Skepchick Quickies 10.14

On October 14, 1888, the world’s earliest-surviving motion-picture was filmed by Louis Le Prince, called Roundhay Garden Scene. I don’t know the plot, but you can watch it here.

BONUS: The news is so depressing lately, but this SNL take on the shutdown made me laugh. Also, Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, so in honor of that, here is an essay she did for the New Yorker.


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. And inside the cloistered liberal academia bubble, conservatives are the brainwashed nuts.

    What was that about cognitive dissonance again?

    1. This wasn’t about the “liberal academia bubble”. This was about something totaly, completey different: Conservatives in politics. Apples and oranges, and false equivalencies and all that.

    2. Good, you’ve mastered the non-sequitur now all you need is one more to stick the trifecta. I would suggest poisoning the well, it’s not as popular as ad hominem but it’s not as confusing to most people and i’m sure you can pull it off.

        1. Yay! Let’s all play! “Most people prefer baths to the cloistered life of academia, and everyone knows academics smell bad because they don’t bathe. Bubbles are spherical, the most conservative shape. Clearly, nature prefers conservatives! If you disagree, you’d just rather be filthy.”

      1. And you’ve yet to master reading comprehension. Non-sequitur is Latin for “it does not follow.” It is most often used to describe illogical statements. My comment was both logical and directly followed from the original post. You don’t agree with my point, but that’s not a logical fallacy.

        To recap the list of “quickies” above, we have not one, not two, but three links to articles describing conservatives as “insane”, living in a bubble, and “brainwashed”. Two of the articles are written by liberals presumably for consumption inside the liberal echo chamber (of which I consider Slate a part).

        Only someone living inside a partisan liberal bubble (or brainwashed?) would consider these some of the most important skeptical stories to share on this day. Hence my comment.

        1. I can see that you’re very serious about this. I’m sure that you treat everything with 100% skepticism and are not biased at all. Please, enlighten me on your ways, you are clearly some sort of hyper-evolved human being.

          1. I am biased. I lean right on most fiscal issues and left on most social issues. But I am skeptical enough to understand that both sides have arguments and make different value judgements. I won’t agree with you on many things, but I won’t think your intentions are bad (even if the effects of the policies you support are).

            However it is your biases at issue here. Based solely on your article selection and your subsequent comments, I would estimate that you are solidly left-liberal, perhaps on the extreme side (although you’d likely not admit to that). All of which I’m fine with.

            I take issue with the fact that you don’t disclose that bias up front. Your bio says your a scientist who likes cooking and cats (I do too, btw). Partisan liberal is nowhere in that description. You’re using the imprimatur of your degree and the skeptical nature of this website to make political judgements which mislead your uninitiated readers.

            You’re not telling them that when it comes to vaccines or crop circles or creationists, you’re going to apply all the skeptical tools in your arsenal, but when it comes to politics you have a definitive bias which colors your thinking (and please don’t anyone try the ‘I have a bias for the truth/facts’ line, because no one wins that argument).

            So if your describe yourself as a scientist and a progressive who also likes cooking and cats – I’m perfectly content. What bothers me is a partisan who like to put up a non-partisan facade.

            And if you have any more questions for this hyper-evolved human being, please feel free to ask :)

          2. My “uninitiated” readers should be able to tell that I am a liberal and make their own judgments on whatever links that I post. I am very obviously politically-left and a feminist. How exactly do I try to hide that?

          3. Please – initiate me to this hyper skeptic’s paradise where false equivalencies abound. Where left leaning academics are just like Fox News and talk radio.
            You’re really trying to catch ’em all!

          4. Wonderful. It shouldn’t be that big of an issue then to alter your bio to reflect your political biases.

            It’s crucially important for skeptics to identify their political biases if they’re going to comment about politics – being “obvious” doesn’t cut it in my mind. It’s not possible to simultaneously be skeptical and politically partisan so you need to identify when you’re turning that part of your brain off.

          5. Yes, Mary, tell us when you’re turning your brain off and being unskeptical. Because skepticism never leads one to reject intellectually and morally bankrupt political philosophies.
            Teach the controversy! Never take a position! Always Be Skepticisming!

          6. Wait… are you really asking for Mary to put “Trigger Warning: Political Views That Might Be Different From Your Own” in her bio? The rest of us out in the real world are under no obligation to protect the integrity of your echo chamber.

          7. Here we go Punchdrunk – this is a version of the tired “I’m a liberal because I’m a skeptic” routine.

            We could argue back and forth about this for hours and no one would win. You know why? Because in the end you will make different value judgements about some things than I will. It has nothing to do with skepticism, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that it does.

            No scientist can answer the question – what should the US’ immigration policy be?

            Social scientists can provide some data, but it’s not possible for them to answer the question because at it’s premise is a series of value judgements.

            The last (and most unskeptical) thing you should do is delude yourself into thinking that your political opponents are “intellectually and morally bankrupt”.

          8. andysci –

            No. I’m asking Mary to identify her political biases up front to prevent people from confusing her partisanship with her skepticism – two completely different things. She has chosen to write about politics and she’s already identified herself as a liberal in the comments. Seems like a trivial thing to ask.

            I’m not asking her to change the content or tone of anything she’s written. It’s her space, she can write what she wants.

          9. No, that was more of a ‘you’re an insulting jackass’ routine. Just talking about you.
            Carry on insulting everyone here, it’s working real well.

          10. It seems to me that that’s exactly what you’re saying. The links that Mary posted are clearly political in nature, on a strongly liberal-leaning feminist blog. Yet, you haven’t actually posted any real discussion or counter-arguments to the points raised, beyond a resounding “nuh-uh!” It just sounds like your cranky because people disagree with you.

          11. Sorry, what? On a blog that is anything but conservative, there needs to be a disclaimer on every single post? That’s just ridiculous. If you’re keeping track, I’m a democratic socialist.

          12. andysci – you’re missing my point. I’m not angry that people disagree with me. Nor am I angry that this is a left-liberal blog.

            I am suggesting that a skeptical feminist blog – or it’s writers – identify it’s left-liberal political biases when writing about politics, thereby identifing the fact that they’re being politically partisan, not skeptical. It’s a pretty modest proposal, not sure why there is so much pushback.

          13. A scientist or skeptic can’t tell you “what should US immigration policy be”, but a scientist or skeptic can address the question: “If we want US society to evolve into a society where all individuals are respected as individuals and human rights do not depend on race, gender, ethnicity, political persuasion, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, wealth, education, or other privileges, then what should US immigration policy be to facilitate this change.”

            Liberals appreciate that Conservatives don’t want US society to evolve into one where rights don’t depend on privilege. Why won’t Conservatives be honest and simply say so?

          14. Daedalus – show me the scientist who has answered your question. Incidentally, your question is the same as my question, because in the US right now human rights don’t depend on any of the classifications you mentioned.

            And you have your subsequent formulation exactly backwards. Only in leftist socialist/communist societies are rights dependent upon privilege. The chosen ‘elite’ in Venezuela, Cuba, NKorea, China, etc. all have rights conferred to them from the ruling party in exchange for their ‘loyalty’.

        2. And that’s tu quoque, congrats on a well deserved trifecta.

          The articles were about the delusions inside the Republican party (and conservative circles), stating that academia tends to be liberal (no shit) is as relevant as pointing out that models tend to be tall, bankers tend to be rich, or comedians tend to tell jokes, that is not at all.

          1. Incorrect accusations of logical fallacies aside (you keep using those words, I do not think they mean what you think they mean), you’re so close to actually seeing my point. I’ll try one more time.

            “The articles were about the delusions inside the Republican Party.” The key word here is “delusions” – as judged by whom?

            Of course the answer is partisan liberals.

            Let’s take this full circle to our other discussion. I think you’re delusional for believing Obamacare will be a success. And you already know I have a free market, fiscally conservative bias. In the world I live in, you’re the flake for thinking the way you do.

            But I acknowledge my bias – I don’t really think you’re a flake. I think you’re mistaken and the health care law will have horrible adverse effects for our country, but I don’t think you intentionally want those bad things to happen.

            Partisan liberals are increasingly comfortable labeling their political opponents as “delusional” or “brainwashed” (or “terrorists”, to steal a White House term). Conservatives aren’t just wrong on an issue or two, they’re fracking nuts!

            This was the cognitive dissonance I was attempting to illustrate in Mary’s post – she can point out this “delusion” in others but not herself. And it appears that you suffer from it as well.

          2. Boo hoo hoo, the feminist blog is liberal, boo hoo hoo.

            Are you dense? I ask because while I was under the impression that you were just butthurt about somebody questioning you opinion you seem to think that you have some right to tell Skepchick what they should be posting. that’s gaslighting BTW, I hope I used it correctly. (I did)

            As for the “incorrect accusations of logical fallacies” they are standard definitions, and you say I won’t look at facts. Ha!

