Skepchick Quickies, 5.4


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. Not that I’m saying they’re right, but it’s stuff like this Merck journal that give anti-vaxxers all the firepower they need to distrust vaccines. No matter how many studies you try to throw at them proving the safety of vaccines, there is ALWAYS going to be a distrust of the people putting out those studies precisely because of shit like this.

  2. “UK only, but here’s a reportedly great good BBC program on investigating medicine. (Thanks to Neverclear.)”

    Prof Regan’s series on prime-time BBC TV is very welcome. So far she’s covered dieting (debunking crash diets because they’re only temporary), medicine (debunking homeopathy, but endorsing branded painkillers over unbranded ones), and foods and toys marketed at children (endorsing cereals and Lego). One more episode to go….

  3. Seems like Merck was engaged in outright fraud. I think this could be a criminal violation. Some ambitious DA should bring criminal charges and that would be a nice basis for a large number of civil suits.

    @FFFearlesss: But we can always answer that it was SCIENCE that exposed the fraud and that it is always SCIENCE that exposes the frauds. Then we can hold up tamaflu and tell them they can’t have any.

  4. I tried to read that article about the backlash against the New Atheists. But I just couldn’t. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get much sleep tonight, or the collection of annoyances (hole in toe of my sock, Internet running extremely slowly, not able to find my flashcards) that are sapping my attention…but I have no ****ing clue what stance he was taking, what he was trying to say, or what any of the point of it was.

    Is he trying to argue that we’ve made no progress in the past six thousand years? Does he not understand that there’s no such thing as a “universal” progress, and we can still make great strides in, say, the fields of agriculture, medicine, and other technologies while still being locked into some of the same social caveats we have been for hundreds of years now?

    …Is he trying to accuse progress of *not* cleaning up the mess religion made of society over the pass few centuries?

  5. @LtStorm: Look, Mr. Fish is attempting critique of a book by a theologian. What do you expect? Theology isn’t really a subject. It asks a lot of questions, but provides no answers – it can’t, it has no methodology. But Eagleton and his ilk can’t admit this or they’d be out of a job.

  6. @GabrielBrawley
    That would work if you were combatting a person’s sense of reason. But as is so often the case with vaccines, you’re combatting a person’s FEAR. (I’m talking your average parents, not people like Jenny McCarthy). All it takes is a story like this to give creedence to the fear that the drug companies don’t actually care about your health and well-being, that they’re only out to make money no matter who it hurts.

  7. I really wish we could get someone other than Captain Misogyny Christopher Hitchens to act as spokesperson.

    Yes, he is a good speaker and funny, but he’s also conservative, a misogynist (see his “women are genetically unfunny” article) and supported Bush. Isn’t there anyone else?

  8. @Eliza:

    We totally need it on other stuff chicks like… like Skepchick yogurt or special dress-on-the-side ramekin for the salads we love so much! And on miniskirts so we can give the message that yeah we’re hot but we also think so we’re respectable and you could totally marry us because we’re not getting any younger!

  9. @Protesilaus:

    Why does the Vanity Fair article lead y’all to conclude that Hitchens is a misogynist? Isn’t misogyny the hatred of women? Seems like Hitchens is just making the claim that women on average aren’t as funny as men. How does one extrapolate hatred from that claim?

    BTW, Hitchens forgot to mention Kathy Griffin. She could easily offset the impact of several million humorless women on the female humor average.


  10. That NYT piece was pretty pathetic. It was unclear at first whether Fish was agreeing with Eagleton or not. After all, the arguments he was quoting were hardly persuasive. He seemed to be saying that if you bought into the idea that things were steadily getting better, you had no need for hope. How does that make sense? Isn’t hope the belief that things will improve? Should we only hope when we’re convinced things are getting worse? He also doesn’t seem to refute the idea that there has been moral and social progress throughout human history. Whatever progress has been made has typically been in spite of religion, not because of it.

    Then he throws in the standard “appeals to other ways of knowing” with the obligatory “science tells us how, but religion tells us why.” How does religion tell us anything? It has no methodology, and no way to evaluate the credibility of theological claims.

    Fish derisively calls Dawkins and Hitchens “Ditchkins” and says that “his” arguments are “shallow.” Not once does he even attempt to refute an argument from Hitchens or Dawkins.

    Finally, Fish says that Eagleton doesn’t tell us whether he is Christian or not. But Eagleton says, “one who spoke up for love and justice and was done to death for his pains.” Eagleton also quotes the book of Luke. From this, Eagleton’s faith (equivalent to bias) is obviously Christianity.

  11. Prof. Regan is great!
    But…she put echinacea into her pharmacy as a proven herbal remedy…I thought echinacea was wonderpoop?!

  12. My browser cut off part of the title for the first one, making it “MERCK MAKES PHONY PEE” which is an awesome story in and of it self.

    The pink handbag drug reminded me of Dodge’s ’56 Le Femme, the only car to come with a matching purse. (

    I know it’s condescending, but honestly, I wish a company would produce a product aimed at the stereotypical gamer/hacker nerd that I am. I would totally by anything marketed in a computer case.

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