Recent Entries in Skeptic

Here's something you don't see on Quackwatch every day: an article about a quack getting sent to prison for 43 years. Granted, he was convicted for plotting to kill a federal judge, a prosecutor and an IRS agent who were involved in a tax case against him (in the interest of fairness, here's his side of the story) but it's worth noting that these tax cases arose from all the money he was raking in from his water-nutritional supplement business, so apparently this guy was a stranger to honest behavior.

The plot to kill government officials is certainly troubling, but me being me I found myself more interested in what WaterOz was selling. Although I have only a small fraction of the chemistry knowledge this guy has, water quackery is one of my favorite areas of medical misinformation, mainly because it's such a broad area ranging from alkaline absurdities to cluster crap to Masura Emoto's crazy pictures. Personally I'm a big fan of the wet stuff; I don't believe in the eight glasses a day rule, but I still try to stay hydrated with all the H2O I feel I need.

Saint Nate's Blog: All That Glitters Isn't Good

False.

Stewart's case was dismissed in June 2005 when she failed to show up for a preliminary hearing of her case. In a 53-page ruling, Judge Margaret Morrow of the Central District Court of California dismissed the suit, saying Stewart and her attorneys had not entered any evidence to bolster its key claims or demonstrated any striking similarity between her work and the accused directors' films. As of this writing, Stewart's case is no longer before the courts. She has announced that she does not plan to let the matter drop, so possibly this case will someday be re-filed and heard, but for now it is over.

A less than accurate newspaper article about Stewart and her case caused many to believe the woman claiming authorship had won her copyright infringement suit and was about to receive a multi-billion dollar settlement. This 28 October 2004 article, penned by a second-year communications student for the Salt Lake Community College Globe, erred in mistaking Stewart's 4 October 2004 successful counter to a dismissal motion for her having prevailed in her suit. The article asserted Stewart "will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels" and would "soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood." What Stewart had won was the right to proceed with her case, but nothing more.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Matrix Lawsuit)

Intelligent design is the new name for the idea that the Earth's different species originated through the active management of God. In his recent remarks, President George W. Bush did not say he believes this. He said that the idea "ought to be properly taught" in schools "so that people can understand what the debate is about."

These are not the words of a man trying to impose a theocracy. Bush is a politician trying to paper over an issue that divides his supporters. The president tried to redefine the issue as a matter of freedom of speech. But freedom of speech means no one can be penalized by the government for lawful speech. It does not mean that everyone gets equal time on the radio, in the newspaper, in the pulpit or in science class. Nor does it mean all opinions have equal weight.

This is particularly true of science. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable to fail. The theory of evolution, for example, postulates complex life arising from simple life. If the geological record showed otherwise -- that the further one went back, the more complex life was, or that unrelated species repeatedly appeared as if from nowhere -- that would falsify the theory.

Intelligent design implies that God did it. That may be true. Certainly, millions of Americans believe so. But intelligent design is not a scientific theory because there is no set of facts that would disprove it. No matter what science says tomorrow, a believer in intelligent design could say, "Yes, that's the way God did it."

The Seattle Times: Editorials & Opinion: The philosophy of intelligent design

The theory of "intelligent design" was once dismissed by a Kansas professor as "creationism in a cheap tuxedo." Yet, the tuxedo in question appears to be hanging in George W. Bush's wardrobe.

President Bush was asked this week whether he thought U.S. schoolchildren should learn about Charles Darwin's theory of evolution or the theory of intelligent design.

Proponents of the latter maintain that life on Earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a "higher power" must have had a hand in creation. That power is naturally presumed to be God.

Astonishingly, the president answered that both theories should be taught side by side. Why? "So people can understand what the debate is about." There is, of course, no "debate" between the two theories on scientific grounds. And it is astonishing that this struggle is still going on 80 years after the Scopes Monkey trial.

Mythology in the White House

  Evolution revolution?

At the White House, where intelligent design has been discussed in a weekly Bible study group, Bush's science adviser, John H. Marburger III, sought to play down the president's remarks as common sense and old news.

Marburger said in a telephone interview that "evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology" and "intelligent design is not a scientific concept." Marburger also said that Bush's remarks should be interpreted to mean that the president believes that intelligent design should be discussed as part of the "social context" in science classes.

Marburger said that it would be "overinterpreting" Bush's remarks to say that the president believes that intelligent design and evolution should be given equal treatment in schools.

...

But critics saw Bush's comment that "both sides" should be taught as the most troubling aspect of his remarks. "It sounds like you're being fair, but creationism is a sectarian religious viewpoint, and intelligent design is a sectarian religious viewpoint," said Susan Spath, a spokeswoman for the National Center for Science Education, a group that defends the teaching of evolution in public schools.

"It's not fair to privilege one religious viewpoint by calling it the other side of evolution."

Spath added that intelligent design was viewed as more respectable and sophisticated than biblical creationism, but "if you look at their theological and scientific writings, you see that the movement is fundamentally anti-evolution."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the president's comments irresponsible, and said that "when it comes to evolution, there is only one school of scientific thought, and that is evolution occurred and is still occurring." Lynn added that "when it comes to matters of religion and philosophy, they can be discussed objectively in public schools, but not in biology class."

