Skepchick Quickies 3.9


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

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  1. From the scurvy blog post:
    “What will we be slapping our foreheads about sixty years from now, wondering how we missed something so obvious? ” (ps: This would make a great AI I think!)

    I wonder about that a lot sometimes.
    That is a really interesting essay!

  2. Loved the scurvy article. And Izzy, I also love thinking about what our retrospective on this time will be like for all kinds of things- especially our attitudes toward a lot of cultural things and science.

    The Catholic church discrimination shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but it sort of does. I’m surprised because I would think that they would want to reform the child, keep her from catching the gay. Where I grew up we had a Catholic orphanage- they did a lot of good and I would volunteer with them when I was a kid. When gay marriage became legal in MA, they closed the orphanage. They gave up on the kids because they didn’t want to send them out to gay couples.

    Which brings me to my next point- why was I surprised here?

  3. That scurvy article was superb. It was like a concentrated dose of QI:

    “They were called ‘limeys’ because they ate limes to fight off…”


  4. Reading the first paragraphs of the scurvy article made me think of a similarity to vaccines in that people think of childhood diseases as “cured” or gone so they don’t need to be vaccinated. Just goes to show you that we have to keep up with the practices that science has taught us.

  5. I find it astonishing that someone would criticize an institution with two millenniums worth of discrimination for discriminating. It’s not that the Catholic Church doesn’t deserve criticism. They do. For this and so much more. But it’s also what they do. They exist for the purpose of promoting a rigid ideology. You can’t do this without discriminating against someone.

    Far be it from me to dissuade anyone else from tilting at windmills. I do a lot of it myself. While discriminating against same-sex relationships may be a good reason to criticize the church it is a far better reason to have nothing to do with them. I really don’t understand why a lesbian couple want their kid anywhere near this school. What about the church’s established tradition of discriminating against women?

  6. “I just feel the Catholic Church is a church that should be teaching acceptance and tolerance.”

    Really? If I were looking for a religion that taught acceptance and tolerance, it would not be the one famous for the INQUISITION! Hello?

    Find another religion… or better yet, give up on all of them.

  7. The greater meaning of Bigelow’s win is that we have finally reached the point where a woman can win an Oscar for directing a massively overrated movie. No longer will only men make films over which critics inexplicably lose their shit.

  8. I too found that scurvy article utterly fascinating, and wonder what cures lie in substances that we can not yet detect. If you want to leave a comment for the author, his e-mail address is on the main page of that blog: http://idlewords.com

  9. @davew:

    The real problem is that the Catholic Church hates many things, but they’re singling out this one particular thing. They don’t like premarital sex, birth control, or divorce, but they don’t turn away children whose parents have done all 3 of those things.

    Yes, I agree that the Catholic Church is so deplorable that we shouldn’t be surprised but this, but we can still complain about.

    I really don’t understand why a lesbian couple want their kid anywhere near this school.

    When public schools don’t meet a parent’s standards, a religious school is often the most affordable option for a private school.

  10. I will from now on refer to the rate of energy output of the sun as .3 HW (that’s hellawatts).

    Also, how can one not love an article that ends with “tl;dr: scurvy bad, science hard.” :-D How come Amundsen didn’t get scurvy though?

  11. Scurvy article: WIN! Fascinating and informative. I second Bjornar’s curiosity about Amundsen’s preventative measures. Had he rejected the ptomaine theory? Or was he just lucky in some way?

  12. I thought I remembered him bringing citrus along, but that was from the unit we did on the expedition in 8th grade.

    edit: a quick search says he systematically killed and ate his sled dogs as they became less useful (hauling less supplies) and ate the meat raw. This tactic was apparently based on observations of scurvy-less eskimos who ate raw meat.

  13. Bjornar: Amundsen killed and ate his dogs, which helped. He was also out on the ice for much less time that Scott. Back in winter camp, Amundsen got his vitamin C from fresh seal meat, like everyone else.

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words about the post!

  14. @here_fishy: “I too found that scurvy article utterly fascinating, and wonder what cures lie in substances that we can not yet detect. ”

    I agree. However, scurvy is not really a condition that needs to be cured. It is a condition that occurs when we deprive ourselves of a proper diet. It is like oxygen is not really a cure for suffocation.

    That being said, We got ourselves into the scurvy mode by taking long journeys w/o access to fresh foods. I am not certain that kind of situation will arise again, if for no other reason because of freezing (and freeze drying) foods.

  15. @DataJack: Good point, but back in the day they didn’t really know what caused scurvy. It was thought of as a disease until (hundreds of years later) they realized that it was simply a deficiency of Vitamin C. Are there things that we now consider to be “diseases” that may turn out to be deficiencies (or surpluses) of some as-yet-unknown substance?

  16. @Bjornar:

    Amundsen’s men probably got all the Vitamin C they needed from the fresh dogmeat they ate – it was always part of his plan that as the load on his sledges decreased through consumption of supplies, the dogs no longer required to pull would be eaten.

    Apparently at a dinner in Amundsen’s honour after his return, one of the toasts was “To the dogs!”

  17. I’ve seen the scurvy article linked in a few places. It does a very good job of showing how science and general understanding is not nearly as a straight line of progress as we often think of it. In this case, an increase in knowledge in one area lead indirectly to a loss of knowledge in another.

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