QuickiesSkepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 9.23

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I think we should pull a Cobb County and add disclaimer stickers to the “special introduction”. Something like “The ideas depicted in the first 50 pages of this book are fictitious. Any similarity to scientific theories, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

    Or maybe just cover those 50 pages with “Don’t High-Hat the Monkey!” stickers.

  2. My own personal anecdotal experience is that men are more likely to sever their religious affiliation when they stop believing. I know a number of women who have kept going to church for the social interaction. I, on the other hand, decided to stop going.

    Of course, when I look at these examples, I notice that these women had their primary circle of friends at church, while I did not. So perhaps this is not an observation about even different tendencies in affiliation between men and women but an example of different people reacting to different circumstances.

  3. Holy crap, I’m reading the Kirk Cameron intro now. They actually use the EYE as one of their arguments for irreducible complexity. Good god, even *I* during my creationist days recognized how an eye “could have” evolved in steps. Seriously can’t these guys at least come up with some original arguments, ones that haven’t been answered repeatedly?

  4. (Sigh)

    Honestly, I don’t think there’s a group less skeptical than the GLBT. Its like we got all the worst tendencies from both genders. I’ve gotten an email from a guy who said he wanted to look for a new job, but wasn’t going to until 2010, because his horoscope told him. I myself used to drink the kool-aid about diet supplements. In the eternal quest to find Mr. Right, or Mr. Right Now, anything that promises to offer a quick fix is something to try.

  5. Then after going on and on about the marvelous complexity of rods and cones and lenses and corneas, he writes this:

    And this marvelous design occurs not just in humans, but in all the different creatures: horses, ants, dogs, whales, lions, flies, ducks, fish, etc.

    Um… he DOES realize doesn’t he that the structure of an ant’s eye is NOT the same “marvelous design” as a human’s right?

  6. Sweet. From this day on, when people ask me if I practice any so-called “extreme” sports, I can say without hesitation, “Yes. I’ve watched Kirk Cameron videos on youtube.” And they will be all like, “Whoa, dude. You’re hardcore.”

    But seriously, I don’t know if that counter-campaign is going to do much good. Who is going to want a copy of The Origin with fifty pages ripped out, even if those missing pages were excised for noble reasons? What we need is some rich folks backing our side so that we can afford to hand out copies of a modern book on the subject. Although personally, I wouldn’t know what book to suggest. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, perhaps?

  7. Good point @Imrryr. You don’t combat stupidity by restricting information. You combat it by answering the stupidity with intelligence.

    My personal vote goes to Dawkins’ “The Ancestors Tale.” He answers so many of the straw men that deniers bring up with his usual clarity and wit and utter freakin brilliance. Yes, I have a bit of a man crush… perhaps I need to consult my horoscope on how best to approach him about it.

  8. Ugh! Not to hijack this thread but this addendum is driving me batshit insane. If ever there was a case of the pot and the kettle, consider this paragraph:

    In their zeal to provide “evidence” of evolution, scientists have proclaimed organs as useless simply because they were ignorant of their functions at the time. They were there all
    along, but evolutionists just didn’t know it.

    Gee, Christians don’t ever do that, EVER. GodofthegapssayWHAT!

  9. @Imrryr:

    Sweet. From this day on, when people ask me if I practice any so-called “extreme” sports, I can say without hesitation, “Yes. I’ve watched Kirk Cameron videos on youtube.” And they will be all like, “Whoa, dude. You’re hardcore.”

    Ha! COTW. :)

  10. @infinitemonkey: Most of my GLBT friends are either a part of or friendly to the skeptic movement, so I hadn’t encountered that as much – but, admittedly, I have a fairly small sample size to look at. Do you think this is a problem that plagues most minority groups within skepticism?

  11. @FFFearlesss: Yeah, Christians have never reached the wrong conclusions about anything…

    If… the motion of the earth were circular, it would be violent and contrary to nature, and could not be eternal, since … nothing violent is eternal …. It follows, therefore, that the earth is not moved with a circular motion.
    Thomas Aquinas, Commentaria in libros Aristotelis de caelo et mundo.

    Oops, how did that quote get in there? :D

    @Jen: Aww, shucks…

  12. I’m a bit torn on the whole Cameron/Comfort thing. I don’t know that they would have much impact at all if reasonable people were to ignore them. Still, it’s hard to just watch this level of inanity and not say something. I think it’s a bit too easy to argue with people with so little intellectual substance. There are Christians with more to them than these guys, and I tend to prefer to seek out the strongest arguments against my positions.

    If someone has more substantial arguments, they are worth engaging. If someone has an appreciable social impact (e.g. Rick Warren), they are worth engaging. Does Ray Comfort qualify? Does he merit a response?

