How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’
He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jul 16, 2014 -
How well do you know (American) sexual harassment law as it relates to conferences? Attorney and Popehat blogger Ken White has created a short quiz
to find out. [more inside]
posted by Lemurrhea
on Feb 8, 2014 -
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]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jun 16, 2013 -
"A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs.
So, a paper about a tendency among this group to believe in conspiracy theories was met by … a conspiracy theory." - Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set [more inside]
posted by brundlefly
on Feb 21, 2013 -
"Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there's no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook
boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation." Direct PDF link.
posted by brundlefly
on Jan 3, 2012 -
""Anti-Gravity Hills" (also known as "Gravity Hills
", "Spook Hills", or "Magnetic Hills
") are natural places where cars put into neutral are seen to move uphill on a slightly sloping road, apparently defying the law of gravity. Typically, the "spooky" stretch of road is rather short (50-90 m), only a few meters wide, and surrounded by a natural hill landscape, without nearby buildings. Such places are found in several countries all around the world, and have been tourist attractions for decades. They should not be confused with the "Mystery Spots
found in amusement parks. These are generally tilted cabins, purposely built as such; a person walking inside feels disoriented, getting a very strong impression of standing at an angle in a perfectly normal room." CSICOP
and Discovery News
explain the phenomenon, and here's the paper on which the CSICOP article was based (PDF)
posted by cog_nate
on Oct 29, 2009 -
The Baloney Detection Kit.
"With a sea of information coming at us from all directions, how do we sift out the misinformation and bogus claims, and get to the truth? Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine
, lays out a 'Baloney Detection Kit' — ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim."
posted by homunculus
on Jun 25, 2009 -
Nostalgia and skepticism collide in this short video
of Uri Geller's legendary failure on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, introduced by frequent MeFi subject James Randi. More context and nostalgia in this longer version
, which features Geller with a young Barbara Walters, and on The Mike Douglas Show, along with Randi's expose of "healing evangelist" Peter Popoff.
If you want to waste even more time, just start clicking on these YouTube search results.
posted by The Deej
on Aug 5, 2007 -
Garbage + illumination = art? Various artists
carefully pile rubbish on a gallery floor, or meticulously assemble a collection of ordinary items, plug in a light source, and create incredibly detailed and surprising shadows on the wall. Meanwhile, blog commenters cry "Fake!" and "Photoshop!". I guess they didn't see any of the Quicktime movies of Shigeo Fukuda linked here
posted by maudlin
on Jun 20, 2007 -
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,
Links are to podcast transcripts. Full episode guide.
posted by arcticwoman
on May 24, 2007 -
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
posted by Jos Bleau
on Jul 14, 2004 -
The Skeptic's Dictionary
is a wonderful resource for all sentient individuals: 'A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions (and how to think critically about them
)'. It's where I send people when they start telling me nonsense.
It is also a jolly good read: try the entry for natural
, for example. And some entries, like the entry for IQ and race
, verge on the profound.
There is a print edition, but the extensive internal and external site linkage makes reading the collection online a particular joy. While The Skeptic's Dictionary has been referred to before
on MeFi, the link made the site out to be a cornucopia of Urban legend-style oddities, like Snopes
. Which I thought was a shame: not dissing Snopes, but the Skeptic's Dictionary delivers a firm grounding in critical thinking as well.
This post is dedicated to all of my relatives who chipped in to buy shark cartilage
tablets and several fifty-dollar pamphlets full of testimonials
after my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and who probably still think the worse of me for not contributing to their folly.
posted by chrisgregory
on Feb 6, 2004 -
More Q & A on Terror and War
"A number of folks feel that current events -- particularly in the last few days -- have dramatically changed the logic and morality of what has been done in Afghanistan, calling into question much of the analysis and assessment that has been offered by critics of the war. Here are some of the questions we have been asked, and our brief replies."
posted by mapalm
on Nov 18, 2001 -