Skepchick Quickies 3.27


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

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  1. So, call me self-centered, but now I find myself wondering about car safety for the larger population, as well as the smaller. I mean, I'm 6'5" and, at last weigh-in, a hair under 350#. I'm frequently squeezed into vehicles. It's going to cost more money (because it's going to wreck a shitload more cars), but I think the testing needs to expand to cover both the larger and smaller drivers.

      You're about the size of an ex-boyfriend of mine (we'll call him Tom).  He was driving my Chevy Malibu home one late night as I napped in the passenger seat.  It was raining something fierce, something somewhat unusual for Phoenix.  We were on the freeway.  We were hit behind when some asshole going at least 95 (speed limit was 55) hit us from behind.  Of course he was really drunk.

      Anyway, Tom's upper body strength saved our skin, because he was able to get us off the freeway at the next exit, even though we were in the far left lane.  Still have no idea how he did that.  We didn't even really spin, and the guy hit us slightly to the left, and the road was really slick with rain.  Tom was amazing.
      The driver seat broke on impact, though.  Snapped underneath somehow.  Threw him back, so he had to force to keep himself upright and at the wheel as he maneuvered us off the freeway.
      I'd imagine the biggest risk with bigger people are the seats breaking, especially if you're hit from behind.

      1. Bah! I'm repeating myself today.  We were hit behind when he hit us from behind?  Haha.  I miss the edit button!

        1. However the load on the seat from being hit from behind is the inertial load from the mass of the person in the seat.  That load is pretty much directly proportional to the mass of the person. A lighter person might even have a slightly smaller load due to the reduced deflection of the seat springs before the collision.  The load F equals M times acceleraton.  
          Good thing the air bag didn't deploy. 

  2. I don't get the first story. She regrets eating her placenta because there's no evidence for its benefits, but she says she quit taking her pills because they had weird side effects, something she also asserts without evidence.

  3. The article claims that smaller bodies do worse in crash tests than larger ones.  That seems odd–I would think that for a heavier person, the inertia of various body parts would be greater while the strength of the skeleton holding them together would not be that much greater.  This has become a problem in professional football (American rules football that is, or "nancy boys putting on a couple stone of protective gear just to play rugby", for those across the pond) as the players keep getting heavier, but knee joints remain the same.

    1. Inertia may not always be a bad thing in a car crash. If you get rear-ended your inertia will be helpful, because it keeps you in your seat. A 90-lb, four foot tall person is gonna get knocked forward a lot faster then a 250-lb monster.
      And that's not even considering the geometry of the situation. Airbags, etc. are designed to cushion the blow for people 5'-6' tall. If you're far out of that range it's entirely possible that, instead of cushioning the blow and saving your life, they'll hit you at exactly the right angle to break our pretty little neck. In this case apparently the design specs afre even smaller, because when the safety testers included a typical woman-sized dummy the Toyota Sienna's safety rating dropped to to stars from five. Apparently the designers didn't even try to make a car that would protect people 5' 4" tall because they didn't think the Feds would test them.
      That said, I'm not sure how much relation to the real world this data actualy has. I haven't seen any data indicating that women have significantly higher risk of dying in a car accident then men, which is what I'd expect if the lack of female dunmmies meant that cars like the Toyota Sienna actually had a 2-3 times greater risk of killing their female passengers.

    2. Guess what?
      The data I said I hadn't seen was on page two of the article. Apparently women drive 50% less, then men, but still make up half of serious injuries. Moreover everybody already tests with female dummies to meet the minimum government standards, they just didn't include those tests in the star rating system consumers see. Recently every car was getting 4 and 5 stars, so they increased that standard.

  4. On the secular pro-life front, the only real argument for being pro-life that makes sense is the same whether you're religious or not.
    If a fetus is a human being, and human beings have a right to exist, then a woman's autonomy is irrelevant. Abortion can only be justified in cases where the fetus itself isn't viable, or the mother's health is endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term.
    If a fetus isn't a human being then any abortion is justified.
    All serious arguments on this issue on this are basically rephrasing one of the arguments I just mentioned. Many religious people, for example, define a 'human being' in religious terms, as something that has a soul. So to them them the exact vagaries of when God grants a soul are very important.
    People tend to add a lot of flim-flam, and there're plenty who take a more moderate view that humanity/soul-implanting/whatever happens sometime between conception and birth; but any serious argument on this issue is gonna boil down to one of the ones I mentioned. It's quite clear the folks at the table mentioned by Amanda were well into the flim-flam side of things. For example they point out that Ethiopia, the Afican country with the least pro-life laws, has an extrtemely high mortality rate. While this is true, it's also true that a) Ethiopia is dirt poor, so women don't get medical care, b) Ethiopia's laws are right of Roe vs. Wade,, and c) if you use other continents the data comes up the opposite.
    North America's best medical nation, by damn near every indicator, is Canada. We're number 2. It's worst are the poor Latin American states to the South. Canada has basically no restrictions on abortion, we've some pretty significant onesdepending on the state, and most Latin American states hew close to the Cahtolic Church's teaching that it's all murder.

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