Skepchick Quickies 7.27

  • Offshore stem cell clinics sell hope, not science –  “Consumers have a hard time sorting out all the stem cell claims out there. Websites often look professional and convincing. Typically they feature distinguished-looking white-coated doctors posed in front of bookcases, technicians holding up flasks with mysterious colored liquids, and happy, healthy-looking clients cavorting on beaches.”
  • My sluthood, myself – “That’s the story we get sold, right? That women who sleep around are destroying their chances at True Love. Something to do with bonding hormones getting all used up? Or is it that we have so little self-esteem that no one could love us? Or maybe it’s that we’re all used candy wrappers or dirty masking tape. I can never remember.”
  • Gamma ray bursts could halt photosynthesis – “Cosmic explosions thousands of light-years away could shut down photosynthesis in the ocean at depths of up to 260 feet, a new study suggests.” From cerberus40.
  • Celestial soul portraits – Presented without comment. From MathMike.


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

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  1. Erial meditates and “tunes into you”, to “get your unique Essence”

    Ya know if I was anyone of those folks in the examples, I would be really pissed that my unique essence looked that stupid. And that I paid that much money to find out.

  2. Man, I totally did my own celestial portrait.

    Check out all my majesty!
    And note the translucent Fox Mulder and the celestial sea jelly! Spookay! And the little glow-in-the-dark Cthulhu. This kinda shit just can’t be faked!

  3. I checked out the rest of the stuff in the “Visionary Artists Gallery” and I have the feeling that “Erian Ali” is maybe the slow kid on the block. Oh wait no…there’s this lady.

  4. I’d pay $150 to never have to look at “art” like that again. Hell, I’d pay $150 if it gave me a guarantee of never having to look at webdesign that bad again. *shudder*

  5. Hi there!

    I may have said this here before, but I have always hated the word “slut”. For one thing, I hate how it’s always applied to people who: “seem like they probably have a lot of sex”. I’ve known women that were virgins until marriage who just enjoyed wearing low-cut blouses, short skirts, and fishnets. But they get called “sluts” more than little Mary Conservative who screws nine guys before breakfast.

    But once I get my hands on a time machine, I want to find the very first person who ever used the term “slut”. I want to know what genius first looked at someone and said: “Hey! That woman over there fully enjoys her liberated sexuality without all of the puritanism and self-loathing that most women suffer!! Let’s come up with a pejorative word to describe HER! Maybe in a few centuries women EVERYWHERE will refuse to sleep with men for fear of ostracism and shame!!”. I want to find the guy who first said that, and beat the ever-loving shit out of him. :( Pardon my French

    — Craig

  6. @Skept-artist: I can cure fibromyalgia over the internet with my magic nostrils. If you know anyone with fibromyalgia, just tell them to send me a big wad of cash in unmarked non-sequential bills and I’ll use my healing powers to heal them over the internet guaranteed*.

    *Not a guarantee.

  7. “Slut” was being used in that way as far back as the mid 15th century; prior to that, it simply meant a dirty or untidy person [Chaucer uses “sluttish” to refer to a messy man].

    Pepys refers to a lover as ‘ a most admirable slut, and pleases us mightily’; evidently, he does not regard the word to be a pejorative.

    Between the perception that clothes make the woman and the strange cultural desire to quell sexuality in women, sexually active women are stigmatised and assigned terms meant to demean them all the time. Slut, whore [or the popular “ho”] – it’s all aimed at shaming and asserting power [male] over the female in question. That women call other women “sluts” is infuriating; they’re buying into some antediluvian “morality” that denies them the right to express their sexuality.

  8. @DominEditrix: Pepys was a total mack daddy. I want to go back in time and shake that man’s hand. (perhaps after he washes it, depending on how recently he and Deborah Willet had been alone together) <3

    I've never understood the desire to quell sexuality in women. Wouldn't you think that men, being complete perverts, would want women to be as wanton as humanly possible. Yet somehow my gender continues to play against type. :(

    What really infuriates me is when some modern feminists also try to deny women the right to express their sexuality, because they're "degrading" themselves.

