Skepchick Quickies 7.4

  • Faceless “aliens” spotted in crowd at Wimbledon– Or they’re masks.  Or it’s Photoshopped.  Thanks Stuart, for a good laugh and an eye roll.
  • Go ahead, treat your vulva– “Dr. Lauri Romanzi, a New York gynecologist, is set to open a “pelvic fitness” spa later this month.”  Really, I could quote the entire article, it’s such a gold mine of “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”-ness.  Go read about “The ‘Other’ Facelift.”
  • Save Arecibo–  “Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest radio telescope and the source for the SETI@home data that your computer analyzes, faces massive budget cuts that will end its ability to continue the search for life beyond Earth. The decision to ensure full funding currently rests upon votes in Congress on Senate Bill S. 2862 and House Resolution H.R. 3737. These bills desperately need more support.”
  • July 8 will be the next 9/11 in Southwestern California– Oh ow, I couldn’t even read the whole page because of the awful text color changes.  But apparently seasonal forest fires are a sign of coming terrorist attacks?  From Sam, no not Skepchick Sam, the other one.
  • The placebo myth– One of my favorite skeptical topics covered by Mark Crislip AND the article begins with a Monty Python quote.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Re Vulva workout. I’m looking forward to the day when the incumbent Mrs S can take the top of a bottle of beer with her Vagina (or as the local church run primary school teacher calls it her Va-jay-jay, which lead my little skepchick to say “no Miss its Va-GIn-A, don’t you know anything?” and running round the classroom shouting “vagina, vagina, vagina” until the teacher started crying. )

    But seriously, why is there such an obsession with have some kind of mythical Uber-pussy? I understand the desire to not wet ones pants everytime one laughs or sneezes anytime after childbirth, but having an 18yo’s vagina? EH?

    I’v heard myths about women being “tightened up” and having labia cut off (though I am somewhat sceptical about that as it seems ridiculous). Do any of the skepchick have any explanation for this? It seems, frankly, like madness to me.

    re Placebo effect. What an idiot. Of course there is no placebo effect in dogs, they don’t think “taking this pill will make me better” even if its a sugar pill and they don’t know it. Animals are not aware in the same way we are (some primates come close), they are not little people in fur suits.

    To clam it is a myth is to disregard the roles of belief and morale in pschology.

    There is quite literally a mountain of evidence to support the exsistance of the placebo effect. Proving the placebo effect to be a myth would get you a Nobel prize. However its about as likely as proving gravity to be myth

  2. Oh no, the SETI@Home program might get shut down? What are all of the nerds who are not actually smart going to do with their computers now?

  3. I’d just like to point out that right now, Amanda is the hardest working girl in Skepchickdom. Thanks for keeping the Quickies going, and happy Fourth!

  4. I think that the placebo effect with pain is a mild example of cognitive behavioral therapy; the pain stays the same, it is the emotional response that is altered.

    I fail to see the difference between perceived pain and the perception of pain in practical terms.

    Also I’ve looked at the shots of Dr. Lauri Romanzi and judge her phit. Nurse Jennifer is phitter though. Phoar! I phail to see why phemales would care all that much phor the appearance of their pheminine area beyond basic maintenance and hygiene. What would I know though? Phrom a male perspective my take on it is phoolish at best.

  5. loved the placebo article… I’ve also been looking for more info on the “effectiveness” of sham (and real) acupuncture. Thanks!

  6. As a computer science guy, I’m rather fond of things like SETI, because they partly pioneered the idea of home users donating unused processor cycles to solve problems.

    Still, while I certainly hope that there is intelegent aliens 0ut there, and assuming they’re friendly, I would surely like to meet one some day, I think there are equally important problems to devote our collective resources to.

    That’s why I’ve been using folding@home on my home PC, and my Linux box. Given the choice of meeting aliens or not dying of a viral infection at some distant future date, I’ll take not dying any day.

