Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The Plural of Anecdote is not Evidence!

Posted in Uncategorized by Rodibidably on February 2, 2009

[Originally posted at: metousiosis]

QualiaSoup presents an excellent episode highlighting the problems of anecdotal evidence and the fallacy of our perceptions.

 

From YouTube:

A look at some of the pitfalls of using anecdotes to support paranormal and scientific claims in the absence of more rigorous evidence.

An example of the Quintina illusion.

[Originally posted at: metousiosis]

skeptic etiquette

Posted in Uncategorized by Rodibidably on February 2, 2009

[Originally posted at: Coctail Party Physics]

In the face of my very scientifically brilliant co-bloggers, this post might seem ridonkulously dumb, but this problem has been weighing heavy on my mind, and I’m trying to work it out.

My neighbors and I once shared a community garden in Los Feliz.  It was a small space in the back of our building that had once been filled with trash, broken furniture, and decades of rotting cigarette filters.

We decided to pool our resources and plant a garden. We salvaged some drawers from a broken bureau and grabbed some wine boxes from the local liquor store to repurpose as makeshift planters. Over time, we refinished a picnic table, purchased a barbecue grill, and ran electricity out to the patio and hung Christmas lights along the ivy on the back wall so we could actually see each other after sunset.

Normally, my friends are the product of a shared common ground in ideals, beliefs, and hair care products. Neighbor-friends are solely the product of shared geography, and they are therefore more likely to shock the shit out of me with firmly held ideas and beliefs that I find bizarre, and sometimes physically harmful.

For example, there was the time I woke to find a dirty hippie standing in the hall outside my apartment door with a cooler full of raw bison liver, promising to cure my neighbor’s Lyme Disease, naturally. Enraged, I glared at the crunchy bastard as he took her last $70 as she melted against the wall in exhaustion, having given up her antibiotics due to a weird distrust of “western medicine.” Eventually, she tried exorcism (to which my only reply was, “Uh, don’t you have to be Catholic for that?” because seriously, what else can you say?), but that didn’t work any better than the mystical healing meat.

She’s okay, now. Back on the antibiotics, and thriving. But if I see the hippie and his cooler of magic meat ever again, I’m going to punch him in the throat and drown him in disinfectant. Jerk. But aside from the rare-meat life-threatening stuff, most of my magic/god/meat-cure social problems are etiquette-based.

[Read the rest of this post at: Coctail Party Physics]

51% of British Public Doubts Darwin

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 2, 2009

So boasts the Evolution News and Views website in the post titled “51% Percent of British Public Doubts Darwin; 10-20 % Attend Church“. I would add to it that 51% of the British Public is ignorant about science. Ok, now besides the obvious correction (that 51% does not need to be followed up by the word “percent”) let’s look at what that survey means to the ID crowd.

The article they quote comes from The Telegraph and is titled “Poll reveals public doubts over Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The article reports the following:

In the survey, 51 per cent of those questioned agreed with the statement that “evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages”

A further 40 per cent disagreed, while the rest said they did not know.

Asked whether it was true that “God created the world sometime in the last 10,000 years”, 32 per cent agreed, 60 per cent disagreed and eight per cent did not know.

The IDers are using this survey’s result with a claim that only 10-20% of British population attends church (which I’ll accept, its not so extraordinary a claim so for this claim their word really is enough for me. Surprised right?) to assert the following:

The meaning of this disparity between support for intelligent design and church attendance is obvious: support for intelligent design extends far beyond the segment of the population that is traditionally religious. Weekly church attendance is a minimal criterion to be labeled “fundamentalist” or devout. The inference to design in biology is held by the majority of both the American and British public, and for more than half of people who support design, the reasons are not devout acquiescence to religious dogma. For most supporters of intelligent design in biology, design is inferred empirically.

Wow, now that is science in action! Ok, so 10-20% who attend church are “traditionally Religious”. Wait a minute, did the same survey not establish that 32% believe that God created the Earth less than 10,000 years ago? So what do we do with the 22-12% from this group that don’t go to church? They believe God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago but they are not “traditionally religious”? Hmmm, that’s a bit of a head scratcher.

Furthermore it takes a special kind of logical gymnastics to go from “people don’t attend church” to “design is thus inferred empirically”. How? This is the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy. What they are saying is that either people go to church, thus their belief in God colors their worldview, or people don’t go to church therefore all their beliefs are based on empirical evidence. I call bullshit! That would be stupid to even contemplate, let alone champion.

Are the IDers really saying that a person who believes in God, who believes God created the Earth in less than 10,000 years, can only reach the ID conclusion based on these religious beliefs, IF and only IF he goes to church? That if he does not go to church he then must, by default follow the empirical evidence? Then how do they explain the discrepancy between the people that go to church (10-20% according to them) and the ones that believe the earth was created by God recently (32%)? Isn’t that a contradiction? Shouldn’t the number of people that believe this, which is a religious belief not what the empirical evidence say, not exceed the number of people that go to church? Otherwise, they ought to go with empirical conclusions which would take them to way over 10,000 years no?

Furthermore, did Michael Egnor ever take a Logic 101 class, that he so willingly goes into all sorts of logical fallacies in order to reach his predetermined conclusions?  I already mentioned his pathetic false dichotomy above. Furthermore, how does it matter if 51% of the public does not believe in evolution (except in the sense that it shows a complete lack of basic scientific knowledge and a stone age mentality)? How does this falsify evolution or lend credibility to the IDers? Has Egnor never heard of the argument from popularity that he so happily tries to employ here? This is lame, and not the sort of logic you’d expect from a trained neuroscientist. What if 51% of the population believed that we only use 10% of our brain (which certainly seems to be the case with IDers)? What would Egnor the neuroscientist say then?