    As to the specific issue of the adulterated Origin of Species, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think tearing out the pages is a stupid idea. It’s like admitting that the content is capable of being convincing to a thinking person. If you feel it must be countered, then write a response refuting the Comfort claims and hand out pamphlets and post the response online. The core content of The Origin has stood up pretty well for 150 years. I don’t think Ray Comfort is going to be the one to bring it down.

    I am a Hedge

  13. IIRC, didn’t Darwin specifically address the eye in Origin of the Species, saying, more or less, that if one person has better eyesight than another, and that is both an inheritable trait and survival advantage, that sight will evolve on that basis?

    Personally, I think it would be far more interesting to pass out bibles with a 50 page introduction pointing out that none of this has ever been proven, and that archaeological and historical evidence for many of its claims is scanty, at best.

  14. @Im a Hedge:

    I think tearing out the pages is a stupid idea. It’s like admitting that the content is capable of being convincing to a thinking person.

    Hear, hear! It would also give reason for the more gullible people to believe that we really do have something to hide, and simply give more ammunition to the likes of Ben Stein. We shouldn’t have to stoop to the level of religious zealots. Like FFFearless said, let’s fight their stupidity with intelligence. Then maybe one day they shall say of us, “Never have so many owed so much to so few”… or you know, something like that.

  15. Can’t talk now. I’m busy writing my 50-page intro to the Bible, stating that it’s mostly a collection of legends and myths and loosely translated histories compiled by scared, deluded, and often power-hungry madmen. Oh, and that it’s resposible for Hitler. I’ll be distributing them for free at a church near you.

  16. Hey. Homework assignment, skeptics!

    I posted the Autism link on my facebook, and predictably got this message from a friend:

    “what about the studies done on children with autism, when the parent stopped the vaccines the child got better? and this is just one vaccine…what about the other 20 they pump into babies?”

    Now, this girl is smart so I think there is a good possibility of educating her. :)

    However, I’m at work and lack the proper resources to send her. So, are there any good sites out there that will answer her questions? Or, better yet, any of you who are also on my facebook are more than welcome to answer her directly there. :) I can’t link to it directly, but it’s on my profile page.

    Thank you, skeptical friends. ;)

  17. In my experience, almost every defender of medical woo that I have encountered has been a woman–ranging from newage acupuncture types to conservative Catholics with a “what the hell do doctors know” attitude.

  18. Re the counter-initiative to the “Special Edition” of _Origin of Species_: Do we know that the text itself has not been abridged or tampered with? The plan to remove the introduction and donate the “perfectly good copy” to schools could backfire if they have altered the text as well.

  19. I have several library books that I bought in library used book sales while I lived in MO.

    In one of them, “Intelligent Life in the Universe,” (which happened to be a first edition, no less) some ignorant Bible-beater had crossed out dozens of pages and wrote in Bible verses from Genesis in their places. At least the “moran” hadn’t ripped the pages out. Probably was afraid that it would show and he’d get charged for the book.

    I keep it as a treasured memento of why I’d just as soon not move back there.

  20. @MiddleMan: I can say that because I’m part of the group. If it comes from you, it becomes discriminatory!

    (joking)

    @Jen: I can’t say one way or another, as I’m only part of one minority group, but I would imagine that every group has a sacred cow. We just have a sacred herd because we are a minority group made of minority groups.

  21. The “are women less skeptical” thing grabbed my attention, because even though the survey doesn’t test what it claims to test, the results are highly unsurprising.

    While it would be utter nonsense to suggest that females are automatically less skeptical than males, it wouldn’t at all surprise me to learn that the differences in social mores imparted to young boys and girls resulted in fewer women being generally skeptical in their adult life.

    Painting with a very broad brush here (which, of course, we do every time we talk about a huge group), I’ve observed that girls tend to be pushed to conform and “not make waves” a lot more than boys. I don’t know why that is – I can guess it has something to do with old notions of subservience to future husbands, but it would only be a guess.

    It follows that any person who is molded toward not causing disruption would learn to supress skeptical commentary – and may in fact internalize it to the point that they don’t express it even to themselves. Put another way, their “skeptical muscles” atrophy.

    Does this mesh with others’ observations?

  22. @QuestionAuthority: That’s a shame. If he had been caught ruining the book then he would’ve been “martyred” like a really lame version of Jesus. You’d think he would have wanted that, considering that most fundies have illusions that they are being persecuted for their beliefs.

    @pciszek: I’ve read that it’s an abridged version, but I can’t find any conformation of this (in other words, I don’t want to deeply peruse Cameron’s website to find out). Although, I doubt Kirk Cameron and his ilk care if it’s the full version of The Origin of Species or not, since anyone who believes the introduction to be insightful is unlikely to actually slog through the parts of the book that Darwin wrote himself. If they go for the abridged version, I would imagine that they’re doing so in order to save on printing costs.

