Stephanie Zvan's picture

No Sex In Skepticism

There was no sex in skepticism before the women showed up.

Harry HoudiniForget Houdini's brooding eyes and dark curls. Forget his personal magnetism. Those were strictly incidental. Forget the amount of skin--well-muscled skin--that he showed in his escapes. That was only to demonstrate he wasn't hiding a key anywhere. Strictly utilitarian. Houdini's appeal to his audience was based entirely on the complexity of his tricks and the calm reasoning he showed when dealing with mediums and spiritualists, and it's a mere coincidence that many of the male faces of the skeptical movement since then have had similar stage experience and heaps of charisma.

When there were no female skeptics at skeptics' meetings and conventions, there was no sex at these gatherings. None of the men attending found any occasion to think about, discuss or have sex. Everything was focused entirely on skepticism and critical thinking, with partying saved for the meetings of lesser souls.

Ridiculous assertions? Yes, and I've deliberately presented them with all the seriousness they deserve. But that doesn't keep this idea from being the unexamined underpinning of one of the current arguments being made in skeptical circles. Stated in its most bald form, it is suggested that women are ruining skepticism by bringing "teh sexy."

Elizabeth's picture

Is there a Christian gene?

Sometimes a bit of satire really puts a debate in context:


In this post from last August I argued that the "biology v. choice" debate, while scientifically or philosophically interesting, has no place in a discussion of human rights. I even used religious freedom as an example. This bit of satire makes the point more comically. Thanks to Kerwin Kaye for pointing me to this post on Greg Laden's blog where I first saw the video.


Mirror neurons, pornography and voyeurism

Thinking about how mirror neurons work makes thinking about pornography and voyeurism all the more interesting, if not confusing. For any of you not familiar with our mirror neurons and how they function, have a look at a very good short little intro video from Nova Science Now

Basically, when we watch someone else do something, our brain responds almost as if we are doing what we're watching -- we watch a dancer and our motor neurons fire, we watch someone smile or frown and our brain responds as if we're happy and smiling or frowning and fuming. Watching others is the way we learn how to function and behave in our culture, and, because we feel what others feel when we watch them, mirror neurons are also central to having empathy for others.

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