This vs. That vs. LADIES

She was a scientist – I knew it immediately because she wore a lab coat and glasses and no pants. She pointed to my tentacle mustache laying on the table and asked what it was.

“It’s a tentacle mustache,” I said. She looked unsure, so I elaborated: “A mustache that looks like a tentacle.”

She held it up, examining it as only a scientist could.

“Where does it go?” she asked, with a scientist’s talent for knowing exactly the right question to ask.

“Under your nose,” I said, immediately before realizing my lack of scientific imagination. I quickly added, “Or other places, I guess.”

She put it down and pulled out a postcard, though I’m not sure from where. She handed it to me, saying, “You like science, right? You should watch this show. You’ll like it.”

The card was a promotional flyer for This vs. That, a new show that, according to the card, uses science to test claims.

“Like Mythbusters,” said my companion, Surly Amy.

“Only better,” said the scientist’s companion, who appeared to be cosplaying as Pamela Anderson wearing the Baywatch bikini with a towel wrapped around her. It took me a moment to realize that it wasn’t a towel, but a strapless jersey t-shirt dress with the logo of This vs. That printed on it. I turned back to the scientist and realized that under her lab coat she was not only wearing no pants but also she was wearing a t-shirt that had been cleverly ripped in such a way as to reveal the maximum amount of skin while still leaving just enough room for the This vs. That logo.

“Awesome,” Amy said. “And you guys are on this show?” She asked the question as I examined the card, which featured the show’s logo and three middle aged white men.

“Oh, no,” said Pamela Anderson, “but I’ve seen some clips of it and it’s great. Really funny.”

“You haven’t seen a full episode?”

“Well no, but . . . ” she started to say, when the scientist interrupted.

“I have, and they’re really good,” she said.

“We’ve also seen the guys at panels here at the convention,” added Pamela.

As we gave polite smiles and nodded, the scientist looked slightly apologetic. “We’re paid promoters,” she explained. We nodded. I had heard of her kind, before, though I’d never actually seen one in the flesh. I’d been to four DragonCons and four CONvergences, but this was my first run-in with the legendary “Booth Babe.” As the realization dawned, the two women waved goodbye and moved on to the next table.

“Booth babes” are women who are hired by companies to promote their wares at conventions despite the fact that the women have nothing to do with the product and occasionally have no idea what it is they’re promoting. I’ve heard of cons like PAX outlawing them because they treat women like sex dolls used to attract stupid and undersexed oversexed (thanks to Smashley in the comments below) heterosexual men to booths like horny moths to a half-naked flame, making everyone who isn’t a stupid oversexed heterosexual man feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. So I always assumed they were on their way out of style, until I met the This vs. That promo team.

I would have forgotten about this interaction were it not for the fact that for the past few days, I have periodically received spammy Tweets from the This vs. That Twitter account:

That one links to an Imgur album titled, “Gorgeous Ladies of DragonCon,” which mostly consists of pictures of the booth babes.

I didn’t click that link because I found the previous one so repugnant.

With that last Tweet, I finally clicked the link and watched the video. Then I watched it again to see if I was missing anything, and then at last I responded:

When I didn’t hear back from them, I checked out their Twitter feed, finding such gems as:


I guess I wasn’t the only one getting some poorly targeted Tweets.

If you click on that video, you won’t find out how to get laid but you will get a lot of this sound: “PSSSSSSSHOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!” Also the word “Booya,” and a lot of quotes about how great the show is without any hint as to who may be giving these compliments.

In fact, watching that video made me 300% less likely to get laid, thanks to all my sex parts shriveling up and dying due to the frequent shots of women’s asses interspersed with lines like, “A program that speaks truth to power,” and “The vast preponderance of the TV landscape has deliberately chosen to explicate its content,” and “When it comes to facts and science, we will never elucidate, demystify, expound, oversimplify – you know, dumb it down?”

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Plus there’s the conspiratorial suggestion that no TV show has ever examined which flotation device is better for saving your life if you crash in water because of Big Airplane, the powerful industry lobbying group that wants to stop these dudes from bobbing around a swimming pool holding seat cushions but somehow failed to notice Discovery Channel crashing a 727 in Mexico.

That’s about as far down the This vs. That unfunny misogyny hole I wanted to climb. I’ll conclude with a few suggestions:

Do you want to see (real) explosions and myth-busting? Watch Mythbusters.

Do you want to see tits and asses? Check out this new thing called the Internet, where you can see all the body parts you want for free.

Do you want to make a show for people who love science and critical thinking? Try treating women like people instead of props, and also try being funny. Hell, I occasionally watch Top Gear because it’s funny despite the fact that the hosts are shitty, lying, conservative jackasses. But if you want to be the next Mythbusters, note that they manage to be funny, progressive, and pretty damned scientifically rigorous for a 30-minute TV show. It’s not impossible.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. So it’s like Mythbusters, but without the misogyny and conspiracy theories that Mythbusters so ignorantly leaves out. Excellent.

    Annoying pedantic side note that I hate myself for writing: As two of the most frustrating words in the English language, “undersexed” and “oversexed” actually mean the opposite of what they sound like. Someone who is “oversexed” is always hungry for sex, while someone who is “undersexed” suffers from weak sexual desires. So booth babes are actually attracting stupid and *oversexed* heterosexual men.

  2. I’m not sure what his opinion was…. is it that hot chicks should be murdered with lightning? I know he’s trying to say that whatever happened in that promo is not what the show is about…. but I’m still not clear what the show isn’t about.

    (true story: I almost wrote “lightening” just to make Smashley twitch.)

