Recent Entries in Skeptic

Who knew Hitler was such a humanitarian? And a humanist?

YouTube - Hitler finds out christians are sending solar powered bibles to Haiti

The man's a tiny little firestorm.

YouTube - James Randi the ADE651 aka Quadro Tracker

  Set Yourself Free

Makes the comparison between God and an abusive boyfriend.

YouTube - Set Yourself Free

Just in time for the holiday season, this tidbit from The Onion.

"I do not understand," reads an ancient line of pictographs depicting the sun, the moon, water, and a Sumerian who appears to be scratching his head. "A booming voice is saying, 'Let there be light,' but there is already light. It is saying, 'Let the earth bring forth grass,' but I am already standing on grass."

"Everything is here already," the pictograph continues. "We do not need more stars."

Historians believe that, immediately following the biblical event, Sumerian witnesses returned to the city of Eridu, a bustling metropolis built 1,500 years before God called for the appearance of dry land, to discuss the new development. According to records, Sumerian farmers, priests, and civic administrators were not only befuddled, but also took issue with the face of God moving across the water, saying that He scared away those who were traveling to Mesopotamia to participate in their vast and intricate trade system.

Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Or rather, one observation. Still the trick isn't the arguments or facts; it's just getting them to listen.

YouTube - Richard Dawkins: One Fact to Refute Creationism

Not too surprising. I can reproduce stigmata on my hands with just a rusty thumbtack.

A professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia, Garlaschelli made available to Reuters the paper he will deliver and the accompanying comparative photographs.


They placed a linen sheet flat over a volunteer and then rubbed it with a pigment containing traces of acid. A mask was used for the face.

The pigment was then artificially aged by heating the cloth in an oven and washing it, a process which removed it from the surface but left a fuzzy, half-tone image similar to that on the Shroud. He believes the pigment on the original Shroud faded naturally over the centuries.

Italian scientist reproduces Shroud of Turin - Yahoo! News

I was thinking about getting a pair of these for travel sickness, but figured they sounded a little bogus. So I checked online, and while there's plenty of anecdotal evidence, there wasn't any proof in proper clinical trials. The best information came from a New Zealand skeptics page.

You know those sea-sickness bands:

At this point you look at the accompanying photograph and see what looks like a cotton wristband with an inset plastic button the size of an asprin. You look closer and examine the picture in careful detail to see what a Sea Band really is. It turns out to be a cotton wristband with an inset plastic button the size of an asprin.

Ok, they look a little silly, but what about putting them through a serious scientific test:

This may sound pretty innocuous, but in fact it's a fairly severe test. It will bring on the first symptoms of vomiting within 15 to 20 minutes on average. Each subject was tested on the motion challenge on four separate occasions, with at least a week between each. The results? The hycosine had an effect. But Sea Bands? No better than the dummy remedies. In fact, it emerges that the US Naval Aerospace people had tested Sea Bands back in 1982. The results then? No benefit.

Huh, ok, I'll keep looking.

New Zealand Skeptics Online: View Article

Really cool video which addresses the problem of logic and evidence (or lack of each) in faith-based arguments.

YouTube - Putting faith in its place

Bill, you used to be cool.

Thanks to an anti-religion movie (Religulous) and his frequent stance as a "skeptic," many of my fellow skeptics consider him one of our own, even to the point of giving him an award named after Richard Dawkins. Yet, when it comes to medicine, nothing could be further from the truth. Maher's own words show that he has anti-vaccine views, flirts with germ theory denialism and HIV/AIDS denialism, buys into extreme conspiracy theories about big pharma, and promotes animal rights pseudoscience. That's not a skeptic or a supporter of science-based medicine.

Science-Based Medicine » "Oh, come on, Superman!": Bill Maher versus "Western medicine"

  Battleground God

My god can beat up your god. Actually, this is simply a logic test, to see if your deity is logically sound.

Can your beliefs about religion make it across our intellectual battleground?

In this activity you'll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you'll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you'll be forced to bite a bullet.

Battleground God

Yes, but are they listening in on my thoughts?

There's a fundamental problem here: the condition, electrosensitivity, doesn't appear to exist. A variety of studies that we have covered in the past show that people who claim to be electrosensitive are incapable of determining whether there is an active wireless signal in their vicinity. In multiple blinded studies, they did no better than random chance when asked to identify whether equipment that broadcasts on WiFi or cellular frequencies is active.

