News From Around The Blogosphere 12.27.08

December 27, 2008

And here are 7 (Stupid) People Who Sued the Scientific Method – Some that make the list involve suing to stop the Large Hadron Collider from destroying the world, suing to officialy change Pi to 3.2, a homeopath suing nobel prize winning scientists, a voting machine company suing computer scientists to try to stop them from evaluating the machine, infamous vitamin salesman and professional murderer Matthias Rath suing journalist Ben Goldacre for attacking Rath’s ads claiming his vitamins cure AIDS, and suing about polar bears being endangered. I’m not going to reveal the number 1. And PhilPlait adds 1 more, the current Simon Singh case.

SkepticDad over at Science-Based Parenting discusses the recent This American Life – This is the one I blogged about the other day (maybe yesterday?) that discusses the kid that died because they weren’t vaccinated.

Obama doesn’t attend church; this is headline news? – Not only did this not have much to do with the actual article it went with but why am I supposed to care how Obama spends his personal holiday? Okay, correction. I care and I’m very happy he didn’t go to church. But this sets a dangerous precedent that he will be held to a strong religious test all through his presidency when our focus should be on his policies.

Upcoming film about the most dangerous woman in the world – Her death arguably began The Dark Ages. Her murderer is now a saint and considered one of the greatest theologeans in church history. Now Alejandro Amenbarábar is going to tell her story in a film starring Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella.


Buy “Remembering Hypatia”

Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, ask that you read her story here.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyHumans, Chimps Register Faces In Similar Way – “Chimpanzees recognize their pals by using some of the same brain regions that switch on when humans register a familiar face, according to a report published online on December 18th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The study—the first to examine brain activity in chimpanzees after they attempt to match fellow chimps’ faces—offers new insight into the origin of face recognition in humans, the researchers said.”

Real-time Gene Monitoring Developed – “Imagine having GeneVision: the uncanny ability to view the activity of any chosen gene in real time through a specially modified camera.

With GeneVision, military commanders could compare gene expression in victorious and defeated troops. Retailers could track genes related to craving as shoppers moved about a store. “The Bachelor” would enjoy yet one more secret advantage over his love-struck dates.

Frightening? Perhaps. Ethically suspect? Certainly. Preposterous? Not quite.” Kinda Gattaca-like.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 10.24.08

October 25, 2008

Skeptologist Dr. Kirsten Stanford asks you to vote for science.

And Princeton’s How-To Guide to hacking E-Voting Machines.

51 “facts” about Homeopathy – Feel free to play Name That Logical Fallacy at home.

More deceptive marketing of the Expelled DVD – Though 1 of the 2 least deceptive claims, that it was the #1 documentary of 2008, this is deceptive only in that most of the tickets were bought in bulk by churches and other religious organizations simply to artificially inflate the ticket sales and exploit their religious authority over parishioners to organize group gatherings around showings of the film. Though to be fair, the non-religious community struck back with at least using this tactic of organizing group gatherings around seeing Religious (I myself saw the film with New York Skeptics). Only we did it better, which is why the other reason why this claim as the #1 documentary of 2008 is wrong on a technicality. In just the past week, Religious has taken Expelled‘s spot as the true #1 documentary of 2008.

Oh, and the other 1 of the 2 least deceptive claims appears on the box:

“I Love This Film!” – Ben Stein

While I’m sure that’s true, one could argue that Ben Stein, the on-screen host of the film, may not be the most objective source when looking for a review of the film. Though I’m eager to see what Bill Maher thought of the film Religulous.

Other amusing news about Expelled comes from the comments section on a recent creationist blog: that apparently Yoko Ono managed to have at least some success with getting Imagine removed from what seems to be at least Region 1 DVDs of the film, that the true believers have sunk so low that they’re now beginning to insist that those who have debunked the film have actually somehow helped the “success” of the film (Keep telling yourselves that), and that apparently the makers of the film have been forced to accept the film as just a financial lost and have simply given Netflix users the option to watch the film (presumably) for free as “Instant Viewing” as a means of just trying to get the message out. Since I don’t have a Netflix account, I cannot confirm this though.

And here is another example of that silly gambit of critical denial by insisting criticism further promotes the thing you criticize (although some studies have shown this to be true in some cases).

Are you saving yourself for marriage? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? – Because if you are, you can enter the “Marriage for a Lifetime” contest and maybe win $10,000. And the best part is that so far, no one has applied. It’s so bad that the organizer was forced to bend the rules a bit:

“Someone asked me, ‘Is anyone going to respond?’ ” said contest organizer Phillippia Faust, director of an abstinence education program for Rockdale, DeKalb and Newton counties. “In our society, it is going to be hard to find [a couple who has not had premarital sex]. … But the standard is the standard.”

Yet in a recent interview, Faust seemed inclined to relax the rules, saying couples engaging in sex can still qualify but they must acknowledge, “The right choice is probably not to have had done it.”

She will, however, draw the line at couples living together.

Phew! That’s a relief!

Is that Ganesh or is that flower just planning on reincarnating me?

SPOOKY!

Yesterday, I posted the video about the computer-activated Quija Board. And in continuing in the spooky and vaguely Halloween-themed items, here’s a great blog discussing ghosts.

And here is how everything you need to know to conduct a seance:

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Female Plant ‘Communicates’ Mating Preference – “Without eyes or ears, plants must rely on the interaction of molecules to determine appropriate mating partners and avoid inbreeding. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers have identified pollen proteins that may contribute to the signaling processes that determine if a plant accepts or rejects individual pollen grains for reproduction.”

Tiny Juvenile Dinosaur Fossil Identified – “One of the smallest dinosaur skulls ever discovered has been identified and described by a team of scientists from London, Cambridge and Chicago. The skull would have been only 45 millimeters (less than two inches) in length. It belonged to a very young Heterodontosaurus, an early dinosaur. This juvenile weighed about 200 grams, less than two sticks of butter.” And in case you’re a Young Earth Creationist who believes the Earth is 6000 years old, this dinosaur fossil is about 190 million years old.

Happy Birthday Eugenie Scott! – She also just won an award.