Skepchick Quickies 7.16

  • $200,000 challenge: Ur doin it wrong – Jock Doubleday (no, really) is offering up wads of cash if you agree to, “drink a body-weight calibrated dose of the poisonous vaccine additives that M.D.s routinely inject into children in the name of health.”  From Kevin.
  • Jefferson’s support of intelligent design – Written by no less then Stephen Meyers, director of the Discovery Institute.  From bibliotequetress.
  • iPhone launches Purity Ring app – “For just 59p, consumers can download an application that allows them to take a purity pledge and then display a silver ring on their phone to prove their commitment to abstinence.”
  • Doctors helping Jehovah’s Witnesses – A discussion of ethics to enliven your Thursday morning.


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

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  1. Damn, it’s too bad I’m not a medical doctor or the CEO of a pharmaceutical company (yet), because then I would have $20,000 extra! Although, I doubt they are offering this challenge in good faith, and they’d probably find some way to weasel out of of giving me the money. Also, why drink the vaccine ingredients? Shouldn’t they be injected?

  2. Annoyingly, the free wi-fi in MacDonalds won’t let me access the last link because its content is marked as “Alternative spirituality/belief”.

    A purity ring app from the app store? If you use it on an iPod touch, does it become the iPod no-touch?

  3. I’m going to be unpopular and say that I don’t think doctors should force blood transfusions onto Jehovah’s witnesses (although children are a completely different issue). It’s not the doctor’s responsibility to require that a patient change their lifestyle in order for the doctor to do their best in treating them. I’ve known people whose doctors refused to see them until they lost weight, stopped smoking, or stopped having risky sex, and that pisses me off. This is no different. Sure, it seems silly to refuse a blood transfusion, but calling people silly is no way to help them. Shaming patients in any way is counter-productive. Doctors know their job won’t be easy, and uncooperative patients are a part of that. They need to do the best they can with what they have. I want to stress that children are a completely different matter, and none of this applies to them.

  4. @Amanda:

    Well, the problem is that they fail to understand the difference between ethylene glycol, and polyethylene glycol. Since they don’t even know what’s actually in vaccines, they would probably insist that I drink something harmful, rather than the ingredient that is actually in vaccines. I don’t trust them to understand basic chemistry.

  5. Instead of a purity ring pledge, I’d like to see a pledge that you will always use a condom every single time, and always have one with you wherever you go, because you just never know when you’ll need one. I would take a pledge like that, and I’d like to wear a ring to show it off, or maybe a necklace with a locket big enough to hold a condom. I think that would be more effective at reducing unwanted pregnancy.

  6. I’m confused by the whole vaccine drinking challenge. My BS meter is starting to tick up with design of the website, then steadily climbed saying anti-freeze and mercury are still in the vaccines, and then went off the chart with the words Dr. Paul “for Profit” Offit, located under his picture.

  7. @QuestionAuthority: Technically, Buzz wouldn’t do such a thing, as he’s been sober for well over 20 years. Michael Collins on the other hand is probably doubly sad, not just because Amanda forgot about Apollo 11, but also because he’ll never have a drink named after him. Poor guy…

  8. @QuestionAuthority: I did (but I’m not a skepchick), and I posted a picture I took of the area that Apollo 11 landed. Today is also the anniversary of Shoemaker-Levy-9, something which, thanks to Hubble, I found to be way more inspiring (being that in 1969, I was living comfortably in my father’s testicles).

    Also, as to the vaccine challenge thing,(which I’m as sure is as legitimate as the Yakuza) not that I think it matters much with these anti-vax loonies, (dare I sully the name of a Canadian coin like that?), but wouldn’t it be a much more effective demonstration if they were to challenge someone to take a body-calibrated dose of a vaccine? And who-the-Sega-Genesis gets to decide what a “body calibrated dose” is? What rigors would they employ? Do they seriously think that they’re going to get to inject anti-freeze into someone? Why stop there? Why not every single chemical that is in a vaccine and is also in another chemical?

    Christ, I hate these people.

  9. Well, I’ve responded to the challenge, and I put up front that I was not an MD or CEO.

    However, I’m willing to wager that, if someone did take him up on his challenge, the participant would likely incur expenses. If a skeptical doctor were to do so, I wouldn’t mind donating to help cover travel-related expenses. While I understand that, if successful, the previous mentioned person would make all that money back, and then some, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

  10. @Some Canadian Skeptic:

    Do they seriously think that they’re going to get to inject anti-freeze into someone?

    But vaccines don’t contain antifreeze! Some have polyethylene glycol, which is completely different than ethylene glycol. They want people to drink something that’s not even in vaccines and they think that will somehow prove something about vaccines.

  11. As a Boston resident and leftie, I’ve been somewhat concerned about losing the Boston Globe. However, after seeing this latest abhorrent editorial, they’ve pretty much lost me. Will it hurt to have no real paper? Yes, but we seem to be getting that anyway. It’s telling when some of the best journalism comes from indie sites and free weeklys (Boston Phoenix.)

