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Mar 24 2014

Guess who’s speaking at the NSTA National Conference

amyfarrahfowler

The featured speaker at this year’s National Science Teacher Association conference in Boston is…Mayim Bialik.

The lucky ones among you are saying right now, “who?”. Others may know her from her television work, but maybe don’t know the full story behind her ‘science’ activism.

She’s an actor who plays Sheldon’s girlfriend on Big Bang Theory. Right there, as far as I’m concerned, we have a major strike against her: I detest that show. It’s the equivalent of a minstrel show for scientists, where scientists are portrayed as gross caricatures of the real thing — socially inept, egotistical jerks who think rattling off an equation is a sign of intelligence. I think it’s literally an anti-science communication show. Who in their right mind would want to be anything like Sheldon, the narcissistic nerd? Who would want to work with people like that? The message it’s sending instead is that if you are a superficial asshole, you should become a scientist, where you will be loved for personality traits that would get you shunned in civilized company. (We also see the same phenomenon in atheism, where so many people think it’s a great excuse to be the insensitive Vulcan.)

But OK, that’s a matter of taste, I will admit, and maybe not enough of a reason to be appalled to think she is going to be speaking to science teachers (although it’s enough for me). And she does have a Ph.D. in neuroscience, you have to respect that.

But…

Mayim Bialik does not vaccinate her kids. She’s the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network. I know what you’re thinking: “holistic” doesn’t sound so bad. But take it away, Orac!

Just one look at its advisory board should tell you all you need to know. For instance, there’s Dr. Lauren Feder, who bills herself as specializing in “primary care medicine, pediatrics and homeopathy” and has been a frequent contributor to that bastion of quackery and antivaccine looniness, Mothering Magazine, where she recommended homeopathic remedies to treat whooping cough. It doesn’t get much quackier than that. But Feder is just the beginning. Also on the Holistic Moms advisory board is the grand dame of the antivaccine movement herself, the woman who arguably more than anyone else is responsible for starting the most recent iteration of the antivaccine movement in the U.S. Yes, I’m talking about Barbara Loe Fisher, the founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a bastion of antivaccine propaganda since the 1980s. She’s not the only antivaccine activist on the advisory board, though. There’s also Peggy O’Mara, publisher of Mothering Magazine and Sherri Tenpenny, who is described right on the Holistic Moms website as, “one of America’s most knowledgeable and outspoken physicians, warning against the negative impact of vaccines on health.” Then there’s Dr. Lawrence Rosen, “integrative” pediatrician who appeared at the NVIC “vaccine safety conference” back in 2009 with Barbara Loe Fisher and Andrew Wakefield. In fact, Barbara Loe Fisher, Sherri Tenpenny, and Lauren Feder are featured very prominently on the Holistic Moms Network page on vaccination.

But that’s not all. If there’s one more thing that should tell you all you need to know about the Holistic Moms Network approach to science-based medicine, then take a look at its sponsors: Boiron (manufacturer of the homeopathic remedy for flu known as Oscillococcinum), the Center for Homeopathic Education (and I bet it is homeopathic too), the National Center for Homeopathy, and a whole bunch of other purveyors of woo and quackery.

And he has a lot more to say, as usual.

So why is this woo-peddling, vaccination-denying sitcom star being featured as a speaker at NSTA? I don’t know. Because she has a Ph.D. and pretends to be socially inept on TV? That doesn’t seem to be a good reason. Will Jenny McCarthy be invited to deliver a keynote next year? How about Ken Ham — he’s very into ‘science’ education, you know. Gosh, if we’re going to open the door to quacks, the pool of potential speakers just expanded immensely! Joseph Mercola? Andrew Weil? Deepak Chopra!

Tsk, NSTA. Do you vet your speakers at all?

77 comments

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  1. 1
    llyris

    I completely agree about the dangerous woo she advocates, but I must disagree about Big Bang Theory. My brother’s friends call him Sheldon. He even dressed up as Sheldon for Halloween a few years ago. We’re all geeks, but he is recognisable in the caricature. Sometimes he is infuriating, sometimes he is convinced he’s right and gets bogged down in the details while missing the main point. Sometimes he misses social cues. We like him anyway.

  2. 2
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Not only doesn’t she vaccinate her kids, she also thinks that giving special needs kids (her own) some specialised care is baaaaaaad

  3. 3
    doublereed

    You’re not supposed to “want to be Sheldon.” What?

    It has parts which caricature scientists in bad ways, but I’ve found that in later seasons it’s gotten better (and funnier). I find such charges against the show to be hyperbolic. I have no idea why you think Sheldon is supposed to be a role model considering so much of show has him being insulted and disparaged for his insensitive demeanor.

    Anyway, that’s a whole lotta crazy from Bialik. Didn’t see that one coming.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    For what it’s worth, I detest the show as well. Caricature can work well as a spice, but in that show, it’s the whole dish.

    However, I do agree that having Bialik address educators is ridiculous.

  5. 5
    john-michaelcaldaro

    I gave up my membership in NSTA years ago. (I spent 35 years in public ed as a science teacher and administrator. They began endorsing big oil by distributing lesson plans created by the “education” divisions of oil companies. There was no balance in the lesson plans, just a plug for the benefits of fossil fuels. There was no similar lesson plans for any renewable energy sources. In addition they refused to distribute “An Inconvenient Truth.” Regardless of what you thought of that movie NSTA was a very good place to distribute it. It could have created a great way of discussing science process and the use of data to create hypotheses. This is an example of the leadership looking for flash over substance. The prior referenced lesson plans were based on monetary support over good science.

  6. 6
    gussnarp

    I didn’t get very far before I saw “doesn’t vaccinate her kids” coming up in the blue linky text and my brain short circuited. WTF? At the National Science Teachers Association?

  7. 7
    gussnarp

    OK, I made it through this time. She has an actual PhD in neuroscience and she’s an anti-vaxer? I don’t get it. I know, I know, you can always find the odd evolution denying chemist, or climate change denying physicist, but I just don’t get how these people manage to just turn off everything they’ve spent an inordinate amount of time learning when it comes to evaluating claims outside of their fields or labs. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to apply a little critical thinking and understand the basic statistics and methodology behind vaccine safety. Maybe her department didn’t have that class that I went through where we read papers and then ripped into them looking for every possible methodological, theoretical, or statistical problem we could find?

