Respectful Insolence

Oh, dear.

I didn’t think I’d be writing about that wretched hive of Dunning-Kruger scum and quackery, the most inaptly named website and blog of all time, The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR), after having written about it just earlier this week. When last we visited this klatsch of smugly arrogant moms, one of them was bragging about how, if your pediatrician “fires” you because you won’t do the responsible thing and vaccinate your children, you should be proud because it means that you’ve arrived as a “Thinker.” And, yes, they do capitalize the word “Thinker” and its variants, such as “Thinking,” to emphasize just how awesomely enlightened they think they are compared to everyone else and how much they think that people who support science-based medicine, in particular vaccines, are sheeple. Here it is, now, only two days later, and I see this post at TMR, You’ve Awoken the Mommies. As I’ve mentioned before, the “Thinking” moms like to take on either cutesy or self-important pseudonyms, and in this case the mommy is Savage, who features a cartoon of what, I guess, is to supposed to be a gladiator, in order to cement her self-image as a “warrior mom.”

The entire post drips with that sense of smug self-satisfaction of being so much greater than other moms that is what is most irritating about moms at TMR, starting out with a recounting of a hearing about Common Core Curriculum standards. For those of you not in the US or who don’t follow such things, Common Core represents a change in educational methods and standards that is being offered to states that seems to have provoked the full wrath of the Tea Party for reasons that rather elude me. Basically, Common Core is a grade-by-grade outline of what children should know to be ready for college and careers supported by a consortium of 45 states. Since its debut in 2010, opposition to Common Core has become a cause celebre among right wing politicians and pundits, who represent it as a federal government takeover of local schools and “indoctrination” of children into “leftist ideology.” There is some resistance among liberals for different reasons, but by far the overwhelming majority of the opposition to Common Core comes from the right—not by all conservatives, by any means, but by many, particularly those affiliated with the Tea Party. I don’t want to dwell on Common Core and only mention these things for the benefit of people who might not be familiar with it, but it does explain a lot when Savage quotes a critic of Common Core:

During the last part of her testimony, she said one statement that brought the crowd to their feet with raucous cheers. She stated simply, “You’ve awoken the Mommies, and now you’re in trouble.”

Which leads her—of course!—immediately to vaccines and autism, which, apparently, have also “awoken the mommies”:

That statement really resonated with me. It’s not just about pushing an education agenda that parents don’t agree with. The truth of the matter is, moms and dads are waking up. Every day, more and more parents are witnessing an epidemic firsthand. Children are being diagnosed with neurologic disorders at an alarming rate — autism, epilepsy, and dyslexia to name a few. Parents are left with more questions than answers when they visit their pediatrician’s office.

None of which has anything to do with vaccines, but this particular “Thinker” believes that these things are intimately related to vaccines so fervently because she thinks she knows better than pediatricians, scientists, immunologists, and neurologists. Now, someone who might come across this particular post who knows nothing about this blog or TMR might think I’m being too harsh. I urge such a person to read my previous post on this, Savage’s post, and then zero in on this passage:

Mothers don’t lose their brain cells all of a sudden when we give birth. We don’t become mindless dolts whose only function is handing out juice boxes and scheduling playdates. We are Thinkers. Yes, we are Thinkers. We question; we learn; we demand answers instead of just accepting the status quo. We will exhaust all possibilities for our children. We network with other moms and dads and share our experiences. We travel to different states seeking out the best doctors and therapies for our kids. We call upon the knowledge of the mothers who have been fighting this fight for decades and never had a platform until now.

My retort is that mothers don’t instantly become doctors, scientists, or geniuses, either, capable of understanding complex science and interpreting the medical and scientific literature on autism, vaccines, immunology, metabolism, and genetics, “all of a sudden” after they give birth. These “Thinkers” seem to “Think” that they do, however, and that motherhood somehow gives them magical insights into pediatrics and developmental disorders. The truth is quite different. Stupid moms will remain stupid after giving birth, and intelligent moms will remain intelligent. Moms prone to the Dunning-Kruger effect and arrogance of ignorance were almost certainly prone to such shortcomings before they gave birth, but I will admit that it does appear that having children can be a trigger that awakens such tendencies or brings them into full flower.

I will also admit that Savage does have a tiny point in that I have occasionally come across skeptics who let slip contempt for “mommies” in general, rather than antivaccine mommies, when refuting the dumbest of the dumb antivaccinationists. Not cool. However, by and large, we don’t criticize mommies like Savage because they’re mommies and we don’t think mommies can think. (Excuse me, “Think.”) Rather, we heap scorn on these mommies because they constantly repeat scientifically ignorant drivel about vaccines and autism, all laced with conspiracy theories and self-congratulatory tripe like referring to themselves as “Thinkers” without even a hint of irony or self-deprecating humor. No, they really mean it when they proclaim that they are “Thinkers,” as they repeat the mantra that Savage parrots that “Knowledge is Power,” never realizing that what they have is not knowledge. It is anti-knowledge, anti-science, and anti-medicine. No, it is anti-reason and pro-motivated reasoning.

Savage also demonstrates something I noticed the other day, when a post about pediatricians who fire patients who dont’ vaccinate ended up with a discussion about how one such “Thinking” mom utilizes homeopaths, chiropractors, and all sorts of “natural” quackery to treat her child. There was even an example of how this “Thinking” mom would choose homeopathy first for her child and then only go to the pediatrician if her child didn’t get better. I’m referring to this passage, in which Savage brags about how she and her “Thinking” peers have Changed Everything:

It’s exciting to see a change in mindsight by parents of typical children as well. The special needs community has been quite vocal for years because we’ve lived it. It’s wonderful to see new moms with healthy kids are now joining the trenches. A few years ago, I would read articles about the potential causes of autism and the correlation between vaccines and developmental delays. Back then, about 80% of the comments were pro-vaccine and pro-pharma. Fast forward to 2014, and the landscape is very different. The support for vaccines and pharmaceutical medications has dropped dramatically. For every comment supportive of the CDC’s current vaccine schedule, there are 3 or 4 in opposition. People are becoming distrustful of the medical community. People aren’t running to the doctor when they get sick. They’re educating themselves on natural remedies. They’re rejecting the conventional healthcare paradigm that has long been ingrained in our society. People are taking charge of their own health and wellness. Mothers are at the forefront of the medical marijuana issue, trying to get legislation passed in order for those that need it to be able to have access to it. We’re demanding our food be grown organically and clean, and not genetically modified. Support for local farmers is increasing every day with a rejection of mass produced factory farms.

Savage’s memory is a bit—shall we say?—selective. I say that because, from my perspective, the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards science, at least in the media. It’s true that not too long ago, the antivaccine movement seemed to be ascendant. As a sign of that, a few years ago, I used to dread the date coming up a mere three weeks from now, namely April 1. No, I didn’t dread it because it’s April Fools Day. Rather, I dreaded it because April is Autism Awareness Month, and I could always count on the media to air lots of bad stories about vaccines and autism in which it would “tell both sides.” Virtually every story about autism would have a vaccine angle. Virtually every story about vaccines would feature an interview with an antivaccine activist. It was great for blogging Insolence, terrible for the public understanding of science. Back in those days, J.B. Handley, Andrew Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loe Fisher, and the usual suspects were regular features on television during Autism Awareness Month. They aren’t so much any more, and that’s a good thing. Much of the media finally seems to understand that antivaccinationists are, by and large, cranks, to be paid no more mind than flat earthers, 9/11 Truthers, or moon hoax believers. That’s why the “tell both sides” trope seems to be receding, and antivaccine pseudoscience, when even acknowledged, is marginalized and dismissed, just the way it should be.

Perhaps that’s the reason for the seeming influx of antivaccine sentiment into the comments after any article on vaccines or autism that allows comments, particularly if that article appears in a major media outlet. “Media Editor” Ann Dachel, over at the other wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery,” Age of Autism, regularly sends her flying monkeys in to throw their feces at the comments of any article or post in a moderately to highly visible media outlet, in a deliberate attempt to flood the comments with antivaccine propaganda. It’s the last desperate attempt of a fringe group of advocates of pseudoscience to achieve relevance, all the while bemoaning being misunderstood “Thinkers” and wondering how all the sheeple could be “keeping them down.” It never occurs to them that supporters of science-based medicine are the thinkers (not capitalized), and they are the sheeple.

Comments

  1. #1 Denice Walter
    March 7, 2014

    Gladiator?
    I don’t know…. I always thought that she was supposed to be an Ancient European Tribal Warrior Grrl ™ – with a sports bra.

  2. #2 Dangerous Bacon
    March 7, 2014

    As to Common Core standards, I’m seeing evidence of pushback from both left and right-wing groups.

    The leftist opposition (when it’s not from teachers’ unions upset about instructors being graded on their pupils’ performance on standardized tests) seems to be related to the idea that tests don’t measure their kiddies’ true worth. After all, Junior is “creative” and plays well with others, so it’s unfair to judge him on miserable failures in math and reading/writing skills.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/24/3583858/for-common-core-a-new-challenge.html
    http://www.npr.org/2014/01/28/267488648/backlash-grows-against-common-core-education-standards

    Arrogance of ignorance, sadly, is not an exclusive property of the far right. Climate change denial largely is, true – counterbalanced by anti-GMO hysteria (mostly a property of the Left), and antivax nuttiness knows no political/ideological boundaries.

  3. #3 Renate
    March 7, 2014

    we demand answers

    Well, I think they get answers, like: “vaccines don’t cause autism” and “autism just seems to be more prevalent, because the defenition has changed”, but obviously, those aren the answers they want to hear. So they should say: “we demand the answers we want to hear. We want to hear the grass is blue, and the sky is green and not the other way round.

  4. #4 Orac
    March 7, 2014

    Climate change denial largely is, true – counterbalanced by anti-GMO hysteria (mostly a property of the Left), and antivax nuttiness knows no political/ideological boundaries.

    Although no one political leaning has a monopoly on magical thinking, right now, as of this moment in history, it’s hard not to conclude that at the moment the right dominates in that arena.

  5. #5 Orac
    March 7, 2014

    Gladiator?
    I don’t know…. I always thought that she was supposed to be an Ancient European Tribal Warrior Grrl ™ – with a sports bra.

    In my post, I linked to the source of Savage’s avatar image, praise be to Google Image Search.

  6. #6 lilady
    March 7, 2014

    “Mothers don’t lose their brain cells all of a sudden when we give birth. We don’t become mindless dolts whose only function is handing out juice boxes and scheduling playdates. We are Thinkers. Yes, we are Thinkers.”

    The more likely cause of the Thinkers losing their brain cells is getting sh!tfaced by slugging down those bottles of wine, when all the “Thinkers” get together.

  7. #7 palindrom
    March 7, 2014

    I have a friend who has a pathological fear of buxom young women in gladiator costumes.

    His shrink told him he has Xenaphobia.

  8. #8 Johanna
    March 7, 2014

    *throws peanuts at palindrom’s head*

  9. #9 Denice Walter
    March 7, 2014

    @ Orac:

    Oh! It looks even stupider big.

  10. #10 Politicalguineapig
    March 7, 2014

    I think this kinda proves my point, over on the other thread, of parenting becoming a competitive sport. It also shows how badly the whole self-esteem movement has backfired.

    Orac: For those of you not in the US or who don’t follow such things, Common Core represents a change in educational methods and standards that is being offered to states that seems to have provoked the full wrath of the Tea Party for reasons that rather elude me.

    Yeah, we’re having a little tiff over it right now in my state. I think the main reason is that the Tea Party hates anything that has to do with education- they’re terrified their kids might turn out to be smarter than them. Or the kids’ll find out about evolution, turn into atheists and marry their siblings.
    There’s also the anti-bullying thing going on right now. GLBT kids might actually have a safe place to go to school and not have to eat lunch in the bathroom. The horror.

    (Personally, I don’t think it’ll work. I like the bill, but you can’t eradicate bullying without restructuring children-as-we-know-them.)

  11. #11 Dangerous Bacon
    March 7, 2014

    “Although no one political leaning has a monopoly on magical thinking, right now, as of this moment in history, it’s hard not to conclude that at the moment the right dominates in that arena.”

    On an overall science-denial basis, I’d have to agree.

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    March 7, 2014

    AoA and TMR appear to have both right-leaning libertarian types and liberal-ish, Back-to-Nature types. A few want to adroitly balance memes of one extreme with the other’s in their posts. The Canary Party shrieks about governmental interference ( vaccine mandates) but AoA and others demand governmental investigations and reparations.

    But then, we’re expecting sense and consistency from these folks? Come on.

  13. #13 Johanna
    March 7, 2014

    I work at a place where Common Core is my bread and butter and the backlash against it has been…interesting.

    Right-wingers object it because of federal involvement. Left-wingers are unkeen because, yeah, quantitative data doesn’t account for their child’s speshul snowflake powerz.

    Me? I think standardized testing is rife with potential pitfalls (especially when it comes to cultural biases) but it’s better than nothing.

    And it’s certainly better than letting some creationist board of ed in the bible belt decide the science curriculum…

  14. #14 Politicalguineapig
    March 7, 2014

    Johanna: And it’s certainly better than letting some creationist board of ed in the bible belt decide the science curriculum…

    Why is it better? If they end up running out of doctors or jobs, it’s not any other state’s problem, and it makes it easier to pinpoint and downsize states that are dragging the rest of the country down. “Fifty nifty’ is overrated and too expensive.