  3. Wow, but that’s Jimmy Nuetron’s dad yo! I really thought this was a Poe for the first half of that clip, just awful.

    They said it’s like Mythbusters had a child with Who’s Line is it Anyway?, I’d say it looks more like if Alex Jones hosted The Man Show only less entertaining.

  4. I remember seeing a few of their commercials during breaks at the few SkepTrack panels I went to – didn’t realize they were this idiotic. Sigh… – so then, is this essentially Mythbusters for dude-bros (sp?) ?

    1. Well 45ish minutes really once you cut the commercials….
      I thought of this correction and then suddenly starting thinking about the asimov essay the Relativity of wrong.

  5. Not the first attempt to copy the Mythbusters’ legendary formula, but I agree, this is the worst of all so far.
    It’s a pity as there is plenty of scope to do this right and still be entertaining. Some (mostly bad) are listed here

    Right now I am enjoying “Beat the Ancestors”, where they reverse engineer, build and enhance ancient weapons.

    I am trying to remember, recently there was a pretty good English series that had it right, it was on at about 6pm, can any other Skippies out there help?

      1. Yes! It was annoying cos it was on too early and I could only ever catch the last few minutes. But it looked really good.

    1. I don’t know about the worst of all. Brainiac Science Abuse was flatly faking its science to give satisfying but counter-factual resullts. That’s pretty much the ultimate sin for science shows, I’d say.

      1. Especially when the easier way to do it is how the Mythbusters do it, if they have a disappointing result they say “huh, that was disappointing, now what would take to get the expected result” and that usually ends with a boom.

  6. I’m guessing that the first image is “Tank Girl”? Which would be a worthy and awesome cosplay. Still doesn’t deserve the unwanted attention of these dudebros.

    1. I’m still making my mind up about him. He also got stuck into Adam Hills who has done a lot for disabled and LBTQ folks.

  7. Wow, you weren’t kidding about the “PSSSSSSSHOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW” sound. If only that were the most eye-rolly, cliche aspect of this.


  8. Finally! I am SO tired of ordinary science TV shows that elucidate, demystify, expound, and explicate. I want a show that has a topic like “Fuckin’ magnets – how do they work?” and then completely avoids anything that might actually answer the question. That would be so awesome!

    Also, the scientist women’s protective clothing might possibly be defective. They should consider that before handling dangerous things like acids, viral cultures, or high school science textbooks.

  9. The production value of the show must be shit if they can’t be bothered to set the levels correctly on the voice-over mic they used for the promo. The audio clipping was awful.

    1. I read that and… what? I mean, seriously, WHAT? The text to the side says that there’s “a staggeringly unknown percentage of women” unaware of “when they are in a relationship with someone… and when they are not.”

      “Staggeringly unknown percentage”. Seriously, what the fucking fuck does that even fucking mean?

    2. What? It seems to trade on a stereotype that doesn’t exist. I’ve never heard of catfishing happening on Twitter to anyone. And catfishing is highly gendered – it’s usually men that fall the victim. This is so specific and unusual that it’s hard to imagine there isn’t some specific woman that is being slutshamed by that post.

  10. Ahhh, I remember “booth babes” from a games fair.
    The women were there to attract teenage boys and “play” a demo round against them.
    Now, we wanted to see if the TCG was any fun and we went there.
    my friend shuffled the deck. The poor woman was lost. He asked some questions about cobinations, she couldn’t answer.

  11. Hello Rebecca and the readers of SkepChick,

    This is Jon Hotchkiss. I’m the creator of a new science series called This vs That. This vs That is a new series that investigates the science within arm’s reach. This vs That is 100% independent. Meaning, it was not made by a broadcaster or advertiser — in fact, it’s a 6-hour series (HD) that I paid for myself.

    Here’s a few of the real-word experiments we conducted:

    • What’s the safest flotation in the event you survive a plane crash in water, the life vest or the seat cushion? In this experiment, we worked with the nation’s leading trainers of Airline personnel in Emergency Training procedures, a United Airlines Pilot with 30,000 hours of experience, a survivor of the US Air flight that ditched in the Hudson River and the chief of Thoracic surgery from Cedars Sinai hospital, in Los Angeles.

    • What’s the fastest way to load 100 passengers onto a 757 airplane? For this experiment, we worked with astro-physicist, Dr. Jason Steffon from Fermi Lab in Chicago. Dr. Steffon is the guy who actually discovered the twin planets way out in space last summer, in conjunction with his work on the Kepler Project. We got 100 people and a 757 and we boarded them 7 different ways. The results of this experiment resulted in both Dr. Steffon and I appearing on the premiere of Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC), and more than 100 media interviews.

    • If you are interested in saving the environment, which car should you drive, a Hybrid or a high milage combustion engine car? To find out, we hired 5 professional Nascar drivers and drove the cars simultaneously 40 miles… then, measured which car used more gas. The results will shock people who love their Prius.

    Plus, lots more.

    Anyway – let me rewind a bit. After having made and created shows for Discovery, Science, TLC, NBC, Showtime, Playboy TV, Comedy Central, GSN and Animal Planet, and after having made shows for and worked with Bill Maher, Penn & Teller, Larry David, Rosie O’Donnell and even Craig Kilborn, plus writing for one sitcom and one prime-time drama, I decided it was time to stop giving away my labor and creations to the big media conglomerates… and instead, do something that no one had ever done before: write, produce, edit and distribute around the world a TV show as big as anything you’d see on Broadcast or Cable TV, whose quality was better than what you’d see on TV, and whose content is not homogenized to appeal to the broadest possible audience — and do it all from my garage, without any notes from the broadcast network, and without bowing to advertiser objections.

