Skepchick Quickies 11.6

  • Teacher claims fingerprinting is the mark of the beast – “A 22-year veteran kindergarten teacher in the Texas Bible Belt could lose her job for refusing, on religious grounds, to give fingerprints under a state law requiring them.” From Mark.
  • Tips for kids on how to avoid the flu – Presented by a rapping doctor.
  • Phrenology: Feel my head! – Great set of photos of old phrenology heads. The boxed set of tiny heads is my favorite. From Vanessa.
  • Jenny, I got your number – Michelle has a child with celiac’s disease and therefore knows a lot about the gluten-free diet. She calls bullshit on Jenny McCarthy’s claims about a glute-free diet curing her son and takes Living Without magazine to task for promoting Jenny.
  • Cute Animal Friday! First, the perfect cute animal for this blog, the cutest deadly sin- a baby sloth. Hotphysicsboy found an entire slideshow of unlikely animal friends (so! much! cute!). And even as an arachnophobic, I lurve this peacock spider.


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

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  1. I understand why some find spiders creepy, and with some species, I’m even inclined to agree, but I don’t understand how anyone could not like jumping spiders — they’re like tiny eight-legged kittens!

  2. @Arnold Jamtart: Jumping spiders set off a very weird, “Oh, cute!” mixed with “Agh! Spider!” reaction in me. They’re the only spiders that don’t meet instant death in my house. I don’t mind scooping them up (with a cup or something, not my hand) and tossing them outside.

    But the vision of a tiny eight-legged kitten is terrifying.

  3. if anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.… He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

    It seems that being “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” is conditional on you also worshiping the beast and his image. So, people worship fingerprints, and fingerprinting databases now? It must be hard to take The Bible literally if frequently used words like “worship” can mean pretty much anything. I mean, I drink fluoridated water everyday, but I wouldn’t say that I worship it.

    Also, knowing that people actually take stuff like this seriously first makes me laugh, and then it makes me very very sad.

  4. I wonder if the teacher things fingerPAINTING also signifies the mark of the beast as well. I mean, sometimes you use red paint and everything…

  5. Um, is it wrong I looked at the boxed phrenology set and immediately flashed on my Mineralogy pear wood crystallography models? Help me out here, other geo-geeks…

  6. Gluten free woo is all over the place. I also have to eat gluten free because of celiac disease, and I’m constantly noticing the weird juxtaposition of gluten free in supermarkets and restaurants. Supermarkets sometimes have gluten free sections which, in my experience, are usually in the same area as vitamins, homeopathy, and herbal medicine. Also, “health food” stores may have more gluten free food, but the one near my parents advertises “healthy lifestyle” choices such as “aura fluffing” (I’ve never heard of that, but it’s at the top of this list http://www.clintwoodhealthyu.com/classes–meetings.aspx ) Not to mention, my local gluten free restaurant does not even mention celiac disease as a reason to go gluten free, preferring to call the diet “the new anti-depression, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory,
    anti-obesity, anti-autism food trend.” http://www.farmerskitchencafe.com/

    This makes me very uncomfortable, especially when they try to give me medical advice. Celiacs shouldn’t eat dairy? Should take probiotics? I’ve even been told this stuff by other Celiacs. And there’s nothing backing it up! It’s great to see another skeptical person in the gluten free community!

  7. @davew Hard to say. If everyone with CD knew about it, about 1:133 people would be looking for gluten free options. On the one hand, I love it when there’s a gluten free menu or when the cooking staff understand gluten free. Just that much is enough for me to eat out. However, for an entire restaurant to go gluten free, they have to have some kind of market beyond that. By not saying that gluten free is a diet for a specific illness, they’re making it more appealing to a general group of people, who look at those not specific claims and say “maybe I can lose weight this way” for example.

    On the other hand, gullible people buying gf because it is advertised this way makes gf food cheaper and easier to find. I just can’t decide if I’d rather have a hard time finding pizza or have to listen to a woman in the bookstore tell her husband that her friend lost weight when she went gluten free (her friend was a celiac, she was not).