  15. #15 Vicki
    March 7, 2014

    People who object to the Common Core because they dislike standardized testing haven’t been paying attention very long. Schoolchildren have been pushed to take lots of standardized tests for quite a few years–it was an important part of Bush’s “no child left behind” thing. The difference now is that if you move from one state to another, as a lot of people do, there’s less chance of your kid repeating one chunk of math or English while missing another chunk, because the Texas and Pennsylvania schools happen to cover things in a different order.

  16. #16 ann
    March 7, 2014

    Arrogance of ignorance, sadly, is not an exclusive property of the far right. Climate change denial largely is, true – counterbalanced by anti-GMO hysteria (mostly a property of the Left), and antivax nuttiness knows no political/ideological boundaries.

    In ideological terms, all three are classically proto-fascist — populist, nationalist, palingenetic. (To quote wiki, fascism “seeks, by directly mobilizing popular energies or working through an elite, to eventually conquer cultural hegemony for new values, to bring about the total rebirth of the nation from its present decadence.”)

    It’s the least clearly apparent with climate-change denialism, since the rebirth part of it isn’t explicit. But the narrative implicitly casts the denialists as populist heroes battling the decadent, predatory institutional evil of the present order. So I think it qualifies.

    I agree that it’s predominantly a right-wing phenomenon, atm. Even the anti-GMO stuff. It’s a Tea-Party issue. But historically, fascism isn’t really neatly classifiable as right or left. (Hence the phrase “third position,” although that’s also sometimes claimed by anarchos.)

    I think that applies here. And unsurprisingly so, in the case of anti-vaxxers. After all, the anti-vaccination movement originated in the late 19th century as part of the larger matrix of popular-fear-based responses to modernity that later spawned fascism.

    Those who don’t learn from history, etc.

    They’re scary people.

  17. #17 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 7, 2014

    Since its debut in 2010, opposition to Common Core has become a cause celebre among right wing politicians and pundits, who represent it as a federal government takeover of local schools

    Which, of course, is TOTALLY different from No Child Left Behind…. To PGP, the reason Common Core has provoked the wrath of the Tea Party is quite simple, in my opinion: it came out under the Obama administration. I genuinely don’t think it’s anything more than that, since they were *all* for enforcing standards when it was a Bush administration idea.

    However, by and large, we don’t criticize mommies like Savage because they’re mommies and we don’t think mommies can think.

    Indeed. I criticize “Thinking” Moms because they give other moms a bad name. They make us look like overly emotional, arrogant, child-obsessed sheep who uncritically accept anything that strokes the mommy ego.

  18. #18 Johanna
    March 7, 2014

    @PGP

    I think kids and communities deserve better than that.

  19. #19 Mike
    March 7, 2014

    Speaking of Dunning-Kruger, I have no idea if this law professor who opted her kids out of standardized testing is right, but here is a quote from her article:

    “And so, feeling very Michael Moore about the whole thing, I set out to find exactly what the schools’ resistance might be about. (It’s here that I will admit that, while my husband and I definitely thought through our decision to opt our kids out, we consulted our guts, not research.) I started by posting on Facebook, admittedly not the best place to gather facts.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/03/standardized_testing_i_opted_my_kids_out_the_schools_freaked_out_now_i_know.html

  20. #20 ann
    March 7, 2014

    I think kids and communities deserve better than that.

    I agree.

    Standardized testing isn’t necessarily a monolithic Bad Thing.

    No Child Left Behind was standardized testing without standards — states were free to set their own. It therefore wasn’t about achieving standard levels of educational attainment. It was about defunding public education.

    I don’t know a lot about Common Core. But at least the standards were developed by professional educators with the apparent aim of ensuring that all students have equal access to the same basic education.

  21. #21 Sawyer
    March 7, 2014

    Regarding “Mommy Instincts” – I completely agree how careful one needs to be castigating mothers as fools, but I do wonder if parenthood creates some sort of cutoff point for scientific literacy. The amount of time required to raise a child, particularly in those first few years of life, makes it incredibly difficult to devote time to education, let alone to education that would fundamentally change your cherished beliefs. I wonder if there is evidence that people that have a pseudoscientific belief around the time of childbirth are less likely to give it up than childless adults. No clue what the evidence shows, just speculating.

    I was struck listening to a recent interview with Jay Novella of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe where he gushed about having a kid. He was ecstatic about how it completely changes your priorities and your attitude towards life, but at no point did he claim that it had endowed him with new knowledge or expertise. I think this distinction has to be hammered into your head BEFORE you become a parent or it’s probably too late.

  22. #22 Eric Lund
    March 7, 2014

    If they end up running out of doctors or jobs, it’s not any other state’s problem

    Oh yes it is. If a given location doesn’t have jobs, people are going to move to a place where they can get jobs. That’s how it has been since at least the Middle Ages, if not earlier.

    Besides which, the fire-and-brimstone evangelical churches have been bleeding young people. Once they figure out that the church is lying to them (and they will, sooner or later–if it isn’t the science denial, it will be something like discovering those Bible verses the preacher never mentions in his sermons, which contradict the preacher’s “Bible-based” viewpoint), the ones who can will leave the church. Better to give them that chance while they are young and not burdened with trying to raise a family.

  23. #23 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.ca
    March 7, 2014

    It is my impression that many parents – and especially mothers – get a lot of flak, from many quarters, over almost every single parenting decision they might make – what to feed their children, what not to feed their children, breastfeeding vs. formula vs. combination, when to wean, how to dress their children, whether and how to discipline their children, what diapers to use, when (and how) to potty-train, how much time away from their children is acceptable, how to arrange their children’s educational arrangements, and so on and so forth.

    And of course, they would have to resolve disagreements about all these things within the family (for two-parent homes, anyway).

    So I’m not surprised that parents, and especially mothers, push back against such criticism, or that they might band together to do same. Unfortunate as it is, I’m also not surprised that such banding together occurs over the subject of vaccinations when parents get flak for their decisions.

    Most of the time I would encourage push back by parents against their critics. Where the Thinking Moms and I part ways on this matter is, of course, when it comes to vaccines (and, as we have seen, the adoption of other quackery).

    While I dare say most parenting decisions are, in the absence of outright neglect or abuse, likely to turn out okay over the long run, we have by now seen the consequence of the spread of pockets of un- and under-vaccinated children.

    (Others have mentioned competitive parenting upthread, which suffice to say I personally find to be especially pernicious, since it makes parenting all about the parents, instead of being about the children, where it belongs.)

    In the interests of disclosure, I have a son who is now 2 1/2.

  24. #24 Magron
    USA
    March 7, 2014

    I was born before the polio vaccines. In fact I can clearly remember the day in grade school when the nurse came in to administer our first dose of oral vaccine.
    I’ll never forget the look on her face.. It glowed with almost a holy joy (public school).
    It’s well proven that vaccines don’t cause autism but even if it did we’re better off than with plagues.
    I find it a shame that herd immunity will prevent natural selection from solving this problem.

  25. #25 lilady
    March 7, 2014

    If you have been blessed with a girl who has been diagnosed as NT-NOS (Neurotypical-Not Otherwise Specified), according to one of my internet correspondents, your child rearing abilities are fair game, once she becomes a woman.

  26. #26 palindrom
    March 7, 2014

    Here is a comment from a deeply thoughtful educator — who used to support no-child-left-behind and all sorts of other things, until she saw how pernicious they were in the real world — about the common core.

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/02/26/why-i-cannot-support-the-common-core-standards/

  27. #27 Alia
    March 7, 2014

    Well, I’m a teacher. And over here we’ve had standardised curriculum for years. And for the last 10 years or so, following a reform of educational system, we’ve also had test-based perforance assessment – after year 6, year 9 and year 12 (this one doubles as university entrance tests). There has been a lot of opposition, too – but mostly from the position that now teachers would devote most of their time to teaching students how to do tests, not how to think. But it’s been working quite well, for most of the time. And it’s certainly fairer than former school-based assessment, which I remember from my school times. So on the whole – other countries are already far down that road and doing just fine.

  28. #28 Narad
    March 7, 2014

    Speaking of testing, Olmsted really shows off his reporter’s skills in the latest “From the Editor” blurb:

    The SATs will no longer require an essay. Makes sense — after all, who wants to know if kids today can write and reason well enough to compete on the global stage (especially since we suspect they can’t).

    Yes, eliminating something that was introduced in 2005 and has its “grading” outsourced to work-at-home types is a grave source of concern, Danny.

  29. #29 ann
    March 7, 2014

    <blockquote.Here is a comment from a deeply thoughtful educator — who used to support no-child-left-behind and all sorts of other things, until she saw how pernicious they were in the real world — about the common core.

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/02/26/why-i-cannot-support-the-common-core-standards/

    If she used to support NCLB, her deep thinking is demonstrably capable of error. Even on the drawing-board, it was clear that those requirements were going to punish the poor.

    But besides that, her argument is that she can’t support Common Core because it’s an unknown in the field. And surely it can’t be *that* unknown. Presumably, it has features, content and form, which either are or aren’t objectionable.

  30. #30 Chris,
    March 7, 2014

    Sawyer: “He was ecstatic about how it completely changes your priorities and your attitude towards life, but at no point did he claim that it had endowed him with new knowledge or expertise.”

    When I became a parent I realized how little I knew.

    And now that my kids are all in college, they remind me about how little I know.

  31. #31 Trevor Butterworth
    Brooklyn
    March 7, 2014

    A word of caution on Diane Ravitch: her recent book, which I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal, was highly misleading in the way it treated US math performance on international tests – and rather than actually provide the data gave a lot of space to a Chinese American academic’s critique that American kids would lose their creativity if they imitated Asian success. Ravitch has completely flip flopped on education – claiming that she is doing so simply on the basis of data. But she cherry picks. Now the enemy is anyone who advances the idea of school reform with the grand conspirator and presiding evil genius being Bill Gates.

  32. #32 palindrom
    March 7, 2014

    Ravitch may well systematically downplay the failings of American schools, but her opposition to solutions that have been proposed seems to me to be pretty solid, in that she points out that the various magic bullets coming out of think tanks have essentially no empirical support, and ignore the input of people who, you know, actually teach.

    Ravitch did write a two-article series for the New York Review of Books on Finnish schools, which suggests a much different path forward than the test-and-punish regimen being pushed by bureaucrats.

  33. #33 Composer99
    March 7, 2014

    Chris notes:

    And now that my kids are all in college, they remind me about how little I know.

    Heh heh.

  34. #34 Shay
    March 7, 2014

    Don’t worry about it, Chris — by the time they’re 30, they’ll be flabbergasted at how much you’ve learned!

  35. #35 herr doktor bimler
    March 7, 2014

    a cartoon of what, I guess, is to supposed to be a gladiator, in order to cement her self-image as a “warrior mom.”

    Thoughtfully offered for future avatar use:
    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/410KPEK5TAL.jpg

  36. #36 Shay
    March 7, 2014

    I know I’ve bitched about this before, but unless those “warrior moms” can show me a DD-214, they can drop the whole “warrior” part.

  37. #37 Dorit
    March 7, 2014

    Hey, I can’t show a DD-214, and I was a lieutenant when I was honorably discharged. I don’t think I have my discharge papers anywhere anymore, either.

    Can we discuss alternatives?

  38. #38 Dorit
    March 7, 2014

    Then again, I think the “warrior mom” appellation is problematic, too.

  39. #39 Denice Walter
    March 7, 2014

    @ Shay:

    No, no, no!
    They’re supposed to be more like *ancient* warriors- none of that new stylee “mechanised weaponry” bosh. Because they’re Back-to-Nature dudettes. Earth-mother-cum-Boadicca/ Maeve or such like.
    They’re crunchy warriors.

  40. #40 Narad
    March 7, 2014

    They’re supposed to be more like *ancient* warriors- none of that new stylee “mechanised weaponry” bosh. Because they’re Back-to-Nature dudettes.

    Whether realized or not, the model is early Mothering: A hybrid of pioneer mythology and the Lebensreform or, put another way, of TV Westerns and hippiedom.

  41. #41 lilady
    March 7, 2014

    Alex Hannaford, who blogs for the Texas Observer, has an excellent article up about childhood vaccines, non-vaccinating parents and recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable-diseases. The Dachel bot and her flying monkey squad haven’t posted yet…but there are plenty of other commenters who need some education. I’m getting lonely there:

    http://www.texasobserver.org/worth-shot/

  42. #42 Denice Walter
    March 7, 2014

    Correction: for the purists-
    it’s *Meadbh*.
    You’re surprised I knew that.

  43. #43 Shay
    March 7, 2014

    Dorit, that depends. How many pushups can you do?

  44. #44 Dorit
    March 7, 2014

    @Shay: Oh, God. I’d have to count.

    And are you saying Admiral Naismith is no warrior? :-P

  45. #45 squirrelelite
    March 7, 2014

    @Dorit,
    We’ve been listening to Brothers in Arms, where he admits that his slow running speed might have been a good reason to keep him out of the Imperial Academy.
    But, he’s a great leader of warriors.

    @Shay 43 (and Dorit)
    Since anti-vaccinationists are so into post hoc ergo propter hoc logic, I came up with my own personal vaccine side effect.

    About a year and a half ago, I added some floor mat exercises to my walking routine. When I started, I struggled to do 5 push-ups and 10 sit-ups. Since then I have had 2 flu vaccines. Today I did 20 push-ups (probably could have struggled to get a few more, but it was the end of my workout and I was getting tired) and 60 sit-ups.