    It used to be that content creators needed to be in business with the networks and cable companies in order to get their work in front of the audience…. That’s because they had access to the satellites and the cable companies. Now — all you need to get your content in front of people is a wi-fi connection. And this a game changer… Not only for people who are creative and tell stories… but also for the audience, who will now get shows and stories and content that are more unique, more personal, and less — well, homogenized is the word I use.

    Think about the TV landscape. The networks find a genre or show they know you like, and then they make lots of them. How many singing shows do we need? How many shows about stuff in a storage unit are there? How many shows feature dangerous fishing expeditions?

    This vs That gives the audience information they can’t get anywhere else. No network would ever do the Hybrid car experiment, they take too much money from companies like Toyota. Our demonstrations and revelations about both the life vest and the seat cushion will cause you to think real hard before you agree to your next airplane flight. Our episode about your home’s roof in a hurricane will actually save people’s lives. Our episode about highway traffic and the fastest way to get through it will reduce America’s hostility, hypertension and blood pressure. And that’s not a joke.

    In a follow up post, I will discuss your thoughts from above (I seem to have reached the max on content)

    1. “Hi, I’m Jon Hotchkiss. Let me just shit this giant advertisement for my series all over your website. Once I’ve parasitically inflated my Page Rank, I’ll make a very long follow up post to wax on and on (and on and on) about why women don’t do science, but I won’t discuss my use of booth babes at all.”

  12. Hello Rebecca and the Readers of SkepChick (Part 2):

    1. Yes. A tiny % of the promotion for the show features 2 women in bikinis. Promotion for the show also includes:

    (a sampling)

    • An explanation of the science behind how red wine, Kool Aid and Mustard stain your carpet. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-hotchkiss/blood-carpet-stain_b_3716804.html
    • This essay on why NO ONE was startled to see Hitler at DragonCon. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-hotchkiss/has-hitler-become-darth-v_b_3868063.html
    • This essay that reveals whether or not a man can poke his unborn baby in the head during sex with his pregnant partner. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-hotchkiss/revealed-can-a-man-poke-t_b_3625787.html

    You can read the rest of my writing by searching my name at Huffington Post.

    These videos:

    • A detailed explanation of the most maddening type of highway traffic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auPgAlXxPbQ
    • An explanation of how nucleation sites make your Coke less fizzy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo-Z5BWE4FU
    • A demonstration of how to maximize the interior space on a plane to make boarding go more quickly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unUKsc3zgUQ

    You can see ALL 30 something FREE clips on our Youtube channel: Youtube.com/thisvsthatshow

    2. Because This vs That is financed entirely independently. By me, we have absolutely NO money to properly market the show.

    3. As a TV creator, I am NOT plugged into the infrastructure of the science community — and thus don’t have the connections or access to people and institutions that could help raise awareness of the series.

    4. Before the audience at large will take the show seriously I have to demonstrate that the material is viable, popular and trustworthy. How do I do that? Get people to see it. Catch 22.

    5. As you know, advertising science, in and of itself, is a near impossible task. And yet, I am doing just that.

    5a. Since the show was made available as Video on Demand at our website, ThisvsThatshow.com, 1 million people have seen the clips and 30,000 people have been to the website.

    5b. According to my analytics, the audience spilt on This vs That is 65% male, 35% female.

    Allow me to continue:

    6. There are millions of things that are vying for the audience’s attention. So — I have to do things that get people to watch! I need to get people’s attention. And at Dragon Con, where “anything goes” — I have to do something that is commensurate.

    • At Dragon Con, where I KNOW my audience is — how do I compete for attention with the actual R2D2?
    • At Dragon con, I MUST do something that gets people’s attention. Otherwise, I’m going to be drowned out… by the Mythbusters, by Wookies, guys dressed like Trolls from Middle Earth, and women wearing Torpedos on their chest. (http://imgur.com/a/VoRXi)

    7. I invite your readers to compare the outfits worn by the women I hired to help promote the show with the photos of women in costume who were just in attendance. You can make up your own minds. You will find a photo of the women I hired here (http://imgur.com/R8FNqGK) and a collection of photos of other women from Dragon Con, here (http://imgur.com/a/VoRXi)

    8. In addition to my presentation, which dealt with my science TV series and the documentaries I’ve made (re: Obscenity and Guns) entitled “An 11 TIme Emmy Losers Quest for Science, Fact & Dick Jokes… In a Horrible World That’s Full of Shit” I also held THREE (3) 2 1/2 hour human behavior labs, in which people participated in actual experiments — where the attendance was 50 – 50 men to women (PLUS: Kids). Over the four days, I’d say that nearly 500 people participated.

    8a. Those experiments were filmed… and will be posted on-line as soon as I’m able to edit them.

    8b. About a dozen times, Moms came up to me with their kids to talk about how great the labs were… and how I had made science more accessible to their child.

    9. The clip you saw of the girls on the beach in Venice is precisely 2 minutes from a 6-hour series… You are seeing a the equivalent of a single frame of video… not the entire film. It was a segment about how people feel about Hyrbid cars… And we needed to talk to a hundred people (in order to get a good sampling). When you make a show on a budget, it’s not possible to bring in a hundred people who would each want $50 bucks for their opinion. So, we go where people are.

    10. Along with the 6-one hour shows that make up This vs That, I have also recently shot three OTHER experiments, on my own, that bring the science within arm’s reach, a little closer to people.

    1. What’s the best way to pour a coke, and lose the least carbonation? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo-Z5BWE4FU — Seen nearly 13 thousand times.
    2. Which coffee cup keeps coffee hotter? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzza8HqDtmo – Seen nearly 3 thousand times
    3. Does pushing the walk button at a cross walk do anything? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWC5TUo0f3I – Seen nearly 15 thousand times.

