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Hey Mom! I’m blogging on!

Hello skeptical chicks and non-chicks alike! Elyse here. I just wanted to drop on by and leave a quick post to introduce myself!

I am super excited to be a part of skepchick, the kickassiest blog on the internet!

A little on me – I am guilty of being “that guy” when it comes to being a skeptic. For example, when I told my friends that I would be blogging here, one snarkily replied , “You might want to snopes that. Everyone at my work got that same letter.” And my poor husband was beyond relieved that he is no longer the sole unfortunate victim of my what’s-wrong-with-these-people rants. My most overused phrases are “Actually, that’s not true…”; “No, actually…”; “You know, actually…”; “Well, you see, actually…”; “Didn’t you see that Mythbusters?” and “Yeah, you might want to look that up. ”

I am a new mom, and though I have been passionate in my skepticism for a few years, having my son opened up my eyes to a whole new world of woo and hooey. Right now my plan for skepchick is to focus on the craziness that I encounter as a new parent. The bad information out there regarding babies and pregnancy is quite concerning… but sometimes hysterical (like how I was told that I now have “a medicine cabinet” on my chest.) I do solemnly swear not to turn this into my personal mommy-blog.

In true skepchick fashion, I will not hesitate to take easy (albeit well-deserved) shots at psychics, alternative medicine practitioners and religious funny bunnies… and perhaps engaging in some heavy-lifting as well, doing my part to combat conventional wisdom with common sense.

Right now I have a few ideas for my first real post. I’m not sure whether to start with my medicinal boobs, my brief career as a phone psychic, or this.

This is gonna be awesome!

ETA: For some reason my gravatar doesn’t work right. It took a while to show up, then it disappeared. I don’t know where it went, but if I manually insert it as an image in my post, it shows up. So that’s what I did. If at some point I have 2 avatars, you will understand how I cloned myself.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Welcome, Elyse! Sometimes, I feel like I'm flirting with becoming "that guy" with my skepticism, too. Nothing annoys a know-it-all quite like being corrected, I've found!

    As for that story about the ice water ablution… Cripes, some of those people are clothed! That's madness! Everybody knows that if you're gonna do the "polar bear plunge" thing properly, you need to do it in the buff. Wet fabric sucks the heat out of your body, which is the last thing you need when climbing out of icy water.

  2. Welcome, Elyse.

    For the record, I've never encountered a blog that couldn't be improved with more stories about boobs. Medicinal boobs are really just a bonus.

  3. Welcome Eylse!! Now get a picture uploaded and then you're all ready to blog. Hmmm maybe that is a bit pushy? I don't want to sound unwelcoming! I am especially looking forward to hearing about pregnancy and children as a skeptical not-yet-mommy. Not yet even pregnant but intending to breed.

    All the possibly topics sound interesting so I'm looking forward to your posts.

  4. I have two small kids and am looking forward to hearing what you have to say. Child-rearing brings out not just a lot of woo but a whole mess of vague claims and counterclaims about everything from emotional development to nutrition. There's always something new in the free papers about what makes children thrive/fail, and like most people I don't have the time to look into the background research to find out if there is any sound basis for the latest "expert recommendations". I'm glad you're going to do it all for me.

  5. Monika wrote:

    I am especially looking forward to hearing about pregnancy and children as a skeptical not-yet-mommy. Not yet even pregnant but intending to breed.


    No, too easy :(

  6. I know this is pre- rather than post-natal, but I would love to see you do something on Hypno-birthing.

    My OB/GYN's office is big on this, with lots of posters and pamphlet's about, and I haven't seen any information that looks at Hypno-birthing with a skeptical eye. But from what I've seen, it needs it.

  7. Hypno-birthing?

    It doesn't sound so bad, but I have no idea what it's about, and I can imagine a variety of woo clinging to it.

  8. Well thank you all for the warm welcomes! Now the pressure is on… I almost feel like I should have said "I'll be debunking household items. Does my iron turn off after 60 seconds like the box says? No! It shuts off at 65 seconds." You know, to set the bar a little lower. But somehow I think, even then, you guys would still end up raising it on me… someone would want me to discuss the viscosity of JetDry, I'm sure.

    I think I need to start a notebook with ideas… an Earl Hickey Karma list of stuff hurting people that I haven't publicly decried. But, you know, without the Karma.

    I'll definitely keep hypno-birthing in mind! I have to do some research, though.

    Thanks again, guys! Keep the ideas coming!

  9. Hey Elyse! Sooooo glad to see you here. I am the proud parent of a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and I find myself being "that guy" VERY frequently, because I have ended up following a lot of attachment-parenting philosophy, but find that the parts of it that *do* make sense and stand up to critical thinking are so often paired with a bunch of junk science, woo, and radical parenting belief that it's really hard to make middle-of-the-road mommy friends. Somehow the fact that I know extended breastfeeding has lots of health benefits hasn't translated into giving my child homeopathic teething tablets, and I get strange looks when I ask for my friends to apply a bit of critical thinking here and there. So I really look forward to you covering mommyhood from the skepchick perspective!

  10. Welcome Elyse! I've got three little girls under 4 years old, and there is a LOT of woo nonsense making the rounds of the playgroup moms. My wife tells me about the latest and I roll my eyes and proceed to explain to her everything wrong with what they told her. And then she humors me and sits patiently through my rant wherein I preach to the choir about how wrong those moms are.

  11. I'm new here as well. Did they give you a wedgie when you came in this morning, too?

    Rebecca said that's how the Skepchicks show affection, but I don't know . . . I'm skeptical.