    Therefore, getting the flu shot increased my ability to do push-ups and sit-ups!!!

    Of course, there is good evidence to suggest that the real cause was the exercises I’ve been doing a few times a week. But, since when do anti-vaccinationists care about evidence?

  46. #46 Dorit
    March 7, 2014

    @squirrelelite: so I conclude that getting vaccinated actually turned you into a warrior, under Shay’s criteria.

  47. #47 Narad
    March 7, 2014
    Dorit, that depends. How many pushups can you do?

    @Shay: Oh, God. I’d have to count.

    How many times can you lift Bar Refaeli?

  48. #48 Shay
    March 7, 2014

    Boot camp! There must be evidence of boot camp!

  49. #49 Sian Williams
    March 8, 2014

    @lilady #41:

    What better way to spend Friday night than throwing a few buckets of water on a forest fire of idiocy?

  50. #50 lilady
    March 8, 2014

    @ Sian Williams: I’ve wasted my time on worse conflagrations, including this one, where all the crank posters came out to play:

    http://www.texasobserver.org/autism-inc-the-discredited-science-shady-treatments-and-rising-profits-behind-alternative-autism-treatments/

  51. #51 Art
    March 8, 2014

    An on-line acquaintance, a man, claims he treats his kids with nothing but natural medicine, evidently his go-to big gun after herbal tea is smearing oregano oil on their feet. When he wrote about how his son was sick but that this was a good thing, builds natural immunity doncha know, and how how he was working up to the stronger cures, having just started applying oregano oil, his wife chimed in and announced that after three days of her son getting worse she took him to a doctor who diagnosed his problem as a flu that settled into pneumonia. The doctor prescribed antibiotics.

    She wrote that the kid would be following the medical doctor’s advice to the letter.

    The man, previously quite effusive, suddenly stopped talking about how he treats his kids with only natural medicine. I took from this that the lady of the house was willing to let him play his games on minor problems but when her kids were in serious trouble dad’s potions and poultices just weren’t going to cut it.

    It dawned on me that there was a saying that summed up that attitude:

    Science – The magic that works.

  52. #52 Lina
    March 8, 2014

    Part of the problem with the “Thinkers” is that in some contexts the quotes actually make sense.

    Take the third one Orac quoted above about not losing brain cells at the first birth, but imagine instead of anti-vax it was a mom who’s kid had a rare cancer and she ended up networking online to find where the expert and successes were and crossing state lines to get great care at St. Jude. To me at least, the whole thing would seem pretty reasonable in that context.

    I don’t think the problem is nearly as much the “warrior” or even the “Thinker” as it is the inability to differentiate using that need to care for and protect your children for good instead of evil (and quackery).

  53. #53 Lina
    March 8, 2014

    ^whose not who’s (ok, maybe I did lose brain cells at first birth after all…)

  54. #54 squirrelelite
    March 8, 2014

    Thanks, Dorit!
    Maybe something like that.
    Actually, I sort of liked the woman gladiator drawing, which seems to be from a Japanese Nintendo role playing game.

    I wonder if Savage put in the time and effort to actually play the game?

    I’m not exactly in warrior shape, but I’ve been trying to take better care of myself after my wife had bypass surgery.

  55. #55 AnnB
    March 8, 2014

    There is a sizable number of patients that request antibiotics for every sniffle. They are just as dangerous, if not more so, than the anti-vaccine crowd. What I am trying to figure out is, is the current trend toward alternative medicine and things as odd as rubbing olive oil on your feet for illness, a reaction against the wholesale adoption and entitlement of “scientific cures” (even if the science always demonstrated that antibiotics are worthless against a virus) or did these two trains of thought always exist, but one just gets more press and more followers at any given time. And is the driving force behind both schools of thought the same flawed belief system.

  56. #56 Mrs Grimble
    March 8, 2014

    squirrelelite @54: Actually, I find it just a little disturbing that an adult woman would use a cartoon of a stereotypical, sexualised, girl-child as an avatar. Films, games and comics all give you plenty of grown-up ‘woman warriors’ to choose from.

  57. #57 Denice Walter
    March 8, 2014

    @ AnnB:

    AFAIK there have always been reactions against advances in science: the ealiest vaccines had critics and this era witnessed some hilarious cartoons warning of the ill effects of the smallpox vaccine. Simlarly, ‘natural medicine’, ‘natural hygeine’ and ‘natural living’ have seen several periods of vogue in the last hundred years in both Europe and North America.
    I can discuss a 1960 compilation of articles from Prevention magazine that sound eerily similar to current alt med websites. And the cultural revolution of the late 1960s- mid 1970s also cherished the idea of leaving modernity behind for a simoler life in the country- organic food, anti-corporatism and clothes made of natural fibres.

  58. #58 Denice Walter
    March 8, 2014

    I’ve been thinking about TMR and believe it or not, Savage is not the worst of the lot. I just peeked at their ‘getting personal’ file to refresh my memory a bit:
    whilst all are quite mad, encouraging cavalier attitudes about vaccines and promoting bad ideas, a few stick out head and shoulders above the rest (IMNSHO):

    the leaders appear to be MamaMac ( Alison MacNeil), the Rev ( Lisa Goes) and Mamacita ( Cat Jameson) who spew intensely vitriolic hatred against SBM and professionals who support it. These three manage other side projects as well ( Fearless Parent, AoA, etc). MacNeil is a social worker and ‘Saint”, a school psychologist: both should know better than to influence vulnerable parents with concepts and ‘data’ which are largely imagined to cater to their own personality deficits.

    I think of the entire effort – website, book and facebook page- as group therapy gone wrong- rather than modelling realistic ideas, they enable woo and conspiracy mongering with a side of self-aggrandisement.

  59. #59 LIz Ditz
    Back in the USA
    March 8, 2014

    Re Common Core (about which I know a bit)

    Ann @#20 wrote about Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

    But at least the standards were developed by professional educators

    Nope. Nope. No they weren’t.

    My objection to CCSS is that they only did about a quarter of the job. Yes, the standards started with the objectives (what students should know and be able to do upon graduation from high school) and broke down objectives, grade by grade, until kindergarten. The CCSS process stopped there, rather than fine-tuning with subsequent iterations:

    *are the standards developmentally appropriate at each grade level?
    *what should change, working back up, grade by grade?
    *field-testing: do these standards work as we imagine they do, or what do we find out in practice?
    *what are the consequences of what skills and knowledge are de-emphasized?

    Etc. etc. etc.

    My professional opinion is that many of the k-3 standards are age-inappropriate.

  60. #60 Helianthus
    March 8, 2014

    @ Shay / Dorit # 43-44

    are you saying Admiral Naismith is no warrior?

    Come on, he can do pushups with his tongue.
    Also, speaking of women warriors, he is surrounded by the most bloodthirsty pack of amazons this side of the galaxy; at least, according to Mark.
    And don’t forget his mom.

  61. #61 ann
    March 8, 2014

    There is a sizable number of patients that request antibiotics for every sniffle. They are just as dangerous, if not more so, than the anti-vaccine crowd. What I am trying to figure out is, is the current trend toward alternative medicine and things as odd as rubbing olive oil on your feet for illness, a reaction against the wholesale adoption and entitlement of “scientific cures” (even if the science always demonstrated that antibiotics are worthless against a virus) or did these two trains of thought always exist, but one just gets more press and more followers at any given time. And is the driving force behind both schools of thought the same flawed belief system.

    I don’t think it is. Anti-vax sentiment has its roots in the Counter-Enlightenment, more or less. People who want antibiotics for everything are a different kind of irrational.

  62. #62 lilady
    March 8, 2014

    Olmsted steps over the line, repeatedly, about the public’s reactions to human interest stories (soldiers returning home from Iraq and a young boy with cancer who is undergoing treatment), by comparing them to autistic kids undergoing “biomedical treatments”.

    Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Just About Treacle-d To Death

  63. #63 Johanna
    March 8, 2014

    @Liz

    I don’t want to risk violating my NDA but my employer *does* firld test items, review standards, etc, with both teachers and subject matter experts.

    However, such work is on behalf of specific clients. I don’t know how much of it goes up the food chain, so to speak.

  64. #64 Lawrence
    March 8, 2014

    @lilady – the whining throughout that article made me nauseous…..

  65. #65 lilady
    March 8, 2014

    And, the loony Energizer Bunny from the Clown Blog is still enjoying the accolades of her pals:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiFQsxGUQOI

    Someone, needs to cut off the Bunny’s supply of batteries:

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/vaccine-exemptions-states-pertussis-map

  66. #66 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 8, 2014

    TBH I am never comfortable when we spend lots of time on the ‘nyms and avatars of the TMR crowd. There is too much opportunity to throw stones without realizing that perhaps there are glass panels in our own house.

    Yes, their ‘nyms seem self-adulatory to us – to a nauseating degree. Are we so sure that none of our regulars have ‘nyms that could be seen by an outsider as making similar claims to expertise, virtue, specialness? And denigrating someone’s avatar as being that of a “sexualized girl-child” – the game is played on a device whose screen is just a few inches high, is it possible *that* has something to do with the character design? Or are we now condemning anyone who would choose an avatar from a video game on that gaming platform?

    I realize I’m in the minority on this, but I wish we could pay less attention to their nyms and avatars and focus on just their substance, which is where they really *deserve* every bit of criticism.

  67. #67 Politicalguineapig
    March 8, 2014

    Lina: Take the third one Orac quoted above about not losing brain cells at the first birth, but imagine instead of anti-vax it was a mom who’s kid had a rare cancer and she ended up networking online to find where the expert and successes were and crossing state lines to get great care at St. Jude

    Except none of these people would go to St. Jude. They’d go to someone like Burzynski or a Latrile retailer instead. It’s not that they’re not intelligent, it’s that all that intelligence and energy is woefully misapplied, and they can’t accept that their ‘superior’ type-a genes could produce an autistic kid.
    I’m reminded of an anecdote I heard: an Ivy-League educated women gives birth to twins, one of whom has Down’s syndrome. She insists that the DS kid can’t possibly be hers,and refuses to care for the child. These ‘thinkers’ are her spiritual twins.
    I suppose they should be lauded for not abandoning their kids, but given the way the mommies punish the kids, and the cures..you really wonder.

  68. #68 Politicalguineapig
    March 8, 2014

    I should add that women acting dumb in public is one of my pet peeves. If they can’t say anything smart, they should just lock themselves in their houses and never go on the internet-or out- again.

  69. #69 ann
    March 8, 2014

    @Liz Ditz –

    I stand corrected. Thanks.

    @Antaeus Feldspar –

    I agree. It’s too much like bullying.

    @Politicalguineapig –

    Why just women?

  70. #70 squirrelelite
    March 8, 2014

    @Mrs Grimble,

    That’s probably a good idea.

    Perhaps Susan Sarandon’s character from Lorenzo’s Oil
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3978530304/ch0022261
    would be a better model for a Warrior Mommy. But, perhaps she’s a little bit too much into standard medicine for their taste.

  71. #71 squirrelelite
    March 8, 2014

    @Antaeus Feldspar,

    You’re probably right in that. My ‘nym actually has a gaming origin, but it wasn’t me, I promise.

  72. #72 A Mom Who Can Think For Herself
    March 8, 2014

    The Common Core is awful. It is especially awful for kids on the spectrum. I am watching it unfold before my eyes. No one can convince me otherwise. I am a conservative but I am not a tea partier. I don’t subscribe to the idea of “government take-over”. I firmly believe it’s a sub-standard program and the roll out has been botched.

    That said-right on about the “Thinkers”. Self-importance and arrogance, indeed!!

  73. #73 Ron Edwards
    March 8, 2014

    Mrs. Grimble #56, my reaction was the same – I’d certain expected see something like this instead:
    http://hdwallpapersdesktop.com/wallpapers/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/25/Wallpaper-girl-brunette-woman-gun-sword.jpg

    I disagree with Antaeus Feldspar #66 because I do not think the high moral ground is the issue here. Derision is called for.

  74. #74 Ron Edwards
    March 8, 2014

    Gahh! “Certainly” expected.
    Yours in illiteracy,

  75. #75 A Mom Who Can Think For Herself
    March 8, 2014

    TMR=CULT

  76. #76 Narad
    March 8, 2014

    Anti-vax sentiment has its roots in the Counter-Enlightenment, more or less.

    I don’t really buy this; it’s far too top-down. My general sense, based on occasionally reviewing antivaccine histories (e.g., here), was that objections to smallpox vaccination were largely the province of the working class in the first half of the 19th century. Apparently, I’m not the only one.

    This is a far cry from some sort of Germanic intellectual reaction, although, as I’ve noted, the ’60s counterculture has strong ties to the Lebensreform.

