Tim Minchin’s ‘Storm’, and one quick thought on sex/gender

I’m letting other people’s writing do the secular sermon heavy lifting this week. 

Firstly: Tim Minchin’s beat poem on skeptical principles and the scientific method versus feel-good-woo was animated as a short film, and has just been released for everybody to enjoy online.

Transcript available on this post at Wandering Primate.

My absolute favourite quote from this poem is:

Do you know what they call
‘Alternative Medicine’
That’s been proved to work?


Secondly, from a Thread of Feminist Doom on Pharyngula, this sentence came up in response to a fairly standard nature-nurture evopsych-fallacy argument, and I think it’s one that we should engrave upon our obstreperal lobes:

male and female humans are far more alike than different on almost every measurable trait other than uterine volume and penis length

H/T to Mattir, OM for the quote on sexual dimorphism.

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, religion, Science

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18 replies

  1. One of my readings for this week is all about gender differences with respect to schooling. I particularly liked the part where they explained why more girls complete high school than boys in Australia. In the US, it seems, the numbers are about equal (or at least they were 15 – 20 years ago when this study was done). Apparently the difference in Australia can be put down to boys taking apprenticeships (which are not generally available to girls for all the usual reasons) and girls not getting pregnant in Australia. An explanation decidedly lacking in genetic determinism, and kind of astonishing that enough girls fall pregnant in school in the US to be a major contribution to the ratio of boys and girls completing high school.

    • I presume that the difference between boys and girls completing high school in Oz twenty years later might be rather different now that there are so few apprenticeships on offer.
      There’s also the difference between what a high school education prepares you for in both countries. They’re not directly equivalent curriculum-wise.

  2. No, actually, the rates have been pretty stable in Oz for a while now. The numbers are still 70% vs 80%. You are right, of course, in terms of syllabus.
    I can’t help thinking that the “if girls are good at it, it’s not a boy thing” mentality is starting to play a part too. Not because girls are actually doing better at school (the differences are very small or insignificant, depending on what marker you use), but because the media keeps reporting that they are. Academic achievement is becoming a feminine trait, and we all know boys can’t stoop to doing girl stuff.
    There’s also the social aspects of school – the fact that our system simply doesn’t suit some kids’ learning styles or personalities. People like Biddulph have highlighted this with respect to boys, and boys leaving school because “it’s not for them” has become legitimised, but no-one seems to make the same claims for girls.
    But it’s still true that there are many more full time jobs available for teenage boys than teenage girls, so I imagine the job market is still a major factor in the retention differences.

    • Academic achievement is becoming a feminine trait, and we all know boys can’t stoop to doing girl stuff.

      This reminds me of something that came up on Friday arvo when we were talking about the KFC Double bunless burger and the Maxibon icecream ads etc – caring about eating healthy food is seen as a feminine thing, therefore eating preposterously unhealthy food is being marketed as an act of manliness.

  3. It really is a little piece of brilliance from Tim Minchin.

  4. “Storm” was pretty brilliant, cheers for posting it. Definitely cheered me up for the dreadful day of grant writing and lecture preparations.
    Science is really awesome when we get to do it.

  5. Er, that should read:
    “Definitely cheered me up for the dreadful day of grant writing and lecture preparations I have in front of me.”
    Damn, not a good start.

  6. Also loving* that ad for burgers featuring a man tackling another man to the ground after eating a burger. It basically says: eating burgers is manly**. Hitting people is manly. Therefore, eating our manly burgers will lead to an outbreak of aforementioned punchy manliness.
    *See as reference: hating
    **Apparently Angus cows are extra manly. I’m not sure why, they being a) cows and b) comically short legged.

  7. I have never heard/seen that poem before, awesome, thank you for posting.

  8. Angus cows are extra manly because their breed has a boy’s name?

  9. shame he had to throw in some throwaway objectification there. 😦

  10. And what do they call medicine that’s been proved not to work?
    Also medicine!
    So confusing…

  11. alien tea: yes. It’s a disappointment, isn’t it?
    Similarly, at the beginning of the Tim Minchin vs SSO show, the one that was screened the weekend before last on ABC2, there were some sexual assault jokes at the beginning. (I now can’t remember what, but I remember being very unhappy and thinking “if this doesn’t stop, I’m turning off the TV”.)
    He’s mostly pretty good, partly because his healthy dose of skepticism about, well, everything means that he is able to pick apart, and make comedy out of, things like sexist romantic tropes. But he needs to check his privilege from time to time.

  12. @ Jo – I thought that his Context song skated right along the edge too. Still not sure what I feel about it.

  13. @mindy: indeed (i was thinking about that, too, as I wrote my comment above).
    I don’t even think it was such a clever idea, although the musical and lyrical part was cleverly done (ie in the way the lyrics and music made grammatical sense either way). But to my mind, the joke itself was the very definition of trying to be edgy for edgy’s sake (and not really getting there), as was the song in full.

  14. I hear you on where he has his moments of fail regarding unchecked privilege. I like him despite them, but they do make me wince.

  15. @tigtog: don’t get me wrong, that’s how I feel, too. I’m sure I have unchecked privilege of my own and I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, etc etc. But every time it happens, my will to like him despite the unchecked privilege decreases slightly (and also, I might add, my will to spend money on seeing him, or introduce friends to his humour, both of which I have done).

    • I think we’re pretty much on the same page, Jo. Sometimes I think I’m tougher on performers who have so much material that I really enjoy, when they do something that disappoints. Other performers whom I don’t expect so much from leave me much less annoyed when they fuck up.

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