    But then again, maybe my objection to all this is just me revealing myself to be a pathetic male slut who just views women as objects? ;)

  9. Who needs interstellar gamma rays to shut down ocean photosynthesis? We’re well on our way to doing that all by ourselves with a lousy oil well…

  10. Oh, well, gee, it’s a good thing little Lilie had that art done, because she was in no way an adorable, pretty, cute little thing before being photo-shopped with girliespooge. Yeah, that original photo was just so lacking in young feminine sweetness that it needed to be drowned in the sweet juices of PinkAngelOrgasmaFairyFuck.

    It’s really good that she was taught so young that her real self could never be cute and pretty enough. It’ll help her when she’s old enough to read women’s magazines and know that we all need gobs of expensive touch-ups.


  11. I think slutting around is a good thing in moderation. It builds character. I have no problem with tricks, as long as both parties know going it-its just a trick. What I hate are people who make it seem like they are looking for Mr. Right, when all they’re looking for is Mr. Right Now.

  12. @QuestionAuthority: Contrary to popular perception crude oil is a completely natural hydrocarbon compound that, along with natural gas, is seeping into the marine environment in large quantities continously and has been for millennia. Some studies suggest that over half of all crude oil released into the marine environment is from natural seepage (“The amount of natural crude-oil seepage is currently estimated to be 600,000 metric tons per year, with a range of uncertainty of 200,000 to 2,000,000 metric tons per year”) . So the notion that light crude, like what was released in the recent gulf spill, that is easily broken down in many ways from evaporation, UV degradation, to consumption by micro organisms, will have a long lasting impact on the environment is not an accurate or complete picture. Heavier weights of crude oil in colder marine environments are much more problematic. I’m not an industry algologist but from what I’ve read the science reporting on the gulf spill seems at odds with what I hear directly from oil industry chemists I know (golf with) personally.

    @infinitemonkey: :-)

  13. @James Fox: So the notion that light crude, like what was released in the recent gulf spill, that is easily broken down in many ways from evaporation, UV degradation, to consumption by micro organisms, will have a long lasting impact on the environment is not an accurate or complete picture.

    I basically agree. No one knows what the long-term effects will be. History says that the results will most likely be somewhere between the sunny and the pessimistic predictions.

    I find the “oil is natural” argument disingenuous, however. It is a question of dose. Spill a beer into a river and not much happens. Spill a vat of beer into a river as Coors did and you kill all macroscopic life for about a 2 mile stretch. This is a truly massive amount of oil with a chaser of dubious dispersants added on.

    For better or worse we’ve run the experiment. Now we get to collect the results. And what really chaps me more than anything else right now is that BP is already taking active steps to suppress these results.

  14. @davew: “NOAA describe a natural seepage area in California: “One of the best-known areas where this happens is Coal Oil Point along the California Coast near Santa Barbara. An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of crude oil is released naturally from the ocean bottom every day just a few miles offshore from this beach”.


    Very large amounts it would seem for very long periods of time.

  15. @mrthumbtack: Did you just dis’ Penny Slinger? (Awesome name, BTW) You can’t do that to someone who so “creatively” uses BOOBIES in her art! Especially when compared to Ali’s boring-ass “celestial soul” bs (i.e., no boobies!).

    Penny let’s me tune in to the “Goddess Channel” and see some good, old-fashioned “sluts” ;-) How could that be bad?

    @kimberlychapman: “…drowned in the sweet juices of PinkAngelOrgasmaFairyFuck” COTW!

  16. @James Fox: Very large amounts it would seem for very long periods of time.

    This is like the energy industry claiming that CO2 is natural and necessary for plant life. True, but it doesn’t mean that AGW isn’t also true.

    The thing about oil is about dose and location. Taken to the illogical extreme the “oil is natural” argument becomes “because some amount of oil somewhere is harmless, any amount of oil anywhere is harmless.” The other extreme is equally ridiculous.

    @IBY has a very good point. Ixtoc I is a the best existing model we have for a large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Wikipedia has a lengthy writeup on it. The results were not as well studied as we would like, but both short term and long term ecological damage were recorded. Hopefully this time we can do better job of monitoring the results.

  17. re: celestial soul portraits: I am amazed that the guy can get $150+ for what is the equivalent of a “head in the hole” picture. I mean, I have charming pictures of my kids as Peter Rabbit and such that I took for FREE.