            I have a suggestion for you, they have these places on the internet where you can post your opinions and nobody can tell you what to think (not that they won’t try). A few that come to mind are Live Journal, Blogspot, Tumblr, and there are many others. Give them a try, you might like them.

            As for delusions, I see shutting the government down to re-fight a lost battle that you can’t win as delusional, I see the insistence of using numbers from proven unreliable sources over and over and over as delusional, and I see a party who created a rage-fueled monster that has taken over yet refuses to recognize it as delusional. Not all Republicans are delusional, some Democrats are delusional, but only one of those parties are being controlled by their delusions, care to guess which one?

          3. I’m not concerned that a feminist blog is liberal. I’m arguing that a skeptical feminist blog which doubles as a partisan liberal advocacy site for issues unrelated to feminism should identify their political biases up front.

            I don’t care what anyone writes about, I care that they use the imprimatur of impartiality and skepticism to add legitimacy to partisan political positions.

            I have no issue with a liberal advocacy blog – as long as they identify themselves as such.

          4. There is a good list of a number of logical fallacies that Conservatives use.


            It isn’t the fault of liberals that reality has a liberal bias. It is more the demonstration of the superiority of the liberal viewpoint that it has a reality bias.

            Republicans could adopt a reality bias, but then they wouldn’t be conservatives, they would be liberals too.

          5. Mrmisconception – I suggest you read through my comments again. I’m not telling anyone what to write, I’m asking skeptical blog posters to identify their political biases when writing about politics.

            Daedalus – thank you for posting the perfect example of the point I’m making: “It isn’t the fault of liberals that reality has a liberal bias.” There is so much cognitive dissonance (along with condescension and incredible arrogance) wrapped up in that one sentence that I’m not sure if you can possibly be serious.

            In a cloistered echo chamber, that kind of sentiment maybe gets a chuckle or two but is never challenged because people want to believe that it’s true. I challenge everyone who read that sentence to ask yourselves if, in fact, that was your first response. Hell, some of you may even argue that is it true!

            (Which would be an interesting sociological experiment actually)

            This is why skepticism and politics have a hard time coming together. Politics – especially for the extreme ends of the spectrum – resembles a belief system like creationism. Your side is always right (or in lieu of that, reality always skews toward your side).

            In this belief system the other side is either brainwashed or insane and you are the reality based community. There’s no skepticism there.

            I found this site through the SGU podcast, which I love. If this site has de-emphasized skepticism in favor of partisan liberal politics, then fine. How about letting people know that. If it’s “obvious” that only liberals write here, then advertise that fact, and don’t mislead readers into thinking any skepticism goes into the political content here.

          6. You can go tell all the big news/aggregate blogs the same – The Raw Story, Fox News, Gawker, WorldNetDaily, Mother Jones, Breitbart – none of them announce with a banner ad that they lean one direction. No skeptic site that I know of has a flaming “LIBERTARIAN AHEAD” on their main page.
            Why is it so fucking important here? Why are you singling out Skepchick?
            And you are singling out this site. If you claim you aren’t, please provide links to you needling people on other sites about not announcing their politics to your satisfaction.
            Otherwise, stop shitting all over because you get off on it. We don’t share your fetish.

          7. And you of course will be dogging Michael Shermer, Penn Jillette, Brian Dunning, ect. insisting that they disclose their libertarian leanings? Seems only fair right?

            Skepticism stands on its own, if you see an actual problem with the skepticism of an article (beyond not liking it) please bring it forward. So far all I see is arguments that liberals are biased, that skepticism must be non-partisan, and that.. em, well OH-YEAH?

            Give some good arguments that are not about the tone of someone else’s blog or grow up.

          8. Punch – I agree, libertarian skeptics and journalists should disclose at the very least what party they voted for in the last election.

            I don’t read many skeptic sites, and really stick with ones authored by SGU hosts. Steve Novella rarely if ever discuss politics and does so evenhandedly in those instances. In my experience (albeit limited) this is the outlier.

            You don’t have to share my opinion, however the overwhelming desire to tell me to shut up is interesting. Either I have a point or I don’t – Mary has partly conceded my point – I’ll be interested to see if anything changes.

            Mrmisconception – I have a hard time discussing a topic with someone who refuses to engage my arguments. Yes, liberals are biased. So are conservatives.

            Yes, skepticism by definition is non-partisan.

            And for the cheap seats – I don’t care what tone the writers here use. I’m not asking anyone to modify the content of a blog post.

