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Rebecca Watson

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    Happy #NationalSelfieDay! This is the day that we celebrate as our ancient ancestors did, by taking 400 […]

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    The field of psychology has, for the past few years, been undergoing a bit of an identity crisis. As I’ve discussed before, they’re hav […]

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    In my monthly live show, Quiz-o-Tron, in which comedians battle scientists on science trivia, I used to always have a category called […]

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    President Donald Trump has just ordered the Pentagon to immediately start setting up a sixth branch of our military: the space force. I […]

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    I know this is going to be hard to hear, so brace yourselves: most of y’all are disgusting. I mean, absolutely disgusting. And I say that a […]

    • In other news, what’s with these Chinese factories and loose policies about handwashing?

      I expect some neoliberal will say “But you can’t judge them for not making their employees wash their hands. Or for using lead-based paint in toys and other products made for children.”

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    I’ve talked a few times about the “Mexico City Policy,” also known as the Global Gag Rule, which Donald Trump reinstated upon entering offic […]

    • This is actually typical Republican nonsense. Bush did the same thing.

      (Though you’d think if all these women were getting raped by Mexicans, as Donnie says, they should at least have access to abortion.)

    • Rebecca Watson,

      I’m hoping that we are able to somehow get the Mexico City Policy to be declared unconstitutional, Unfortunately, the more far right judges Trump is able to appoint, the less likely that’s going to happen.

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    One of the weirdest things about being alive is that in order to just survive, we humans need to spend about a quarter of our lives unconscious and […]

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    Big news out of Rome, you guys — Pope Awesome Guy III has privately, quietly, allegedly told a gay man that “God made you this way.” Thi […]

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    I just saw Deadpool 2 and I have to talk about it so heads up! Major, major spoilers are incoming. I’m giving you 5 seconds to nope out of h […]

    • I would expect at least a “Killing your archnemesis’s girlfriend. Oh, how original.”

    • I am not much for superhero movies unless I want to spend time with friends and friends are going, so I was happy to take the spoilerage.

      However I am completely down with the “hates swans.” I have nearly been mugged by swans twice. They may look good but they are pure malevolence.

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    What’s the dumbest thing a Republican lawmaker can say in reference to climate change? Is it Donald Trump saying it’s a Chinese con […]

    • “Scientists in the 1970s believed that humans were causing the earth to cool”.

      Let’s see – as an undergraduate in the 70s I recall that there were indeed cooling effects and heating effects but that at that point there was insufficient data to determine which tendency dominated.

      I think that is a fair statement of the facts although I would not mind being corrected by, you know, an ACTUAL CLIMATE SCIENTIST rather than some political hack.

      • Just to expand on that a bit – the most significant temperature increases occur at the poles and measurement requires remote sensors and satellite data, for which mass production of cheap very large scale integrated circuits was a decade or so away.

        Ah, the good old days, when software was punch cards and paper tape and digital circuits were soldered together manually from individual transistors!

    • So, Mr. Congresscritter, answer me this…Rocks have been falling into the sea for like forever. So why are we just now seeing this sea level rise?

      • Do you think we could convince him that the cubic kilometers of ice falling off Antarctica and Greenland are functionally equivalent to bloody big rocks?

    • Damn! I’m gonna be in San Diego this weekend, and was gonna go swimming, but now I’m worried that I will cause flooding in Kiribati. Wait…I will swim at low tide! Problem solved!

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    One of my favorite emerging fields of study in the sciences right now is the what I’m calling metaphorical scatology — not the study of a […]

    • Just a quick note, but, those “Palestinian protesters”? Yeah, about that… By the way, Hamas is refusing medical aid because if these people die, it means they get added to the death toll. Isn’t that nice?

      Bad enough to have people like Linda Sarsour going around saying “oh we’re just like those people in North Dakota”. No. No, they’re not like us and they never will be.

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    So recently I learned via social media that England decided to kill a toddler and that’s why we can’t have single payer healthcare in the Uni […]

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    Pearson is a company that produces educational publications and software, including a program called MyLab that is used by college students […]

    • This is a great piece, and I agree that this is ethically wrong. I think it’s worth noting how incredibly widespread this practice really is, though. I work in the free-to-play mobile gaming industry and we run dozens of huge AB tests on our user base every day in every product. Most large scale mobile apps do. You are certainly not playing the exact same version of any game as the person next to you on the bus. The margins in free-to-play are so thin that we must find ways to squeeze tenths of a penny out of each user. AB testing is the primary tool for doing this. Turns out people click on in-game store buttons more often if they are green instead of orange, so make ’em green. That sort of thing. It’s definitely sketchy and manipulative, but it’s also a reality that people will not pay for things anymore. This is the only sustainable business model that many companies can find. That doesn’t make it right, but that’s why they do it. For whatever that’s worth.

    • I actually don’t mind Facebook as much as Equifax. I didn’t sign up for Equifax, but my credit information is still available to anyone who wants it for nefarious purposes. That makes my vacation in Mexico look mild by comparison. (Still recalling a breach at my old bank in 2008. Note that it’s not my current bank. I’ve got several thousand reasons why.)

