Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science

From the Chronicle of Higher Education.

1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.

2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.

3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.

4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.

5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.

6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.

7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
Via Skepchick.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweet news

This just in from my Trek Credit Card, through which I paid for my Moots last autumn:

Total account balance: $0.00

How sweet is that?

Spin easy, friends.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

Dan Savage:

"We really need to start a false witness project, a website that documents and debunks the lies peddled by the religious right. For people who want to see the Ten Commandments in public buildings—with its commandment against bearing false witness—conservative Christians bear false witness constantly."
The only problem there is that it would take a full-time staff working for no pay to keep up with the load.

Via Slog

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top 10 Medical Myths

Including one bonus: No, it's NOT harder to lose weight than to gain weight.

Story here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mark Twain on Politics

"If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times. A Hartford clergyman met me in the street and spoke of a new nominee -- denounced the nomination, in strong, earnest words -- words that were refreshing for their independence, their manliness. He said, "I ought to be proud, perhaps, for this nominee is a relative of mine; on the contrary, I am humiliated and disgusted, for I know him intimately -- familiarly -- and I know that he is an unscrupulous scoundrel, and always has been." You should have seen this clergyman preside at a political meeting forty days later, and urge, and plead, and gush -- and you should have heard him paint the character of this same nominee. You would have supposed he was describing the Cid, and Greatheart, and Sir Galahad, and Bayard the Spotless all rolled into one. Was he sincere? Yes -- by that time; and therein lies the pathos of it all, the hopelessness of it all. It shows at what trivial cost of effort a man can teach himself to lie, and learn to believe it, when he perceives, by the general drift, that that is the popular thing to do. Does he believe his lie yet? Oh, probably not; he has no further use for it. It was but a passing incident; he spared to it the moment that was its due, then hastened back to the serious business of his life."

via Ed Brayton

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Court thumps "vaccines --> autism" crowd

Oh, my heart bleeds piss for the likes of Jenny McCarthy. (end sarcasm). Money quote:

"It was abundantly clear that petitioners' theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive," the court concluded in one of a trio of cases ruled on Thursday.

The ruling was anxiously awaited by health authorities and families who began presenting evidence in June 2007. More than 5,500 claims have been filed by families seeking compensation through the government's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The claims are reviewed by special masters serving on the U.S. Court of Claims.

Let me get this straight, 55 hundred people believe this enough to file for a government hand-out? This is, was, and will be a farce until a lot more EVIDENCE crops up to suggest any relationship. In the meantime, I want to see someone in the press ask Jenny McCarthy to her face why she shouldn't be called a baby-killer for discouraging people from immunizing their kids.

There's a great book called Autism's False Prophets which should be mandatory reading in medical schools. When you go to and type in "autism," this book shows up at #10 in the search. McCarthy's little book of woo and lies shows up at #5. Sometimes I despair for my species.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"The Pedophile's Paradise"

Guess which particular religion this article is about? Yup, the Catholic Church. Seems the Jesuits have been dumping child-raping priests on Alaska for a VERY long time. I've read it once, and the details are hard to stomach, so I'm not block-quoting much here, except this little tidbit about the "Holy Father"...

(I)n the midst of negotiations to settle four claims of clerical sex abuse with the Diocese of Fairbanks, one of the church's mediators told Ken Roosa (an attorney representing the accusers--CN) that the dioceses didn't want to offer more than $10,000. "They said they couldn't offer more money to an Alaska Native because they'd just get drunk and hurt each other," Roosa said. "And it would just encourage more victims to come forward. Unbelievable."

In September 2005, former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—who'd just become the pope—asked the justice department of the Bush administration to grant him immunity from prosecution in sex-abuse cases in the United States. Ratzinger, the onetime head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was accused of "conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian" in Texas, according to the Associated Press. Ratzinger had "written in Latin to bishops around the world, explaining that 'grave' crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation. The proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were subject to 'pontifical secret,'" Ratzinger's letter said. The Bush administration granted Ratzinger the immunity.
Translation: We'll take care of this issue the way we always have: By hiding behind a phony piety that others are too cowardly to challenge, covering up a bunch of irredeemable predators, and rewarding the people who sweep it under the rug.

This is why, even if I could believe in a god, I'd never, ever, ever go back to being a Catholic. The Catholic "Church" should be treated as a criminal conspiracy to enable and cover for rapists. Dan Savage put it best (paraphrasing) by saying if any group other than a major religion repeatedly harbored and sheltered as many perverts as this, the public would be burning its buildings and calling for investigations. The Church? Not so much.

Hold. Them. Accountable.

Via The Stranger.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Darwin on Google Books

In advance of Darwin Day this Thursday, here's a site where you can view major books both by and about Charles Darwin for free. The Google--it's wonderful!