And by the way, the IDiots are quick to cry conspiracy and censorship by the evil “Darwinists”. Fine, at least we allow comments on our blogs, why don’t they? This is called hypocrisy folks, which goes to show you that they’re not “open-minded” they’re not open to discussion. They just want to make their unscientific, religious, creationist claims and not hear, see or feel anything else. Their loss I say! They could actually learn a thing or two if they were willing to hear other people’s points of view.

More German children need measles jabs: WHO study

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 2, 2009

GENEVA (Reuters) – More children in Germany must be vaccinated against measles to prevent another widespread outbreak, a World Health Organization (WHO) study published on Monday said.

More than 12,000 people were infected with measles three years ago in Germany, Romania, Britain, Switzerland and Italy in an unusual epidemic caused by relatively low immunization rates against the contagious viral disease.

“The 2006 measles outbreak … must be regarded as a wake-up call,” experts from Berlin’s Robert Koch Institute and two German public health centers said in the latest WHO Bulletin, in a study that focused only on Germany.

They said vaccination coverage rates remain dangerously low, putting children at continuing risk of the viral disease that killed 197,000 people in 2007.

“Immediate nationwide school-based catch-up vaccination campaigns targeting older age groups are needed to close critical immunity gaps,” the researchers said, noting German children aged 10 to 14 were most affected in the 2006 outbreak.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS.

New Skepfeeds contributor

Posted in Rodibidably by Rodibidably on February 2, 2009

Recently Skepfeeds had an Open enrollment for a contributor to help out updating the site regularly. As an avid reader of skeptical blogs myself, I felt that this was a good fit for me to help out.

I figured that as an opening, I’d introduce myself, so that later on when my plan for world domination comes to fruition, you can say “I knew him when”.

I have my own blog, Rodibidably, where I post about Religion, Science, Skepticism, Politics, Psychology, Quotes, and many non-skeptical topics that strike me as worthy of sharing. While my own blog is not skepifically skeptical, it is more of a personal blog about anything I want to post, I do consider myself a skeptic and an atheist, and as such much of what I post on Rodibidably is of a skeptical nature.

I follow a number of skeptical and atheist blogs and podcasts, and I hope that the posts I add here from those sources give a good representation of those sources which I find interesting, intruiging, informative, and (damn, I can’t think of a 4th i word to use). While my primary area of intrest in the “skeptical movement” is religion/atheism, I do follow a number of “traditional” skepticfal topics as well, but I’d expect that my focus will be more atheistic than many “typical” skeptics.

I will try to keep to the Skepfeeds guidelines, and post articles in their entirety with no input from myself, but I am more than willing to engage in debates in the comments if people have a different view than myself. I do ask one thing though, if I post an article, it probably means I agree with the overall theme of the article, it does not mean I agree with every single phrase used in the article. For instance, if I post something from Christopher Hitchens, that does not mean I support the war in Iraq. If you have any questions about my personal views on a subject, please ask before jumping to conclusions and accusing me of specific beliefs or views…

And with that said, I’d like to end this initial post with a quote I came across a while ago from Tim Minchin:

I think the trouble with being a critical thinker or an atheist, or a humanist is that you’re right. And it’s quite hard being right in the face of people who are wrong without sounding like a fuckwit. People go “do you think the vast majority of the world is wrong”, well yes, i don’t know how to say that nicely, but yes.”

Introducing Important Studies Page

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 2, 2009

As some of you may have noticed, I have just added a new page to Skepfeeds called “Important Studies“. In this page I will try to gather links to studies important to the skeptical cause. As we all know, our skeptical attitude about incredible claims must be backed up by facts and logic, lest we become as dogmatic as the woo-woo meisters we try to expose. Thus this page was born. Whenever I run accross a new study that has importance for any given area of woo, such as for example acupuncture or chiropractic, I will then post a link with a short quote from the conclusion of said study. Please send me any links to such studies at thoushallthink@gmail.com as I need to populate this page as quickly as possible. Thank you very much and please do help in any way you can!

Tong Ren and the Magic Magnetic Hammer of Healing

Posted in The Quackometer by Skepdude on February 2, 2009

have got to share this with you. The fabulously bonkers web site What Doctors Don’t Tell You has a news report about a breakthrough in acupuncture with a story entitled,  “New therapy helps cancer patients”.

They say,

A new form of acupuncture is dramatically improving the quality of life of patients suffering from a range of diseases, including cancer, anxiety and autoimmune diseases, according to a new study.

The therapy, Tong Ren, has been pioneered in the USA since 2001 by Tom Tam, an acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner.  He has used it to treat patients suffering from cancer, diabetes, AIDS, arthritis, anxiety and depression.

Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine have tracked the health of 265 patients after weekly sessions of Tong Ren.  Around a third noted improved quality of life, and with no adverse effects.  ‘Substantial’ improvements were noted by 63 per cent of patients suffering anxiety, and 60 per cent of cancer patients.

Although the survey is based on subjective and anecdotal evidence, the researchers say the results warrant further research into Tong Ren.

Yet another thing that our Doctors are not telling us. Is acupuncture really curing cancer and other serious diseases? It had to be worth a little checking. I wonder if Lynne McTaggart of WDDTY did any checking on this too? This is what I found out.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “THE QUACKOMETER”