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Blowing soap in your eyes

And now for my magic marketing trick! (I mean, illusion.) By simply conflating surfactants and their main use, soap, I will now proceed to warn you that soap is in absolutely everything, and we should all freak the hell out, NOW. -- Through a handy demonstration Michelle Wong explains why the danger of chemicals is often inflated for The Toast's Gal Science column.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 28, 2014 - 90 comments

The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements

Nutrition experts contend that all we need is what's typically found in a routine diet. Industry representatives, backed by a fascinating history, argue that foods don't contain enough, and we need supplements. Fortunately, many excellent studies have now resolved the issue.
(SLAtlantic)
posted by anazgnos on Jul 28, 2013 - 110 comments

not just used to assess how well Harvard first-years carried themselves

"Posing For Posture"
"Posture photos," as they were then called, were taken of every incoming student at many prestigious colleges in the first half of the 20th century, as a part of the registration process. George L. Hersey '51, now a professor of art history at Yale, says, "I was told to show up at the swimming pool, I took my swim test and posed. We were expected to show up and do this." Students acquiesced in the days of single-sex colleges because nudity was a normal part of the college experience, Knight says. "We never wore bathing suits in the swimming pools, it was considered more hygienic that way," he says. "The House [swimming] races were in the nude." And so posture photos were snapped and collected--and saved for later research which was intended to link physique to temperament. This practice--led nationwide by a Harvard researcher--remained widespread through the 1950s and 60s.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 7, 2013 - 41 comments

Computer model shows men to blame for menopause

Men to Blame for Menopause: Younger Women Preferred in Human Evolutionary History. Humans are actually the only species where females cannot reproduce throughout their lives, and previous studies have suggested that there may be a "grandmother effect." This suggests that women lose their fertility at an age where they may not live to care for another child. Instead, they're available to care for younger women's children. Yet some scientists weren't satisfied with this theory. "How do you evolve infertility? It is contrary to the whole notion of natural selection" ... Original paper published in PLOS Computational Biology - Mate Choice and the Origin of Menopause [more inside]
posted by Golden Eternity on Jun 14, 2013 - 68 comments

the squidgy 1.5kg lump of pink stuff in our heads

NeuroBollocks: Debunking pseudo-neuroscience so you don't have to.
posted by cthuljew on Mar 31, 2013 - 18 comments

The Plough and Potato have had a football team since Roman times, so they must be better at it than modern teams!

A primer in the rhetorical tactics of pseudoscience advocates in the form of an inane pub argument about football.
posted by acb on Nov 29, 2012 - 60 comments

Research In Progress

Things about the research in progress.
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 27, 2012 - 12 comments

Don't even Blink...

Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
posted by Artw on Sep 14, 2012 - 64 comments

Excess heat without light

Martin Fleischmann, who with Stanley Pons claimed in a press conference to have observed sustained nuclear fusion in a room-temperature experiment, died on August third at age 85. [more inside]
posted by fantabulous timewaster on Aug 31, 2012 - 19 comments

Who the hell is ‘Prof. Brian J. Ford’? And did he say this in 1900?

Aquatic dinosaurs? Not so fast!
posted by brundlefly on Apr 4, 2012 - 42 comments

"Bad books" and how to spot them.

"The world is full of 'bad books'; not just uninteresting, or ill-informed, or morally repugnant books, but books that set out to present or defend positions that are insupportable in logic….Often these bad books become quite popular, and frequently gain a wider audience than good books on the same subjects. In discouraging my students from relying on such bad books, I began to wonder why they are popular." [more inside]
posted by Sticherbeast on Mar 23, 2012 - 135 comments

"Here, eat this root."

The Triumph of New-Age Medicine "Medicine has long decried acupuncture, homeopathy, and the like as dangerous nonsense that preys on the gullible. Again and again, carefully controlled studies have shown alternative medicine to work no better than a placebo. But now many doctors admit that alternative medicine often seems to do a better job of making patients well, and at a much lower cost, than mainstream care—and they’re trying to learn from it." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 15, 2011 - 278 comments

National Academy as National Enquirer?

Caterpillars evolved from onychophorans by hybridogenesis. Caterpillars did not evolve from onychophorans by hybridogenesis. [more inside]
posted by scodger on Dec 4, 2010 - 26 comments

THAT'S A BONE

Few phenomena have the power to confound as many different types of people as pareidolia. It doesn't discriminate by culture or religion. It causes Christians to see Jesus and Mary, Muslims to see the names of Allah and the Prophet, Jews to see the Star of David, Hindus to see the monkey-god Hanuman, and Buddhists to see — you guessed it — the Buddha. Even atheists who haven't devoted themselves to skepticism have puzzled long and hard over the famous face, and more recently, Bigfoot, on Mars. Now video has surfaced on YouTube of pseudoscientist and perennial attention-seeker Richard Heene (yes, Balloon Boy's dad) seeing things on the red planet too. If you'd prefer the filler edited out, the remix is highly entertaining. [more inside]
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis on Aug 11, 2010 - 20 comments

What the pangeaists don't want you to know

Don't continue fooling yourself. The earth is growing and expanding rapidly. Despite plate tectonics' popular acceptance in the 60s, Samuel Warren Carey, the father of modern expansion tectonics, was publicly promoting his theories of an expanded earth as late as 1981. One of the theory's most prominent modern spokesmen is comics artist Neal Adams, who has created a number of informative videos about a new model of the universe that even manages to explain why the dinosaurs died out. [more inside]
posted by Lorc on Aug 7, 2010 - 77 comments

Weird Forgotten History

Before David Koresh, there was simply "Koresh." Cyrus Reed Teed was an eclectic physician from New York who experienced a "divine illumination" (Google Books) in 1869. He recruited over 200 followers to settle a utopian commune in Estero, Florida based on his revelation of a unique hollow-earth theory called the Cellular Cosomogony. Elaborate experiments showed conclusive "proof" that the world's surface was a concave sphere. Despite this, his movement failed to gain traction; relations grew increasingly strained between the Koreshans and the Lee County locals. In 1906, the aging Dr. Teed was severely beaten in a Ft. Myers street brawl (PDF, see pp. 12-14) and died from his injuries on December 22, 1908. His martyrdom sealed, the Koreshans refused to bury the remains (PDF) in the belief that their messiah would be resurrected on Christmas Day. The commune has been preserved as a state historic site where Floridians can learn more about the cult leader in their backyard. [more inside]
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis on May 13, 2010 - 14 comments

Simon Singh's last column

Simon Singh: This is goodbye. Being sued for libel is not only ruinously expensive, writes Simon Singh, it takes over your whole life. Which is why this will be his last column. Previously.
posted by homunculus on Mar 12, 2010 - 74 comments

Amerithrax case closed

The investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks (dubbed "Amerithrax" by the FBI) is now closed. Yesterday, the Department of Justice released a 92-page summary [pdf] of their investigation. Their conclusion -- that USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins was the culprit -- was backed by an impressive amount of evidence, including microbiological detective work (p. 23 ff). But some of the investigation was downright bizarre.... [more inside]
posted by cgs06 on Feb 20, 2010 - 46 comments

"Thomas Edison has said 'The doctor of the future will give no medicines.' "

Desiree Jennings is a 25-year old marketing manager (and Redskins "Ambassador cheerleader") who claims that in August she received a seasonal flu vaccine at a grocery store that caused a never-before-seen dystonia. While saturating media outlets and drawing the support of celebrity anti-vaccinationists, she shunned the doctors who treated her at Johns Hopkins University who (along with other neurologists who have seen footage of her) judged that she was suffering from a psychogenic disorder. [more inside]
posted by inoculatedcities on Nov 8, 2009 - 103 comments

Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science campaign

Simon Singh is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association (previously on metafilter). A pre-trail ruling by the judge caused much concern in the scientific community and elsewhere. On the 4th of June Singh announced that he was applying to appeal against the pre-trial ruling, and Sense About Science launched a Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science campaign (T-shirts, badges and mugs available). The Streisand effect really started to kick in when Simon Perry screen-scraped 400 uk chiropractic web sites, searched for claims about the treatment of colic, and mail-merged letters to various Trading Standards officers. Over 240 letters were sent. This led to an interesting response. [more inside]
posted by memebake on Jun 25, 2009 - 33 comments

Simon Singhs the Blues

Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Last Theorem and The Code Book, was sued for libel by The British Chiropractic Association for comments he wrote in a column in The Guardian: [more inside]
posted by Dumsnill on May 9, 2009 - 62 comments

Pseudoscientists Win Prizes When Pigs Fly

On April Fools Day 2009, the James Randi Educational Foundation announced the Pigasus Awards for 2008 for the worst in pseudoscientific irrationality. The Scientist award was given to Dr. Colin A. Ross for his claims that he can shoot electromagnetic energy beams from his eyes. The Funding Organization award went to Walt Ruloff and his co-producers for bankrolling the Intelligent Design documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The Media award went to cable channels such as Comedy Central that still run ads for Enzyte even though the company's owner is now serving a 25-year sentence for fraud. The Perfomer award was typically awarded in the past to cheesy psychics such as Uri Geller or Sylvia Browne, but this year the (dis)honor goes to actress/spokesmodel Jenny McCarthy for her antivaccination activism, a stance that inspired the Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Finally, a new award for "most persistent refusal to face reality" was presented to infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau, who continues selling his books on "natural cures" despite a judge slapping him with a $37 million fine for false claims.
posted by jonp72 on Apr 7, 2009 - 78 comments

Ig Nobel

Professor Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Prize Laureate for Medicine, is no stranger to controversy. Recently, he has been touting his approval for the ignominiously debunked "water memory" theories of the late French immunologist Dr. Jacques Benveniste. This is not altogether surprising, given that Montagnier has filed a patent application for a method for characterising "biologically active biochemical elements" based on Benveniste's more outlandish theories. But there's more... [more inside]
posted by Skeptic on Mar 15, 2009 - 13 comments

Spooky Action At A Distance: $245

The newest Wholphin DVD contains the instructions for an experiment called "Select Your Intention," created by a company called Psyleron. Psyleron is the result of efforts by former research scientists at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory— (1979-2007) an interdisciplinary group of physicists, psychologists, engineers, and humanists, that explored the ability of the human mind to interact directly with the physical world. (VIDEO) "Now anyone with a home computer can explore the direct impact of consciousness with the portable, adaptable, and responsive Psyleron REG-1." And now, try new Pocket Reg! [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 6, 2008 - 15 comments

How Much

Quantum of culture. Terminology from quantum theory shows up frequently in art, films, poetry and sculpture. Robert P. Crease gauges the impact of quantum mechanics on popular culture. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 27, 2008 - 20 comments

Captain Kirks Alien Mysteries

With all the crystal skulls, nazca lines and such at the box office these days now might be the ideal time to reacquaint yourself with the theories of Erich von Däniken. What better way to do it than by watching William Shatners Mysteries of the Gods ( Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, Pt. 6, Pt. 7, Pt. 8, Pt. 9, Pt. 10)(MULTI LINK YOUTUBE SHATNERFEST)
posted by Artw on Jun 10, 2008 - 28 comments

Science and Pseudoscience

Science and Pseudoscience - a 1973 lecture from Imre Lakatos.
posted by Wolfdog on Jul 30, 2007 - 16 comments

Biologists Helping Bookstores

Can't ever find what you are looking for at the bookstore? Tired of seeing pseudoscience or pop psychology books in the science section? Join a grassroots effort to re-shelve books to the appropriate section of the store: Biologists Helping Bookstores.
posted by corpse on Jul 28, 2007 - 31 comments

Mongolian Death Worm!

Bigfoot? Meh. Real Pseudoscientists hunt the MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM! Watch out for its acid spit! And the electricity it shoots out of its eyeballs. Now, see Richard Freeman's tireless search for this mighty beast in "The Lair of the Red Worm". (Part 1)(Part 2) Flee for your lives!
posted by unreason on Jun 27, 2007 - 12 comments

Support your local Reptoid

Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena was born in October, 2006 to help fight the good fight against the overwhelming majority of noise in the media supporting useless alternative medicine systems, psychics preying upon the vulnerable, the erosion of science education in the classroom, xenophobia of advanced energy and food production methods, and generally anything that distracts attention and public funding from scientific advancement. Episodes feature such prominent MeFi discussion material as organic food myths, blood for oil, chiropractics, and SUVs. Links are to podcast transcripts. Full episode guide.
posted by arcticwoman on May 24, 2007 - 38 comments

Slate's special issue on the brain

Brains!
posted by homunculus on Apr 27, 2007 - 11 comments

I'm absolutely sure that no antibody test in medicine has any absolute meaning.

