Afternoon Inquisition

AI: End the Controversy!

Why doesn’t everyone just get it? You know what I’m talking about. It’s that thing. It’s so obvious that there’s only one way you’d see it if you really looked at the evidence. It’s enraging that everyone doesn’t agree. You’ve fought dozens, maybe hundreds, of strangers on Facebook who were all uninformed about it. FOLLOW.THE.FACTS. PEOPLE! How can they not understand? It’s infuriating. HOW ARE WE EVEN STILL DISCUSSING THIS?

For me, this is vaccines and abortion and birth control and that dogs are better than cats and that I can parent just fine while drunk and watching Jersey Shore.

For others it’s evolution or libertarianism or attachment parenting or 50 Shades of Gray or being on fucking #TeamBreezy.

It’s that thing that makes you want to shake people and be like ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU THAT YOU COULD DISAGREE WITH ME ON THIS?” That thing that arouses your skeptical indignation. Whatever it is, you are passionate about it. Friends and relatives are routinely warned not to get you started on _______.

But man… if people would listen, this world would be a better place. And you could finally go back to enjoying social media… or just socializing in general. Or maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe your life would be empty without this passion project to convert everyone to your cause.

And maybe you’re not That Guy about it. Maybe it’s just a thing that really irks you, and you really wish everyone understood but they don’t and it’s endlessly frustrating.

Or maybe you’re just sick of hearing about a topic. You don’t get why it’s so controversial or why everyone is so emotional about it and you just want people to STFU already.

What is your controversial non-controversy? What do you get that other people just don’t? If you could just end the debate over a topic what would it be? Why? If you could make one group of loud-mouthed wrongie-heads go away, what group would that be? Is agreeing to disagree okay with you?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays 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. That Michael Bay’s Transformers are TERRIBLE MOVIES and anyone who likes them should feel bad about themselves.

    1. Those were movies? I could have sworn they were just collections of big explosions and loud noises. Like a collage of Mythbusters moments or something.

    2. Someone (@barrytryan) tweeted a while back “Transformers3. Even the action sequences are an incoherent mess. You can’t polish a turd but it should at least come out of your bum.”

  2. The separation of church and state needs to be enforced. The government should stay of churches and churches should stay out of government.

  3. The cancer things – all of ’em. From the super ridiculous “Big Pharma has the cure and is keeping it secret” to to “eat this mystical fruit/berry/twig/herb/fish/whatever because it cures cancer”. I think we can stop the breast cancer awareness campaign – is there anyone anywhere who isn’t aware of it? – and start on a cancer is not one disease awareness campaign. It might *might* cut down one the gullibility of otherwise sane people to think that there exists one cure for all cancers. One can hope.

  4. Transformers 2 is, on paper, the most hilarious movie ever. Everything that can be said about the content of that movie is funny. The movie itself is supernaturally unwatchable.

    It’s like a reverse durian.

  5. Homeopathy and anti-vax. I even got into a mini-argument with the author of a pro-homeopathy book within Amazon’s reviews for it.

  6. Oh, it’s Hobby Horse time!

    Firstly, thank you SO MUCH for bringing up the religion* of Alcoholics Anonymous. For anyone who still doesn’t know, check out Orange Papers, More Revealed, and Stanton Peele’s webpages. The nice thing about Scientology is “everyone knows” it’s a cult (well, a lot of people anyway), so it doesn’t bother me nearly as much. Judges only RARELY send alcohol and drug related offenders to Narconon/Sceientology. They send ’em to AA in every state, every day a DUI case or so-called “drug court” is in session. For more general info, check out “Mind Control Cults” on Youtube – it doesn’t name ANY group except for its own fictional E-Merge, but it’s amazing how so many groups are organized like onions, and have so many other characteristics in common.

    Also, more and more people are using sentence fragments, and they think it’s okay. This is more annoying than people using “electrocute” to mean HURT and NOT killed by electric shock, and “millionaire” to mean a person with INCOME of at least a million dollars PER YEAR instead of a total wealth exceeding a million dollars. The proliferation of sentence fragments makes me FURIOUS. And very angry. [That sentence fragment is intentional, as an example of irony.]

