Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

James Randi Speaks: The Compass Trick

Posted in JREF by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

Swine flu Woo

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

It has been predicted that the Swine Flu would bring out the quacks by the millions and the stupid would pour  like the rain in the Flood. And boy has that prediction come true, none more so evident than here. It is too much for any reasonable person to handle. I have writen to the Rogues at the SGU pleading them to handle this on the podcast, as this one is beyon even my mightly skeptical powers. Hopefully they will give her what she deserves.


NIH Commits $60 Million to Autism Research

Posted in News by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will commit roughly $60 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support autism research and meet objectives set forth earlier this year by a federal advisory committee. The Request for Applications is the largest funding opportunity for research on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to date and, combined with other ARRA initiatives, represents a surge in NIH’s commitment to finding the causes and treatments for autism.

Four grant announcements, sharing a single title, “Research to Address the Heterogeneity in Autism Spectrum Disorders,” will use different funding mechanisms to support a range of research topics over the next two years. Examples of research topics include developing and testing diagnostic screening tools for different populations; assessing risk from prenatal or early life exposures; initiating clinical trials to test early interventions; or adapting existing, effective pediatric treatments for older children, teens, and adults with ASD.

A full listing of possible study topics is available in the grant announcement listing in the NIH Guide ( While few trials can be completed in two years, ARRA funds will be important for jumpstarting projects and building the infrastructure or foundation for longer-term autism research efforts.


Thank God…or Allah….or whoever you want to thank

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

Finally, this has been resolved. Let’s hope this is the beginning of some real change in Saudi Arabia. It still sucks that it all hinged on the father giving up his claim basically, but I guess we have to take what little scraps come our way.

Media reports say an arranged marriage between a Saudi girl aged eight and a man in his 50s has been annulled, in a case attracting worldwide criticism.

The Saudi Gazette says the divorce was agreed in an out-of-court settlement after a judge rejected two attempts to grant the girl a divorce.

The case prompted Saudi officials to say it would start regulating the marriages of young girls.

Rights groups say some Saudi families marry off young daughters for money.

The judge who first heard the case in the town of Unaiza refused to end the marriage at the request of the girl’s mother , but he stipulated the groom could not have sex with the girl until she reached puberty.

The girl’s father is said to have married her off against her mother’s wishes to a close friend in order that he could pay off a debt.

A new judge was appointed to oversee the case, who issued the annulment after the husband finally gave up his insistence that the marriage had been legal, reports say.

Would you like a side order of blasphemy with that?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

Remember how we all got up in arms when the spineless members of the UN passed that resolution against blasphemy. We were blasted left and right for being alarmist, fear-mongers, cry babies. This resolution has no teeth, they said. It is non binding, they said. You have nothing to fear, they said. Well apparently Ireland wasn’t reading those comments because it appears they are trying to pass their own anti blasphemy law.

Speaking after an Oireachtas committee meeting, Mr Ahern yesterday defended a fine of up to €100,000 that will be imposed on blasphemers.

Gardai will now have the power to seize blasphemous material from the home or any other premises used by a person convicted of blasphemy.

Imagine that! €100,000 fine for reading “God is not great” (from now on expect me to plug Christopher Hitchens at any opportunity. That guy is just superb and I have to shake hands with him at some point in the future. Anyone can help arrange that? I’m in NYC!) Now, was I right or was I right to be alarmed at the stupid UN resolution?

Melanie Phillips Wrong Again

Posted in Skeptico by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

One of the most consistently stupid “journalists” writing on the subject of science and intelligent design has to be Melanie Phillips. I commented two years ago on another horrendous anti-science piece of hers: Idiot Journalist is the new enemy of reason.  Now she’s back again writing in the Spectator, with a piece entitled Creating An Insult To Intelligence – actually a highly accurate headline considering what she wrote under it.

Listening to the Today programme this morning, I was irritated once again by yet another misrepresentation of Intelligent Design as a form of Creationism. In an item on the growing popularity of Intelligent Design, John Humphrys interviewed Professor Ken Miller of Brown University in the US who spoke on the subject last evening at the Faraday Institute, Cambridge. Humphrys suggested that Intelligent Design might be considered a kind of middle ground between Darwinism and Creationism. Miller agreed but went further, saying that Intelligent Design was

nothing more than an attempt to repackage good old-fashioned Creationism and make it more palatable.

But this is totally untrue. Miller referred to a landmark US court case in 2005, Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, which did indeed uphold the argument that Intelligent Design was a form of Creationism in its ruling that teaching Intelligent Design violated the constitutional ban against teaching religion in public schools. But the court was simply wrong, doubtless because it had heard muddled testimony from the likes of Prof Miller.

The court was”simply wrong”? What, because you say so? And why was Miller’s testimony “muddled”? Because you didn’t like it? Or because you didn’t understand it? In any case, the court was not “wrong”, simply or otherwise. The court was shown evidence (actually, virtual proof) of the link between creationism and ID. The transitional version – cdesign proponentsists – was discovered.

Put simply, the ID book Of Pandas and People that was discussed at the Dover trial was originally a unashamed creation book called Creation Biology. (You know it’s a creation book because it has the word “Creation” in the title. You’re welcome.) Just after the Supreme Court ruling against creation science in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Disco Tute decided to remake the book as an ID book, rewriting large parts of it to make it all “sciencey” and not creationism at all.  No, really. But unfortunately for them, they were in such a hurry to do so that in changing the wording in one place from “creationists” to (presumably) “intelligent design proponents”, they morphed the two phrases and the book actually included the words “cdesign proponentsists”. Apparently they believe in a designer but not in a spell checker. Hilarious. Click the NCSE’s Missing Link discovered! for a detailed explanation of what they did. Also, The Panda’s Thumb’s Missing link: “cdesign proponentsists”.