  8. 8
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    To be fair, Joey Lawrence was already booked.

    Whoa.

  9. 9
    =8)-DX

    I’m on and off in liking Big Bang Theory. On the one hand it IS quite a caricature of science, but on the other hand it does positively portray geekiness. It’s hard to say the social ineptidute is seen as negative, since overcoming their asocial behaviours is what allows the main characters pursue their romantic interests. And furthermore – to me it seems as if Sheldon’s sociopathy is treated like an affliction, an illness. He can’t help being what he is and much of the series concerns helping him overcome various barriers to live a meaningful life.

  10. 10
    Louis

    Louis’ weather report to be read in the BBC Radio 4 Shipping Forecast Style:

    Big Band Theory TV Show: Occasionally funny, problems.

    Mayim Bialik: Major woo, science denier, blowing hard in the wrong direction.

    Science teacher organisation getting anti-vax speaker: Wet, becoming blustery, light drizzle from the stage, chance of thunder, muppets.

    Louis

  11. 11
    Ing

    but on the other hand it does positively portray geekiness

    Agree to disagree

  12. 12
    carovee

    I believe she is also heavy into the homebirth and breastfeeding woo. I’m disappointed that her neuroscience training either didn’t take or is completely compartmentalized in her mind.

  13. 13
    hexidecima

    what a great analysis of the show. I hate it, and am saddled with looking a lot like Mayim. I however am a socially ept nerd, who worked hard for that skill.

  14. 14
    David Chapman

    Carovee, (#12) Can I submit that it’s disturbing to just describe something as ‘woo’ without communicating what exactly you think is wrong with it? This is in effect like saying ‘haram’, or ‘tabu’ or ‘blasphemy.’ It might be psychologically rewarding if this website did indeed declare certain things ritually unclean — I’m sure we would all have candidates — but things such as the care and feeding of babies demands a bit more — well, care.

    As regards the Big Bang show, I’m an addict, but if I let all the things I found disturbing about the best American TV comedy wrankle with me, I’d miss out on some therapeutically important laughing. The attitude I take with the Big Bang is that by doing what it does, depicting nerdy scientists, &c, &c, it is very, very successful and that it assumes, and broadcasts, the scientific view of Reality — to the extent of reiterating the course of stellar genesis and biological evolution, very quickly, at the start of every episode. ( In the manner of Bare Naked Ladies. ) I think that in the US, nay and worldwide too this could be a highly important phenomenon.

  15. 15
    LykeX

    Can I submit that it’s disturbing to just describe something as ‘woo’ without communicating what exactly you think is wrong with it? This is in effect like saying ‘haram’, or ‘tabu’ or ‘blasphemy.’

    No, it’s not. Stop being silly. Most woo is such obvious bullshit that having to explain the problems every time we mention it would quickly become a pointless waste of time. If you’re interested in someone’s reasons on a specific subject, just ask.

  16. 16
    moarscienceplz

    Mayim Bialik is a practicing Orthodox Jew, which tells you right there that her relationship with reality is a tenuous one. Also, since she has been immersed in Hollywood culture for at least since she was a teen as the star of “Blossom”, I suspect she has been well marinated in the various Hollywood flavors of woo which seem to exist as a substitute for a well-reasoned world-view in that little incestuous world.

  17. 17
    Inaji

    davidchapman:

    Carovee, (#12) Can I submit that it’s disturbing to just describe something as ‘woo’ without communicating what exactly you think is wrong with it? This is in effect like saying ‘haram’, or ‘tabu’ or ‘blasphemy.’ It might be psychologically rewarding if this website did indeed declare certain things ritually unclean — I’m sure we would all have candidates — but things such as the care and feeding of babies demands a bit more — well, care.

    Stop playing the fucking idiot, thank you very much. No one here is looking to declare anything “ritually unclean”, and no, it wouldn’t be psychologically satisfying. I expect you don’t require a detailed explanation of homeopathic woo or anti-vaccination woo or crystals singing, cupping, incense burning woo. You just want to play that it’s different all of a sudden because there are sprogs involved. Woo is often dangerous, and it’s particularly despicable when people choose to place sprogs in danger for its sake.

  18. 18
    David Chapman

    The key is in the word you use, “Most”, isn’t it? A lot of the things decried by this community of bloggers are dissected and rubbished accurately and effectively, and there’s little need to repeat the arguments every time. Breastfeeding, or a mistaken ideology centred upon it, is new isn’t it? At any rate it must be a fairly obscure issue on here, and that’s why I thought Carovee’s views required clarification.

  19. 19
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    davidchapman
    There’s a difference between “breastfeeding” and “breastfeeding woo”.
    People who know a bit about those things can tell the difference

  20. 20
    moarscienceplz

    As for BBT: first off, humor is probably the most subjective thing in the world. I personally never understood the appeal of “Seinfeld”. So if PZ doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it. But both I and my sisters, who never developed the love of science that I have, love the show.
    As for the show portraying scientists as “gross caricatures of the real thing — socially inept, egotistical jerks”, Sheldon is really the main source of this, and he is constantly being criticized by all the other characters for being this way. Also, it often has guest appearances by real scientists, and they always look cock-eyed at Sheldon and often end up getting restraining orders against him.
    I like watching Sheldon for the same reason I like watching Homer Simpson or Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp: he takes certain of my flaws and magnifies them a thousand fold. It’s like seeing myself in a funhouse mirror and I find it great fun to laugh at my distorted self.

  21. 21
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    And she does have a Ph.D. in neuroscience, you have to respect that.

    This is snark, right? Or does Mayim Bialik actually have a PhD in Neuroscience, like her character does? I ask only because if she does, it vastly decreases my confidence in Universities everywhere.

  22. 22
    zenlike

    21 Thumper: Token Breeder

    Or does Mayim Bialik actually have a PhD in Neuroscience, like her character does?

    Yes, she has.

  23. 23
    knowknot

    Amazing, and a thing of wonder:
    That people trained in disciplines that function only as a result of huge and persistent doses of critically assessed data can simultaneously hang a large bit of their self image on that discipline and be chronically, virulently data resistant.
     
    Human condition, I know.   And I know we’re all guilty, though some are blessed by having the contagion in a private space (and if doubly blessed, in an inconsequential one).
     
    But,  g** whizz**ers,  it’s irritating sometimes.

