Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 1.5

First off, a very happy birthday to Teen Skepchick Cassie! Now get off my lawn, you dang whippersnapper.

  • Evidence lacking for special diets in autism – “An expert panel says there’s no rigorous evidence that digestive problems are more common in children with autism compared to other children, or that special diets work, contrary to claims by celebrities and vaccine naysayers.”
  • Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Wired magazine targeted in libel suit – They’re being sued by Barbara Loe Fisher, the head of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC).
  • More on the G-spot debate – Amanda Marcotte covers reactions to the latest study.
  • Smile! You’ve got cancer – “Cancer is not a problem or an illness – it’s a gift. Or so Barbara Ehrenreich was told repeatedly after her diagnosis. But the positive thinkers are wrong, she says: sugar-coating illnesses can exact a dreadful cost.” From Paul.

Amanda

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

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52 Comments

  1. Okay, I’m gonna admit it – the breast cancer article started to piss me off a little. Because it reminded me – once again – how much focus there is on breast cancer research and awareness. When there are tons of horrible other cancers out there, many with far worse treatments and survival rates than breast cancer.

    I admit I’m biased – my Mom was recently diagnosed with advanced metastatic colon cancer. And it’s getting to the point where I’m refusing to buy anything with a pink ribbon on it.

    Because the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer at it’s metastatic worst is 20%. For my Mom? It’s 3%. We’re going to count our blessings if she makes it to next Christmas.

    Getting to choose a chemotherapy regimen? Jesus that’s a nice thought. My Mom’s regimen is so goddamn toxic that she can only have it every two weeks. I won’t gross you out with side effects, it’s early yet. They are though, to put it mildly, unappetizing, uncomfortable and graphic.

    And the worst part? As the article noted, Breast Cancer is no longer a death sentence. Ms. Ehrenreich may have been annoyed by all the cheeriness (which I do understand), but the fact is, Breast Cancer is survivable. One of the hardest things for me right now is watching Mom face her looming mortality. (If the chemo didn’t work, she would have been dead inside 6 weeks – how’s that for news to shake you to your core?)

    All cancers are horrible. The cheeriness is simply a way for many to cope. (Our family’s mantra right now is “You can’t win unless you play the game.”) But Ms. Ehrenreich is admittedly 8 years out of her diagnosis. And that makes me want to scream, because even in the best case scenario with current treatments, 8 years is simply not an option for my mother. And if it is an option, well, I can guarantee you she won’t be writing articles whining about how hard it was to be surrounded by positive people who were cheering you on in your shitty struggle to survive a shitty disease.

  2. Okay, I apologize for the rant. I’m sleep deprived this morning.

    I had an all-too-realistic nightmare last night that Mom died from an embolism. Because her port keeps clogging and they keep having to push it clear with TPA treatments – the more they do it, the more likely that becomes, apparently.

    The fun really just never stops.

  3. @Chasmosaur: And it’s getting to the point where I’m refusing to buy anything with a pink ribbon on it.

    ————-

    Yellow wristbands are cancer agnostic… the LAF hates all cancer equally. They have good resources (not just pamphlets, people, tools) that may be of some benefit to you.

  4. @Chasmosaur: I thought your rant was well said and appropriate. My aunt died of metastatic colon cancer two years ago @ the age of 45. The cancer was swift and brutal, and the treatment seemed just as harsh as the illness. Tearing up just thinking about it.

  5. Radical topic change to lighten the tone…

    RE: G-spot myth. This is probably much more information than any of you care to hear, but I’m skeptical of the skepticism regarding the G-spot. A few years ago my wife and I started experimenting with this whole g-spot stuff, and it worked like a dream for her. She was amazed by how much more intense it made her orgasms. I know this is a sample of one, but it’s hard for me to image this as some sort of sexual placebo.

  6. @wet_bread: I still think it’s just an extension of the clitoris and some women are just more sensitive, perhaps with more of a cluster of nerves. I mean, some women have SUPER sensitive clitorises* while others don’t, as it is.

    *Clitori? LOL I have no idea.

  7. I agree with Chasmosaur. We need to be funding the next generation of cancer treatments that can replace or upgrade chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There are a lot of breakthroughs close at hand that could use more funding to help keep moving.

    Chemotherapy and radiotherapy aren’t really therapies, in a sense. They aren’t therapeutic. What they are is poisonous. It happens that they’re slightly more poisonous to the cancer than they are to you. We’ve got to find better ways to do this.