    * When someone tells you the AA slogan “spiritual, not religious,” remind them that if its members 1. Pray to God, and 2. pass the basket, then it’s a religion.

    Let’s all sing along now! “I love The Leader, The Leader is Love. When I’m not with Him I feel like a schlub.”

  7. That there is such a thing as “normative privilege”.
    Ask anyone in a wheel chair about it, ask any Aspergian, feminist, person with an obvious birth-mark, etc.

    1. Of course not–it’s Space Western. More broadly, you can’t just glue some gears to something and call it “steampunk”.

      1. I’m sorry.

        I’m afraid you’ve been diagnosed with severe hypoorichalcumia. You will be needing a weekly dose of medication for the rest of your life, but you should be able to maintain a full and rich state of living.

        Here’s a brief prescription;

        Dreamkeepers Take bi-weekly every Friday, and half a dose every other Friday.
        Girl Genius
        Take three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays

  8. I’ve had many arguments with friends & acquaintances about drinking raw milk because they either think it’s healthier or it’s some kind of knee-jerk anti-government stance, and I tell them drinking raw milk is (a) not a good idea and (b) unnecessary anyway. Some of these arguments have become quite hostile, and I end up tearing my hair out because I can’t believe after all this time people STILL have to justify the validity of pasteurization.

  9. Milk, sugar or any flavoring in coffee are pollutants and tragic abomination’s when added to a cup of quality coffee. This is a fact and all arguments to the contrary are based on ignorance or the fruits of years of insidious propaganda and indoctrination.

      1. This crotchety guy once read that someone did a study on coffee habits and apparently what your parents did to pollute or not pollute their coffee is the determining factor or predictor to what we do to our coffee. Both of my parents, and I think my grandparents, were all black coffee drinkers. I personally think putting milk and sugar in coffee started back when nearly all the coffee available was harsh or barely drinkable so why mask the wonderful and complex flavors of what we can get now.

    1. I agree, but I also think there is an appeal to low-quality coffee with pollutants. I simply adore a cup of George Howell Terroir Costa Rican (pure of course), but every once in a while I enjoy a cup of “gas station” coffee with cream and sugar. Here in New England we call it a “regulah”.

  10. I’d like to kill the entire ‘science’ of evo psych.

    ‘Their minds are just different‘ has been used to oppress people for ages. The methods and assumptions are fatally flawed. It props up(by design?)all manner of bigotry. I want it dead. I want my kids to see the field as an old cautionary tale of what it looks like when humans are invested in proving their supremacy over each other. Like eugenics.

    1. Preach the word, sibling!

      One of my coworkers is always going on with evo-psych mansplanations of the alleged differences between men and women. One day, I gently quoted yoisthisracist from tumblr who said that whenever Republicans whine about people thinking the GOP is racist, yoisthisracist likes to respond that there must be something to the perception or else the stereotype wouldn’t persist. My coworker totally didn’t get it at any level and continued to defend his stereotypes (since there once was 1 woman who actually behaved in way X) while denying that the GOP could in any way be racist (98% of Republicans give the other 2% a bad name).

      1. One does not simply telnet into AT&T? I’m telneted into AT&T at this very moment. Take that, you minions of Sauron! AGBell! Excuse me a minute, what’s that pounding at my door? Aieee! Flee, you fools! It’s a Bellrog……. …

        1. Drat, no edit… My sound effects got eaten. Imagine a click followed by a long, soft hum at the end.

  11. James Bond films aren’t any good. I don’t mean that Daniel Craig isn’t as good as Sean Connery or Roger Moore or whoever. I mean that James Bond films aren’t any good. They’re boring, predictable and require a suspension of disbelief I’m not willing to participate in for a story ostensibly set in the same world and time that I live in.

    I don’t care if you watch them in honest fandom or in some ironic hipster “it’s so bad, it’s good” sort of way. If you watch them, you should get down on your knees and beg forgiveness from the rest of the world for helping to maintain demand for what is, essentially, a poorly conceived and executed story that manages to steal time and resources from a planet that is running out.

