Skepchick Quickies 5.21


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

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  1. I saw a “Jesus didn’t tap” T-shirt the other day. I thought it was an ironic religious t-shirt about Jesus not ‘tapping dat ass’. Now I see it’s a lame christian t-shirt.

    The comic was hilarious. I also enjoyed the latest russellsteapot comic.

  2. Hmm, as a young boy I could’ve used some of those lessons too. Much better than my father’s age old advice of, “If you were good at sports the kids who pick on you would want to be your friends!” My always unsaid response was, “Wait, so you want me to be friends with assholes?”

  3. “The more you focus on something — whether that’s math or auto racing or football or God — the more that becomes your reality, the more it becomes written into the neural connections of your brain,” Newberg says.

    Translation: Obsession corrupts perception.

  4. @Steve:

    Sure. But the sad/happy reality is that perception corrupts perception.

    But perhaps that depends on one’s connotative definition of corruption.


  5. Re prayer changing your brain.

    Umm… doesn’t any repetitive cognitive process modify neural pathways? I thought that was pretty well known by now. I mean, that’s how we get to do spelling automatically, or speak new languages, or do math, or think critically for that matter.

    The notion of “neurotheology” is just BS slapped on basic neurology, there’s nothing new there, no special insight. Ugh, I say.

    I’m especially disheartened by the claim that there are immune system changes in those who meditate. Ugh, I say again.

    I hope people are writing to NPR about this ridiculous series. I plan to.

    Ugh, I say once more, and what I say three times is true.

  6. “Wired for spirituality”. What bunk.

    NPR is currently on my medical and science shit list. Lots of near new age gullibility over there of late. I wonder if they’re just trying to stir up interest for the next Deepak Chopra fund drive series.

  7. @Zapski:

    They sent a religion reporter to cover a science story and frankly it shows. No filter. No skepticism. I got to the part about the immune system and my BS meter pegged. Not that it couldn’t conceivably be true, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary research which they haven’t done. I’d love to hear what they think the causal agent is.

  8. @Zapski:

    I thought the exact same thing when I read that. How people who have strokes relearn to do normal every day things.

  9. Re: the T-shirts, there’s one that reads “Jesus loves my new tattoo”, which, IIRC, is denounced in leviticus as a sin (you know, the one that also condemns lying with a man as you would a woman).

  10. Re: Fathers w/ daughters more liberal, that’s not the case here. My father actually became more and more conservative as he got older. Of course, I am doomed for all eternity for rejecting “the church” anyway…..

  11. I could see myself getting all Genghis Kahn medieval conservative if someone messed with my daughter. Everything else is defiantly more liberal though.

  12. Meditation does change the brain, any and all mental activity does. The only way you can learn something new is by remodeling your brain so that the neuroanatomy carries a representation of the idea.

    It is only thinking about stuff that is factually correct that brings you closer to reality. Thinking about stuff that is wrong and trying to brainwash yourself into thinking it is correct does work, but it makes it harder to actually think about and be in touch with reality.

    Most of that stuff is mediated through nitric oxide, which is the mechanism by which meditation affects the immune system.

  13. Wow, I had a different take on the NPR story. I took it as the way that religious people were able to reshape their brains through prayer/meditation to be more predisposed into believing in irrational/supernatural causes of events. They also interviewed a non-observant jew who had a vision of the virgin mary. He said he laughed at it and called his doctor to see what was malfunctioning in the brain. Turns out he had had a stroke. The religious types would have taken it as a sign from god because they have conditioned themselves to expect that. The rationalist called the doctor and found out the real reason because he had conditioned himself to find the truth and not the comforting fiction.

  14. Fathers with daughters more liberal? Can you imagine what Dick “Dick” Cheney would be like without his lesbian daughters. He would probably rape a puppy and kill a homeless person everyday before breakfast.

  15. Seriously.. I can’t… even.. whatthefuck. I… the shirts are just too much obviously for my brain to handle…. However.. there is a shirt on cafepress.com that says, “Jesus is coming and he doesn’t pull out!” which is probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    In response to prayer reshaping your brain and altering your personality… well duh. Anything you do is going to reshape your brain if you do it long enough. Information and actions engrain into your brain such as a stream forces it’s path down a mountain. The only way to get out of that “rut,” is to change the course of the stream, which is hard to do without a major event such as an earthquake… anyway.. so much for analogies.

    This may or may not be related, but as a Master’s student in Counseling, I need someone else’s opion before I go crazy.. I sincerely believe that teaching children about religion (not as in teaching them skeptically, but actually teaching them that religion and whatever god is the only meaning in life) is psychologically damaging. Richard Dawkins hits on this point in his documentary “The Root of All Evil? : the Virus of Faith.” Since I’ve watched it… I just can’t help but think of how truly fucked up it is that we’re still teaching kids that humanity was brought down by a talking snake. Aaaaahhhh!!! Makes me crazy.