  77. #77 dingo199
    March 8, 2014

    The antivax flying monkey troop is out in force on Bloomberg, swamping Dorit with their spite and ignorance.
    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-06/unvaccinated-kids-make-everyone-sick

  78. #78 AnnB
    Here
    March 8, 2014

    @Denice Walter
    @ann
    @Narad

    Some good history lessons here. When I wrote my first comment I was trying to ID if the impetus behind the anti-vax movement was a lack of critical thinking skills, and I gave another example of it, those that want antibiotics for every symptom. From the replies, I was intrigued by the idea of it being part of a larger historical trend, but I don’t see a rebellion against of much of modern life by the anti-vax crowd. Some yes, but I was exposed to Prevention magazine and foods like carob as a young child from an aunt that was into that sort of thing, and this crowd seems almost nothing like her. They largely accept modern things and only dabble in throw-backs to a simpler time.

    ann, I liked the use of the word irrational. I think Narad is on to something that the ideology exists at the top and the “mad moms” just follow it. But, what concerns me for both the anti-vax crowd and the Rx-the-antibiotics crowd is may not be driven by lack of critical thinking which could be countered by education but by an irrational, self-centered, selfish, mypotic view of the world in which “don’t poison my snowflake with vaccines” and “how dare you deny my snowflake an antibiotic” are pretty much one and the same. And, if so, then how do you counteract either error in judgement?

  79. #79 dingo199
    March 8, 2014

    The ranked masses of stupid are really out in force.
    Here is a prime example

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-06/unvaccinated-kids-make-everyone-sick#comment-1276787946
    “Had many of those diseases. Didn’t kill me or any of my classmates or anyone I know in the whole school. Kids don’t get Hep B unless their mothers have it. No excuse to vaccinate everyone. Rotavirus is self limiting, tetanus needs only a good wound cleaning to be kept away and still you think injecting poisons and toxins, monkey kidneys, intentionally aborted fetal cells, formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury, MSG, Polysorbate 80, cancer cells, etc. is worth them never having to suffer a fever and a few spots.”

  80. #80 Dorit
    March 8, 2014

    Sigh.

  81. #81 Vicki
    March 8, 2014

    Politicalguineapig:

    First have all the *men* who act dumb in public lock themselves away. Otherwise it’s just one more double standard used to silence women: dress wrong, or have a voice in the wrong register, or the wrong sized breasts, or the wrong number of children, and you’re adding “act dumb in public,” something that almost everyone who spends a lot of time in public will do sooner or later. A white man can act dumb in public, and still get to be vice president.

  82. #82 dingo199
    March 8, 2014

    And here is a summation of some responses to her, from just one person

    Unvaccinated Kids Make Everyone Sick

    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    Vaccines kill more then that. LOL SNAKE
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    She’s a disgusting person. She get’s paid per response and yes, it’s a copy and paste from a manual they are given in order to suppress educated discussion.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    The distinction is you are a snake that is going to be trampled by the almighty foot of educated parent’s. SCUM
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    Yep, from lying scum like you.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    That’s exactly it. They have no logic, they are sociopath’s, liars and bullies. They jig is up and they know it.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    Lies
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    Except you are nothing but a paid liar…nobody’s buying the garbage you spew.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    She’s a paid government troll with no children and no life. No wonder, I don’t see a man who would want to impregnate satanic spawn of the underworld.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    The CDC is a bunch of liars, just like you.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    You are a lying snake and you will pay for everything you say.

    Discussion on Bloomberg View
    Unvaccinated Kids Make Everyone Sick

    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    Lie again
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    You are a liar.
    Etheldreda • 3 hours ago

    Lying, disgusting, filthy snake that you are…you might want to find a life, before it escapes you.

    Discussion on Rocky Mountain Collegian
    Don’t be pressured into vaccinations

    Etheldreda • 21 hours ago

    Vaccines kill. Period. You are a lying sociopath. You have no idea what my education level is, however it’s clearly higher then your’s. Anyways, I’ll get back to living my life. Good luck there kiddo! The risk of injury is clear and people aren’t buying the BS anymore. Take care.
    Etheldreda • 21 hours ago

    No, you are wrong. It’s a THEORY and it’s still NEVER been proven. Except you can’t back up anything. So continue your miserable existence by choosing ignorance. Since it took me several day’s to read through every single peer reviewed study above, you should have plenty to keep your time occupied with. Get a life, you only have one.
    Etheldreda • a day ago

    I think it’s sad you believe all the lies, garbage and pure hype about vaccinations. The condition of this generation’s overall health, should be obvious enough. My child has NEVER been sick. LOL. We don’t get sick, because we don’t get shots.

    So, if you want to keep being lazy, never researching anything and blindly accepting what your doctor say’s, great. If not, then please educate yourself. Hundreds of peer reviewed studies for you to read for yourself below. Take care hon

    Quite charming.

  83. #83 Dorit
    March 8, 2014

    I always find the “I survived the diseases so it’s okay” argument even more problematic than their other usual arguments.

  84. #84 Politicalguineapig
    March 8, 2014

    Ann: Women who act stupid in public make every other woman look bad. Men can act dumb in public, and it only reflects on themselves, not on the rest of the group.

    Vicki: If they can’t be bothered to learn or deal with a factual universe, they *should* shut up. Goes for dudes too; if they can’t deal with facts, can’t leave emotions at home, they have no business in public. And leave Biden alone. His mouth tends to run ahead of him, but he’s a pretty decent guy.

  85. #85 lilady
    March 8, 2014

    dingo199: You didn’t word your comment at # 77 correctly.

    THE BATSH1T SIGNAL IS UP: Dorit Reiss is being personally viciously attacked and libeled by the flying monkey squad and other assorted cranks.

    FTFY :-)

    P.S. I’ve posted some comments and I’m getting lonely.

  86. #86 Narad
    March 8, 2014

    I think Narad is on to something that the ideology exists at the top and the “mad moms” just follow it.

    Actually, my point was that postulating an origin in a “Counter-Enlightenment” was too top-down. This related paper on the role of Alfred Russel Wallace is interesting and, perhaps, contra. Peter Baldwin’s Contagion and the State in Europe also looks promising.

    A modern history of antivaccinationism would appear to need to start with the 1976 swine flu, followed by DPT, which were media-driven in a landscape that ultimately included Love Canal, Agent Orange, and Tuskegee. The current instantiation is a mishmash that includes representatives of frank antiscience, those who crave the trappings of science, profiteers, and good old-fashioned “infecting Christian children” types.

  87. #87 anon
    March 8, 2014

    AnnB #78 Here is an example of the “mad moms” in the comment section. Obviously they can be very persuasive.
    Then there is the libertarian fringe group which are the most irrational.
    http://www.texasobserver.org/worth-shot/

  88. #88 Helianthus
    March 8, 2014

    From the quote rmade by @ Dingo199 #79

    still you think injecting [...] intentionally aborted fetal cells

    The “intentionally” is interesting. Does the writer mean that if the cells were coming from a naturally aborted fetus, it would be biologically better?
    Magical intent of molecules…

  89. #89 Helianthus
    March 8, 2014

    Not that the rest of the post is any better. All you need is a good dash of, by example, mercurochrome, to keep tetanus away? Gosh, maybe the poster should keep a bottle on herself at all time.

    The concentration of willful ignorance in the post you quoted is enough to keep me ranting all night.

  90. #90 Vicki
    March 8, 2014

    In other words, you are using the existence of sexism and patriarchy as an argument for silencing women. No thank you. It doesn’t help anyway: it doesn’t matter how intelligent, polite, etc. a woman is, someone will attack her as a woman if she says something they can’t otherwise refute.

    Also, I wasn’t talking about Biden, but about Dan Quayle. On the other hand, that you couldn’t tell which white man I meant may support my point.

  91. #91 Chris,
    March 8, 2014

    anon: “Here is an example of the “mad moms” in the comment section.”

    You linked to an entire article. What is the example? Can you link to it, or at least cut and paste it?

  92. #92 AnnB
    March 8, 2014

    @Narad – I apologize. Yes, I misunderstood you.
    @anon – The first link to the mad mom comments is missing :)

    Note, I tend to try to reason things out in my own mind with rational, analytical and logically thinking people. I only can handle the emotional, out of control, venomous crowd in small does.

  93. #93 Man Called True
    March 8, 2014

    Gah, why’d Savage have to use that picture? Etrian Odyssey is a good game series, it doesn’t deserve to have one of its characters poached for this wingnuttery.

  94. #94 herr doktor bimler
    March 8, 2014

    The current instantiation is a mishmash that includes representatives of frank antiscience, those who crave the trappings of science, profiteers, and good old-fashioned “infecting Christian children” types.

    That reminds me, Erwin Albers, the frothing NZ-resident anti-vaxxer. A big fan of the century-old German anti-vax tradition (all Purity of Essence, and Jews Contaminating our Children). Anyone heard from him lately?

  95. #95 anon
    March 8, 2014

    @Chris
    @AnnB
    There is too much to cut and paste. You have to scroll down to the comment section. lilady also commented.

  96. #96 anon
    March 8, 2014

    @Chris
    @AnnB
    Reposting link -(it’s a long scroll down the article to comments) http://www.texasobserver.org/worth-shot/

  97. #97 Chris,
    March 8, 2014

    anon, which comment? I see a bunch, some that are off the wall inane, and some that are rational.

  98. #98 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    March 8, 2014

    “Had many of those diseases. Didn’t kill me or any of my classmates or anyone I know in the whole school. Kids don’t get Hep B unless their mothers have it. No excuse to vaccinate everyone. Rotavirus is self limiting, tetanus needs only a good wound cleaning to be kept away and still you think injecting poisons and toxins, monkey kidneys, intentionally aborted fetal cells, formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury, MSG, Polysorbate 80, cancer cells, etc. is worth them never having to suffer a fever and a few spots.”

    Followed by Helianthus @ 89:

    Not that the rest of the post is any better. All you need is a good dash of, by example, mercurochrome, to keep tetanus away? Gosh, maybe the poster should keep a bottle on herself at all time.

    Mercurochrome=thimerosal, right? So injecting a tiny, tiny bit of mercurochrome intramuscularly is a terrible thing, ’cause in the event of an injury, alls you gotta do is splash a whole bunch of mercurochrome onto an open wound—literally “into the bloodstream” (to quote Thingy)—and Bob’s your uncle? My mind, she is officially blown.

  99. #99 Chris,
    March 8, 2014

    anon, at the bottom of each comment is a little drop down menu labeled “share”, click on the symbol that looks like a chain (it is the third one). Then copy the URL from that.

    See:
    Example of link of inane comment: http://www.texasobserver.org/worth-shot/#comment-1275796839

    Example of link to reasonable comment: http://www.texasobserver.org/worth-shot/#comment-1277039314

    So, in the future if you are going to reference a specific comment actually link to it. Also, it would help if you used full and clear sentences. Parsing your phrases is very confusing.

  100. #100 ann
    March 8, 2014

    don’t really buy this; it’s far too top-down. My general sense, based on occasionally reviewing antivaccine histories (e.g., here), was that objections to smallpox vaccination were largely the province of the working class in the first half of the 19th century. Apparently, I’m not the only one.

    This is a far cry from some sort of Germanic intellectual reaction, although, as I’ve noted, the ’60s counterculture has strong ties to the Lebensreform.

    That’s why I put “more or less.”

  101. #101 ann
    March 8, 2014

    Ann: Women who act stupid in public make every other woman look bad. Men can act dumb in public, and it only reflects on themselves, not on the rest of the group.

    I was unaware of that. Why?

  102. #102 notation
    March 8, 2014

    Why not? Women have always been second-class citizens and anything they say is suspect. Men are not held to the same standard.

  103. #103 ann
    March 8, 2014

    When I wrote my first comment I was trying to ID if the impetus behind the anti-vax movement was a lack of critical thinking skills

    I think it’s the presence of something, not the lack. But critical thinking does appear to be absent.

    I think Narad is on to something that the ideology exists at the top and the “mad moms” just follow it. But, what concerns me for both the anti-vax crowd and the Rx-the-antibiotics crowd is may not be driven by lack of critical thinking which could be countered by education but by an irrational, self-centered, selfish, mypotic view of the world in which “don’t poison my snowflake with vaccines” and “how dare you deny my snowflake an antibiotic” are pretty much one and the same. And, if so, then how do you counteract either error in judgement?

    Some people are just ineducable. But education is still the best and only bet.

    However, I still don’t think those are two things of a kind. The anti-vax movement is all about opposing the Big Bad. It comes complete with all the narrative accessories that go with that. And it’s a lifestyle/identity statement..

    None of that applies to people who want antibiotics for everything. At most, they’re just demanding a magic fix, to which they wrongly feel entitled.

  104. #104 notation
    March 8, 2014

    Lilady warned me some time ago that anti-vax sites would “rot” my brain, and although I don’t hold my brain in particularly high esteem, I have to say that she was right about the effect of the “stupid” and the “woo.”

    I had no idea how moronic some people could possibly be. No wonder Orac says “The stupid–it burns.” He’s right.

    Gah.

  105. #105 ann
    March 8, 2014

    @notation –

    Because it holds women to an impossible standard?

  106. #106 notation
    March 8, 2014

    Not at all. It’s because women are considered substandard to start with.

  107. #107 LW
    March 8, 2014

    Politicalguineapig thinks that all men, all religious people especially Catholics, and all Americans who live “south of Missouri” or in several other States such as Ohio, are unable to view a woman as a distinct individual with her own strengths and weaknesses, so she sees any stupid statement by any woman as directly harming her personal identity, justifying her bigotry against other women. 

    The fact that she herself thinks exclusively in terms of stereotypes and group identity and is entirely unable to view men, religious people especially Catholics, and Americans who live “south of Missouri” or in several other States such as Ohio, as distinct individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses, apparently escapes her notice.

  108. #108 Chris,
    March 8, 2014

    notation: “Men are not held to the same standard.”

    Ah, yes. I remember the”good ol’ days” when I was only considered half as good only when I worked twice as hard.