Gainesville.com | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, Fla.

Of course evolution is a theory. Scientific theories are carefully built on hypothesis, testing, observation, and coming to a conclusion best fitting the facts. They also get reviewed by peers, many times over. Theories are explanations of facts, and it takes longer than a morning cup of coffee to produce one. Intelligent Design can't be tested in the lab, so it's not even a hypothesis.

Reportage by dueling quotes, however, means not having to sort out what they mean, or if they contradict. Ironically, the News provided a better insight into Intelligent Design in a pro-creationist column published in 2003. The religious overtones are very obvious.

Poor reporting makes it easy to see why folks might wonder whether an apple just might be a citrus fruit.

If the president really thinks Intelligent Design is science, however, he's a buffoon. His own science adviser panned the idea earlier this year, and the president could get the world's top scientific minds on the phone if he wanted a second opinion. The president's word carries a lot of weight, and it's reasonable to expect that he'd educate himself a little before throwing his weight behind an issue.

The Morning Sun


President Bush invigorated proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools with remarks saying that schoolchildren should be taught about "intelligent design," a view of creation that challenges established scientific thinking and promotes the idea that an unseen force is behind the development of humanity.

Although he said that curriculum decisions should be made by school districts rather than the federal government, Bush told Texas newspaper reporters in a group interview at the White House on Monday that he believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as competing theories.

"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

Bush Remarks On 'Intelligent Design' Theory Fuel Debate

SEEING into the future is just a load of crystal balls, scientists claimed yesterday.

A report has found that clairvoyants and psychics rely more on a scam called 'cold reading' rather than looking to their star charts and Tarot cards.

Their tricks of the trade also include even more underhand methods such as searching a client's belongings for clues or scanning the internet for background information on them. The only thing that can be confidently predicted is that eager customers are so willing to be taken in that it makes the job much easier.

Scientists studied the methods used by everyone from spirit guides to gyspy tea-leaf readers and found that cold reading covers a range of psychological techniques to make it appear they know a lot about their client.

dailyrecord - FORTUNE TELLING IS A LOAD OF CRYSTAL BALLS

It's a bison.

A hair sample that some claimed belonged to a sasquatch in the Yukon is actually the fur of the large mammal.

David Coltman, an University of Alberta geneticist who did a DNA test on a hair sample, confirmed that it was 100-per-cent bison.

He said the DNA sample was not fresh.

During the procedure, follicles were separated from about 10 hairs and a standard DNA extraction was conducted. Copies of the genes were created and a DNA sequence was developed, which matched the genetic code of bison.

The hair sample was taken from a bush near Teslin, Yukon, near the B.C. border earlier this month where several people said they had seen and heard a large, hairy creature crash through their backyard. They also claim that there was also an unusally large footprint at the site.

If the DNA had come out as an unknown sequence, perhaps of a sasquatch, Dr. Coltman said he would try to find the most closely related species on the evolutionary tree to match it.

The Globe and Mail: Bison isn't sasquatch

In our eagerness to focus on the supply side of pseudoscience - the dismal outpourings of flaky humanities graduates in the media and the bogus pseudoscience of people with products to sell - we've neglected an important area of study: the impact on the end market. Take this from reader Richard Neville, last weekend, who was simply trying to get a drink: "I was at the bar buying a round," he begins. "'Grapefruit and soda please.' I said. The barman adopted a pained expression. 'I should point out to you, sir, that this juice is 100% pure organic and, therefore, I don't like to add chemicals - you see, I don't know what's in soda water.' 'Well,' I said, 'I think it's mostly water - which, of course, is a chemical plus a little bicarbonate of soda and added carbon dioxide.' He didn't look happy, while I just looked thirsty and persisted: 'Well,' he warned, 'if you'll take full responsibility ...'"

Guardian Unlimited | Life | Guardian life bad science

This is a ridiculously uncritical interview with the x-ray eye kid, who took credit for "curing" Ronnie Hawkins of pancreatic cancer.

I expected something better from the Toronto Star.

TheStar.com - The teenage miracle worker

Adam seemed able to read the patterns and see the interconnections. By contrast, a doctor I had consulted diagnosed it as a (harmless) ganglionic cyst and gave me a choice between having it surgically removed and waiting to see if it disappeared.

He was helpful but never seemed to consider the body as an organic whole, or question how the lump formed in the first place ? the kind of approach that gets people like me curious about alternative medicine.

When I first showed Adam my wrist, I was asking him about the self-healing techniques he teaches.

How does the mind help heal the body, I wanted to know? What is this life force, this qi energy, that Eastern philosophers speak of? And why, with all of Western medicine's pharmaceuticals, advanced surgical procedures and technological diagnostics, do theories of energy and interconnectedness sound so intuitively worth pursuing?

The end of the 20th century was marked by the flowering of astrology, mysticism, occultism, etc. in many countries of the world. However the USSR (in the last years of its existence) and Russia occupy a special place in this sense. The state of ruin, the crushing of old ideals, and the lack of new ones has led to exhausted, desperate people starting to hope only for a miracle...

