Skepchick Quickies 12.2

  • Military proselytizers target Darwin – Using the “The Purpose Driven Life” to continue proselytizing in the military. I highly recommend the “buh?”-inducing presentation slides. Thanks Kevin.
  • Man says God ordered him to ram vehicle at 100mph – And then, “Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kyle Coleman said … “God must have been with them, ’cause any other time, the severity of this crash, it would have been a fatal.””  Thanks gr8googlymoogly.
  • Human suggestibility vs. DNA vs. unethical police psychology – Emory says, “Six people convicted in the same murder case are later exonerated by DNA.  But five of the six had confessed to the murder.  Sure, you’ve already guessed unscientific manipulative questioning by the police. But here’s the twist – The police interrogator was a psychologist who had earlier been a private therapist for some of the accused he interrogated.”
  • Reward for 100% chemical-free material -  The Royal Society of Chemistry is offering the reward as part of their efforts to reclaim the word “chemical” which has unfortunately become synonymous with poison.  Thanks Zebulon Pike.


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

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  1. I was wondering how long it would take for a chemistry organization to bring attention to the whole ‘chemical-free’ nonsense.

  2. On the “Man says God…” story, well, the spokesman’s comment seems like a typical sentiment.

    When people are talking about terrorists, I like to bring up the Amish. If you can be convinced to believe absurdities, you can be convinced to comit attrocities. Just because some people’s belief doesn’t manifest in a way that is overtly destructive, the lack of critical thinking required by religion is itself destructive.

  3. No surprise on the “Purpose Driven Life” story. I work as a contractor on a military base and I see bits of this all the time. Not as blunt as those slides, but still present. I don’t talk much about my secular humanism because it’s too easy for a 51 year old contractor to be cut from the budget. I keep to a “submarine” strategy: “Run silent, run deep.”

    On “Man says God:” Isn’t it funny how in our society, if you tell someone that you hear voices, you are committed in an asylum or medicated as a schizophrenic…unless you claim you are hearing God’s voice. That makes it all ok, no matter what BS this voice is telling you to do…

  4. Trying to think of materials that wouldn’t count as a chemical. Neutronium? An electron condensate? A strange quark fog? Certainly nothing that I might have lying around on my lab bench.

  5. Hmm, so a supernatural entity allegedly caused the crash and miraculously prevented major injuries. Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to have miraculously prevented the crash altogether? I mean, if you’ve got the power to speak to people inside their heads and also to protect them from harm, you’d also have the ability to, say, prevent the car from getting on the highway in the first place. Why wait until the troublesome driver is on the road before taking corrective action?

  6. does anyone know if the police still rely on polygraphs? I know in Edmonton here, they subject new recruits to a four hour behavioural interview (focusing mainly on your past drug use), and then follow-up with a lengthy and in-depth polygraph to see if you were lying about anything. This was quite disturbing to me, and doesn’t even make sense, since aren’t polygraphs notoriously inaccurate?

  7. the chemical free link cracks me up. We deal with the same stuff. i was at a environmental center and they had these rubber bracelets that said dangerous things on them like “toxic” and one said radioactive. Yes in fact the person wearing that bracelet would be radioactive, as pretty much everything is…

  8. @Hanes: Could you flesh out your comments on the Amish? I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say. Are you saying that the amish are more likely to commit attrocities beacuse of their bizare lifestyle?

  9. I think “chemical-free” = a total vacuum. But that’s just me taking things literally again! :-D

  10. @Gabrielbrawley: I *think* Hanes was saying that religious beliefs made the Amish completely benign just as religious beliefs can make other people dangerous. The lesson is – religion is stupid because dangerous or no, you were taught to be a sheep in one way or another. Critical thinking FTW.

  11. @QuestionAuthority: Slightly disagree, If you run around telling others that god talks to you in such a way that you can actually hear his voice and he’s telling you to do things, that’s a sign of schizophrenia and qualified people will take notice. I understand your probably just being facetious but it is one of my major pet peeves to equivocate religious beliefs with mental disorder.

  12. @skepticalhippie: I get the impression that some prominent people mean that they actually hear the voice of god when they are talking about it. When James Dobson talks about it I think that is what he means but I could be wrong.

  13. @QuestionAuthority: I’d restrict the definition of “chemical” to anything that contains at least one proton, since a free-floating proton could arguably be considered ionized hydrogen and therefore a chemical. I suppose you could include anything that has at least one anti-proton as well.

    What that leaves is any proton-free materials. free-floating neutrinos, neutrons, electrons and photons, for example, aren’t chemicals. Not sure you could stretch the definition of “material” to include them, though.

  14. It’s a good thing the challenge includes the terms “place in my hands” and “material”. If “place in my hands” were “show me”, I’d point out Centaurus X-3 (a netron star). If “material” were missing, I’d shine a flashlight on his palms.

  15. @SkepticalHippie: I was indeed being facetious with my comment, as you suspected. :-D

    @Steve DeGroof…OK, then. “Damn near a vacuum!” ;-)

  16. Looking over the slide show in the first link, I have to ask: When exactly was Darwin’s reign in the Soviet Union?

  17. Are non-reactive stuff like the noble gasses still counted as ‘chemicals’ per se? I suppose they must, or that’d be way too easy a challenge. :)

  18. @JakeL: I’d say so, it’s *something* even if you can’t see it (unless you mean liquid helium, which would be an exciting thing to try to transport). I suppose it still really doesn’t work, though. I think being on the periodic chart makes them “chemical elements” regardless.

  19. @Jason W: Helium is a “Chemical”. Generally there is a feeling in society that a “Chemical” is something you have in the Lab. It’s a bit of a misnomer as we should really say “X has this Chemistry” i.e. it interacts in this way. It’s just we say “Chemical” as a shorthand.

    The Periodic Table is made up of the Elements that either exsist in Nature or have been “manufactured” by various Nuclear processes.

    Excluding Bose-Einstein condensates etc etc, everything that exsists is made of Atoms, these have electrons that combine in differing and interesting ways, giving their various combinations certain reactive properties we describe as their Chemistry.

    In short, unless it’s dark matter or something similar, every material thing is a “Chemical” because it will display some “Chemistry”.

    Which is why it’s the most interesting subject to study!

  20. Can’t say I’m surprised by the military one at all. I’ve gotten in trouble because I said that suicide is the last life style choice a person makes, and that no one has a right to tell an other human being that there is no limit to the pain they must feel. Suicide is every person’s basic human right.

    Being an atheist in the military is sort of like being prude in a whorehouse.

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