At the library I picked up Venomous by Christie Wilcox, a nonfiction book about venom, on a whim and holy shit. I just finished it. I’ve never torn through a non-fiction book this fast. Absolutely fucking amazing i am just reeling from the pure wonder and fascination and the absurd amounts of cursed knowledge
I feel like when I was younger and arguing online all the time with antivaxxers I fell into the trap of just kind of blindly hating “alternative medicine” conspiracy theorists for being ignorant and stupid, and I regret it now.
the fact is, the average person is pretty ignorant about how illness and medicine work. Most people don’t get vaccines because they have an understanding of the science that makes them work. Most people haven’t really questioned it. I’m a little bit fatigued of hearing “believe in SCIENCE, idiot!” Science isn’t dogma. It’s about asking questions.
It’s not all about hating autistic people. For a lot of them it isn’t about that at all. Honestly what I’ve observed is that once they get really really deep into the rabbit hole, they just project whatever existing bigotry onto their flavor of the conspiracy. For some vaccines are making people gay. Or trans. Or whatever.
But they don’t start there. I swear I saw someone say once, no idea who, that an antivaxxer is a “scientist gone wrong;” they’re asking questions, a lot of the right questions, but they get entangled in existing bigotry, snapped up by a cult-like online community, or both.
Also, the American medical system treats people like shit. I can definitely see how “my doctor told me I was making it up when I was in excruciating pain” or “my doctor told me I just needed to lose weight when I had an illness that could have killed me” or just the pervasive casual dismissal of patient concerns and informed consent might lead a person to think “maybe my doctor isn’t right when they say this vaccine won’t harm my kid?”
And a lot of antivaxxers do talk about how they felt coerced and pressured into vaccinating their kids, and they had their questions dismissed and brushed aside. And for so long the opposition has been all “Believe in science! Your doctor has a degree and they know better than you! Science doesn’t care about your feelings! Just ~believe in science~!”
And honestly I’m starting to think this is how people fall down the rabbit hole. There’s an intense level of community and camaraderie among antivaxxers, almost like a cult. (I would argue that it is a cult, but that would take a while to go over.) There is so much resistance everywhere else, to the willingness to ask questions and be unsure until you have seen evidence. And of course these people end up taking the anecdotes of a bunch of people in a Facebook group as evidence, but let’s be real, no one is immune to the power of having a large group of people say “yeah, me too.”
There’s so much going on. The ableism. The cult-like dynamic. The influence of celebrity figures like Gwyneth Paltrow selling snake oil to people. But we fucked up, okay? We fucked up when we decided to beat “Believe in science!” over people’s heads when it’s not like that. It’s not like believing in Jesus.
Idk, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ASKING, “What is this made of? Is it safe to put in my body? How does it affect the body? How does it work?” Those are good questions, scientific questions. And it also is true that doctors are sometimes wrong. Just like scientists are sometimes wrong. You can’t just get a degree and never be wrong again. Some people who hold degrees could stand to realize that.
Like at some point we’ve got to realize that the antivaxx movement didn’t happen because a bunch of people just have something wrong with them because they “don’t believe in science.” And it didn’t happen just because of ableism either—there are loads of horrendously ableist people who are not antivaxxers.
Like I think a real contributor is just that medicine in the u.s. especially sucks ass with respect to informed consent, and the medical system is an Authority and asks for compliance, and people often have good reasons for mistrust. And people really do get belittled for asking questions about...just about anything that’s an established part of life.
And we get this sense of superiority over people that seem to know less than we do, even though we all started out asking questions. And most of the people countering the “anti-science/alternative facts” movements have started to talk about “science” much like evangelicals treat the Bible, instead of a way of seeking knowledge. It’s just not going to help.
Again, another blue/black connection in the media... Start watching + reading Japanese 🇯🇵 mangas and (animated) movies + tv shows. A lot is revealed there... The Chinese and South Korean movie industries too reveal a lot.
The black and white picture on the right above is from the country named Kiribati 🇰🇮 located in Oceania.
"Naruto" and "One Piece" are 2 popular Japanese mangas you might want to start paying attention to.
There are good reasons related to Melanin as to why Netflix (a major platform) greenlit that story and announced it recently last year.
They know more people are starting to remember.... 2020 was a key year and played a huge part in that remembrance.
That partially explains all the black focused distractions... but that's talk for another day.
2012 & 2018 were key dates as well. That partially explains why they released "Django Unchained" & "Black Panther" respectively then.
"Afro Samurai" and "Samurai Jack" are 2 shows you might want to check out too.