    And now, I’d like to share a story with you:

    When I was shooting This vs That, I called upon dozens – perhaps as many as two dozen — female scientists, doctors, & researchers to participate in the show. All of them turned me down. Every single one. Even after I told them the credentials, affiliations and background of some of the other MEN who were or who had already participated.

    I agree that science has a public relations problem in terms of who its popular “stars” are. There’s Phil Plaitt, Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Malcolm Gladwell, the Mythbusters guys, Michio Kaku, John Tierney.

    Now — why is that?

    Here’s my theory.

    While it’s been traditional that — in the past — women haven’t gravitated towards careers in the sciences to the same degree as men. Who’s to blame? It’s lots of things (which you are keenly aware of).

    HOWEVER — some women DO and HAVE chosen the sciences as a career. So — why aren’t any of them “stars” like those mentioned above? Why aren’t they out front, promoting science, appearing on TV, appearing in other forms of media?

    Here’s my guess: Once a woman gets to a position of high regard (no matter the field) — then, once she becomes an active media personality — she is suddenly no longer judged by the quality of her intellect, rather, she is judged on her looks, her sex appeal, her ability to convey science — She becomes a performer. And that is bad. Because we judge ALL our performers and stars superficially. That would be bad for the woman of science, it’s bad for our culture, it’s bad for young girls (of which, I have two). And yet, science isn’t the only profession where this is an issue. (Of course, I concede, this is an area you would have more experience with than I).

    I can say with a clear conscience… and without any reservations… that in the big picture — that is, when you look at the 6 one hour shows, the other science videos I created, the writing I do for the Huffington Post — I am doing quite a bit to further the cause of making science accessible to all ages — regardless of gender.

    And yet it’s still nowhere near enough. And it’s one of the reasons I created This vs That; the others being 1. it’s at the intersection of what I’m personally interested in and what I do professionally and 2. I wanted to do something that had never been done before, and prove that the 75 year tradition of TV creation was in desperate need of an overhaul. This vs That is a show about science we all brush up against every day. It explains the world around us. It’s not about things that are Mythical. Afterall, while it’s fun to see if Ninjas can walk on water, I don’t know any Ninjas. And walking on water isn’t something anyone of us will be able to do. However, we all ride in cars, we all own BBQs, we all fly, we all own pets, we all live in homes, etc.

    I am 100% confident that if you watch This vs That, you will love it.

    After all, isn’t that what we do in science? We observe and record tons and tons of date. And then we make a decision.

    And yet — if there’s new information, more data to observe, we scrutinize it with the same energy we used to form our first opinion… and if the new information reveals a new finding, we accept that — regardless of what we first thought :) We don’t make a decision without knowing all the facts… and we don’t collect some facts and then cherry pick the data that supports our world view.

    Best Regards,
    Jon Hotchkiss

    If you got this far — thanks for taking the time to read.

    1. “According to my analytics, the audience spilt on This vs That is 65% male, 35% female.”
      I wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because you choose to promote the show with “bikini babe” types and tell people that they’ll “get laid” by watching it? That sends a pretty clear message to me as a woman that the show isn’t for me, whether you intended it or not.

      “Once a woman gets to a position of high regard (no matter the field) — then, once she becomes an active media personality — she is suddenly no longer judged by the quality of her intellect, rather, she is judged on her looks, her sex appeal, her ability to convey science — She becomes a performer. And that is bad. Because we judge ALL our performers and stars superficially. That would be bad for the woman of science, it’s bad for our culture, it’s bad for young girls (of which, I have two).”
      And you plan to change the state of affairs by hiring women based on their looks to promote your show? Well, okay, then. Good luck.

      “We don’t make a decision without knowing all the facts… and we don’t collect some facts and then cherry pick the data that supports our world view.”
      It’s not cherry-picking to notice the data that you promote, i.e. that you chose to place front and center. This is how you chose to represent your show, we’re just rolling with what you thought was worth promoting and telling people about with regard to your show.

      There’s a huge difference between a woman in cosplay and you hiring “booth babes” to promote your show. If your intention was to get attention, you certainly got it: it’s come to my attention that your show isn’t for me. Instead of telling me to watch your show despite your freely-chosen method of promotion (after all, you love to talk about how you’re independent), you might want to consider your methods of promotion.

    2. Here’s my guess: Once a woman gets to a position of high regard (no matter the field) — then, once she becomes an active media personality — she is suddenly no longer judged by the quality of her intellect, rather, she is judged on her looks, her sex appeal,

      How does it feel to contribute directly to that problem by marketing a product using women as sexual objects? On Twitter I saw you responded to someone who suggested “the guy in the middle” should be the one to explode. You said you’d prefer not because you’re the guy. You were literally using women as props in a way that you explicitly do not want to be used. You are part of the problem, and it’s not cherry picking to point it out. Cherry picking is what would be needed to show any kind of diversity in your marketing, since I saw one presumably expert, fully dressed woman in all the clips I saw.

      1. Rebecca —

        The minute you watch any of the shows… the minute you go to: youtube.com/thisvsthatshow and watch the totality of the material we have released for promotional purposes, I will be HAPPY to continue this conversation. I can’t if you’re only willing to look at a single frame of video, and not the entire movie. Best Regards, Jon. PS. You know I’m the guy you kicked off the panel Friday night at DragonCon, right? The guy who was invited to the panel, right? The guy who planned his day around appearing on the 10pm panel, right? The guy who flew out – on his own dime — who appeared for free. You remember, right? You had Derrick tell me there was no room at the last minute — even after you introduced yourself to me. I admired that you lacked the conviction to tell me yourself. Very classy. Oh, and on Saturday night I was eating alone at the bar in the Hilton Hotel, you and two friends sat down at my table…actually — you sat, your friends stood — and you proceeded to wine to them for about 40 minutes about how you were mistreated by the staff of DragonCon as it related to your SkepChick’s table… I sat their quietly eating my dinner — expecting that at some point soon you would apologize for being so rude — however, you babbled on and on about how you were mistreated. Singled out. Spoken to harshly. Needless to say, my quite dinner at the end of a long day was ruined. Thanks.

