News From Around The Blogosphere 8.21.11

August 22, 2011

1. Bionic leg gives amputee natural gait – Once again, science achieves where gods have failed, creating a practical prosthetic leg that closely simulates the function of a biological one. Now unfortunately, the article was unclear whether the leg comes with a Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman sound effect option.

2. A pro-science GOP candidate? – Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman has come out in support of both evolution and climate change. It began with a Twitter post where they tweeted: ”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming.  Call me crazy.”  He then went on ABC’s Sunday morning show This Week and came out even stronger in support of science. And in doing so, he’s proven to be the only GOP candidate who seems to have graduated from elementary school and has immediately moved up to the top of my list of who I’d like to see running in the general election against Obama…at least out of the options that are currently on the table…which admittedly doesn’t say much.

I'm pretty sure this is the right Rhett S. Daniels

3. Science blogger silenced by quack’s lawsuit – Fortunately, U.S. libel cases are notoriously hard to prove and Rhett Daniels doesn’t seem to have anything even resembling a good case. But at least for the time being, René Najera has been successfully silenced by this intellectual coward’s bullying tactic.

4. Can science engineer a human with bulletproof skin?

By mixing the genomes of spiders and humans, researchers say they can create genetically altered human skin that could withstand a bullet fired from a .22-caliber long rifle.

They just better make sure this spider-man is taught that with great power comes great responsibility. This story sounds pretty far-fetched but it still makes for an interesting read.

5. JREF targets famous ‘psychics’ following Nightline episode – Last week’s episode of Nightline looked at the world of alleged psychics. It did a pretty decent job of representing the skeptical side, featuring guys like Banachek and James Randi himself voicing their criticisms and mimicking standard mentalist tricks. And now the James Randi Educational Foundation is following up the piece by issuing personal invites for several of the famous psychics featured in the show such as James Van Praagh to apply for their Million Dollar Challenge. Of course, one doesn’t have to be psychic to predict they’ll either ignore the challenge or refuse to take it with a silly excuse.

6. Psychic family caught in fraud case:

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Scientology vs. Twitter

July 20, 2010

John Dixon, a councillor in Wales, is facing a disciplinary hearing after $cientology bitched about a tweet Dixon made. The tweat read:

“I didn’t know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off.”

Then after Dixon learned $cientology began monitoring his Twitter account, he tweeted:

“Just realised the Scientologists are following me. Quick everyone, pretend you’re out.”

So now the cult is trying to get him fired.

Fortunately, a comedian has come to the rescue. Mark Thomas made a tweet of his own:

Anything that upsets scientology and therefore Tom Cruise is a good thing. #stupidscientology

It seems that once again, we’re seeing the Streisand effect, as Twitter users everywhere are expressing their dislike for $cientology using the hashtag #stupidscientology.

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Lady Gaga vs. the Westboro Baptist Church

July 19, 2010
Lady GaGa concert
Image via Wikipedia

This isn’t the first time that the Westboro Baptist Church protested Lady Gaga but during their most recent picket outside one of her concerts with signs reading, “God Hates Lady Gaga,” the musician launched her own preemptive attack. Hearing about the intended protest in advance,  she posted a response on her website:

“At the risk of drawing attention to a hateful organization, I would like to make my little monster fans aware of a protest being held outside the Monsterball in St. Louis tonight,” Gaga wrote. “Although we have had protesters before, as well as fundamentalists at the show, this group of protesters are hate criminals and preach using lewd and violent language and imagery that I wish I could protect you all from.”

Calling the WBC “violent and dangerous” she warned fans not to engage them in conversation.
Ironically, “god” demonstrated his love for Lady Gaga by creating bad weather, which led to a poor turn out at the protest despite the WBCer’s claims that they believe they have immortal souls and don’t subscribe to scientific materialism.

Lady Gaga’s triumphant post-concert tweet read:

“Love and hate met in St. Louis. And love outnumbered the hate, in poetic thousands. Hate left. But love stayed. + Together, we sang.”

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Dr Rachael Dunlop defeats quacks in Shorty Award

March 4, 2010

Dr Rachael Dunlop, or Dr. Rachie, is one of the hosts of the Skeptic Zone podcast. I had the pleasure of meeting her once back in September at a meeting of The Jolly Thirteen, where she interviewed me for the podcast (episode #51).

Now last month, I wrote about these Shorty Awards, a silly new award voted on by Twitter users because Dr. Rachie was nominated for their health education category and was competing with not one but two total quacks, Joseph Mercola and Mike Adams. Adams was quickly disqualified because his cult members cheated in large numbers by ballet stuffing so he could win this irrelevant award. Then either he or Mercola (they’re pretty indistinguishable) threw a public temper tantrum by calling Dr. Rachie fat. Oo, I haven’t heard an insult that good since nursery school.

Anyway now it’s over and in what’s becoming a growing theme these days, the skeptic ended up on top.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 2.15.10

February 16, 2010

1. Ken Ham doesn’t understand why real museums don’t get mocked for featuring saddled dinosaur rides for kids – PZ Myers sums out quite concisely how Ham just doesn’t get it:

Yes, other places will display dinosaurs as fun exhibits for the kids, and I have no problem with that. The natural history museum at the University of Utah had a talking dinosaur out front — throw a coin in its mouth, and it would roar and thank you for your donation, and my kids were always pestering me for my spare change. That’s fine; they knew it was for fun, and when you went upstairs, you saw serious displays of real fossils with accurate ages and relationships posted by them, and no one argued that they could talk, or that people coexisted with them, or that they could be saddled and ridden.

2. Jim Carrey blocks Orac on Twitter – It’s truly sad that Jenny McCarthy took a talented guy like Jim Carrey, who only sometimes pretended to talk out of his ass and turned him into a guy who really talks out of his ass. Last week I responded to Jim and Jenny’s insipid and delusional letter defending the indefensible Andrew Wakefield. And Orac had responded on his blog too. He also decided to send his reply to Carrey directly via Twitter a whole bunch of times. Carrey’s reply initially was to throw a few insults back at Orac:

@oracknows BS

@oracknows have a smoke. science says it’s healthy. ;^)

science bloggers and media snow jobbers, if selling your soul to big pharma has you depressed, try Abilify + “Show Me The Monkeys!” RT ;^)

Then eventually, Carrey decided to block Orac. Orac has since declared it “a badge of honor.” And just for fun, I also tweeted Carrey.

3. Facilitated Communication debunked againI’d blogged about the Rom Houben case before and how this coma patient was being repulsively used by either a scammer or self-deluded individual. Now the truth comes out once and for all. And guess what? No real Facilitated Communication took place. Shocker:

Laureys has now carried out those tests, and his results hold that it wasn’t Houben doing the writing after all. The tests determined that he doesn’t have enough strength and muscle control in his right arm to operate the keyboard. In her effort to help the patient express himself, it would seem that the speech therapist had unwittingly assumed control. This kind of self-deception happens all the time when this method — known as “facilitated communication” — is used. (As a result, the things that Houben was attributed as saying to SPIEGEL for an article printed in November 2009 were also not authentic.)

In the more recent test, Houben was shown or told a series of 15 objects and words, without a speech therapist being present. Afterward, he was supposed to type the correct word — but he didn’t succeed a single time.

Too bad they didn’t conduct this same exact test when us skeptical bloggers explained it to them months ago.

As I wrote on December 2:

And it’s not like this hypothesis would be hard to test. We could blindfold the facilitator or show the motionless body of Houben one image and the facilitator another image without either seeing the other’s image to find out which image is identified. If the image shown only to Houben is identified, congratulations, facilitated communication works. But if, as I suspect, the image seen only by the facilitator is identified, congratulations, facilitated communication is a fraud.

And skeptical bloggers far more popular than me said the same thing.

4. Barbie becomes a computer engineer! – This is further proof of the enormous power wielded by internet nerds!

5. New study shows atheists are ‘just as ethical as church-goers

Dr Hauser added: “The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.

Ya think?

Natural disasters blamed on porn?

