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> One cleric claimed — with no evidence — that driving harmed women’s ovaries.

Wait. What?

I know it's oh so tempting, but please don't post unsubstantive comments to HN about stupid shit—especially not on inflammatory topics. There's no surer way to degrade an internet discussion, and we're trying for better than that here (trying and failing, no doubt, but we can always fail better).


Sorry, didn't mean to offend you. My apologies.

Not at all, you're so far from having offended me that I'm sorry for having left you with that impression!

But we can see from this subthread how quickly these comments grow like weeds and choke out more thoughtful conversation. It's not the starting comment itself, but what it precipitates, that we all need to guard against.

Obviously a judgement call, but I thought there were some useful comments in reply to the OP (e.g. fmihaila's comment).

While the OP's comment was unsubstantive, it highlighted an interesting quotation from the article to discuss, that a lot of people had opinions on and also wanted to discuss. Maybe the only appropriate response to a quotation like that is ridicule, which serves an important purpose in its own right.

I do appreciate this is a very difficult topic to moderate however(!) To be honest, I'm surprised the article itself was even allowed on HN and wasn't flagged for being too political.

> One cleric claimed — with no evidence — that driving harmed women’s ovaries.

Cycling can cause sexual impotence in men, yet we don't see anyone claiming men should be banned from cycling.

Arguments like this are toxic; even if true (which they obviously aren't), they expose an ugly underlying sexism with the implicit assumption that somehow it's okay for men to make these decisions for women as long as it's for a 'good reason.'

It would be surprising if someone hadn't made such a ridiculous claim. But in an article on gay marriage in the US, would the NY Times really have felt the need to observe that "one preacher even claimed - with no evidence - that homosexuality caused earthquakes"?

Of course. It may be ridiculous, but it's nonetheless the kind of myth that spreads quickly among certain conservative communities. I wouldn't be surprised if plenty of conservative Saudi Arabians believed such a myth. Just like plenty of American conservatives believed Todd Akin's infamous claim regarding "legitimate rape": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Akin#Controversial_commen...

If enough people are credulous, it's absolutely newsworthy, as it reflects how deeply wedded some people are to a particular perspective. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing.

I'm fairly certain I've read numerous articles to that effect; for instance, here's an oped discussing Lesbians being blamed for Irma.[0] It was a trivial to find.

0: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/did-lesbians-cause-h...

> But in an article on gay marriage in the US, would the NY Times really have felt the need to observe that "one preacher even claimed - with no evidence - that homosexuality caused earthquakes"?


http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=121322&page=1 ; "Falwell Suggests Gays to Blame for Attacks" [on WTC]

Pat Robertson was doing this 20 years ago, and I don't think he's really stopped: https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/tv-preacher-pat-robe...

> in an article on gay marriage in the US, would the NY Times really have felt the need to observe that "one preacher even claimed - with no evidence - that homosexuality caused earthquakes"?

From what I know about NYT - definitely yes. Probably not in every article on the topic, but at least in some. It is a sensational claim which generates outrage - bread and butter of modern journalism.

Can you find one example? I can't.

There's an example right in this thread from WaPo and hurricanes. I don't have specific example about gay marriage (I must admit, I do not study NYT that closely to have cross-reference of every article years back, though I do occasionally read their articles) right now, but as a general principle, it is completely normal for their style to do something like that and the example of Saudi cleric is not something that is out of the normal modus operandi. I think that was the original point.

It depends on how much political influence that specific preacher wielded. In Saudi, clerics wield a LOT of political influence. They're not just religious advisers, they get to set and interpret law based on their understanding of the Quran and the Hadiths.

No, mainly depends on how much outrage can be mined out of it. Influence is largely the byproduct of the press attention, at least in the scales we have in the US, and the press wants to have people engaged (clicks, views, ads) and also preferably show their political opponents are crazy evil idiots. Emphasizing outrageously stupid claims by some obscure personality serves both goals - people get outraged, share the links, ad impressions follow, discussion follows, etc. etc.

>Influence is largely the byproduct of the press attention

That's not how it works with clerics in Saudi. They have official standing with the government, have their own police force with the authority to enforce morality laws (the mutaween), and even get to decide who the next king will be.

They have - often this is used to portray the other side as kooks, and delegitimize them (not that they were very legitimate to start out with).

What people say crazy stuff?

Unrelated but ran across the following story: woman gets rare and slow developing cancer at 22, decides against surgery, gets on "Gerson therapy", runs lifestyle blog for years, credible (and credulous) media eat up claim she cured cancer. Mother gets breast cancer, uses Gerson therapy, dies in 2013 (horrible now removed blog posts where they discuss "flare ups" as symptoms of the therapy working, was actually symptoms of growing cancer). Down to her last days was hiding growing cancer and deceiving rabid fanbase, criticizing "bullies" who were pointing out her cancer was back. Of course after she died, her fans and Gerson therapy advocates now leave crazy comments about how she didn't do it right.



Gerson therapy vids are all over YouTube even today with the implication it is effective. I mean people are basically committing suicide because YouTube is making money.


If that's possible in open and connected societies, what's unscientific bullshit but the norm? We all believe delusional stuff, the question is, what seemingly accepted and reasonable views in our own societies are are actually delusional and harmful?

There are many such opinions, apparently, but there is push-back.

[Saad al-Hijri, head of fatwas (legal opinions) in Saudi Arabia’s Assir governorate], who said women should not drive because their brains shrink to a quarter the size of a man’s when they go shopping has been banned from preaching. [...] In a video this week, Hijri asked what the traffic department would do it if it discovered a man with only half a brain. “Would it give him a licence or not? It would not. So how can it give it to a woman when she has only half?” he said.

“If she goes to the market she loses another half. What is left? A quarter ... We demand the traffic department check because she is not suitable to drive and she has only a quarter.”


I listen to Sawbones podcast and this reminds me of how primitive North American and European cultures were too. "Hysteria" being my favourite example of "I can't believe we thought that..."

You can't believe that we thought some women had mood swings that relate to their having wombs ... I might have news for you! Sure they got the level wrong, but it was basically an early endocrine based explanation for human behavioural changes?

My favourite "I can't believe" is probably homuncular theory, that ejaculate contained a tiny little man [men?], fully formed, who grew to be a baby. Presumably it was homuncula all the way down?? [Not sure of the historical verity of that theory.]

Yes good point. I guess it's too easy to look at those before us and laugh. I'm applying my framework of existence and being to a fact from the past. This should throw a Type error but my interpreter simply coerced the types and returned valid looking garbage.

Given men's anatomy, you would think the opposite.

Why the surprise? Clerics are not known as rational thinkers.

So it should be okay after menopause anyway

Oh you missing lots of entertainment buddy. They even ruled that Mickey Mouse is "haram". These Clerics are fun to watch (except for the populace affected by its arbitrary decisions)

This sort of thing is not unusual in misogyny. Similar arguments were used not just against women's sports but all sorts of things in the West over the past century.

There have been all sorts of totally bonkers beliefs held by uninformed and/or misogynistic people in the past. Little surprises me in that regard anymore.

I've always thought the risk of too hot "balls" in the car was greater in that area of the world ...

You seem surprised

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