    I’ve sat through probably a dozen seminars now describing different methods of combating cancer, both specific cancers and general ones. If we’re going to focus on cancers, the ones that still have high kill rates like lung, pancreatic, and leukemia are the ones we need to be focusing on.

  8. @Chasmosaur: My mother died from colon cancer last March at the age of 54. It was only about eight months after it was discovered. So I understand completely. Feel free to contact me via email if you ever want to rant (my name links to my personal website/contact info). *hug*

  9. @Chasmosaur:

    I am very sorry to hear about your mom’s situation. I empathize with your situation. I lost a good friend to pancreatic cancer a few years back. He was a wonderful man who was getting ready to enjoy retirement after a long career as an research engineer. It took him pretty fast. During the course of the treatment he underwent, you could see how much it took out of him.

    The random nature of it is just so frustrating, it is so damn unfair. If anyone deserved a long and happy retirement, it was this man. I felt cheated out of a friend.

    Hopefully some of the new treatments mentioned that are in the research cue will start to bear fruit.

    BCT…….

  10. I’ve had a few people suggest to me that having been diagnosed with a cancer and because now I’m a “survivor” aren’t I or I shouldn’t I be somehow changed or a better person. What bullshit.

    @LtStorm: ” Chemotherapy and radiotherapy aren’t really therapies, in a sense. They aren’t therapeutic”
    That is not correct with a number of cancers. In my situation the type of radiation used is considered nearly curative in many cases and extremely therapeutic. It’s the advances in radiation technology and the finding of more efficacious chemo therapies that have significantly increased the survival rate and cure rate for the majority of cancers along with early detection.

  11. Wow. Thanks for the understanding folks, specifically: @Ashley.Ele, @LtStorm, @Jen and @Billy Clyde Tuggle. You know where I’m sitting right now.

    It’s just that last week, I went to pick up some toilet paper – my usual brand. The branding had changed to bright pink and had breast cancer awareness all over it. It got me thinking that if ANY product was going to promote colon cancer awareness, you’d think it would be TP ;)

    I think also, that the article in question sort of glosses over something. For those with the less survivable cancers, a little bit of denial goes a long way to help you cope. Not complete denial, mind you, but if thinking you’re gonna have nicer hair and skin on the flip side of chemo keeps you going to chemo (and going emotionally), I can’t criticize that too harshly.

    @sethmanapio:
    Yeah, I know. Got all sorts of pamphlets and stuff, myself. I have a counselor, too, who I contacted this morning after posting since I obviously need a brain flush at the mo’.

  12. A co-worker just contributed that the plural of “clitoris” is “cli-TORE-ee-us” (rhymes with “glorious”). Don’t know if that works for anyone, but it was amusing to hear her exclaim it joyfully.

  13. Nice article on positivity. Nothing wrong with seeing the bright side of things, but the occasional near-deluded forced positivity and the oft-resulting victim-blaming people get into has annoyed me for some time.
    I also agree with the disproportionate focus on breast cancer, though. While it’s common, it’s also quite survivable and hardly the only common cancer.
    ETA: I’d never considered colon cancer awareness TP. It’d make sense, though.

    About special diets in autism, while there is little evidence to support it and I’ve only read anecdotes, those anecdotes have made me interested in certain diets in ASD.
    Probably not for everyone, and not as a cure-all or a cure, but something that could possibly benefit certain people.
    I hope there’ll be larger RTCs done in future to see if it really does have any benefit.

  14. @busterggi: You may not have found “the G-spot” but rather the women you were with may have just been extra-sensitive. It’s hard to say, though, because this research is kind of shady, in my opinion.

    Be honest ladies, would you really like your partners to not try to make you feel good?

    That really wasn’t the point of the article/research, the post, or our subsequent comments.

    Also, “ladies”?!

  15. @TD:

    That is the problem with people who assign too strong a casual connection between positive thinking and outcomes (think “The Secret”). There is always that nasty implication that if bad things happen it is because that someone had a bad attitude or wasn’t positive enough.

    I believe in plain old bad luck. There isn’t all that much we can control in this universe and sometimes through no fault of our own bad shit happens to us. I think a good attitude can be instrumental in helping one to cope with bad shit. It may also help open one up to positive experiences and opportunities (e.g. because you were friendly, you meet someone at a party who is starting a new company and needs someone with your talents), but I don’t believe a good attitude innoculates one against being on the receiving end of bad shit (e.g. they guy starting the new company may turn out to be a sadistic sociopath). That’s where people seem to be veering off the reservation thinking that there positive attitude shields them from the harsh realities of life. I wish it were so, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

    BCT

  16. @James Fox: Eh, I suppose you’re right, I don’t know where I was really going with that statement. The thrust of it was that while advancements have been made, we still need to either figure out a way to very selectively target cancerous cells with those therapies (which an entire body of researchers are working on) or find a different strategy that will combat the cancers without such dangerous side effects (which another entire body of researchers are working on).

  17. @busterggi:

    Yes. I would much rather my husband search tirelessly for a spot on my body that doesn’t exist in an attempt to make me maybe one day hopefully have an tremendous orgasm than to do things that actually work in giving me a tremendous orgasm. It’s much better to think there is something terribly wrong with my already stigmatized sex organs.

    Imagine if every partner you ever had insisted that you should be able to orgasm from her stroking the crease between your hip and your groin… and they tell you that it worked because they’ve had a couple of partners who came from that. Nevermind that touching you upon the penis is something that you know works, this is better. And how dare you ask them to stop stroking your hip to please you! They’re trying to give you a BETTER orgasm!

    Why don’t you want us to stroke your hips, doooooooods?

  18. @Chasmosaur: I’m dreadfully sorry for your situation. My father died 2 weeks ago while undergoing treatment for cancer (colon and esophagus). If he got any comfort from the delusion that things were better than they were, I’m happy for that. I certainly can’t begrudge anything that brings comfort in that situation, just as I am happy for the family members who find comfort in religion now.

    However, the people who were more than willing to make money from his fear (or now from my grief and regret) by marketing feel-good pablum deserve no sympathy or defense, even if they fully believe what they say.

    Again, my deepest sympathies.

  19. @Elyse: Then we’re talking about the difference between general principles and specific cases, though, Elyse. Someone who keeps doing something that doesn’t work is crazy. Someone who tries something that has worked in the past (with other partners, granted) is not acting crazy… it’s basic experimentation. If they learn it doesn’t work (either through experimentation or being told), that’s one thing. But just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked for previous partners… and it doesn’t mean that people who try it initially are bad… just that their extrapolation from generally applicable principles doesn’t apply to you.

  20. My biggest gripe against the “positive thinking” cult of illness is the obvious corollary that if you dare not to be overjoyed about your condition, then you’re responsible for it. Chopra and his Valley of the Dolls acolytes reinforce this blame-the-victim mentality and it infuriates me so much that flames…flames, on the side of my face, breathing…heaving breaths…….

  21. @Mark Hall: I think she was more replying to his condescending tone than anything else, Mark. “Ladies, don’t you want us to make you feel good, why are you complaining?!?!”

    Basically, he’s implying that psha, this kind of research isn’t needed, because he knows! So why should we women care? But of course this research is important: The more we know about human sexuality, the better.

    Also, there IS the myth that every woman has a G-spot (or a cluster of nerves that’s just an extension of the clitoris, if it’s not exactly the mythical G-spot), and therefore if they can’t come from that kind of stimulation, something is wrong with them.

    His condescending tone is doing exactly that, and is what I also took issue with.

  22. @Trotter Jelly: Sorry for your loss TJ. The other down side of the overly optimistic positivists could be unduly putting off death planning, wills and all that stuff. I personally want everything up front and honest when it comes to health issues and wonder if always trying to be positive can even effect treatment decisions negatively.

  23. I speculate that labeling a spot on the vagina as being particularly sensitive would be like picking a spot on the bottom of the foot as being the most ticklish. People are ticklish in different places, some people aren’t ticklish at all, and believing something tickles makes it tickle more.

  24. @James Fox: Thank you.

    I’m discovering now how important death planning is. The end came remarkably quick for my father, so he had no real chance to set things up properly, but it is amazing how much of a mess can be left.

    An overly rosy picture will probably affect all of a person’s decisions. Of course, I prefer a blunt truth by nature, even little euphemisms like “passed away” I find to be intolerable. Dead, much more direct and honest.

  25. Cancer a gift?
    Who does Barbara Ehrenreich think she is, Jennifer Love Hewitt?

    It’s as if I were to say my nearsightedness was a gift. Or if I had the flu and proclaimed that was a gift.
    I’d rather re-gift either of those.

