Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Afternoon Delight With The Discovery Institute – #3

Posted in Enemy Combatant by Skepdude on September 3, 2008

**Our last episode found Casey Luskin buying more of what we were selling than I’d have thought possible. Today we continue our tour, and things get what passes for interesting around there.**

After a couple more questions that were skirted or barely answered, our sparkly eyed and bushy browed guide seemed to be satisfied with our credentials both scientific and conservative. He then took the opportunity to inform us that science was his personal passion, and that he considers himself a scientist.

I’m waiting for my blue ribbon and gold medal to arrive for not dying of laughter at that point.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “Enemy Combatant Trailmix Appreciation Club”

The Importance and Limitations of Peer-Review

Posted in Science Based Medicine by Skepdude on September 3, 2008

Peer-review is a critical part of the functioning of the scientific community, of quality control, and the self corrective nature of science. But it is no panacea. It is helpful to understand what it is, and what it isn’t, its uses and abuses.


When “gut feelings” about science attack, or: Oh, no! Histidine and polysorbate-80 are going to kill us all!

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on September 3, 2008

Some people should keep their “gut feelings” to themselves.

You know the type: People who have no knowledge about a topic or, even worse, just enough knowledge to sound as if they have a clue about it to people who don’t have a clue but are easily spotted as utterly and completely clueless by people who do have a clue. These people often think they’ve discovered something that scientists, in all their blindness have missed, and have a burning urge to share the information as though it’s some revelation, a bolt out of the blue. Not uncommonly, they also often “beg” the authorities, be they the CDC, FDA, NIH, or CIA (in the case of particularly wild clueless wonders) to take a look at their amazing new finding. Even more commonly, they often cherry pick literature without understanding it and link things that really don’t have much of link.

I’ve found an excellent example of a clueless wonder who’s done virtually all of the above. Meet Cynthia A. Janak, who describes herself as:

…a freelance journalist, mother of three, foster mother of one, grandmother of five, business owner, Chamber of Commerce member. Her expertise is as an administrative professional. Her specialties are adoptee and genealogy research and research journalism. Hobbies: Writing prose, crocheting, Conservative Studies, and rehabbing houses.

Sounds like a nice lady, right? Too bad this nice lady has written what has to be the most amazingly convoluted and silly attack on Gardasil I’ve ever seen. Being a nice grandmother isn’t enough to protect her from a bit of the ol’ not-so-Respectful Insolence, I’m afraid. It won’t be as heapin’ a helpin’ as usual, though. On second thought, the article she wrote, Polysorbate 80 and Histidine, a marriage of disaster, merits the full Orac treatment. I’ll probably feel a bit guilty when I’m done, but I’ll get over it. If someone’s going to post such amazing ignorance about science (while admitting over and over that she doesn’t know anything about the science) and expect to be taken seriously, she should be disabused of that expectation as quickly as possible.


Didgeridoos are not for you, little girl

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 3, 2008

Harper Collins is about to release a children’s book called The Daring Book for Girls(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) in Australia. It contains a very short section on how to play a didgeridoo — and wouldn’t you know it, someone is offended.


Islamists attacking freedom of speech

Posted in Muslims Against Sharia by Skepdude on September 3, 2008


By Clifford D. May

Freedom of speech is under attack. Let us count the ways.

The first and most obvious: Those who criticize militant Islamists — from novelist Salman Rushdie to Danish cartoonists to memoirist Ayaan Hirsi Ali — are routinely threatened with deadly violence. It would be black humor to say this is having a chilling effect.

The second is “political correctness.” On campuses and within Western governments, it is increasingly taboo to label terrorists who slaughter in the name of Islam “Islamist terrorists.” In Canada, “human rights commissions” attempt to enforce this taboo by putting such writers as Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant on trial for the “crime” of expressing opinions that offend Islamic grievance groups — and also for quoting Islamists accurately and thereby casting them in an unfavorable light. If that’s not Orwellian, what is?

But it is the third approach that could be most consequential for Americans. It’s known as “libel tourism” and here’s how it works: