Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Spring Cleaning

Today my husband and I combed through the house and threw out a bunch of shit we didn’t need, didn’t want, or have been pretending to need and want for years but never use.

And suddenly I don’t feel like I live in a shit hole of squalor. It’s a nice feeling. We even organized things. And vacuumed Cheerios out of the couch crevices! (Okay, we didn’t vacuum the Cheerios, really, but the rest of the house is so clean I don’t even think about the cereal and rat bodies hiding in my cushions.)

Shame we can’t do the same with the world. Just do away with the things we don’t need or want or outgrown. References to Wakefield as a credible expert? Trash. Wayne’s World jokes? Trash. Blinky tags on websites? Ehhh… storage. Wait, haven’t used them in 2 years. Trash.

What would you get rid of? What should skeptics, as a group, get rid of? Anything worth re-purposing? Are you really going to fix and paint that table or can I PLEASE just curb it?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Get people to stop using Wayne’s World jokes? Yeah, right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

  2. I have inherited my paternal grandmother’s packrat allele, and it is dominant like the allele for brown eyes. As such I am incapable of throwing anything out that I may, however hypothetically, use again some day.

  3. @Bytor: COTW.

    The packrat allele runs in my family, too. I keep it mostly in check because I like to travel. I try to focus it places, such as my collection of camel figurines. I’m allowed to hoard as many camels as I want for my collection.

  4. This is a timely post for me. I’m in the midst of renovating my small apartment, and because I’ll have to move everything and myself out of it for a few days I’m in the process of going through everything I own trying to decide what I can part with.

    Man, that’s a difficult thing to do!

    I didn’t know I was such a packrat. I’ve got text books from my mid-90’s return to college that I know neither I nor anyone else will ever use. But I’ve still got ’em. Why? And boxes and boxes of … stuff, just stuff, stuff that I don’t even know what it is. But can I let it go? I bloody well cannot.

    Argh I says, argh!

  5. i also have the packrat gene but it must be a mutation i don’t remember any of my parents or grandparents having the problem.

  6. My wife and I are at opposite ends of the toss out spectrum. We have a piano and a competition quality ping pong table I’d like to be rid of, not to mention any number of other things that for some reason are not to be allowed out of the house. I don’t get it, don’t want to understand it, and I’ll persist in my desire to reduce the amount of stuff in our house because clutter clogs my brain.

  7. Homeopathy…busted. Gathering dust now . Curb it.

    Paranormal TV shows.. Disclaimers take the fun out of ridiculing them. Busted. Even the rats wont breed in them. Curb them all.

    Scientology..totally busted. Wait, I see movement. Their maybe some short little Hollywood creature lurking. Keep it. I don’t think we’ve finished with this one yet……mwahahaha !

    ( the preceding is my own work and in no way reflects the position of the )

  8. I love books and magazines, but I’ve got way too many of them and not enough time to read them. I’d like to get rid of them, at least the older ones, but I hate throwing anything out that I haven’t read or have read and liked. Fortunately, I’m getting a Kindle that Amazon claims to have shipped on Thursday. Maybe it will help? I too inherited the gene from my dad. Not sure where he got it from, could it be a mutation?

    But on the things to get rid of, first the vultures who prey on sick or vulnerable people by selling them woo until the victims are broke. (I’m looking at you, Sylvia and John.)

    But never my collection of Skeptical Inquirers, dating back to 1984. Old computer mags, feh. Someday soon I’ll sort through those and recycle them. Then I’ll be able to put those SI’s on the book shelf!

  9. A couple years ago, I had to move out of a gorgeous apartment I loved because of bedbugs (I also discovered I am violently allergic to bedbug bites, yay!) and got rid of a dumpster full of stuff, not because I wanted to. I have been purging since, and it feels FANTASTIC. I have been living on my own since I was 18, and having just turned 33, I have 15 moves under my belt. I think I was keeping a lot of that junk because it gave me a sense of stability. I feel so much better getting rid of it!

    What would I clear out of society? Mediums. I hate those evil motherfuckers.

  10. My friend heard a psychologist interviewed on NPR a few years ago. When a new patient called for an appointment, the psychologist would tell them to go home and get rid of 40% of their stuff. After that, if they still needed help, he would schedule an appointment. It’s anecdotal, and thin evidence, but I absolutely think that a cluttered environment clutters my thinking.

    I’m in the process of purging our belongings because we’re moving away from Geographic Isolation in a few months… we’re moving to a city that has skeptical meetups and everything!

    In society, I would trash false dichotomy. It’s exhaustingly hyperbolic.

  11. Just did a little cleaning myself. I was ruthless, as far as I was allowed to be. One of us, who shall remain nameless but who is clinically depressed and has PTSD, has a thing about packaging materials. I can’t get the man to throw away an empty box, or packing peanuts. Soooo, I’d really like to get rid of some of them, but I don’t really want to push the issue.

    As far as the other question, today I’d like to get rid of young earth creationists. At a yard sale yesterday I came across some teaching materials. I passed up gems like “christian math” texts, but had to grab some sticker books which claimed to be full of science activities – such as coloring a scene which includes a naked man riding a triceratops (in “god made the dinosaurs”), or Noah loading a pair of dinos into the ark (in “god made the animals”). They were very attractive books, new, and full of stickers with dinosaurs and flowers. I couldn’t stomach the idea of some kid taking the books home. In a moment of morbid curiosity, I actually looked inside the books and read a few tidbits. Very enlightening. Apparently, sin is the reason we have carnivorous plants (in, you guessed it, “god made the plants”), and fossils are proof of the great flood. I do have a question though… If the dinos were still around at the time of the flood, and if they were on the ark, how come we have to guess what colors dinosaurs were (“god made the dinosaurs” again)? I’m confused. And disgusted. But at least some little girl isn’t at home right now coloring a scene that has a brontosaurus and a dog playing together. The books are exactly where they belong – in the recycle bin.

  12. @gwenwifar: Your local UPS store or Mailboxes Etc. will probably take packing peanuts off your hands for recycling or reuse. Don’t ask me how I know this.

  13. My partner and I cleaned out the spare room last August so my brother could temporarily move in with us. I discovered that apparently we are not sentimentilists. We had a whole bunch of stuff from our childhood/wedding that we were keeping because we thought the other one cared about it. When we sat down and started organizing and talking we discovered that neither of us really did. Most of that stuff is either trash or in a pile to try and sell on Craigslist.

    The only things I really collect are books. And even then I think I’m largely getting over that. I cleared out half of my book collection during that clean sweep and didn’t freak out or anything. My partner however is a total packrat. When we started dating 7 years ago he still had intel 486 processors in his apartment because he wanted to hang on to them. We have a boxed copy of Windows 3.1 for the same reason. When we clean I force him to use the 6 month rule. If you haven’t used it in 6 months and don’t see yourself using it in the next 6 months, toss it. However, there are exceptions for specialty items like many of his car tools.

    I would do away with faith healing personally. Except for swindlers there is no one that benefits from this.

  14. Freecycle is the de-clutterer’s friend. Google it — there are freecycle groups in many cities & suburbs. I’ve been lightening up for a few years now — still need to let go of some stuff (like clothes I don’t fit into — the aspirational clothes).

    Chiropractic. As a “health care modality” it is scientifically bankrupt — the “subluxation” doesn’t exist. The chiropractors are a primary source of anti-vaccination nonsense, and are seeking practice expansion into “chiropractic neurology” and other forms of woo. I don’t see that chiropractic does anything that a physical therapist can’t do.

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