Daily Archives: October 4, 2012

Hypothesis: There are very few misogynist creeps in the Secular-Atheist-Skeptics Movement

You know, there’s a pretty good chance that Justin Vacula is an OK guy. Really, that’s probably true of all of the SlymePitters. Hell, I used to count Abbie Smith among my eFriends, back when the two of us shared certain views about stuff going on at Scienceblogs.com, such as being unimpressed with the Drama of Pepsipocalypse.

But, Justin and some (or all?) of the self-described SlymePitters do not share the modern feminist view of society and politics that underlies a majority of secular, skeptical, atheist, and related activism, or that is found fairly widely among that community. Some other guys probably started out that way too, but after listening to their fellow community members have seemingly embraced modern thinking on civil rights and equality. But the SlymePitters didn’t. They drew a line and dug in and refused to even consider crossing it, and from that entrenched position they have spent some 15 months or so continuously and systematically bullying a handful of women and a couple of men who stood up to them. But this is not to say that these people don’t actually believe in equality or civil rights of some kind. They probably do. They are just doing it wrong. Very, very wrong. They are savable, changeable, they can learn. But as long as that does not happen, what they do is unacceptable and I would even say unforgivable. A “second chance” is always an option, but only after one disavows oneself of the Slyme and admits one’s role in making other people’s lives miserable. And apologizes. A lot.

Anyway, none of that is the point off this blog post. The point of this blog post is to acknowledge the fact that the frequency of misogynistic creeps in our community is low. This needs to be openly acknowledged and understood for several reasons. First, it can help their victims to feel better, less threatened, and be less concerned, perhaps, because their oppressors are a tiny and insignificant group. Second, it can help organizations like the SCA to understand that this particular part of the community…the misogynists and haters…are a tiny minority. Third, it can help, perhaps, deflate the egos of the active members of the SlymePit so that they will dry up and blow away. And by that I mean quiet down for a while, lick their wounds, rethink their approach, change, and come back for their second chances.

The hypothesis stated as the title of this post is well supported by the latest turn of events.

Justin Vacula, who had been appointed by the Secular Coalition of America as one of its state unit leader, and who is also a long-standing and highly active member of the SlymePit, has seen fit to resign from that position following an outcry of outrage from the community that he was ever invited or allowed into this position.

Justin did his resignation wrong, of course. Instead of simply acknowledging differences of opinion and backing out without much comment, or even (unthinkably, I’m afraid) admitting that he has not been a good member of this community and indicating how badly he feels about his horrid behavior, he produced a whinging accusatory screed that kinda sorta maybe admitted that he could have done some things differently but mainly blamed everybody else. For stuff. It’s not entirely clear what.

Anyway, the thing that seems to have lead to Justin’s resignation was a petition to the SCA to drop Justin, at Change.org, and started by Stephanie Zvan. (See this for an update.) A lot of people signed that petition. Also, another petition started by a fellow SlymePitter, also at Change.org, allowed for the possibility for supporters of Justin to chime in and show that a big portion of this community liked him and wanted him to stay in his SCA position. Hardly anybody signed that one. The difference between the two may have mattered, even to him, to clueless, self absorbed unobservant uncritical him.

So, I made this histogram:

The hypothesis is not rejected.

Reconsider indoor tanning

The whole point of being indoors is to get out of the elements, so it is a little strange that we bring miniature suns inside, take off most or all of our clothing, and irradiate ourselves on purpose. But we (well, some, not all of us) do and the result seems to be an increased risk of disease. This just out:


blockquote>Indoor tanning and non-melanoma skin cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis
Results 12 studies with 9328 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer were included. Among people who reported ever using indoor tanning compared with those who never used indoor tanning, the summary relative risk for squamous cell carcinoma was 1.67 (95% confidence interval 1.29 to 2.17) and that for basal cell carcinoma was 1.29 (1.08 to 1.53). No significant heterogeneity existed between studies. The population attributable risk fraction for the United States was estimated to be 8.2% for squamous cell carcinoma and 3.7% for basal cell carcinoma. This corresponds to more than 170?000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer each year attributable to indoor tanning. On the basis of data from three studies, use of indoor tanning before age 25 was more strongly associated with both squamous cell carcinoma (relative risk 2.02, 0.70 to 5.86) and basal cell carcinoma (1.40, 1.29 to 1.52).

Conclusions Indoor tanning is associated with a significantly increased risk of both basal and squamous cell skin cancer. The risk is higher with use in early life (<25 years). This modifiable risk factor may account for hundreds of thousands of cases of non-melanoma skin cancer each year in the United States alone and many more worldwide. These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence on the harms of indoor tanning and support public health campaigns and regulation to reduce exposure to this carcinogen.