Skepchick Quickies 6.10

On June 10, 2003, NASA launched the Spirit Rover to Mars. The Spirit had a successful landing and completed its mission, but later became trapped in soft soil and stopped communicating in 2010.


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. Maybe this is nitpicking, but I have an issue with that contraception survey/study.
    2/3 of the population uses contraception correctly – they account for 5% of unintended pregnancies.
    1/3 of the population uses it wrong, or not at all – they account for 95% of unintended pregnancies.
    Not using contraception at all? While having sex?
    I have difficulty placing those pregnancies in the category “unintended”. If you’re driving a car while wearing a blindfold, the ensuing mayhem is *not* called an “accident”.

    1. Driving a car while blindfolded is extremeley likely to result in a collision. The risk of getting pregnant from unprotected sex is much lower – after all, conception can only take place during a week or so each month. Miscalculating (thinking a relatively low risk activity is in fact a zero-risk activity), or simply forgetting about a risk because the activity seems so incredibly worth doing, are things people do. It doesn’t mean they are deliberately trying to get pregnant.

    2. There’s also the issue of who can afford birth control or who is in a social situation where birth control is even available. High school (and younger) kids may not use contraceptives because they’re embarrassed to go buy them or don’t want their parents knowing they’re sexually active; low-income people may not use contraceptives because they can’t afford them. If your “contraception” method is Natural Family Planning or coitus interruptus, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Guttmacher isn’t counting you as using contraception, but you’re still doing *what you can* to not conceive.

    3. Just because you don’t use contraception does not mean you intend to get pregnant. Plenty of people use the ‘pull out” method, or they use the family planning method touched on by another commenter, wherein you go by your cycle — there are times when women can’t, or it is very, very unlikely that they will, get pregnant. Of course, this really only works well if you have great will power (pulling out) OR a very regular period (so younger women probably won’t do so well on it).

      Additionally, sometimes people just do shit without thinking, including having sex. That doesn’t mean they intended to get pregnant. Sometimes it’s still an accident even if no birth control was used.

      1. Reading several responses, I see what you mean.
        I was assuming that the “pull out” people and the “rhythm method” people were under the category “using contraception incorrectly”.
        The people who are having sex without thinking about it at all, those are the ones I’m talking about. I suppose we expect this kind of foolishness from the very young, but I don’t see how you can walk past the “CAUTION! CLIFF AHEAD!” sign, walk off the cliff and then claim your death was an accident.
        Unless there’s no sign. I’m aware that can happen. If you really didn’t know that sex made you pregnant, that’s not so much an “accident” as a “scathing indictment of the state of our education system”.
        Maybe this is more akin to, “I don’t want to be out of shape, but I can’t walk by a cupcake.”
        What matters to me is figuring out which people we can help. The ones who use protection of some kind, but do it wrong? We can help them do it right. The ones who are, just, like, whatever, man – stop harshing my buzz. They’d require a completely different angle of approach.

        1. You have a really terrible understanding of human nature and sexuality.

          “If you really didn’t know that sex made you pregnant”

          That’s not really what we meant. A lot of it is denial and just being horny humans. Adults do it, too, you know.

          Education is key, but so are resources and making sex less shameful and, most importantly, making using contraception less shameful, particularly for the young.

          ADDITIONALLY, we aren’t even bringing up when a partner (usually male) pressures their other (usually female) partner to not use contraception, for whatever reason.

          “The ones who are, just, like, whatever, man – stop harshing my buzz. They’d require a completely different angle of approach.”

          It’s not as simple as that. It’s not always about “harshing my buzz” … sometimes people just don’t think well in the best of situations, and when you’re hormones are raging?!

          Look, I’m smart, and I know my shit, particularly when it comes to sex and sexuality, but I have on more than one occasion not used protection (with a boyfriend), and it’s a surprise I didn’t have more “OMG AM I PREGNANT?!” moments than I have, haha. But, yes, it’s happened. Not recently at all, but it has.

          But I’m like, not always the most prudent TO BEGIN WITH, ya know? Had i gotten pregnant, it certainly wouldn’t have been planned.

          1. “You have a really terrible understanding of human nature and sexuality.”
            Really? I thought the cupcake analogy was cracking.
            You’ve mentioned a third problem, haven’t you? “I don’t want to be pregnant, but he won’t use protection.” That’s actually rape, then, isn’t it? Another cause of unintended pregnancies.
            Most of sexual education has to be rooted around the removal of shame. If your parents don’t make you ashamed of your body, you won’t have a problem asking the questions – and in fact you would already have the answers long before the hormones showed up.
            I’m just leery of grouping these two groups under the same heading:
            1. People who know to be careful, have the patience and foresight, but don’t do it right
            2. People who don’t have the patience when hormones hit
            The first group really made an active effort to not get pregnant. The second group, not so much. Sure, they don’t want a pregnancy, but that’s as far as it goes. One group is about education. The other is about awareness, willpower, quick access to contraception, reduction in sexual shame and all sorts of psychological issues.

