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Rebecca Watson

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    Prestigious science journals don’t only publish great, peer-reviewed research. They also publish opinion pieces, and despite their quality s […]

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    In the wake of yet another school shooting — and I mean Parkland but I could mean any of the other school shooting that have happened since […]

    • >Real guns are fine…

      Not that I agree with the sentient Cheeto occupying the White House about video game violence, but the sale and possession of real guns IS regulated. I would prefer the government practice enforcing the current laws restricting the sale and possession of firearms before we add more laws.

      • Basically, yeah.

        Here’s the funny part: All these school massacres (though still statistically pretty rare), people are trying to figure out what causes kids to snap and no one looks at the elephant in the room: Every last one of these murderers had exposure to white supremacist or other far-right (e.g., MRA, pickup artist) subculture. (Just so we’re aware: When I’m talking “far-right”, I don’t just mean “idiots who think supply-side economics will work this time”. I mean the idiots who think there’s a secret plot to commit genocide against whites. Whole different animal, though the two are codependent on each other.)

        There’s your X factor, ladies and gentlemen. Not exposure to guns, not exposure to video games or violent movies, not even exposure to icosahedral dice. Exposure to Nazis.

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    I really didn’t want to talk about this, but the BBC has forced my hand by posting an inane video promoting the claims of Johann Hari and h […]

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    Women report getting more rude comments from coworkers than men do, so a University of Arizona study set out to figure out who was making the […]

    • >I do expect that to be the conclusion drawn by Redditors and YouTube commenters.

      For sure. It’s common to make sense of subtle findings by leaning on your biases and ideology … like speculating that this meanness is a result of the bully adopting male practices or blaming it on the patriarchy.

    • Excellent! I listened raptly, until the last minute, when I was chuckling too forcefully to catch every word. (So I played it back, of course.) I strongly suspect, with absolutely no evidence, that further studies will show a narrowing of difference between male and female behavior, once confounders are eliminated. We are far more alike than we are different.

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    An article in the New York Times announced that a new study shows “The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity,” which caught my eye […]

    • You know, the point about the title being out of whack with the article has come up in these pages many times before.

      The point I want to make is, that title may not be the author’s fault, at least not entirely.

      Several times in my life, something I have written has had the title changed by somebody else, be it a coauthor, a professor or somebody who I have trusted and ought to know better – in this case, perhaps an editor.

      I had gone along with it at the time and lived to cop the fallout because the article was NOT written to that title and the context had changed.

      For instance what had been a secondary point now becomes the main point and there may not be enough data to support that conclusively – or something along those lines, let’s keep it vague.

      The point being, I feel sorry for the author in that scenario because I have been there and done that and I bet it happens all the time.

      For this reason if I were to write an article these days I would always insist on my own original title.

    • That being said, New York Times shits me to tears sometimes.

      A couple of weeks ago they had an article up with the title
      “Wall Street Falls…” with quite a dismal, negative and almost hysterical story.

      There was even a live chart attached – showing not a decrease but a 0.4% increase!

      Turns out there was a fall of just 0.3% 15 minutes before, which must have triggered the article.

      Wall Street was in fact up on that day and on following days.

      Said article has now been removed but it was up long enough to cause confusion and panic if you failed to read the actual data and make your own conclusions.

      All this made me think back fondly to Bad Chart Thursdays.

    • Your point is good, that it’s a lot EASIER to restrict calorie intake with a high fibre diet. Calorie restriction is still necessary though.

      In actual fact I have done something similar to Rebecca’s Twinkie diet, though not for weight loss but to try and heal after a botched surgical procedure.

      The diet was 100% carbohydrate, 2 liters of lemonade per day for two weeks (125 ml/hour, on the hour, 800 calories/day). I lost 4-5 kg; strangely I was not affected by hunger at all, though I did have a powerful incentive.

      So with discipline, an all carb diet can work for a short period, but highly not recommended, do not try this at home kids!

      • I meant to add, the best quote I have ever heard on this subject:-

        “Eat food. Not too much, mostly vegetables”.

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    Look, we all know YouTube is a disgusting cesspit. Case in point, if this video has been live for more than an hour, take a look at the […]

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    A few months ago, a reporter for Buzzfeed got in touch with me asking if I would talk to them about an investigation they were doing on […]

    • According to the Personnel List on their site, Lindsay is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry. I finally dumped CFI after my local chapter sponsored a showing of “The Red Pill” last May and everyone loved it. Awful people from top to bottom.

      Interesting that the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism invited Krauss to speak in 2014. Difficult to believe that they did not know about the accusations against Krauss, but maybe they just wanted to sell tickets instead of believing the women.They present themselves as “good guys.” They are not.