  24. 24
    David Chapman

    Giliel, #9:

    There’s a difference between “breastfeeding” and “breastfeeding woo”.
    People who know a bit about those things can tell the difference

    Yep, and if you read my post carefully you’ll see that indeed I refer to that difference. I do in fact know right from left in this regard.

  25. 25
    NitricAcid

    I had numerous people tell me that I should watch the show. I couldn’t manage more than half an episode.

  26. 26
    zenlike

    As for The Big Bang Theory, even though I kinda like to watch the show in a ‘turn brains off for 20 min’ kinda way, I do have a lot of problems with it. I never could express exactly what rubbed me the wrong way, until I read the next blog post:

    http://butmyopinionisright.tumblr.com/post/31079561065/the-problem-with-the-big-bang-theory

    tl;dr (although it is an interesting read):
    - laughing at the characters instead of with them;
    - reference to something nerdy is the but of the joke, not something which is part of a joke;
    - laughing at someone who exhibits clear signs of having Asperger’s;
    - sexism and heteronormativity.

    I think it’s spot on. Although I do keep watching it as a guilty pleasure. Him

  27. 27
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @zenlike #22

    Damn. A PhD in neuroscience and yet an anti-vaxxer. I continue to find humans capability to hold ridiculous beliefs, even in the face of the highest personal intelligence and the best education, to be utterly mind boggling.

  28. 28
    knowknot

    #(various)   davidchapman

    Can I submit

    psychologically rewarding

    did indeed declare

    the best American TV comedy

    to the extent of reiterating

    nay

    highly important phenomenon

    decried

    mistaken ideology

     
    Due to unfortunate effects of (whatever), I tend to be a pretentious person, or at least I tend to be taken as such on occasion.   It is an unfortunate thing, difficult to kill, and a general hinderance.
     
    So I’m telling you, in an admittedly snotty manner, though while not actually meaning to be rude, that certain turns of phrase are not… convincing.
     
    I left off “rubbished,” because “centred” argued for vernacular; if the argument works for everything else as well, then I am an idiot.   But I have to admit I don’t see it stretching quite that far.

  29. 29
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    One thing I find interesting wrt peoples’ attitudes toward BBT is that physicists, who are the butts of the joke, tend to like the show more than biologists, etc. In part, I think that is because everyone who works in physics has a Sheldon in their life, and maybe more than one. There are some physicists out there who are the most clueless assholes, and yet they are accepted among their peers.

    I would also point out that the episodes with Bob Newhart feature some of the most brilliant comedy ever uttered in monosyllables.

  30. 30
    moarscienceplz

    @#26 zenlike

    I find that post wrong on many points, such as this one:

    The humour in The Big Bang theory relies on the audience siding with and relating to Penny, the character coded as “normal” in comparison to the main four guys.

    Penny is almost a complete loser. She is perpetually broke, she hates her job, the only acting gig she ever got that she was proud of was a hemorrhoid cream commercial, her first onscreen boyfriend was a bully who took advantage of her, her second boyfriend was so sub-intelligent it embarrassed her, and her plans for her life are naïve in the extreme. Also, in recent episodes she is revealed to have a problem with alcohol.
    The one thing about Penny that makes her into a protagonist and a character worthy of the audience’s support is that she is (mostly) nice to the weird guys next door, which eventually blossoms into a true love for Leonard. The fact that the blog author misses that point and others really derails most of his blog in my opinion.

  31. 31
    Inaji

    moarscienceplz:

    Penny is almost a complete loser. She is perpetually broke, she hates her job, the only acting gig she ever got that she was proud of was a hemorrhoid cream commercial, her first onscreen boyfriend was a bully who took advantage of her, her second boyfriend was so sub-intelligent it embarrassed her, and her plans for her life are naïve in the extreme. Also, in recent episodes she is revealed to have a problem with alcohol.

    You’re wrong in your conclusion. Penny portrays someone who has dreams, ends up like a majority of people in a job that doesn’t pay very well, and that they don’t much care for. She’s proud of her accomplishments, which again makes her like most people. A great many people end up in relationships which are less than ideal. A great many people are naive about various things throughout their life, particularly when they are young. A great many people have some sort of problem with alcohol.

    So, it’s hardly unusual that people would identify with her. And she is the one who is coded “normal” on that show – she’s the one who is in the most readily identifiable situations, and she’s the one who is socially savvy.

  32. 32
    moarscienceplz

    She’s proud of her accomplishments

    No she isn’t. She had ONE gig that paid her some money, but it didn’t advance her acting career one whit. She HOPES to become a successful actor, but she has failed at it for many years.

  33. 33
    David Chapman

    17
    Inaji
    Stop playing the fucking idiot, thank you very much. No one here is looking to declare anything “ritually unclean”, and no, it wouldn’t be psychologically satisfying. I expect you don’t require a detailed explanation of homeopathic woo or anti-vaccination woo or crystals singing, cupping, incense burning woo. You just want to play that it’s different all of a sudden because there are sprogs involved. Woo is often dangerous, and it’s particularly despicable when people choose to place sprogs in danger for its sake.

    I was disinclined to reply, seeing as you want to be an obnoxious prick; but you’re answer exemplifies the sort of thing I was trying to talk about. As a rationalist you will be aware that it’s very, very tempting for human beings, rationalists included, to agglutinate into ingroups of fellow-initiates who Know the Truth, and converse with each other to agree intricately about what the Truth is, and to decrie the Gross Errors of the Others, the Infidels. Now of course, rationalists do in fact have the lion’s share of the Truth; and the opponents of rationalism really do have their heads up their arses; that’s the cool thing about rationalism. But rationalists remain human beings, and are susceptible to the same tribal instincts as other human beings. (Rationalism emerges from our natural instincts, I reckon — we’re born curious and interested in causality — but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have other, less logical drives.) And that’s why I’m uncomfortable about the use of special words such as Woo. Let me state unequivocally that most of the things the word is applied to are, indeed, grade A bullshit; but the existence of the term itself — a special word for skeptics to play with — is a source of epistemological danger, which is why I posted; it’s when it’s thrown about too much, without explanation, that it starts to correspond to ‘Haram’. If people do indeed feel the need to use it, they should do so carefully, such as when introducing novel targets, which is what I thought Carovee was doing.
    Your response illustrates the sort of thing I’m talking about by informing me that ‘no-one here’ is into declaring stuff non-kosher, and if they did they wouldn’t like it. You’ve no business speaking for anybody but yourself. And what does ‘here’ mean? You will recall that John A was ‘here’ within the last 24 hours….( But alas, :( no more! Cf Giordano Bruno thread. ) As, indeed, am I. :) The fact that you respond like this shows that you’re motivated by the sort of group-think that bothers me, my motivation for complaining about the reckless use of the Woo word in the first place.
    I suspect all of us human beings are into ritual, magical thinking and so on, and we need to be aware of this atavistic element within ourselves; I actually made the suggestion that potentially, Woo can = Haram not to mock the rationalist standards of this blog, which I find impressive, but to let everyone know that I don’t presume to be judgemental about this atavistic stuff, since our impulses are part of our being, no fault of ours. Oh well.

