Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies 10.9

Amanda

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

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  1. Re: Retrovirus: Interesting, but not conclusive yet. I’ve known a few people with this condition. It’s really sad to see formerly-lively people turned into shells of their former themselves. It takes a real toll on their mental health, too.

  2. That Canadian vaccination thing bugs me. They won’t make the study public before they publish it, which I suppose is standard practice, but they go ahead and leak the conclusion. Nice.

    Can someone around here explain how one vaccine can make you more susceptible to a different disease? My high-school understanding of immunity doesn’t account for it.

  3. @davew: I gathered from the article that the idea is that getting both the seasonal and the H1N1 vaccine at the same time makes your body fight off the seasonal flu virus but not the H1N1. Which still makes no sense to me.

  4. @Amanda: In my opinion, it makes about as much sense as the antivaxxers who insist on not vaccinating their kid because fighting the disease off yourself will boost their immune system.

    (Unlike getting the vaccine, which will have the exact same effect on your immune system minus the risk of the actual disease)

    It sounds dodgy to me. And since we don’t have the study yet to check it, we can’t tell where they messed up their statistics …

  5. The “Canadian study” thing made me lose my shit. They gave out a conclusion from an unpublished, un-peer-reviewed, not repeated or seen anywhere else study and printed it on CBC news websites with huge headlines that freaked people out.

    Irresponsible to the highest degree. And now that it’s been said that there’s no real correlation and no repetition anwhere, there’ only been minor corrections. Annoying and frustrating as someone on the fringe of health care (a massage therapist) who has to talk people down from the hysteria of the flu-assholes rhetoric nearly every day.

  6. @BigHeathenMike: Is it rough being a non-woo massage therapist? That’s one of those legitimate treatments that always seems to get unnecessarily wrapped up with crystals and incense and stupid reiki crap.

    Also, we will definitely be requiring your expertise on Skepchick Island.

  7. RE: The pill messing with who you’re attracted to-

    When I was in college and in a long committed relationship with the same guy I’m still with now, one of my friends came up to me one day all in tizzy. She was VERY concerned because she’d just read about a similar study saying that women on the pill prefer the smell of/are attracted to men who are more genetically similar to them. She told me all this, deeply worried that I wasn’t actually attracted to Ryan and that I’d be repulsed by him if I ever went off the pill.

    After I got control of myself to not laugh hysterically in her face, I had to reassure her that I liked him before I was taking the pill and still liked him when on it as well.

  8. @Amanda:
    The story about your friend sounds a lot like the typical stressed tired college student who sees himself on every page of his abnormal psych text book.

    When I read the article I thought back over the 23 years of my marriage and thought about the times my wife was and was not on the pill and I couldn’t think of any discernible difference, and I’m defiantly not the pretty boy type and my wife was not on the pill when we met. And glad to see a more credible source for this study. The Daily Mail is a certainly a crap paper but some of the twaddle in it makes me smile and this looked like a good conversation piece.

  9. My anger switch flipped initially when I saw the words “unpublished data” as well. I dialed it back a bit, though, since it seems that some governmental health authorities were partners in the research. It does not seem totally unreasonable for governments to make policy decisions based on their own internal data. That being said, I will be very interested to see the actual study results. It just doesn’t seem plausible. Perhaps they failed to control for the likely selection bias in who gets seasonal flu shots to begin with–people with vulnerable immune systems, people in schools and health care where they potentially come into contact with more ill people in general?

    And the idea that one vaccine would interfere with the other seems crazy. Maybe I am wrong but doesn’t the seasonal flu shot sometimes consist of vaccinations for multiple strains of flu anyway if they are predicted to be the prevalent ones for the year?

  10. RE: The pill:

    There’s nothing particularly feminine about long hair except that we’ve decided that it is. If the pill is making me more attracted to “feminine” men on an instinctual level, then long or short hair really shouldn’t even matter.

    It may be true that women prefer more “boyish” men than we did in the past, but I wouldn’t blame the pill. It’s a phenomenon that spreads throughout our whole culture, which is a complex issue by itself. But men in our culture like women who are more “childish” than “feminine”. Real adult women have hair on their legs, underarms, and genital areas. Adult women also have a curvier body shape. Still, our culture has moved in the direction of liking skinnier, hairless women over the past few decades, and men don’t take the pill. You could argue that famous women don’t represent what men really want, but you could just as easily say that about famous men, and the article relies heavily on celebrity men to make their point.

    I think part of this shift to obsession with youth is simply because teens (and even younger) have more money than they used to, so a lot of movies are marketed to them. It makes sense to use a teenage guy in a movie if you’re expecting a large portion of your profits to come from teenage girls.

  11. @catgirl: I think its fashion to a large degree also. Just look at the movie stars in the era before the hunks like Gable, Peck and Connery…, Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and the Marx brothers.

    Then again movies have always been about the sex!
    “Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926): The greatest male attraction in exotic, adventurous romantic pictures was handsome, hot-blooded Italian-born import Rudolph Valentino, after his breakthrough appearance in the famous tango scene in director Rex Ingram’s spectacle The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). Dubbed the “Latin Lover,” the matinee idol symbolized the forbidden and mysterious eroticism denied to American women in the 1920s in such films as The Sheik (1921), Camille (1921), the successful Blood and Sand (1922), The Eagle (1925), and The Sheik’s popular sequel The Son of the Sheik (1926). The Son of the Sheik was a tremendous hit, released at the time of Valentino’s funeral.
    In 1926, his death came at the untimely age of 31, due to a perforated ulcer and peritonitis. Crowds in New York, mostly female mourners, verged on mass hysteria as they tried to view his body. One of Valentino’s legacies was that a brand of popular condoms was named after his role in one of his most famous films

  12. I don’t know about preference in men, but I had a girlfriend who said that once she found out she might have some allergic response to the pill and stopped taking it, her sex-drive increased. She’d been taking it for years and never had much interest, and that apparently changed dramatically when she quit the pill.

    I can easily see how a change like that might also influence the type of guy you’d be interested in or attracted to, although I’m sure it wouldn’t have any impact on a concurrent relationship.

  13. @marilove – Just exactly what I was thinking!!! That middle cat’s got the right idea: He’s eating the steak, while the other two fight over it. ;->

    (And I’ve heard from other sources that small fast birds often attack larger slower birds.)

  14. Amanda: Yeah, it can be a pain in the ass being a non-woo massage therapist. There are so many MTs that are into stupid energy “therapies” and acupuncture, recommending chiropractic or homeopathy…it gets disheartening from time to time.

    I do, on the brighter side, get to talk to clients all day long. Many of these clients start relatively woo-friendly, but through polite-yet-unrelenting reason, a lot of them have now become more science-literate. I’m bringing woo down from the inside.

    Oh, and I can *totally* be talked into going to a Skepchick Island retreat. I’ll bring the table and sheets.

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