Skepchick Quickies, 12.1


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. Marcus du Sautoy is going to be on BBC R4’s Desert Island Discs this Sunday (7th Dec) 10am giving his first interview in his new role. It’ll be broadcast online at the same time.

    If anyone’s interested

  2. I’ve recently completed du Sautoy’s 2 books, Music of the Primes and Symmestry, and I have to say: I’m a fan. He’s certainly not as bombastic as Dawkins and with his focus on mathematics instead of biology he won’t be a much of a juggernaut in the ever-growing battle against creationism.

    But when it comes to helping the public understand, appreciate and simply be awed by science, du Sautoy fits the bill.

  3. I read an article in National Geographic that, I believe, gave a different explanation as to why the red hair was becoming less prevalent in society. I’ll have to look it up and report back.

    Mostly I’m hoping that cherry coke red hair dye goes extinct. Every time I see a woman with that hair color I throw up a little in my mouth.

  4. And as for redheads not going extinct, that article tells part of the story: just because a gene is recessive doesn’t mean it’s on its way out, plus hair color is a more complex interplay of genetic factors than a single gene.

    But beyond that, a recessive trait may, as in the case of being a redhead, be a highly desired and preferred trait, meaning sexual selection kicks in. Since redheadedness is inherently sexy, we can expect this trait to increase in prevalence over time.

    Also, Kick a Ginger Day must go.

  5. Right, I’m totally shooting from the hip as I am at work and don’t have the NG article in front of me but I believe the issue was that there are several genes (four or more?) needed to have red hair. If just one of those genes is missing then red hair can’t form. In areas known for red hair, Ireland and Scotland, these genes were frequent enough in the population for red hair to not be uncommon. As those nations open up to more immigration and emigration and people become less picky as to whom they mate with, (mating outside their nationality and race) then the genes necessary for red hair kind of get washed out in the mix and occurrence of them lining up in a way to produce red haired people decrees.

  6. Do unicorns exist? Of course they do–or at least used to. They’re mentioned in the Bible. I can find the quotes if you like, but many believe that for whatever reason they didn’t survive the Great Flood.

    Jeff Mark
    p.s. To those blog lurkers out there, no I’m not serious. That was a joke. Those that read my book know I’m definitely *not* a Christian (any more) :-D
    p.p.s And I certainly hope redheads don’t go extinct!

  7. @greenishblu: “Since redheadedness is inherently sexy, we can expect this trait to increase in prevalence over time.”

    True, but only in women. Seeing a curly haired redheaded female will cause my loins to quiver as I feel the need to advance my genetic imperative. Seeing a ginger male only makes me want to kick him.

  8. Oh good, I had heard the story when it was making its most recent rounds of the news outlets and believed it. My skeptic sense must have been on the fritz. And I also vote for the amazing sexiness of ginger women. Especially if they have a lot of freckles. Freckles are really hot.

  9. I’m extremely intrigued to see how du Sautoy performs as Simonyi Professor, particularly given the enormous responsibility of filling Professor Dawkins’ shoes.

    I have to say, as incredible an advocate for the public understanding of science – and particularly evolution – as Dawkins was, I was not always convinced his approach to the creationist debate was the best. Did anyone else sometimes feel that his way of discussing evolution/atheism played too much into the “see, it’s just as much of a religion as mine” argument?

    I have a relevant post at my blog, feel free to come tell me I’m crazy.

  10. I read something similar about blondes — glad to hear we’re still good to go for a while. ;)

    And skepticalhippie, I have to disagree with you there … on the whole, I do see the appeal of redheaded women over redheaded men (and I’m straight, so that’s saying something), but every once in a while, you see a guy with just the right shade of red and DAMN.

  11. Now I want to know how many people are the right age to have THIS stuck in their head now:

    “There were green alligators and long-necked geese
    Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees
    Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born
    You’re never gonna see no unicorns.”

  12. wait wait wait…I thought of a funnier one:

    Yes! We redheads get to be told how beautiful our hair is and where did we get that color do we eat a lot of carrots or something for another day!

  13. @Some Canadian Skeptic:

    Okay… I CAN’T RESIST IT. I need to relate a story, an experience I had recently involving my red hair, public transportation, and gin.

    SCENE: Greenishblu is sitting on a bus bunch awaiting.. well, the bus. A man approaches, 50-ish, possibly homeless, definitely drunk. The man sits next to Greenishblu.

    GUY: Hey, where’d you get that red hair?
    ME: … I was born with it. (turns away to read).
    GUY: It’s really pretty. I like red hair. My Name is Dennis.
    ME: (silence)
    DENNIS: You have really pretty blue eyes. (note: eyes are green)
    ME: … Thanks.
    DENNIS: You got a girl?
    ME: (tersely) Yeah.
    DENNIS: Oh, she’s a lucky girl. You’re a really good looking guy.
    ME: …
    DENNIS: Where’d you get all those freckles? (Dennis begins to stroke his hand up and down Greenishblu’s arm).
    ME: (pulls arm away) I just do.
    GUY: I’ve been drinking gin ALL DAY LONG!!!
    ME: I can tell.
    GUY: (again) Where’d you get all that pretty red hair? And all those freckles (strokes my arm again)
    ME: …
    GUY: You want to come over to my apartment and have a beer? I have a homeless guy over there right now!
    ME: (laughing riotously on the inside) No thanks! (bus arrives, I depart).

    Seriously? “A homeless guy?” Like that’s going to be the clincher for me? Hahaha, Oh I love that story.

    Sorry, return to your regularly scheduled comments now.

  14. @greenishblu:

    “Sorry, return to your regularly scheduled comments now.”

    ummmm…no. Because “I have a homeless guy over there right now” is a wonderful pickup line and no comments could every convey the sense of betrayal felt by those of us who have used it.


  15. @Kimbo Jones:

    Yeah, me too.

    When I was staying in Halifax, my hosts’ 3-year old daughter was stroking my hair because (as her mother put it) its long and she’s never seen that much hair that colour before.

    It was adorable until I was trying to sleep.

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