No little credit for this belongs to the mass media which has unfortunately not been able to make reasonable profit from one of the great achievements of the post-Soviet period, freedom of speech. The license and irresponsibility of the majority of the mass media has led to anti-scientific nonsense literally filling the pages of newspapers, magazines, radio and television. In recent years a new phenomenon has arisen which did not exist before. Pseudoscience has turned into a powerful, well-organized force. In the last 10 years 120 academies have arisen in Russian, many of which simply discredit this word. Several of them "rubber stamp" professionally unfit doctors of sciences in various scientific disciplines, of course not unselfishly, and at the same time in anti-scientific [disciplines]: astrologers, UFOlogists, and the rest of the public received diplomas. Things are no better in the West. For example, the New York Academy in the US has been turned into a purely commercial enterprise. For a little over $100 it eagerly accepts both scientists and pseudoscientists alike into its ranks.

In Russia even research institutes of an anti-scientific bent have appeared. Here's just two examples: The International Institute of Space Anthropoecology and the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics. The first of these managed even to get government accreditation with the aid of the Ministry of Science. And the second received financial aid from this same ministry for several years and from the Ministry of Defense for the well-known fraud with torsion fields. I want to note that Russia is no exception. For example, in the US a Maharishi University has arisen whose activity bears little resemblance to intellectual activity.

Why is Pseudoscience Dangerous?

In the summer of 1925, a young teacher named John Scopes was tried and, after a famous trial that lasted several days, found guilty of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act on July 21, 1925. You'd think that such antiscientific sentiment would have abated over the years, but you'd be wrong. True, in the eighty years since 1925, we've developed antibiotics, jet travel, molecular biology, cancer chemotherapy, and have gone to space and the moon. We've developed technological marvels undreamt of 80 years ago. Despite all that, however, unfortunately somehow we haven't moved beyond the attempts of religious ideologues to impose their religious beliefs upon science. Indeed, depressingly, the antiscientific attacks on evolution today sound much the same as they did 80 years ago.

Respectful Insolence (a.k.a.

Photograph shows the winner of a "World's Ugliest Dog" contest.

Status: True.

uglydog.jpg

Sam, the above-pictured canine, is a 14-year-old pedigreed Chinese crested owned by Susie Lockheed of Santa Barbara, California. In June 2005, Sam won the "World's Ugliest Dog" title at the Sonoma-Marin Fair contest for the third consecutive year.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Photo Gallery (World's Ugliest Dog)

Despite a lack of scientific support, acupuncture is used in the treatment of depression, allergies, asthma, arthritis, smoking, migraines and so on.

It's a quack treatment that seems to be accepted by a fairly large number of otherwise rational people.

The general attitude is that as long as an explanatory model "works" it is irrelevant to criticize it and ask Does acupuncture really work?. The "good" advice is that it works and if you're good you won't be ill.

Anne's Anti-Quackery & Science Blog: Enter the Sham Acupuncture

  Canadian mysteries

Here's a bunch of cewl Canadian mysteries. Bet you never thought we were such a mysterious bunch, eh?

What happened to Tom Thomson?
Did the wrong man hang for Thomas D'Arcy McGee's murder?
Who killed Sir Harry Oakes?
Is the Sasquatch real?
Does Ogopogo exist?
Did a UFO visit Shag Harbour, N.S.?
What happened to Ambrose Small?
Did Russians kidnap an Inuit family?
What ever happened to Ron Bax?
Who was the Mad Trapper of Rat River?
Is the Bambino's first homerun ball in Lake Ontario?
Who ordered the destruction of the Avro Arrow?
Is there buried treasure at Oak Island, N.S.?
Butter tarts - a true Canadian invention?

CBC News Indepth: Canadian mysteries

When Deep Throat's true identity was revealed on May 31, 2005, a decades-old mystery was laid to rest. CBC News Online looks at a few Canadian mysteries that have yet to be solved.

  Mystery Spots Explained

We know them by many names such as Mystery-House, Mystery-Hill, Alien-Vortex or Magic-Shack, but collectively they are known as mystery spots because of the mysterious events which often occur near them. Lucky for us, owners of these curious sites love to show them off. Visitors are often welcome to come in and see the strange phenomenon...for a small fee. Mystery Spots began springing up during the depression and continue to draw crowds and delight visitors to this day.

Most mystery spots share the same basic presentation. You are shown into a special room where some strange phenomenon will occur. A guide explains that what you are about to see lies well-beyond the scope of science. The explanations may differ, but soon you will notice some very strange things happening. Balls roll uphill. Water flows briskly up the spout. Ordinary objects defy gravity and cling to the wall without support. People stand at impossible angles.

Mystery Spots - Explained

Cool discussion on Tom Cruise's weird statements. There's a lot of useful links on this site.

Anne's Anti-Quackery & Science Blog: How can someone who believes in E-meters get off calling ANYTHING pseudoscience?

Cruise follows the Scientology movement which is against psychiatric medicine and now Tom Cruise admits to alien belief , saying it would be "arrogant" to think that extraterrestrial beings did not exist.

First he said "Psychiatry is a pseudo science" and recommended vitamins, not anti-depressants, for Brooke Shields ...


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