    • These same people think it’s more likely that all the accusations against Sandusky are made for money than that there is any truth to them.
      Some skeptics are awfully unskeptical.

    • Even without the toxic bro-dom, how can we speak of an ‘atheist community’ if it would have to include red-diaper Stalinists and Randroids under the same tent?

      Not believing in any deities doesn’t even preclude devotion to other superstitions, e.g. all the idiotic evo-psych MRA/PUA horseshit.

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    A few weeks ago, I published a video about how a Republican representative in Arizona was too grossed out about periods to do his job, which […]

    • I applaud particularly your penultimate paragraph regarding “inclusion of those usually left out” because I was thinking exactly the same the other night while watching Q&A on the ABC where Catherine McGregor was on the panel.

      I thought it was really tragic that after all the angst she undoubtedly went through to get to where she is now, a large number of people would not even recognise her present status as a woman. She was well aware of this and wisely refused to be drawn on questions relating to women’s issues.

      I do not know much about her but though her politics may be conservative clearly she has a razor sharp intellect and was worth listening to on the subjects of geopolitics, Putin and hacking, topical in Australia now as much as in the US.

      (I use “She” above rather than “They” or whatever because she clearly identifies as such and I will not deny her that respect)

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    Iceland is considering becoming the first country in the world to ban infant circumcision, the practice of removing a newborn’s foreskin f […]

    • Thank you, Rebecca! When I was doing my Family Practice residency, we were told we had to learn the techniques of circumcision, even if we did not intend to perform the practice after graduation. “Well”, I said, “How on Earth can I learn the technique without doing it?” You can’t, I was told. “Forget it”, I said. There was a stink, policy was changed, and to this day I have not performed one (and never will, unless medically necessary).

    • Did routine male circumcision ever catch on in Iceland? The US situation had nothing to do with Judaism or Islam, rather with frantic anti-masturbation crusades by John Harvey Kellog etc.

      Jewish circumcision is outside medical control, and is demanded in the first few days or weeks of a boy’s life. I believe there are active Jewish anti-circ groups around already. It shouldn’t be such a huge issue for people who want real reform. My stepson’s mother kept him intact, and his, at least cultural, Judaism has never been in doubt.

      And, how did you cover this topic without mentioning Islam? There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Muslim boys getting cut for every Jewish boy. Though not with the pressure to do it on any particular schedule.

    • Tangent: occasionally well known sci if authors will have a character go off on a quick screed about some moral issue.
      In 3001: A space Odyssey, the main character hooks up with a woman, and she goes off on how they can’t actually have sex because he is mutilated.
      Always amused me, and less offensive than the random gay guy talking about how glad he was he married a woman and had kids in one of the Bean sequels to Enders Game.

    • What I have trouble getting my head around is the fact that somewhere, several thousands of years ago some twisted thinking person did this for the first time …

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    Bots are hot news these days, which interests me because I’ve spent many years talking about the role of algorithms on social networks used t […]

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    Sometimes, very lucrative jobs are extremely dangerous. For instance, you can make a lot of money on fishing boats or oil rigs, working long, […]

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    How do we convince people to accept basic facts that seem to be at odds with their belief systems? That’s a question I t […]

    • In other news, anyone in Tennessee want to help Gayle Jordan? She’s getting all kinds of hate for being an atheist while running for Congress.

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    Imagine there are state-run prisons in which prisoners get 10 squares of toilet paper a week. Single ply. If they want any […]

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    Here’s a fun lie our culture teaches us: “bad” girls are sluts who will say “yes” to “risky” sex with anyone and everyone, […]

    • That ‘object’ sample is the worm in the apple of ‘consent’ language. Safety from coercion is barely a minimum on the way to autonomy, active self-interest, and the framing and owning of personal desire and intention.

      The Right, if it even thinks about consent, will frame it as transactional, or severely compromised by coercion and peer-pressure.

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    Yesterday Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address. This video is not about that address because I didn’t watch it. I h […]

    • I disagree with the implication that progressives have a monopoly on ethics and morality. Or that there are no conservatives, libertarians, or republicans in the Science community. Or that it is wrong for Bill Nye to accept an invite to the SOU by a sitting representative who may be heading-up NASA in the near future. Or that ‘500 Women Scientists’ speak for actual 500 women scientists, or for anyone outside of the board of that organization. Or that making Science, and not just the opinions of individual scientists, partisan is a good thing – it’s one thing for pushing back on political encroachment into the scientific realm (like politicians claiming there is no evidence for climate change and then forcing that view on researches), it’s another to make it seem like Science has a stance on divisive cultural or political issues – like immigration policy, or gay marriage or social spending.

