Quickies

Quickies: Black Lives Being Erased, Victorian Wedding Night Advice, and Donald Trump

  • Black American lives are being erased. The victors still rewrite history – “The victors (ie the beneficiaries of the status quo) are writing history, in front of our eyes, in real time – deciding what will endure and what will fade away. This isn’t necessarily an overt, explicit or even conscious process – it’s often just a series of seemingly innocuous choices that add up to a slow, grinding erasure. It’s re-centring Michael Brown’s story on Darren Wilson. It’s memorialising a dead lion on America’s most iconic building, while, in the city below, black people are fighting to simply be acknowledged as human beings (in a country built on black slave labour).” From Radium.
  • Living Without A Sense Of Smell – All about the science of scents and what it’s like to lose the ability to smell. It affects more than just your food.
  • 100-Year-Old Wedding Night Advice for Newlyweds – This Victorian-era advice is interesting and likely very helpful at the time, considering the fact that it was an acceptable practice to never tell the virginal bride what was about to happen.
  • How to change the minds of vaccine skeptics? Scare them. – This recent study about scaring anti-vax parents contradicts another study that says that scare tactics are likely to backfire. From Will.
  • Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name – “I wanted to know more of how the Georges of the world live, so I sent more. Total data: George sent out 50 queries, and had his manuscript requested 17 times. He is eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book. Fully a third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25.”
  • The Teen Who Exposed a Professor’s Myth – A professor published a well-received paper on how Irish people in America were never discriminated against (he called it the “myth of victimization”). Then a teenager disproved him in a 5-minute Google image search.
  • The media’s 5 stages of grief over Donald Trump – “The crosstabs aren’t online, but Bloomberg’s Joshua Green has them, and he’s been tweeting out some of the findings. The main takeaway? Trump’s support is growing among all factions of the Republican Party. The idea that his supporters are a single kind of Republican — an angry, but marginalized, group — increasingly seems wrong. Media coverage of Trump’s campaign has been going through something akin to the five stages of grief (though, given what a fun story Trump is to cover, there’s a heavy dose of delight, too).”

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Mary

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.

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9 Comments

  1. August 5, 2015 at 9:17 am —

    About the first link. I really dislike the whole “How you can you worry about problem B when problem A continues!?” line of argument. It usually minimizes the former while not helping the latter much because it makes people defensive.

    Human lives, by their nature, matter a lot, and the right wing is ignoring the heck out of them. But that’s no reason to overlook the permanent costs of potentially losing endangered species. They’re both real problems.

    By all means, any specific person concerned with cecil, and not human lives, it’s a valid argument to direct at them. But as a general “We’re so terrible a culture” it does a disservice.

    Also, I hate how the story about the young girl says “with a 5 minute google search,” because that reinforces the culture of “university of google.” She actually turned to primary sources that google had archived, rather than the broader internet. You know, like someone who was trying to find out real facts.

    • August 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm —

      But the article doesn’t use that line of argument. She writes “You can and should care about both, but caring about both requires caring about both
      And that’s the problem. It is, obviously, a simpler and easier thing to care about a dead lion than a dead human, because lions don’t have free will and are therefore not potentially flawed like a human is. Lions are perfect victims, whereas humans never are.
      But because it’s easier to love Cecil doesn’t mean it’s morally OK to ignore the people who need our support. If we can’t bring ourselves to display photos of the human victims of racism and police brutality on the Empire State Building or on our social media pages because it’s too controversial or too complicated, then at least we should limit our public (thought real) grief about mistreated animals. Otherwise we risk looking like we don’t care about people as much as we care about animals.

      • August 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm —

        *though* real, I meant to write.

      • August 5, 2015 at 1:06 pm —

        Hmm. I was going to make a counter-argument about how it’s a framing device. But that interpretation is totally fair.

      • August 6, 2015 at 4:26 pm —

        “Where are the stories of the victims of racism and police brutality on here? Do you know how many women were killed and raped this month? This week? Today? And yet skepchick contributors cannot bring themselves to mention them, instead there are articles about the hurt feelings of engineers and ghostbusters, when around the world women are fighting to simply be acknowledged as human beings.

        If they can’t bring themselves to display the names of those victims, because it’s not selfie material or it’s too complicated, maybe they should limit their display of women with hurt feelings. Otherwise they risk looking like they don’t care about rape and murder as much as they care about movies and advertising.”

        That argument has the exact same structure as yours. What’s wrong with it?

        I’ll skip my complaints for the first part of your comment because they’re off-topic and I will cut to the point.

        The tribute was NOT for Cecil the Lion it was to endangered species around the world. So the argument is really targeted at people who care about wildlife, not Cecil. And the subtitle is dishonest.

        The Empire State Building has paid tribute to a lot of people – Mandela, MLK, the typhoon Yolanda victims are just a few. So you cannot say that they don’t care about people. They have also refused to honour people – Mother Theresa. Maybe they thought that “it’s controversial”.

        They have also not honored all or any of the victims of *insert almost anything here* . Just like Skepchick or the Guardian, but unlike them it’s just a building, claiming far less SJW credentials. As a building it cannot cover everything, because they get more request than there are days in the year. That was the exact reason they cited for not tributing pediatric cancer victims. But kids are no good victims, cause they have free will and stuff. That’s why nobody cares about them. You should check some conservatices sites on that topic – you’ll find their arguments suspiciously familiar – they target rainbow tributes, naturally.

