Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Astrology in retrograde

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on October 3, 2008

I was called by MSNBC reporter Helen Popkin yesterday because she was doing an article on astrology. And she stumped me with a simple question: “Have you heard,” she asked “about the idea that electronics tend to fail when Mercury is in retrograde?”

Uh. What?

I hadn’t heard of this little piece of nonsense, but according to Ms. Popkin, sure enough, some astrologers say that technology tends to fail more when Mercury is in retrograde — that is, when its apparent motion in the sky switches from an eastward direction to westward. Since, astrologically, Mercury controls communication and technology, when it’s in retrograde things get screwed up. That’s why Hubble is malfunctioning, and why the LHC is having woes.

Yeeeeeeah. Oooooookay.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD ASTRONOMY”

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Hubris, Thy Name Is Jenny McCarthy

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on October 2, 2008

There are many words I could attach to the dangerous freakshow that is Jenny McCarthy – self-made advocate for the pseudoscientific notion that there is a link between vaccines and autism: deluded, self-righteous, irrational, the Mayor of Wooville, etc. But I am always interested in the process that gets people to their profound confusion. I believe at the core of Jenny McCarthy’s tragic crusade is an utter lack of humility.

Her lack of humility also seems consistent with someone who has never risen to a level of competence, let alone mastery, in any intellectual discipline. Those who have understand on some level the value of excellence and expertise, and the gulf that separates superficial public knowledge (or what has been called in the internet age, the University of Google knowledge) from a functional depth of understanding.

This brings to mind yet another word that could apply to McCarthy – sophomoric. She has garnered just enough knowledge to think she knows what she is talking about, but not enough to appreciate the depths of her own ignorance.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

Palintology

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin, who is John McCain’s Vice president pick, is an interesting case. To say the least.

I need not go into details since there is a torrent of them on the web. My concern here is with her knowledge of science… or lack thereof.

She has stated on record that she is for teaching “both sides” of the evolution “controversy”. Some people think this is only fair, but that’s baloney. First of all, for the hundredth time, there is no controversy, and there aren’t two sides. Unless you count one side as being right — science — and the other side being wrong — creationism. Also, the “both sides” nonsense has long been used as creationist code for getting it taught in school. Teaching religion in a science classroom is not only unconstitutional, it’s ridiculous. Which creation myth do you teach, and where do you stop? Odin, the Enuma Elish, Marvel Comics? There are thousands. But when she says “Teach both”, she means teach evolution, and teach fundamentalist Christian creationism.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD ASTRONOMY”

Uncritical thinking kills

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on September 12, 2008

When I saw this website, I laughed. I couldn’t help it; it’s a funny idea.

That webcam site is a joke. It’s not real, it’s a satire on people who think the LHC would cause the end of the world. I laughed when I saw it.

But I’m not laughing now.

In India the other day, a young girl, distraught with fear that the world was ending when the LHC turned on, killed herself. She died, because she didn’t understand the truth.

Now that site is less funny, isn’t it? All over the world, in all different countries, people are raised to believe in superstitious nonsense, and raised to believe with all their hearts that it’s real.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD ASTRONOMY”

University announces review of woo

Posted in improbable science by Skepdude on September 4, 2008

After the announcement that the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan) was suspending its homeopathy “BSc” course, it seems that their vice chancellor has listened to the pressure, both internal and external, to stop bringing his university into disrepute.

An internal review of all their courses in alternative medicine was announced shortly after the course  closure.   Congratulations to Malcolm McVicar for grasping the nettle at last.  Let’s hope other universities follow his example soon.

I have acquired, indirectly, a copy of the announcement of the welcome news.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “IMPROBABLE SCIENCE”

University abandons homeopathy “degree”

Posted in improbable science by Skepdude on August 27, 2008

The first major victory in the battle for the integrity of universities seems to have been won. This email was sent by Kate Chatfield who is module leader for the “BSc” in homeopathic medicine at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

from Kate Chatfield…

Dear All,

It’s a sad day for us here at UCLan because we have taken the decision not to run a first year this year due to low recruitment. The course will be put ‘on hold’ for this year and next until we see what happens with the general climate. Fortunately our masters course is thriving and we have been asked to focus upon this
area and homeopathy research for the time being.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “DC’S IMPROBABLE SCIENCE”

A ghoul descends upon Christina Applegate’s “maimed” body

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on August 25, 2008

This is getting to be nauseatingly frequent.

As my blog bud Mark Hoofnagle pointed out, the hard-core “alternative medicine” mavens, in particular that despicable promoter of quackery and distrust of scientific medicine who runs one of the two or three largest repositories of antiscience and quackery in existence, Mike Adams, seem to have decided that a lovely new tactic would be to descend upon every celebrity death or battle with serious disease, ghoul-like, and blame their deaths or suffering on conventional medicine rather than disease. Both PalMD and I noted this particularly vile tactic applied to the recent death of former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, and Adams has done the same thing in response to the deaths of Tim Russert (whose death he blamed on the heart medications Russert was taking), Heath Ledger, and Bernie Mac as well. Oddly enough, the ghoul appears not to have descended upon the corpse of Isaac Hayes yet, even though every indication is that Hayes, having suffered a stroke a while back, died of another stroke. Maybe it’s because Hayes was a prominent Scientologist, and even Adams is afraid of messing with the Church of Scientology. Maybe it’s because, before his turning to Scientology, Hayes was so über-cool that even Adams fears messing with his memory. Who knows?

Last week, it turned out that Mike Adams, at least, doesn’t even need to have a dead celebrity as an excuse to torture science. All he needs is a celebrity with cancer who decided to pursue science-based therapy. This time around, in response to Christina Applegate’s battle with breast cancer and decision to undergo bilateral mastectomies, Adams has published yet another of his spittle-flecked screeds, this time charmingly entitled Christina Applegate Maimed by Surgeons with Double Mastectomy Following Breast Cancer Diagnosis. This article is yet more indication that Mike Adams is about as low as they come. The word “scum” is too good for him. Just check out how his article starts out:

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE”

Antivaxxers and the media

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on August 6, 2008

I have said this before, and I will say it again many times in the future: antivaxxers are potentially the Number One health hazard in America.

These are people who (very incorrectly) think that vaccines are linked to autism. It has been shown, conclusively, that no such link exists. Every time an antivaxxer is shown this data, they move the goalposts, claiming it’s some other vaccine feature causing autism, or cite outdated and flawed studies. The problem (for them) is, you can show that the number of autism cases diagnosed is totally unrelated to vaccines. They deny this, they spin, they distract, but in the end this simple fact proves them wrong.

We need vaccines. We have stopped smallpox cold with vaccines. Rubella, measles, and pertussis can be stopped. Where antivaxxers have sown distrust in vaccines, these diseases have been making a comeback, and kids have died.

Read the rest of this entry at the “Bad Astronomy” blog.

Doctor Who?

Posted in improbable science by Skepdude on July 25, 2008

Who should use the title ‘doctor’? The title is widely abused as shown by Gilbey1 in this issue of the NZMJ in an article entitled Use of inappropriate titles by New Zealand practitioners of acupuncture, chiropractic, and osteopathy. Meanwhile, Evans and colleagues 2, also in this issue, discuss usage and attitudes to alternative treatments.

Gilbey finds that the abuse of the title doctor is widespread and that chiropractors are the main culprits. An amazing 82% of 146 chiropractics used the title Doctor, andL most of them used the title to imply falsely that they were registered medical practitioners.

Read the full entry here at the Improbable Science website.