        1. Derek spoke to you about there not being room on the panel because he’s the one who added you to it. Though it wasn’t my doing, I still felt bad about it until this week when I realized you’re responsible for the horrifically sexist show using booth babes.

          As for the Hilton bar, I assume you must mean Sunday night, not Saturday. Sorry I ruined your dinner by talking to my friends.

          1. Rebecca

            You clearly didn’t get that I was using the complaints YOU made as it pertains to your Dragoncon appearance. You remember what you wrote on your own blog, right? You referred to it as “Tablegate.” It’s also what you said while you whined to your friends while rudely interrupting my dinner, right? You clearly don’t go to DragonCon to appear on a panel, but rather to keep this venture of yours profitable. And nothing wrong with that, btw. Hypocrisy, on the other hand, is unflattering. Also, you’re a smart person, you know I didn’t mean that I came just for that panel… I was referring to the event. And as for the machinations of your 10pm program, I’m not privy to that. All I know was that I was invited. And was pleased to be there. I have no idea who organizes what. What I do know now, however, is that you ran that event, and had Derrick tell me to go away… which I thought was classy. And, that you didn’t ruin my dinner, as you say, by “talking to your friends.” What you did was sit at my table — three feet from my shrimp and grits… talk very loudly for 40 minutes… there was some tears… and lots of whining… and you lacked any courtesy to say anything like “Hello. ” Or, “I hope we’re not disturbing you.” Or, “Hey, do you mind if I take this chair?” We have met one time, it was for about 15 seconds on that Friday night. Until then, I had never heard of you. No big deal, there’s lots of people I don’t know. HOWEVER — in the interim, I’ve read a bit about you — since you decided to write your post about me and my show — and it seems that what you like to do is create drama. There’s “Tablegate,” “Elevatorgate” and many others. I know what your game is — to stir the pot — keep people writing on the blog, keep the ad money rolling in — keep the appearance fees rolling in — And I fell into your trap. Bravo. Seriously, for that you are owed props. However, these petty feuds you stir, these “incidents” you raise indignation about aren’t doing a lick of good to promote what ever your thoughtful cause may be. Why? You are polarizing. You are manipulative. And you are unable to see, at least in this instance, how your actions are construed by the people you bump into during the tsunami you create. When I bump into someone, I say “Im sorry.” When I step on someone’s foot, I check to see if they are hurt. I was sitting quietly having dinner, and then I was thrust into becoming a front row spectator at your Show. You were sitting not more than 3 feet from me. It was not how civilized people of thoughtful discourse conduct themselves in public. When you drop your guard, when you sit quietly and reflect, you will see that you behaved badly by tossing me from the panel without an apology or even the courtesy to tell me yourself — it was your event, as you say…. And you behaved badly at that dinner table. You know that. I am owed a sincere apology absent of subtext. This will be my final posting on your blog…. I have unsubscribed from your site’s email. If you want to discuss any of this further, or offer up your apologies, you can do it in private. Here is my email: [email protected]. Best regards, Jon

          2. Well shit Rebecca, this dudebro has you pegged.

            Congratulations dudebro, you are a regular Sherlock fucking Holmes.
            If you had looked into it further you would have seen that the “drama” of Elevatorgate was not created by Rebecca but rather thrust upon her by those who thought that a friendly admonishment about cornering women in elevator not being cool was beyond the pale. There are some in the skeptical/atheist movement who have had it out for her and anyone that deigns to treat her decently since, I’m sure your “research” had you reading many of their blogs.

            And thank for defining conformation bias for us, we intellectual inferiors need all the help we can get, especially when you followed it up with such a beautiful real-world demonstration of said effect. Bravo!

            Now kindly peddle your bullshit where someone might actually buy it, elsewhere.

          3. DANGER! Egobot has encountered an unexpected hazardous environment. Insufficient fawning admiration and dangerous levels of criticism detected. Protect pretension systems. Commence emergency rage quit.

    3. What you are failing to realize is that being independent does not free you from bias, in fact it simply allows you to never examine your biases.
      You keep using the word science, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      1. Have you seen the actual episodes of This vs That? Soon as you do, I’ll continue the conversation.

          1. Delphi
            Rebecca chose to write about me and my work. She said things that are wrong. Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t come here, engage in an healthy debate and offer up my side? Or, maybe you prefer to just let someone else tell you what to think? You’re interested in science right? If I find cheese buried at the beach, should I tell everyone “Cheese grows at the beach?” Or, should I do some more investigating? Maybe see if someone had a picnic?

          2. ‘If I find cheese buried at the beach, should I tell everyone “Cheese grows at the beach?”‘

            Is the writing in your show this good?

    4. You’ve branded this show as sexist and pandering. You might re-think that strategy going forward if you don’t want to turn away a lot of potential viewers. Even moreso if you’re actually concerned about representation of women in STEM. Your creative and marketing decisions here are contributing to the chilly-to-hostile climate.

    5. “Here’s my theory.”
      Since you have a) no training in any field of science (let alone one that might actually be relevant) b) not done any research yourself c) not mentioned any relevant research done by others that might support your “theory” and d) not even listed a single personal anecdote to support your “theory”, why in the name of Christ would you think would anyone would take it any more seriously than a Bigfoot sighting or a UFO?