  12. That Facebook is stealing your copyrights and that pasting some legal-sounding gobbledygook will somehow protect your drunken photos from Mark Zuckerberg’s nefarious purposes.

    1. I like those notices. They tell me which of my FB friends are skeptics and which of them are atheists who still believe in ghosts and astrology and shit.

  13. At the moment, organic (or worse yet, “natural”) is better than “processed” food, without the claimant being able to define or explain any of these terms. (Just had this argument with a friend a couple of days ago. At least she’s not an anti-vaxer or a Republican!) It is not okay to disagree with me, because then you would be wrong, and that would be unacceptable. (Bonus points for counting the number of circles in this argument. I think there are three.)

    P.S. I’m assuming this post in an invitation to rant. If you actually want substantive arguments, please clarify.

    1. It really drives me nuts when people go on and on about how they only eat organic, but eat tons of organic packed food, like chips and cookies. Somehow they think these are healthier than a piece of conventional fruit.

      I’m not trying to say I eat better than anyone else, but I have had this discussion many times. “Gasp – how can you eat that apple with all of its pesticides. I would never do that. I’ll have this organic candy instead.”

  14. Posting regularly on FaceBook is NOT the same thing as keeping up with your friends.

    The assumption that I read everyone’s FB wall daily as a matter of course and thus know about the event you’re holding has soooo many flaws.

  15. The anti-vax thing is still what gets my blood boiling like nothing else. Not only it is completely wrong, but many anti-vaxxers think they are really smart for not going along with the man, and that you are a poor, stupid soul for vaccinating your kids.

  16. Hippy Punching… the phenomenon wherein the only way to be taken seriously by mainstream opinion is to prove how serious one is by criticizing, minimizing, or outright slandering liberals. The gatekeepers of our political media allow mediocre hacks like David Brooks or Andrew Sullivan free reign to drag out their “liberals are just as bad both sides do it” bullshit every time another conservative fail bomb goes up in their faces.

    1. I’d like to see an example of Andrew Sullivan doing this–I have read him daily for years and not seen it, unless your definition of dismissal differs significantly from mine?

  17. Elyse,

    Why would you expect that there would ever come a time when two people agree on every single thing? The reason why everyone doesn’t just get it, no matter what it is, is because its impossible to convince everyone of something. Much of our beliefs, including when it comes to things like, right and wrong, especially when comes to that, are at least in part shaped by our life experiences, and no two people have the exact same experiences.

  18. That the Republican leadership and their policies are the problem, not the solution. Not so controversial, right? Well, I live in Texas …

    And apparently not just the people around me but HALF THE POPULATION OF THE COUNTRY disagrees with me.

    I mean, the Democrats are screwed up too, take that as read. And every government needs a loyal opposition. But when at least one Republican leader, during the worst economy since the Great Depression, says IN PUBLIC his one goal is to make Obama “a one-term president” … that’s not LOYAL opposition, that’s IRRATIONAL opposition. That’s “we’ll wreck the country to win” opposition.

    Once upon a time I wasn’t political. Over the years I’ve sighed and shrugged at other non-controversies: creationism vs. real science, men’s rights vs. equal rights, Windows vs. Unix, etc. But this time the sky truly is falling, and all I can do is scream in a wilderness of “I support traditional marriage” and “The ACLU are the scum of the earth” (said by an active policeman, no less) and “Obamacare is a TAX (scare chord) that deprives us of FREEDOM (patriotic fanfare)”.


    1. Remember when the Tea Party was the Militia Movement and the Minutemen and the religious cultists? Remember Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols?

      How much worse now that they have a patina of credibility.

      I don’t think you’re alarmist at all.

    2. One of the things that drives me crazy is that the word “tax” has become synonymous with “evil”, and by saying that Obamacare is a tax is somehow proof it is bad. I wish we just paid for our healthcare through taxes, it would make everything much simpler, but people are so terrified of “taxes” that we need to put together this inefficient system.