  34. 34
    ck

    If I’m going to watch a nerdy sitcom, I’d usually just rather watch Community. There’s less laughing at the characters, and more laughing at the situations the characters are in.

  35. 35
    knowknot

    #33   davidchapman

    (…) it’s very, very tempting for human beings, rationalists included, to agglutinate into ingroups of fellow-initiates who Know the Truth, and converse with each other to agree intricately about what the Truth is, and to decrie the Gross Errors of the Others, the Infidels. (…) Your response illustrates the sort of thing I’m talking about by informing me that ‘no-one here’ is into declaring stuff non-kosher, and if they did they wouldn’t like it. (…) I suspect all of us human beings are into ritual, magical thinking and so on, and we need to be aware of this atavistic element within ourselves (…)

     
    Damn, man; out of the gate and on a dime.  I take back what I said before, and I hope I didn’t get any of my feathers or tar on you.  Respect, actual.

  36. 36
    LykeX

    davidchapman #18:

    Breastfeeding, or a mistaken ideology centred upon it, is new isn’t it?

    Not really. It’s not one of my regular subjects, but minimal googling shows articles going back years, like this one from 2009, with some good examples of nonsense in the comments (e.g. from “Helen Schwalme”).
    Breastfeeding advocates often hype the benefits and stress how natural it all is. There’s some overlap with conspiracy theories, as you can see from the example.

    At any rate it must be a fairly obscure issue on here, and that’s why I thought Carovee’s views required clarification.

    It’s not a common subject on this site, sure, and like I said, I have no problem with asking for clarification in specific cases. However, that’s not what you were doing. You made a blanket statement about not giving clarification and compared it to accusations of blasphemy. That was nonsense and that’s what I responded to.

  37. 37
    ryanmannik

    Big Bang Theory is garbage.

  38. 38
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    davidchapman

    Yep, and if you read my post carefully you’ll see that indeed I refer to that difference. I do in fact know right from left in this regard.

    Oh, you simply assumed that we were undereducated and therefore the commenter needed to demonstrate their understanding on the subject matter to your satisfaction.
    Charming

  39. 39
    LykeX

    davidchapman #33:

    it’s when it’s thrown about too much, without explanation, that it starts to correspond to ‘Haram’

    But that’s nonsense. “Woo” is nothing like “haram”. Haram is not up for discussion. It’s designated as bad and that’s the way it is. There doesn’t even have to be a reason for it, other than the fact that it’s so designated. The problem with “haram” isn’t that it’s used too often or that it’s used without explanation. The problem is that there is no explanation except divine fiat.
    If people here, when questioned, simply said that PZ had declared the subject woo and that was the end of it, then you’d have a point, but nobody here is doing that.

    This is clearly different from the designation of something as “woo” as a result of an evaluation of the merits. The fact that this evaluation isn’t always made explicit doesn’t change anything.

    If you had asked for clarification on why exactly it was woo, nobody would have batted an eyelid. Likely, you’d have been given a few links with information. Discussion of the subject isn’t discouraged, nor is asking for clarification. You’re not being criticized for that. You’re being criticized because people disagree with what you actually said.

  40. 40
    David Chapman

    35
    knowknot

    (…) it’s very, very tempting for human beings, rationalists included, to agglutinate into ingroups of fellow-initiates who Know the Truth, and converse with each other to agree intricately about what the Truth is, and to decrie the Gross Errors of the Others, the Infidels. (…) Your response illustrates the sort of thing I’m talking about by informing me that ‘no-one here’ is into declaring stuff non-kosher, and if they did they wouldn’t like it. (…) I suspect all of us human beings are into ritual, magical thinking and so on, and we need to be aware of this atavistic element within ourselves (…)

    Damn, man; out of the gate and on a dime. I take back what I said before, and I hope I didn’t get any of my feathers or tar on you. Respect, actual.

    Thanks, Knownot! :)

  41. 41
    naturalcynic

    If it weren’t contributing tovan even greater TV travesty, I would suggest that the audience should be supplied with duck calling devices to greet her properly.

  42. 42
    Inaji

    davidchapman, you have a lot in common with one david wilford, and that’s not a compliment.

  43. 43
    David Chapman

    38
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    24 March 2014 at 1:52 pm (UTC -5)

    davidchapman

    Yep, and if you read my post carefully you’ll see that indeed I refer to that difference. I do in fact know right from left in this regard.

    Oh, you simply assumed that we were undereducated and therefore the commenter needed to demonstrate their understanding on the subject matter to your satisfaction.
    Charming

    Errm, it’s supposed to be a joke; but I think we got our posts crossed. In my second post, above, I was careful to draw the distinction between breastfeeding and some daft philosophy someone might possibly associate with it, and I was puzzled because I thought you didn’t get what I was saying there, but it now looks like we were talking about two different posts. You might well not even have seen that second post. At any rate I thought you were possibly taking the piss out of me, so I attempted to reply with humour, which doesn’t seem to have worked out this time either. Woe is me….But believe me, no offence or patronization was intended. :)

    PS I thought it was quite a good joke actually.

  44. 44
    zenlike

    moarscienceplz, I don’t know how much of an off-topic discussion this is, but I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder. When I watched the show, I had the same feeling as the poster of that article, namely that Penny was the ‘straight guy’ in the comedic shenanigans, certainly in the first seasons, she was a fairly ‘normal’ person (in sitcom standards), definitely someone we need to side with. It’s only in later seasons that she started developing more ‘flaws’ and started becoming a more fleshed-out character.