  12. First of all, congratulations on the little one! I have a two-year-old daughter, and I agree with you about the amount of psuedo-science and misinformation that surrounds pregnancy and parenting. I’ve also become much more aware of the assumptions our society makes about everything from kids’ intelligence to gender roles, and it’s all definitely worth some skeptic commentary. I’m looking forward to reading your posts!

  13. Welcome, Elsie! As a skeptical dad (4yr old boy, 6 month old girl) I am deeply interested in the subject of skeptical parenting. Both of the sort you describe (woo pitched to the overtired and panicky subset of the population), but also the sort you teach to your kids. How do we get them thinking about things critically while they are young? I will be watching eagerly to see what you have to say. Good luck!

  14. Sam-

    They haven't given me a wedgie, but I haven't been back to HQ since they sent me out to find a 500-packet box of powdered dihydrogen monoxide.

  15. That dihydrogen monoxide is dangerous stuff! Be careful if you find it.

    To w_nightshade… I'm interested in this topic too. For me the quandry is how to raise a skeptical child while still retaining the wonder of childhood; I think imagination and fantasy are so important, but how do you encourage that but also teach critical thinking? My husband and I were in sort of a bind this year at Christmas, as it's the first year our little one was old enough to be aware of Santa Claus. We gave her more questions than answers, but tried to also just relax and enjoy the magic… I'm sure she'll need years of therapy.

  16. flygrrl – I generally agree with SGU's Dr. Novella on this one – your child will figure out Santa on their own. I don't think it does long term harm to have those sorts of fantasies.

    More than anything, I try to get my 4 year old son to think about things more. When he comes up with an idea ("My clothes are made of lava!") i praise him for being so creative, and then I ask him what might follow from that idea ("Wouldn't that burn your skin?"). He usually comes up with some great post-hoc rationalisations ("It is COLD lava!"), but he seems to take on board the notion of thinking through consequences. I don't expect him to get facts right just now – it is the process I am more interested in.

    Ultimately, I tell myself that the fact I am making the attempt ultimately should do some good, even if my methods may be of varying effectiveness.

  17. flygrrl – I generally agree with SGU’s Dr. Novella on this one – your child will figure out Santa on their own. I don’t think it does long term harm to have those sorts of fantasies.

    This is sort of where I'm at. And I know 2-year-olds don't really *get* the whole fantasy vs reality thing, but I figure by asking lots of questions we're laying the groundwork. I love the cold lava thing… And learning can be scary too. My 5-year-old nephew saw a National Geographic program about volcanoes and pestered his parents for weeks with questions about whether the lava could "get" them at their house, etc., and I think they talked him through it by asking him lots of questions so that he felt he had solid answers that let him sleep at night. Kids teach you a lot…

  18. Heck yeah, they do. Kids are way more awesome than we broken, wasted adults are. In my more cynical moments, I feel I can only hope that the sum total of my parental screw-ups is just enough to keep my kids out of the papers (i.e. the fact of the screw-ups is inevitable, the only influence I can exert is to minimise the damage).

    Man oh man, I loves being a daddy!

  19. I can understand the controversy (Jesus vs. Santa [aside: I got a copy of one of the original VHS tapes of that before-it-was-South-Park short as a wedding gift]). I would be more than interested in the text of that letter, as it touches specifically on the subject I mentioned above. I assure you, the innate nosiness that forces me to rake through other people's medicine cabinets (!!!) has NOTHING to do with it.

  20. Now there's a thought. Everything you wish you could've told your kids sooner, but they were to young to grasp, you just blog about it.

    Then, years from now, you can tell them you lied to them, but they can read all about it on your blog, authenticity confirmed by the date stamps.

  21. I will definitely add Parenting Beyond Belief to my "to read" list. Which is already way long, but I'm about due for some more parenting reading…

  22. I don’t know if anyone has checked out the book Parenting Beyond Belief , but it is excellent. It is a series of essays, written by notable Free Thinkers discussing various topics on raising children religion-free. One of the topics they touch on is Santa.

    Of course, there are three or four different approaches suggested for each topic, so its not your typical one-size-fits-all parenting book. It’s given me some great ideas. Of course, I have yet to put any of them into practice since Max is a bit young to do much critical thinking.

    I wrote Max a letter in December about the whole Santa thing. I told him why we chose not to tell him that Santa was real. Because, believe it or not, telling my kid Santa doesn’t exist was more controversial than telling him Jesus doesn’t exist.

    I’ve debated posting the letter to Max, putting it in the category of “my personal mommy blog”, but if enough people want to see what I wrote, I could put it up.

  23. exarch said,

    Now there’s a thought. Everything you wish you could’ve told your kids sooner, but they were to young to grasp, you just blog about it.

    Upcoming topics:

    1. Your grandma isn't dead; I just don't like her and wanted you to stop asking to see her.

    2. "Transvestite" is not really another word for "dad", I just thought that was funny.

    3. Why dad says you're lucky you came out white.

  24. Actually, most of those items don't sound far-fetched at all to me. I can't decide whether or not that's sad.

  25. #7 How many times I actually dropped you on your head when you were still a kid.

    #8 Well, … that "noise" is not the boogie man …

  26. As mom once said to me– "Well, you see dear; you were ALWAYS a burden to me. But it was more productive to keep you as a tax dependent. Of course there's never been any /love/ there….any more than you've ever loved me. Now stop fussing and go back to sleep, dear."

  27. Another one– "You were always a great disappointment to me, sweetie. But it's okay. Soon I'll be dead." (Delivered on my ninth birthday)

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