Skepchick Quickies 08.01

Sorry for the delay in the Quickies today, folks. I’m covering for Jen who is dealing with a yam-related emergency. :)

Genetically modified beagle glows green – And is completely adorable! Whooosagoo’glowypuppy? WHOOSAGOOBOY?

Amanda Marcotte on diversity, skepticism and atheism – “Look: atheism is the result of applying critical thinking and demands for evidence to the god hypothesis.  It’s not any different than non-belief in all sorts of supernatural claims, such as ESP and ghosts.”

Biased but Brilliant – “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

Between 2 Vertices –  Meg McG discusses the new pressures on women in the 21st century: “women have become shackled to their independence along with all the other roles that women fought to free themselves of”


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. Ugh. Here comes the new trend in pet ownership. I can’t wait until the shelters are full of glowing animals whose novelty has worn off.
    And how can they say the fluorescence doesn’t hurt them, and then turn around and say they are using it as a model for future experiments to create GM animals with diseases?

    1. Yep, that’s right.

      It’s an interesting advance in science, but it doesn’t skirt the issue that it’s exploiting a living mammal.

      It’s no worse than killing animals for meat in factory farms. I love how we all stand up for rights like gay marriage, feminism, racial equality, genocide victims, but then turn around and condone concentration-camp conditions for animals.

      Richard Dawkins writing a nasty letter is a big deal to us, but overlooking things like this: is a-ok.

      We’re all hypocrites.

  2. OK< I'll jump in. Amanda Marcotte has it right, in my opinion. There is NO difference between believing in gods without evidence and believing in astrology without evidence.

    I have always been of this opinion, and have always been told that I was not being inclusive. How, I was asked, are we to welcome the religious faithful to events like TAM if we call them out on their beliefs?

    This question never made any sense to me whatsoever.

    That being said, it is nobody's job to set "entry criteria" for the skeptical movement. Any skeptic can believe whatever they want. I would prefer that they admitted that their position is faith-based only, and not invoke pseudo-science to support it ("Homeopathy is BS, but I prayed and Jesus helped me find my car keys!")

    At the end of the day, any positive assertion must be supported by evidence, or it risks being dismissed (or ridiculed).

  3. On the “Biased but Brilliant” thing, I was under the impression that scientists always had at least some level of awareness of this. The peer review process, and the comment/critique process in the journals after publication seem, to me at least, to be there partly because we DO expect that sort of bias, and we want others to help keep us honest.

  4. I think the experiments on pigheadedness just proved the stupidity of the experimenters. If research proved the death penalty was the best deterent against murder, I would favour the study that said it wasn’t. Not because I’m pigheaded but because you can’t apologise to someone later found to be innocent when they’re dead. Appreciating that point is a mental function of a higher order mammal, (empathy and compassiom being observed in many animals.)
    Pigheadedness comes from an emotional investment in an idea especially if it’s you “thing” or “baby” and so is attachrd to your ego and your bank balance if you’ve written books on it that won’t be bpught any more if you change your mind, Still, pigheadedness in science is unprofessional.

  5. I actually thought the same thing as Amanda when I read Daniel Loxton’s post.
    We do ourselves a disservice if we refuse to apply skepicism to any topic just because it makes us personally uneasy or we fear alienating potential allies.
    I would call my self a diplomatic Gnu Athiest in that I see the value in calling bullshit on irrational beliefs no matter what their origins are. However I feel no need to attack those who believe in irrational things until they use those beliefs to affect others.
    As I wrote in an erlier post;
    I don’t care if you believe there is an invisible dragon in your garage as long as you don’t assert that those who do not believe in dragons are not to be trusted, or you insist that I help pay for dragon chow, or you blame your recurring garage fires on them.
    If someone within the movement makes an irrational statement it sould be countered; it should not matter if it is based on god-belief, or libertarianism, or feminism, or scooby-dooism.
    If we, as a movement, wish to stay where it’s safe, we deserve to be passed by.

  6. Amanda Marcotte’s article was really good except for the part where she denied the existence of an entire political ideology (libertarianism).

  7. I’ll start by saying that I agree completely that there should be no sacred cows in terms of applying skepticism. Anything and everything should be a topic up for grabs, including religion, regardless of the outcome. Fear of stepping on toes isn’t enough and it isn’t even a particularly good reason; as we know, cognitive dissonance runs rampant and can be especially hard to reason through.

    That being said, what I’m having trouble grasping is the overarching message here. Is skepticism supposed to have certain core requirements of belief in order to partake? I guess I am a little wary of making skepticism a synonym for people who believe in X list of things rather than a method for critical thought that has lead someone to believe in X list of things. I think there’s a vast difference between the two.

    Part of skepticism is being wrong about things and being open to following the evidence where it leads to achieve a greater understanding of reality. We’re not all on the same path — many of us have had to wander down our own mental roads in order to come to the conclusions we have, but that most certainly does not mean that we are not applying skepticism elsewhere or that we do not have something meaningful to add. For instance, I have only recently begun to understand feminist principles, not because I had never read the material before or wasn’t familiar, but because I had to work it out for myself and internalize on my own.

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