Random Asides

I Love…

I love Skepchick.
I love Skepchick readers too.
I love this adorable little xkcd video.
And in case you haven’t seen it, I think you might love it too.
Boom de yadda boom de yadda boom de yadda boom.
Happy Monday and happy 2011 everyone!
It’s time to get back to kickin’ ass.
Stand back. We’re going to try skepticism!
Boom de yadda boom de yadda boom de yadda boom…

If there are any specific topics you would like us to tackle this year or things you want to hear, see or learn more about, let us know in the comments!

Tags

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.

Related Articles

31 Comments

  1. Sure, I’ve got some facts that need checking. I know we have all kinds of scientists reading.

    While reading the pterosaur story in the quickies today I came across an article entitled Why Eating Meat Is Like Butchering the Rainforest. I know what you’re thinking but I do not want to start the whole meat/no meat discussion. What I do want however is some help fact checking their (so called) fact sheet.

    Now, look at this fact sheet:
    • Eating one pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving an SUV for 40 miles.
    • Meat production takes up 70% of the world’s agricultural land.
    • Britain eats a million tons of beef a year, 1.3 million tons of pork and 1.8 million tons of poultry.
    • Just one quarter-pound hamburger requires the clearing of six yards of rainforest and the destruction of 165 pounds of living matter, including 20 to 30 plant species, 100 insect species and dozens of birds, mammals and reptiles (according to ChooseVeg.com).
    • Exactly 441 gallons of water are required for each pound of cattle raised, compared to just 14 gallons for growing a pound of grain (according to ChooseVeg.com).
    • Animal agriculture creates five tons of waste per person over a typical lifetime in the U.S. That’s 87,000 pounds of waste each second. (according to ChooseVeg.com).
    • According to EPA, over 200 manure discharges and spills from U.S. animal farms between 1990 and 1997 have killed more than a billion fish.
    • A single acre of farmland can, over the course of a year, produce 250 pounds of beef or 40,000 potatoes. The choice is yours.

    Are there any true facts in this fact sheet? If so which ones? And sources please?
    Again, not interested in meat vs. no meat, just the “facts”.

    I am assuming (I know I shouldn’t) that at least a few of these are, at best, exaggerations, which brings me to a final question.
    Is lying to further a cause ever a good idea?

  2. Dimethyltryptamine

    Why is in our bodies and what is its purpose?

    Some experts are saying this is where science and spirituality meet using this drug.

    I’m interested if any atheist skeptics would undergo a clinical study to see what they experience and if their beliefs would change.

    DMT: The Spirit Molecule (full movie)

  3. @mrmisconception: Not a fact check, exactly, but the last statement is a little bit deceptive.

    Calories in a pound of beef? About 1000.
    Calories in a potato? About 100.

    These are rough calorie estimates, but let’s say they’re right.

    250 pounds of beef = 250,000 calories
    40,000 potatoes = 4,000,000 calories

    And the beef has much more protein in it than the potatoes.

  4. @mrmisconception

    I would like to get my best guesses (yes guesses) as to the validity of these so-called facts.

    • Eating one pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving an SUV for 40 miles.
    I see nothing that makes this implausible, no idea if the number is correct or not though.

    • Meat production takes up 70% of the world’s agricultural land.
    The numbers here seem high, I suspect it includes an awful lot of “open range” that is used for grazing and that couldn’t not be used in other ways making that “fact” disingenuous at best.

    • Britain eats a million tons of beef a year, 1.3 million tons of pork and 1.8 million tons of poultry.
    I see no reason they should change this, moving on.

    • Just one quarter-pound hamburger requires the clearing of six yards of rainforest and the destruction of 165 pounds of living matter, including 20 to 30 plant species, 100 insect species and dozens of birds, mammals and reptiles (according to ChooseVeg.com).
    This one seems to me to be complete and utter bullshit; Oh, I see the problem, according to MyPersonalPropaganda.com

    • Exactly 441 gallons of water are required for each pound of cattle raised, compared to just 14 gallons for growing a pound of grain (according to ChooseVeg.com).
    Exactly? Really? Must have some very sensitive measuring equipment being used by the big, bad industrial farmers. Ah yes, MPP.com again.

    • Animal agriculture creates five tons of waste per person over a typical lifetime in the U.S. That’s 87,000 pounds of waste each second. (according to ChooseVeg.com).
    No idea if this is even close to the correct numbers but the real question is compared to what for the alternative? Oh oh, MMP.com again, I’m detecting a pattern.

    • According to EPA, over 200 manure discharges and spills from U.S. animal farms between 1990 and 1997 have killed more than a billion fish.
    The document I needed to look at from the EPA can’t be read on this computer (pdf , sad right?) but while I am not surprised by the number of incidents I suspect (with little evidence beside track record) that the number of fish killed is high.

    • A single acre of farmland can, over the course of a year, produce 250 pounds of beef or 40,000 potatoes. The choice is yours.
    Okay, let’s assume that is true (which I do not), so what? In what way is this equivalent? What are the available calories, protein, vitamins, etc. from these two things? Talk about apples and oranges (or meat and veg as the case may be).

    As you can guess I am skeptical of most of these claim, I do not pretend that consuming animals (especially with current technology) is not impactful, far from it. I just find extreme exaggeration in the name of a cause to be harmful to the cause. $.02

  5. @JamesV

    You are right, I did not refute the points made in the movie and it would have indeed been a very weak argument to try to refute them with “it’s only a movie.” That wasn’t the point I was making though, if you will notice I made no claims, pro or con, as to the validity of the premise of the movie. The point I was making was that individual pieces of pop culture do not have much power on their own but rather collectively are something to worry about. That is why I bolded the “a” in “it’s only a movie”, to point out that I was speaking of a singular piece of entertainment. Movies can indeed say something profound, just that most of them don’t.

    BTW the argument you made was all anecdote, just saying.

  6. @mrmisconception: “Meat production takes up 70% of the world’s agricultural land.
    The numbers here seem high, I suspect it includes an awful lot of “open range” that is used for grazing and that couldn’t not be used in other ways making that “fact” disingenuous at best.”

    Assuming we’re talking open grazing land, and not a feedlot, the land could be converted to crops, but at least as rangeland it is still open to native animals. Once converted to cropland most of the native species are out of a home. Of course even that’s better than turning open space into yet another shopping mall.

    One of the things that came up in wildlife class was the number of deer shot to protect soy crops in Michigan and Minnesota. It was about 25000 a year. That was many years ago, so the numbers will be out of date, but you get the idea.

  7. @weatherwax: [rant] They need to reintroduce wild wolves. This is my pet wingnut theory that I subscribe to without any evidence… (Okay, I don’t support keeping wolves as pets, so it’s not really a “pet” theory.)

    Anyway, my theory is this and it belongs to me and it’s my theory and it involves an elk (but doesn’t involve Anne Elk), and the next thing I’m going to say is my theory and my theory is this: The reintroduction of wild wolves would most benefit the farmers and ranchers who are most strongly opposed to it. This is because predators preferentially kill sick and injured prey, which are the the animals most likely to spread diseases (such as brucellosis) to domesticated animals. Thus the economic benefit of them culling wild populations of deer, elk, bison, etc. should vastly outweigh the cost of the domesticated animals to predation, all of this benefit going directly to the farmers and ranchers most opposed to it. Proving this theory would require much more work than I’m willing to commit (New Year’s Resolution #1, Savor Laziness), so I’ll just take the opposition to wolves to be an example of the Idiocracy in action. [/rant]

  8. I’d like to see more on sustainability, it’s an issue I think is important but the facts are hard to come by.
    I love that you guys are here and that we can have real, intelligent discussions without n00bs and trolls.

  9. @mrmisconception: I don’t remember the hard numbers being discussed directly (I read it while traveling so sleep dep didn’t help that). But I would suggest checking out The Vegetarian Myth. The author discusses many of these points and how they actually work out when you begin to break them down.

    I do know that most often the land required for meat production includes feed lots and large areas of grain that go to feed meat/milk/animal product animals. So to me that numbers don’t really make much sense since people are arguing to take that land from the “meat” people and turn it over to the “grain” people when the area is grain to begin with.

    I will say that I loved that book and it really made me think. However, the author lays out clearly that she is arguing for a specific point so it is a biased discussion so take it with a grain of salt.

  10. @Siveambrai

    Thanks, I’ll have to check that out.

    Like I said, I’m not completely against vegetarianism, I just wish they would stop with the “you’re killing the planet while you’re killing the cows” arguement. I can’t be just that simple.

  11. @Buzz Parsec: I suspect the wolves would quicly learn that livestock are easier prey then wild cervids. If you’ve ever seen a coyote take a sheep, it’s a real eye opener.

    Sheep: Hi. Will you be my friend?
    Coyote: Hey, there’s a bee on your throat.
    Sheep: Get it off, get it off!
    Coyote: Hold still a sec, I’ll get it.
    Crunch.

    Also, ranching is one of those professions where you’re often right on the edge financially, and you’re subject to alot of factors you have no control over. Alot of people react by being oversensitive to anything they think is a threat, and overreactive to anything they can control.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close