  12. @KristinMH: Oh no he didn’t. That pisses me off even more. What a strawman. Home birth can be safe, but depends entirely on the individual and her own individual circumstances. Advocating it for everyone can have extremely dangerous consequences.

  13. @Some Canadian Skeptic: I was making a play on words, not his recovering alcoholism. (I had read about his problem, but had forgotten about it.)

    How would you go about making a virgin “Buzzed Aldrin,” considering it’s vodka and Tang anyway?

    @infinitemonkey: I would think the effectiveness of the ring depends on where she’s wearing it, doesn’t it? ;-)

  14. @QuestionAuthority: I love history, actually, I just really suck at remembering dates. Which can lead to some really interesting confusion.

    @catgirl: I don’t think doctors should force transfusions on adult patients. But should doctors be able to refuse a patient that refuses blood transfusion? If the patient is undergoing a procedure that greatly increases in risk with the refusal of blood transfusion, does the doctor have the right to say no?

    @Andrew Nixon: COTW for the last bit.

  15. As an ex-JW, I really enjoyed the last article. I never understood the no-blood reasoning and it was one of the things that helped me shed that ridiculous cult.
    It goes something like this: the Bible says you should not take in blood. Most religions take that as not ingesting blood orally. JWs interpret it as not taking in blood in any way shape or form. If you take in blood through a transfusion you may be disfellowshipped and shunned or some other disciplinary action.

  16. Dammit, he needs to expand who he’s offering that $20,000 or $200,000 to or whatever. Extend it to anyone who can read and understand a MSDS. Require a degree in chemistry or other appropriate field. Just set it so I can cash in on the money!

    And also make the damn solution myself. As I don’t trust this guy to do it. Nor do I trust a MD to do a dilution calculation either, for that matter.

  17. Well, seeing how the anti-vaxx nutters have convinced themselves beyond any doubt that vaccines contain mercury and what not, they probably think their money is as safe as the million dollar from Randi’s challenge.

    Of course, if this would ever take place, as the partaking MD or pharma-exec I would insit on an impartial referee to actually mix up the cocktail, making sure they don’t use real mercury and shit, but the actual preservatives used in the vaccines.

    In fact, the phrase “poisonous vaccine additives” is ensuring us that the cocktail will probably contain nothing at all …

  18. The “Purity Ring App”; yet another app that seems cool for a week, but can be deleted 2 weeks later when you no longer have a use for it.

  19. @exarch:

    Oddly enough, thimerosol in vaccines has never been implicated in causing autism. The reason it was removed was as an over-reactive precaution against actual mercury poisoning, which is nothing like autism. Some guy whose name I don’t remember was afraid that the thimerosol in vaccines could combine with other environmental sources of mercury (such as certain fish) and increase a child’s risk of actual mercury poisoning, even though there was no evidence to suggest there was enough to increase risk.

  20. @infinitemonkey: “Some girl stated that as long as she wears it, she’ll always be a virgin…

    It used to be you had to give her a ring before you could take her virginity. Now you have to take her ring first?

  21. @KristinMH: I am pretty sure my wife wouldn’t have like to have a c-section at home. Something about blood on the carpet, not matching the drapes. Personally , I liked the idea of millions of dollars and man hours of training around me, my wife and the little guy.

  22. @Amanda:

    If the patient is undergoing a procedure that greatly increases in risk with the refusal of blood transfusion, does the doctor have the right to say no?

    It depends. If the risk of performing that procedure without a blood transfusion is greater than the risk of not have the procedure at all, then it certainly shouldn’t be done. If the procedure is not too risky even without a blood transfusion, then it’s up to the doctor to use their best judgment to decide if it’s worth the risk, but the decision should only be based on actual risks and not be an ultimatum to the patient or a refusal to make a point.

  23. @exarch: To be fair, if they’re stupid enough to think vaccines contain dangerous mercury outright, they’d probably slip him metallic mercury. So he’d be totally fine with no ill effects as it’d pass through his digestive system as normal.

    It’s if they somehow slipped him dimethyl mercury that he’d be fucked.

  24. @QuestionAuthority:

    Soooo….What you’re saying is, I’m NOT that awesome. S’okay. I can take it. My grandmother tells me that all the time. Except she uses senile phrases like “You’re not the Cat’s Meow” and “Your cat is stealing my submarine pills!” And then we all put blinders on her eyes so she can only see the bed, and she sleeps, and we all LAUGH!

    Oh, grandma.

  25. The way to properly ridicule the vaccine challenge is to not engage Doubleday at all–just have a bunch of docs videotape themselves chugging vaccines and upload them to YouTube a la blasphemy challenge. Of course he’ll claim they’re all fakes regardless of how much documentation is provided, but at least we’ll have a collection of funny videos calling him an idiot (and the videos can point to his waffling).