      I guess I disagree with everything.

    • I agree with Bill Nye that science should be bipartisan, and I agree with Rebecca that it isn’t that way presently. I’m not convinced his actions here will do any good, but I understand what he’s trying to do, and whether he’s successful or not (I’m guessing not, at least not right now), his attempt doesn’t need to be attacked by anyone. Maybe if things are going to change regarding the perception of science, then we may need to see a lot more attempts to communicate and less to alienate.

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    Rocket Lab is a startup in New Zealand that is going to launch a project that will be a “reminder to all on Earth a […]

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    If you’ve been on Tumblr or online dating apps in the past year, you’ve probably heard the term “sapiosexual.” I have definitely seen it in m […]

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    Oh my god, on the last day of January we’re going to experience a SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON! I don’t know what that is but it sounds scary as fuc […]

    • Sorry for the nit, but since a plane can be defined by 3 points, the Earth, moon, and sun are always in the same plane.

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    Can scientists use technology to make you experience “god”? The answer is “sort of, ma […]

  • You may recall that back in 2008, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein got a sweetheart deal in which he served just 13 months in prison for raping girls as young as 13. Evidence has since emerged to suggest that he […]

    • “But on the plus side, at least he makes Lawrence Krause look positively angelic.”

      Perhaps Trivers is on Krause’s payroll as well as Epstein’s? Maybe Krause is paying Trivers to be more of a jerk than him so that he’ll look better by comparison?

      Just a thought.

    • I’m sick over this. The American Humanist Association is awarding Krauss Humanist of the Year. I became a member of that organization because I saw Rebecca Hale speak, and she convinced me that the AHA supported feminism, unlike several other secular organizations I had formerly supported and found wanting.

      I plan to write to Hale and suggest other AHA members do as well. Someone who would defend a pedophile and blatantly lie about having knowledge of the accusations is not worthy of any honor.

    • I went back to reread the article from 2011 and there is DJ Grothe defending Krauss. No wonder Grothe defended Michael Shermer, he had practice excusing rapists.

      No if you’ll excuse me I need to go vomit in the shower.

    • “I didn’t see it, therefore it didn’t happen.

      Wow, how scientific!

    • ““By the time they’re 14 or 15, they’re like grown women were 60 years ago, so I don’t see these acts as so heinous.”

      Wow. Just because a girl might be physiologically ready, does not mean she is mentally ready for sexual relationships. In any case, it’s really not healthy for people who are 20+ years the senior of an adolescent to be trying to engage with them sexually. If they are ready for sex, there are plenty of other age-appropriate adolescents around for them to engage with.

      I would ask these men why they can’t find more age appropriate sexual partners. Is there something wrong with the women who are relatively close to the SAME AGE AS YOU to have relationships with?

      • People with severe mental disabilities, those under the influence, or those in one’s custody (eg. prison guards with prisoners) are also “physiologically ready”.

        The world record for the youngest ever mother is 5-years-old (she and her daughter are still alive today). She was obviously physiological ready.

    • “By the time they’re 14 or 15, they’re like grown women were 60 years ago, so I don’t see these acts as so heinous.”

      I didn’t need a training bra or pads until I was 14.

      I want to vomit.

    • “Krauss said he would feel cowardly if he turned away from Epstein…”

      Mother fucker, cowardly is supporting an admitted child rapist because he pays your bills! If Krauss ever talks about morals again, I will absolutely lose my shit.

      Craven selfish lickspittle.

    • I thought it was disgusting when Lawrence Krauss was the keynote speaker at the Northeast Conference of Science and Skepticism in 2014. I expected some protest, but never noticed any. It’s a conference I never plan to attend, due to NECSS’ questionable judgement in selecting speakers.

      • I had totally forgotten about this (I have a great memory for utter trivia, but terrible one for important stuff.) At the time it was a large factor in my decision not to attend NECSS last year. I’ve already got my ticket for this year, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. (That works, right?)

        I have a Pamela Gay “Stopping Harassment Starts Here” t-shirt from TAM 12 (right after the elevator incident, the last TAM I attended or ever will attend.) Maybe we can come up with something suitable if there are more crappy speakers. (Crappy in the POS sense, not the rambling incoherent boring sense. I’m happy with boring.)

    • There is no way to excuse a mature adult who has used an underage person for sex, whether or not money was involved. People who support those who have made a habit of doing so aren’t much better.

      That said, isn’t a pedophile someone with a strong preference for sex with prepubescent children? A young woman of 13 who “has been using menstrual pads and training bras for two years or so.” clearly isn’t prepubescent, regardless of the calendar.