    I totally want to say something to these people, but I just can’t get up the courage to say something. For example, to cite this preliminary study in Britain (I sure hope this turns out to be wrong though… if it’s not it’s a sure sign that people without celiac disease should eat gluten) http://www.nutraingredients.com/Publications/Food-Beverage-Nutrition/FoodNavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Gluten-free-diet-not-friendly-to-gut-bacteria-Study/

  8. @Arnold Jamtart: I love jumping spiders. They are my very favorite. (I’m from the middle of the desert, I’ve seen some spiders.) Whenever one lands on my monitor or something, I always just leave it be. It’s like I have a little buddy hangin’ with me all day :)

  9. @Imrryr: But…but…but…we already have fingerprints! So is it the fingerprints themselves that she objects to, or the ink that’s applied? Or the fact that they’re storing the data in a computerized database?

    Also, knowing that people actually take stuff like this seriously first makes me laugh, and then it makes me very very sad.

    I know exactly what you mean, and it’s even worse when it turns up in people that are supposed to be educated.

    Stupid knows no limits.

  10. Personally I think the fingerprinting law is stupid, I don’t believe it will help protect any one and I don’t like my fingerprints stored anymore than she does.

    But I’m in total disagreement as to why, and even angered that some would think her belief in god outweighs my belief in prosecutorial misconduct. It bothers me that my choice to not believe in god strips me of rights that are given to those who do.

    I accept it but it bothers me.

  11. To everyone who has celiac disease I’m sorry, that sucks (note I didn’t say it’s the shits or it blows, because I’m not that insensitive or crude). To all the trendy self absorbed narcissistic whiners who claim they are gluten intolerant as diagnosed by their yoga instructor, chiropractor, aunty Gassy or O magazine please insert a baguette in your pie hole or go talk with a real doctor before irritating your friends and family even more as the holiday eating season approaches.

  12. I’m with PrimevilKneivel, to some extent – I wouldn’t want my fingerprint stored in some database, as a requirement for my job. I understand why the law is there, but I wouldn’t job (and hence, wouldn’t have that job).

    Having said that, I agree with pretty much everyone here that the teacher’s objections are ridiculous. Also:

    to receive a mark on their right hand

    The just take the fingerprints from her left hand.

    Or better – say that she’s obviously too religiously skewed in her thinking to be teaching. Frankly, I hope that she refuses to comply with the law and is removed from the classroom – who know what crazy whoo she’s spouting to impressionable kids.

    And also, while I re-read that article…if she’s allowed to continue working without giving her prints, does this set a precident that if a religious woo interprets the bible in some crazy way, we have to respect that? If she then decides she’s allowed to start stoning the kids in her classroom, will the state be blocked from prosecuting *that* on “respect for religious freedom”?

  13. @James Fox: COTW.

    Makes me think of a person I met once who wouldn’t eat gluten, sugar, and a shitload of other things all because her naturopath had told her she was allergic to them. Said naturopath had not actually performed any allergy tests, but had figured it out based on the patient’s personality.

  14. @JayK: I’m thinking that she must be objecting to the database. After all, the “mark” you get from fingerprinting doesn’t last very long, and The Bible says nothing about a non-permanent mark that needs to be reapplied every day. But then I seriously doubt that John “The Crazy-ass Revelator” had fingerprinting databases in mind when he wrote that stuff.

    The teacher does not believe that it is merely coincidence that Revelation says only those with the ‘mark on his forehead or on his hand’ will be able to buy or sell, since only those teachers who comply with fingerprinting requirements will keep their jobs, he said.

    Crazy Teacher Lady must really raise hell every time she goes to a local carnival and the ticket seller stamps her hand. After all, you can only buy things at the carnival if you have your hand stamped. And on top of that, those things can take a full week to wash off!

    @PrimevilKneivel: I tend to agree. It sounds like another ploy to make the people think that their elected officials are doing something about child molesters.

  15. @Imrryr: we leave our fingerprints everywhere inadvertently.

    I don’t mind the idea of positively identifying the people we allow to work with our kids. But why do it in a manner that opens us to suspicion of crimes that are committed in places we have happened to have been?

  16. @Amanda: I’ll go you one better. My good friend’s wife got the gluten-free lecture from her *cat’s* Reiki practitioner. She is one of my most favorite people in the world (my friend’s wife, not the silly Reiki person), but she is now ingesting about 20 natural remedies designed to “cure” her of every allergy known to man (or woman). Plus, she spends thousands of dollars a month on this stuff. Her husband, my friend, just sits there and rolls his eyes when she spouts the teachings of this kook. He is a very skeptical biochemist, but he can’t stop the woo. She is convinced it is all helping her. In addition, her cat seems better these days, so she thinks this reiki stuff really works. I think the cat just likes being felt up.

