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Aggregating Skeptical Thought

$5 Dollar Fashion Faux Pas?

The new design of the $5 dollar bill has certainly taken a beating over its rather garish design. (here, here and here). While a significant portion of my job is designing software applications (web apps which have a unique challenge) and end-user usability is my primary concern. I have to agree with most “design-conscious” people that the new $5 dollar design is a bit of design trainwreck.

But the more I think about it, the purpose of the $5 (and software for that matter) has much to do with the design of its usability. One of the primary concerns with designing a new $5 is security and apparently distinguishing it from the $100. Some of the recent changes including the wonderfully large and distinct purple 5 is one of those changes that is sure to make it stand out.

Now what does this have to do with skepticism or atheism or science or any of the other things that I normally talk about. Um… I don’t really know I just thought it was fascinating. (Found via kottke.org)

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Filed under: Internet

The Hobbit

I know this isn’t recent news, Flores wrist bones and their impact on Hominin evolution, but I wanted to make a point to say that I have been lurking on kottke.org lately and find it fascinating. It is a very cool site that finds some of what appears to be the most random things on the ‘net that I happen find endlessly fascinating. You will be seeing a number of posts regarding items that I have found on this site.

Filed under: Evolution, , ,

I so sorry…

I have to apologize for woefully neglecting my blog… work has been kicking my butt lately. I’ve been home all of 6 days over the past 3 weeks. I am going to pretend however that everyone is waiting breathlessly for me post something…

 Language Log has a post about press releases and science journalism. Here’s a great quote that couldn’t be more right

The people who write the PR materials have a hard job. They need to take complicated results, full of background assumptions and layers of caveats, and present them in a form that non-specialist journalists will understand, and will find interesting enough to choose from out of the flood of competing alternatives.

Filed under: Science, ,

The Disinformation of Dan Barker

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is a contributor to DisInfo’s anthology, Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion.

Check out a couple of essays about the atheism of Beethoven and Richard Rodgers.

 By the way, I love this image from ffrf.org’s website.

 Technorati Atheism

Filed under: Atheism, , , , ,

I could have sworn it was cellphones…

Recent research indicates that one contributing factor to the mysterious colony-collapse disorder (CCD) of bee populations may be a virus (IAPV and first identified in Israel) spread from Australia.

This is a great article because it details the painstaking process that many researchers are going through in order to identify the cause (or causes) for CCD.

One comment though, one of the experiments involved reestablishing a healthy colony after irradiating a bee hive with gamma rays. Wouldn’t that create Incredible Honey Bee Hulks?

 … oh wait…

I just checked my Comic Book Science Journal and the bees have to be IN the hive and THEN subjected to gamma rays.

My bad.

 Technorati Skeptic

Filed under: Environment, , ,

Terrorists attack with Morgellons… or maybe its aliens

I am going to start by saying I am neither a doctor nor biologist so there may be some other more specific problems with the following article but I ain’t smrt enough to pick up on it.

Apparently the folks at TheParanormalReport.com are reporting, Morgellons – New Disease, or Man-Made Weapon of Terror?, [queue scary music, dum dum dum]. Found via Disinformation. This kind of raises the alert level on my baloney-detector.

Morgellens allegedly is an unrecognized skin disease (like eczema) that contains some kind of mystery fibrous material that won’t “burn until it has been heated to 1700 degrees F”. Accepted medical diagnosis is actually delusional parasitosis a psychological disease in which the inflicted believe that there are bugs crawling under the skin.

This article goes way beyond simply detailing the symptoms of the disease. The author, Jim Swartz of The Conspiracy Journal, not only accepts the existence of the disease (as something real and not psychosomatic) but then postulates that it is actually a man-made bio-weapon that is “configured to receive specific tuned microwave, EMF and ELF signals and radio data.”

Again, I’m no scientist but the author then draws the following conclusion (under the section Morgellons and NanoMachines) that “[the fibers] have no eukaryotic cells, no cell membrane. Meaning that Morgellons is not a parasite, it is not biological, it is a machine.” Um… it’s a machine? That seems like kind of a leap.

The author continues with the obvious conclusion to this madness:

Other nanoconfigurations associated with Morgellons disease carry genetically-altered and spliced DNA or RNA. The nanomachines which precipitate Morgellons thrive in alkaline ph conditions and use the body’s bio-electric energy and other (unidentified) elements for power. There is evidence that certain of the tiny machines possess their own internal batteries as well. The Morgellons nanomachines are configured to receive specific tuned microwave, EMF and ELF signals and radio data.

At this point, why this is happening is anyone’s guess. We do know that Morgellons is commonly found in all body fluids, orifices and often even hair follicles, and are believed to routinely achieve total body systemic penetration.

If these findings are correct, and Morgellons is nanotechnology capable of taking over biological systems, the question remains whether or not these nanomachines were the result of an accident, or a deliberate release with the intention of infecting people for some unknown purpose.

It is almost as if Morgellons is in the process of reconstructing people into an entirely different life form; a cyborg-like creature, both biological and machine. As well, with the reports that the Morgellons nanomachines are capable of receiving radio signals, this could indicate that each infected person/system would be able to communicate with other Morgellon sufferers, creating the potential that each person would be like a single brain-cell of a larger, artificial intelligence.

Are we facing an invasion by machine intelligence, or is this a twisted attempt by some unknown group or government to achieve the ultimate control of humankind? Considering the current world situation, it would not be unreasonable to imagine that someone could stoop to such evil as releasing something such as Morgellons upon an unsuspecting planet. Sometimes the smallest thing can cause the biggest problems. We have to take a deeper look, beyond the affliction itself, before we will find any substantial answers.

Needless to say, or perhaps I do, there are those who disagree.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on it. And here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say.
Here’s a link to a ABC Primetime show that was done on it.
The CDC is apparently going to convene a task force to investigate it.

Filed under: Health, Internet, Skeptic, , ,

Humanism 101

The Continuum of Humanist Education is offering free courses on humanism, very cool. I’d be curious what religious believers would have to say after taking this course.

I found this link via the FriendlyAtheist. He always gets to these before I do, damn you Hemant!!! Ok fine you provide a valuable service and I’m just slow…

… and now I see he’s already posted about Richard Dawkins review of god is not great plus Nicca Lalli’s thoughts on Mother Teresa’s doubt…. sigh… I guess it’s not a contest is it.

Filed under: Atheism, Reviews, , , ,

Dawkins reviews Hitchens

Richard Dawkins reviews Christopher Hitchens’ book god is not great

Filed under: Atheism, Reviews, ,

More Evolution News?

I wish I could read the full article on this, Could Huntington’s mutation make people healthier?, but New Scientist has this one gated. sigh…

 In case you don’t know what Huntington’s disease is (and I didn’t) here’s the wiki

Filed under: Evolution, Health, ,

Evolution News?

I’m not one to be too politically correct but “It’s No Delusion” as the title to an article about the surprising results of research regarding schizophrenia seems a bit insensitive to me. If Scientific American keeps it up they might start making people think they are being laughed at or persecuted…. sorry.

Anyway, the research seems to support a natural selection for schizophrenia, sort of. Or perhaps schizophrenia is perhaps an unfortunate by-product. Here’s a good quote…

One [proposed theory] holds that schizophrenia is a “disorder of language” and that the illness is an unfortunate consequence of the development of human speech, expression and creativity. “Whenever you get strong selection, it’s like a big plus, and you can drag along a lot of minuses,” he says. “You can think of schizophrenics as paying the price of all the cognitive and language skills that humans have—they have too many of the alleles that taken individually…might have positive effect, but together they are bad.”

Filed under: Evolution, Health, ,

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