Skepchick Quickies 1.7

  • Fido’s no doctor, neither is whiskers – “The idea that domestic animals are beneficial to human health and happiness has been fueled by books…and by news reports claiming that having a dog helps you live longer or that swimming with dolphins can cure autism, bad backs, attention deficit disorder and even cancer. But is there any truth to these claims?”
  • Spider sex play speeds up successful mating – “When pairs of young comb-footed spiders engage in an arachnid version of heavy petting, the males gain experience that appears to pay off later.”
  • Energy drinks reviewed at Science Based Medicine – “So are energy drinks just candied caffeine delivery systems? Or are these syrupy supplements skirting drug regulations?”
  • What women want from comics – Hint: They don’t want busty, useless female characters who need saving.
  • Cute Animal Friday! 12 bookstore cats, aka what I’d want to be reincarnated as if reincarnation existed. Baby Satan gecko is the cutest widdle devil ever!


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

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  1. Jezebel’s conclusion of what women really want to see in comics meshes perfectly with what I want to see in comics. Damsel in Distress stories completely disinterest me. More strong female characters plz.

    Also, D’awwwww…. bookstore kitties!

  2. Bookstore kitties! 8. Hayes and 9. Rainer at Spoonbill and Sugartown! I may have met those kitties. I used to go into that shop all the time. Tis a strange bookshop, but I think I got my copy of Sirens of Titan there. Now I want to leave work and go pet them…

  3. The comments on the NYTimes pet article are a fascinating window on reading comprehension ability; so many people seemed to think the article’s message was “pets are bad,” and there are many variations on the theme “ridiculous. I love my cat/dog, so clearly science is wrong.”

  4. Wow, a number for me to comment upon

    Therapeutic Pets) I’m going to jump on the “I question this study because of anecdotal evidence” line for this. While I may be wrong, and certainly Joy will occasionally frustrate me to no end (she does not understand that my mouse hand is not an appropriate place to sit, especially when I’m cursing a lot), I do get regular joy out of interacting with her. Non-pet owners may find this in other ways. I get it from that crazy little hairball. Who cannot find joy in their cat looking apprehensively at a Roomba?

    What comics readers want) Anyone else notice how annoyingly that thing was laid out? The conclusions don’t particularly surprise me, but the layout was horrid.

  5. Oh, hey, I was also going to comment on energy drinks. Another non-terribly surprising one. I tend to drink them because of size (they come bigger than sodas) and dear gods do I need the caffeine in the morning.

  6. The spider story made wonder what spider pick up lines would be like (because I am apparently a bad stand-up at heart.).

    Say, those are some nice pedipalps you got there. How would you like to come back to web for a little mastication; I’m sure that dinner has arrived by now.


    I like your eyes, all eight of them. Is there some out of the way place we could talk with, like, a trap door or something? Not that kind spider huh? More a funnel web, yeah baby, I could do a funnel.


    Male spider: Hi gorgeous. What’s your name?

    Female spider: Fuck off.

    Male spider: Really? Are you Russian? Oh, I get it. Don’t be like that ‘cause you are fine.

    Female spider: Look creep, I am a black widow; do you know what that means?

    Male spider: So you’ve been hurt, we’ve all been there, baby. So what is your number?

    Female spider: You do not understand, I do not give you my number; I have your number.

    Male spider: Does that mean I’m going to get lucky?

    Female spider: Not exactly. Let’s go.

    I hear the male as Matthew McConaughey and female as Holly Hunter, I guess the spider bar would be in Texas, maybe in that giant web.

  7. Our new cat slept peacefully on our bed for a couple of months and all was well. Now he’s started looking for new places to sleep, like on my back or head, at 3:00 AM. Sleep deprivation is bad and not good for your health, so Merlin has been banished from the bedroom at night.

    And I detest distressed damsels in movies, books or whatever with a passion. KICK ASS!!
    (But hey, ample damsel décolletage doesn’t mean you’re distressed or in need of rescue, right?)

    @Mark Hall: My wife discovered at the end of fall quarter that if she brings papers home to correct the cat must be directly involved in the process. Hopefully this didn’t affect the grades too much.

  8. @James Fox: Yeah what is it with cats NEEDING to sit on paper? When we have any paper on the floor or couch, our cat instantly comes over and plops her fat ass right on the paper. Almost every time! Anyone know the reason for this?

  9. I think the SGU or Skeptoid needs to take a look at if owning a pet is better for you than not. I don’t particularly trust the article when it says “studies have shown”. Which studies? Where they good studies or bad studies? In questions about the benefits of having pets, did it compare people living alone with animals compared to people living alone without animals, or did it compare families.

    Of course, the concept of owning animals having a nuetral to deterious effect on human health does contradict my previously held beliefs. I can be won over to understanding there is no good effect with sufficient evidence, but then their’s the seperate issue of caring. That’s going to be harder to do, because I totally love my cat Tang, and if his health is wearing mine down, then I’ll just have to see an acupuncturist to get my chi rebalanced every 50,000 miles…or something like that.

  10. @skeptartist: I have found, being the owner of many cats over the years, that cats have a liking for different textures. They also seem to seek out places that are sized for them. For example, in my father’s asphalt driveway there is a single asphalt roof shingle near the front door. His cat will invariably sit on this shingle. (This is why that shingle is there. If it weren’t for the cat it’d be gone.) I’ve even tried some non-scientific experiments to see what textures my cat likes. It seems that mood has a great deal to do with it, but there are preferences. I also suspect that color may have an influence on preference. I have two electric blankets (non-working, dammit!) one light blue, one dark blue. Although the two blankets feel similar to me Felix usually prefers to lie down on the dark blue one, although he sometimes goes for the light blue one. I think this warrants further study. Anybody up for trying to get a grant for this?

  11. @spurge: Shame on you. Cats aren’t pure evil. They’re just mostly evil. But in an adorable sort of way.

    @infinitemonkey: The ol’ butt-scoot.

    @vbalbert: Interesting anecdotes. I feel like I should start a list of all the places our cat has enjoyed sitting, sleeping, lazy-ing about in the 4 apartments we’ve lived in since we’ve had her. Some changes I’ve noticed are similar to your color/texture theory is our laptop. We had an old G3 Pismo (the black one) and she LOVED sitting on it when it was closed. But since we got our white Macbook, she barely pays attention to it. It has a different surface texture and color and I’m willing to bet it doesn’t get as hot as the old G3 did. One constant, no matter where we have lived, laying right next to the radiator is always a favorite spot, but the reason is obvious.
    The ‘how cats use their tongues to drink liquid’ study; where did they get their grant? I’ll bet they’d be up for it!

  12. @Imrryr: Ditto. We must be genetic freaks, or have some kind of mental disease. What other explanation could there be for wanting comics with *characters* instead of plot devices with faces?

  13. We get cases of energy drinks at work from time to time (I have no idea of their providence. Questions are bad ;)) I can’t stand the taste of most of them, and figured the energy boost was BS anyway. Many of my co-workers swear by them, however.

    We got some free 5-Hour Energy bits, and I drank one. It did not give me any extra energy. Interestingly, when I tell co-workers it doesn’t work, they say, “Well a friend of mine swears by it.” It seems that while people will accept positive anecdotes at face value, negative anecdotes are ignored. Not to mention actual research.

    Funny, that.

  14. The energy drinks have never had any attraction to me, but alot of my co-workers love them. I usually work forestry related jobs, outdoors and energy intensive, so watching my co-workers slam those drinks when it’s already hot and dry out scares the crap out of me.

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