Skepchick Quickies, 8.20


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I was quite curious about that list of science centers, but DAMN if isn’t full of pop ups, diversions, surveys, and all other forms of obnoxious advertisements, making the trek through those 10 pages quite a slog.

  2. Bah. Those are all American science museums. Nothing at all abou the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, or Science North in Sudbury.

  3. Aiabx – another good point. Parents Magazine is an American publication, so there’s that bias. Everyone. feel free leave links to your favorite non-US (or in the US, but not mentioned in that list) science musuem, and I’ll include them in the weekend quickies.

  4. I think you can be a Jew, a feminist, and an atheist all at the same time. I was not aware that any of these were mutually exclusive. Anyway, interesting essay.

  5. That homeopathy-splinter piece may be the most jaw-droppingly stupid advice I’ve ever read. I hope the advice-seeker didn’t take it seriously.

  6. Judging by some of the author’s other works, I don’t think there’s any danger of the advice-seeker taking his advice seriously. In fact, I might be inclined to doubt if the advice-seeker ever existed in the first place.

  7. Seriously, that last paragraph? ;P

    Also, diluted sawdust is way too obvious for homeopathy. They usually recommend something that causes similar symptoms, but isn’t the actual cause of the disease they’re curing. Like, their malaria cures are based on quinine, rather than on ground up malaria parasites.

    But, yeah, as sociopathic as most alt-medders are, I still couldn’t see them recommending amputation as a natural alternative for treating a toe infection. ;)

  8. A more traditional practice is to amputate the ears without anesthetic. The pain of the amputation generally takes the patient’s mind off the pain in their toe.

  9. Women desiring but unable to get pregnant should take a dilution of the “morning after ” pill.
    People trying to lose weight should eat a dilution of chocolate cheesecake. Really need to lose weight add french fries and ice cream into the dilution for a synergistic effect.
    Husband wants too much sex? No need to fake headaches just sneak a dilution of viagra into his breakfast.

  10. Regarding the essay from Jew to feminist to atheist….

    So, since I like to believe I am a critical thinker, I would like to point out that this woman is making a scientific claim about behavior and society. Namely, that there is some thing called “patriarchy” that controls all sorts of things: hiring, marriage, how men treat women, how some women treat each other.

    It sounds very scientific to me. And yet, it is untestable, and not falsifiable.

    When I have tried to explore “patriarchy theory”, I have been told, and read, that patriarchy is not just sexism. It is different from sexism. The usual explanations are that Patriarchy is some sort of either overt, or covert conspirachy. Or is some sort of collective, spontaneous behavior.

    Consider Susan Brownmiller and rape.
    “Rape is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear Against Our Will”. I’ve read explanations of her work that insist that ALL MEN really do, consciously, support rapists because it helps men keep their wives at their sides. And I’ve read explanations that there is some sort of hidden variable network effect at play, so that of course, the word “conscious” means unconscious but “spontaneously constructed”.

    I don’t like rape. I would hate it for my wife or mother or daughters to be raped, regardless of how nice it might be for them to actually listen to me.

    No one can measure patriarchy, apart from the yes/no question of whether a society meets the anthropological definition of patriarchy.

    I can measure sexism. I can measure bigotry against blacks and latinos and Jews. I can do this in part, through double blind studies, by submitting equivalent resumes except for names, or equivalent rental applications, or loan applications, and seeing who gets interviewed, and who gets jobs, loans, or housing.

    But I cannot measure Patriarchy, and when I’ve asked how can I measure Patriarchy, no one has been able to answer that. (Limited sample set, I’ve only asked at most a dozen times on various blogs including at Feministe.)

    Also, I can see in fiction, representations of a world without sexism. Star Trek amongst many other representations in books, novels, and music. There are many such representations and speculations about what a world without sexism would look like.

    But I’ve been told by various feminists, including radical feminist Twisty Faster, that patriarchy is not just sexism. A world without sexism is somehow very very different. And yet, no one can point me to speculation on what such a world would look like. Would there be marriage? How would it differ? Would there be jobs and bosses and how would those differ?

    What are the actual measurable differences between a world without sexism and a world without patriarchy? I don’t know what they are, and I can’t measure patriarchy and well, it doesn’t seem testable or falsifiable.

    It seems like a patently unscientific theory that is often used to explain scientific issues of behavior and used to justify policy and law and often justify laws and policies that treat one sex inequitably with regards to the other sex. (For example, in child custody cases.)

    I also worry about “patriarchy” in how I’ve seen it used to dismiss actual known science. Amongst the feminists there is often a schism between feminists who are anti-prostitution and feminists who are pro-prostitution. The anti-prostitution feminists often claim that prostitution or sex work is a result of the patriarchy, and that no prostitutes or other sex workers can willingly, rationally, agree to sex work (including stripping.)

    And yet…. Biologists have demonstrated that many sexually dimorphic species engage in preening, dancing, singing of one sex to the other (and often it’s the males.) And Biologists have demonstrated that various forms of paying for sex occurs in penguin communities, and capuchin communities. And that over and over again, in species that we hardly think engage in patriarchy, we see forms of sex work.

    Please understand. I am male. I have considered myself a feminist since the early 70s when in jr. high school an english teacher discussed the issues.

    I am very much against sexism.

    And as a anthropology minor I can tell you that the patriarchy that anthropologists defined was measurable and is not the patriarchy that so many people love to blame for so much.