      I mention this only because I’m tired of seeing “pedophile” thrown around casually and inaccurately.

      • Yes, we wouldn’t want a good word like pedophile sullied like that.

      • Non-pedantically, in the way that people use language, ‘kidfucker’ and ‘pedophile’ are entirely interchangeable.
        Don’t know why you’re tired of using a live language. (I hope it’s not just the word ‘pedophile’ you’re hung up on – that would be weird)

        • A pedophile is someone with a mental illness who needs treatment. A child rapist is a child rapist regardless of their mental health. A pedophile may or may not be a child rapist, a child rapist may or may not be a pedophile. It’s not pedantic to separate the two and to use language accurately. Using pedophile when you mean child rapist stigmatizes mental illness in exactly the same way as using ‘retard’ when you mean stupid or ignorant. It prevents people who need help from asking for it, which puts the whole community in danger.

          • All I’m saying is, the vernacular changes. Good or bad, the horse is out of the barn. The same way ‘misogynist’ has come to mean the same thing as ‘chauvinist’ in my lifetime.
            It’s a losing battle, the ship has sailed, can’t put the genie back in the bottle and all that. People keep trying to change language, but prescriptive changes almost never stick.
            And people with a sexual attraction to kids are going to be viewed as dangerous. Because kids are vulnerable and the rest of us have a duty to protect them. There’s no linguistic trick to make that not so.
            Admitting to pedophilia is always going to be like admitting that you have a constant urge to commit mass murder. I don’t see any way to take the stigma out of that.

        • Also, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people defend using words like ‘fag’ or ‘retard’ because “this how how people use language”. It’s not okay.

          • Gay people and people with disabilities are not inherently dangerous, are not moved by internal pressures to harm others.
            Describing a kidfucker as a pedophile is not the same thing. It’s a semantic quibble.

    • I’m not a fan of mob justice. It disgusts me almost as much as rape. Krauss may be an ass sometimes, and he’s not the best spokesperson for or the most eloquent of freethinkers, but hasn’t been convicted or even accused of a crime. He may be blinded by his loyalty to Epstein, but that doesn’t make him anywhere near a monster on the same level as Epstein.

      You are twisting Krauss’ words. He is correct when he says that he doesn’t know anything about the allegations. He wasn’t there and didn’t observe any indications that they were true at the time. What he’s experienced makes difficult for him to square his observations with the known facts in this case. But just like Krauss, many people discussing this issue are allowing their personal viewpoints to override their rationality. Does Krauss have misplaced devotion to his former associate? Yes, but vilifying a person by defining them by one or two short statements they’ve made seems illogical to me, and insinuating that they’re doing it for financial gain based on circumstantial evidence is libelous. These are tactics used by anti-GMO, anti-vax, and other promoters of pseudoscience, not a rational freethinker’s blog.

      Trivers’ statement is somewhat more difficult to stomach, but to say that he’s not sensible and lacks compassion is in itself an insensible and uncompassionate statement. He didn’t say what Epstein did wasn’t a heinous crime. He compared the consequences of the rape of a prepubescent child to the consequences for a teenager closer to adulthood. Insensitive? Yes. But to call him a “giant piece of shit” is ridiculous and completely uncalled for in my opinion. In fact it smacks of thoughtcrime to me. Saying it damages your credibility as a rational freethinker and it certainly doesn’t help Epstein’s victims.

      • Kidfucker apologist = giant piece of shit.
        Works for me.

      • Your opinion is duly noted, please excuse me for not sharing it.

      • What is “mob justice”? Define your terms.

        Also “It disgusts me almost as much as rape. ”

        Your priorities are FUCKED UP.

        He is an ******ADMITTED PEDOPHILE******

        Jesus. Even when we know for *sure* that someone is a terrible human being who has done terrible things to other people, we have to handle them with kid gloves.

        Yeah, rape culture totally doesn’t exist.

        Fuck that shit.

      • “These are tactics used by anti-GMO, anti-vax, and other promoters of pseudoscience, not a rational freethinker’s blog.”

        Oh for fuck’s sake, it’s not the same thing at all. You’re grasping at straws all because you want to defend a pedophile and the pedophile’s defenders. WHY?

      • “Trivers’ statement is somewhat more difficult to stomach, but to say that he’s not sensible and lacks compassion is in itself an insensible and uncompassionate statement.”
        Well, he basically decided that those children were totes not children and therefore worthy the protection children are entitled to is totes compassionate.

