3.31.2014

Cosmos (2014) Episode 4: Best and Worst

CosmosEp4

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 …

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3.31.2014

What Are 250 Million Americans Infected With?

Even for weird internet ads, this one is especially disgusting. It looks like it was drawn in crayon by a six year old, and shows three equally icky images. One is a “white coated tongue” sticking out, another is a naked guy with rashes all over his body and arrows pointing at him listing all sorts of ailments, and the third is someone sitting on a toilet, apparently suffering from constipation. And the text reads “250m Americans infected” with an arrow that invites you to “learn more.” / read more…

Kids are fans of Bayes Theorem

Last time I gave a small (and humble) introduction to Bayes’ Theorem. I hope it got you all interested in this small little formula, because I think it is an important tool for any skeptic endeavour. And to be honest, it was just meant as an introductory paragraph or two for the scientific study I will discuss today. Guess I got a little carried away …

It’s important to note that we already use Bayes’ Theorem implicitly. / read more…

3.26.2014

International Vaccine Terrorists

The United States suffers from a well funded celebrity supported anti-vaccine terror campaign. This campaign commonly using internet based media to disseminate fear. Most objections to vaccines are pseudo-scientific fabrications, deceptions or magnification of known problems. Anti-vaccine proponents use internet media to disseminate cherry picked evidence, statistical manipulation, and occasionally outright deception. The overriding theme is fear. Purposeful fear for the express purpose of minimizing or dismissing evidence that does not conform to their world view. Fear mongering that is inaccurate, false, or infers hyper-inflated concerns about vaccines. It is a methodological attack to blunt the message that vaccines have clear benefit and few dangers. The most effective methods are emotional narratives and massaged statistics.

I would call anti-vaccine writings and publications a terror campaign. A terror operation that is expressly designed to provoke a fear response. Anyone that attempts to point out the facts is immediately dismissed as a big pharma shill, corporate apologist or government disinformation agent. In the general media there has been a small amount of push back against this disinformation. Still I see regression of vaccination rates in the United States and elsewhere. The US states Kansas and Alaska lead for overall poor vaccination rates but the numbers are stable. California and Washington are states that have lost the most ground (percentage wise).  Other countries have experienced decline in vaccination rates as well. Countries that suffered outbreaks like Australia and Great Britain. I thought Canada seemed to be exempt until I came across data showing a measles outbreak in Canada.

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3.25.2014

A Smashing Ghost Video?

A New Hampshire business recently posted a video showing a supposed ghost breaking the lid to a glass cake display to their Facebook page. Various news outlets have picked up the story and ran with it. Let’s take a look at the video and see if we finally have proof of the paranormal. / read more…

3.25.2014

Cosmos (2014) Espisode 3: Best and Worst

cosmos-when-knowledge-conqu

It’s time to evaluate the newest episode of Cosmos! Sorry I’m a day behind on this; I had a long weekend of work-related stuff draining my time and didn’t even get a chance to watch live. Luckily, I have TiVo to keep me on track. So let’s take a look at Episode 3.

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3.24.2014

Did President Obama Really Purge the Military?

Let me take you back to the heady days of October, 2013. St. Louis was playing Boston in the World Series. The US had yet to be inundated with the endless winter of the Polar Vortex. And a list was making its way around conspiracy theory and ultra-conservative websites: a list of generals and admirals President Obama had “fired” as part of a massive purge of the military. / read more…

3.23.2014

There Will Be No Funeral for Fred Phelps

Westboro Baptist Church founder, Fred Phelps, died from natural causes late Wednesday night while in hospice care in Topeka, Kansas. Most Americans know Phelps as the mastermind behind Westboro Baptist’s outrageous, bigoted protests of military funerals. Contrary to many misconstrued reports from satirical news sites, there will be no funeral for Phelps’ detractors to picket. Westboro Baptist Church members regard funereal practices as “worshiping the dead.”

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3.22.2014

An Update To The Burning Diapers

A few months ago, I wrote about a post going around Facebook regarding chemical burns claimed to be due to the chemicals in diapers. Since that post, I have performed several more informal experiments and have also asked a few experts in the medical field what their opinion is on the topic. Here’s what I found out. / read more…

3.19.2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and Payne Stewart

The author's speculated crash site in yellow.

The author’s speculated crash site in yellow.

Please take this post for no more than what it is: reasonably well-informed speculation. It’s not a prediction nor a claim.

At the time of this writing, the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 remains a mystery. It’s been gone for 11 days, and all that’s known is that it made a radio communication, mysteriously turned west, and 7 hours later an automated system made a handshake communication with a satellite which could have come from any point along two arcs on the Earth’s surface a certain radius from the satellite. Most news reports are saying it’s  being treated as a deliberate action.

I read a lot of aviation news and am an aviation enthusiast (and amateur aerodynamicist), but definitely not a pilot. I’ve had enough friends and family who were pilots to teach me it’s too deep of a rabbit hole for me, but in return I’ve gotten my fill of stick time. I’ve found so far that aviation web sites have had substantially better reporting of MH370 than mainstream news sites, some of which still don’t understand the basic technologies involved; specifically, the various aircraft communications systems, how each works, and what type of information each carries. / read more…