News From Around The Blogosphere 5.4.11

May 4, 2011

1. Mark Geier is stripped of his medical license – For those who don’t know, Mark Geier and his son David have been “treating” autistic children with chemical castration for several years now. As far as I’m concerned, that puts them pretty much write behind Osama bin Laden on the list of worst human beings alive. Oh, that’s right. Osama’s dead. That might possibly bump father and son Geier up to worst people on Earth. So I’m delighted to hear that the Maryland medical board decided to strip Mark Geier of his medical license. You can see the official 48-page decision in .pdf format here. Also, Orac chimes in on the news here.

2. Robots learn to share -This article is deceptively more about the evolution of altruism than robots, but still pretty interesting and worth the read:

Using simple robots to simulate genetic evolution over hundreds of generations, Swiss scientists provide quantitative proof of kin selection and shed light on one of the most enduring puzzles in biology: Why do most social animals, including humans, go out of their way to help each other? In the online, open access journal PLoS Biology, EPFL robotics professor Dario Floreano teams up with University of Lausanne biologist Laurent Keller to weigh in on the oft-debated question of the evolution of altruism genes.

3. Acupuncture needle found in former South Korean president’s lung

Former South Korean president Roh Tae-woo was admitted to hospital with a bad cough and ended up on the operating table to remove an acupuncture needle from his right lung.

So let’s look at the cost/benefit ratio. Acupuncture has no benefit, and it can possibly kill you.

“I can’t figure out how the needle got into there,” Dr Sung Myung-whun was quoted as telling reporters at the hospital after the operation. “It is a mystery for me, too.”

Call me crazy, but I suspect the needle “got into there” while you were callously jabbing them into the man’s body. Just a thought. How appropriate that “woo” is in the ex-president’s name. I think comedian Dmitri Martin had the best response to acupuncture.

4. The illusion of being watched can make you a better person – We’re already well past the final nail in the coffin of the Christian view of morality, but here’s just another interesting incite into human behavior. Not only do we tend to act more morally when being watched, but we even do so when we see posters of staring eyes.

5. Facebook finally answers age-old question of who’d win in a fight: Jesus or Batman?

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Google promotes the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign during ‘Glee’

May 3, 2011

Skeptics & YouTube atheist superstars unite to help Doctors Without Borders

September 17, 2010
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

This weekend, the YouTube atheist community is once again organizing a 24-hour BlogTV event to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aka Doctors Without Borders. For those unfamiliar with it, MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

James Randi, PZ Myers, and Matt Dillahunty will all be participating, as will the Marc Dubois, head of the MSF UK and the following awesome YouTubers:  dprjones, Zomgitscriss, NonStampCollector, ZJemptv, ThePeach, AronRa, Thunderf00t, FactVsReligion, DonExodus2, cOctOpusPrime, Darkmatter2525, LaciGreen, and healthyaddict, COncOrdance, among others.

Please check it out and help Médecins Sans Frontières in the name of reason and freethought.

The Show:
The show will start at 4pm (BST) on Saturday 18 September.
It will be shown here;
http://www.blogtv.com/People/dprjones
To see what time that is where you are go to;
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock…

The Charity:
If you want any information about the charity please contact me or watch my previous videos or go to one of the websites, some are which are;
MSF(UK)
http://www.msf.org.uk/
MSF(US) (Doctors without Borders)
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
MSF(Australia)
http://www.msf.org.au/
MSF(Canada)
http://www.msf.ca/

The MSF(UK) youtube channel is here;
http://www.youtube.com/user/msfuk

How to donate:
On MSF’s recommendation I have set up donation pages at the following sites;
Justgiving;
http://www.justgiving.com/dprjones24h…
THIS SITE ACCEPTS DONATIONS THROUGH PAYPAL
Firstgiving;
http://www.firstgiving.com/dprjones

Both these sites provide an effective, safe and secure method of making donations. You will not get junk e-mails not will your details be distributed.
The pages are open now if you want to donate. They will also remain open for a further 2 months after the show.

