Monkeys and High Hats

I’ve decided to start a new series, maybe bi-weekly or so called Monkeys and High Hats.  It’s going to be a rundown of recent news stories focusing mainly on parenting issues in the news.

For those of you who are newer to Skepchick, the concept behind the title will seem less like drunken randomness after you’ve checked out this post and the readers’ comments.

For clarity, here is the key:

Monkeys = mad props, fo’ real

High Hats =that’s whack, yo.

And now for the first edition of Monkeys and High Hats after the fold.

High hats to CNN.

Even though they will repeatedly suggest that vaccines are likely not linked to autism, they have no problem feeding the hype by letting people believe that vaccines are, in fact, something parents should at least be wary of.  In this article they give suggestions for changing your child’s vaccination schedule.  When this story aired about a week and a half ago the tone was undeniably one that suggested not only that this schedule change is a good idea, but also that we certainly don’t know yet whether there is an autism link.  Shame on you, CNN.

Monkeys to Parents Magazine.

Their response to the vaccination hysteria has been fantastic.  I’m sure they have taken a whole lot of heat and lost readers over it, but they have maintained that the risks of not getting vaccinated are far worse than any risk from the vaccines themselves… and those risks do not include autism.

In their May issue, while covering ways to save on health care, they advised readers not to bother with natural remedies and herbal supplements because they’re expensive and probably don’t even work.  If only there were a way I could give you a thousand monkeys, Parents.

High hats to the coverage of the Gloucester, MA alleged Pregnancy Pact.  A media out of control and desperate to find answers – how could teenage girls come up with such a twisted plan?  Pointing fingers at Jamie Lynn Spears and the movie Juno for making teen pregnancy seem “glamorous”, reporters failed to stop and ask “might this be untrue?” Because it turns out, no one except the school’s principal had any knowledge of a pact. Does anyone still teach about “checking your sources” in journalism school?

Monkeys to the 22 states and Washington D.C. who all refused federal funding for “abstinence only” education. According to Ms. Magazine:

SIECUS calculations indicate nearly $24 million will be turned down nation-wide this year.

Until September 2005, California was the only state to refuse funding. The nearly 40 percent drop in acceptance is attributed to rampant distrust of the program’s effectiveness and constant uncertainty regarding the program’s renewal.

Psst… Hey, 28 remaining states, kids already know that not having sex means they won’t end up pregnant.  Why not explain to them what to do if they end up giving into their normal human urges and  work on actually reducing teen pregancy?

High Hats to Will Smith and his wife Jada for opening a non-Scientology school based on Scientology principals; using a teaching method called “study tech”, developed for Scientologists by L. Ron Hubbard; and being taught (mostly) by Scientologists… but totally non-affiliated with the CoS in any way.

Also, the Smith family denies being Scientologists. I guess people just got confused seeing them at all the ice cream socials, pancake breakfasts and bring-your-own-crazy pot-luck dinners.  Whatever, just pay your dues and be done with it, Will.  It’ll help your career… which, thanks to Hancock, you’re going to need.

Monkeys to Skepchick for starting Teen Skepchick and giving the next generation of skeptics a place to be heard!  This new addition to our blog fills me with pride as a skeptic, a former teenage girl and a mother.

Sometimes it may not seem like it, but these are good times to be a part of the doubting population.  We’re growing.  Soon, critical thinking will take the world by storm.

Have a great 4th of July (no matter what country you’re in)!


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. “but they have maintained that the risks of getting vaccinated far outweigh the risks of not doing it”

    I think perhaps you intended something different?

    I like this monkey/hat idea! It’s a way cooler take on “cheers and jeers”

  2. Monkeys = mad props, fo’ real

    High Hats =that’s whack, yo.

    I’m sorry, I don’t speak Jive.

  3. It’s unfortunate that the most obvious interpretation of “High hats” and “Monkeys” is the exact opposite of the way it’s intended.
    In other words, “High hats” sounds like “High five” (i.e. way to go), wheras “Monkeys” sounds slightly derisive (as in you’ve made a fool of yourself).

  4. Sorry guys. I edited to say what I meant.
    No Vacs = risky


    Here’s a translation from the jive:

    Monkeys = mad props, fo’ real = good

    High Hats =that’s whack, yo. = bad

    Yeah I had a feeling it could be confusing. That’s why my monkey is happy and cute and my high hats are angry and look foreboding

  5. That monkey is sweet! He looks like he just got a brilliant idea and is rushing to his computer to email it to Skepchick.

  6. What is wrong with me?! I can’t form a sentence that accurately conveys my thoughts and I can’t subtract 22 from 50.

    The good news is that I found an awesome monkey. At least I’m good at finding monkeys.

  7. Perhaps it should become de rigueur to link to the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ( whenever the topic of vaccine safety is brought up. They have comprehensive, uncompromisingly scientific, and understandable material freely available on the vaccination issue. They deal with the vaccine-autism issue as well as general vaccine safety. If you have ever needed sources of information to counter an anti-vaccination screed, they’ve got it. And, all their materials that I have examined contain references backing their claims, often to the original research.

  8. I agree w/ Exarch – I think of ‘High Hats’ as something good, and monkeys as nasty, vicious poop-flingers (mostly thanks to Monkey Tuesdays).

    I like the idea, but less ambiguous icons would be nifty…

  9. In remembrance of Monkey Tuesday, maybe we should do this on Tuesdays. :-)

    I have also been impressed with how Parents magazine has been reporting these things lately. It was unexpected to me.