    My lab partner flunked that class because that is how he thought. He did not show up to begin the first lab, and the professor actually helped me get the strain gauges on to the samples. His attendance was sporadic, he had excuses of why he could not help take measurements. He even could not get together to write the report. So I did him a kindness and just handed him the raw data for him to write his own.

    This was in the late 1970s, and he was part of a group of classmates who were active Navy personnel getting their undergraduate degree. One of his buddies warned me that complaining to the professor would ruin my lab partner’s career. I told him I did not have to complain when the professor was there helping me, and the dude ruined his own career by not taking me nor the class seriously.

    My next set of lab partners were much better. Especially since the professor (it was his first year teaching) made sure to explain participation was part of the grade.

    (by the way, I was one of three women in that engineering department)

  109. #109 Denice Walter
    March 8, 2014

    @ AnnB:

    Some anti-vaxxers *selectively* reject technical innovation _as it suits them_ so it’s perfectly alright for them to sit at a computer for hours at a time, text friends and drive a car but still rant on about how advances in medicine, food production and *chemicals* have poisoned our environment and destroyed their children. Certain aspects of modernity are irksome to them. I see much in common with alt med purism about ‘clean’ foods ( organic/GMO free/ unprocessed) and over-wrought fears about most pharmaceutical products.

    If you survey TMR, you’ll notice that they have many complaints about vaccines, anti-biotics, anti-depressants, OTC meds, interventions surrounding birth ( pain meds, pitocin, rhogram etc ). Many of their methods of ‘recovering’ ** their children include ‘natural’ diets, pro-biotics, supplements, chelating away toxins, herbalism and homeopathy – all backwards glances to a simpler time that they envision as edenic- or at least, not h3llish. Many write that they themselves received only a few vaccines but their children get dozens.

    There is loads more but I’ll have to stop as I’ve had an exhausting – but entertaining- day,

    ** an idiom I despise

  110. #110 AnnB
    March 8, 2014

    @ann
    @Denice Walter

    What both of you write makes sense. I didn’t really have much of a read on the anti-vax crowd until now. Having worked in pharmacy for many years, I came across a lot of the psycho for antibiotics crowd, but not so much of the anti-vax crowd for obvious reasons.

  111. #111 ann
    March 8, 2014

    @LW –

    Thanks for your elegant response!

    @notation –

    You lost me. But I think I must be missing something.

    Here are the statements in question. Let’s try subbing in some different traditional second-class citizens — gays. Or, if you prefer, Jews.

    Women have always been second-class citizens and anything they say is suspect. Men are not held to the same standard.

    Women who act stupid in public make every other woman look bad. Men can act dumb in public, and it only reflects on themselves, not on the rest of the group.

    (Adjusted for “heterosexuals” or “gentiles” in the second line of each.)

    Do those seem to you to be perfectly reasonable things to say, given that gays (or Jews) are looked down upon?

    Or is it just me?

  112. #112 lilady
    March 9, 2014

    I am a Christian and I deeply resent some of the remarks that are made about Christians or about groups of people. It is stereotyping, pure and simple. I despise being stereotyped for my religion, my gender, the area where I reside…or any other classification.

    The reason why I post here is because there is no purity test to disavow my religious beliefs in order to be accepted as a skeptic.

  113. #113 Politicalguineapig
    March 9, 2014

    LW: The fact that she herself thinks exclusively in terms of stereotypes and group identity and is entirely unable to view men, religious people especially Catholics, and Americans who live “south of Missouri” or in several other States such as Ohio, as distinct individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses, apparently escapes her notice.

    Actually, no it doesn’t. I prefer to categorize people simply because it makes my life easier and allows me to navigate social situations.
    For example, almost all my friends are suburbanites or formerly from the ‘burbs- therefore, I can’t expect them to like spicy food.

    If I’m working in an exhibit and see someone with a group of identically dressed children who are part of a family unit, I will politely ignore them, as they’re conservatives and wandered into the wrong museum. (People often confuse my museum with the local childrens’ or history museum.) They’ll figure it out eventually.

    Making eye contact while out and about can lead to unrealistic expectations, so I don’t. Thus frustration is avoided, and everyone can have a more pleasant day.

  114. #114 ann
    March 9, 2014

    @lilady –

    I very much hope I didn’t offend you.

    @politicalguineapig –

    Or you. No offense intended. I was just curious.

    I suppose that as long as there are groups of stupid people talking, I’d rather they do it in public, where the intelligent can keep tabs on them, personally. But there’s no arguing about taste.

    .

  115. #115 lilady
    March 9, 2014

    @ ann: The comment I made was not directed at you. :-)

  116. #116 Narad
    March 9, 2014

    That’s why I put “more or less.”

    OK, but I don’t know that the “Counter-Enlightenment” is specific enough to admit degrees in the first place. If you meant “more or less has something to do with what is referred to with different connotations in various circles as the ‘Counter-Enlightenment’,” then what is being explained by the invocation eludes me.

  117. #117 Narad
    March 9, 2014

    For example, almost all my friends are suburbanites or formerly from the ‘burbs- therefore, I can’t expect them to like spicy food.

    *blink*

    I’m now morbidly curious what you think comprises “spicy food.”

  118. #118 Mrs Grimble
    March 9, 2014

    And denigrating someone’s avatar as being that of a “sexualized girl-child” – the game is played on a device whose screen is just a few inches high, is it possible *that* has something to do with the character design? Or are we now condemning anyone who would choose an avatar from a video game on that gaming platform?

    I know diddly-squat about computer games, but I doubt that every female gaming avatar looks like a 10-year old with a boob job.
    Yes, images do look different on small screens; but at some point, before choosing to include it in her article, she would have viewed the avatar on a larger screen. At which point I would have expected her to think “Wait, do I really want to present myself like that?”
    Whether its her gaming avatar, or if she just found it on the net, doesn’t matter one bit.

  119. #119 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 9, 2014

    Here are the statements in question. Let’s try subbing in some different traditional second-class citizens — gays. Or, if you prefer, Jews.

    Women have always been second-class citizens and anything they say is suspect. Men are not held to the same standard.

    Women who act stupid in public make every other woman look bad. Men can act dumb in public, and it only reflects on themselves, not on the rest of the group.

    (Adjusted for “heterosexuals” or “gentiles” in the second line of each.)

    Do those seem to you to be perfectly reasonable things to say, given that gays (or Jews) are looked down upon?

    I think there’s a misunderstanding here. If the world has aspects that are wholly unfair, isn’t it perfectly reasonable to make statements that describe the unfairness?

    Suppose we suddenly found ourselves in one of the countries of the globe where speech against the government is NOT allowed. We might be all agreed that that is intolerable, that we should be allowed to say what we want without fear of reprisal. Does that mean it’s wrong for us to remind each other, “Hey, watch what you say, because saying something against the Glorious Leader could get us all arrested and disappeared”?

    Now when we’re talking about the statements made by PGP, the obvious factor to be considered is that most of the world she ‘sees’ is just her own bigoted imagination, which borders on paranoid delusion. If you search the comments on this site for – oh, here, I’ll just link to it here.

    Nevertheless, in the cases where it is true that people simply won’t perceive us as individuals, but as an example of what they should expect from the groups we belong to – whether that’s fair or not, we have to deal with it. Sometimes we can fight to make them see us as individuals – and sometimes, they’re just going to say “Oh, he/she is an X, I guess that tells me what all Xes are like.”

  120. #120 Mrs Grimble
    March 9, 2014

    Dorit @83:

    I always find the “I survived the diseases so it’s okay” argument even more problematic than their other usual arguments.

    As do I. As a child, I survived being hit by a car; one of my daughters, as a child, survived being hit by a truck. Both of us had the good luck to escape permanent damage. So therefore, when I take my grandchildren for a walk, I should let them run around in the traffic?

  121. #121 LW
    March 9, 2014

    Quoth Politicalguineapig, “I prefer to categorize people simply because it makes my life easier and allows me to navigate social situations.”

    So it’s perfectly right and proper that she thinks every bad or stupid man is identical to all men, every bad or stupid religious person is identical to all religious people, every bad or stupid person “south of Missouri” is identical to all people “south of Missouri”, but somehow it’s objectionable to her that there are other people in the world who thinks every bad or stupid woman is identical to all women.  Personally I am offended by bigots in general, whether or not they focus their bigotry on women.  

    I’m really curious what she does at “her museum”. If she’s supposed to interact with visitors, and deliberately ignores those whom she deems unworthy of visiting, I can see why they would leave and never return. This would of course confirm to her that they should never have set foot in “her museum” in the first place. 

    When I read her bigoted remarks, and think of the unique people that I personally know, whom she utterly fails to even consider … well, she is enormously poorer in experience than a lot of those people that she so despises.

  122. #122 palindrom
    March 9, 2014

    Apropos of some of this discussion: a favorite T-shirt from “The Onion” reads “Stereotypes are a real time-saver!”

  123. #123 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2014

    Although I have to agree that PGP does make bigoted statements, I ask my fellow and sister sceptics to consider *why* they think she does that? And how is that different from a person- coming from a position of power- using prejudice to deny OTHER people’s rights or access to opportunity?

    I would venture that her stance is based nearly entirely on self-protection from percieved threats and feeling over whelmed by more powerful people ( be that physically , socially or opinion-wise, purely by their numbers). Thus she avoids what she perceives as a threat to her as a less powerful and solitary individual. She sets her alarm criterion extremely low so as not to miss ANY threats which leads to many false alarms. She may feel unable to compete as an equal – although she is certainly equal.

    I imagine that these fears are overgeneralised but based on a childhood reality where she truly WAS overwhelmed and powerless.. and I wouldn’t submit her to any questions about it because that’s none of our business. I have witnessed similar atttitudes by 2 women in RL ( non-client) wherein when the full story was told, their caution made much more sense: they had little say in what happened to them and no one to assist them as children.

    ( And yes, I know that even more aggressive, societal and political bigotry may be traced to deep-down percieved- but not directly experienced- threats to security and status).

    I think there’s hope for her BECAUSE of her interest in reality-based belief systems (SBM, natural science): psychologists often portray people as naive scientists trying to sample the world and hypothesise how it works. That applies to the social world as well. The two women who had similar beliefs became more adventuresome as they got older ( in their thirties) and felt more in control because of their better social/ financial positions and- just maybe- greater insight into their own situations.
    Also, they are quite intelligent as is PGP.

    Many of us can afford to be magnanimous socially because we may have experienced the luxury of a more secure foundation. WE can also provide vicarious experience anecdotally – that humanity is quite diverse and not always out to harm girls. Those who have been harmed and overcame their understandable reticence later can also show that change is possible. Like my two friends did.

  124. #124 LW
    March 9, 2014

    @Denice Walter, “And how is that different from a person- coming from a position of power- using prejudice to deny OTHER people’s rights or access to opportunity?”

    It isn’t.

    I imagine a couple dressing their children in their best clothes — which are all alike because that’s their image of “best clothes” — in order to take them to the museum, because they think out of respect for the museum, you shouldn’t wear whatever you find wadded up on the floor of the closet. So they bring their children to the museum to learn something about the world outside their own culture, and they get to meet Politicalguineapig and her “we don’t serve your kind here” attitude. 

    If she had announced that if she saw people with darker skin than hers, or same sex couples holding hands, or someone wearing a crucifix, then she would assume that they wandered into “her” museum by accident and she would “politely” ignore them until they recognized that they were not welcome and left — would you tell me not to criticize her for using her position of power, small though it is, over those museum visitors to express her bigotry against them by denying them their rights or access to opportunity?

    Her prior experiences may justify her paranoid and bigoted attitudes, but they *don’t* justify the behavior she describes. 

    Moreover, I suspect that she is not nearly so good an actress as she supposes, and that the people forced to interact with her recognize her bigotry, consciously or unconsciously, and react accordingly. If she can be brought to recognize that, and make an effort not to despise 95% of the people forced to interact with her, she might find the world a far more friendly and welcoming place.

  125. #125 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2014

    @ LW:

    Go ahead and criticise her. That’s the point. It IS similar and often people who have been made to feel that they are somehow less than the standard may marginalise others ‘lower down’ in the hierarchy ( as they percieve it). If you truly believe in equality, you have to watch out for your own faux pas. And no one is perfect.

    But I don’t think that we should punish behaving in a less-than-accepting manner as we should for denying a job or entrance to a school: magnitude is important.

    That doesn’t make it a good thing. I imagine if she were outrightly rude or unaccomodating, it might become a job issue if a visitor or a supervisor reported something unseemly. It may not be without consequence. Time will tell.

    If a person is in a position to make others feel ‘not good enough’ in any way if might be useful to illustrate what that might feel like if it were done to them. Perhaps they might even REMEMBER being in a similar position themselves when someone ‘talked down’ to them. How unfair and judgmental it was based solely on superficial differences, not core issues of personality, ability or past action- withoutknowing THEM.

    Which is what I’m getting at.

    Also shared vicarious social experience and criticism can be a characteristic of good group therapy ( as opposed to TMR). People who start out with lower self-esteem may not
    want to appear vulnerable amongst others and thus, put up their guard. A free exchange of ideas can be an example of social equality where status doesn’t count as much and it is a try-out for changing attitudes about how to behave in reallife.. It’s a bit like roleplaying without the costumes.

    I hope you see what I’m trying to do.

  126. #126 Politicalguineapig
    March 9, 2014

    Narad: I’m now morbidly curious what you think comprises “spicy food.”