  7. @ russellsugden: Just my opinion, but i think the blogger calling it a “myth” was exaggerating his real opinion a bit. He didn’t deny that pain perception decreases with the placebo, which as far as I know, is a part of the placebo effect. His concern was with the actual physical improvement aspect of the placebo effect. I think he does have a point, in that maybe observation controls (measuring the actual physical abilities of subjects) should be included in studies instead of just placebo controls. I believe adding those controls, wherever possible, would strengthen studies.

  8. (or as the local church run primary school teacher calls it her Va-jay-jay, which lead my little skepchick to say “no Miss its Va-GIn-A, don’t you know anything?” and running round the classroom shouting “vagina, vagina, vagina” until the teacher started crying. )

    Hey, I’d like to see that! LOL!

  9. no…they’re not faceless “aliens”. they’re people whose faces got sucked into the tv.

    doesn’t anyone pay attention to doctor who?

    it actually does look like exactly the same effect that was used in that episode. maybe it’s viral marketing….

    i bet you could use some fancy-schmancy software program to figure out who’s underneath.

  10. @ carr2d2: That was exactly what I was thinking–a Beeb viral stunt. Though between that and the SPOILER it’d be a little OTT for this series’ final episode to bring that back.

    Neat effect though. Must be odd to wear it.

  11. rhiannon: yeah, that would be a bit odd to bring that back now (what was that, like series 2?) …though i’m not sure i’d be too surprised at any weird connections that rtd tries to make in getting himself out of the corner he painted himself into last week…

    i guess we’ll find out tomorrow. i can’t wait. here’s hoping my internet decides to work nicely so i can download the torrent!

  12. The “aliens” are part of a marketing campaign by Lotus for their new car, the Eagle.

  13. Unfortunately the Monty Python quote was the best part of the placebo article.

    My impression is that the mechanism of the placebo effect is a change in the perception of pain and discomfort. You feel less sick, you get out of bed and move around, lots and lots of processes in the body changes. The author of the article wants there to be an objective change in “pain” and attacks that. He’s probably right, but that doesn’t make the article meaningful.

  14. Bug girl:
    If you were a bond girl, you should be from Sydney Australia , with scrumptious breasts covered by an edible bra , and be named :
    Mmm Bra Syd.

  15. Postscript to Bug girl: The bond villain could be hung like a branch on a tree so would be nicknamed the “Tree”. you would be his mistress so your code name would be the “Treehopper”.

  16. The Extra Stitch

    An issue is that we still function by the rules of a patriarchal society and live up to those set expectations that are upon us – especially when sex becomes defined as “penetration”. The infamous “extra stitch” (the one that will make her a little tigher – for her husband) occurs after childbirth when the doctor makes the stitches for any cuts or tears, sometimes doctors ask if she wants it and sometimes it has just become standard practice. The problem is women are obsessing over a part of the body that naturally is protected by a nice bush, but wait – especially in America – it has become taboo to let your pubs show even just a sexy trickle. So hours are spent staring between our legs and we think…did it look like this yesterday? How about thirty years ago? Muscle control is one thing, but having surgery to reconstruct your vulva is another.

  17. More info on the Buggirl Bond movie:
    Mmm Bra Syd (buggirl) and her henchwoman, A. cutetail Liz, operating out of their secret underground base disguised as a giant fire ant mound, plan to hook the populace on a new pet fad “C” (crotch) monkies which live in your underpants. Only after the fad takes total control will they reveal that the C monkies are actually giant mutant crab lice and the only cure is to apply Crotch On for which they have cornered the market. You’ve seen the ad: Crotch On apply directly to the crotch (said 3x), I dont know whats in it but it sure works! The only hope to stop their nefarious worldwide plot is Bond and his Determined Evildoer Extermination Team (DEET). I think it comes out around December.
    Talking about action heroes, I was all excited for a while about the Presidential election then I found out it was John McCain NOT John McClane running. Bummer.

  18. Does anyone know how I could get one of those faceless masks? I could go as the question to the Dallas comicon.

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