None of the articles provide a source for the two percent figure, but the scientific studies clearly indicate that, at a minimum, the number of people who claim electrosensitivity is much larger than the number of people who possibly could suffer from it. Based on that alone, it appears that the two percent figure is essentially made up, indicating that none of the newspapers that ran with the story performed even minimal fact checking on it.

There is no WiFi allergy: newspapers misreport PR as science - Ars Technica

  Atheist Top 30

Pretty interesting list of songs. Now all we need is an Atheist anthem.

Like it or not, Christian music is undoubtedly popular. Among my daughter's peer group "Jesus Take the Wheel," by Carrie Underwood, is a very popular song that her friends sing when they get together. During my own adolescence I was an unwilling participant in an evangelical youth group where many discussions took place regarding Christian artists like Amy Grant, Petra, and DC Talk. Given the seemingly timeless popularity and ubiquity of pious music I felt the need to come up with a list of my favorite pro-atheist songs, many of which are delightfully sacrilegious.

Minnesota Atheists - Positive Atheism In Action! - Atheist Top 30

Here's an interesting article debunking ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren.

We sought to evaluate the phenomenon of ghosts (in the generic sense, referring to all manner of spiritual manifestations) and see if there was any evidence to support the hypothesis that the phenomenon exists. On the matter of hauntings, the Warrens were one of the preeminent experts, and they were local, so naturally we decided to look into their work. Also, they claim to have scientific evidence which does indeed prove the existence of ghosts, which sounds like a testable claim that we can sink our investigative teeth into.

What we found was a very nice couple, some genuinely sincere people, but absolutely no compelling evidence, or, more precisely, there was a ton of "evidence," but none of it stands up to rigorous scientific testing, and most of it not even to cursory testing. None of it.

Skepticblog » Hunting the Ghost Hunters

But that should come as no big surprise to most people, especially those of us who abide by the laws of thermodynamics.

The remainder of the 22 person jury chosen by Steorn have unanimously determined there's no such thing as free energy:

In August 2006 the Irish company Steorn published an advertisement in the Economist announcing the development of "a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy". Qualified experts were sought to form a "jury" to validate these claims.

Twenty-two independent scientists and engineers were selected by Steorn to form this jury. It has for the past two years examined evidence presented by the company. The unanimous verdict of the Jury is that Steorn's attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy. The jury is therefore ceasing work.

The jury consists of scientists and engineers in relevant fields from Europe and North America, from industry, universities and government laboratories. Information about individual members can be found at

Chairman, Steorn Jury

A blogger who follows this topic made some interesting points about whether they've been scamming or delusional:

Some have suggested that the jury never existed, that Steorn had made it all up as part of a scam. This idea has been refuted, and with such clumsiness on Steorn's part that it becomes clear that they had little idea of what they were doing when they commissioned this jury. If after three years they could not present convincing evidence for this effect, then in the best case they were irresponsibly premature in announcing their discovery to the world &mdash and in the worst case, there never was a discovery at all, it was just a series of mistaken measurements.

The jury is in: No free energy from Steorn (Steorn's Orbo)

A really good article about how not to fall for MLM scams. While I've never been dragged into one of these, I was subjected to an intense hard sell time-share scam.

Know the warning signs:

- High pressure to make a commitment right away.

- Recruiting new people is way more important that selling the "product".

- Fees from your recruits are more important that selling or marketing anything.

We get to the bar and they're both there with their laptops. Promoter Guy comes over to sit with us, tray of Jager shots in tow while Old Asshole Rocker Who's Shit Smells of Sandalwood stayed at another table. The way PG started talking to us was completely different from when we did shows with us; he apparently had been studying Douchebaglish since the last time we me and was happy to share this new language with us. I instantly knew that I was not going to get a way to "get my music out there" but was puckering my butthole up for a sales pitch. Oh well, at least I'd be getting drunk for free.

He presented us with this general idea: You pay $400 in startup fees and you are given a website created for you. You then sell music from this website for $.99 a download, and you get paid for every song sold. The best part was that we could put our own songs on there and the "Burnlounge Community" would be able to see and buy our songs!

95% Of You Are Morons: Multi Level Marketing is Gibberish for Sack of Magic Beans - Part I of III

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D H McKee's bookshelf: to-read

Sunset and Sawdust
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The Thicket
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