    My tolerance for spicy is pretty high, actually. But for them it’s basically any food that’s had a chile pepper waved at it.

    DW: Basically, the thing is that I tend to miss a lot of social signals. It’s easier to simply avoid a lot of people then it is to constantly obsess about level of eye contact/ personal space/ or threat level. (Or that stupid friendzone; I prefer to leave that minefield alone.)
    There’s one woman at my current library (a former workplace) that I just avoid now, because even ‘hello’ will get rampantly misinterpreted. I don’t even talk with my friends much, as the less talking I do, the less chance I have of screwing up.

  127. #127 Politicalguineapig
    March 9, 2014

    LW: LW: I usually do desk, table work, and school greeting. The desk work is lost and found, occasionally parking and directions. School greeting is just what it says. Table work is just setting up a cart with activities related to the exhibit.

    Basic politeness is all that’s necessary, even if I’m not sure the visitors belong, and even if the visitors break stuff. And I don’t despise 95% of the people I deal with; maybe 10%.

  128. #128 Interrobang
    March 9, 2014

    Are you folks seriously trying to argue that if you spot someone who exhibits a constellation of particular traits you can’t categorise them in a particular way? That’s nuts.

    If I see a very young woman at my grocery store fumbling with her purse like she’s not used to carrying one, wearing a long, frumpy floral dress, long (probably uncut) hair, socks, and running shoes, I can pretty much tell you that in that particular context, that young woman is the eldest (or one of the elder) daughters of a really conservative fundamentalist Christian family of the type we have around here, whose parents have sent her to get food for her undoubtedly large family. The reason she’s fumbling with the purse is probably because it’s not even hers; it’s likely her mother’s.

    How do I know this? I know that there are lots of fundamentalist Christians around, and some of the Quiverfull variety, and some that don’t believe in haircuts for women, and I generally know the dynamics of that type of family because I grew up around them, although not among them (thank g-d).

    Inductive reasoning by statistical syllogism doesn’t necessarily equal “stereotyping” or bigotry, nor does interpreting the semiotics of clothing and behaviour. Of course, context is important; I wouldn’t necessarily draw the same conclusions in another context.

  129. #129 LW
    March 9, 2014

    Politicalguineapig, speaking just for myself and my friends, you’d be surprised how many other people have trouble making eye contact, and how many simply accept that you don’t do it. If you have to deal with someone who demands eye contact, as I have had to, you might try looking at their mouth. At any reasonable range, this is enough like eye contact to fool them. Don’t obsess about it; just recognize that you can’t do it. As I said, you’d be surprised how many people will be comfortable with that, or will be comfortable with your watching their hand gestures as they talk.

  130. #130 ann
    March 9, 2014

    I think there’s a misunderstanding here. If the world has aspects that are wholly unfair, isn’t it perfectly reasonable to make statements that describe the unfairness?

    Of course it is.

    I actually left out the original statement, which was not simply an impartial observation about social standards…

    I should add that women acting dumb in public is one of my pet peeves. If they can’t say anything smart, they should just lock themselves in their houses and never go on the internet-or out- again.

    …and which could be construed as an endorsement of them.

    However, some people do take such a position for reasons other than prejudice — as with Bill Cosby’s opposition to ungrammatical African-American argot, for example.

    And while I’m not really down with that myself, there’s nothing wrong with it, within reasonable parameters.

    But it wasn’t an entirely self-explanatory statement. And I was curious about what was meant by it. So I asked.

    @Narad, in re: the Counter-Enlightenment –

    I don’t blame you. I meant something that a more articulate person than I might be able to express exactly at less than essay-length. But I’m me. And as phrased, it was, at best, an inexact statement.

    As Lou Reed says, between thought and expression lies a lifetime.

  131. #131 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2014

    OK, so the reason people look at eyes ( or faces/ listen to vocal tone) is in order to get more subtle cues about the person, If you don’t look, you might miss a lot.

    And PGP is right, people vary in their abilities about how well they read ( and transmit) non-verbal cues.People may mis-interpretthe message when a person *doesn’t* look directly at them.There are things that are teachable though- perhaps a relatively painless way is to observe how talented actors display emotion in films.There are also ways to work around the situation- perhaps by verbal means ( asking questions). A quick smile doesn’t hurt- usually- either: it says,”I come in peace”.

    And Interrobang brings up a good point: clothes and general demeanor can tell us a great deal about a person and their background which is why many people take great pains with theirs ( esp con-men/ women). I once had the enlightening experience of being in a small mountain town- and before I opened my mouth- a store proprietor asked, ” You’re not from around here,are you?” I wasn’t dressed inapropriately, just very slightly differently. And believe it or not, it was an older guy, not a fashionista.

  132. #132 ann
    March 9, 2014

    Are you folks seriously trying to argue that if you spot someone who exhibits a constellation of particular traits you can’t categorise them in a particular way? That’s nuts.

    I think the issue is less trait-based categorization than it is category-based antagonism.

  133. #133 LW
    March 9, 2014

    @ann, yes, exactly. Also, categories that are way, way too broad such as “all men”, “all Christians”, “everyone in Ohio”, or that categorizes far too rigidly as in “does not like spicy food”, or “can’t possibly have an interest in my museum”.

    I know a lot of people who just don’t fit Politicalguineapig’s little pigeonholes — in fact, I don’t fit her little pigeonholes, as evidenced by her amusing attempt to categorize me.

  134. #134 dingo199
    March 9, 2014

    Yet another batsh1t alert, this time at the Observer.
    Invasion of antivax trrolls and chiropractors is rife.
    Lilady could use some assistance.
    http://www.texasobserver.org/worth-shot/#comment-1277762396

  135. #135 Vicki
    March 9, 2014

    My partner grew up in a suburban town; I grew up in the largest city in the United States. Which of us was eating the jalapeños at lunch today?

    I find it simpler to ask people what they like to eat, if we are going to be dining together. Because I don’t need to know the spice preferences of everyone in the world, or even everyone I know: I need to know what the people I am spending time might want for lunch today, and that can be addressed on the individual level. (If I was arranging sandwiches for all 100 people who worked in an office, I’d get a variety of different things, and have things like mustard available on the side.)

  136. #136 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2014

    And just when you thought you were out…
    the Kraken rears its ugly head and drags you back in again…

    One of the TMs, Mamacita ( a/k/a Cathy Jameson) opines nay, DEMANDS (today @ AoA) that she and her sisters be given the10 000 apologies that they so truthfully deserve:
    they’ve seen their children destroyed;
    they’re suffered greatly;
    they’ve been decieved, insulted and humiliated by the powers-that-be;
    people say that they are loons, yes, batsh!t, bonkers, a few cards short of a deck, fruitcakes, flakes…off their rockers.

    It’s about time those establishment flunkies/ sceptics/ reality-biased discrimation addicts/ bullies said that they were sorry.

    Alrightie. I feel genuinely sorry…
    for your kids.

  137. #137 LW
    March 9, 2014

    Politicalguineapig, I do want to apologize for thinking that you were harming visitors by “politely ignoring them. I pictured you as a proctor of the museum who deliberately turned her back to them until they gave up and went away. From what you say, it sounds like you simply concentrate on your work and don’t invite contact, which is entirely reasonable. 

    I am really sorry we got off on the wrong foot. I hate to see my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers vilified — I can’t stand to visit sites like Pharyngula for that reason — and I can’t help leaping to their defense. But you sound a lot like me when I was growing up, when I realized that there was something about people’s faces that indicated what they were thinking … to other people, not to me. It wouldn’t have helped to have someone dump on me for my inability to detect social cues.

    But please restrain the impulse to blurt out sweeping vilifications of millions of people. I know that you *feel* that they are all bad people and that you may have reasons for feeling that way, but it is unfair and hurtful to say so publicly and may alienate people who might otherwise want to be friendly. And, you know, some of those millions really are quite interesting people that you might enjoy meeting.

  138. #138 Narad
    March 9, 2014

    My tolerance for spicy is pretty high, actually. But for them it’s basically any food that’s had a chile pepper waved at it.

    Ah, OK, but let’s recall that this was presented as a causal argument:

    almost all my friends are suburbanites or formerly from the ‘burbs- therefore, I can’t expect them to like spicy food

    If you’re saying that they in fact don’t like hot food, that’s one thing. If you’re saying that they must not like anything vaguely resembling hot (as opposed to spicy)* food because they carry some lingering pan-suburban curse, that’s another.

    One thing that is known is that hot sauces are having a banner decade.** Cayenne is nothing new in the American kitchen. Tabasco has been culturally ubiquitous for 80 years. Pepperoni? As apple-pie as it gets. Has had a chili pepper waved at it. Hot “Italian sausage”? The collection of 1950s–1970s cookbooks, including fundraising-type collections, that I took off my mom’s hands is still packed, but I’ll bet it’s in there.

    I have difficulty conceptualizing a population that is reduced to insisting upon extra-mild mashed potatoes.

    * I presume they can choke down, say, mustard. Or dill, the quintessential White herb.

    ** BTW, I’ve had it with people who obsess over the sickly-sweet glop that is Huy Fong sriracha, the new Miracle Whip of quasi-Asian sauces.

  139. #139 Denice Walter
    March 9, 2014

    To follow up on what LW said:

    you can’t always make assumptions based on only appearances and categories-
    I could show you a photo of my friends and you would think that they came from central casting as white, middle-aged, well-to-do,respectable business types- when in truth, they’re hippie-liberal-socialists or extremely critical of the status quo.
    I look as though I could easily be a suburban, white bread mom- although I try to appear otherwise. While I usually am clear about my views, occasionally I just keep quiet and let them imagine me as they choose.

  140. #140 LW
    March 9, 2014

    I have a friend who was a member of Future Farmers of America. You would never, ever, guess that from looking at him or talking to him. I have another friend who reads ancient Chinese literature in traditional Chinese characters, for recreation. You would never, ever, guess that from looking at him.

    Even people from the ‘burbs may have interesting hobbies and interesting life-stories. But you would never know that if you just wrote them all off as being from the ‘burbs.

  141. #141 Chris Hickie
    March 10, 2014

    These anti-vax groups, whatever be their name, don’t need (though they’d like to) convince everyone not to vaccinate their children. Even gulling 1 in 10 families not to vaccinate is enough to cause these outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases we are seeing, especially where the clustering of these non-thinkers is high (well documented for the 2010 California pertussis outbreak in which 10 infants too young to be vaccinated died from whooping cough). So many of us oppose them as individuals, but I know parents who have told me they believe these AV groups because they see no groups openly opposing them–like the CDC, AAP, AAFP, AMA. While pertussis was raging in California in 2010, the AAP held its annual convention in San Francisco. Not a single session I could find on its schedule bothered to address the low vaccination rates and pertussis outbreak going on all around them. Not one session.

    Every 5 year is what I call a “vaccine generation”–the period in which children are most vulnerable to many vaccine preventable diseases and also when they receive most of their vaccines for them. It’s been about 3 vaccine generations since AV rhetoric went off the scale (since Wakefield), yet there has been no real push back from groups who know, understand and can use their size to convey to parents the importance of vaccination. That is a shame.

  142. #142 MIRose
    March 10, 2014

    Every woman i know, even the most intelligent, has done something stupid in public. So let;s just keep them barefoot and pregnant. Somehow I do not think that was the intent of pgp’s comment.
    Most people stereotype others. There are people who think I am very conservative because I have a lot of kids. I am not. I just love children. (But I might have rethought things had I spent more time with teenagers prior to having a large family.)
    Other people get to know me without knowing I have a large family and are surprised that I have so may kids because i am intelligent well groomed and well dressed.
    If i showed up at a museum with all my kids when they were younger, I would have hoped to have been treated well. I don’t expect people not to have preconceived notions, just to reserve judgement on others, treat them with respect and give them a chance..

  143. #143 MIRose
    March 10, 2014

    Sigh… so many kids…I wish I could type

  144. #144 Lurker
    Organic food: the Gateway Placebo!
    March 10, 2014

    ‘Mothers are at the forefront of the medical marijuana issue, trying to get legislation passed in order for those that need it to be able to have access to it.’

    Heh, I guess I was right about Thinkers scoring Einstein when they get diagnosed with Münchausen By Proxy, and joining a super-secret club called The Münchies. A bottle of wine, a baggie of pot, and a tin of biscuits or two… or three… Right!

    I have an idea about where all this Warrior Mom stuff comes from.

    In many cultures, coming-of-age is marked by a ‘shamanic journey’ initiation experience. In the Western World we don’t do that any more. But pregnancy and especially childbirth are ferociously grueling experiences. In particular, childbirth is well known to trigger psychiatric disorders, notably post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis. For every such overtly diagnosable case, there are probably a hundred others who have much milder versions of similar symptoms.

    With that, a modest hypothesis: Some of these Drinking Moms’ childbirth experiences were more than average traumatic, perhaps accompanied by passing out due to sleep deprivation (long labour) and pain. In their minds, those experiences clicked the button for ‘death and rebirth’ or ‘shamanic journey’ or something along those lines, that grants the individual a sense of access to ‘superior wisdom.’ As a result of which, they conclude that their instincts and intuitions are a-priori true.

    How to get at this: Doctors who deliver babies (and doctors who deal with trauma patients and end-of-life care, for other reasons) should also get some training in transpersonal psychology: one graduate-level course should be sufficient to become conversant with the basic ideas. Then when they run across an instance where a new mother appears to have had some kind of traumatic or profound experience during childbirth, they are in a position to provide some guidance, preferably laced with hints along the lines of ‘science is magic that works’ (credit to Art @ 51 for that highly viral meme).

