Skepchick Quickies 1.30

  • Another dangerous toy that brainwashes your child into Islam -  Remember that evil Islam-spreading talking baby doll?  Well, the same woman who made that discovery has found another toy that seeks to spread its one true religion.  Sent in by friend of Skepchick, Jeff Penalty.  (And do watch the video, it’s hilarious.)
  • Saddlebacking – Dan Savage and his readers have declared the new definition of saddlebacking, just as they redefined “Santorum.”  The link is just a definition, nothing NSFW except for words.
  • How to fail Metaphysics at UHawaii – Links to a PDF disclaimer written by the professor of the class.  Thanks Jacob.
  • Powerful Rest and Fluids Industry Influencing Doctors’ Treatment of Colds – “This treatment, recommended a staggering 4 out of 5 times on average, was in each case prescribed by a physician known to have recently enjoyed a golf vacation courtesy of Big Rest and Fluids.”  Thanks PrimevilKneivel.
  • Emory asked if bacteria are eligible for cute animal Friday.  Noisy Astronomer sent in a video of a chimp on a Segway. Breaking update from Augustus: Whiplash, the dog-riding capuchin, will be knighted.
  • And for a final bit of awesomeness, Kristin has some very good news for us old, cranky, jealous Skepchicks who don’t appreciate sexy vampires.


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

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    And don’t get me wrong, I do adore me some sexy vampires! True Blood (Showtime) is amazing, and the author Charlie Huston is also amazing, but I so do not appreciate faux-vampire lore. Nor do I appreciate sparkling vampires. Or my vampire lore dripping in Mormon propaganda. Nope.

    If that makes me old, jealous and cranky, so be it!

  2. Now if we can just get her to withdraw all of her previous work from circulation….

    Seriously, I work with teens, and if I see one more “Vampires prefer brunettes” T-shirt I think I’m going to scream.

  3. Rest and fluids has no relationship to golf vacations and represents the standard of good medicine. Now, where is my nine iron?

  4. Man, I can’t believe I got taken in by that whole “rest and fluids” scam. I’m usually pretty good at spotting those things. I guess it’s back to leeches, then.

  5. re Islam toy. Maybe the women misheard. I was recently organising a field trip and a 19yo female student came to my office and said

    “I really really hope I get to share a room with you”

    “I don’t think that would be appropriate”

    “Oh, I’ve been dreaming about since you announced the trip, I’m really looking forward to it”

    “Well I’m sorry but that’s just not going to happen”

    And she left. A few days later I heard how I’d been a b*stard and told her there was no way I was going to let her have a room with a view.

  6. @Masala Skeptic: Congratulations on a job well done. Stephanie may blame it on early circulation of an incomplete manuscript but we all know better. It was your post. Well Done!

  7. I could not stop laughing at the metaphysics post this morning.

    It just reminded me of all the young women who would join our Geology department, because they were into Wicca / The Goddess /Gaia / Mother Earth or the whole healing power of crystals and all that other stuff.

    They would go running (occasionally leaving behind an incense stick or two and the faint scent of patchouli) once they realized the department was hard science and other than discussing historical theories, their pet concepts weren’t touched.

    It was particularly fun to watch the Mineralogy and Historical Geology professors (the latter of whom taught Strat/Sed and Paleo and is the most brilliant teacher I ever had) pick these young women apart. It wasn’t mean, but if you knew them, it was obvious, subtle targeted torture ;)

  8. Regarding saddlebacking, the phenomenon is not new. I read an article many years ago discussing it in the context of why the per capita rate of HIV was so high in El Paso, Texas (Catholic belief system + lack of education = Darwin award nominee).

  9. The Rest and Fluids Lobby article made me think of Dr. Leo Spaceman’s (30 Rock) endorsement of the meat sandwich machine and his research “being undermined by the powerful Bread Lobby.” … “Medicine is not a science, you know.”

  10. @Gabrielbrawley: I posted it to my LJ and sent to my dad because he’ll get a kick out of it, it is so awesome. I keep reading it again. It was the first thing I read this morning outside of work e-mail. This Friday is going to be awesome.