November 29, 2009

Okay, porn isn’t directly mentioned in the article but it’s safe to say that the “immorality” being blamed for Indonesia’s problems probably includes porn in addition to just about everything else that’s associated with either pleasure or modernity.

The Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information (yes, that’s actually his title) Tifatul Sembiring knows what’s responsible for all of Indonesia’s recent natural disasters. It’s gotta be all that “immorality.”

Apparently, Sembiring comes from the Bronze Age school of thought that says that bad fortune is caused by angry gods who are punishing us for our immoral behavior:

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said that there were many television programmes that destroyed morals.

Therefore, the minister said, natural disasters would continue to occur.

His comments came as he addressed a prayer meeting on Friday in Padang, Sumatra, which was hit by a powerful earthquake in late September.

Well maybe that’s your problem, Minister. Maybe you’re praying to the wrong gods. Or maybe you’re praying to the right gods but they’re either modest or simply don’t want to be disturbed with every chicken-shit problem you come across, and so don’t want you to pray to them. Or maybe this is punishment for wearing pants. Ever think of that? Notice how there are no natural disasters happening when you’re not wearing pants. Coincidence?

My favorite part of the BBC news piece is this little gem:

According to the Jakarta Globe, his comments sparked an angry reaction on the internet, particularly among those who followed him on social networking site Twitter.

This guy fears the wrath of ancient, angry boogymen but he’s got Twitter? Well I think we’ve found the culprit right there. No primitive deity can be okay with Twitter.

News From Around The Blogosphere 10.20.09

October 21, 2009

1. Christians inadvertently help popularize atheism on Twitter – The #1 hot topic on Twitter today was “No God”. The reason was because lots of Christians re-tweeted the expression, “Know God…Know Peace. No God…No Peace.” Then some atheists tweeted just “no god.” Then to counter this problem, a bunch of Christians who don’t understand how this who process works came up with the ill-conceived plan to re-tweet the same stupid slogan again many times, frantically. But of course it just had the same effect as trying to fight one’s way out of quicksand, especially as atheists decided to do the same thing they did before, which is just re-tweet “no god.” LOL. I think we can call this spike in atheist popularity on Twitter the result of an unholy alliance between theists and atheists alike.

2. SuperFreakonomics authors are super-freaks – It turns out that Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner latest follow-up to Freakonomics is full of Global Warming denialism. Fortunately, Eric Pooley at has taken the time to refute their nonsense.

thank-god-im-an-atheist3. Manufactured atheist schism – I know I’m way late in talking about this but as has been pointed out by just about every atheist blogger already, Barbara Bradley Hagerty‘s article on the alleged schism among the atheist community is more than mildly exaggerated. While there are some big disagreements among us over how aggressive we should be promoting atheism or whether we should be promoting it at all, we’re more than capable of working together. And as the Friendly Atheist points out in the link above, on virtually every point Hagerty gets it wrong. And contrary to the impression created by Hagerty, this community has never been stronger.

4. Scientists alter fruit fly sexuality – While lately I’ve been a bit disappointed with Amateur Scientist’s blog (three particular articles in the last few weeks, where I strongly disagreed with him), more often than not it’s still a superb blog and he’s the only one I’ve seen cover this interesting story:

The flies were altered so that they could no longer produce the cuticular hydrocarbon pheromone, and the boners came pouring in. Flies without the pheromone attracted horny followers from both sexes, regardless of sexual orientation history. And some of them even tweaked the nipples of other species.

5. Chicago Coalition of Reason puts up a billboard – It’s very similar to the slogan being used in the BigAppleCoR’s NYC subway ads that have been plugged on every single local news source around:  “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

The first scientific experiment using Twitter is complete

June 10, 2009

Last week, social psychologist and all around awesome guy Richard Wiseman conducted an experiment on Twitter designed to test remote viewing, the alleged psychic ability to “see” distant locations. And the findings?

When I analysed believers and sceptics separately, the results were the same, with no difference between the groups. So the study didn’t support the existence of remote viewing, and suggested that those who believe in the paranormal are good at finding illusory correspondences between their thoughts and a target .