      1. I’m reminded of a bumper sticker: “Under Democrats it’s Tax-And-Spend. Under Republicans it’s the other way around!”

  19. Aspartame is not going to kill me. It’s amazing how many smokers have told me it will. It’s all of the rum that’s going to do me in, not the Diet Pepsi I am mixing it with!

  20. The idea that natural is better. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that people don’t realize that all the plants we eat are domesticated. The same force that turned baby eating wolves into friendly purse dogs has been operating on the plants we’re familiar with for far longer.

    Wild plants don’t give up their fruit so easily. They aren’t the passive inanimate objects we perceive them to be and they don’t shy away from murder.

    Even when I worshiped Mother Nature, I didn’t operate under the absurd assumption that she is some sort of benevolent force.

    The idea that herbs are somehow safer than metered doses of the active ingredients extracted from those herbs is ridiculous. If the people that made herbs had to list side effects, they’d have a long, scary list too.

  21. I think most people have hit nails on the head. I’m pretty lucky with my friends being reasonable. I have unfriended acquances because of intolerance to atheism and minorities. I do have a couple of anti-vaxxers, anti anthro-global warming, anti science, everything natural is good people that I have had some frustrating arguments with. The latest FB copywrite BS prompted me to post the college humour sketch about it today. Why can’t people just google it first!!! Sheesh. I post how handy Snopes is all the time! Oh and the science has a cure for cancer one really gets my goat.

    On the flip side I occasionally find I’m seeing a lot of science is our saviour stuff that I don’t like either. I am a social science person with a physical science background. I love science, but GMOs are going to end world hunger, and science can do no wrong as equally annoying. I have to point out that sometimes farmers have gotten into bad contracts that essentially make them agribusiness contracts and that farming doesn’t work like it did 100 years ago (at the same time trying to explain that the GM canola won’t kill anyone). And that therapy is a better solution than Zanex.

    I have to let a lot of things go on Facebook. I think I wouldn’t have any friends (those i socialize with in person) if I didn’t. :)

  22. Anti-rationalism. Feel free to believe in miracles and the possibility of all kinds of stupid crap being true, but as long as it’s indistinguishable from _nothing_ in a systematic examination you need to admit I’m the one on the horse and me looking down on you is not patronizing or uncalled for, it’s a result of our relative positions and the definition of down.

  23. How about learning to spell? I don’t mean the occasional typo, I mean “deffenatly” for “definitely”, “their are” for “they’re”, or, my new fave, “dermatictly” for “dramatically”. How hard is this, people? I’m sick of being called a Nazi because I like to see words spelled properly!! Yes, I’m comparable to members of a fascist, murderous bunch of schmucks because I think people should spend a second or two hitting spellcheck!

  24. Oh, where to start?

    The “debate” ove climate change. The facts are out there! But people just want to plug there ears and shout “La la la, can’t hear you!”

    Those that deny evolution is real, especially for humans. Is it really so hard to believe?

    The belief that the United States was founded on christian values. ‘Nuff said.

    People that take psychics seriously (i.e, by giving them their own TV shows). Doesn’t anyone stop to think “Hey, if these guys are for real, why aren’t they making a killing on the stock market?”

    The obesssion with cryptozoology.
    No one seems to get this. And shows like “Finding Bigfoot” don’t help a damn bit. We have enough weird creatures in this world without people making shit up (just watch “River Monsters” for evidence of that!).

    One that’s not a debate but rather something I saw recently was someone declaring Jesus was a civil rights activist. Riiiight. And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Florida to sell you.

    Okay, enough venting!

  25. That captive breeding will “save species so our children can enjoy them”. The millions of dollars spent on this creates more individuals while their habitat and resources are shrinking. And it doesn’t work.

  26. Bakers’ apostrophe’s?

    Plus most of what’s in the last 56 comments drives me apeshit too.

    But sentence fragments? Ok by me. In most cases. If done with some humour.

    And I make NO apology for enjoying Bond movies, even if they are crap – just as I make no apology for enjoying early Dr Who with William Hartnell or any of the Japanese Sci Fi of the fifties and sixties or, like, The Claw FFS!

    It was all we had and it is a beloved part of our heritage. The post Star Wars generation fails to realise how good they have it!

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