The schedule of the hosts and co-hosts:
This video contains the best information that I can give at the moment. There are likely to be some minor changes before the event. I’ll be posting an update video nearer the time with a full schedule.
For the avoidance of doubt, Michael Shermer will not be on the show, but was kind enough to provide the clip used at the beginning of this video.

The e-bay auction:
If you have any items that you wish to donate then please contact;
http://www.youtube.com/user/Proportio…

The MSF’s got Talent competition is open until 12th September. Please watch the video below for details on how to enter. NOTE, mirroring of the video is no longer a necessary requirement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6PKQz…

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Gunn High School students fight back against Westboro Baptist Church

April 3, 2010

Gone are the days when individuals would just sit back and let the Westboro Baptist Church perform their little protests without using those opportunities for creative expression to their optimal potential. The other day I reported about another group of activists who have turned the WBC’s hatemongering into a charity event.

And now here’s the students of Palo Alto’s’ Gunn High School, who saw the WBC’s protest as an opportunity to come together in unity to send a powerful message of tolerance. Great job, guys!


Support Haiti

January 14, 2010

By now I’m sure everyone knows about the disasterous earthquake that is still causing many casualties. And I’m sure some of you would like to know how you can help.

Well the folks at The Intersection have been good enough to provide a great list of links to organizations who are helping in the aftermath that need your support:

American Red Cross International Response Fund
AmeriCares Help For Haiti
Direct Relief International
Doctors without Borders
HaitiArise
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Mercy Corps
Oxfam
UNICEF
Yele Haiti

I know times are tough and we’re all suffering from our own economic disaster, but anything you can donate to these organizations in this time of crisis in Haiti will help make a real difference. . .

. . .unlike Pat Robertson’s response to this disaster. According to Robertson, this is a “blessing in disguise” and blames the quake on a Haiti’s deal with the devil:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.13.09

November 14, 2009

1. Another atheist ad is vandalized – This time it was in Boston. The Boston Coalition of Reason ad read:  “Good without God? 40 Million Americans are.” Sadly, the faith of some Christians is so fragile that even that posed a serious threat to them.

2. Can a plant be altruistic?

Although plants have the ability to sense and respond to other plants, their ability to recognize kin and act altruistically has been the subject of few studies. The authors explored kin recognition in Impatiens pallida (yellow jewelweed). By moving their resources into leaves, these plants not only positively affected their own growth, but also negatively affected their competitors’ growth. This is the first instance where researchers demonstrated that a plant’s response to an aboveground cue is dependent upon the presence of a belowground cue.

3. If you get vaccinated, unicorns will impale you – Okay, this is a satire. But is there really anyone who thinks the claim is beneath Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue?

 


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.14.09

October 15, 2009

1. Actimel yogurt commercial banned – The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK banned the commercial for false advertising. They claimed the product supported children’s natural defenses against disease. . .which it doesn’t!

2. Monkeys recognize realistic vs. unrealistic depictions of themselves

Monkeys are freaked out by almost-but-not-quite-real depictions of themselves. That tendency is well documented in humans, but has never before been seen in another species.

To test their preference, researchers showed macaque monkeys real pictures, digital caricatures and realistic reconstructions of other monkey faces. To the latter, the macaques repeatedly averted their eyes.

3. Chimpanzees Help On Request But Not Voluntarily –

The evolution of altruism has long puzzled researchers and has mainly been explained previously from ultimate perspectives—”I will help you now because I expect there to be some long-term benefit to me”. However, a new study by researchers at the Primate Research Institute (PRI) and the Wildlife Research Center (WRC) of Kyoto University shows that chimpanzees altruistically help conspecifics, even in the absence of direct personal gain or immediate reciprocation, although the chimpanzees were much more likely to help each other upon request than voluntarily.

4. Simon Singh updates us on his legal battle with the British Chiropractic Association: