"Wellness is New Age for the Instagram era. Amethysts and incense have been replaced with kale and balayage; tie-dye and velvet with bamboo cotton and designer yoga pants. It’s the alternative lifestyle but with better design. It is a movement defined by its minimalist, feminine aesthetic – pastel homewares, bright vegetable smoothies, slim legs in clean, expensive exercise wear. It’s not really about health – health does not have to be beautiful, thin and tidy in designer crop tops, but wellness does. It’s an aesthetic of wealth, a sort of gentle, palatable capitalism. There’s a dizziness to its beauty: it is light, weightless, transcendent. It probably feels this way thanks to the restricted calories as much as the calm from appropriated Eastern meditation." [more inside]
I finally gave in and started reading Game of Thrones. When I got to the end of the first chapter, I texted a bunch of my nerd friends like, "Why do people think this is surprising? It is like super-obviously signposted!" From there, it turned into a project where I try to predict what will happen in Game of Thrones. Predicting Game of Thrones, a blog by Eyebrows McGee, with an accompanying predictions log. NOTE: this is full of spoilers for the first two books, and the first half of Book III (Storm of Swords) will be online soon. Plus any number of theories could come true in the later books. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Who's Lying? Who's Self-Justifying?: Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Communications. Carol Tavris, a social psychology researcher, took the stage at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2014 to talk about sexual abuse allegations, feminism and rape culture.
Evidence suggests the Knights Templar maintained a fleet of pterodactyls and used them to colonize America years before Columbus. Some disagree with this theory, as clearly the Templars’ pterodactyls would not get along with their unicorns. [more inside]
Across three decades, his goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs. Dr Narendra Dabholkar, a former physician, was assassinated at age 67 earlier this week in the city of Pune. From Times of India: "Since 1983, he was confronted time and again by many religious and spiritual gurus, and faced several threats and even physical attacks. But he rejected police protection for himself. 'If I have to take police protection in my own country from my own people, then there is something wrong with me,' he used to say. 'I'm fighting within the framework of the Indian constitution and it is not against anyone, but for everyone.'"
Why I Am No Longer A Skeptic
That's right: the nerds won, decades ago, and they're now as thoroughly established as any other part of the establishment. And while nerds a relatively new elite, they're overwhelmingly the same as the old: rich, white, male, and desperate to hang onto what they've got. And I have come to realise that skepticism, in their hands, is just another tool to secure and advance their privileged position, and beat down their inferiors. As a skeptic, I was not shoring up the revolutionary barricades: instead, I was cheering on the Tsar's cavalry.Referenced in The Cult Of Bayes' Theorem [more inside]
The Burzynski Clinic (selling an unproven cure for cancer) has started to threaten those who talk about them with legal action. Even going as far as trying to intimidate young blogger Rhys Morgan by sending him pictures of his own house (very, 'I know where you live...') and threatening another blogger's family.
"A wonderful brain interprets something differently from what it actually is, but it doesn't mean it's made a mistake. It took the information it had and did it's best job." Those are but two tricks from Jerry Andrus (1918-2007), self-taught magician and illusionist, and one of great renown amongst other magicians. But he was more than a slight-of-hand man: he was also a poet, philosopher, inventor, humanist, agnostic, and skeptic. There are an impressive number of videos of him online, these are but a few to get you started down the rabbit hole: Jerry Andrus is visual poetry (Google video / YT, 28 minutes) :: Jerry Andrus at the Magic Castle (G.vid, 49 min), Jerry Andrus at 83 his Optical Illusions (G.vid, 41 min) :: Jerry Andrus and Ray Hyman on Uri Geller (YT, 26 min) :: James Randi on Jerry Andrus (YT, 5 min) :: James Randi - who was Jerry Andrus? :: James Randi describes Jerry Andrus. The last two clips are from Rex Young, a young illusionist who has recreated many of Andrus' illusions on his YouTube channel, and made some of his own.
The credibility of Skeptoid podcast creator, Brian Dunning, has come under fire from the Science Blog / Skeptic community after he posted a questionable podcast regarding DDT. A comprehensive fact check in two parts hit the web soon thereafter, followed by other critiques - suggesting that Dunning's objectivity may be tainted by conservative / libertarian political leanings. [more inside]
Global warming skeptic Bjørn Lomborg changes position, saying global warming is "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and "a challenge humanity must confront." He says in a new book forthcoming this year that governments should levy a tax on carbon and spend billions annually on research for new technologies. I suppose it's hard to ignore when 10 of 10 key indicators show the world is warming, and Lomberg is not the first prominent skeptic to change position. [more inside]
Podcaster, musician, atheist, skeptic and comic raconteur George Hrab is releasing his latest solo album Trebuchet through CD Baby and free mp3 download [65MB].* Hrab talks about Trebuchet with Swoopy and Derek on the Skepticality podcast, on the Token Skeptic podcast [46MB MP3], and with Karen Stollznow on the Point of Inquiry podcast. [more inside]
This article, about differences between male and female brains, is doing the rounds on various blogs. (I found it via reddit.) Meanwhile, debunkers are doing their best to rip the author a new asshole.
Well, here goes. I really resent the term, but I use it because it’s recognized and accepted. I’m gay. From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there’s not much “gay” about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was — at least outwardly — totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. James Randi (previously), at age 81, has come out. He discusses the announcement in more detail on the JREF podcast For Good Reason.
Captain Disillusion has created a series of videos that provide a skeptical analysis of sensational viral videos. One in particular, “Gas Station Ghost RECUT” addresses an unusual image caught on a gas station surveillance camera.
"You bend your words like Uri Geller's spoons", sang Toad. But how is it that science can dismiss Geller as the fraud he is without experimenting on every psychic claimant? Surely someone claiming telekinetic powers might be telling the truth? Quantum physics to the rescue.
Steroids, "Other Drugs," and Baseball: a Voice of Scepticism on the Impact of Steroids on Major League Baseball. Eric Walker suggests a "juiced" ball made much more of an effect than PEDs.
An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces [PDF] was mentioned recently on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe Podcast.
Don't waste your hard earned money on a pet psychic. That would be foolish! Especially since your baby has so much to say.
Is Airborne science or snake oil ? The official website is flashy, but short on empirical evidence, and even admits that there is "no cure" for the common cold. The first doubts were from ABC News. Then David Cowan blogged about it. Now Michael Shermer from the Scientific American, and publisher of Skeptic weighs in an article called Airborne Baloney
"A Helpful Hand" - Penn & Teller call Bullshit! on the "bestselling book in the world," the Holy Bible. (link is to entire episode approx 29mins - *language, flash)
Philip Klass, dead at age 85. (Also at the NY Times.) Electrical engineer, aviation editor, and renowned UFO debunker, as well as CSICOP founder/fellow. Checking Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog, he left an interesting last message.
Expect a miracle? Freeman Dyson on Littlewood's Law of Miracles: "...the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. ...The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month." From his review of book debunking the paranormal (whose views he isn't entirely willing to accept). Via Marginal Revolution
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible includes the entire text of the King James Version of the Bible, but without the pro-Bible propaganda. Instead, passages are highlighted that are an embarrassment to the Bible-believer, and the parts of the Bible that are never read in any Church, Bible study group, or Sunday School class are emphasized. For it is these passages that test the claims of the Bible-believer. The contradictions and false prophesies show that the Bible is not inerrant; the cruelties, injustices, and insults to women, that it is neither good nor just.