        “He didn’t say what Epstein did wasn’t a heinous crime. He compared the consequences of the rape of a prepubescent child to the consequences for a teenager closer to adulthood.”
        So, he’s doing this “objectively ranking rapes from worst to “stop making such a fuss”, which apparently means that raping a teenager isn’t quite so bad, therefore what he said wasn’t totally excusing the rape of teenagers.

        “Insensitive? Yes. But to call him a “giant piece of shit” is ridiculous and completely uncalled for in my opinion. ”
        PoS is a mild term for men who think that raping teenagers isn’t that bad because they have grown tits and pubic hair.

        “In fact it smacks of thoughtcrime to me.”
        Thoughtcrimes don’t actually exist. Nobody can read your thoughts. But saying horrible things is an action and being called out on it isn’t “punishing thoughts”
        Are you seriously suggesting that we should kindly refrain from judging people who think that raping teenagers isn’t quite bad?

        Rape apology, more magical than measles at Disneyworld.

      • Your ideas are intriguing to me, but I’m pretty sure if I subscribe to your newsletter, I’ll be put on some sort of list.

      • Nobody is saying Krauss is on the same level as Epstein, and you’re absolutely right he hasn’t been charged or accused of a crime – no one is saying so.

        As for “mob justice”, Krauss is hardly being lynched. He’s facing words which are criticsm of his own words. He’s free to give his opinion, and others are free to give theirs. Free speech works both ways. It doesn’t protect one from criticsm of one’s words.

    • Robert Trivers has done brilliant work in evolutionary theory, and his ideas have been very influential in shaping my thinking about natural selection and social theory (to borrow the title of one of his books). How disappointing to learn that he’s a moral weakling, willing to apply his considerable intellect not to the rational search for truth but the rationalizing defense of the pedophilia of his wealthy patron. What gross behavior from a scientist who was once cited as a positive example by the biologist Marlene Zuk when writing on how feminism can strengthen inquiry into animal behavior (“Feminism and the Study of Animal Behavior,” Zuk 1993).

      • “and social theory ”

        And now his social theory work has been tainted. He is no longer credible. Because he is a pedophile apologist and defender. He doesn’t know shit about social theory, obviously.

        • It’s a fair point, but I’ll note that “social theory” in the evolutionary sense and “social theory” in the sense of human societies are very different things. The evolution of social systems can occur by mechanisms that we would judge morally repugnant by human standards (deception, exploitation, theft, killing, etc.). The “values” of evolution are not, and should not be, the values of human society. (A point the MRAs can’t seem to wrap their heads around.) Trivers can be clueless about moral behavior and still insightful on the mechanisms of the evolution of social systems. But, his behavior does call into question his overall intellectual integrity, at least to me.

    • Triver’s has a reputation at his college for being a nutter and shit stirrer.
      *He was suspended for refusing to teach a class
      *Has been banned from campus several times for numerous confrontations.

      For being an expert in social theory he seems to have horrific social skills

    • When Trivers was at UCSC I heard people from his department describe how disappointed they were with him; they felt they’d made a terrible mistake getting him.

    • It’s all very suspicious. Just the other day Jerry Coyne (a friend of Alan Dershowitz) posted a 16-minute YouTube of Woody Allen and was slobbering over that little weirdo like he was Da Bomb. Worse, there was no kick back in the comments, just ‘Isn’t Woody a clever boy!’-type fawning. Yuck.

    • I note how, in the original post dealing with this issue, Krauss begins by using “as a scientist”, but latter, when saying he doesn’t wish to discuss the details he found out after looking into the matter further, that “I don’t think these are issues that are relevant to Jeffrey’s support of science, my scientific credentials etc.. “

    • DJ Groethe, in comments to the original post, defends the sitution somewhat, by questioning both age of consent laws and prostitution laws.

      If, however, Epstein is an opponent of such laws, there is a lot he could have done instead of simply break those laws.

      With his money, he could have launched a ballot initiative in California, and potentially change the laws regarding consent or prostitution in the largest state of the union.

      Alternatively, instead of taking a plea deal and ensuring most details remain secret, he could have taken the issue to court, allowing all the details to become public so that everyone can see the facts and know that, while he may have broken the law, he did nothing wrong and that these were unjust laws.

      He could have also appealed the case, challenging the constitutionally of laws prohibiting sex between consenting adults (or an adult and a teenager). Gay men did this first, and unsuccessfully, in Bowers v. Hardwick. In fact, the appellants in that case insisted on being prosecuted, even when the authorities wanted to drop the charges. The then did it in Lawrence v. Texas, where the defence attorney actually argues for an increase in the fine levied, so that it was above the amount which would allow an appeal.

      Epstein certainly had the money, and the celebrity, to turn his case into a cause célèbre against either prostitution laws or age of consent laws.

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