7.10.2014

The London Hammer: An Object Out of Time?

The London Hammer

The London Hammer. Via Wikimedia.

An old story regarding a hammer found encased within rock has recently resurfaced. It came to us in a question: is this hammer, the London Hammer, an example of an out of place artifact (OOPart) that calls into question geology, archeology, and the natural history of the Earth? Let’s take a look. / read more…

7.7.2014

Bigfoot of the Gaps

I’m sure that you have all heard about the Royal Society paper dismissing alleged bigfoot and yeti DNA evidence as being from common animals, right? If not, NatGeo has a pretty good write-up about it. Or, you could go read the paper in its entirety here. Or, heck, just look at this nifty chart from the study:

bigfoot chart

Serows and tapirs and bears, oh my! But no bigfoots, no yetis, and no almasties among them. For skeptics, of course, this is both not surprising and a small victory for science over pseudoscience. I suspected, however, that this study would do nothing to silence the faithful.

/ read more…

7.6.2014

The Face on Mars has a Peruvian Cousin

Some interesting links came in over the Skeptoid transom the other day, and they provide a good opportunity to apply a little healthy skepticism as well as learn about an interesting corner of the world.

A web article published by the Centro de Investigaciones Atómicas (Atomic Research Center) of Lima, Peru, tells of some remarkably huge images apparently carved into the mountains near Caral, Peru. For those who don’t read Spanish, the gist is that a man named Sixtilio Dalmau was surprised to discover several super-sized images in the hills. This, for example, is dubbed “The Sleeping Warrior,” and measures an impressive 300 meters on a side.

guerrerodormidobig / read more…

Independence Day Trivia

In Skeptoid fashion I thought I would celebrate the 4th of July Holiday in the United States with a quick list of some “facts” surrounding the history of the holiday. Some will be true, some are false, but all are widely recognized.

For Skeptoid readers unfamiliar with the holiday (via Wikipedia):

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now officially known as the United Kingdom). Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

The oldest continuously held 4th of July parade in Bristol, RI. Via wikimedia.

Let’s Begin: / read more…

7.3.2014

“Hot Convict” Jeremy Meeks Was Not Arrested for Sex Slave Trafficking

On June 18, 2014, the Stockton, California Police Department posted a photo of Jeremy Meeks on Facebook. Meeks is a local convict who was arrested on five weapons charges and one gang-related charge. The photograph attracted over 50,000 likes within a day, inspiring the twitter hashtag #FelonCrushFriday along with a slew of “hot convict” memes. Meeks gained a $30,000 modelling contract and a successful online drive to raise bail money.

Meeks’s popularity on social media has inspired a backlash that prolonged Meeks Mania, and one auteur in the art of memes added his own charges to Meeks’s rapsheet: trafficking sex slaves and not being Marine Kyle Carpenter.

[Photos of Jeremy Meeks and Kyle Carpenter] “The first scumbag was arrested in Stockton, CA for armed robbery and parole violations, stemming from a string of gang-related activities, including trafficking sex slaves. Hundreds of women are talking about how sexy he is and if you start typing his name in Google, it’s the first one up. The second man is Kyle Carpenter, a Marine recently awarded the Medal of Honor, for jumping on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow Marines. Percisely (sic) zero women are talking about him. You have to get through half of his last name before he shows up on Google.”

Nice try, Kyle, we knew it was you all along. Photo from EliteDaily.com.

/ read more…

6.30.2014

When Catching Bigfoot on Film, Be Sure to Get His Good Side

It has been a few months since I checked in on the hunt for Bigfoot in the United States. Enduring the entire 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty really turned me off of my usual morbid fascination with the comedy of errors that is Squatching. But I’ve done some looking around on the Internet to see what’s come up recently in Bigfoot sightings. It looks like I didn’t miss much.

Just last week, a video surfaced online claiming to show a Bigfoot in the woods near Sundance, Utah. Let’s watch, shall we?

/ read more…

6.28.2014

Is Big Pharma Ignoring Marijuana?

Neeta Lind via Flickr Creative Commons

Neeta Lind via Flickr Creative Commons

Last year I wrote a post about an argument I had with a family member over the use of marijuana. My position has a few different facets. I feel our government has it wrong on making it illegal. Some reasonable controls, such as doing our best to keep it out of the hands of kids and having information out there about the risks, should be about the limit there. I also feel proponents of use have it wrong. Marijuana is not harmless. Studies continue to point out that using the drug for long periods of time can cause damage in the brain as evidenced by cognitive function and even in physical characteristics. Finally, those who feel marijuana should be allowed as a medicine, making fantastical claims of magic cures with no evidence and not acknowledging the side effects, are also very wrong. Selling the medical benefits in this way is selling snake oil. But are there any benefits? And is research happening?

/ read more…

6.27.2014

Pregnancy, Pesticides, and Autism

News media outlets love a good story. Exciting narratives draw eyeballs and sell publications. Unfortunately, people rely on news media outlets for their health and science information. Experience has shown that news media often either get the information wrong, or place far too much emphasis on isolated research, promoting individual studies as the “new knowledge” about a given subject. This week Internet media sites, and even major news outlets such as Time magazine, ran with headlines like “Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy Linked to Autism,” and “Autism Linked to Popular Backyard Product: Check Your Cabinets.” Compelling headlines, certainly, but are they just another failure in science reporting? / read more…

6.23.2014

Dr. Oz’s Testimony Will Have No Impact On His Success

Skeptics relished a little schadenfreude last week as Dr. Mehmet Oz, the current reigning king of daytime television woo in the United States, was forced to admit under oath that the cures he promotes are less than scientific. A touch of glee is all they can expect, however, because the chances are that nothing Oz said that day will affect how he conducts his media empire going forward

OzOnCSPAN

Capture from the CSPAN broadcast.

 

The comments came during his testimony as a witness during a Commerce Department hearing called “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.” Oz was actually called as a witness against deceptive diet and advertising practices, and painted himself as a victim of unscrupulous fly-by-night marketers. However, Oz himself was grilled by the panel concerning the claims he makes on his show. Among the interesting things Oz said during his testimony were the following:

/ read more…

Employer Bias When Recruiting Women Leads to An Unjust Society

An interesting study popped up in one of my “Skeptoid ideas” feeds. Dr. Stijn Baert from the University of Ghent, Belgium and of the IZA Institute in Bonn, Germany, is applying an interesting research methodology to the field of employer bias when recruiting people. He sends out pairs of identical curriculum vitae, except for one thing (the variable he wants to test). The CVs are obviously from fictitious people and he’s simply measuring how many get called in for an interview. At that point, the recruiters are notified of the ongoing research, and a questionnaire is sent out in order to know a bit more about the recruiter. / read more…