Skepticism

Get To Know Your Skepchicks: Jen

Hello skeptical pals! I am ever so pleased to bring you yet another edition of Get to Know Your Skepchicks featuring one of the gals you love waking up to in the morning to get your quickie fix. That’s right, it’s the beautiful and ever so intelligent and talented, Jen!
Jen Meyers
I had a wonderful time taking glamour shots and getting to know Jen better. She is smart, talented and ever so charming. I have asked her some questions to help you get to know her better. Enjoy!

1. What first got you interested in skepticism?
Jen MeyersI swear this is the truth and not just a nice-sounding answer – it was reading the early Skepchick zine and blog. While I flatter myself I always had a rational mind bent, I tended to consider most skeptical topics with a “what’s the harm?” attitude and I didn’t make it a habit of thinking critically about things in my own life. Rebecca’s entertaining writing drew me in. I’ve learned the majority of my still-tender skeptic knowledge on duty here at Skepchick.

2. How much time do you set aside for a quickie each morning?
Well, I’m fortunate to get so much inspiring material sent in by our wonderful readers that it usuallyJen Meyers doesn’t take very long. Ten minutes, tops. It’s helpful that Amanda does half of the work, too.

3. On Skepchick island who would you recommend for the tech position? (We will need someone to update our website and film our webcasts etc. and you will be busy drinking margaritas.)
There’s actually quite a few accomplished tech people I know in the skeptic community, so this would be difficult. I’d have to schedule some interviews. If necessary, I can update websites and drink margaritas at once. It’s been scientifically proven.

4. Name a skeptic who has influenced you in a positive way and why?
My favorite professional skeptic is Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love his genuine enthusiasm for learning and curiosity. He’s a great example of how skeptics and nonbelievers aren’t cold, emotionless and/or gloomy, but humorous, optimistic and passionate about the world around them.

5. The bad news: You have to give up all but one of these things: coffee, hottubbing, drunk dialing or whipped cream. Which is it?
The good news: You can pick any one person to share the remaining item with. (seriously anyone) Who is it?

Oh, man. My heart says life would be so empty without Elyse and drunk dialing, but, for the good of humanity, I better keep coffee. I’m nicer and more entertaining caffeinated. Elyse can still share it with me, though!

6. What one skeptical topic do you wish there was evidence for?
I really wish more alternative medicine worked. it seems so much more fun.
Jen Meyers
7. What have you found is a good technique for encouraging skepticism and or scientific literacy in children?
I think one of the best techniques is to do is nothing. Children are naturally curious. Put them in front of learning opportunities and step back. This is actually harder than it sounds, because often you want to just tell them the answers, or just do an experiment for them, or stop them from making a mess or noise. But watching kids learn how to reason and discover for themselves is one of the most amazing things you can experience.

8. What skeptical podcasts do you listen to? Jen Meyers
SGU, The Amateur Scientist, NPR’s Science Friday and a few others. I also like Sasha’s Den of Iniquity podcast, which is about cocktails but has a skeptic twist.

9. The phone rings, it’s Kirk Cameron. He says he is having a potluck birthday party for Ray Comfort and you’re invited! What dish do you prepare and what do you write on Ray’s birthday card?
I don’t really cook, so I’ll probably just pick up a bunch of bananas. I’ll be nice and bring a birthday card, but first I’ll tear out the message on the front and replace it with a special introduction about how birthdays are an idolatrous pastime.

10. If you could pick one book for required reading in all high schools, what book would you choose?
Very hard to say. I am and have always been a rabid reader, but as soon as someone required that I read something, I immediately rebelled. Even if it was a good book – I’d just read it later, on my own. I honestly think that a student truly enjoying reading is more important than the particular book, so I’d leave it open. Except maybe I’d ban Twilight.

A special thank you to Jen for letting me chase her around with a camera and for anwering my questions. Thank you as always to my partner in crime, Elyse for her mystery question contribution and until next time, I hope you all enjoyed this edition of Get to Know Your Skepchicks!

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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78 Comments

  1. Amy–another great column! I got to meet Jen at TAM, but didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I did with some other Skepchicks (don’t even think it, folks–I should be so lucky!) so it’s nice to get to know her better through your interview. Thanks.

  2. Jen is a beautiful and awesome lady. Great pictures, Amy!

    I got to hang out with Jen, Amanda, and Elyse in a hot tub at TAM. Plus Jen and I both surfed the internet in our undies at the Skepchick villa. So basically what I’m trying to say is that she loves me best. Neener neener.

  3. Yes! Everyone, if you come to the next Skepticamp Ohio in May, you get to MEET ME! How awesome would that be?

    Seriously, thanks for all the nice words, everyone! I love you all. :)

    By the way, Amanda’s not joking. The very first time I met her in person I was climbing into the bed she was sleeping in at 2:30 in the morning of Rebecca’s wedding in a villa in Las Vegas. Probably the best introduction to someone ever.

