overcome domestication. People that train dogs to kill are a manifestation of evil in the world, IMHO. I have met wonderfully gentle pit bulls and I have met vicious toy Poodles. Learn dog body language and you can avoid a lot of trouble.

    I agree with spacepope that the AKC standards are frequently BS. We do not tip our Sheltie’s ears, for example. They either tip on their own or stay pricked. I completely disagree with techniques like ear and tail cropping unless there is a valid medical reason for it.

  23. Amanda: Going back to my sociology courses, I recall racism being defined as “the notion that one race is superior to another.” I recall nothing about fear and hatred in that definition, though they often go hand in glove with racism.

    And again, consider the definitions of race and breed. Pretty much the same.

  24. @DMS: Racism is not a concept that is fully defined by the dictionary definition. It has an incredibly strong connotation and social history- one that is entirely negative and tied to human pain and suffering. I can’t believe we’re arguing the semantics of this.

  25. “I didn’t think dog breeding was a consistent expression of fear/hatred/disgust towards a group of people whose coloration is different from ones own, resulting in persecution and prejudice against said group.”

    Ha!, actually in the documentary (by PBS if I’m not mistaken) gave a history of dog breeding. Basically it said that it DID come out of racism, or more precisely various types of prejudice. In Victorian England the rich needed a hobby, one that fit with the social Darwinism of the day, the idea of “purity” in their dogs as with the people. Dog breeding provided them with a way of having a pure strain of animal that separated them from the others with their unknown lineages.

    Maybe in today’s context preferring a specific “pure breed” (even that name sounds disgusting now) isn’t “fear/hatred/disgust towards a group of people”, but it does originate, and is on outgrowth of one group of people having contempt/disgust toward another group of people.

  26. @DMS: Just because you put “canine” in front of “racism” doesn’t make it any less offensive.

    Wouldn’t “canine breedism” make more sense? Considering they are breeds and not races.

    (And of course, one could argue that race doesn’t exist in humans either, but as I said, racism — as in human racism, not “canine racism” — holds a lot of social and emotional connotations that do not have anything to do with a dictionary definition. It’s not rocket science!)

  27. @DMS:

    “Amanda: Going back to my sociology courses, I recall racism being defined as “the notion that one race is superior to another.” I recall nothing about fear and hatred in that definition, though they often go hand in glove with racism.”

    Oh come the fuck on now.

  28. @Steve: 100% agree, I’m sad to say when I first heard that the PETA dressed up like the KKK at a dog show my first thought was, “No, that’s stupid, they should be dressing up like Nazi’s”, as Nazi’s were about eugenics and the KKK is about being an ignorant hillbilly.

  29. I wonder about that hair. Can scientists make a clear species ID from a hair? One that’s been digested and found in fossilized poop? When did homo sapiens originate, what does this mean to the scientific community? So many questions.

    I worry because of Nebraska Man, an amateur paleontologist finds a pig tooth and declares the discovery of a new hominid. The main stream community rejects his claims but the media picks it up runs with it. Nope, pigs tooth. The creationists are still using it credulously, (is there any other way for a creationist to use evidence) as an example that evolutionary biologists piece together fragmented pieces of evidence to draw sweeping conclusions.

  30. @skepticalhippie: Yep, exactly, because dogs =/= humans and comparing the two is offensive and, quite frankly, stupid. As I’ve said, there are plenty of reasons to be against “pure breed” animals without having to bring offensive and erroneous comparisons to racism to the mix.

  31. You know, it would be really nice to see a thread in which the terms “sexism” or “racism” could be used without quibbling over definitions. Defining terms is only useful to the extent that it doesn’t hamper the actual discussion.

  32. marilove: I’m not “pretending” anything. I’m trying to be sure we’re all talking about the same thing.

    Since you’re veering more and more to personal attacks, I see little point in continuing this conversation. Bye.

  33. @DMS: You keep trying to insist that the dictionary definition of racism is what we should go by (why would you mention it on several occasions otherwise?), and when we tell you (several times) that that definition is not complete because of social and emotional reasons, you back away? Nice.

  34. Just for information and clarity’s sake, this is from my copy of “A Modern Dictionary of Sociology”

    Race: “2. In popular and in antiquated usage, any distinct group, whether it be racial, ethnic, national etc. Such usage was based on early beliefs that social and cultural differences were biological and inherited, rather ant learned and the result of different values and patterns of Socialization”
    Racism:“An ideological orientation and form of Ethnocentrism, in which it is maintained that one’s own group is a distinct race that is inherently superior to other races”

    I’m not qualified to comment on the biological conceptions of race, so I’ll leave that to others.

  35. Sorry to jump away from the serious conversation to something frivolous, but I have to say rats are awesome pets. I adopted one last year, because my friend needed to find him a home, and I was a little weirded out at first. But he is such a great pet. He’s so adorable, and easy to take care of, and pretty smart, at least as I imagine rodents go. And when we let him out of his cage, he’ll sit on our shoulders. He doesn’t have a teddy bear yet, though. I’ll work on that.

  36. @Jen: Yeah, I place the blame less on “I don’t like rodents” and more on “Rodents have a reason not to like me.” The poor little things can tell that I tense up and get nervous if I have to hold them, so of course they do too, and that makes them twitchy and bitey.

  37. @QuestionAuthority–good on you for your work with animals! Sorry to hear about having to put one down recently.

    Just when I think PETA has gone as low as possible (the “holocaust on your plate” crap), they come up with something else appalling. I am ashamed that I once supported them.

    Love the Madison bus campaign. I did my undergrad work at the University of Wisconsin, and I rode many a bus during those years!

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