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Aggregating Skeptical Thought

Explosions + Kids = Science!

I just finished doing 3 experiments from the book, How to fossilize your hamster. All of the experiments we did are from the book. We made a bomb with baking soda and vinegar, by the way, use a small ziplock bag, the large ones are too big. We did the Diet Coke and Mentos experiments. We also made slime from corn starch and water.

These were very easy to do and very fun as well. The book is worth the read even if you don’t do any of the experiments in the book. The author, Mick O’Hare from the New Scientist magazine, does an excellent job of laying out the experiment and the science behind what you are seeing. The book is sprinkled with just the right amount of humor to keep you chuckling to yourself.

 

Filed under: Reviews, , , ,

Sexpelled!

Ha! Richard Dawkins just put out an awesom parody of Expelled called Sexpelled.

Also, SciAm has a very brief but perfect article on the Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know.

My favorite is Expelled quotes Charles Darwin selectively to connect his ideas to eugenics and the Holocaust. Read the article because you have no idea how badly they selectively quoted Darwin, to the point of actually making Darwin say the exact opposite of what he wrote. If Darwin were alive today I would think he would have a basis for a lawsuit.

Filed under: Science, , , , ,

Pope thinks pedophilia is wrong… at last.

I would like to first congratulate the pope on finally acknowledging in the strongest language possible that the sex abuse by catholic priests was wrong and that it is completely incompatible with catholicism. Sad that it even has to be said but important that he said.

“I am deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future,”…

“We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry,” Benedict said, speaking in English. “It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heal this wound.”

Pedophilia is “absolutely incompatible” with the priesthood,” Benedict said.

About freakin’ time. It only took you 7 years after publicly being embarrassed about it. Of course, like any closed group they won’t say what they are doing to stop it, what they are doing to existing priests (read the Philadelphia Grand Jury report if you can stomach it) but a strong condemnation is important. The only complaint (well…) I have is the following comment,

“It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church [in] general and for me personally that this could happen,” Benedict said. “It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children.”

Poor pope and his suffering [please read with as much derision and condescension as possible). Try being a 12 year old boy forced to wear a diaper and chained in a priests bedroom. You Douche Bag!!!

Filed under: Science, , ,

Onion AV Club interviews Mythbusters

Cool little interview of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from the AV club.

And hence the reason I love Mythbusters.

AVC: You guys don’t have any formal scientific training, but you generally seem to follow scientific methods and procedures when you’re testing myths. To what degree are you attempting to scientifically prove something, vs. just indulging your own curiosity?

JH: If it turns out that we’re doing proper science from time to time, it just happens to be that that’s the most efficient way of doing it. We go into each of these stories with an open mind, and one of the great things about how the show works is that we’re not approaching it from a doctoral point of view, we’re just trying to see what happens. And we have relatively little time and a whole lot of curiosity, so the most efficient way to get there is what we do, and that often happens to be some form of science. We may not have a sample size larger than one, or we may not have unlimited resources—it’s a TV show, and we generally turn these things around in about a week or so. That being said, the fact that we don’t have formal training, that makes what we’re experiencing a little bit more accessible to the viewers. If we actually knew what we were doing ahead of time, it would just be like talking at you, instead of experiencing the situation with you.

AS: We don’t necessarily stand by our faults every time, but we will always stand by our methodologies and ethos. And the methodology is much more important to us. Given the restrictions of television, we understand why our results might not be unassailable, but whenever, for instance, on the Discovery Channel online message boards, people pipe in and say we’re idiots and we don’t know what we’re doing and we got something totally wrong, interestingly, the people who jump most vigorously to our defense are working scientists. These are people from everywhere, from Lawrence Livermore and JPL and Sandia National Labs, the FBI, all over the place, real scientists who see what we’re doing, and they consistently thank us. “I agree your results aren’t always right,” they’ll say, “but your methods are clearly showing that science is a re-creative process, and it’s an interesting process because it’s messy, and no other shows show that.”

Filed under: Science, Skeptic, , , ,

Breaking News: Science is Hard

I know this is old news but man it’s funny, http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38575

Money quote,

“We now believe that the [Law of Difficulty] theorem is 99.999% likely to be true, after applying these incredibly complex statistical techniques that gave me a splitting headache,” Farian said. “A theorem is like a theory, but, I don’t know, it’s different.”

Filed under: Internet, ,

What would an atheist nation look like?

Here’s an interesting YouTube video with some statistics regarding atheism. It’s an interesting video however there are not enough citations of where these statistics came from. There is one statistics that 16% of Americans are atheists and references a Pew study, hmmm…. that number I believe a) significantly diverges from the 4%-5% that I believe is generally agreed upon (and I discussed on my personal blog), and b) that number seems to neatly correlate with this Pew study’s categorization of the number of U.S. citizens that are “Unaffiliated” with any particular religion, not necessarily that they are atheist/agnostic. Ah well, you know what they say about statistics…

via FriendlyAtheist

Filed under: Science, , , ,

Quirkology, A Review

I just finished reading Richard Wiseman’s book Quirkology. Richard Wiseman is an experimental psychologist who conducts research into areas that you wouldn’t normally think psychologists necessarily spend their time. Among the many topics that the author covers in the book are

  • What is the world’s funniest joke.
  • In what month are the luckiest people born.
  • How can you tell a fake smile from a real smile.
  • What simple little tricks can waiters/waitresses do to increase their tips.
  • Why the letter K really is the funniest letter.
  • How do ultra-low frequencies contribute to religious experience (my personal favorite)

 One of the quick little experiments was to have you trace the letter Q on your forehead. Depending on which way you “crossed” the Q indicated whether you were a good or bad liar. Now I know this experiment shows an interesting correlation but it’s not 100%. I happen to be an excellent liar however my Q indicated that I was not.

I have read a number of other reviews online and perhaps the biggest criticism is that the book is a bit shallow. Many of the topics in the book never go into any real depth but that’s OK with me. Personally I’ve taken psychology classes, snooze-o-rama. I don’t think I would have nearly enjoyed the book so much if it had gone into detail.

I highly recommend the book and you can even get a little taste of the kinds of research being performed and even join in the research right now if you go to Quirkology.com.

Filed under: Reviews, Skeptic,

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