Skeptics with a K: Episode #015

Clueless men, the scent of a woman, Gandhi’s glasses and logical fallacies.  With two big mistakes to correct from last episode (whoops!) the guys return with a new episode of Skeptics with a K.


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  1. #1 by Mike on February 11, 2010 - 21:46

  2. #2 by AexMagd on February 12, 2010 - 17:13

    The male/female circumcision thing is a bit weird – I totally agree with Marsh that people accepting the rights of people to mutilate their children without consent is bizarre and spleen-busting, but I don’t think they’re equally awful. Both are horrible but let’s not forget that the circumcised man can have a perfectly healthy, enjoyable sex life (America is testament to that!) whereas women are circumcised primarily to limit and destroy their sexual freedom. Obviously there are degrees of FGM but at its very worst the woman is left without a clitoris, with her vagina sewn up leaving only tiny hole for urine and blood to seep out; a man at least still has full use of his penis afterwards.

    So that’s why I wouldn’t consider them equivalent, but I’m totally behind any attempt to bring attention to the fact that they’re both insanely barbaric. Also super-mega-congratulations for raising some important – progressive – masculist issues; the male rape thing pisses me off too and it’s something you rarely hear about.

  3. #3 by AexMagd on February 12, 2010 - 17:14

    Most hated woo? Pseudo-scientific sexist bullshit. Confusing social pressure with intrinsic genetic fact, and fucking evolutionary psychology. e.g. “When Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps”. You can’t seriously say that 3 billion people are just totally confused by maps, or that 3 billion people are intrinsically incapable of paying attention to what their partners have to say. Fuck *right* off!

    P.S. I resent my posts being called spammy! 😉

  4. #4 by Ron Sear on February 14, 2010 - 09:11

    Don’t you think the use of swearing to emphasis your arguments diminishes any point you are trying to make. Do you do that in your personal interaction with friends? It does make you come across as a rather aggressive and violent individual. I suggest you calm down a little.

  5. #5 by Marsh on February 14, 2010 - 16:39

    @Ron: Personally, I don’t think swearing for emphasis diminishes any points – after all, it’s just words. I’d say the conversation style of our podcast is probably slightly less sweary than our conversations off-air, but I see that more as a mark of familiarity and friendship than of aggression and violent (I’m about as far from a violent or aggressive person as it’s possible to get!).

    Our use of language is one of the things that marks the show, I think.

  6. #6 by Brad on February 15, 2010 - 03:29

    I was suprised to learn that Marsh is a masculinist. I am as well, and was planning on mentioning the podcast on the wtf sexism LiveJournal group, but I’m still waiting for approval from the moderators.

    Speaking of which. It’s a great place for logical fallacy both in stories and comments. For example (paraphrased for your conveinience)
    “All masculinists are chest beating males who want women to learn there place.”
    “A man in Fathers 4 Justice was arrested, therefor they are all paedophiles.”
    “As a woman, I have an appreciation for the male form, whereas all men are just perverts.”
    and on the male rape
    “Women have to deal with rape every day, but men don’t, so it’s ok to laugh.”

    On a related note, you probley have seen that bueno advert where the woman steals the guys towel so they can oggle him as he goes past in the buff? Really annoiys me. Also, you didn’t mention in the podcast male domestic vioence.

    Anyway… You asked for Woo that makes us angry though, and I have 3.
    1- Reflexology. This is because there is a true believer who I meet once a month. His annicdotal evidence includes the reflexologist being able to make people she didn’t like (such as his dad) crap themselves by rubbing the feet. I tried to explain how this doesn’t work and even pointing out that standing on a pin or having your foot amputated would kill you, but they claim it’s true.

    2- Free Energy. Again, at a monthly get together with friends, there is a true believer who uses long words and is thus seen as the brains of the group, who claims that his friend has a free energy machine that he uses to power his …lawn mower. As always, there is constant excuses as to why he still lives in a run down semi detached in newcastle and isn’t in paris sleeping in a bed of money sipping expencive champaign from the belly buttons of asian super models.

    3- Athiests. I know some religous people. Nice people. They go to church and gossip and would go to the ends of the earth for you if they think it would make you happy. Religon never came up when I used to visit. When Athiests find out I’m Agnostic, they go off on long over done rants (such as this) about how there is no god and there is no evidence and blah blah blah. Other then the occational morman and that one time I saw the creationist “christian open air church” in town, no one I’ve met in person gets more self rigious and preacy then the athiests. I have no issue with them, it’s just they won’t shut up once they start. Also one believes in free energy machines as mentioned above.

  7. #7 by Simon Nurse on February 19, 2010 - 11:02

    Hello fellas,

    First of all, may I say what a very decent job you are doing. I thoroughly enjoyed your dissection/annihilation of the Daily Mail article (female eye colour etc. etc.). To a rational, sane, intelligent human (species is important here, we are talking about the Daily Mail), trusting information disseminated by the Mail is a rather like trusting an American president with an oil rich arctic wilderness (don’t!). Sadly, more than 5m people do this each day (or at least buy the paper, if the figures from the Guardian are accurate etc. etc.). Having said all that, I bought my wife a size 16 Kimono yesterday only to discover that she’s a size 10 and she’s from Hull. At least I know her name.

    In the last podcast, you asked what really gets our goat. A number of things – unsurprisingly maybe – get mine. In fact, my goat left long ago and hasn’t been seen since. So here we go;

    1. Use of the words ‘sustainable’ and ‘sustainability – This drives me irrationally bonkers. I’m fed up of seeing this word being used in incompatible contexts and I wrote a blog piece for the Institute of Welsh Affairs about it. .

    A good example would be ‘sustainable oil’. Potty.