      1. Delphi_Ote
        No science experience, huh? No training? No research?
        Here’s a copy of the paper I co-authored on Experimental Methods of Airplane Boarding with astro-physicist, Dr. Jason Steffon: http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.5211
        Here’s a copy of my research on Coca-Cola and carbonation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo-Z5BWE4FU It’s been seen 12K times.
        Here’s my research on which kind of cup keeps coffee hotter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzza8HqDtmo
        Here’s my research on Pushing The Walk Button: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWC5TUo0f3I
        You should also watch ThisvsThatShow.com.
        You should also find on-line the first episode of Punkin Chunkin, where I worked with a Nobel Prize winner in physics.
        I don’t expect you’ll apologize. But if you decide to, you can send it to: [email protected]

        1. Easy, big fella. I wasn’t questioning your name dropping and self promotion skills. You’ve clearly got those in spades. Maybe dial it down a bit.

          Do you see how none of what you wrote supports your random ideas about why women aren’t represented in science promotion? Do you see how none of what you’ve written even contradicts what I wrote about your lack of authority to speculate on that topic? If you don’t, you’re not really in a position to be promoting science. If you do, the I think you know who needs to be making the apologies around here.

          1. Delphi —
            Remind me to be dismissive of your comments like you did to me by saying “Easy Big Fella.” I like a girl who isn’t a hypocrite.
            Now, to your comments. Look closely at what I wrote. Seriously, look very closely. You can’t see it, right?
            You can’t see that I did NOT… I repeat, I did NOT intuit or suggest or speculate why women aren’t represented in the sciences to the degree men are. In fact, if you take a second, you’ll see that what I said is: “While it’s been traditional that — in the past — women haven’t gravitated towards careers in the sciences to the same degree as men. Who’s to blame? It’s lots of things (which you are keenly aware of).”
            I’ll be waiting for my apology. But, somehow I expect you’ll find some other way to misconstrue what I wrote.

          2. Jon,

            Read delphi_ote’s comment more carefully. He/she wasn’t criticizing you for unfounded speculation on why women have been underrepresented in science (which indeed you weren’t doing), but for your unfounded speculation on why women are underrepresented in science promotion, which in fact was the topic of a whole paragraph that you wrote. It is ironic that you accuse delphi_ote for misreading your comments when you’ve done the same to his/hers.

            And it doesn’t look like you’ll need reminding to be dismissive, you’ve already got it covered. “I like a girl who isn’t a hypocrite,” seriously? Do you understand how sexist this sounds? delphi_ote’s comment may seem rude (which is fine), but yours seems both rude (still fine) and sexist (not fine). Also, I’m not aware of delphi_ote’s gender, but I notice you assumed female. Why?

          3. I’m a guy. Imagine that. This is the kind of thing that happens when you speculate about things without expertise, research, or evidence. You make a guess based on your own biases and then you look silly. Your earlier “theory” about the lack of women in science promotion suffers from the same problem. Can you see that fact or not? If not, please work on understanding science better before trying to communicate it to others.

          4. “” I like a girl who isn’t a hypocrite.”

            GIRL? Jon: We are all grown ass woman.

            Well, except delphi_ote. He’s a man.

    6. Yo.

      I can actually tell you why women don’t “gravitate” towards the sciences… and it’s largely because of things like what you’re doing.

      You mention MythBusters in your promotion… have you ever seen how Mythbusters treats women? Let’s start with Kari Byron. She’s a clearly very intelligent woman who holds her own with (and often outdoes) the men in the show. I’ve not once seen her sexualized (though I grant I could have missed a few). And yes, I would agree that Kari is a beautiful woman, but that is obviously not a very important point on the show; she’s clearly there for her knowledge, not her looks.

      In fact, never once have I seen women in bikinis advertise the show. Never once have I seen Mythbusters “booth babes”.

      Mythbusters seems entirely able to sustain insanely awesome ratings, and continue with strong interest in the program, without resorting to treating women like blow-up sex dolls. Granted, MythBusters could show more women. They mainly have one: Kari. There have to be other women like her who’d be happy to be on the program.

      By comparison, you use booth babes, you’re adverts are littered with women in bikinis who, like the booth babes, probably know next-to-nothing about what you’re doing, and your taglines suggest a conspiratorial approach. Continue in this vain, and of course your demographic is going to be men. Your demographic is going to consist of Ayn-Rand-worshiping, conspiratorial teenagers in their parents’ basement with only one hand available to navigate. Because that’s who you’re selling to. You’re not even bothering to recognize everyone else who might have a conciliatory interest in your show, because you seem entirely focused on straight, horny teenage males.

      I would be sincerely willing to subscribe to your show if you at least tried to implement some things:

      First, don’t assume your audience is made up of mainly straight, horny teenage males living in their parents’ basement. Believe it or not, science is asexual and gender neutral. Straight women and LGBTQ also enjoy science and science programming.

      Look at it from a marketing perspective: by appealing as much to women and LGBTQ and even the asexual as you do to straight men, you can only increase your viewership, ratings, and profit. Anyone who’s alienated by you taking on this approach are people you never wanted to watch your show in the first place, because they clearly weren’t there for the science.

      So, if you have to believe in the lie (and I swear to you… it’s a lie) “sex sells”, then sell to all sex, not just straight horny male teenagers.

      Or, don’t believe the lie “sex sells”. Instead, take a page out of the Mythbusters’ playbook and treat women as equals instead of sex objects. Hire one or two (or even three) co-hosts who are women who are at least as good at science as you are. Give them room to show how good they are often. And don’t ever sexualize them. Treat them as intelligent human beings who are on the show because of their brains, not their boobs. Treat them as equals. Of course, if they want to sexualize themselves, that’s their choice. But if they don’t, don’t force it on them.

