Skepchick Quickies 12.8
- Scientists explain why Uranus is tilted
- Atheists need a different voice – Will women be that new voice?
- Scientists discover immune system “off switch” – From Morgan.
- Tomatoes can eat insects – “Botanists have discovered for the first time that the plants are carnivorous predators who kill insects in order to “self-fertilise” themselves.”
“Scientists explain why Uranus is tilted”
It’s not tilted, I’m just sitting funny.
ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!
Because I’m sitting on my wallet.
“Atheists need a different voice”
Should I talk all high and squaky? That is gonna make my throat sore but I willing to take one for the team.
@Gabrielbrawley: I was thinking something more like Daffy Duck.
Note to vegetarians: You are now a second tier consumer.
I’m afraid I can’t take Stephen Prothero’s little piece on female atheists and skeptics seriously. At the end there’s a list of female atheists and skeptics. That list is *woefully* inadequate and has several glaring omissions.
Even worse I just noticed he’s from Boston University, how much more clueless can you get?
@Gabrielbrawley: Perhaps the pleasant yet authoritative voice of Patrick Stewart is what we’re looking for?
I love Julia Sweeney. She’s warm and funny and humble. Dawkins is good at “preaching to the choir” and communicating with the polite agnostic who’s troubled by the litigious religiosity in the U.S., but I wouldn’t want to share him with most non-atheists.
Julia Sweeney, on the other hand, makes people comfortable with trying on what is often a terrifying thought – accepting that they don’t really believe, and may not have for a long time. It’s a “we” voice, not an authoritarian voice.
After further evolution, the tomatoes are destined to become triffids.
@mrmisconception: The study doesn’t mention any effect the ring around Uranus has on it sitting funny, but still I wonder.
Uranus might be tilted, but mine isn’t. Laser sighting is the key.
As for new atheist voices, I say we resurrect Mel Blanc and Julie Foray and let them provide a whole bunch of voices. Cheaper airfare and they bring The Funny.
It makes me laugh that the first comment on the Uranus article is of the “It Might be Dark Matter” ilk.
When dealing with mysteries of the religious nature, the default fallback position seems to be, “Well God is Mysterious.” When dealing with mysteries of the astrophysical nature, the default fallback seems to be, “It Might be Dark Matter.”
Or is it just me.
@FFFearlesss: I don’t know, I think the tilt being caused by dark matter coming out of Uranus is a reasonable hypothesis.
A friend of mine told me a few years ago that he thought that real social change only occurs through a combination of radicals and moderates. Radicals grab the attention and get people thinking about the topic, even if in hostility. Moderates continue the conversation in a more congenial tone and make people realize that there are lots of “us” out there and that they are almost certainly friends with a few.
He used the example of his own experience, the gay rights movement. In the 80s, Act Up and other “radical” organizations put gay rights on the cultural radar. Then moderates (and moderate media representations in film and TV) broadened the debate. And when you look at polls today of how young heterosexual people feel about homosexuality, it’s amazing to see how much progress there’s been in only two decades.
The debate that led to that change started because radicals had the guts to say they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. In the process, they seemed to alienate people to their own cause. But they succeeded in making people aware of the issue. If moderates hadn’t taken up the banner, the cause would have died, but they did, and so it expanded.
In the meantime, there were heated arguments between the two. For instance, radicals publicly despised the film Philadelphia because of its sanitized and stereotypical representations, but in hindsight, even though their complaints were completely correct, it seems like casting Tom Hanks as a likable and sympathetic gay man and Denzel Washington as the macho straight guy who comes to respect him was itself pretty radical, and probably did a lot to get middle America thinking differently.
So I assume if you’re still reading this you’re getting where I’m going with it. Dawkins, Hitch, et al. do indeed piss people off. They may indeed be alienating some. But they’ve also been incredibly successful on getting atheism into the public discourse, where more moderate folk can feel more comfortable coming out and politely stating their case. To suggest that one approach is right and the other is wrong is a false choice. Both are necessary and productive in their own ways.
@wet_bread: I have been trying to articulate this for a while now. And you did it!
You, sir (ma’am?), rock.
Like marilove, I agree. It’s the theory that I was aware of but had never put words to. Thanks for doing it well.
@Paradym: I was trying to articulate it yesterday, but couldn’t, and here it is!
So COTW, wet_bread.
@wet_bread: Well said, wet_bread.
If you have to wait for your “prey” to decompose and the nutrients to seep into the ground, you’re not a carnivorous predator.
Next they’ll claim I’m not a vegetarian just because I fertilize my garden with dead mice.
I flew into an unsightly feminist rage when I read Professor Prothero’s article over at Friendly Atheist, might as well regurgitate my vitriol here:
@weofui: I could not figure out why that entire article made me cringe, but you hit the nail on the head.
@wet_bread: I can totally GET this. What a great way of putting it.
@weofui COTW I couldn’t have put it better myself. Just because I was born XX does not mean I like all things sparkly, unicorns, and happiness.
@wet_bread That is a great observation and one that actually is a basic theoretical underpinning of social movement studies. However, the relationship between the radical and the moderate remains problematic and can actually cause “the cause” to become undermined and supportless. (Sorry social movement nerd)
@Siveambrai: Could you explain further? Do you think that’s happening? It certainly didn’t happen with the LGBT movement — in fact, it seems that “radicals” like Harvey Milk were more important than any moderate.
I don’t intend to put words in her mouth, but I think there’s a real gray area there.
Moderates can give credence to the radicals but supporting some of their positions. This can be good, such as in the LGBT movement. Some can be bad, as in the religious evangelical movement.
So, while moderates for “good” causes can dilute the “good” cause, moderates for “bad” causes can give volume and assumed validity to the “bad” cause.
@Paradym: “Moderates can give credence to the radicals but supporting some”
Please replace “but” with “by”.
Cooking is almost done, I’ll pay better attention soon. :-)
@marilove: ditto all over that.
Thank you Weofui, that was what I thought when I read it too. Here is my rant from my facebook blog, not quite as articulate but I’ll share it anyway.
Ugh. This article irritated me. Not only was it inaccurate in stating that so-called new atheists think religious people are stupid and need to be converted (that’s not it at all, religious people aren’t necessarily stupid, just misinformed). And wouldn’t you want to know the truth? Are we supposed to just ignore people’s suffering due to religion so as not to offend them?
But the main thrust of the article is that the current popular figures of the ‘atheistic movement’ (if there is in fact one) are grumpy old men who no-one likes. So some nice friendly women who argue “from the heart” instead of a position of reason would be better.
WTF! So women don’t argue using you know, facts? We are merely emotional creatures and tell heart-warming tales about our kiddies to get our point across. Thanks for that assumption.
Maybe we should get a Jenny McCarthy-like figure to go on Oprah and cry about how the other kids won’t play with her kids because they’re devil spawn and then people will like us. Because that’s what’s important isn’t it? Not being right, but being liked.
ur anus is bent because ur gay!
@weofui: Yes, yes, and yes.
“Kinder, gentler atheists”? Fine, of either gender. That’s neither an uncommon nor an unwarranted criticism, in my opinion.
But what Prothero is asking for here is a mommy for the atheist movement, and frankly, fuck that noise.
Amanda Marcotte wrote a great response to the Prothero article. She had many of the same complaints that everyone’s stated here.
@Paradym: That makes sense, thank you!
Sorry, Mr. Prothero, but no movement has ever been successful by blindly accepting the insults heaped on it by it’s critics. The “angry atheist” is a media invention, abetted by the hardcore theists, not a description of any real phenomenon. We will make no progress wasting our time fighting such Chimeras.
Oh… and ditto to everybody calling him out for being a sexist asshole.
Ophelia Benson’s response was pretty good too.
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