    I still consider myself a feminist, but I tend more towards feminist movements that don’t just blame patriarchy. These days, I consider myself more of an equity-feminist than of the radical feminist kind that seem to believe in this vague, ill defined, unmeasurable, unfalsifiable boogie *man* called patriarchy. So I am curious about what skepchicks think of patriarchy.

    If you want to see a radical feminist vs. others and vs. themselves trainwreck in which these topics are explored and more, and in which various people say, “Occam is dead”, and “Science doesn’t matter.” (These are my very rough paraphrases, …) You can read here: It’s long, and long after I was kicked out for asking some of these questions, it continued….

    Anyway, I do consider myself feminist, but one of my buttons is a very ill defined patriarchy theory and its incumbent patriarchy blaming and male bashing, especially when I consider patriarchy to be untestable, unfalsifiable, and therefore not a scientific theory to be basing laws and policy (or even women’s study) on.

    If I am wrong, and there are ways to measure patriarchy, and test and falsify patriarchy theory, please please let me know. I’ve asked about a dozen times now, and no one has ever provided anything. The above thread is the closest, and I appreciate the honesty at times in it, when they just tossed Occam and science out the door. I’ve also never encountered any good description of the differences between sexism and patriarchy. But I’m still pretty sure that a world without sexism (that I strive to help create) is NOT necessarily a world without patriarchy. (Does the Star Trek Next Generation world have sexism or patriarchy? I’d say the answer according to the writers is probably no and WTF?)

    Back to the original essay, so she went from Jew to “feminist” atheist? At the age she was putting on tefillin, most Jews I know had given up a belief in god. I won’t say she is not a critical thinker, but to move from belief in god to belief in patriarchy doesn’t really demonstrate critical thinking.

    Sorry for the giant comment….

  11. With regards to Dr. Boli’s advice, or rather that of his “anonymous, well-known” homeopaths:
    My fiancee recently punched me in the jaw, after which we couldn’t find the diamond from her ring. After looking for it for some time and thinking of where it could be, I began to feel a sharp pain in my jaw and believe the diamond may have been deposited within the muscle.
    Extrapolating from his advice to the fellow with a splinter, a dilution of diamond dust would be a sensible solution. However, while it is available, diamond dust is quite expensive. Would cubic zirconia dust be as effective? Would I need to dilute it even more to raise its effectiveness?
    Or would simply having my jaw removed be an equally natural alternative?

    …it’d be an awful lot easier to keep a straight face…

  12. Just “be inclined to doubt”, Peregrine? You are almost certainly correct in your assessment.

    I know that homeopathic claims can be indistinguishable from satire, but I really think that the linked site is actual satire. Consider the following paragraph in the bio of “Dr. Boli”.

    “Today, at the age of 224, Dr. Boli still edits the maga­zine personally, at a time of life when other men might be con­sidering an honorable retirement. As a concession, however, to his advancing years, he no longer writes every word of the magazine himself. At present he writes every other word, the intervening words being supplied by a well-known agency.”

    I mean, come on.

  13. Oh, and COSI is a great place. I lived about an hour away growing up. I’m gratified to hear that it has not been dumbed down like other science museums mentioned on this blog.

  14. @TheCzech: Thanks for pointing that out. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t notice it. Shoulda known it was satire. Better see a doctor about my irony deficiency. :-)

  15. I’ll add to the list of science centers in the PNW by mentioning OMSI:

    I haven’t been in many years, but they used to be considered the best in the region. Back when I was in high school, some friends and I drove down (from Olympia) to see the “Star Trek: Federation Science” exhibit they produced. It was very cool. Lots of stuff about Newtonian physics, formation of stars and planets, and some of the theoretical science that could lead to technology similar to what they use in the shows. They toured the exhibit around the country for several years. I think it even went to Europe for a while.

  16. Shouldn’t that be “5 Hoaxes that fooled some people for a little while”?

    BTW, we just watched the movie “Princess Caraboo” (1994: Phoebe Cates, Stephen Fry, Kevin Kline) and it was really good.

  17. The Creation Museum didn’t make the list?

    OMSI used to be awesome. I went last year and it wasn’t worth the price.

    One of the best I’ve been to is the kids museum in Las Vegas. You walk in and they have a million dollars in a big plexiglass box just sitting there… full of dimes.

  18. *giggle* at “There are certain incantations which, without going into any detail, Dr. Boli’s homeopathic consultants have darkly hinted are required in order to render the remedy effective.”

    Incantations? Dark hints? Well, dang! How come MY prescriptions don’t come with incantations? I feel cheated!

  19. Here are a couple for you Incredible Bee (when your ailment is woo related):
    I am Bee
    Demon leave me.
    3 times ,3 times, 3 times 3

    No more woo
    Dr who
    koo koo, koo koo ,koo koo kaju.

  20. Maybe try to work a couple touchings by noodley appendages in there. You know, try to get a little divine intervention mojo into the mix…

  21. TheCzech wrote

    Oh, and COSI is a great place. I lived about an hour away growing up. I’m gratified to hear that it has not been dumbed down like other science museums mentioned on this blog.

    Regrettably, though, COSI has had to dial back some on account of not passing a levy not too long ago.

  22. Another incantation for Bee,this one is for when you are sick and/or injured plus want to attract a new lover:
    Oh great and mighty Ipod
    Heal my sickly, injured bod
    And bring forth a Ron Jeremylike “divine , in -rod”.

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