  11. @TheSkepticalMale: That reminds me, (off on a tangent, sorry) one of my least favorite phrases is “more of an art than a science”. It seems to be shorthand for, “I have no idea what I’m doing, so I just make it up as I go along and hope no one notices.”

  12. @Steve: I always use that phrase to describe a situation where there are any number of ways to competently complete a task … I realize my usage is probably wrong.

  13. Woman with Islam on the brain-At some point, you really just have to ask yourself, “Am I reading too much into this?”

    Rest and Fluid-While The Onion is a highly repect news organization, I do believe they have a motive. I fully endorse the Rest/Fluids treatment.

    Saddlebacking-Me and my friends know it as barebacking, but, it usually involves two guys, and has nothing to do with “saving ourselves”

    Metaphisics course-Good, maybe he’ll teach them to be skeptical.

    Bacteria-I’ve always considered them cute and adorable. Now, they come in hi-def, awesome!

    Chimps and monkey-WTF! Don’t we have better things to do?

    Twilight-I guess the sun is setting on this series. I think I’ll go home and cry.

  14. It might have limited appeal, but someone needs to write a book starring a skeptical vampire! Think about it: A vampire that knows the latin name for every single logical fallacy, and quotes passages from ‘The Demon-Haunted World’ while punching evil vampires in the face. Now that’s what I call sexy.

  15. @marilove: Please forgive my ignorance, what is an LJ? The link has really improved my Friday. I started out a little down because this is my last casual Friday for 10 weeks. Monday I start tax season hours. 60 hours a week for at least for weeks. At some point after that we surge up to 70 hours a week until April 15. I might not be around here as much.

  16. Sexy Vampires?

    I’ve got no problem with those.

    I used to love when girls would get those vampire teeth extensions and bite my neck…

    Now that I’m older, and date normal people, I can admit that I miss that just a little.

    But what does Sexy Vampires have to do with the Twilight series?

    That’s my question,


    Nerdy, clumsy, loser, desperate, lonely teenage girls? Yes. Sexy? NO.

  17. That women has islam in the brain- I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the same women.. crazy stuff!

  18. Yeah, the “Islam is the light” is silly, but I do think it’s a little strange that both toys have the exact same sound. Aren’t there other stock baby noises?

    @infinitemonkey: To us in the swinger lifestyle, “barebacking” means sex without a condom.

    Bacteria sunset: What’s it mean when my first thought was, “How long before PETA hold a protest against micro-biologic exploitation?”

    And the whole, “I’m so upset, I can’t write any more Twilight books.” just sounds like a New Coke-ish publicity stunt to me. I think she just wants to be begged to write more.

  19. @Imrryr: What would a plausible (non-woo) vampire be like? Toss out all the holy water, bats and turning to dust stuff. I can’t see it being a pathogen transmitted in the blood either. Unless it’s fatal, the world would be crawling with vampires by now.

    Maybe vampires are some sort of nocturnal subspecies of humans, then. Hematophagy in a humanoid is a bit of a stretch, though. I’d be more likely to buy the need (or desire) for live food. Immortality is unlikely but extreme longevity might be plausible. Any real species is going to reproduce “the old-fashioned way” and not by biting another species. A limitation on some resource critical to their survival would keep their numbers down. That’s probably the hardest part to explain, how they manage to tread the line between being populous enough to be noticed and being so rare that they go extinct.

  20. @Steve: <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Already-Dead-Novel-Charlie-Huston/dp/034547824X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233334761&sr=8-5Charlie Huston actually does a vampire series about it being a virus. And then there is this:

    “Meanwhile, a “carrier” is on the loose, infecting its victims with a bacterium that turns them into brain-eating zombies”

    Anyway, it’s a great series, even if the science isn’t perfect.

  21. I just saw a comment on another site support the ‘Islam is the Light’ theory:

    “The other sounds sound like noises a baby would make, while this one sounds like inteligible speach”

  22. @Steve: I’m forced to agree that it would be difficult (if not impossible) to come up with a scientifically plausible vampire. If I were writing the book I would probably just choose to avoid any discussion about how the skeptical vampire came to be. He or she would just kick ass, end of story. After all, I liked the Jedi in Star Wars until George Lucas decided he needed to explain how they got their powers… midichlorians anyone?

    But perhaps logic can be the vampire’s secret weakness? After the main villain is destroyed in the final climatic battle, the real villain (played here by PZ Myers in a cape) would sow doubts into Skeptical Vampire’s mind about how he can possibly exist. And then our hero disappears in a poof of logic! Either that or it turns out that Skeptical Vampire isn’t a vampire at all, he’s just kind of weird.

  23. Just want to say I fully support Saddlebacking in all it’s forms, including use for birth control, premarital hanky-panky, and just plain old fun!

  24. So, so glad there are others out there who hate the Twilight too. Sadly, right now the books are making the rounds in my office and that’s all anyone can talk about. I mean, I’m a fan of horror and vamp lit but that stuff is just horrible. And yes, I read the first one so I could have an informed opinion.

    Besides, everyone knows real vampires don’t sparkle in the sunlight like diamonds. ;)

  25. A sceptical vampire would be entirely possible. After all, if supernatural phenomena were testably real they would be considered natural phenomena. Maybe vampires exist, but wizards don’t. Or maybe wizards exist too but sasquatch doesn’t.

    The closest I have seen to this was Kostantin Shaushkin from The Night Watch series. He’s not a sceptic per se, but he does study biology in an attempt to make things easier for his fellow vampires. Furthermore, most of the magicians in the series are atheists and Jesus is specifically noted as being a powerful magician.

  26. @Imrryr: He could just be insane and we are reading the story through the prisim of his or her insanity the end of the book could be him being captured, treated, returned to sanity and locked up for the rest of his life with the horror of what he did now clear in his no longer crazy brain.

  27. @Steve:

    It could be a blood-transmitted pathogen (or, rather, a microscopic mutualistic symbiont) if vampires had social controls in place to prevent its spread. You know: the Dark Lord of the vampire hierarchy sends out elite assassin squads to kill anyone who “blesses” a mere mortal without authorization.

    The transformation process might be risky, too, carrying a high probability that the symbiont microbes express the wrong genes, become too virulent and kill their host.

    Hey, instant conflict set-up: a small group of rogue vampires — say, those “turned” without authorization — team up with human scientists to understand how vampirism works and take down the Dark Lord.


  28. “Twilight Author Quits Writing” and then 5 sentences later “Stephenie is working on something else at the moment”. So what they *meant* to say is “Twilight author quits writing Twilight, will go on to write different vapid prose”.


    Hey, just start writing about sparkly sci-fi vampires of lusty doom and you’ll have hoards of swooning female fans in no time.

    Also, I don’t think anyone wants to advocate saddlebacking as it’s specifically *unsafe* Xtian teenage buttsecks.

  30. @Blake Stacey: True, there could be some mechanism in place that limits the spread of the virus. Say, the only people who can be infected have type AB-negative blood, or trisomy 23, or Ackerman syndrome …something like that. This would limit the number vampires very effectively. Or at least would have back before medical testing was widely available. Now, though, a sufficiently motivated vampire working in a medical lab could get access to a whole list of potential recruits…

    I do a bit of writing to. :D

  31. Maybe this is just me, but…even if the baby is actually saying “Islam is the light”, what is that going to mean to a child? Fearing your kid is going to turn around and start praying towards Mecca five times a day just because they heard this is pretty nuts.

  32. Twilight est morte?

    That’s okay. We’re filling our lives with legit vampires- reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula (oh. so. awesome.) and checking out the Sid Haig vampire flick Brotherhood of Blood.

    Hey Bell-see, don’t let the door hit ya where the head vampire split ya.

  33. Ooh, ooh, ooh–science-y vampires: Octavia Butler’s Fledgling. In this book, what we call vampires are actually a different species called Ina, who co-evolved with humans. Oh, it’s good stuff, indeed!

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