    But as I said, all in the eye of the beholder. Watching anything automatically colours it with our own expectations and outlook of life, so different people can take away a lot of different things from the same show/movie/painting.

  45. 45
    knowknot

    #39   LykeX

    “Woo” is nothing like “haram”. Haram is not up for discussion. It’s designated as bad and that’s the way it is. (…) The problem is that there is no explanation except divine fiat.
    If people here, when questioned, simply said that PZ had declared the subject woo and that was the end of it, then you’d have a point, but nobody here is doing that.
    This is clearly different from the designation of something as “woo” as a result of an evaluation of the merits. The fact that this evaluation isn’t always made explicit doesn’t change anything.
    If you had asked for clarification on why exactly it was woo, nobody would have batted an eyelid. Likely, you’d have been given a few links with information. Discussion of the subject isn’t discouraged, nor is asking for clarification. You’re not being criticized for that. You’re being criticized because people disagree with what you actually said.

    OK.   I do get what you’re saying here.   That the question is open.   Good.   On board.   And please understand that I’m not doing the Hovind quotes thing in what follows, I’m really not…
     
    But can you see how a negative “designation” due to an “evaluation” of “merit” which isn’t “made explicit” and which can benefit from “clarification” by specific request via a textual reference can sometimes – without invoking Sean Hannity or a more generalized insanity – be perceived as “fiat?”
     
    Even as a happily willing participant, I occasionally find it difficult to navigate some of the hissing, rattling and outright venom that appears in reference to an apparent (and NOT unwarranted) list of terms and usages I haven’t quite digested or even found, yet.   And though I know that this “list” is often the plain result of a better education than I possess, it can still be confusing.
     
    I do understand that the hissing, etc I mention is usually in response to genuine trolling, but I’m not sure of this in all cases.
     
    Please understand that I’m not questioning your intentions here.   In this case I’m approximately 100% that I know what you mean by “discussion of the subject isn’t discouraged,” that such discussion is not automatically stamped and terminated by received clarification; all this to say that I see the post itself as helpful.
     
    Not meaning to be peace-outy here, just hoping to kill, or at least scare a bug.   And, you know, hoping it makes sense (and that it isn’t troll food).

  46. 46
    LykeX

    knowknot #45:

    But can you see how a negative “designation” due to an “evaluation” of “merit” which isn’t “made explicit” and which can benefit from “clarification” by specific request via a textual reference can sometimes – without invoking Sean Hannity or a more generalized insanity – be perceived as “fiat?”

    Sure. But then you can test whether that perception is correct by asking for clarification and noting the response.

    As I said, giving clear reasons every time is unworkable. As a result, I think the most reasonable model is for each poster to judge for themselves whether a clarification is needed in each case and if a reader requires more, they should ask for it.

    Even as a happily willing participant, I occasionally find it difficult to navigate some of the hissing, rattling and outright venom that appears in reference to an apparent (and NOT unwarranted) list of terms and usages I haven’t quite digested or even found, yet.

    In my experience, a simply “Hey, I don’t quite get this, what am I missing?” will elicit helpful links and explanations. The key is how this request is phrased, of course. If it comes off as entitled the response will be as you might expect.

    And hey, sometimes the regulars here just screw up. People have bad days, are low on patience and have itchy trigger fingers. This is especially true if there’s been a recent troll invasion or if a subject has been thoroughly debated (like the recent abortion topic). In such cases, short tempers may be more common.

  47. 47
    knowknot

    #26   zenlike

    From the text you’ve linked:

    Why don’t I like The Big Bang Theory anymore? I think at first I was so happy to see people like me represented on mainstream television that I ignored the cruelty behind the humour. As I continue to watch the programme and see more and more repeats on E4 in the daytime it’s become much clearer that actually I’m not being represented. I’m being ridiculed.

    Why do I feel uncomfortable watching it? Because whenever I laugh at a joke, and I do sometimes find it funny, I feel like I’m laughing at my friends, like I’m putting myself and the people I identify with down. And that’s not a nice feeling, that’s not how I want to feel when I watch a comedy.

    Why do I get so annoyed when I see people singing its praises online? Because it reminds me that however many times people say that geek is cool, that nerd is en vogue, there will always be people laughing at me and making money from me at the same time.

    I know nothing from Big Bang Theory, but funny thing… when I read the above in that long but heartfelt mass of verbiage, I was strongly reminded of my feelings about Seinfeld.
     
    I didn’t see myself in Seinfeld, perhaps because I wasn’t able to endure much, but I did feel that it was cruel at the core, and that the humor was cold, neurotically objective, and just plain schadenfreude.   The only exception to this was the character played by Michael Richards (who apparently got himself into all kinds of trouble later).   Still, it was curious to me that the one character I would have expected to be the brunt of any cruelty was the only warmth present; though I may have felt differently if I’d been able to sit through the rest of it.

  48. 48
    knowknot

    #46 LykeX
    Thank you.

  49. 49
    David Chapman

    36
    LykeX

    I have no problem with asking for clarification in specific cases. However, that’s not what you were doing. You made a blanket statement about not giving clarification and compared it to accusations of blasphemy. That was nonsense and that’s what I responded to.

    Well it’s pretty clear at this stage that I needed to give more clarification, & I’ll try to express myself more lucidly the next time, but even so I don’t think I would accuse myself of blasphemy……I’ll get all that done in another post…….I am saying using words like ‘Woo’ or ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ without any justification is like using words like ‘non-Kosher’ or ‘Tabu’ or ‘Blasphemy.’ It is not the specific meaning of the terms — these three have different meanings — it is what they have in common that I was trying to allude to, namely that they are expressions of group derision, of a cultural rejection, and that they are utterly logically bland, and I don’t like them on that basis. In any case it certainly would be nonsense to suggest a rationalist person was accusing someone of blasphemy, unless the subject was a very confused dude indeed, but that is why I said it is like an accusation of blasphemy. Yeah the term ‘like’ is a bit vague, but so is your claim that I’m comparing ‘woo’ and ‘blasphemy’. As I’ve just tried to say, in some ways its valid to compare them, in some ways not.

    If people here, when questioned, simply said that PZ had declared the subject woo and that was the end of it, then you’d have a point, but nobody here is doing that.