Dr. Stephen Lanka claims that H5N1 doesn't exist. Or AIDS. Or disease-causing viruses in general. "In humans, in the blood or in other bodily fluids, in an animal or in a plant there never have been seen or demonstrated structures which you could characterize as bird flu viruses or flu viruses or any other supposedly disease-causing virus. The causes of those diseases which are being maintained to be caused by a virus, also those in animals, which can arise quickly and in individuals either one after the other or several at the same time, are known since a long time back. However much you stretch things in biology, there is simply no place for viruses as the causative agents of diseases. Only if I ignore the findings of Dr Hamer’s New Medicine, according to which shock events are the cause of many diseases, and the findings of chemistry on the effects of poisonings and deficiencies, and then if I ignore the findings of physics about the effects of radiation, then there is a place for imaginings such as disease-causing viruses."
posted by Sticherbeast on Jul 24, 2006 - 118 comments

Nature abhors a gradient

Nature abhors a gradient. So I was reading about the latest developments in the Behe Panda trial and I came across a link to this way of thinking, in essence that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is the guiding force behind complexity (summarised here). Like any good scientific theory, they have a blog but can they explain the Tuatara, which seems a little lacking in contemporary gradient reduction?
posted by Sparx on Nov 4, 2005 - 33 comments

Astrology is scientific theory

Creationist author Michael Behe: "Astrology is a scientific theory". If, that is, you use his definition of theory. Behe, you may recall, is the grand high poobah of "intelligent design", the theory that states that somebody (who totally doesn't have to be God) created designed all life on Earth. It seems the latest iteration of the Scopes Monkey Trial isn't going so well for Mr. Behe. Even the courtroom audience is laughing at him.
posted by darukaru on Oct 19, 2005 - 62 comments

keep your science off my children!

Why "Intelligent Design" Isn't. The New Yorker takes an informative look at the "factual" basis for so-called "Intelligent Design" theory, while an all too infrequent victory is won in Georgia.
posted by scrim on May 25, 2005 - 196 comments

Fringe Archaeology

A Skeptics View of Fringe Archaeology
posted by anastasiav on Feb 10, 2005 - 10 comments

Tragically, as many as 9625 out of every 10,000 individuals may be neurotypical.

neurodiversity
An amazingly wide and varied site which began as a collection of articles about Autism but which has expanded to survey such varied topics as left-handedness, gender and sexual orientation, hysteria, and a fascinating collection of articles on "Neurotypical Issues." Hours and hours of material from a wide variety of viewpoints.
posted by anastasiav on Sep 13, 2004 - 12 comments

Fork you! Get Bent!

Fork-you! :: spend a rainy Saturday afternoon learning how to bend forks with your mind. Sort of.
posted by anastasiav on Jul 10, 2004 - 4 comments

sniggle: to fish for eels by thrusting a baited hook or needle into their hiding places

sniggle.net :: calls itself a 'Culture Jammer's Encyclopedia' -- its a fabulous compendium of forgeries, fakes, hoaxes, counterfeiting, spoofs, pseudoscience, and just plain weird stuff. Perfect fodder for killing time on a Friday afternoon.
posted by anastasiav on Apr 23, 2004 - 6 comments

Occult Chemistry

Occult Chemistry. Direct observation of atoms through clairvoyance.
posted by none on Mar 13, 2003 - 7 comments

Anyone got the time?

Just how plausable is time travel? Could you go back in time and kill your own grandfather?. Would you want to? Time travel is a popular subject for films, but do the writers work out exactly what is happening? Current opinion seems to be that time travel is only possible to the future, and is only one way, by travelling at near light speed. However despite this, time machines seem to already be on sale.
posted by Orange Goblin on Feb 10, 2003 - 53 comments

Read People's Thoughts Just by Looking at Them

Read People's Thoughts Just by Looking at Them

A wild claim, but a very interesting article.
posted by Irontom on Aug 20, 2002 - 40 comments

Butt Candles

Butt Candles are an exciting, and time honored, device for internal cleansing. Their slogan? "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack be at buttcandle.com".

And don't miss the FAQ section on how to avoid "folicular ignition".
posted by paulrockNJ on Jan 29, 2002 - 21 comments

A sunken megalithic city, perhaps 6,000 years old, has been sonar-photographed with an underwater sub, off the coast of Cuba, 2100 feet down. Well, at least they didn't describe it as 'cyclopean'. Nor is there any word on whether its architectural angles are non-Euclidean. [More inside]
posted by Slithy_Tove on Dec 9, 2001 - 23 comments

Poking around the web looking for details on Black Light Power, mentioned in a previous MeFi thread, I found a link to a kook science motherlode. Will any of these links measure up to Alex Chiu or the legendary Archimedes Plutonium? Only (nature's harmonic simultaneous 4-day) time will tell!
posted by snarkout on Jan 15, 2001 - 5 comments

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