  23. OMG.

    “”Just like all your comments will not lead me one way or another.. neither will all your links to your “proven” articles. I could come back with a million to contradict yours. You are entitled to your opinion. Just as I am to mine. And knocking those mothers of autistic children for speaking their minds is wrong. Unless you are a mother of an autistic child, Mary, you can never really understand. As I can’t. Believe all the “articles”, don’t listen to the mothers.. what do they know!””

    I love this woman, but it goes to show that you can’t have a rational discussion regarding vaccinations with someone who has NO critical thinking skills and has NO knowledge of how science works. Like, none. “You just can’t understand until you have a child with autism!” just isn’t a rational answer. O_o

    This is why I should refrain from posting such things on my facebook, yes? BUT I JUST CANNOT HELP MYSELF.

  24. @marilove:
    Roiks.

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean they are all equally true. If someone refuses to seek out the best arguments, or even consider the arguments when presented, then there is little you can do. That is an indication of someone not interested in finding the truth.

    That relates to my opinion on dealing with Ray Comfort. He doesn’t have the best arguments for Christianity. He has bananas and peanut butter. There really are better arguments out there. We should seek out the best arguments against positions we hold.

    (I don’t mean to suggest that the Mooney article has the ‘best’ arguments.)

    I am a Hedge

  25. @Im a Hedge: Please note she’s not actually anti-vaccination and DID vaccinated her child, and otherwise she’s a bright, wonderful woman. She’s NOT stupid, and I think it’s important to remember that: I think her view is pretty typical. The distrust of scientists and the medical community is pretty apparent in her comments. And the implication that a mother ALWAYS KNOWS BEST is also apparent.

  26. @marilove
    If she’s not acting on these concerns (ie by avoiding vaccinations) then it may be best to let it slide. If you think the more emotional angle is worth pursuing you could try whatstheharm.net.

    The “Mommy knows best” argument takes me right out. I think a corollary of “Mommy knows best” is, “Daddy wants his kids to get autism, ’cause then maybe they’ll be quite for a couple damn minutes”.

    I am a Hedge

  27. @Im a Hedge: Oh, this is just a fun debate on my facebook, nothing too serious, and she is not the type of person to not listen. She IS the type of person who needs to hear ~all sides~ even if one particular side is obviously not correct. Ya know?

    And I agree with you, but it’s hard for a lot of people to ignore or get rid of that emotional response.

  28. @marilove:
    what about the studies done on children with autism, when the parent stopped the vaccines the child got better? and this is just one vaccine…what about the other 20 they pump into babies?

    They have a cure for autism now?
    Oh no, wait, she’s talking about studies that either don’t exist, or that concluded that the kids didn’t really have autism, because, you know, there is no cure for autism AFAIK.

  29. Maybe we should show the correlation between autism and global warming.

    Look, carbon emmissions are the cause for your child’s autism, not vaccines. Now go and pester the oil industry for damages. Besides, they have more money to spend too.

  30. @exarch: Well, she’s talking about the CLAIMS that their autism was cured, I think — like Jenny McCarthy claims.

    See, this is why I hate the anti-vaccers so much. They are SO LOUD, and most people are going to believe al oud, passionate argument about THE CHILDREN! without doing much research on their own. So the antis put the doubt in their heads, and then they start to believe it.

    That’s why it’s important to link to actual, real studies when people bring that stuff up.

    And in regards to the other woman (the second convo I pasted), I’m pretty sure she agrees that vaccinations are important. She vaccinated her child, and would vaccinate again. However, she gives way more weight to the antis than I or anyone here does, and I think it’s because their arguments are so passionate and tug on the strings of mothers who are easily swayed by emotions. So again, that little bit of doubt is tossed in their brains and they have a hard time letting go of it, because they are “concerned for their children”.

    That’s why we hare having such a hard time getting rid of this nonesense, even though the research has said time and time again that autism is not caused by vaccinations.

    The ONE ARGUMENT, however, I cannot stand is, “You are not a parent, you cannot understand!!!”

    That’s about when I knew it was worthless to continue. Especially since I know she knows vaccinations are important, she is just not willing to admit that Jenny McCarthy and co. are in it for the money, and not for any real concern over their children.

  31. In other words, @marilove if you want to break through the anti-vaxxer’s scare tactics, you have to respond with something like:

    Wow, you are such a bad mom. You would send your kids to school and expose them to all kinds of virusses and crippling diseases without even any protection whatsoever. Why not just send them to school across a busy intersection all by themselves, and without a bycicle helmet. ’cause, you know, bycicle helmets contain styrofoam. STYROFOAM!!

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