Skepchick Quickies 7.18

On this date in 1955, Disneyland opened officially to the public. That’s not too interesting. However, the previous day was the special opening day for invited guestsonly, but it was a fantastic disaster. Thousands of people showed up with counterfeit tickets, ladies’ high heels sunk into the freshly-laid asphalt, and the water fountains were dry due to the plumbers’ strike.

Bonus Book Recommendation: If you enjoyed the last link, you will love Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars.

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. I have been in university for years and not made one friend… But I generally have no friends whatsoever, so… all is good? D:

  2. I loved Mary Roach’s Stiff and Spook. I look forward to reading Packing for Mars. But the end of the review, where the reviewer castigates her for making ‘an emotional misguided plea for’ a human-led trip to Mars makes me almost feel like it’s another ‘here’s a hysterical female who doesn’t understand the world’ comment. I’ve not read the book, and I don’t know if M.G. Lord is male or female so this may simply be a knee-jerk reaction on my part. After all, I’m a huge sci-fi fan and the opportunity to go into space seems like a fairy tale to me… bodily necessities and their ensuing ickiness notwithstanding.

  3. Being from New Jersey right outside of New York, I will have to taste for myself this so-called perfect bagel, heh. I am skeptical, but open-minded :)

    1. Ever since I was big enough to stack canned goods and chairs to reach the cookie jar, I have been searching for the perfect cookie. Tens of thousands later, I am still experimenting. When the sample size is large enough, I will post the results. On to the next one . . .

  4. As for making friends over 30, I guess it helps when you don’t get tied down to a single job for too long. Most of my new friends come from meeting people at all of these short term contracts I keep taking on. Also, not being married with children and generally living an extended adolescence (I guess) helps also.

  5. In the immortality article, he is correct that learning more about the brain will destroy some cherished beliefs. The foremost belief that will be destroyed is the idea that there is such a thing as a non-material mind. There is no mind, there is only the brain. What is called the mind is the emergent behavior of the brain, nothing more and nothing less.

    The problem humans have is hyperactive agency detection. Humans (and other organisms too), have their pattern recognition neuroanatomy tuned to be biased to form false positive detections of agency. That is because a thousand false positives of seeing a predator in the bushes stalking you is better than a single false negative of missing the predator that eats you.

    This hyperactive agency detection also works on self-detection. That is what consciousness is, hyperactive self-agency detection. It is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.

    The idea that there is a “mind” inside the brain that can be “uploaded” is false.

    1. Agreed, we’re still dealing pretty much constantly with theists and philosophers who have a non-materialist and non-functionalist view of reality. Those beliefs are eventually going to be fully discredited, although I cannot say how long it will take.

      Most of the mind-uploading crowd are nonetheless a bunch of quacks and cranks. They see preservation methods so precise and so effective that they come very close to denying much of biology, chemistry, and thermodynamics. Furthermore, they rest on hypotheses like “connectomics” about where the important information in the brain is stored that have not actually been demonstrated. Probably most significantly, they don’t seem to acknowledge the key question in the mind uploading process: is the copy still you? If it is, what happens when we make multiple copies?

      There are some flaws in our typical understanding of identity and consciousness, but the strong linkage between the two and the brain is not one of them.

      As a computer scientist, perhaps my greatest criticism of the immortality crowd is that they’ve put the cart before the horse. Trying to produce an incredibly accurate simulation of the brain before we understand how the brain works is nonsense. That’s like designing an emulator for a system you don’t even know how to build yet, let alone have the specifications for.

      To make progress, we should focus on understanding the underlying processes and building analogues to them with technology we understand. My prediction is that we would necessarily be able to build strong AI (human-equivalent intelligence) well before any much of the almost-magical technology required for “immortality” would be feasible.

  6. Yeah, I’ve noticed the friend problem. I thought it was just me, I’m a little relieved now.

    I don’t think I really have high expectations, it always seemed to me like they were never the ones who cared enough. “They” would never invite me to get-togethers, or even just call or email to chat, even though I would do those things. *shrug*

    Also, with my esoteric interests (see the Geek AI if you care), it’s not easy to find people who like the same things.

    And, personally, I find myself and my SO drifting away from friends we used to have, simply because of distance, or just growing up. I think it’s natural to grow away from some people.

  7. *notices he is 27* Anyone needs a friend?

    (To be honest, I guess my entropy hit quite earlier than average, not making any new friends since high school… So, nice scary article out there.)

  8. Man that friends article hurt. Hubby and I are both hovering around 30 and just moved to a new city after living in a college town for over 10 years. We left a lot of friends back in said town and have been struggling to find anyone to hang out with. Since we don’t have children and don’t plan on having children it’s kinda that much harder because most couples our age are all about the procreating. My academic calendar doesn’t help much either since I teach mostly night classes during 3/4s of the year. I’ve found myself being desperately lonely this summer as I don’t have to teach and spend most of the day home by myself.

    However, the article did serve to remind me that Baltimore has a drinking skeptically group which I still haven’t checked out. I will need to add it to my to do list now :)

  9. Reading the bagel story reminded me just how territorial people can become over the stupidest things. One bagel is chewier while the other is crispier but both have decided they have the best, over a matter of taste, as decidedly subjective a thing as exists.

    I actually saw a couple of acquaintances almost come to blows over which was better, Red Vines or Twizzlers. A friend of mine gets so upset at anyone who would dare put ketchup on a hot dog that I have seen him arguing with his 6 year old over it and his wife will not allow him to go anywhere that wieners might be served. I find ketchup to be an abomination myself but if someone wants to put it on a hot dog that’s not my business any more than it is my say to tell someone that they can not use Marmite just because I see it as a culinary cross between Velcro and diarrhea.


    Sorry, I seem to be channeling Karl Pilkington.

    1. Ketchup on hot dogs is fantastic. Especially with sauerkraut.

      I had no idea there were different types of bagels, because they have all tasted the same to me. But I’ll have to look around for Montreal-style now.

      Also–yes, people need to pick their battles. Although I will admit that my food pet peeve is people who prefer canned cranberry sauce over the homemade version. I add orange zest and Grand Marnier to mine, I don’t mess around.

      1. Ketchup on hot dogs (with mustard and relish) is the way to go. Or any pair or one of those if not all are available. But sauerkraut? Eeww!

        As per bagels, it’s a dilemma. I like the toppings (garlic, onion, sesame, poppy seeds, etc.) but most bagels with toppings are the soft, bready kind. The dense, chewy bagels are infinitely superior (a matter of scientific fact, not opinion) but are hard to find locally, and usually only come in plain. The bagels in the picture are both plain and flavored, best of both worlds.

        I’ve never had Montreal bagels, so can’t judge those.

        But there is always a third path. A member of our local skeptics book club sometimes brings homemade bagels which are the best.bagels.ever. Support your local skeptics book club!

      2. Man, I love jellied cranberry sauce from cans. I like it more than homemeade kinds! Probably because I don’t really like zest, and I’m not a big orange lover. Mmmmmm…

  10. Lol Love that comment/rant. Btw Montreal style all the way! (had authentic ones now I can’t eat new York style)

    Ps. I only put ketchup on my hot dogs – I hope ketchup makes it to Mars.

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