I honestly think that it is too early to have this conversation, but alas, the conversation has been forced.
Continue reading The Fukushima Disaster, Hyperbole, Credibility, Skepticism, and the Future of Nuclear Power
Jen McCreight writes the blog Blag Hag and became famous last year for attempting unsuccessfully to prove that if a large number of women wore low cut shirts there would be a major earthquake. (It turns out that there was a 7-point-something earthquake on “Boob Quake” day, which requires that the experiment be repeated.)
(It is interesting to note that most people seem to have not noticed that earthquake for some reason. And they call themselves Skeptics!)
Anyway, Jen will be a guest on Atheist Talk Radio this coming Sunday, March 13th.
I predict that if an atheist talks about how god does not cause disasters, on the 13th day of the month, there will be an earthquake of 7.0 or greater magnitude somewhere on the earth later that same day.
… or does it???
Sometimes, that is what I think news reporters do. There are occasions when you know the story and have the opportunity to watch them spew out incorrect information. Sometimes you do not know the story but you can watch them getting it wrong and see that happening while they appear to remain oblivious to their own clumsy ineptitude.
Continue reading Getting it wrong every single time
Of course, it would burn up in the process, but whatever. The following is one of those size and scale videos mainly showing the relative size of our planets and selected stars, then making quick reference to other larger scale structures. It is a good video (hat tip: Joe) but it does have a major flaw: It demonstrates that the earth is small, then it demonstrates that there are many other big structures in the galaxy, then it concludes that we are not the center of the universe. But being small does not make us NOT the center of the universe.
They’ve mixed up their fallacies here. Either they’ve conflated bigosity with centrality, or they’ve taken importance for geography. In any event, being told that you are very small is not the same thing as being told that you are not the center of the Universe.
Continue reading It would take a 747 over a thousand years to circle the largest star
I was just glancing through the blog of Katheryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, a book about people who were wrong about stuff, often big stuff (for example, she talks about individuals who spent decades in jail owing to false convictions). Meantime, I’m working on posts related to the falsehoods and “Everything you know is wrong” series. And, as I do this, I’m thinking about a way in which people get things wrong that is often overlooked or, perhaps, not recognized as a specific category of irrational thinking.
This has to do with the idea of a fetish. It is likely that I’m using the word “fetish” in a different way than it is usually used in modern English parlance, so some definition is appropriate. Here’s some material from various dictionary sources:
Continue reading The Fetish in relation to Skepticism
I like Wikipedia, I really do. But there are also some serious, very serious problems with it. I just read the entries on the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, a few related historical entries, and the entry on the movie Zulu, which is about the Battle of Rorke’s drift.
My interest here is in looking at how things African are depicted in movies and other aspects of popular culture, especially historical events and “traditional” cultures. (I am not an expert on modern African studies.)
I will write about that at another time: Suffice it to say that at this point it is obvious that the overall pattern of divergences from historical (probable) fact in the movie can be best understood in reference to the by then well developed African in Western Eyes trope. One of the more blatant divergences is the invention of a person who simply was not present at the event (interestingly, there seems to be only one significant example of this in the movie) and it is “the young white woman” without which no Western movie about Africa would be complete.
Anyway, in reviewing these Wikipedia entries, I noticed that the Wikipedia process has it’s own pattern, including a preponderance of (amateur?) military historians at the keyboard who are unable to leave a single fact unturned no matter how insignificant, and a nearly complete lack of proportion so that very important facts get glossed. In addition, if you are Black or African, don’t expect your dead to be honored like the white dead will be. Shame.
And so, this all inspired me to make fun of Wikipedia with the following parody:
Continue reading Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia 
I was under the impression that “Reason” magazine was a libertarian neocon climate denialist rag. I could be wrong, but that’s what I thought. I was also under the impression that JREF was pro-science and at this point had gotten beyond the whole “let’s remain skeptical about global warming” thaing, especially since Randi stepped in it a while back and accidentally forgot that only paid-off or delusional scientists denied AGW. But now we find the JREF site pushing Reason magaazine in a post on their site.
Someone please help me understand what I’m seeing here.
This Friday’s Skeptically Speaking will feature …
… academic psychologist Dr. Cordelia Fine. Her new book, Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, challenges the assumption that gender roles are wired into our brains, and shows us how ubiquitous cultural stereotypes are mistaken for actual fact.
That will be a life discussion with Desiree Schell.
Also, this Friday’s edition of Skeptically Speaking will have the latest “Everything You Know is Sort of Wrong” in which Greg Laden (whoever the heck that is) asks if modern hobbies are an evolutionary consequence of prehistoric gender roles.
Desiree and I just finished recording that, and it went fairly well considering that we are both in the latter stages of a very nasty upper respiratory viral infection. I’m sure she can edit out the coughing and hacking.
Read this blog post ONLY IF YOU DARE!!!!
Is PZ Myers over the top? Is Phil Plait too nice? Is Chris Mooney right about framing? If I meet a Creationist, should I throw a fossil over his head?
Continue reading Be a smart dick
After I reported this recent and interesting research paper about urinary tract inflictions, a number of conversations broke out on that post, on my facebook page, and via email, and some of these conversations raised the question of cranberry juice and whether the idea that it prevents, reduces, or shortens the duration of UTIs is real or woo.
Added: After further discussion elsewhere, I would like to clarify what is being asked here: Imagine you are a person who drinks apple juice and cranberry juice as your main hydrating substance. Also, you are are a person who is concerned with UTIs. One day, you ask yourself: “I want to switch to drinking only one kind of juice, apple or cranberry. Should I make it cranberry, with the idea that it could prevent UTIs, to some degree, for me? No biggie if it does not, but is there a reasonable chance that it will?” This is NOT a post about whether or not cranberry juice in any concentration or form can treat a UTI. Obviously.
So, I decided to use Gooogle Scholar (which is a version of Google that you should probably use more often than you currently do) to find out what the peer reviewed literature says. First I entered a few appropriate search terms (bladder infection UTI cranberry, for example) and looked at the first few references provided, then I narrowed the search for the most recent five years. That narrowing gave me a recent review article (which is what I was hoping for).
I came to a conclusion about cranberry juice after just few minutes of looking at abstracts and a couple of full text papers, and then spent considerably more time summarizing my results for you. Here is what I found:
Continue reading Does Cranberry Juice Help Repress or Reduce Urinary Tract Infections? A study in skeptical juice drinking.
I’ve significantly expanded the search domain (or is that range?) of the Evolution … not just a theory anymore Skeptical Search Engine. Click here to give it a try. Look up stuff like “ghost” and “vaccine” and “fluoride” and see what you get. Let me know if you think I’m missing any important sites.
Did you know that it is a fallacy that poor people have more babies than other people? I’ll be discussing this topic next Friday at 6PM Mountain Time on Skeptically Speaking Talk Radio, with Desiree Schell, in the next installment of “Everything You Know is Sort of Wrong” (This is part of the Falsehoods discussion.)
Speaking of fear, Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, will be the main (and live) guest on Friday’s show. I’m looking forward to that.
Also, last friday’s show on The Science of Sleep with Kimberly Cote is now up in podcast form, here.