Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 2.24

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. Who’s Son Tran and why, after making such a hash of errors in the first entry, organic farming, should we believe anything s/he says?

    What I mean by that is that I see no evidence, no citations, no nothin’ to overcome the layers of logical fallacies and plain old inaccuracies presented in just the first of the five arguments (never mind the rest), and therefore propose that this kind of “article” is hazardous to one’s health. It feels too much like a left-wing version of a right-wing fundy polemic.

    Son Tran may very well be right in such things as the stated claims in the antivaxx segment, but we know that because of all the legitimate info available elsewhere; not because of this segment. As a source, or resource for legitimate info this cracked site segment sucks.

    Mind you, like a lot of the lovely Skepchick Quickies entries, the source is pretty questionable. That’s not a criticism, merely an observation.

  2. The case against recycling is too oversimplified.
    — metal recycling kept the price of common metals down for 2 decades. Everybody benefitted.
    — Deposits on bottles and cans keeps our streets a lot cleaner using mostly volunteer labour.
    — Recycling promotes environmental awareness. That’s half the battle. Now all we need is to find a way to promote realistic environmental awareness.

  3. Rejecting vacations? rebicycling? Don’t work! Who would reject their vacation anyway. What kind of person would just work all the time. I would bicycle over and over again that is a great idea. I don’t know about the Orgasmically grown food, sounds a bit dirty to me, I suppose thats why you need the soap. Who would have thought there was carbon on your set. Who would buy it. Can I sell the carbon off my set?

  4. @Amanda said:

    … organic farming is pretty dubious, at least the way that it is often practiced.

    (My emphasis.) Yes, I suppose that might be true, but I think the critical issue here is the difference between what organic farming is intended to be, and how it is practiced by a growing number of unscrupulous practictioners.

    Surely it is incumbent upon Skepchick to prosletyze accurate information rather than opinion and agenda-based woo, is it not? And to highlight and point out the woo whenever it rears its disinformative head regardless of which side of the fence it sits?

    Thanks, I’ll keep my eyes open for The Omnivore’s Dilemna.

    Nonetheless, I still stand by my complaint that Tran’s segment is full of the hash of logical fallacy and inaccuracy posing as legitimate information, and is therefore no more credible than a right-wing fundy thingamabob.

    Lastly, perhaps I misunderstand the role of the Skepchick Quickies posts. Are they intended as a sort of National Enquirer section of Skepchick? Or something more credible and perhaps serious?

  5. Also, re-using something is not always better than just tossing it away. A chemist at the University of Victoria calculated that you would need to use a ceramic mug 1,000 times before you would see benefits over using disposable polystyrene cups for those 1,000 cups of coffee. This is because it takes far more energy to make that mug and takes energy and water to wash it after each use.

    Ok… this might be true but it reeks of the guy who, on our first date, told me I was hurting the environment by baking my own bread because it was a waste of resources.

  6. It’s a humourous website, not an actual scientific dissertation…

    As far as recycling is concerned, one thing to keep in mind is that, even if it is not economically all that valid, if basically you are only trading the cost of raw materials for the cost of labour… you are still employing US workers, injecting the money in the US economy rather than spending it on, often imported, raw materials…

  7. From the “save the world article”, regarding anti-vaccs,

    “… studies actually showed that the cases of SIDS actually went down 40 percent even as vaccination rates went up. This is science’s way of saying “You are fucking wrong.” ”

    I’ve never seen it put as eloquently, or as succinctly, as that. Love it.

  8. @SicPreFix: Once again, it’s humor. It’s supposed to be funny. It has zombie baby pictures.

    Also, note the “quickies” part of the name of this feature. It’s intended to be quick delicious little bites of interesting stuff. And personally, I quite like posting articles that let commenters sharpen their skeptical abilities.

  9. Regarding organic food, I like the way one of my colleagues puts it: If you’re [North American/European and] buying organic raspberries from South America in February, you’re missing the point entirely.

    I’m all about the big picture: eat less meat, eat locally when possible, don’t buy crap you don’t need (except for yarn…that doesn’t count). But then I’m a tree-hugging-crunchy-granola-eating-bleeding-heart-neohippie, so I’m biased.

  10. @ Amanda:
    Supposed to be funny? I think the writing style was supposed to be humorous, but I never got the sense that the content was supposed to be parody, satire, or irony. Like @SicPreFix, I thought he was trying to make serious points with bad logic.

    @SicPreFix:
    I liked the middle part of the Omnivore’s Dilemma where he is talking about organic farming, but had a hard time making it through the rest. Yes, feedlots are bad. I get that. MOVE ON, PLEASE!

  11. quote, from the last article: “Some expert at Gonzaga University, with a lot of time on his hands, calculated that at current rates all the garbage in the US over the next 1,000 years would fill up a 35 square mile landfill 100 yards deep.”

    The thing I hate about this statistic is not that the calculation is wrong, specifically ( which I don’t know) but that it’s cited all over the place yet misses the point as far as recycling is concerned, because it tacitly assumes we can magically transport all the waste in the U.S. to some relatively small hole in the middle of nowhere. The reality is that transportation costs to get trash to a place where it doesn’t bother anyone are significant and cannot be discounted when we consider total amount of trash.

    Waste is much more a problem in high population areas, where cities recycle because they need to reduce trash since there simply isn’t enough space to store it. So yeah, the amount of trash cited in the study would (probably) be no big deal if it was all generated in the middle of nowhere, but it isn’t.

    Also, recycling should not be considered a magical panacea that has little environmental impact at all, or an omg huge waste when we have so much landfill space!!; it should be considered a waste management strategy to be compared against other waste management strategies (such as incineration and landfilling) for cost, feasibility, degree to which it generates new raw materials, and environmental impact over both the long-term and short term. Many criticisms of recycling completely miss the point that it’s not done because it’s a wonderful impact-less way to get rid of waste, it’s because on balance it works better than dumping it in the trash.

    By the way, my opinion on this subject that I’ve gathered through quite a bit of research is why I don’t participate in the sort of pop environmentalism where you put the recycling symbol on clothes or bags and such. While I am not strictly against that because a certain degree of raised awareness is good, I’m not sure recycling itself should be lionized and make “hip” in this manner- it’s simply an alternate waste management strategy that works better than landfill in some/most instances, and there are often better ways to be environmentally friendly than recycling (such as buying in bulk and not consuming in the first place).

    In short, articles like that annoy me because they totally miss the point, way oversimplify the issue because let’s face it, it’s easy to find a few studies and articles that make recycling look bad, but that are not useful in considering the impact as a whole.

  12. Keep complaining and I’ll post all Lolcats all the time.

    Complaining about criticizing organic farming: not helpful, no cow is sacred

    Complaining about lack of skepticalness in an article: not really helpful

    Constructively critiquing an article: Pretty damn awesome. Educational, interesting, and better than lolcats.

    Offering up interesting skeptical articles to be posted and/or offering suggestions of what type of article you like best and where to find them: Helpful!

    And most of the Skepchick commenters are very helpful most of the time, which is why I love you guys.

  13. @Amanda

    I don’t think you should equate criticism of an article you post with a criticism of you personally. I love what the skepchicks in general do here and you in particular. I am grateful to take your time to post things you think us readers might be interested in. People may take issue with a particular article and discuss it in the comments. I assume this is what the comments are for. If people start going after you personally, well, that’s what banhammers are for.

    One of the things I like about Skepchick is the interesting places discussions in the comments go that have little to do with the original posting. Sometimes it leads to science. Sometimes it leads to tree-lobsters. Most of it is delightful.

  14. @davew: Honestly didn’t mean to give that impression, I’m more protective about the people that send in links than I am of myself.

    “Sometimes it leads to science. Sometimes it leads to tree-lobsters. Most of it is delightful.” I could not agree more.

  15. ummm, not to distract people from their firery debate…
    Freedom to Read Week in Canada is a big deal. Every library, college, U, campus bookstore, secondhand book store, and independent bookstore in the country decorates, has displays/sales/discussions/readings/events. Authors who have been challenged and banned as well as publishers and booksellers hold events, raise money, etc.

    The event has a website, an affiliated magazine, and is organized not by a library association (ALA in the US) but by a committe/association of publishers, libraries, writer’s guilds, bookseller associations, and free speech advocate groups. There are press kits, posters, suggested school/library events, and one hell of a lot of copies of “Brave New World”, “1984”, “To Kill A Mockingbird”, “And Tango Makes Three”, “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and “Satanic Verses” sold.

    This year, by the way, is the 25th anniversary-only 2 years less than the ALA’s Banned Book Week. There’s even a project collaboration with Bookcrossing.com this year – Free A Challenged Book http://www.freedomtoread.ca/freedom_to_read_week/bookcrossing.asp

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