  4. @Jen: By the way, Amanda’s not joking. The very first time I met her in person I was climbing into the bed she was sleeping in at 2:30 in the morning of Rebecca’s wedding in a villa in Las Vegas. Probably the best introduction to someone ever.
    I knew I left the Skepchick party too early!

  5. During TAM at the skepchick party, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with Jen as I’d have liked.
    Partly because I didn’t run into her until late in the evening (on the upside, by that time Jen was suficiently liquored up, which is the best way to first meet her), and partly because later on I was getting c*ntblocked by Ashley Paramore (which, again, is not the worst of things to have happen to you).

    The only sad thing is I won’t get to meet so many of the lovely skepchicks (including Jen) again until TAM8.

  6. @Elyse:

    Ah, great! Thanks Elyse!

    RE: I always thought Rebecca’s avatar looked more like Jen than Jen’s avatar, but of course shes not wearing glasses in these photos – so that probably doesn’t make sense to most people.

    …and I guess I always assumed skepchicks used the avatars to keep their identities quasi-secret. Now that you are all skeplebrities I’m sure people will want to track you down so they can faun over you in person…

  7. @magicdude20:

    I don’t want to be the hundreth guy to hit on or fawn over Jen,

    Probably the reason why I didn’t bother posting, except for this post, which is just a response to that statement, and while I’m sure Jen is flattered by it, it is also reminiscent of the issues raised by Carr2d2 earlier in the year (sometime after TAM7 in fact) about being a woman skeptic. I just didn’t feel right about going there and joining the crowd on the whole “wow she’s really attractive” bandwagon.

  8. @killyosaur42: Concur.

    I’m afraid I am hopelessly confused about when it’s ok to tell someone they are attractive. I certainly don’t want a comment from me make them feel less valued for any of their other traits. So I default to the safest – say nothing.

    Regarding Skepchicks sharing beds: pics or it didn’t happen.

    I think that broke my “say nothing” rule.

  9. @killyosaur42: While I appreciate your thoughtfulness, I don’t think that’s quite what’s here. These situations are heavily dependent on context and individuals, and, personally, I think it’s clear what the intent here is, both my own as well as the commenters.

    I also think it’s important that women understand they don’t have to choose between feeling pretty and sexy and being smart, or that if they try the former, that doesn’t mean their integrity in the latter should be questioned. That’s an idea I think Skepchick in general does a good job of promoting.

  10. @Jen: I also think it’s important that women understand they don’t have to choose between feeling pretty and sexy and being smart, or that if they try the former, that doesn’t mean their integrity in the latter should be questioned. That’s an idea I think Skepchick in general does a good job of promoting.

    Agree, Jen. Well-stated.

  11. @killyosaur42:

    Just to echo Jen’s comment… in this context you have a talented photographer and a beautiful woman. This post was meant to show Jen as beautiful… and by saying she is, you are not only complimenting Jen, but Amy as well (though Amy had a pretty easy job making Jen look hot).

    My only concern now is that people are going to stop reading Skepchick for the articles!

  12. Hi there!

    Jen is remarkably talented at looking to the side. She looks to the side really well in those first few pics. [nods]

    And @Justv26: You don’t have to be Mormon to be in an Open Marriage. I know a few skeptics in open relationships that don’t feel the need to believe in God, Joseph Smith, or that women are lesser creatures who caused men to sin and therefore must be subjugated by a god-fearing man who is allowed to have as many different female conquests as he wants, as long as she doesn’t even THINK about another man! [nods]

    Now if I could just get my awesome wifey to agree to this idea. :(

    Or … was that TMI? :(

  13. “6. What one skeptical topic do you wish there was evidence for?
    I really wish more alternative medicine worked. it seems so much more fun.”

    This is something that I don’t think gets brought to the fore enough. The public perception of skeptics is that we hate the idea of all these woo things and that’s why we criticize them. What we criticize are the acceptance as proven without adequate evidence.

    Like Jen, I think it would be very cool if some of the alt-med treatments actually worked (most specifically because they are easily accessible to people who have limited health care options).

    And props to Amy for asking the question.

  14. @killyosaur42: I really don’t know how to answer that. How do you know what to say about anything in any situation? You evaluate the context, understand the people involved, and be honest and respectful. Pretty much just like any other opportunity for conversation.

  15. @revmatty: You got it. I do ask that same question of all the Skepchicks. I think it is important for people to realize that we as skeptics aren’t simply dismissing things out of cynicism. Skeptics wish for magic and warm fuzzy concepts to be real, we just require evidence before we accept them.

  16. @killyosaur42:

    Here’s the rule for blog posts:

    If the blog post is clearly illustrating the attractiveness of a person, it is appropriate to remark that you find that person attractive.

