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.

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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?

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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?

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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:

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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…

6.21.2014

Game of Thrones Tinfoil Theories: Shocking Shockers That Will Shock You

*This article refers to the books as well as the television show. Major spoilers are marked in the section headings, but if you’re halfway through the books and you’re still invested in avoiding all spoilers, you might want to come back when you’ve finished the series.

Throughout the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin has described the world of Westeros in such fascinating detail that HBO actually employed a linguist to accurately depict the many distinct tongues glimpsed in the books. Martin’s dexterous attention to detail, as well as the five-year gap between books, has prompted many readers to craft their own obsessive theories, lovingly referred to as “tinfoil hat theories” on message boards.

Man wearing a tin foil hat

Man wearing a tin foil hat.

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6.19.2014

GMO Labeling: Consumer Protection or Fear Mongering?

The use of Genetically Modified Organisms, better known as GMO, is an area of debate among skeptics. GMO is actually a broad term that has a lot of moving parts. Forced labeling for consumer foods containing GMOs in the United States has been a growing issue. In skeptical circles this is a controversial topic. Recently, at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism in New York City, there was a GMO discussion panel involving Dr. Steven Novella, Kevin Folta, and Marty Mesh, representing a fair distribution of experts from both sides of the aisle. The discussion panel debated the idea of labeling GMO products for consumers. The organic lobby suggests it as an answer to the questions about the safety of GMO and wants it to be required. The scientific community claims that such labels are deceptive, unnecessary, and there are already safeguards. The GMO proponents say requiring labels would mislead the public about the content and safety of the product. / read more…

6.14.2014

Use Caution When Reading Anything About Guns

By Vvzvlad (Flickr: Liberator.3d.gun.vv.01) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Vvzvlad (Flickr: Liberator.3d.gun.vv.01) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I had reservations about writing this post. I have considered writing it a few times, only to put it away because it is a difficult subject to tackle in a single post. The subject matter is also highly politicized and very personal. But after some recent news stories and the usual politically slanted postings coming through my news feeds, I decided to tackle a small portion of the gun debate. I am going to make my best attempt at putting this through a skeptical lens, which is my aim in writing this. / read more…

6.12.2014

I Want to Drink a Homeopathic Preparation of HIV-Contaminated Blood

US_Navy_050616-N-7293M-027_Blood_from_a_donor_fills_a_vial_during_a_blood_drive_held_at_the_Naval_Base_Guam_Community_Center“Foolhardy.”

“Reckless ignorance.”

“Darwin Award candidate.”

These are selected phrases from the responses I’ve received during my private inquiries over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been speaking with lab managers, AIDS researchers, and doctors about my plan to make a documentary short film about drawing blood from an HIV-positive patient, properly making a 30C homeopathic dilution of it using safe, legal laboratory procedures, and then drinking it. / read more…