Skepchick Quickies 9.28

Skepchick Quickies 9.28

Happy Friday, everyone! Amanda is enjoying her vacation so I’m filling in for the day. Instead of history, I’m posting videos, and to start, here is the Worst (or Best) Death Scene Ever. Also, Cookie Monster and Grover Reenact The Hunger Games, This Time with More Cookies (from Nicole).

Featured Image: Our Jacqueline just got a puppy and named it Science. That is SO MATH. And so cute!

Avatar of Mary
By Mary
Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.


  1. Avatar of nomaduk

    GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left

    No, libertarian technophiles are the equivalent of Climate Change Denialists.

    • Avatar of NeedsCoffee

      The Slate piece has multiple links to scientists debunking the study you just offered up.

    • Avatar of freemage

      Pointing to Monsanto to blast GMOs is like pointing to Vioxx to blast vaccines. Note that the linked study didn’t have a much-needed second control group–namely, GMO-fed but no pesticide exposure. (For that matter, they also should’ve had one that had the rats exposed to Round-up without GMO corn feed.)

      I’m quite willing to believe that a particular pesticide is dangerous; linking that to GMO directly, though, requires a stronger scientific case.

    • Avatar of nomaduk

      Whether a particular pesticide is toxic is not really the question, nor, really, is whether GMO crops are safe to eat; it seems fairly clear that, so far at least, they appear to be. The question is whether the concept of large-scale corporate control of agriculture and of the food supply is beneficial and should be encouraged.

      By concentrating on the small technical issue of food and pesticide safety, the broader question of the effects on people of the actions of Monsanto are being ignored and sublimated. I’m sure Monsanto has no problem with studies like these being done, as they ignore the major problems raised in the article I linked to.

      • Avatar of ansuzmannaz

        That’s all well and good, but I thought the topic at hand was GMO crops and their safety, NOT genetic patents, trust-busting, and such?

  2. Avatar of IsisUptown

    I think Ke$ha experiences sleep paralysis – I’ve had some interesting sensations because of mine. Also, my
    “¢urren¢y name” is either I$i$ or $h¥ra, depending if I’m online or in real life.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Actually I think you’re onto something here. I’ve had a handful of sleep paralysis episodes and it’s a WILD feeling. You’re suggestion of potential causality is an astute one.

      That said, many people love to romanticize death and the afterlife and I’m sure that her romanticization of the subject will resonate with millions and sell a shit ton of records.

      So she makes mountains of fucking money off her treasured thoughts. Can any of us say we wouldn’t want to do the same? Smart cookie that Kesha.

      • Avatar of whitebird

        I third that hypothesis. I’ve had a couple of sleep paralysis incidents and they were terrifying. I think that “alien abductions” are most likely sleep paralysis experiences. The brain is a funky, funky thing.

    • Avatar of Infophile

      I agree. Sleep paralysis is the most likely explanation as I see it. The myth of the succubus/incubus, a demon that steals semen from men in their sleep and then implants it in women, almost certainly derives at least half from sleep paralysis (the other half from being a way to explain away a pregnancy). You’re trapped in bed, with a strong feeling that something else is in the room. Your mind is quick to fill in details from your culture’s favorite explanation. In the modern US, that would be alien abductions. In the past, it was witches or demons. But there are still people around today who are predisposed to believing in ghosts over aliens, so it’s not surprising at all that some of them would interpret an episode of sleep paralysis as a visit from a ghost.

      Alternative explanations, for the sake of completeness:
      -She’s lying/acting (always a possibility, particularly with an entertainer)
      -She’s misremembering dreams as reality (which is surprisingly easy to do if you aren’t careful)
      -Some other form of hallucination.

  3. Avatar of lofgren

    There was no callous snark, no deconstructive riffs, and only a handful of time-stamped pop-culture references.

    No callous snark? Are we just going to pretend that Norm and Carla never existed?

    • Avatar of Mary

      Was Norm really that callous? I always enjoyed his one liners. Plus Cliff’s useless knowledge.

      • Avatar of Buzz Parsec

        You missed Trivia on Monday! Shame! Useless knowledge roolz.