  26. @ZenMonkey: Re: 28. That stuff really pisses me off. Wait until you meet it in the working world. In the US, they love to use that kind of thinking when laying you off.

    To all of those suffering with or that have serious illnesses above, {{hugs}}. It’s all I can offer, but it’s genuine.

  27. @marilove: Basically, he’s implying that psha, this kind of research isn’t needed, because he knows!

    ———

    Yeah. That’s what I got when he said “I seem to have found the G-Spot in a couple” of my partners over the years.”

    Totally cocky. Absolute confidence. He definitely knows that the G-Spot exists, and he knows where to find it. On you. See those words he was using there? Like “seems”?

    Oh yeah. He’s rock solid on this one. No need for your input, or sciences. And “a couple”? Yep. You have to know him to know this, but “a couple” means “absolutely every one, every time”. You have to read between the lines, or you won’t pick this stuff up.

    @Elyse really nailed this guy, though. I mean, it’s obvious from his three sentences that he never, ever listens to his partners or asks what they want. Sure, sure… he based his initial cocky, arrogant, and self assured statement on how his partners reacted… but we all know that all of his partners were faking and he was just too dumb to know it.

    That’s his fault, by the way, because obviously, if you read those two sentences, this guy is an oblivious cock in bed. It’s amazing he can even find the hole 4 times out of 7. For one thing, he could be slightly verbally awkward, which we all know means he’s in insensitive prick, a carbon copy of every guy that Marilove or Elyse have ever had lousy sex with.

    Fuck it. I say we ban him. Ban this guy, before he tries to silence another woman with his awful, awful, sexist crap.

    Elyse, Marilove… keep fighting, sisters. Working together, we can rid the world of arrogant pricks like this guy.

    “Seems to have” “wants to please”… christ. What a cocky, insensitive bastard.

  28. Actually… I should have deleted that comment. Because what I really meant to say was “Don’t you guys think you’re reading a lot into two sentences”?

    Without the sarcastic diatribe, which is just my outer asshole taking over for my shy and retiring inner self. So, apologies for going over the top. But seriously… don’t you think you’re reading rather a lot into two sentences?

  29. @sethmanapio: So this is basically you, ONCE AGAIN, telling women to “stop taking it so seriously!” or “you don’t know your own bodies!”

    Yay! Thanks for that, dude!

    But hey, we women should just lighten up when we’re being talked down to, right?

    “Seems to have” “wants to please”… christ. What a cocky, insensitive bastard.

    Just because someone tries to sound polite doesn’t mean they are actually being polite. Adding a few polite-sounding words doesn’t mean he’s not being condescending!

    Be honest ladies, would you really like your partners to not try to make you feel good?

    This entire sentence is pretty fucking clear. The science says that possibly the g-spot doesn’t exist, and many women agree with this, but hey…that just means we are getting in the way of our male partners from giving us awesome orgams!

  30. @marilove: So this is basically you, ONCE AGAIN, telling women to “stop taking it so seriously!” or “you don’t know your own bodies!”

    ——–

    No, this is YOU, once again, making up a narrative and then randomly casting people into it. No one ever said the crap that you are accusing them of saying. You are making up a story and pigeonholing me and other guys into it, and it’s bullshit.

    I have never, ever, said that you don’t know your own body. I have never, ever said that women don’t know their bodies in general. You are making this up.

    Yeah, the guy “might” actually be just trying to sound polite. But he might be polite. You don’t know, and you sure as fuck don’t know that he meant to say that research into the G-Spot is useless, because he knows best. You made that up.

    Your interpretation of that sentence is absolutely absurd. Your reading an entire viewpoint into a sentence that actually acknowledges the flip side of your own statement: which is that science says that the G-Spot (by some definitions) possibly and even probably exists, and many women agree.

    But hey, those women are clearly delusional, stupid, faking, or don’t know what a real orgasm feels like, right? It’s amazing how you can dismiss women on the one hand as dishonest and ignorant and then on the other hand get all huffy and feminist if someone else disagrees with your assessment of these women.

  31. @sethmanapio: Seriously, re-read this:

    Be honest ladies, would you really like your partners to not try to make you feel good?

    The rest of his comment was fine, in and of itself — until that. That is condescending, and he’s basically brushing us off, because he thinks he knows how to make women come, so shouldn’t we be thankful?