    If the post is discussing something not meant to feature the person’s attractiveness, but includes a picture of a person for clarification or “Hey, this is the person writing” purposes, it is not appropriate.

    If Jen is writing a post about particle physics or Jenny McCarthy, it is rude to derail the conversation, discounting her thoughts and research and arguments, to tell her that she is really hot.

    If Amy is writing a post about Jen being hot, it is topical to discuss how hot she is.

    Think of telling someone she is hot in the same way you might tell another guy that you like his shirt. You do know when it’s appropriate to say “Hey, nice shirt!” Right? If the guy says, “I just got this shirt from my girlfriend this afternoon.” You say, “That’s a nice shirt!”

    If a guy is discussing the importance of fighting the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, you don’t interrupt him with, “Man, I love your shirt. Tell me more about your shirt! You never see guys wearing nice shirts in the skeptic movement. I wish more guys would wear nice shirts.”

  17. @Elyse: One might also reasonably apply the same analysis to the picture in question. If a post is accompanied by a picture that could reasonably be defined as a sexy glam shot, then I don’t think its innapropriate to comment on it, regardless of its relevance to the content. (Well, I could imagine content serious enough to make this not okay, but generally.) Its the analogical equivalent of someone wearing a shirt that says “What I really want to talk about is my shirt. Ask me how.”

  18. Hi there!

    I know that we men seem really idiotic when it comes to remarking on photos of attractive women. Really, I get that.

    It’s not even really a misconception. We really ARE that dumb. Men need to have it spelled out for them what is appropriate, and what is inappropriate. I’m a man, and I understand that when it comes to the question of: “When is it okay to compliment a woman on her looks?”, I am stupider than a really stupid stupid thing. If there were some kind of … I don’t know, Intelligent Designer who made us men the way that we are, it would be understandable, but in this case, I think we can chalk it up to some kind of deviant mutation.

    The reason that men are so idiotic and clueless with regard to appropriate/inappropriate comments is simple.

    If a (heterosexual) man were to write a scholarly, well-researched and thought provoking article on some vital topic to ensure the continued survival of the planet, complete with charts and graphs describing a crucial world-saving strategy that must be implemented immediately in order to prevent the Earth from spiraling out into nothingness … and an attractive woman replied to his post: “Gee, you look totally hot in your profile pic” … there would be no further discussion on the fate of the world. :D

  19. @killyosaur42:
    I think my issue is more in line with @OneHandClapping: when he made the comment about being “hopelessly confused about when it’s ok to tell someone they are attractive.”

    What little experience I have in this regard tells me that it’s always a good time to tell someone they’re attractive, unless on those occasions when doing so would obviously distract from other qualities/achievements that are being highlighted at that very moment (like, just after they’ve received their diploma and given their valedictorian speach for example), as it would clearly be more appropriate to compliment them on that quality/achievement instead.

    Nobody is going to hate you for giving them a compliment. You just need to make sure you don’t give it at the wrong time. It’s easier to spot the wrong moment than it is to spot the right moments.

  20. @Elyse:
    If Amy is writing a post about Jen being hot, it is topical to discuss how hot she is.

    So the really tricky part then becomes:
    Is it appropriate to tell Amy she’s attractive, right after she’s posted a whole bunch of glamour shots of Jen?

    And what to make of a comment like “Wow amy, you’re really good”? Which would at the same time suggest that the reason those pics look so good is not due to Jen but due to Amy’s photography skillz.
    Or alternately that even if Amy was a really bad photographer the pics would still have looked good.

    Tricky, tricky, tricky … ;)

  21. @exarch: It’s all in the phrasing. It’s entirely appropriate to both compliment Amy on her photography skills and to compliment Jen on her looks, neither of those compliments diminishes the other. Fashion magazines (to pick an unfortunate example) spend a tremendous amount of money on both models and photographers.

    A beautiful model may well still be beautiful with a mediocre photographer, and a brilliant photographer can make an average model look incredible, but the magazines don’t want to take a chance on it working out and so choose both top notch photographers and beautiful* models.

    *using pathetically narrow definitions of beautiful in this context.

  22. You guys don’t know the half of it. Yes, Jen’s a knockout, but after 5 minutes with her the “damn, she’s hot” stuff gets washed away in a flood of “damn, she’s cool.” Kinda like how it is with Rebecca. And Amy. And Amanda. And Jill. And so forth :)

    not so much with Sam though. Not that Sam’s not cool, but there’s just something about tall guys…

  23. @Steve: probably would get overridden with something funny, or thoughtful. I get the feeling nominations only play a part in the decision process (like naming a node on the space station) but then again I could be wrong, I haven’t done the leg work to back up my speculation.

    @exarch:
    But that is basically my issue, I know the wrong moment when I see it, and usually in my personal and internet interactions it is almost always the wrong moment, and I simply don’t know what is the right moment. This is basically why I rarely interact with other people, or date for that matter.

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