        • Avatar of Mary

          I completely forgot! I woke up at 4 am and I was like…OH NO. I love trivia nights!

  4. Avatar of freemage

    The Reddit story is something I needed to rebirth my hope for humanity. I’m usually an optimist, but this latest election cycle has been wearing me down. But this was awesome on multiple levels.

  5. Avatar of BlackCat

    I would like to take this time to say I am childfree, and damn proud of it. I love being childfree. And it’s entirely by choice, thank you modern medicine and science!

    I actually can’t remember at time when I did want children, or have fantasies about them.

    Also, I’ll admit — I don’t think I’d make a good parent.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Yes there are times when I wish I didn’t have a week where I got a little human’s shit all over my hands…

      Freedom is good.

    • Avatar of somewhat

      Being childfree is the right decision for me too. I don’t want children, and I wouldn’t make a good mother anyway. I have to admit, though, I sometimes wish I would want children, because having kids is what’s “normal”. And people never seem to stop asking why I don’t have any, and they keep reminding me that my “clock is ticking” – I’m 30 years old now, in a few years maybe they’ll finally stop asking…

    • Avatar of marilove

      I think kids are great. I love kids! Hell, I don’t even mind screaming babies on planes. I can tune ANYTHING out. It’s kind of hilarious. “Do you notice that screaming baby?” “Huh? What baby?”

      I don’t want kids and this is probably one very good reason why I shouldn’t have them. :P

      I love my nieces and nephews and will gladly spend time with my friends’ kids but personally, I don’t want them.

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      I wanted kids right around the time that my regimen of female hormones made me sterile. It went away. I’m barely functional as it is; I can’t honestly commit to being a parent.

  6. Avatar of SamBarge

    Okay, quick poll:

    Am I the only person who hated Cheers? I completely did not get what everyone seemed to love about it. Is it only me?

    • Avatar of marilove

      It is one of my favorites. HOW DARE YOU! ;)

    • Avatar of Mary

      I really liked it! But I refuse to visit the tourist trap bar in Boston. Also I never thought Sam was all that.

    • Avatar of pascale68

      OK, I’m glad I am not the only one. Actually, I don’t really hate Cheers, I just think it was overrated. After Coach died I lost all interest.

  7. Avatar of dr. dr. professor

    I’m a GMO denier.

    I deny that it solves hunger.

    Trying to say GMO is the solution to hunger is like saying band-aids are the solution to gunshot wounds.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Word. The world has an abbundance of food alrewdy. I has to do with access.

      • Avatar of Infophile

        I remember seeing an article about this a while back, though I forget where (Daylight Atheism, perhaps?). Basically, famine these days only seems to exist in countries that are governed by the most totalitarian regimes. For everyone else, we have the luxury of picking and choosing what to eat, or even overeating.

        • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

          Well straight up famine maybe, but don’t let that make you think that there isn’t a lot of food shortage and the horrible things that come with it like stunting, high child mortality, etc. in stable governments that are more or less democratic.

          India for one is a democracy that continually fails to feed its hungry people and millions die each year from hunger related causes (not necessarily starvation directly but from things caused from hunger like infections, nutrient deficiency inspired disorders, etc.)

          And the sad thing is, there’s not much anyone’s been able to do about it :(.

  8. Avatar of marilove

    Little ghost, little ghost
    One I’m scared of the most
    Can you scare me up a bit of love?

  9. Avatar of criticaldragon1177


    Youtuber EVOgenVideos has also done some debunking of the anti GMO hysteria. He’s studying to become a geneticist, so he probably knows a lot more about the subject than most people here.

  10. Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

    I wonder what would happen if somebody started a petition to get sugar with 50% or more fructose banned.

    I’d love to see what the people that manufactured the HFCS controversy do when they’re put in the position of having to explain high school chemistry to the people they’ve duped.

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      It really ticks me off. There’s all these studies out there, and all the ones that end up in the paper don’t have control groups. What the hell is that supposed to tell us?

      Even if high fructose corn syrup were significantly SAFER than cane sugar, none of these studies would have any different results, at least not in terms of headlines. Sure, the numbers would be different, but without anything to compare it to, how would we have any idea what those studies meant?