        But it’s not ESB the article is targeted at – it’s society isn’t, because it seems to care more about the lion. Well this is empirically wrong as the amount of outrage over Michael Brown cannot be even remotely compared with the amount of outrage over the lion – neither in the number of people expressing outrage, nor in degree of that outrage. Even when you take into account the racism.

        ” because it’s easier to love Cecil doesn ’t mean it’s morally OK to ignore the people who need our support” That’s IT. IT’S the same old fallacy that pretends that people can care about only one thing or that the number of people that care or talk about something is the same as how much they care about it. At the same time in which you’re denying it, your still putting it as if it is fact that if you care about one of the thing you ignore the other. That’s the false binary choice that’s at the heart of the fallacy.

        All the article is doing is “hijacking” – whenever there is some event that people buzz about – such articles start to pop up accusing everybody of lacking a heart, because they don’t talk about issue X.
        You can go to any highly politicized or specialized in any issue site and you will find somebody complaining about Cecil the Lion. It only serves as a self-congratulating, holier-than-thou device and hurts both the targeted and the promoted issue.

        People who work for animal charities get that non-stop – “There are so many people in need and your are rising money/looking after/trying to protect animals?”
        Feminists get that all the time too and when we add skepchick’s own history with the not-as-bad-as fallacy, it’s mind boggling how it always finds its way around here.

        It’s a textbook example and not, ikanreed, it’s not a totally fair interpretation.

  2. August 5, 2015 at 10:29 am —

    Mary,

    None of my feelings surrounding Donald Trump at the moment involving grief. Right now I’m actually a bit afraid that he will somehow end up in the white house in 2016. He maybe a gift to comedians, but I really don’t want that guy in charge of the country.

  3. August 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm —

    Nothing new about the male name thing. André Norton did the same thing, obviously.

    TBH, Darren Wilson isn’t even the problem with Ferguson. I mean, yeah, he’s a problem with Ferguson, but the problem with Ferguson is that his fellow police, and the DA, were so quick to defend him, to the point that the DA instructed a woman to perjure herself in order to exculpate Wilson. He’s just one of many corrupt cops where people confused the role of ‘prosecutor’ with that of ‘defense’.

  4. August 5, 2015 at 9:22 pm —

    One of my grandmothers went to Wellesley, class of Aught-Three or somesuch, and we found in her belongings a primer for Wellesley “girls” on how to avoid sex in marriage, which included: gaining weight, not bathing, not washing one’s hair, wearing ugly clothes, ingesting various elixirs to induce illness, refraining from ever complimenting one’s husband, not learning how to dance, etc. It was quite hysterical, to modern readers, and particularly her great-granddaughters….but how terribly sad, for that cohort of women.

    As for Trump and the Irish — just a casual observation that the comment thread on the Irish story on the Daily Beast reveals exactly the attitudes of Trump voters. And I don’t care how clichéd it’s already becoming as a meme, it is truly horrific how well his campaign is going, and what it says about 35-49.7 percent of the American public. He says : “I’m greedy, I’m selfish, I lack compassion, I lack intellect, I lack impulse-control, I hate Latinos, I hate blacks, I hate foreigners, I hate Jews, I hate gays, I’m a compulsive liar, I’m a shitty husband and father, and I game the system to maximize my own profit while inflicting pain heedlessly on everybody else, and I’m basically a horrible human being who’s rich enough to buy a seat at the table!” And then a huge swath of America responds: “he’s saying what we’re all thinking, that’s so bold and brave and Palin maverick-y, he’s our Golden-Haired Great White Hope!” It’s terribly depressing, no joking around. His march to the top of the GOP dunghill means one out of every two people who passes you on the street is basically a lousy human being, and probably stone stupid. And that’s bad news, any way you slice it.

  5. August 11, 2015 at 12:52 am —

    That “teen who exposed a professor’s myth” article is really cool. I totally agree with ikanreed’s point about the “5 minute Google image search” framing, though. The article makes it pretty clear she did real, in-depth research, using the internet to find primary sources, interpreting what she found, and producing an argument: in other words, scholarship. In my mind, that’s much cooler than the “5 minute Google image search” framing; if true, that would suggest that the information was trivially available and just no one had bothered to look for it, and therefore it’s really mostly a story about the incompetence of the professor. Instead, what the article shows is how the internet, and the availability of free scholarly archives to the general public, enables bright, motivated people like Rebecca Fried, the student, to directly engage in real scholarship. This is much cooler, and again like ikanreed said, much better than the “university of Google” culture that enables ungrounded beliefs to flourish in an echo chamber of misinformation.

    The article doesn’t say what newspaper archive Rebecca Fried used, but if anyone’s interested, the Library of Congress has a project called Chronicling America, a large archive of American newspapers from the 19th and early 20th centuries which have been digitized and are available for free for anyone to search and browse. It’s pretty cool what you can find in there. Not that long ago, this is the sort of resource that would have only been available to academics and people with access to good libraries. But thanks to the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, everyone can access it. Americans, this is what mere pennies from your income tax buys you.

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