    You’re doing the same as Inaji, speaking for other people, & rushing to the defence of the group. :) But I was really talking about the word anyway, why I don’t like it, not about anything anyone has done with it herein. What I’m getting at is this an issue for rationalist thought, not an issue about this website. ( Which once again, is really fab and intellectually high-powered!)
    I also want to say: if Carovee is still reading, I didn’t intend to accuse you of anything, I just wanted to express my belief that we should be careful about the way we use language in this regard. It was actually an instance of PZ Myers himself using the word with no underpinning argument that made want to express these ideas here, but I didn’t remember where that happened so I couldn’t go back and comment on it. So I just picked the first instance I saw……

  50. 50
    LykeX

    davidchapman #49:

    It is not the specific meaning of the terms — these three have different meanings — it is what they have in common that I was trying to allude to, namely that they are expressions of group derision, of a cultural rejection, and that they are utterly logically bland, and I don’t like them on that basis.

    Why? Isn’t it reasonable to have a shorthand for things like that? Do we really have to write a small essay every time we refer to one of these things? Hell, should I even call it “one of these things”? It’s not like that phrase carries a whole lot of information. If “woo” is logically bland, then surely “one of these things” is too.

    We are a group (however loosely knit). Like any group, we have linguistic shorthands that make it easier to communicate. This is not a bad thing. As long as we don’t end up dogmatic and unwilling to consider new evidence, I don’t really see what the problem is.

    Seriously, how do you propose we talk about… ideas that are not sufficiently supported by evidence to be rationally acceptable and whose proponents often use pseudo-scientific arguments and emotional appeals to politicians or the public directly, as a way to circumvent the normal channels of scientific discourse and testing…?

  51. 51
    Halcyon Dayz, FCD

    The Audience Surrogate being a loser is not at all unusual.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThisLoserIsYou

  52. 52
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I am saying using words like ‘Woo’ or ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ without any justification

    Gee, have you never read the archives? Apparently not. There is plenty of justification for calling certain attitudes “woo”, and what it means is something like unevidenced assertion to spiritualism or fake naturalism. Get off your high horse. You aren’t the smartest poster today, and far from it. Nitpickers like you are called concern/tone trolls. You pretend to agree, but you really have concerns, usually spurious, like your definitions, that only means you don’t like how we say things, not what is being said. Tone/concern trolls are lower than pond scum.

  53. 53
    Jacob Schmidt

    …ideas that are not sufficiently supported by evidence to be rationally acceptable and whose proponents often use pseudo-scientific arguments and emotional appeals…

    Exactly what I think if when I think of woo.

    I am saying using words like ‘Woo’ or ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ without any justification is like using words like ‘non-Kosher’ or ‘Tabu’ or ‘Blasphemy.’

    I’m not seeing the argument here. Like ‘woo’, ‘non-Kosher’, ‘Tabu’, or ‘Blasphemy’ are defined.* They have actual meanings. I call pork ‘non-kosher’ because it’s non-kosher. The real question is whether or not I care if pork is non-kosher (I don’t). I do care if certain purported “medicine” is actually woo, since woo masquerading as established and reliable medicine can actually enable harm, illness, and, in the worst cases, death.

    Are you talking about slapping these labels on things that don’t fit? Because that kind of defeats the purpose of these labels.

    *Taboo and blasphemy are odd because they have no fixed criteria, but criteria that shift in accordance to cultural/religious values. Still, assuming one understands the culture/religion in question, one can identify things as taboo/not-taboo.

  54. 54
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Damn. A PhD in neuroscience and yet an anti-vaxxer. I continue to find humans capability to hold ridiculous beliefs, even in the face of the highest personal intelligence and the best education, to be utterly mind boggling.

    But sadly common. Several highly intelligent and educated people, “leaders” in the atheist and (so-called) skeptical communities, believe in the contemporary equivalents of eugenics. And many (including Orac, proponent of science-based medicine) continue to defend and support biopsychiatry, probably the most profitable and harmful pseudoscientific scam in history. (Incidentally, the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry will launch officially next month in London.)

  55. 55
    David Chapman

    LykeX

    davidchapman #49:

    It is not the specific meaning of the terms — these three have different meanings — it is what they have in common that I was trying to allude to, namely that they are expressions of group derision, of a cultural rejection, and that they are utterly logically bland, and I don’t like them on that basis.

    Why? Isn’t it reasonable to have a shorthand for things like that?

    Highly. And also probably friggin’ inevitable. It is, of course, also reasonable to have governments, to have beer, to have police forces, to have cars. My message is that Woo and Mumbo Jumbo words, whilst perfectly reasonable and fulfilling a real need, are likely to generate undesirable side-effects, like many another thing. Particularly if they’re not deployed carefully.

    Do we really have to write a small essay every time we refer to one of these things?

    This whole blog appears to me to be dedicated to the creation of small, interlocking essays on the merits or otherwise, usually otherwise, of various much-vaunted claims about the World. And long may it continue so, it’s vitally necessary. I thought that was the idea. In fact, it was necessary for Carovee to write me, at least, a small essay on the subject, at least if he or she wanted to get me on board on the issues they were talking about — or proffer me a link. And that is indeed what I was asking them to do, but I was trying, rightly or wrongly, to make this argument as well.

    No, of course there is no compulsion to explain your position every time you mention something. You would quickly be caught in an ongoing cycle of explanation if you did. I believe I answered that question in a previous post; the data and the epistemology are all over this website and does not have to be repeated in every new post. Let me put the matter in a different way: it’s not individual issues that I’m concerned about right now, such as the politics of breastfeeding, or holistic vole hypnosis, or anything. It’s the possibility of people getting into the habit of saying ‘Woo’, instead of thinking, when they encounter new ideas; or new advocacy for old ideas forsooth. I made the guess, rightly or wrongly, that the suggestion that there was a problem involving new wave hippy theories about breastfeeding would be a novel topic to many on the site, so it seemed an appropriate occasion to raise this issue.

    Hell, should I even call it “one of these things”? It’s not like that phrase carries a whole lot of information. If “woo” is logically bland, then surely “one of these things” is too.

    It carries all the information it needs to, because you’re simply referring to “sort of things rationalists tend to disparage.” But I’m sure you’d agree, that’s a fairly nebulous designation, since rationalists don’t always disparage the same things for the same reasons. You have your own formulation below, but verbose though it is, it’s not actually much less nebulous, because it refers vaguely to “insufficient evidence”, and “psuedoscientific arguments.” No criticism intended; it has to be vague because you’re talking about so many things at once.