      Now, I say “sex sells” is a lie because if it were true, then many more advertisements would objectify men, and also trans*, as much as they objectify women. However, the vast majority of advertisements objectify women… because they cater to straight men. When you put up numbers about how the “majority of your base is male” or something like that to justify a sexist advertising scheme, you’re putting the cart before the horse. The reason the majority of your fanbase is male is because you’re catering to them. If you catered to a more diverse crowd, I guarantee you your numbers would go up. You would find more women and LGBTQ watching your show, and you’re profits would go up, because you’d have more people (not less) subscribing.

      Second… I’m not sure you understand the purpose of “dumbing down”. When done correctly (see: MythBusters, Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Phil Plait, Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins back in the 80’s, etc), it’s actually incredibly helpful. When it comes to the physical sciences, I am ignorant. I’m studying cultural anthropology. Now, granted, if I had any proclivity for math whatsoever, I’d be a Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist because the universe is insanely fascinating to me. I’m very much interested in the Theory of Everything and M-Theory is probably my favorite candidate for it because… you know… an infinite amount of universes opens up a holy hell of a lot of fascinating possibilities (a sort of “time travel”, for example) and consequences (just as an example: there’s an infinite number of me typing up this exact comment right now, and an infinite number of you reading it). Sadly, my math skills extend as far as my ten fingers… and don’t even think about adding symbols and letters.

      So please… dumb it down. Explain how and why these things happen. Don’t assume you’re audience is made up of drooling idiots, of course but at the same time, recognize that your audience is not full of Engineers and Physicists with PhDs.

      Back to the sexism thing: I should point out that I am a boringly straight male, so I can understand the draw to use beautiful women. Yes, on one level, I love that. I love seeing beautiful women, and the less they’re wearing, the better. The thing is, context is key. For one thing, standards of attraction are not universal. What you find attractive is not at all what somebody else finds attractive. Attraction is inherently subjective at its core. For another, again, the world is not only populated with straight men, and not only straight men like science.

      Is science “a guy thing”? Yes. But that’s not because of anything natural. That’s because of culture; because we’ve never actually allowed women to try, and the women who do try have to fight odds and obstacles that men will never have to face, because men are the default. So why should women try when we make it almost impossible for it to be worth it for them?

      I’m always in favor of science shows, and yours could be good if you’d be willing to recognize what we’re trying to tell you. Don’t use women; accept them. There are women out there who can do what you’re doing… maybe even better than you! Embrace that! Don’t be intimidated by it! It should be a good thing when you’re outsmarted! You should look for people to outsmart you, because that’s how you learn! And who cares if the person outsmarting you is a woman? There’s nothing wrong with that! Women are allowed to be smarter than men, after all. Smart, like science, is asexual and gender neutral. And if you do go looking for women to be equals (by “equals”, BTW, I don’t mean “treat them like guys”… I mean treat them like human beings) on your show, don’t worry about their looks. Looks are not important. When it comes to popularizing science, all that matters is the brain and the personality; the body those two things are attached to is unimportant.

      1. Nathan
        Have you seen any of our actual show? Or, are you basing your comments on what others have said? I’d be much more open to your thoughts if you’d seen the show. You should watch it… In fact, watch ALL the free stuff. We are giving away the first 10 minutes of each of the 6 one-hour shows. Just go to our website: thisvsthatshow.com and they are right there on the landing page. After you watch, I’m 100% certain you will find the show interesting, entertaining, smart, and gender neutral — in that the content doesn’t appeal any more to men than it does to women. The show’s content is specifically chosen to appeal to the audience of humans who are alive, thoughtful, think about how the world works, how they interact with it, and how the things within arm’s reach work and effect our lives.

        1. Jon,

          I went ahead and watched the “Dogs vs. Cats” preview, as it is the closest thing you seem to have covered to my research area. It is not my cup of tea, but it was mostly inoffensive (though I did notice a call-out to the “crazy cat lady” stereotype with the cartoon of the dressed-up cat in a baby stroller pushed by a woman, which while not in and of itself damning, is suggestive of an author who has not examined his own biases). It appears to be emulating the style and tone of similar well-known shows, which was not especially appealing to me. At the very least, it is good to see experts such as the animal cognition researcher you had as a guest have an opportunity to speak about their field. Based on what I saw, I doubt I’d recommend it to anyone, but I imagine you’ll find an audience.

          But here’s the thing you seem to be missing. You keep insisting that people watch your show before judging. But the criticism here isn’t actually about your show, it’s about the way you’ve chosen to MARKET your show. That we’ve already seen, and watching your show isn’t especially relevant to that. If you feel that the marketing strategy that you’ve adopted is not truly reflective of the content of your show, then that suggests that YOU have made a mistake in your marketing strategy.

          But here’s what I think. I think you’re genuinely interested in creating a show that promotes science and scientific thinking. I think you’re also genuinely interested in this show finding an audience, not only to further that goal but also (quite reasonably) to be financially successful. To acheive that, I think you’ve made a decision to pursue a marketing strategy for your show that (at least in part) relies on using women’s bodies to attract the attention of heterosexual men, from the presumption (perhaps considered, perhaps not) that your audience will primarily consist of heterosexual men. And furthermore, I think that is probably a reasonable marketing strategy to pursue in order to achieve financial success. But what you have to recognize is that decisions like this actively contribute to the commoditization of womens’ bodies, making it harder for women to be perceived (by both men and other women) as having the same independence, agency, and intelligence as men. While the writers and readers at Skepchick might generally approve of science programs like This vs. That because we support the promotion of science education in the media, your decision to market your program with a “Hey dudes, you’ll like this just like you like sexy women” message damages our society.