    2. Adverts showing happy, smiley people logging onto their PC’s in parks and cafes, cars, mountain tops, bottom of Mariana Trench etc. with all these fantastic WIFI/GPRS connections and faultless technology. Sorry to have to burst a bubble, but they’re not that flippin’ reliable or quick (at least for a good proportion of the time) despite what the adverts depict. Sadly I have to manage these things occasionally and user expectations are that you tune in, turn on and not…err….drop out. I’ve had an irate chairman of a steel complaining to me that not only could he not get BBC iPlayer on his laptop, he couldn’t get a decent signal, e-mails, websites, you name it, on a regular basis (though his expectations can be truly unrealistic – like trying to get iPlayer on a Mediterranean cruise for instance). Whilst this is a PC/internet/connectivity biased rant, you could just reduce this to ‘adverts and expectation’. I tried to shave like the man off the Gillette ads and now have a prosthetic chin.

    3. Climate scepticism – the willingness with which people will leap onto the ‘sceptic’ bandwagon on the basis of the occasional flawed study to deny that there is something a little out of kilter with the global weather patterns. The great difficulty with climate science is the tendency to reduce a hugely complex area into smaller, simple arguments that do not consider the full scope of the available science. Not a single scientist disputes the validity of the data feeding the Keeling curve; the graph indicating the increase in Carbon Dioxide within the atmosphere over the last 50+ years. As to the totality of its cause and effects; that’s rather less clear cut due to the immense complexity of climate science. However to enjoy the almost complete interdisciplinary consensus of earth scientists, physicists, biologists and climate scientists (not to mention poor communities in harsh environments, farmers, horticulturalists and other anecdotal sources), marks global climate change out as a rather unique phenomenon. In this regard, scientist don’t help the cause by not being media savvy enough and probably being ill equipped to deal with the politicisation of science. I guess it boils down to the fact that lots and lots and LOTS of people are reluctant to cut down on banana daiquiri’s and big ‘F’-off motor cars

    Oooh. Enough! Rant over. I’m all testy now. I’m off for a nice air clearing row with someone – probably a Mail reader.


    P.S. Because, I’m a moderately good egg, I took up your challenge and donated. Please use the money to get a few pints and packet of crinkly crisps

  8. #8 by Marsh on February 19, 2010 - 11:23

    @Simon: Much obliged, sir! Mind if we spend it on something really altuistically worth while instead? I think we have a campaign that we’re looking to fund at the moment.

    I completely agree with you on greenwashing – I actually (for my sins/cash) do a lot of work for a leading oil company, fortunately one that’s shedding a lot of it’s greenwashing bullshit. It’s not something I’m proud of!

    Adverts are also something that get my goat, and I will doubtlessly rant about them on the podcast in the future.

    As for climate ‘scepticism’, I was actually speaking to a journalist from the Guardian on that very subject – and how those ‘sceptics’ give actual skepticism a bad name, as well as the way the media love to jump on board one dissenting voice but will never give as much attention to the hundreds of thousands of voices singing from the same, real, songsheet.


  9. #9 by Simon Nurse on February 19, 2010 - 11:49

    Spend away!

    You do realise this gives the false impression that I donated shed piles, don’t you 😉

  10. #10 by Brad on February 20, 2010 - 08:20


    I don’t know the climate change science, but it’s the attitude about it that gets most climate sceptics. The idea that people “are reluctant to cut down on banana daiquiri’s and big ‘F’-off motor cars” is what most of them (I’m going by personal experience here so it’s by no means representative) don’t like. “Cost-benefit analysis? Why not just beat babies with irons, save time?” is the attitude, of course they (the climate change supporters) never mention overpopulation, China, the US and the like. Instead, it’s all because you in particular leave your DVD player on standby so the clock is right.

    Assuming they are all motivated by wanting to keep their 4x4s is a bit of strawman and probley not even relivent. Scepticism works both ways.

    If your wondering, I’m in the “I don’t really give a toss” camp.

  11. #11 by Simon Nurse on February 20, 2010 - 09:14


    I quite agree about the attitude. I was being a wee bit sarcastic about the daiquiris (and testing out my spelling!), though I genuinely don’t understand the need to have massive motor cars irrespective of any carbon concerns. I’m a ‘whatever gets you from A to B’ type of person. For what it’s worth, I’m not out there punching the air and asking for climate justice (whatever that may mean), merely reflecting on the issue at hand, which is whether the science is valid or not.

    In my experience, scientists don’t really give off very much attitude; they merely report their findings and draw conclusions. It’s the rest of us that get wound up to varying degrees and in different directions.

    People who genuinely engage in the debate do mention overpopulation (to my mind our biggest issue – the planet couldn’t provide if all nations suddenly lived Western lifestyles) , China, US etc. as we’re all in this together. This includes considering our own personal contributions as you alluded to. A good example of cherry picking in this debate is Lovelock. Many climate evangelists will cite Gaia theory (as it’s earthy and appeals to a certain world view – not neccesarily mine incidentally, I think its a useful way of considering a system and nothing more), however few will also mention that Lovelock is a supporter of nuclear power.

  12. #12 by Brad on February 21, 2010 - 14:45


    Good to see another rational mind on the subject. By this point the debate would have normally turned into a shouting match between far left and right. I agree with you, though the sarcasm was present, I think I underestermated it. I was a denier at one time, but to me it’s more of a political issue rather then a scientific one. Even if we go to science town, we don’t have a great track record for weather prediction, but a ‘really quite likely’ verdict is better then just a random guess.

    I’d help out on a personal level provided it was reasonable. To me, all the feel good knee jerk ideas are a waste of time.

    Nuclear power is great. It’s clean and makes super heroes. Seriously though, I think a nuclear power station or 2 should tide us over until we get fusion power or microwave satelites up and running.

    Oh, and for the sake of consistancy. Hitler card something something. 🙂

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