    The vagueness of talking about “these things” is fine because it doesn’t have to be any more precise for your purposes here, i.e., communicating your point to me.

    Woo isn’t just bland as in, vague, possessing little information in itself, it is bland in being deliberately hostile and dismissive, whilst conveying little other information, which is why I think it should usually be accompanied by pertinent facts if it’s going to be used at all.

    But if everyone referred to concepts they thought of as spurious not as instances of Woo, but as “these things”, or as “those things” more likely, this would be just as potentially problematic as it is when they call them Woo, or Mumbo Jumbo; problematic that is, if people stop talking about evidence and logical plausibility, and thinking of each individual subject in their own right, but instead start referring dismissively to Woo, or to”those things.”

    We are a group (however loosely knit). Like any group, we have linguistic shorthands that make it easier to communicate. This is not a bad thing.

    …..Yes it is. it’s good and bad, like a lot of things.

    As long as we don’t end up dogmatic and unwilling to consider new evidence, I don’t really see what the problem is.

    Shorthand is going to transmute into short thought. I see that as more or less inescapable, not because people are lazy or stupid, but because saying things like Woo, Mumbo Jumbo, Kosher and Anathema is natural to us.

    Seriously, how do you propose we talk about… ideas that are not sufficiently supported by evidence to be rationally acceptable and whose proponents often use pseudo-scientific arguments and emotional appeals to politicians or the public directly, as a way to circumvent the normal channels of scientific discourse and testing…?

    I Seriously believe that the primary mistake is lumping all these into a single mental bucket in the first place, but this has already happened. The word Woo just seals the lid on the bucket.

  56. 56
    David Chapman

    52
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I am saying using words like ‘Woo’ or ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ without any justification

    Gee, have you never read the archives? Apparently not. There is plenty of justification for calling certain attitudes “woo”, and what it means is something like unevidenced assertion to spiritualism or fake naturalism.

    From Post# 33 by David Chapman:

    “And that’s why I’m uncomfortable about the use of special words such as Woo. Let me state unequivocally that most of the things the word is applied to are, indeed, grade A bullshit; but the existence of the term itself — a special word for skeptics to play with — is a source of epistemological danger, which is why I posted.”

  57. 57
    The Mellow Monkey

    Giliell @ 19

    There’s a difference between “breastfeeding” and “breastfeeding woo”.
    People who know a bit about those things can tell the difference

    Having had the woo shoved down my throat for years, finding out that I could have kids and not practice extended breastfeed and not be an evil monster was so liberating I was nearly brought to tears.

    The psychological damage that sort of woo does is immense. There’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding and if someone wants to do it, they should have every opportunity and all the support they need to do it. But if they can’t or don’t want to they need to be left the fuck alone.

    Calling out breastfeeding woo is really important. Too many people are bludgeoned with it as a weapon.

  58. 58
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    And that’s why I’m uncomfortable about the use of special words such as Woo. Let me state unequivocally that most of the things the word is applied to are, indeed, grade A bullshit; but the existence of the term itself — a special word for skeptics to play with — is a source of epistemological danger, which is why I posted.”

    Tone/concern troll, what link to evidence have you presented? Nada. Ergo, everything you have said can and is dismissed without evidence. That is skepticism. I know. I’m a 35+ year scientist, and a 30+ year skeptic. I can always use my experience to dismiss fuckwittery, even when it is your fuckwittery. Lose the attitude loser.

  59. 59
    Inaji

    davidchapman, this thread is not about you, nor is it about your inability to deal with certain terms. It has a specific topic, and as you have nothing of substance to say about it, but would rather continue whining, please take it to Thunderdome, an open thread. Before you go on about this request, please read the commenting rules. You are off topic and derailing.

    And here’s a thought for you to take to thunderdome: you’re new to commenting here. Most of the commentariat has been here for years, and we discuss many subjects over and over again. Like most fora, the people here generally know what others are talking about, and when we don’t, we simply ask for clarification. It’s really that simple. It’s generally a standard thing to lurk a bit and get a feel for a place, rather than wander in and insist on bossing everyone about. That won’t serve you well here.

  60. 60
    latsot

    The Big Bang Theory has quite a lot of problems with sexism and homophobia like every other US sitcom I’ve ever seen, but I find the scientist stereotypes to be fairly endearing. The show is lampshading scientists, isn’t it? I’ve always felt that we scientists can see parts of ourselves in each of the characters and say “I’m a bit like that” or “I’m not at all like that” with varying degrees of certainty.

    Scientists complaining about the portrayal of scientists in that show seems a bit like priests complaining about their portrayal in Father Ted.

  61. 61
    vaiyt

    @davidchapman

    “And that’s why I’m uncomfortable about the use of special words such as Woo. Let me state unequivocally that most of the things the word is applied to are, indeed, grade A bullshit; but the existence of the term itself — a special word for skeptics to play with — is a source of epistemological danger, which is why I posted.”

    Any specific examples from this thread? If not, then shut the fuck up.

  62. 62
    chigau (違う)

    Now, now, vaiyt. #61
    I, for one, am grateful® to have someone save™ me from epistemological danger.
    I mean who wouldn’t be?

  63. 63
    Jafafa Hots

    “And that’s why I’m uncomfortable about the use of special words such as Woo. Let me state unequivocally that most of the things the word is applied to are, indeed, grade A bullshit.

    Am I the only person who finds this quote funny?

    As far as geeks on TV, didn’t we go through this in the 80′s with Urkel?

    I didn’t watch that Urkel show either.

  64. 64
    David Chapman

    59
    Inaji

    davidchapman, this thread is not about you, nor is it about your inability to deal with certain terms.

    And nor where my posts. Inaji, if you don’t want people to post obsessively on certain topics, I suggest you don’t insult them spontaneously and pointlessly like you did to me, in Post 17. And here of course, with the reference to ‘whining.’ You could hardly do anything better calculated to start anyone with any spirit discoursing obsessively than to tell them they’re “playing the fucking idiot” when they’re trying to make a serious point that’s important to them.