  26. I like Lee’s idea! Someone could slam a bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills and wash it down with a vaccine. Excellent. Now where the heck is my video camera…

  27. Ima learn how to program apps for the iPhone and make an app where people take a pledge stop being so goddamned uptight about sex. Or how ’bout one for the fathers to pledgeto talk openly and honestly with their daughters about sex and not seem so much like a creepy pimp. Do you think it’ll sell?

  28. The Doubleday web site has a link to the actual contract which details the test methodology. He would make the cocktail under the supervision of six other people (3 of his choice and 3 of the subject’s choice). The contents would be scaled up to match the body weight difference between the subject and a 3 year old child.

    It’s not so much the cocktail that is whacky in the contract. He also requires that the subject take two “tests”. A term of the contract is that the subject must first read a variety of anti-vaccine books and be tested on their content. Failure to correctly answer questions derived from the books means the subject “fails” and forfeits the money.

    Also, as someone else noted, much of the setup for the trial is at the subject’s expense. He also requires that the subject undergo a psyche evaluation and submit any medical records about previous mental health to Mr. Doubleday.

    The subject agrees to accompany Mr. Doubleday on a variety of talk shows (I assume to be bullied and shouted down).

    It’s a pretty ham-fisted bait and switch game.

  29. @SkepLit: Five gets you ten the “quiz” portion is just an elaborate gotcha game. It’s clearly just a way to get the participant to repeat back antivax talking points. Either you state the truth, in which case you “fail” the quiz, or this asshole gets to run around saying, “EVEN FAMOUS MEDICAL DOCTOR PERSON ADMITS, ON CAMERA, THAT VACCINES ARE MADE FROM ABORTED FETUSES AND PUPPY TEARS!!!!”

  30. @Joshua:
    And Doubleday gets to tell himself he’s a genius by creating this unbreakable Catch-22. If someone takes him up on the challenge, he’s rigged it to become a anti-vac media circus. If no one takes him up, he can turn it into a anti-vaccine media circus. It’s… it’s diabolical! Oh, and lame and pathetic.

  31. @Joshua: Bah, vaccines aren’t made of puppy tears. Everyone knows that real puppy tears are just made straight into shampoo for people with sensitive skin. You’ll need to dilute it yourself, of course, since straight puppy tears are actually harmful to the average human, usually causing an excessive watering of the eyes and wrinkles in the cheeks.

  32. How about a real “purity ring” that indicates that you have taken a panel of STD tests and come up negative? I’m picturing something like a cheap “mood ring” that changes color after [some number] weeks of exposure to air, so you have to go get tested again and get a new ring.

  33. @the Procrastinatrix: The words “glass swan” turn red when I mouse over them, but nothing happens when I click. What is the significance of a glass swan? Other than that you can watch somebody making them from glass tubes using a torch at county fairs and the like.

  34. @pciszek: Curse my poor linking skills!!

    It’s a link to the definition of Glass Swan on Urban Dictionary:

    Glass Swan

    One step further than sandy vagina. Glass is made from heat and/or pressure. If you have a sandy enough vagina and are clenching down, you would create a glass swan, just from the shape. As in:
    “Good lord, woman, if you don’t chill out about it and unclench, you’re gonna make a glass swan.”

  35. Honest honey I dont like you just cause you have a great body for sex … I’ll also be able to make some great swans to sell at the fair.

  36. @Elyse: There’s such a thing as too far? ;)

    @pciszek: I’m not possessed of either a carbony or a sandy vagina. Just a plain ole sandless vajayjay, alas. I am, however, fairly adept at causing other people to lay a glass swan. ;)

  37. @catgirl: Amen, sister. My daughter is about to enter jr high, and I worry about the peer pressure to take chastity oaths since those who take them are less likely to practice safer sex when they get around to breaking them.

  38. @KristinMH: Well, my daughter’s hospital birth was safer than if she had been birthed at home since my wife’s pelvic arch was too narrow for vaginal delivery and a c-section was necessary.

  39. @Elyse: I heard Mel White, a gay activist who at one time was a figure in the religious right, speak once, and one of the anecdotes he related was of being on a radio call-in show when someone called in and asked “What disgusting acts do you and your partner perform in bed?” The host wanted to just ignore the call, but Mel said he’d respond and said, “We do what any couple does that’s been together for 15 years. We sleep.”

  40. Somebody mentioned the condom-locket before, and those have actually been around for quite some time I believe.

    If you are going to be carrying any kind of ring around, it should be a latex ring …

  41. @Outsider: I enjoyed the last article also. I was once involved with someone who was a JW, and even today, it bothers me that she could easily die of preventable causes because of her superstitions. She’s a fweakin’ PIONEER, now. Fexake.

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