Skepchick Quickies 2.13

Skepchick Quickies 2.13

On February 13, 1633, Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome to stand trial before the Roman Inquisition. (In this case, he did expect it.)

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.

26 Comments

  1. That’s because everybody expects the Roman Inquisition. :P

    • Stupid time difference. You beat me to it.

  2. It’s not all that surprising that women who objectify themselves are less likely to work for social change on that front. She’s accepted society’s view of her as an object and will work to be the best darn object she can be, even if she has other accomplishments. Why would she fight something she agrees with? Plus, if she is conventionally attractive, then objectification works in her favor. Why fight against something that gives you some level of privilege? On the other hand, a woman who doesn’t objectify herself is going to more likely to work for change because there’s a disconnect between how she values herself and how society values her. Even if she is conventionally attractive and enjoys the advantages that society confers upon those deemed pretty, she is probably more likely to resent how her other, more important accomplishments are overshadowed by how she looks. Sure, she’s more than happy to be in JAMA’s swimsuit edition, but doesn’t anybody care that she’s cured cancer?

    • Well, being “conventionally attractive” can sometimes have its own problems. Women especially are not treated as seriously. I guess it’s a trade-off? IDK. But the rest of your points, yes, I agree.

      • Well, everything has its trade-offs. I’ve never been an attractive woman (or any woman for that matter), but I’ve been around long enough to realize that it’s probably not as wonderful as the media makes it seem. That was the reason behind my “JAMA swimsuit edition” example. Even a woman who benefits from (and even enjoys) objectification, but doesn’t see herself as an object will take issue with being objectified if it comes at the expense of something she values more than her own physical beauty, in this case her professional accomplishments. However, a woman who does objectify herself and therefore views her physical beauty as her primary asset would be far less likely to take issue with how she looks in a bikini overshadowing her cancer cure.

  3. Oh oh oh totally off topic BUT: I will be at the American Atheist Convention in Austin at the end of March, woo!

    • Yay! I will have to make an effort to get up there, maybe we can have some sort of Skepchick meetup! =D

      • YES YOU BETTER. I got a nice hotel with a King size bed, but there is room on the floor/room for cots, JUST FYI! :)

  4. It’s 2013 and we’re just *now* figuring out that testing on other animals is ridiculous? Andrew Knight’s book “The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments” actually does a meta-analysis of animal-based research summarized by the vivisectors themselves and the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of abandoning the practice: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Costs_and_Benefits_of_Animal_Experim.html?hl=de&id=RwI4YgEACAAJ
    The reason animal testing sticks around has less to do with it’s efficacy and more to do with the multi-billion dollar industry it is grounded in. Testing on animals is lucrative business.

    • I for one am glad to know that my wife’s cancer drugs like Tamoxifen and Herceptin were tested on animals.
      She owes her life to that. It’s a selfish view, I know.

    • The article addresses mouse studies specifically. Animal research involves more than just disease-state testing in mice, and it’s unfair to paint it with a broad brush. The fact that you use the word “vivisector” instead of “animal researcher” illustrates your ignorance on the issue.

      You can either have modern medicine or you can have zero animal research, but you can’t have both. Do you take any pharmaceutical remedies at all? Any over-the-counter drugs? All of it traces back to animal research in one way or another. It’s not just that drugs are tested on animals. Animal testing is expensive, so I’m confused where you’re getting this “multi-billion dollar industry” argument. If anything, it adds to the cost of drugs, which reduces the bottom line for shareholders in pharmaceutical companies. Cell culture is cheaper, but there are applications where animal research is required in order to generate certain cells for testing.

    • There are a couple problems here. The fact of the matter is that medical research REQUIRES animal experimentation. End of story. Anything you observe in cell culture must be treated as an artifact until you see it in an animal. You do limited animal studies, and if it works, you can ramp it up into wider studies. If it still works, you can start in on limited human trials, then progress to more wide scale trials. There’s no skipping steps.

      You’re also misrepresenting Knight’s book. He discusses the costs and benefits of animal work, and brings up a few good points, but in the end, it’s just a discussion. He doesn’t make any actual quantitative conclusions. Claiming that the “the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of abandoning the practice” is a serious distortion of the truth. You might as well claim that “scientists are abandoning evolution” or “experts have serious concerns that 9/11 was an inside job”.