          As others have pointed out, it also undercuts the message that I do think you want to send, about the applicability of science to daily life, as well as its ability to satisfy and expand the curious mind. When you market your show as you have chosen to do you (perhaps unwittingly) send a message to girls and women, “this isn’t really for you.” Sure, you may not be actively DISCOURAGING them from your audience, and I’m certain that girls and women will watch and enjoy your show. But at some level, your marketing strategy sends the message that girls and women watching your show are, at best, welcome guests in what is fundamentally a space that belongs to men and boys. Don’t you want better than that? Don’t you want everyone to understand that science is for them?

          1. Psychologists describe the tendency of a person to favor information that confirms their already long held beliefs as confirmation bias. People display this bias when they gather information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues. I believe you are displaying confirmation bias in your assessment of This vs That’s marketing. We have over 50 clips available for free on YouTube… that don’t have anything to do with gender in anyway… I have written extensively on This vs That’s blog and for the Huffington Post about the science we do on This vs That… and all of that is gender neutral. In addition, we have posted countless things on Facebook, Twitters, etc. PLUS: all of the 6-hours of actual science in the series is gender neutral. What we did at DragonCon was hire one woman for Friday and two more for Saturday to pass out our business cards. Those women were paid $200 for about 5 hours work each. We offered them a job. Which they accepted. As a side note, we posted an ad and got over 100 responses from women eager to work with us. The women we worked with were modestly dressed when you compare them to the outfits on most of the other women in attendance — who chose their outfits on their own. Here’s a photo of the women we worked with: http://imgur.com/R8FNqGK and these are the women at the convention in their costumes: http://imgur.com/a/VoRX. Clearly, you find it jarring to see the juxtaposition of women in costume with scientific experiments, university professors and the discussions of combustion, the Bernoulli Effect, etc… Sorry to say, that is on you.

          2. Thanks for the condescending explanation of confirmation bias, a true 101-level skepticism topic, on a site targeted toward skeptics. Simply asserting that I am suffering from confirmation bias is an ad hominem argument (a type of fallacy — would you like to define it for us?) unless you actually provide evidence for it, and show how it affects my analysis. Would you care to explain what makes you think my analysis suffers from confirmation bias? Unless the “We have over 50 clips available for free on YouTube… that don’t have anything to do with gender in anyway [sic]…” statement was intended as such, in which case that is a non sequitur (another fallacy, want to define it too?). The non-sexist marketing you are using does not erase the sexist marketing you are also using.

            Simply tossing out an accusation of confirmation bias like this with no supporting evidence really comes across as cargo cult skepticism. By which I mean it seems as though you are applying the superficial language of skepticism in hopes of appearing to be A True Skeptic, without actually engaging in the substance of skeptical reasoning and argumentation. This is pretty disappointing from someone espousing an interest in promoting the public understanding of science. Sad to say, this superficiality also seems to be characteristic of what I saw of This Vs. That.

        2. Yes. I’ve seen many of the clips you’ve posted online. I’m talking about your marketing strategy, here.

          As for the clips… you do an okay job, but it’s about what I expected from your marketing campaign…. a show largely geared for straight, horny male teenagers. I’m trying to explain how you can widen that consumer base.

    7. Do the women you took photos of in this link know that they are being used for advertising purposes? http://imgur.com/a/VoRXi
      If not then posting these photos of random women who were walking around Dragon*Con as an advertisement for your show is illegal commercial use of a person’s image.

  13. I see many of the critics of this advertising characterizing it as being directed to “heterosexual men & boys.” I think the point would be better made by being more specific. This type of marketing is not directed at all hetero men, but rather primarily at sexist heterosexual men.

    And Jon? I’m not going to watch one second of your product. You and your cohorts clearly think I’m a sex object, not a human being (or, more probably a waste of air, since I’m not up to the fuckable standards of your models). Why should I give you a micron of my time or attention?

  14. Jon, your show is bad. You marketing is bad. Your shitty sexist responses to criticism of your shitty, sexist show aren’t helping. I think you might want to accept the fact that no amount of spamming or butt-shots of women in underwear and torn clothes are going to distract people from from just what an unpolishable turd this show is. Time to let that dream die. You haven’t created something new and edgy. You created something hackneyed, misogynistic and stupid. The sooner you stop trying to defend it, the sooner you can stop looking like a ridiculous asshat and start moving on with your life and what is left of your credibility and career. You failed to make a watchable program and you failed at being a decent human being. If you ever want to succeed either in entertainment or at not being an ignorant bigot, then you probably ought to pay closer attention to what people here are trying to tell you.

  15. This is an epic trainwreck AND I JUST CANNOT LOOK AWAY. Best thing to happen in a while. Thanks for coming by, John, and blathering your idiocy!

    It’s always kind of cute, in a sad way, when certain men think they are the bee’s knees, but in reality, everyone is laughing at you.


    You know, as an old schol nerd, from like, way back when — I always thought it was the nerdy, shy, socially-awkward dudes that got into relationships online without meeting the other person. That’s my experience, anyway. Ahh. Those old timey IRC days are coming back now….

      1. I had a medical thing the last few days so I was totally unaware of the trainwreck hilariusness going on here!

        1. Late to the party, but you still brought the laughs. Hope you’re all better now. We need you to live a long, healthy life.

  16. Also I really dislike people who over-use dashes (–) in their writing. It makes it IMPOSSIBLE to read.

    John, you are a terrible writer. Terrible.

  17. Also, even if delphi_ote WERE a woman, I don’t think “she” would care if you “liked” her — this isn’t about what personalities you find attractive in “grils”.

    You are so very transparent. Are you sure you’re not trying to act like a sexist jackass?

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