NECSS 2014: Astronauts, Physics and STEM Oh My!

NECSS or the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism recently concluded. I was happily able to attend it this year. This is the first time I have been able to go a skeptical conference of any kind. The conference is quite an experience, admittedly not what I expected. My prior conference experience is mostly with medical conferences. Medical conferences have a predictable pattern, I know in advance what classes I will be attending and what will be taught. Those conferences are not for enjoyment, just focused learning. I almost never participate in the meet and greet social gatherings at medical conferences. For many reasons I was greatly anticipating this conference and its social activities. For the first time I was going to go hang around with a large number of like minded skeptics and have some fun in addition to learning. / read more…


Baffling Black Ring

I don’t know about you, but I love finding the word “baffling” in a headline. It seems that scientists, doctors, or experts are perpetually baffled by some mysterious object, sighting, miracle, cure, or, in this case, a black ring in the sky. Recently, a schoolgirl in Warwickshire, England videotaped a mysterious black ring in the sky. Experts, apparently, are baffled.  / read more…

The luminescent virgin statue of Jalhay

During the month of March, the small town of Jalhay in the Belgian Ardennes was in the national spotlights during the month of March. The reason was a small statue of the Virgin Mary, that suddenly lighted up during the night. The statue itself, as the owner explains in the video below, was bought almost 40 years ago in the nearby pilgrim site Banneux, where the Virgin supposedly appeared in 1933.

The actual owner inherited it 15 years ago, and it was placed in a small shrine in the kitchen. As he explained, one night he went to get some wine glasses in the dark, and the statue was brightly illuminating the kitchen. There were no previous reports of such handy nightly illumination. / read more…

Intelligent Light on Mars

The curiosity rover on Mars continues to delight us with photographs of Mars surface. Recently the rover transmitted a photo to Earth from a section known as the Kimberley, named for a section of Australia. One of the images has an anomaly that looks like a light originating from the surface to some human eyes. Enthusiastic UFO blogger Scott Waring has proposed a theory about the anamoly. He theorizes that this photo is proof of intelligent life living under the surface of mars, and that NASA is systematically hiding it from us. Not really what I got out of the picture.

Is Waring’s theory another example of motivated reasoning or perceptive insight? Lets take a look at it and see what a skeptical lay person’s view may offer. / read more…


Cosmos (2014) Episode 5: Best and Worst


Sorry to leave you in the dark yesterday; I was moving Sunday and wasn’t able to lighten my load sufficiently to watch the latest episode of Cosmos on time. Luckily, the folks at Fox Broadcasting are bright enough to put the episodes online! So I’m back to chase away the darkness and shine some light onto Episode five, revealing the best and worst of this latest outing.

/ read more…


Busting Some Rothschild Family Facebook Memes

If you want to dispense racist, historically ignorant nonsense about wealthy Jews, you can hardly do better than Facebook. Quite a few memes have been going around about the Rothschild family (which, full disclosure, I have absolutely no link to other than having the same last name) and I wanted to take a look at three that caught my eye. / read more…


Essential Oil Claims – The Dangers Keep On Coming

Today I am going to focus specifically on one essential oil blog which came to my attention through a Facebook post about making your own “dry shampoo.” Why did I click on it? Sigh. Well, I did. I ended up at an essential oil seller making not just bogus claims, but downright dangerous claims. Of course, this seller protects herself with the standard FDA fake medicine disclaimer. Let’s look at a few of the more dangerous suggestions on the site. / read more…


My Skeptical Origin Story

When I first encountered the Internet as a teenager, I became quickly fascinated by the notion that “they” were running the world, and leaving signs of their presence. It wasn’t clear who exactly “they” were but the group certainly included:

  • The Freemasons
  • The Illuminati
  • The Trilateral Commission
  • The Bilderberg Group
  • The Rothschilds
  • The Rockefellers
  • The UN
  • Satan

Their goal: Nothing short of a One World Government ruled, at heart, by either Satan or extraterrestrial aliens, or some combination thereof.

/ read more…

Probiotics and Colicky Infants

Probiotics are a heavily marketed supplement. A supplement that has some plausibility for certain types of health conditions. Like most unregulated supplements in the US there has been a cult industry built around it. It’s promotion and use has consistently outstripped the scope of the research. Skeptoid covered probiotics briefly in a student question episode# 377. Where Brian explored probiotics as a treatment for Antibiotic Related Diarrhea.

There are a multitude of probiotic drops marketed as “Clinically Proven” for Colicky infants. This is primarily based on a few preliminary small scale studies. A rigorous study published on April 1st in the BMJ shows no effect. Colicky infants are a nightmare for parents. Colic is difficult to treat and hard to diagnose(so called diagnosis of exclusion). Desperate parents looking for some help face limited medical options. Leaving them ripe targets for purveyors of sham and worthless medical treatments.

Is probiotic therapy for colicky infants helpful or harmful? Could probiotics prevent or cure colic? If it does work are there any dangers? Lets take a close look at the data and to try to give a struggling mommy and daddy some good information to arm themselves with.

/ read more…


Cosmos (2014) Episode 4: Best and Worst


Cosmos finishes up its first month this week with a discussion themed around the speed of light. It’s been a solid first month, and I look forward to the rest of the series; but first, it’s time to pick out the Best and Worst of this most recent foray into science entertainment. So fasten your seatbelts, put your tray tables in the upright position, and take off into …

/ read more…