      Now, I don’t know enough to really know if some of these aren’t real scientific studies that were just misreported by the media, but it seems to me we need some kind of website we can go to where we can get basic facts about the study.

      First of all, does the headline match the study? Does the study’s design actually match the question they were asking? Does the conclusion match the data? Did the author of the study pretend not to understand what a placebo was?

      I don’t know enough about GMO to know if it’s opposition is as straight up astroturfed as the HFCS controversy, but it certainly seems so. It feels like public opinion has become real estate that can be bought and sold. I wish there was more we could do about that.

  11. Avatar of Jack99

    As I have stated before, I am all for GMO technology so long as due diligence is done and confirmed in proper peer reviewed studies.

    So to all the pro GMO folks I want to echo one commenter in Normaduk’s link:

    “Well then, since Monsatan is taking in hundreds of billions a year in profits from their genetic engineering, they surely would have provided you with a peer revivewed long, or even short term, human study showing that their product is safe?

    Could you post a link to that as an example of how to
    properly do a study?

    We’re waiting with “baited” breath.”

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Well GMO exists for one main reason, to increase agribusiness profit margins. The biggest usage of GMO product around the world are for-profit farmers with large operations. And for the record, that’s not necessarily bad that they use it to make better profit margins. Business is for profit.

      1. I think we all agree, it doesn’t cure hunger
      2. It seems it’s pretty safe to eat, but the secondary effects I think are what may be of concern. Like are uses of pesticides with GMO crops more harmful to the consumer or environment? Do specific GMO animals or plants pose any threat to the ecosystem they’re being used in?

      I think the consensus is that most GMO products ARE safe enough for consumption and safe in the ecosystems they’re used in, but that it’s not entirely clear what all the downsides are.

      • Avatar of Jack99

        Agreed. Yes, it’s secondary effects that concern me, and I’ve said the same thing in each thread since this started – the working hypothesis being that there are higher levels of Roundup in glyphosate resistant corn.

        I’ve been hoping that somebody would tell me that I am wrong, that I have misunderstood the approval process, that there was a second round of testing, and that Glyphosate resistant corn was not released for general use on the basis of 10 lousy rats in the test group.

        A study in which the most informative liver function test results, namely the final GGT levels, were erased without explanation.

        A study performed by Monsanto that could not be replicated before release of the GMO because of patent restriction.

        A lousy way to do science, indeed.

  12. Avatar of pascale68

    Personally I am neither pro- nor anti-GMO, but I have to say a lot of anti-GMO people I have encountered remind me of the anti-vaccine crowd in that they are moved more by emotion than science. (It’s not natural! Frankenfoods!) The main donor to California Proposition 37 is Joe Mercola. Joe Mercola!!! The fact that he is a part of the anti-GMO movement makes me very suspicious.

  13. Avatar of TheCzech

    I enjoyed Cheers when it was originally on, but it had plenty of uneven episodes, especially after Shelly Long left. I wasn’t watching anymore by the finale, but I did tune in to see how it all ended. They ended it well. I have no desire to go back and watch it now.

    That retrospective was WAY too reverent.

  14. Avatar of Rasputin

    Please forgive me for being completely off topic.

    I ran across a charitable endeavor today that I think the MAL and Skepchick communities would absolutely adore.

    It’s called Fill The Shelves and the basic idea is that librarians at schools who don’t have enough books can make an Amazon wish list and the fine folks at Fill The Shelves will publicize it so every random Joe Schmoe can go in and buy a specific book for a specific school.

    It is grassroots awesomeness that makes the world a better place.

    If I have crossed a line better left uncrossed, please forgive me, I’ll make a point to wear my hairshirt for a few days.

    • Avatar of marilove

      This is awesome, thank you for sharing!

    • Avatar of Mary

      Thanks! I forwarded this along. :) You can also send stuff through the Contact form, just so it doesn’t get lost in the comments.

  15. Avatar of Jack99

    I spent some time yesterday reading in detail the Seralini paper and the criticisms of it.

    The most common criticism? We can’t tell much with only 10 lousy rats per cohort!

    Yet that is exactly what the OECD guidelines mandate as the minimum requirement.

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