  17. @Imrryr: Well, considering that the xtains think that humanists “worship” Humanity…Can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone doing that…

    It’s just another case of allowing them to define words any way that they want to, INHO.

    Re: jumping spiders…Yeah, they are fun to watch. Unfortunately, my cats like to watch them, too. Until they pounce on them.

    Totally off the subject, if I ever encounter another “animal communicator,” I’m going to have a double facepalm…across their face. Such BS…same thing as cold reading people for fortune telling.

  18. So exactly what is this teacher going to do if he (in an unrelated matter) is hauled in by the police as a suspect in a murder of which he is innocent, and where fingerprint evidence would set him free? Will he still refuse? Sheesh. . .honestly. . .

  19. She calls bullshit on Jenny McCarthy’s claims about a glute-free diet curing her son

    Would a glute-free diet mean giving up ham, rump roast, and chicken legs?

  20. @N47W122:

    So exactly what is this teacher going to do if he (in an unrelated matter) is hauled in by the police as a suspect in a murder of which he is innocent, and where fingerprint evidence would set him free?

    If you are a suspect and the police want your fingerprints and you refuse to cooperate, they will simply beat you senseless, take the prints from your onconcious body, and claim that you fell down some stairs.

  21. Did you guys read the article that Friends of Celiacs Unite linked to? Jenny McCarthy opened her first school for kids with autism. Ho….ly….crap.

    “You just opened your first school for children with autism in Sherman Oaks, California. Can you tell us about it?
    The school, called Teach to Talk Academy, is located in the house where I used to live. I got rid of all my furniture and converted each room into a classroom. We have about 30 kids enrolled between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. The school is an intensive treatment center for autistic kids. We’re basically teaching them how to speak, how to go to the bathroom, how to function, how to look their friends in the eyes. We’re treating autism through nutrition, as well. So I’ll be bringing all my nutritional advice to the school. We have a doctor on board who will come in and do the blood work with the kids and have them on a health regimen. The same diet, the same vitamins, the same detoxing…all the things I’ve done with Evan’s recovery. There’ll also be behavior therapy. I consider these kids in the school right now to be one of the luckiest groups around because we have the very best of the best therapists from UCLA, combined with the best doctors in the world to treat autism. I’ve just put them together under one roof—and there it is!” http://www.livingwithout.com/2010/decjan10-mccarthy.html

  22. How is she a veteran teacher at age 22? Isn’t that when most people have just graduated from college? Student teaching doesn’t make you a vet, it makes you a terrified newbie who really doesn’t have a clue.

    I have a friend with celiac and I always worry about those morons promoting gluten free for trendy reasons. If those people got some gluten, nothing happens. If my friend gets some gluten, she get really really sick. So I always worry about her getting things that are gluten free because if the person making it thinks, “Who cares? They don’t really need it to be totally gluten free, they just want to do what Oprah tells them” my friend could really sick from it.

  23. @Arnold Jamtart: but I don’t understand how anyone could not like jumping spiders — they’re like tiny eight-legged kittens!

    I am SO there! This is my spider logic:

    Short legs and furry = cute
    Long legged and nekkid = Eeek!

  24. @Surly Nymph: brings to mind … an anecdote… Dag nabbit
    Sherman set the wayback for 1978 or so… working at Texas A&M….
    one day driving home, i see a tarantula. Stop, pick it up (funny it did not mind me picking it up).
    Took it home.. fed it , left it alone unless it wanted to mess with me.
    New gf comes over one night… i go to get vino for the two of us… hear a scream… run back she is just about to the point of squishing said tarantula against the wall…. I shout “NOOOOO!!!!”.
    The tarantula lived, I never saw my date again.

    Dogs honest truth.

  25. it was a Hoot! all of my buddies knew it was harmless.. i simply forgot to tell her about it because it had been MIA for a couple of days, figured it had a big cricket or roach meal and was sleeping it off.

    silly me

  26. Fingerprinting a mark of the beast? No. Are there governmental systems that I would trust more with the keeping of its citizens biometric data then a single member plurality lacking a national assembly? Yeaaaaaaaaaah.

  27. @baiskeptic:
    “…the one near my parents advertises “healthy lifestyle” choices such as “aura fluffing” (I’ve never heard of that…”

    I know all about aura fluffing.

    Sometimes it’s hard to get your aura erect under the pressure of filming. So aura fluffing is when someone arouses it before you go on camera. That way no one ever sees your aura in its limp, flaccid state.

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