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    Look, I hate rich people just as much as the next filthy liberal hippie. That’s why I was so excited to read a news headline proclaiming that they’re jus […]

    • My instant instinct when I read about the disparity was that the conclusion didn’t seem like the most obvious explanation. As opposed to the affluent being less educated, it seemed to me more likely that the affluent simply could afford to care more. Assuming identical levels of education, and assuming the question was worded appropriately to determine this, poorer people simply can’t afford to CARE about “chemicals” or bogeyman GMOs. So even if they believe these are harmful, or at least less healthy, just like they can’t afford lower-fat meals, for example, they can’t afford fancy organic food. So they’ll look at a price tag long before they look at the ingredients, and even if they do look at both, a 20-50% price difference is going to sway them. Same thing that keeps poor people willing to take more dangerous jobs around legitimately dangerous chemicals or machinery. They simply can’t afford to care about the risks, real or perceived, as much as richer people.

      • Education and affluence correlate to some extent, but a lot of uneducated rich people exist, just as our generation can study for a PhD only to be rewarded with the appellation Dr Mooch by the Mitt Romneys of the world while waiting in line at food pantries. Said uneducated rich people are actually the worst far-right types: They’re the Erik Princes and Donald Trumps of the world.

    • That “chemicals” question says more about the appalling lack of education in those designing surveys… also “amen” to the two responses above.

      Being poor means the struggle for survival eliminates all but the most pressing and immediate higher level considerations, while being rich is often a matter of pure dumb luck rather than any inherent worth other than a certain ruthlessness and ill deserved entitlement at the very core.

      • While speaking about economics, I really want an article about AI’s weaknesses now. Turns out there’s no real correlation between job loss and automation.

        (This actually makes sense. If you talk about globalization and unemployment, their other tactic is to shift the debate to “coal’s not coming back!!!1”, as if coal was germane to the discussion.)

        • Sorry mate, I’m not quite with you – who is “they”, what did “they” say about automation/economics/globalisation/AI and where do you stand on those questions?

          • Well, it’s complicated. I’ll limit it, however, to the ad hoc hypothesis used to explain away unemployment (which is really due to a combination of extremely cheap labor and Chinese mercantilism) since the crash: AI. The simple reality is, AI is not equal to human intelligence. That’s not because humans are special, mind; it’s because we have, for instance, the ability to discount choices immediately. AIs can’t be programmed for infinite choices, nor can they be programmed for all probable situations.

            The real problem is, you still need humans to override automation. You need people to build and maintain machines. The self-reproducing, self-maintaining automaton is another myth, as is its corollary, the self-upgrading (as in, automatically downloads hardware) computer.

            • No argument so far but who is “they” and how does that relate to Rebecca’s post?

            • “They” would be the pundit class. And it relates to Rebecca’s post by “stupid rich people”.

            • Pundit class? That’s a pretty broad category – including our dear Rebecca for instance. So some subset (filthy hippies? Clinton supporters?) are being Luddites in your view?

            • I’m not trying to wind you up, Jon, I really like you but I’m just uncertain where you’re coming from on this one.

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    Oh look, it’s that time again: time for me to remind you what a load of bullshit homeopathy is, because a “naturopath” has just told the w […]

    • The “law of infinitesimals” is what we call plausible deniability.

      (And yeah, don’t go exposing people to rabies.)

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    For the past few months, I’ve hosted a very niche podcast called Triggered with a friend of mine, Courtney Caldwell, focused on the video g […]

    • I find a study like this very interesting in light of the (alleged) social media posting(s) from the Toronto van killer that are said to have included incel tropes. How long does it take a disgruntled sexist to transform to proud misogynist to vengeful incel?

      • However long it takes to realize pickup artistry doesn’t work, of course. That was what took Elliot Rodger over the edge. (This happens with extremist ideologies as a whole: When they realize people don’t conform to their ideas, the extremist will lash out.)

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    You know you’re a good person, right? You adopted a dog from the shelter! You check in on your grandmother in the old folks’ home once a mon […]

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    Naomi Wu is a Cantonese programmer and “maker,” better known in the US as “Sexy Cyborg.” I first learned about her a few years back when so […]

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    I’d like to talk a little about science and data, for those of you out there who really want to believe that they are objective measures of r […]

    • Well, when your Mum dies and your dog dies and next week your other dog dies and your Dad is diagnosed with lung cancer, little microissues like weight gain become a tad less important.

      There is only so much in the way of mental and emotional resources that one can bring to the table at one time. As you well know, Rebecca though your exact story was quite different of course!

      In my case it was not soda but an extra sausage roll a day for lunch that made me fat again. Must do something about that.

      Any ways a tax on sugar in all its forms (including baked goods) may be a good idea, I have thought the same myself. This is not that and it makes no sense at all.

      Also HANDS OFF our Coke Zero! Coke Zero fans of the world unite! This shall not stand!

      • I know many folks will read my little tale of woe and say
        in a Yorkshire accent “LOOXURY! Ah’d give eye teeth for such!” – and they would be right.

        The point is tho, I think psychological factors are much more important than particular foods when it comes to overweight.

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    Gay conversion therapy is a bullshit religious practice in which people who hate gay people utilize various “techniques” with no basis in sci […]

    • Rebecca Watson,

      Prosecuting gay conversion “therapy” as fraud everywhere would be a good thing.

    • Well, you know how it is, call a fraudulent therapy or some bizarre medical belief (e.g., contraceptives cause abortions) “part of muh religion” and everyone suddenly thinks it needs constitutional protection. See also Scientology.

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