  16. @tmarie:

    I agree. I think it totally is damaging. Teach kids to think and then let them decide when they are adults what is right for them. But ingraining stuff in them at such an early age ruins them. I’ve got a gay cousin who can’t accept himself and has tried to kill himself twice because of his religion upbringing.

  17. @tiger kitty: Religions know that to do what you suggest spells doom for religion. Faith systems that have tried this have shrunk to such small amounts of adherents that they are basically gone. Quakers, menonites, amish etc.

  18. @tigerkitty: That actually happened to me. We had two daughters when I was a Reagan Democrat (dating myself with an oxymoron, no less!) and I have been liberal ever since Bush I.

    My Dad had one of each (myself and sister) and has stayed pretty conservative, though he has mellowed (or is that cynicism?).

  19. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Oh, I wasn’t expecting religion to do this. I was hoping eventually people become enlightened and stop the cycle. My entire family/extended family is religious, and I am breaking the cycle with my kids.

  20. @QuestionAuthority:

    Yes, I have a brother, too….so I guess, it’s only when you have just girls (I think the article said one and only one daughter). But it’s funny, in my case, I am the more successful/aggressive between me and my brother. So, my parents give my brother money to live while I manage just fine on my own.

  21. We watch mixed martial arts fighting, so I’ve seen those t-shirts but I didn’t realize there were that many! Yick. How depressing.
    My husband refuses to root for anyone who prays obnoxiously before or after the match, or who thanks The Good Lord Jesus instead of his coaches and teammates and parents, etc. I’m so proud of him.

  22. @tiger kitty: Good for you. I’ve let me children know what I think about the whole thing. We live in Texas so they are exposed to lots of Christianity. My parents took the kids to sunday school for awhile, they stopped when the sunday school teacher couldn’t answer my son’s questions.

  23. I am pretty sure that we can all agree that focusing on something essentially reroutes your brain to consider it, and apply it to other situations (I took the article the same way as Gabrielbrawley) when it might not be “appropriate” to other people.

    …was anyone else thinking about that when you read the Lessons for Girls? I admit that I view the world through a not-particularly-feminist lens: I look at a lot of the “don’t be angry, of course you’ll want to have kids, be everybody’s friend” thoughts as common aspects of adolescence in general, not girlhood in particular. I’m a girl in science, and I have faced a lot of the situations these brilliant women have, but I didn’t interpret them as sexist, I interpreted them as age-ist (what, just because I’m young my thoughts on children are totally invalid?). It’s just interesting how we’ve programmed ourselves through our focuses–of course the feminist lecturers see anti-feminism there, because they have trained their brains to think that way. It’s not bad or good, just really interesting.

    I think it speaks volumes about the dangers of hyperspecialization in any field, which seems to particularly affect the academia.

  24. Wow, those Jesus shirts are all sorts of WTF. What exactly DOES “Jesus didn’t tap” mean? I don’t know much about wrestling…

  25. @whitebird: In wrestling, and martial arts, and grade school bullying, you “tap” to indicate you’ve given up. It’s like saying “Uncle,” whatever that means. That way, you don’t get choked unconscious or have your arm broken in five places or whatever …though sometimes guys refuse to tap and do get really hurt.
    It always makes me happy when someone wearing one of those t-shirts is forced to tap…

  26. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina):

    ThickMcRunfast gets the medal for his comment about tapping.

    I don’t get wanting to have a picture of someone in pain on a cross plastered on your shirt. What the hell is all that about?

  27. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): You said “It’s like saying “Uncle,” whatever that means.”

    Saying “Uncle” has _quite_ an explanation. It’s not really “uncle,” but rather “en cul.” French for “in the end.” So, uh, trying to be as delicate as possible here, imagine what a man might be forced to agree to if he had just lost a fight in a French men’s prison.

  28. If I weren’t so afraid of getting my ass kicked by a yahoo, I’d go to the next Mixed Martial Arts event wearing a shirt saying “Jesus Didn’t Tap – He Took Ballet Instead.”

  29. @biolex: That just reminded me of a joke that illustrates the dangers of hyper specilization. Stop me if you have heard this before.

    An electrical engineer, a mechinical engineer, a chemical engineer and a windows engineer are riding in a car. The car stalls and they roll to the side of the road.

    The electrical engineer says “It must be the battery or the alternator. I’ll have it fixed in a jiffy.”

    The mechanical engineer says “You’re an idiot. It must be the cam shaft or the head gasket. I’ll have it fixed in no time”

    The chemical engineer says “You’re both twits. It must be dirty gas or the oil has leaked out. I’ll take care of this”

    The windows engineer says. “Let’s try closing all of the windows and then try to restart it.”

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