    I think CNN gets their vaccine angle from Dr Sears, who they have had on numerous times. He takes a “we don’t have any idea and better play it safe” approach and suggests a different vaccination schedule in his books. In fact, I think the one CNN showed was his.

    I wonder though if Sears may actually not believe there is any link but is being strategic. Someone could argue that you aren’t going to convince the parents that it isn’t the vaccines until you do have a complete explanation for the causes of autism. So better than have them not vaccinate, make them feel like they are addressing the issue by spreading the vaccinations out. At least then they get the vaccinations, though they still live in ignorance.

  10. Dr Sears definitely knows how to walk the line between bat-shit insanity and somewhat rational.

    I can’t decide if I hate him or not.

  11. The good news is that I found an awesome monkey. At least I’m good at finding monkeys.

    Is true. Cutest little monkey ever.

  12. The monkey is adorable, Elyse, but the “high hat” is definitely the wrong sort. That’s a top hat.

    I think what you want is what is more commonly called a “dunce cap,” the tall conical hat that kids, once upon a less enlightened time, were made to wear in school as punishment, especially for making failing grades. I’m pretty sure that’s what was meant by the expression “Don’t high-hat the monkey” — i.e., don’t scorn him by treating him as if he’s stupid.


  13. Sadly many of the comments to the excellent Parents magazine article are from the highly deluded anti-vaccine people. I hope the magazine maintains this commitment to evidence-based reporting and doesn’t give in to this misguided criticism. We should probably let our voices be heard in the comments there as well.

    I’m inclined to think the icon of a top hat is fine for to represent high-hatting — I thought the saying was based on the well-to-do’s scorn for the hoi polloi. So, the high-hat referred to is the top hats of the wealthy, n’est-ce pas?

  14. I though the hat was cute. Monkeys wearing clothes are sinister but your monkey is nekkid so that’s clearly not your intent. There’s no way anybody could be sinister in their birthday suit while pointing to the sky and grinning broadly.

  15. There’s no way anybody could be sinister in their birthday suit while pointing to the sky and grinning broadly.

    Is that a challenge?

  16. Can you stick a Cannabis leaf on the hat? Then it will be a high hat.

    I know, but someone had to go there.

    Also, please make sure that the follow-up-comment feature is working, because I don’t want to miss Rystefn’s photo. :)

  17. Wait… Am I getting this right? Is there actual support for this project? Last time I made a suggestion like that, the fuzz had some pretty negative things to say on the subject…

  18. I think of … monkeys as nasty, vicious poop-flingers

    Poop flinging is what I love most about monkies; but maybe that’s just the contrarian in me.

  19. That’s funny, I just saw that Parents magazine in the bank yesterday – totally random, I have no kids, it was just more interesting than Golf Digest – and immediately went to the vaccine article and I believe I uttered a quiet “yes!”.

    That monkey is lovely. Too bad real monkeys like to steal your banana when you leave the table to get more yogurt and then when your Dutch buddy is like “he’s not stealing my banana again” and tries to scare him away the second time by brandishing a fork, the monkey screams at you with arms agape and fangs bared(it was in Pushkar, India)…

    Rystefn, I don’t know that you’ve officially been double-dog-dared, but it seems awfully close.

  20. It might be my geekism/nerdism, but the monkey reminds me of Chris’s “Evil Monkey that Lives in my Wardrobe” on Family Guy.

    But I like the monkey/high hat idea!

  21. Elyse,

    If Rystefn goes through with his “project,” I think most of us would agree that you should consider replacing the monkey icon with his picture. :)


    Just to be clear. Crystal clear.

    The thing you are supposed to point at the sky while in your birthday suit and grinning broadly is your hand!!

    Otherwise, my suggestion to Elyse is withdrawn!

  22. Elyse:
    Great idea, and I get the Hat/Monkey thing. I think the vaccine/autism “battle” shows that the media knows that there is money in fearmongering and anti-science.

  23. rationalista said:

    the media knows that there is money in fearmongering and anti-science.

    Indeed, sensationalising the issue and generating fear works for them. If the vaccine becomes ineffective due to the lowered take up then they can sell more papers reporting the measles epidemic that they warned about. If some poor kid has his autism linked to a vaccine (however dubiously) then they get to report that they warned about the potential problem. Either way they get to appear responsible by sitting on the fence and making a fuss.

  24. bug_girl

    Can you stick a Cannabis leaf on the hat? Then it will be a high hat.

    I know, but someone had to go there.

    That’s not a bad idea actually. Being high on pot might make one more of a gullible fool.

  25. Last night, when I got home, I was full of grappa. I checked this thread and thought that I must have had more than I realized because I imagined there was a whole comment thread about Rystefn becoming my monkey’s evil naked clone.

    Now it’s 6:30am. It’s possible that I still have grappa in my blood, but I’m pretty sure that there’s been a discussion going on here about Rystefn smiling and pointing to the sky while looking sinister… so I’d like to throw down the official double dog dare.

  26. OK, you asked for it…

    …but it may take a while, since I have to track down some place where I’ll be safe from the pigs. Cops in Texas don’t go for the whole “It’s an art project” defense, and “For Science!” is the opposite of helpful most of the time.

  27. You can come to my house and do it, Rystefn. We have many acres where you can run wild and free.

    Or gesture naked and look sinister.

  28. I vote for a new skeptical holiday! We can call it “Point Up Naked, Grin And Look Sinister Day”

    (PUN GALS Day for short).

    See what I did there? Wine makes me clever!

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