          2. ““I don’t want to be pregnant, but he won’t use protection.” That’s actually rape, then, isn’t it? ”

            Not necessarily… I mean, in some cases. It’s not GOOD, no, but I am not going to make such a blanket statement. Particularly when young idiots are involved. Sometimes it’s just … “He doesn’t like condoms and I”m too afraid to say anything and can’t afford the pill.”

            1. People who know to be careful, have the patience and foresight, but don’t do it right
            2. People who don’t have the patience when hormones hit

            And sometimes, people aren’t so black and white as “1 or 2”. Sometimes they can be both. ;)

            I’m not sure what you’re asking? Education is key. The more we educate, the more likely people will use protection. Still, humans are still humans, ya know, and far from perfect.

            Like I said, I’m educated and shit and mostly really good at making great effort at using protection, but even I’ve gotten caught up in the moment. Shit happens.

            Sex is a common part of people’s lives, something that we deal with on a regular basis, if we’re lucky, for our ENTIRE LIVES. This means that sometimes, mistakes happen, ***even when we do our very best***.

            Anyway, I’m not sure at this point what our points are. lol

            Education is key, but people make mistakes allll the time.

          3. “And sometimes, people aren’t so black and white as “1 or 2?. Sometimes they can be both. ;)”
            Yes, I took my cue from the study, which separated the population into three distinct groups (correct use, incorrect use and no use at all).
            What did they make of the people who are 99% consistent, but forgot to take a pill once or whatever? Who is ever perfect?
            At least the study points out the glaring effectiveness of education, and it tells us what sorts of things we need to work on to get it right.

    4. Watch some Teen Mom or 16 And Pregnant. Some teens will admit to not using contraception and not believing they would get pregnant. Heat of the moment and all that, you know.

      1. Ugh, reality shows. I have this theory that they lower my I.Q.
        But I take your point. The key is that there are two different groups that need to be treated two different ways: those who are willing to use contraception but aren’t being taught how, and those who are impatient or uneducated and aren’t using any.

  2. When I taught English in South Korea, I didn’t know just how many gestures didn’t translate across cultures. Best was when I tried “Got your nose!” with my pre-k students, holding my thumb like the ASL letter T. Except in Korea, I was told MUCH later, that’s a profane gesture for “baby’s penis” to tell someone he has a teeny weeny. Oops. Isn’t learning fun?

  3. Dear Ms. Richman,

    Thank you for your letter reminding me of our correspondence about your application to Harvard’s graduate program in city planning fifty-two years ago. Since writing that original letter, I have gained the perspective of these fifty-two years of experience seeing many young women succeed brilliantly in their graduate studies while making their own decisions about their personal lives and the difficult problem of work-life balance. I have also benefitted from observing the cultural sea-change that we have witnessed over these last few decades that makes it now unquestionably clear that women are as able as men to have successful careers in all fields, and are as capable and as entitled to determine for themselves their own priorities and path in life. With the benefit of this perspective, I now understand that the letter that I wrote to you unjustly discouraged you from pursuing a career in city planning, despite the talents you displayed for it at the time. For this I am deeply sorry, both to you personally and to the field of city planning, from which I robbed a potential talent. Although at the time I believed I was acting in your interests by asking you to consider the problem of work-life balance, I recognize now that the manner in which I did so was tremendously patronizing and dismissive of your autonomy, and presumed an automatic privileging of your husband’s career and interests over your own. I ask for your forgiveness, and I can only hope you will understand that like most of us, I was a product of my time, and the sexism of our culture was so pervasive that I was unable to even recognize the assumptions I made about you, let alone question them. Thanks to the cultural change that was brought about by individuals within the feminist movement, who saw more broadly than I could, I now understand the great mistake that I made, and I would not write such a letter today.

    Why can’t they ever respond like this.

  4. Mary,

    The Creation Museum is adding Zip Lines? I guess they want to attract dare devils.

    “Mike Zovath, senior vice president of Answers in Genesis which owns and operates the museum, said the new attraction is designed to help the museum appeal to a wider audience.” They must be desperate to get people to listen to them about “proper science” rather than the “evil lie” of evolution.

    1. Scribe999,

      How could any reasonable person, believe that you could live off sunlight alone, anywhere in the world? Human beings are animals not plants. I have to wonder, what on earth is wrong with Navenna Shine?

      1. Well, hell, even plants don’t live off sunlight (and water) alone. Also, wouldn’t it have worked for those other people regardless of how strongly they believed if it were a real thing? Also, also, what possible mechanism does she think would be working? Also, also, also, toxins? Just, like, “toxins?” Also, also, also, also, is there a point at which medical services can legally force entry to prevent her suicide by starvation? Like, is that a thing? Since she’s broadcasting it?

  5. The hand symbol one – I think the ‘USA – rock on’ and ‘Spain – your wife is unfaithful’ originate from the same hand symbol, sygnifying horns (in the US, I believe this became associated with hardrock/heavy metal genre due to adopting the imagery and such of appearing ‘satanic’, etc.). I’m less certain about the Spanish version, but pretty sure it ties into the concept of cuckold (with horns also being some symbol of that…)

    and, now tat I look at wikipedia, they have a page that covers it better then I will…


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