    So here’s your chance to make this a learning experience for you. :)

    However you’re perfectly right that this was not the place for this exchange, and I was getting a little uncomfortable about this myself. I was actually thinking of suggesting moving the whole thing to one of your free spaces, but it’s probably better to leave the whole thing, at least for now. I am satiated……

    I undertake not to do the same thing again, i.e., discuss something at length/obsessively that’s irrelevant to a specific themed thread.

    I would also say that I wasn’t trolling, I wasn’t taking the piss, and no doubt a lot of the friction emanated from the suspicion that I was. A lot of my words emanated from my attempts to communicate that I wasn’t.

  65. 65
    andyo

    She’s an actor who plays Sheldon’s girlfriend on Big Bang Theory. Right there, as far as I’m concerned, we have a major strike against her: I detest that show.

    I love you.

    Also, it’s a CBS show.

    Also it’s a Chuck Lorre show.

  66. 66
    Bronze Dog

    Never watched BBT. I think I’ll maintain that.

    Regarding “woo”: Context matters. There are posts whose purpose is to inform people why X is woo, where more information about related or similar woo is a good idea. In that case, the pseudoscience itself is the topic. These posts are generally intended for a general audience which isn’t expected to already know about it.

    This post is about one person who holds more than one anti-science position being placed into a potentially influential role by a science organization. The purpose is to alert the scientific and skeptical communities to the problem. Members of that audience generally know why these positions are unscientific, so there’s less benefit to spending the time retyping a familiar explanation.

    And, as has been said, the difference between “woo” and superficially similar terms like “heresy” is in how people respond to being questioned about it. If you don’t know what makes one of those positions “woo,” you can ask and reasonably expect someone to give a good explanation. With religious negative terms, it’s generally an authoritarian, “God said so.” If someone only looks at the superficial similarity without looking deeper, they’re probably the sort who’d find a different excuse to dismiss what is being said.

  67. 67
    Marc Abian

    As for BBT: first off, humor is probably the most subjective thing in the world. I personally never understood the appeal of “Seinfeld”. So if PZ doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it. But both I and my sisters, who never developed the love of science that I have, love the show.

    In the Big Bang Theory I can literally watch an episode I’ve never seen before and say the punchlines before the characters (not word for word obviously) in about 85% of the cases. I have actually done this to annoy people watching the show.

    Taste may be subjective, but comedy has fundamental elements. The punchline or reveal isn’t something you should see coming (even in satire), unless the rules are being subverted intentionally.

    I accept taste is subjective, but saying the BBT is funny show is like saying the list of ingredients on a can of soup is a entertaining book.

  68. 68
    Marc Abian

    Woo is just another word for pseudoscience. If you don’t object to the latter, you shouldn’t have problems with the former.

    Comparisons with the word blasphemy don’t make sense, because blasphemy is an illegitimate concept based on a supernatural being that doesn’t exist. That’s the main problem with the word. The other problem associated with blasphemy that often religious followers don’t think critically about the charge of blasphemy or about what actions are necessary to respond to it. Like any judgement, describing something as woo can be erroneous (see also, “funny”, “Big Bang Theory”), but there’s nothing special about the word woo, or the context in which it is used, which prevents people challenging such a judgement or responding appropriately to such a judgement.

  69. 69
    andyo

    The punchline or reveal isn’t something you should see coming (even in satire), unless the rules are being subverted intentionally.

    Unless you are Mitchell and Webb.

  70. 70
    andyo

    Weird, copypasta fail. I don’t think I even copied that link to my clipboard. Mitchell and Webb.

  71. 71
    Marc Abian

    Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THNPmhBl-8I

    Don’t know why you couldn’t just do that. It’s not exactly rocket science.

    Part of that skit can illustrate my point actually. The real punchline in that skit is “Oh Jeff, they keep you late down at the space centre?” and it is much funnier if you don’t see it coming.

  72. 72
    andyo

    Well something was definitely broken, I got a screenshot to prove it! The reason I didn’t just copy the link is that IIRC youtube links used to embed automatically.

  73. 73
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    “Holistic doesn’t sound so bad.” (paraphrase)
    What? Yes it does. That word is almost always codespeak for New Age-y pseudoscience.

  74. 74
    javierdelgado

    And what happened about this?

    “Neil deGrasse Tyson Invites Anti-Science Activist Mayim Bialik by Emil Karlsson on February 20, 2014″

    http://debunkingdenialism.com/2014/02/20/neil-degrasse-tyson-invites-anti-science-activist-mayim-bialik/

  75. 75
    birgerjohansson

    PZ, Peter Griffin of Family Guy had the same problem with surprisingly unfunny episodes. He realised there must be something wrong with his telly so he stole his stepfather’s widescreen TV. If you want to enjoy the show properly I recommend you do the same. If you have no stepfather, try breaking into the principal’s* home.

    *or whatever they call University bosses in Merca.

  76. 76
    maddmatt

    I also, much like Peter Griffin, keep not laughing at The Big Bang Theory and thinking it must be the television.

  77. 77
    LykeX

    I’ve watched most of TBB and generally enjoyed it. However, I can certainly see why people would balk at it. Many of the jokes aren’t actually that funny and the characters and situations are often stereotypical. I’ve found that what I enjoy about it the most is actually watching the characters grow out of those stereotypes.
    E.g. the relationship between Amy and Sheldon is at its best when Sheldon manages to take steps towards being more attentive to and understanding of Amy’s feelings. When it’s just another case of “Sheldon doesn’t get it and Amy gets frustrated”, it’s not interesting.

    The card-board characters probably seemed like a good idea initially, but it quickly becomes clear that without change, the show dies. The basic concept is good for maybe one season, but it’s going on seven. E.g. the relationship/friendship agreements started as a funny example of Sheldon’s focus on details and formality. Now it’s been done to the point where it’s just tedious. Yes, we get it. Move the fuck along.

    The handling of Raj’s “can’t talk to women” problem is another good example. What started as a quirk ended up as a stumbling block for the character and many scenes ended up with him just having a beer in his hand with no explanation, so the writers didn’t have to deal with the self-inflicted problem.

    If the characters don’t grow, the show gets boring very quickly, but if they change too much, they’re no longer the original characters. I feel like the creators haven’t sufficiently thought this through because I feel that tension in many episodes; the pull in two, mutually exclusive directions. The characters are at their best when they snap out of the mold, but if they do, what exactly makes this different from a hundred other friends-style sitcoms?

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