      Finally, there’s the use of the word “vivisectors”. This is a BLATANT mischaracterization of animal researchers. It’s technically accurate in the sense that it’s work being done on live specimens (in which case, a surgeon is a vivisector, and I was vivisected when I had my hip fixed a few months ago). It’s usually used to refer to someone who dissects live animals without anesthesia. It’s also a dog whistle term, and extremely inflammatory. Like the word “Darwinist” or “evolutionist”, it often indicates that the speaker has virtually no real understanding of the subject matter, no desire to understand it, and is hell bent on pushing their ignorance on others.

    • Just to add in a fourth point to the three already excellent points made by Jack, Mary and Andy. The alternative to dropping animal testing is to go from concept to human testing. Which would require people to put themselves forward into very, very dangerous situations that will probably not make any advances in medicine or health. Add to that the fact that many things can only be understood and examined upon death you’d need to have people willing to try a new drug or procedure, die at the end of it, for what could be limited or no gain.

  5. Mary,

    I always knew soda wasn’t the best thing for you, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of someone dying from a Coca Cola overdose

    • Did you see how much she drank per day? Damn!

      • Mary,

        Yes I did. Man it was a lot.

    • It was probably a combination of drinking way, way, WAY too much soda, but also not drinking ANYTHING ELSE. Sugar and caffeine are diuretics, and at some point, all that sugar and caffeine must start cancelling out the fluids you are bringing in. And all that fizz is really hard on your body.

      I drink a LOT of water, more than most, and even I don’t think I make 2.5 gallons a day. A gallon, probably, or just under, but man oh man how can any one person drink that much EVERY DAY?

      • I have to drink 2-3 liters per day of water and sometimes it makes me feel like I’m drowning! And I just realized that’s not even ONE gallon, haha.

      • How was it that her pancreas didn’t claw its way up through her abdominal cavity and strangle her from the inside? I’m actually kind of surprised that she didn’t develop diabetes. I wonder if she had any of the secondary effects of diabetes just from what had to be wildly fluctuating blood glucose levels.

        • Maybe she was pre-diabetic but didn’t know it?

      • Marilove,

        I’m sick right now probably drinking at least one and half gallons of water, just to get better.

        • I should figure out how much water I drink every day. The thing is, I look at a gallon, and it doesn’t LOOK like it would last all day for me, but I do not have the greatest ability to know what something’s size/density/distance/whatever is by just looking at it haha.

          But I live in the desert, and I got myself into the habit of drinking mostly water a long time ago. I carry it around everywhere.

          I know people who rarely drink water, sometimes never. It BAFFLES me.

          Not that I don’t drink soda or juice sometimes. I can’t drink a lot of soda, tough, the fizz gets to me. I usually drink beer instead if I’m going to get heart burn and gas anyway ;)

    • And now you can say you can die from a coca cola overdose … but still can’t die from a weed overdose! haha

  6. I’m not surprised about the medical cost thing. I had a dr office once who couldn’t tell me how much a flu shot would cost without insurance. I also once had trouble calling several dentist offices trying to get a cost on xrays.

  7. I have personally known three people (soon to be four if my bf doesn’t change his drinking habits) who have contracted diabetes from drinking too much pop. In one case it was Coke, another was Pepsi, and another was a combination of pop and other sugary drinks like slurpees. I have never known anyone to drink THAT much though, and they’re all still alive. That article surprised me.

  8. There are actually two possible mechanisms for this woman’s death.
    One is xs sugar->xs calories->obesity->downregulation of insulin receptors->insulin insensitivity->diabetes mellitus.
    The other is psychogenic polydipsia in which the sugar plays no part. Water in excessive amounts can wash out the high salt regions in the medulla of the kidney so that the patient can no longer concentrate their urine. Sodium is lost and with hyponatremia, confusion convulsions and death follow.
    See for instance http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17521521
    I can confirm that in the lab high urine volumes of 4-5 L are always diabetics, most folks it’s 1.5 – 2.5 L. To reflect amount drunk, you add roughly 400 ml for net insensible loss thru sweat, breathing etc. NB The Wikipedia article on this fails to take into account insensible water PRODUCTION from metabolism so is misleading.
    NB all this assumes a temperate climate.
    Here endeth the lesson!
    Oh but personally, back in the day, I would drink a gallon of beer in a sitting with no worries at all. Not every day tho! Later when I gave up the booze, I would do the same with Coke. These days it’s usually diet lime or such and “only” 1-2 L/day.
    Sadly my teeth are decalcifying even at this lower level!

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