Stupid quote of the day

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

You could not make this shit up folks (actually let me take that back, this person just did):

We need to extract ourselves from a limited point of view and begin to see our real and eternal identity and the identity of others as sparks of the Great Flame. The cosmic view understands that our basic essence is the energy of light. The truth of who we are and what we experience is the direct result of how we see ourselves and whether we attract and expand the light within us and allow it to illuminate our consciousness. If we remain on the outer rim of the circle, the radiant light is basically snuffed out. If we understand hell or evil as a great distance from the center of the circle and our placement in the scheme of things, we can grasp why a disruptive state of mind is an experience that feels like hell. Hell is separation from the Light of God.

A young woman was brought to our home that smelled of death. She was anorexic. As I stood over the woman, I became aware of a subtle entity, a stranger to me, who turned out to be the deceased sister of the ill woman. The dead sister was very much alive on the lower astral plane. She selfishly wanted her sister to join her and was influencing the sister by encouraging her not to eat. The plan was working. I sternly lectured the entity about moral issues and that she must leave her sister alone. I prayed and called for angelic help to come and remove the earthbound soul. The soul of the dead sister was escorted away. A healing took place in the mind and body of the emaciated woman. It did not take long for the young woman’s health to rapidly improve. She went on to enroll in courses of study that would provide education and treatment for ongoing health, diet choices and enhancing her own sense of self-esteem.


How to get better at doing nothing

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

Or, as the author put it, “How To Become More Psychic – Techniques That Actually Work” . Who knew that you could become more psychic by reading a John Edward book, but apparently you can. But do stay away from Sylvia Browne (sexist) and James Van Pragh (depressing), those actually don’t work. Kinda sounds like one of those “my God is better than your God” games.

Also you should “Learn to meditate, the best method I found was to rest in a darkened room with a blind fold and ear plugs.” otherwise known as daydreaming/sleeping. I guess that must help. You must avoid anything harmful from entering your body, good health advice overall, though it’s a bit of a stretch to say that it will make you a better psychic, although I do see how alcohol can mess up your cold reading skills, so maybe it does make some sense in some cases.

One thing I would personally add to this list of things to do to make you a better psychic is that you must be either gullible, deluded or an outright fraudster, commonly referred to by the woo-woo crowd as being “open minded“. You can consider my mind tightly shut!

Australian Skeptics Swine Flu poster

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 30, 2009

Our good Australian Skeptic, Richard Saunders of the Skeptic Zone Podcast, left a comment on one of my latest posts directing me to this poster that you can find at the Young Australian Skeptics website, so I am reproducing it here for your convenience and if you click the image it should take you to the actual PDF file on their website.

I still find it hard to believe that Richard Saunders left me a comment. Yay!

rsz_swine_flu_posterI seem to have trouble loading the PDF from the link so here is the PDF file if you cannot access it by clicking the image. Australian Skeptics Swine Flu Poster

I moved the over-the-top profanity below the fold

Posted in White Coat Underground by Skepdude on April 29, 2009

Here at ScienceBlogs we have a (very) informal agreement to try to avoid profanity-laden titles. Personally, they don’t bother me at all, but I can see the point—there are lots of folks who probably don’t want their feed reader to pop up with what I’m about to say.

What the FUCK hath swine flu wrought????

I warned you that swine flu would bring out the charlatans. In the course of hours to days, a virtual zombie army of immoral, idiotic, evil fucking quacks has risen to fan your fears and take you cash.

It’s really hard to overstate this, but the people who engage in this fact- and morals-free exploitation are some of the worst people on this planet. Humans invented words for people who exploit and prey on your fears in order to benefit themselves (and, no, the word is not douchemonkey): evil.

Take “Dr” Wegmann at that execrable waste of bytes, the Huffington Post. This guy can’t even write a title without lying: 3 Sure-Fire Strategies to Prevent the Swine Flu.

Hey, fuck face: we don’t know enough about this thing yet to use the hack phrase “sure-fire”. Of course, that doesn’t really matter to you, you lying sack of excrement-filled kishkes. The lies pour out of you like pus from a diabetic foot wound (but less bonum et laudum). You actually go on to recommend fucking glorified massage therapy to prevent the fucking flu! That’s not even wrong! You reason that since chiropractic enhances the immune system (according to some dude–what, did you hear that at the bar?), that it is a “sure-fire” way to prevent the flu.

Now, ignoring (if that is humanly possible) the fact that rubbing someone’s back cannot prevent an infectious disease, and ignoring the vacuously meaningless statement of “boosting immunity”, even if we could “boost immunity”, who’s to say that’s a good thing? One theory for why the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed so many young people and spared the very young and elderly (unlike the usual flu) is that their relatively more robust immune systems killed them by over-reacting.

Oh, and you just “happen” to sell these “sure-fire” treatments. Yuck. I feel like I have to wash my brain out with bleach.


Of course, no one brings the cynical, I’ll-make-up-the-problem-and-sell-you-the-fix paranoidwackaloongoatnuts insanity like Mike Adams. He actually does something clever with this one—he tells just enough truth to make a credible lie. It is true that data on wearing masks to prevent flu transmission is incomplete. Current recommendations are based on best available evidence and experience, skewed to the safer alternative. But let’s let him show off his stoopid skillz. What he is doing is telling people not to be deceived into buying masks to prevent flu. Rather than explaining that is is largely unnecessary at this point, he sets of the mark: