Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Mermaid evolution

In further evidence that we're all part of a computer simulation being run by aliens, but the aliens have gotten tired of even trying to make things plausible and now are just fucking with us, we have: racists arguing that Ariel from The Little Mermaid should be white because real mermaids have light skin.

I know I say "I wish I was making this up" a lot, but merciful heavens above, I really wish I was making this one up.  Sadly, this is the truth.  When it was announced that African American actress Halle Bailey was going to be playing Ariel in the upcoming live-action version, racists throughout the United States took a break from sharpening the tips of their pointy white hats to have a complete meltdown.

In fact, I had a brief encounter with one of them on Twitter a couple of days ago.  She had posted this:
I'm sick of political correctness.  Making Ariel black is ridiculous.  The real Ariel was white and had red hair.
I responded:
Perhaps we should review the definition of real.
She responded with admirable articulateness:
Fuck you asshole.
I followed up with a gif that I have had increasing use for lately:

She responded:
So I guess she told me.

Of course, she's not the only one who feels this way, which I found out when I ran into an article in Indy100 describing how the racists were using science to explain why Ariel should be white.

In case you don't believe me, how about this example of brilliant, peer-reviewed research on real mermaids:
My opinion on why mermaids are white is that they live so deep underwater that sunlight hardly reaches them, thus the lack of melanin.  It doesn't matter what ocean they're from cos they could've been migrating seasonally like fishes.  But maybe im thinking too much.
No, trust me, "thinking too much" is the last thing you'd ever be accused of.

Then there was this sterling piece of logic:
For those saying mermaids don't exist and Ariel being black is not impossible, you know what does exist?  Science. 
Mermaids are part fish.

Fishes live in the sea.

There is no sunlight under the sea.

Therefore, mermaids wouldn't evolve pigmented skin to protect against it!!!
Mermaid evolution.  And no sunlight under the sea.  So everything that lives in the sea is white.

Because science.

Then there was this:
Ariel can't even be black because of science behind it because of her and her ancestors living in water and so they are never exposed to strong sun rays.  the stupidity behind this... 
Which got this response, put better than I possibly could have:
bitch there is literally a singing crab in the movie & u worried about scientific accuracy.  stfu.
For sheer disconnect with reality, however, you can't beat this one:
My children were raised with Ariel.  She's an icon in the eyes of many children & adults of today.  To change her race is absurd.  That would be like someone making a movie about Opra [sic] Winfrey, and hiring a white girl to play Opra.  Opra is an icon.  We wouldn't want to change her.
Besides being an icon, Oprah Winfrey is, unlike Ariel the Mermaid, a real person.  For fuck's sake.

The news isn't all bad, though.  The most touching response to all the howling racists came from Twitter user Morgan Jarrett, @msmorganjarrett:
As a white-skinned redhead, I have very strong feelings about #TheLittleMermaid.  Ariel changed my ginger world.  The mean "jokes" ended.  I became envied for my hair.

And you know what?  I want little black girls to experience that same feeling with new Ariel.
 Beautiful.  Now there's how people should be responding.

So to all the racists who have your knickers in a twist: fine, don't go see the movie.  I don't think Disney's going to miss you.  Go back to your little white caves with your little white friends, confident that the entire universe should be arranged so as to comfort your prejudices.  File under "political correctness" any movement in the United States toward acknowledging the people in the world -- which, by the bye, make up well over 50% of the Earth's population -- who have darker skin than you do.

But know this.  Your numbers are dwindling.  Most of us are just fine with people who don't look like us, talk like us, or dress like us.

And that includes mermaids.


This week's Skeptophilia book recommendation is about a subject near and dear to me: sleep.

I say this not only because I like to sleep, but for two other reasons; being a chronic insomniac, I usually don't get enough sleep, and being an aficionado of neuroscience, I've always been fascinated by the role of sleep and dreaming in mental health.  And for the most up-to-date analysis of what we know about this ubiquitous activity -- found in just about every animal studied -- go no further than Matthew Walker's brilliant book Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

Walker, who is a professor of neuroscience at the University of California - Berkeley, tells us about what we've found out, and what we still have to learn, about the sleep cycle, and (more alarmingly) the toll that sleep deprivation is taking on our culture.  It's an eye-opening read (pun intended) -- and should be required reading for anyone interested in the intricacies of our brain and behavior.

[Note: if you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to support Skeptophilia!]

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