    Given a doctor who can speak to a patient in a way that demonstrates understanding of those experiences, some of these new mothers might reasonably be steered away from the treacherous road of quackery.

  145. #145 Shay
    March 10, 2014

    I have an idea about where all this Warrior Mom stuff comes from.

    I think they saw too many episodes of “Xena, Warrior Princess” when they were young.

  146. #146 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 10, 2014

    Narad:

    I have difficulty conceptualizing a population that is reduced to insisting upon extra-mild mashed potatoes. * I presume they can choke down, say, mustard. Or dill, the quintessential White herb.

    There is a joke here in Minnesota that we’re so bland, we consider celery a spice. :-P It’s sort of true, but really you can find a lot of very spicy restaurants. The Scandinavian/German/etc immigrant culinary influence is still very much there, with an emphasis on starch and fat and protein so you get through the winter, but quite old now and certainly not alone. You can go to a Lutheran potluck and get the classic bean-and-noodle hot dish sitting next to volcano-hot barbecue, which is then followed by a jar of pickled herring.

    Though that does make me wonder — could lutefisk be made palatable by combining it with Cajun seasoning? Or maybe made into a gumbo? The traditional accompaniment is melted butter, or, if you’re really wild, cream sauce. These do little to help its total lack of flavor. ;-) It’s like the tofu of fish, only with less texture.

  147. #147 Johanna
    March 10, 2014

    …and that’s me back to seriously rethinking Minneapolis as a place to live. Thanks a heap, Calli. ;)

    (I love my somewhat-spicy food, I do!)

  148. #148 Denice Walter
    March 10, 2014

    @ Lurker:

    Sure.
    And it doesn’t help that for the past 20 years, New Age gurus have been harping upon shamans, night sea journeys, goddess-ness, Joseph Campbell and suchlike.

    I would guess that – like stereotypes- myths and stories serve to organise, streamline and stabilse information from actual life experience- memory can get rather unruly if left to its own devices. Thus they remember experiences to fit a format AND they also elevate everyday strife to higher level of impotance. .

    I imagine that some of the TMs were distraught after getting a dx of ASDs for their children ( several of the most prominent of them have sons with rather severe forms of ASD- including non-verbal) ; they feel that their dreams were dashed ( and they report this); often, they feel trapped into the role of long term caregiver. Some feel cheated out of continuing on their own careers. They think this unfair.

    Tales of warriors and revolutionaries who strike back against their oppressors sound a lot more intriguing than the rigours of domestic life: it also raises self-esteem and offers a chance at solidarity and fraternity with like-minded sisters. Many dream about revenge against those who “destroyed” their child. And their lives.

    The warrior idea also reflects upon some feminist ideals: women are not weak and submissive- they can fight and challenge authority. I imagine that pop culture is partially to blame for some of the images they choose. So rather than identifying as a victim they become ‘forces to be reckoned with’ – perhaps even potentially dangerous to those who ‘harmed’ their childand thus, them.

  149. #149 ann
    March 10, 2014

    And it doesn’t help that for the past 20 years, New Age gurus have been harping upon shamans, night sea journeys, goddess-ness, Joseph Campbell and suchlike.

    This is in line with what I said @16 about the proto-fascism; Campbell is the very definition of it. (Or “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” is, at least. I haven’t read his other books.) It’s essentially a crypto-volkisch call to arms/spiritual manifesto for would-be fascists, which is — among other things — enormously anti-Semitic, although mostly in a between-the-lines sort of a way.

    As was he. Bad scholar, too.

    Doesn’t Jenny McCarthy self-identify as a warrior-mother?

    .

  150. #150 Denice Walter
    March 10, 2014

    @ ann:

    Although I don’t know much about how his material is applied – or his own politics for that matter- he does write about “primitive” and”oriental” myths/ ritual ( global) in addition to “occidental”/ “creative” ( The Masks of God”)- he does appear to focus on the latter.
    I can see how some of it could be used for Euro-centric propaganda, Lots about myths white people like.

    Jenny helped to spread the meme.

  151. #151 ann
    March 10, 2014

    Although I don’t know much about how his material is applied – or his own politics for that matter- he does write about “primitive” and”oriental” myths/ ritual ( global)

    He sure does. And when he does, he subscribes to the Aryan invasion hypothesis. Except that he uses the Finian Cycle in place of the Ring Cycle, it’s pretty much the same a the Nazi take on romantic-nationalist myth and folklore.

    His own politics were extreme. For the last several years of his life, he was on the masthead of “Mankind Quarterly.”

  152. #152 ann
    March 10, 2014

    Format corrected.

    We regret the error.

    Although I don’t know much about how his material is applied – or his own politics for that matter- he does write about “primitive” and”oriental” myths/ ritual ( global)

    He sure does. And when he does, he subscribes to the Aryan invasion hypothesis. Except that he uses the Finian Cycle in place of the Ring Cycle, it’s pretty much the same a the Nazi take on romantic-nationalist myth and folklore.

    His own politics were extreme. For the last several years of his life, he was on the masthead of “Mankind Quarterly.”

  153. #153 Politicalguineapig
    March 10, 2014

    Johanna: It’s not so bad, food-wise. I can name at least ten places where you can get knock-your-socks off hot food, and we have pho. Lots of pho. There’s one avenue in St. Paul where you could throw a brick and it’d land in someone’s bowl. Also, we have Manny’s tortas.

  154. #154 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    March 11, 2014

    I know I may regret asking this, but what is (or was) “Mankind Quarterly”? I’m guessing a magazine, but on what subject?

  155. #155 ann
    March 11, 2014

    The Mankind Quarterly is a peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to physical and cultural anthropology and is published by the Council for Social and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. It contains articles on human evolution, intelligence, ethnography, linguistics, mythology, archaeology, etc. The journal aims to unify anthropology with biology.

    It has been called a “cornerstone of the scientific racism establishment” and a “white supremacist journal”,[1] “scientific racism’s keepers of the flame”,[2] a journal with a “racist orientation” and an “infamous racist journal”,[3] and “journal of ‘scientific racism’”.[4]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mankind_Quarterly

  156. #156 Denice Walter
    March 11, 2014

    @ ann:

    Now that’s interesting:
    something about JC always left me cold- I only bought his 4 book set after he died so that his son might get royalties.
    I do have interests in that area however.

    I used to run into his son at a grad school I attended- he maintained that he was “thrown out of all the best schools and universities in the UK and US”- I’m not sure if he ever completed his studies. He seemed to be a nice fellow- but totally lost and unhappy. He was friendly to seminar participants- despite their ethnicity. He worked as a waiter in an extremely exclusive restaurant and took grad courses. I wasn’t close to him or anything.

    His situation made me wonder about his father. Just an odd impression I had.

  157. #157 novalox
    March 11, 2014

    @pgp

    Speaking of pho, there’s a Vietnamese diner not far from where I live. It makes the best pho I’ve had, and that is saying something, considering that there is a lot of Asian restaurants and diners around here as well. I talked to the owner of the place, and she said that one of her secrets was using oxtail to make the broth taste better, as well as using fresh onions, cilantro, and mint.

    As for the condiments, I always like adding some hoison sauce (black bean sauce), as well as some fish sauce to add some additional flavor. The restaurant offers sriacha sauce on the side as well, but I think that the sauce, although really good, goes better with the barbecue pork banh mi sandwiches that they offer (which are really damn good in their own right). I usually use the garlic chili pepper sauce from Huy Fong that they offer for the pho, since it is more spicy and savory and fits better for the pho.

  158. #158 Calli Arcale
    March 11, 2014

    PGP: You’re in the cities too? Awesome!

    Johanna: It’s not so bad, food-wise. I can name at least ten places where you can get knock-your-socks off hot food, and we have pho. Lots of pho. There’s one avenue in St. Paul where you could throw a brick and it’d land in someone’s bowl. Also, we have Manny’s tortas.

    Oh my lord, the pho…yeah, we’ve got a ton of Vietnamese restaurants. Our stereotype comes from the Scandinavian immigrants of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but we’ve had a lot of other immigrants since then. And now we’re starting to get a lot of Somali immigrants, and like any immigrant population, they’re bringing their cuisine right alone.

    And the Mexican food you can get on the West Side of St Paul! I grew up right by there, in West St Paul. The Mexican food there is deeply authentic. In fact, despite being almost as far as you can get from Mexico without hitting Canada, we’ve got a large Hispanic population there. Boca Chica is great; used to go there all the time when I was a kid. (Alas, hubby has a sensitive palette, so we don’t go there now.) And if you go to the area on Cinco de Mayo, the street food is awesome. There’s this one taco stand in particular that is truly sublime, but dang if I can think of the name right now.

  159. #159 Politicalguineapig
    March 11, 2014

    novalox: Uh, I hate to break it to you, but hoisin sauce and black bean sauce are two different things. Hoisin is actually plum sauce, I think. Just a minor nitpick. And I’ve had oxtail soup a few times; really amazing.

    Calli: Yeah, I’m in the cities. I’ve always meant to go to Cinco de Mayo in West St Paul, but somehow things keep coming up. *Shrug* Minneapolis has a large Hispanic population too, although the neighborhoods have a high rate of turnover.

  160. #160 Johanna
    March 11, 2014

    The Swain and I are thinking more about Minneapolis over St. Paul, but it’s all hypothetical right now.

    My current ‘hood features great Ethiopian, Korean and Mexican food. But for some reason, I have to go a few miles for decent Indian. Boo.

  161. #161 anon
    March 11, 2014

    Thought I would leave the city when I retired, but, I really, really, like NYC, especially the liberal bastion of the UWS where I live. Whole foods is 2 blocks away. I did run into Gary Null at his store. Horrors! He is a pompous ass but then I listen to everyone, including the commentators on this blog.
    Narad, please edit for grammatical correctness. I forgot where the commas go! Chris don’t bother to parse.

  162. #162 Narad
    March 11, 2014

    Hoisin is actually plum sauce, I think.

    Nope.

  163. #163 Johanna
    March 11, 2014

    Plum sauce is made with plums. Hoisin uses soybeans.are delush on the right things.

  164. #164 Narad
    March 11, 2014

    Speaking of Prunus mume, though, in case I haven’t already issued a warning, this will go weapons-grade rancid in less than three days under refrigeration.

  165. #165 Johanna
    March 11, 2014

    Delish, even. Dratted cellphone.

  166. #166 Narad
    March 11, 2014

    The secondary confusion may have been between plum sauce and “duck sauce.”

  167. #167 ann
    March 11, 2014

    I used to run into his son at a grad school I attended- he maintained that he was “thrown out of all the best schools and universities in the UK and US”- I’m not sure if he ever completed his studies. He seemed to be a nice fellow- but totally lost and unhappy. He was friendly to seminar participants- despite their ethnicity. He worked as a waiter in an extremely exclusive restaurant and took grad courses. I wasn’t close to him or anything.

    Hm. I guess I thought he was childless, for some reason.

    He seems as if he was probably quite an affable man, in interpersonal terms. The hatred of Jews that comes across in the work is very, very intense. I found it frightening, tbh. But if you’re a non-close reader who doesn’t know anything about Judaism and/or you’re mostly just in it for the stories about nymphs and warriors, I imagine it would be pretty easy to overlook.

    Apart from that, it was just regular old completely crackpot academic work of a kind that quite a few literature departments used to churn out in large volume, back in the day

    IMO.

    There’s no particular reason why he mightn’t have been charming at dinner parties that I know of, however.

  168. #168 Denice Walter
    March 11, 2014

    Well, I can’t let that one ( #161) pass…

    Anon compares – somewhat obliquely- Orac’s fabulous minions with (( shudder)) Gary Null.

    Now studying cognition, language skills, testing et al as I have I can only remark: no way.

    He is a charlatan and poseur who mimes erudition. He pretends to be an expert in fields in which he hasn’t a clue. He constantly mispronounces and misuses terms in disciplines in which he has had no formal study altho’ he claims expertise: he cites writers whose names he mispronounces and stumbles over simple physiological terms. If you had studied these areas – and I have- you would have heard this material discussed hundreds of times in the course of a semester- even at intro level. ANYONE can look up material and repeat it back over the internet airwaves.

    I would also add that even a person who is quite bright cannot be expert in as many areas as this idiot claims: medicine, psychology, spirituality, economics, politics, art.
    It’s a ruse to make his listeners think that he is something he is not: i.e. educated. Above it all. It fits in with his tales about the famous people, doctors and professors who come to him for advice.

    As a very rough estimate I would venture that for the most part the minions are at least the equal of the average college grad with many at least average for grad students.
    He hasn’t skills as good as the average college student.

    (I’m talking mostly about language because i can’t really see the quantitative here all of the time- it sometimes shines though in a few people).

    Please assist me,oh glorious fellow and sister minions, by filling in the blank:

    ‘Orac’s minions are to Gary Null as apples are to__________’.

  169. #169 anon
    March 11, 2014

    #168 Sorry-Actually I never listen to Gary Null.
    Just started reading this blog the past few weeks for some factual knowledge. It was disappointing. Too much hyperbole.
    I will make no further comments.

  170. #170 lurker
    March 11, 2014

    Denise @ 148: Excellent points, and all of this (my points and your points) adds up to a set of emotional narratives for which ’causes’ such as Drinking Moms provide the ‘reasons,’ and there we go.