    But hey, those women are clearly delusional, stupid, faking, or don’t know what a real orgasm feels like, right?

    Please read my other comments where I’ve clearly stated I, personally, don’t think the mythical g-spot exists, but rather some women are just more sensitive. As at least one other person has said, it really doesn’t make sense that some women have a g-spot, while others don’t. That is illogical. It IS logical, however, that some women are just more sensitive — especially since it’s pretty true in other ways (the clitoris, for example, or nipples.)

    Again, I was commenting on this: “Be honest ladies, would you really like your partners to not try to make you feel good?”

    It was condescending. Period.

  32. It was condescending. Period.

    ——-

    I’m not arguing that it wasn’t. I’m arguing that you made up a story about what he actually thought that had nothing to do with what he said, and cast him in your made-up story. Something you also do to me and others.

    As to whether there is a G-Spot… I don’t care what’s logical to you and what isn’t. Logic isn’t relevant to anatomy. The science indicates that some women may simply have thicker bundle of nerves clustered in the vagina that may connect to the clitoris, and others don’t. If you want to say that that isn’t a G-spot, fine. But logic has nothing to do with it.

  33. @marilove:
    As at least one other person has said, it really doesn’t make sense that some women have a g-spot, while others don’t. That is illogical.

    One can only respond to such bullshit logic with the word: umami.

    It is not illogical at all for some humans to have a certain characteristic that others don’t. Not all people can taste “umami”. Some people have no color vision. Some people have no appendix. Mutations happen. The G-spot could be one of those. You can’t simply dismiss it just because there is no consensus among womanhood.

    Personally, I suspect there is no real physically different tissue, but just a more sensitive area linked to the clitoris. But to deny that this area is what the G-spot refers to is just playing childish semantics games.

    But Amanda Marcotte’s post brings up a good point:
    If you say the G-spot doesn’t exist, you’re apparently telling half the women who are sure it exists that it’s all in their head. Those crazy bitches.
    If you say the G-spot does exist, you’re apparently telling the other half of the women they’re somehow physically defective. Oh, and men can now be lazy during sex.

    Clearly, it is possible to take the interpretation of someone’s opinion a tad too far …

  34. @exarch: You do realize I never said the g-spot doesn’t exist, right, and in fact I find this study kind of iffy? I’ve said this several times. SEVERAL. Please read what I’ve written. I personally *don’t* think it’s the mythical g-spot, but rather that some women are just more sensitive, but this study seems to just say: Nope, doesn’t exist at all. Which doesn’t sit right with me.

    Please re-read what I and Elyse took issue with, and the tone of the comment:

    Be honest ladies, would you really like your partners to not try to make you feel good?

    @sethmanapio: I didn’t make up any kind of story whatsoever. But hey, if you want to continue to read shit I didn’t say, not my problem.

  35. @marilove: I didn’t make up any kind of story whatsoever

    ——-

    Yes, actually, you did. YOu made up a story in this comment:

    “Ladies, don’t you want us to make you feel good, why are you complaining?!?!”

    Basically, he’s implying that psha, this kind of research isn’t needed, because he knows!

    Not only did you actually change what the guy said, you made up a subsequent story about his attitude towards the science that isn’t even a direct consequence of what you pretended he said. That’s a story you made up about who the guy is, what he said, and what he thinks. You constructed a new version of this guy to kick, one with no correlate to the actual guy in word, thought, or deed.

    You do this to me all the time too.

  36. @marilove: I didn’t make up any kind of story whatsoever. But hey, if you want to continue to read shit I didn’t say, not my problem.
    ———
    In case you think this was a one off, you reenforced your story here:

    Be honest ladies, would you really like your partners to not try to make you feel good?

    This entire sentence is pretty fucking clear. The science says that possibly the g-spot doesn’t exist, and many women agree with this, but hey…that just means we are getting in the way of our male partners from giving us awesome orgams!

    You create the idea from that sentence that this person thinks that his partners who haven’t responded one way are “getting in the way”. But of course, he says nothing of the kind. There’s no implication of that anywhere in the sentence. The implication is purely in your mind.

    Not only that, but you are accusing him of ignoring science. Science of which you @later say:

    “I never said the g-spot doesn’t exist, right, and in fact I find this study kind of iffy

    So you’re not only making up a story about what the guy thinks, you apply a double-standard to the guy you made up in your head.

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