  18. @davew: I agree that if I were saying oil is natural therefore it’s not a problem, I’d be engaging in a naturalistic logical fallacy. I was only trying to make the point that oil has been in the environment, sometimes in large quantities, for a long time and the marine environment has not been irreparably harmed. I was only arguing for some perspective as opposed to the Chicken Little reporting that’s all to prevalent. And the irresponsible chain of decisions and neglect that led to this disaster is the more egregious issue for me that seems to be getting insufficient coverage in my opinion.

  19. Huh? I thought “slut” was well defined. Mathematically, a slut is a women who is the member of the set of all people who are willing to have sex with a set of people of order greater than one that does not include me.

  20. @Buzz Parsec: So not only is the term slut derogatory and pejorative, these so called “sluts” are possibly mythic creatures who’s existence you’re skeptical of because you’ve never had a confirming interaction with one?

  21. @infinitemonkey Is “slutting around” in moderation really possible based on the modern usage of the word?

    On that note, could you be a partial slut or a half a slut? It seems like the all or nothing status of being a “slut” really tends to create a false diachotomy between two ends of the sexual promiscuity continuum. Like other measurements, the key seems to be the person you’re comparing someone to. Is someone short or tall? That depends on whether he/she is standing next to James Randi or Penn Jillette.

  22. @James Fox: Did I mess up a sign in there someplace? I was trying to nerd-define the old joke that a slut is any women that rejects (the person telling the joke). Or if the person telling the joke is a straight woman, a slut is anyone who gets more sex than she does (If the teller is a lesbian or bi woman, then she falls in the 1st category.) Doing it with sets and intersections and sets of sets, and so forth. I guess it didn’t work.

    So yeah, “slut” is derogatory and pejorative, and calling anyone else a slut is probably projecting or jealous or both and it tells you more about the caller than the callee.

    BTW, in the bullying case where the girl ended up committing suicide, I don’t think she qualified as a slut by any objective definition based on her own behavior, but only in the minds of her tormentors. She *might* have had sex with one guy who misused her, or at least didn’t defend her at all afterwards. (I don’t know if the guy was one of the tormentors or not, but he must of told the other kids.) One ne’er-do-well boyfriend dos not make a slut.

  23. @Buzz Parsec: Oh wait, I see, if I had sex with a slut, she wouldn’t be a slut, and therefore I can’t experimentally prove the existence of sluts. So as a skeptic, I should doubt their existence.

    So my pedantic* attempt to misunderstand your comment was more pedantic than your comment, so I still claim victory.

    [*] I worked on that description of the joke in the 1st paragraph a lot but it still doesn’t sound quite right, But devoting that much attention to trying to express all possible variations of a joke is definitely pedantic in my book.

  24. @Buzz Parsec: @James Fox: Well, you both know the difference between a “slut” and a “bitch”, right?

    A slut is someone who will sleep with anyone.
    A bitch is someone who will sleep with anyone– EXCEPT YOU!

    Okay, that joke was offensive and morally reprehensible, but it made me chuckle ironically when I first heard it. [hides]

  25. Gee, I hijacked the thread without even trying or meaning to…I should have put the dreaded “/snark” on my infamous petroleum post. ;-)

  26. The point of labeling women as sluts is to degrade them, so that they do have low self-esteem, and so they will think poorly of anyone who thinks they are ok.

    It is totally to maintain the Patriarchy. To keep women from loving someone who loves them back because anyone who loves them back is obviously a total loser because only a total loser would love such a POS slut.

    The idea is to make women only want to sleep with guys who do label them as sluts because if a guy can tell that you are a slut, then obviously that guy has his shit together, especially if he treats you like the POS slut that you are.

    The problem is that women buy into it, thus perpetuating it.

  27. Slut is entirely derogotive. People ought to sleep with many before settling down (if they want to that is). There is one person whom I find incredibly sexy, even today. We have been intimate a few times and it was subpar at best. I still find this person attractive and would sleep with them tomorrow if we got ourselves into that situation again. It probably would not be great, or even good. Are we both sluts? Or are we simply figuring out life? The whole slut thing is pretty disgusting; and in reality, with sane people, doesn’t matter.

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