            Is it the mere existence of a dissenting viewpoint which so infuriates you?

          9. No, what is infuriating me is that you have made NO ARGUMENTS that don’t amount to tone.
            You are being disingenuous as hell and pretending to not understand why people want you to move on.
            Anyone with children will recognize this tactic as the “I’m not touching you, you can’t get mad” school of argumentation. I’ll suggest again that you grow up.

          10. I’m not telling you to shut up, I’m bagging on you for insulting people who haven’t done shit to you.

          11. And I guess that means you’re just needling people here? Your full disclosure crusade begins and ends with Skepchick?

          12. tj902310 skepticism does stand on its own and doesn’t need any disclosures as to the politics of the person using it, provided the skepticism is actually based on facts and logic.

            That is the problem that Conservatives can’t deal with. They want their own facts and their own logic so they reach the conclusions they want and then proclaim it to be “skeptical”.

            As I pointed out upthread, yes, skepticism can’t answer the question “what should US immigration policy be”. It can answer the question “if we want US society to become XYZ, what should US immigration policy be”.

            It is disingenuous to say skepticism doesn’t answer the question because skepticism can answer the question, it just depends what question you are asking.

            Skepticism can answer the question “if we want US society to become a fascist oligarchy, where wealthy, white, Christian, Conservative, males have most/all of the power, what should US immigration policy be.”

            It is pretty clear that the GOP has that goal as its policy driver and all of its policies are selected based on that goal, a goal which they won’t disclose.

          13. It is pretty clear that the GOP has that goal as its policy driver and all of its policies are selected based on that goal, a goal which they won’t disclose.

            Daedalus – To be fair I don’t think many of them realize that it is their goal, only that they desperately wish to keep their power (God, or Ayn Rand, given as it is) or better yet return to the times that never were when their ideas reigned supreme. But that may be giving most of them too much credit.

          14. Daedalus – surely you can see that the very formulation of your question – “if we want society to become XYZ” – implies value judgements. I’ll set aside for the moment the rest of your condescending and arrogant comment because, like Mrmisconception, you’re very close to getting my point.

            Once you’ve made a value judgement, you’re right that science, social or otherwise, can help answer a public policy question. But until that value judgement is made, science can’t help. Can science weigh in on, say, Citizen’s United? Absolutely not. It’s a matter of law, not science. How about social security? Science can project when the fake trust fund will go broke, but not what we should do about, which would involve value judgements.

            I really wonder if you can’t see this or are just screwing with me.

    3. Sometimes, people have trouble figuring out whether or not they’re acting like a narcissistic asshole. This is a common problem on the internet. To alleviate this difficulty, I’ve come up with a simple formula. Let x be the number of words in a blog post. Let y be the total number of words you’ve written in comments responding to that blog post. If y>2x, you’re probably acting like a narcissistic asshole.

      I hope you find this helpful, tj902310!

      1. My original comment was way less than 2x.

        However I misjudged the level of cognitive dissonance among the readership here, which required a few more words.

        Or were you just telling me to shut up and not offering to help?

        1. Was cognitive dissonance featured on you Word-of-the-Day toilet paper recently?
          You seem to be confusing jokes with facts, and opinions with facts, and blatantly cooked numbers as facts.
          You wouldn’t be experiencing any cognitive dissonance though because you believe that you are right.
          However, on the subjects being discussed the numbers, the news, and history point to the liberal point of view as being more correct. There is no cognitive dissonance when your facts line up with reality, get a new pet phrase.

          1. One person is paying more? Gasp!

            Good God Man! EVERYBODY, WE HAVE PROOF OF FAILURE! We must stop this now before anyone notices all the people it is helping. Where can we find more antidotes like this? WE NEED DATA!

            Conservative policies have not worked, and while liberal policies are not perfect they are closer to reality. It wasn’t rigged that way, it just is that way.
            I really am starting to wonder if you know what skepticism actually is since you appear to be a human fallacy machine.

  2. Switzerland’s welfare proposal has a lot to recommend it from an economist’s perspective. It gives people an incentive to get work if they can (because they will earn more working than not), but if someone can’t find work they don’t have to worry about having their benefit cut off or having to spend a lot of time convincing a caseworker that they are trying hard enough to find work. This idea has been kicked around in the economics literature for quite some time, in fact the first economist to discuss the idea in detail was Milton Friedman. A monthly income of $2,800 seems like a lot (this type of programme is expensive), but if they can make the math work good for them.

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