    Anne & Denise: Very interesting about Campbell. I’m surprised that anti-Semitism is given a millimetre of tolerance anywhere nowadays. Though on the other hand, see also European fascist parties emerging.

  171. #171 Politicalguineapig
    March 12, 2014

    Lurker: The thing about anti-semitism is it never really goes away. Considering that Europe has about 1,000 years (or more) where anti-semitism was a proud tradition and endorsed by the powers-that-were, it’d take more than 60 years to reverse that particular odious trend.
    In most European countries, anti- Romany sentiment is still socially acceptable, and they have a higher tolerance for racism than the US does. Does it really surprise you that a few lean years could be enough to boost fascist/nationalists into prime time?

  172. #172 mashroom
    it's actually sunny here!
    March 12, 2014

    Regarding Common Core. I grew up in Ukraine at the tail end of Soviet Union. Common Core, as you call it here, was the only way of education there (through end of high school, anyways). In Grade 9, when I moved, I had 17 courses, all mandatory (none of this elective 3-art-classes nonsense). I had:
    Algebra
    Geometry
    Trigonometry
    Physics
    Chemistry
    Biology
    Geography
    World history
    Ukraine history
    Social studies (it was called ‘law’ but essentially taught about how the government is structured)
    Economics
    PE
    Russian Language (grammar and spelling)
    Russian Literature (reading books and essays)
    Ukrainian Language
    Ukrainian Literature
    English

    Before grade 9 we also did art classes and music classes and home ec classes (boys did woodworking).

    The system was set up that you could after grade 9 go to a college or vocational school or stay in high school (my mom did this with music – she is a piano and theory teacher). Then either after high school or college, you could go to university.

    What this did was give you a VERY well-rounded education. I definitely do not use any trigonometry that I learned then, and I would be hard pressed to remember it now. But if I had to learn it again, I bet it would be easier to do than learning it from scratch. And we knew basic geography of the world – had to learn capitals and everything!

    It was quite a shock to come to a Canadian school and ‘learn’ math in grade 9 that I had learned in grade 5-6. And the concept of ‘science’ class where were were learning about photosynthesis (again, learner in grade 6 or 7) was almost demeaning. I also did music classes over and above all this. As did my dad when he was young. He is an aerospace engineer as well as an amazing artist and musician. I credit his varied abilities to the education system that encouraged you to do EVERYTHING, not just pick at 12 what you’re good at.

  173. #173 lilady
    March 12, 2014

    The bot has her usual Media Updates up and provided a link to New York Magazine’s article on Sharyl Attkisson’s departure from CBS. (For some reason, the bot, didn’t Spam any comments). The article describes Attkisson’s recent activities about Benghazi and the Obama administration. There is just a brief reference to Attkisson’s vaccine reporting (labeled as “iffy” with a link to one of Seth Mnookin’s posts). I expanded on that iffy vaccine reporting with a comment about the Wakefield-Tommey documentary, which Wakefield has been trying to sell to the major networks.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/03/sharyl-attkisson-quits-cbs-because-benghazi.html

  174. #174 ann
    March 12, 2014

    The thing about anti-semitism is it never really goes away.

    Agree.*** It’s very nearly a seminal feature of western civilization. Some times and places produce more dedicated haters than others, though. It should be said.

    Campbell’s discreet about it, though. And a lot of what he’s saying isn’t that far away from a fairly standard Christian reading of the Old Testament. (Warlike people, wrathful God, etc.) He’s actually never talking about Judaism and knows nothing about it, in what I’ve read by him.

    Anyway. I’m not surprised people don’t notice. But it is there

    ***He’s not called “the Eternal Jew” for nothing.

  175. #175 Helianthus
    March 12, 2014

    @ PGP

    The thing about anti-semitism is it never really goes away. Considering that Europe has about 1,000 years (or more)

    It’s older than feudalism. You can say it’s 2000-year old.
    Anti-Judaism could be tracked to St-Paul the Apostle (a.k.a. Saul of Tarsus), a dude who initially considered non-Jewish followers of Christ as unclean heathens to be kicked away, only to do a 180 after suffering a spiritual awakening (he hit himself on the head while traveling to Damas and after awakening behaved a bit more strangely) and deciding that True Christians ™ have to go their own way and they can not be Jews at the same time.
    At that time, anti-Judaism was essentially the result of religious disputes around the schism between proto-Christianism and old-testament Judaism.
    And then anti-Judaism, under the wise tutelage of the growing Christian churches, evolved gradually until it became modern anti-antisemitism. To some extend, the hard feelings between Jews, Christians and Muslims are very akin to a family feud over inheritance: bitter, getting out of proportion and written in stone.

    Around the reign of Charles Martel (8th century; and I mean, around the time he, as Mayor of the Palace, counselled the Frankish king), it was not unheard for the lords of feudal cities to attract skilled artisans and merchants from the Jew community, only to steal their possessions and chase them away when the lords were in need of quick money. Or some scapegoat.

    Charlemagne (around the 9th century) did some things to reverse the trend, granting a specific status to Jews in his all-Christian realm. To be cynical, he was mostly interested in the contacts Jewish merchants had with members of their extended family/community all around the known world, thus facilitating the transit of money wherever Charlemagne’s court or army currently was, or, perhaps as importantly, making possible the acquisition of ancient books from libraries outside of Charlemagne’s empire.
    After Charlemagne, it started going down again for Jews. A few crusades started by a little detour to burn one ghetto or another. Plagues were also a good pretext to kill the religiously different.

    In more modern time, Umberto Eco, in his assay about ur-fascism, presented a reason why Jews, as a community, made good targets as scapegoats. The populist leader (fascist or otherwise) is attracting and keeping his followers together by presenting them with a common threat, real, exaggerated or flat-out imagined. Usually, the hypothetical threat is either a nefarious foreign power wanting to invade the country, or a traitorous element already present in the country and working on taking over its control.
    Sadly, in this context, communities which are dispersed across many countries, like Jewish communities, make good targets, as they can be presented simultaneously as an inside and an outside threat.

    Just an amateur historian here, but you triggered a pet topic of mine.

  176. #176 ann
    March 12, 2014

    Anti-Judaism could be tracked to St-Paul the Apostle (a.k.a. Saul of Tarsus), a dude who initially considered non-Jewish followers of Christ as unclean heathens to be kicked away, only to do a 180 after suffering a spiritual awakening (he hit himself on the head while traveling to Damas and after awakening behaved a bit more strangely) and deciding that True Christians ™ have to go their own way and they can not be Jews at the same time.
    At that time, anti-Judaism was essentially the result of religious disputes around the schism between proto-Christianism and old-testament Judaism.

    I respectfully dissent.

    I don’t think Christian anti-Semitism really got going until c. Saint John Chrysostom.

    I think I’d say it was more an artifact of Christendom than it was of Christianity, properly speaking. I suppose an argument could be made to the contrary. (Woes of the Pharisees, etc.) But that seems unfair to both the Church and the religion, imo.

    But yeah. It’s a thing. In the warp and woof of the culture.

    (Also an amateur.)

  177. #177 ann
    March 12, 2014

    The populist leader (fascist or otherwise) is attracting and keeping his followers together by presenting them with a common threat, real, exaggerated or flat-out imagined. Usually, the hypothetical threat is either a nefarious foreign power wanting to invade the country, or a traitorous element already present in the country and working on taking over its control.

    Or, for example, Pharma.

    It’s an adaptable model.

  178. #178 Helianthus
    March 12, 2014

    I respectfully dissent.

    On second thoughts, I would agree I may be overextending my limited, amateurish knowledge.

    I remember dimly an article I read on how anti-semitism, as we know it today, is actually a very recent spin on old religious dissensions. Namely, the racial dimension was only added around the 18-19th centuries, at about the same time as the concept of nation – and nationalism – was supplanting feudalism/monarchism as the way to view one’s country. I would need to be a real scholar in history to provide more arguments one way or another.

    Or, for example, Pharma. It’s an adaptable model.

    Oh yeah. The need to single out a target as the source of all evils is a most-shared human trait.

  179. #179 DrBollocks
    March 12, 2014

    @ Helianthus
    @ ann

    For a good overview of the history of antisemitism, I recommend “Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred” by Robert S Wistrich.

    It is a long time since I read this book, but if I recall correctly, the author traces the roots of specific anti-Judaism (as opposed to the “usual” antipathy between rival tribes) to a period before Christianity. To be sure, the Christian churches were generally pretty enthusiastic in promoting anti-Judaism.

    The term “antisemitism” was first coined in the 1870s by the German journalist, Wilhem Marr. The antisemites of that time claimed that they opposed Jews for “racial” reasons rather than religious reasons, the latter being dismissed as medieval.

  180. #180 Politicalguineapig
    March 12, 2014

    Helianthus: Fair enough. I was making a very conservative guess, European history not being my specialty.

  181. #181 ann
    March 12, 2014

    @Helianthus –

    Namely, the racial dimension was only added around the 18-19th centuries, at about the same time as the concept of nation – and nationalism – was supplanting feudalism/monarchism as the way to view one’s country.

    Yes. Agree, Broadly speaking, racial anti-Semitism and Romantic Nationalism both arise in response to the on-rushing tides of industrial modernity and/or the many, rapid changes it was wreaking, wrt class, culture and identity.

    Hence both National Socialism and Zionism, to name the two most prominent examples of those trends combined.

    I think racial anti-Semitism and Christian anti-Semitism are actually substantially similar in terms of content. They just differ in their implications. (You can’t take care of a problem race by baptizing it. It calls for a more, um, final solution.)

    The culture was trying to come to terms with Darwin, among other things. Must have been quite a shock.

    It is a long time since I read this book, but if I recall correctly, the author traces the roots of specific anti-Judaism (as opposed to the “usual” antipathy between rival tribes) to a period before Christianity.

    Some people date it to classical antiquity. And it’s not like I was there, or am authoritatively qualified to say, or anything like that. But they’re wrong. (/opinionated.)

    To be sure, the Christian churches were generally pretty enthusiastic in promoting anti-Judaism.

    Again, except at the very start, I believe — ie, dimly recall — that it wasn’t primarily driven by the policy or message of the Church, during the middle ages, I mean, sometimes it was politically convenient for ecclesiastical as well as temporal powers. But properly speaking, it mostly wasn’t a formally Christian thing, IIRC.

    In the west. The (present-day) Eastern Orthodox Churches may be a different story. I don’t know. They’re certainly more unrevised about stuff like blood-libel martyrs in the now, some of them.

  182. #182 Haslin
    March 13, 2014

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I feel compelled to comment on Common Core.

    I have a son in first grade in New York State. As a liberal on the front lines of this, I can tell you that Common Core is a disaster. The math homework that my son gets home is certainly not age or developmentally appropriate. My husband (a computer scientist) or I (an epidemiologist) sometimes have to read the assignment 5, 6, even 7 times before we can figure out what the heck they want him to do.

    This article sums up nicely my feelings about Common Core —
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/31/a-ridiculous-common-core-test-for-first-graders/

    Of particular note, the author mentions that Common Core is based on Singapore’s standards. Yet, Singapore’s first-graders start at age 7. We have some who start first grade at the age of 5 (autumn birthdays).

    I am not fundamentally opposed to establishing a set of standards. But, the implementation of Common Core (at least in New York), leaves quite a bit to be desired.

    Oh, I will also add that as the mother of a 4-and 6-year old, my kids are fully vaccinated, on time, every time. We even throw in the flu vaccine in the fall for good measure :-)

  183. #183 Narad
    March 13, 2014

    My husband (a computer scientist) or I (an epidemiologist) sometimes have to read the assignment 5, 6, even 7 times before we can figure out what the heck they want him to do.

    You should check out the insanity that is CEMSE’s “Everyday Mathematics.” Although given that you’re in NYS, that may well be what you’re seeing.

  184. #184 lilady
    March 13, 2014

    @ Haslin: I have a close friend who provides childcare for her grandchild who is in first grade in a suburban NY school district. She’s a retired NYC schoolteacher and has the same opinion about the Common Core program.

    Meanwhile, there’s a minor kerfuffle going on at The Daily Beast, between some of the RI Regulars and the crank posters about measles outbreaks. I’m getting lonely.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/13/thanks-anti-vaxxers-you-just-brought-back-measles-in-nyc.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_afternoon&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_afternoon&utm_term=Cheat%20Sheet

  185. #185 squirrelelite
    March 13, 2014

    I tossed in a few comments there, lilady.

    Thanks for all your work trying to keep up with these sites.

    Fortunately, there seemed to be a fair number of clear and sane comments in reply to some of the weirdness.

  186. #186 squirrelelite
    March 13, 2014

    Just FWIW, on the “aluminum is poison” theme, here’s an example of how poisonous aluminum really is:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cornwall-26558256

    20,000 tonnes of aluminum sulfate dumped into a water treatment tank may have contributed, but did not cause the death of man 22 years later.

    The anti-vaxxers won’t care, but it’s clearly not a very effective poison.

  187. #187 A Mom Who Can Think For Herself
    March 16, 2014

    Haslin-I appreciate your comment. I feel the same about what we are seeing here. My second graders homework is a joke. He also has autism and mainstreamed; so imagine my frustration with what is considered “developmentally appropriate.” It’s leaving kids like mine in the dust and he has enough to struggle with just fitting in and being “him” everyday. We are extremely frustrated.

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