Recently my post on pre-Cambrian life forms has been popular, so i thought y’all might like
more Unknowable Eldritch Life History content
So...before the Cambrian explosion, where many of the animal phyla we know and love today originated, there was...the Ediacaran biota.
You may have heard that the earliest multicellular animals were crawly things a little like worms, or maybe sponges or anemones, or other basic, familiar, boring squishy things.
But those comfortably boring images of squishy worms and sponges on the primordial seafloor? LIES.
The truth is...much less comforting.
Described by scientists with words such as “problematic,” “enigmatic,” “unclear,” and other academic renderings of the sentiment “Hey what the FUCK,” the fossils uncovered from before the Cambrian are a window into a period of life so alien the vocabulary to describe it doesn’t exist.
These things weren’t worms or sponges or anemones, because those things weren’t invented yet. In many cases we don’t know if they were animals, fungi, protists, or something else, and it’s been hypothesized that some of them aren’t any of those things because animals, fungi, and protists weren’t invented yet.
One hypothesis is that some Ediacaran organisms represent stem groups to modern categories of organisms—impossibly ancient ancestors of things recognizable as “animals” or “fungi.” Another possibility is that they belong to extinct “intermediate” branches between plants, animals, and other kingdoms as we understand them.
In my earlier post I referenced Eoandromeda, Haootia, Thectardis, and Namacalathus. I’m delighted to tell you that it only gets weirder from there. This was before the invention of “heads” and “limbs,” foolish mortal.
Instead, we had...Bag And/Or Tower with Sticks
Somebody’s Backbone Just Sitting There. Corumbella is described as a predator in its wikipedia article, and this is...not elaborated upon. THANKS.
“It superficially resembles a compressed cabbage in appearance, although in reality it had a more intricate, fractal mode of organisation.”
Abyssal Tree. Parviscopa is described as potentially being a juvenile of another species in its Wikipedia article. Okay. Let me process the concept of “juvenile” as it relates to something like this.
Donut (critically, the genus name is Obamus, after Obama.)
The article descriptions of these life forms really just highlight how limited language is, how pathetically dependent we are upon familiarity and common understanding to make sense of anything. We struggle to intelligibly describe them because no living comparisons for them exist.
Can you picture this in your head? Yeah, me neither. And it grows by adding segments to...both ends?
...And...doesn’t have a digestive system. Or any organs at all. Cool. That’s cool. I’m fine thanks.
Scientists think maybe it photosynthesized, but also maybe that it might be a version of cnidarian (jellyfish or anemone-related organism), which really summarizes our level of understanding of what it was.
By the way, the seeming lack of a means of obtaining sustenance in many of these creatures is kind of a problem. It is so with the rangeomorphs, a group of sessile, frond-like creatures (including our pal up there, Abyssal Tree) that look like plants, believed to be ancestors of either animals or fungi, and the erniettomorphs. Some scientists speculate that they directly filtered nutrients out of seawater by osmosis. Maybe. They had to do something, presumably.
These are not sci-fi space aliens, they were and are all objectively real living things that lived on Earth just like us. And little as a deep sea marine tube worm or a sponge cares for human affairs, these things are so much less connected to us than even those creatures. They would never meet even the vaguest analog of a vertebrate. They didn’t know what leaves or fish were and didn’t care. We don’t understand them and maybe we never will.
Okay just. Imagine you’re just...vibing deep in a cave somewhere, looking at the rocks, alone in the dark, and you point your flashlight at the cave wall
and you see this.
What you are looking at is the 550 million year old remnant of a real, unknowable living creature. It is older than limbs, older than eyes, older than everything you could use to explain yourself to it, and you’re seeing it.
Contemplate that. Contemplate the fact that you are just a weird evolutionary offshoot of some creature that fucked around and decided a notochord was a good idea.
You’re breathing and moving, but that was not inevitable. It’s just another thing that evolution is trying out for a little while.
You’re seeing it. What does that mean? What are you, next to it? What are you doing, wandering around up there in the air? You have holes! You aren’t fixed to the ground! You’ve developed organs sensitive to light and sound, and you’ve gathered them up at one end of your body!
How does the sunlight taste? What do you see? What is “seeing?”
As much fun as you can have looking at obscure and weird Wikipedia pages, what’s really fun about Wikipedia is looking at the pages for completely mundane, everyday things.
There’s something amusing about having a concept explained to you that is so familiar it would never occur to you to look it up, but it’s also fascinating because even though you use a towel every day, you really do not know anything about towels. I could not tell you the history of towels or the types of towels or even come up with an accurate and exhaustive definition of “towel” twenty minutes ago. Almost everything, including things that are part of every day of our lives, is mostly unknown to us.
Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'