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Some crazy for your Sunday

June 13, 2010 5 comments

Those of you who can remember high-school physics will know that kinetic energy is the energy a body has due to its motion, or the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its current velocity. Not according to “psychic” and convicted fraud, Sylvia Browne, who defines it thusly in her latest book :

Kinetic energy is the unintentional, spontaneous manipulation of inanimate objects through no obvious physical means, causing its possessor to become kind of a hapless walking force field. There are several theories about what creates kinetic energy. And, of course, there are just as many skeptics who will swear it doesn’t exist at all, which I’d be happy to consider if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes a few thousand times.

What? You see, Browne believes that your “kinetic energy” can can cause inanimate objects to be spontaneously manipulated without your volition.

(Hat tip to J-Walk Blog)

The Ladybird Book of Chiropractic Treatment and English Libel Law

December 19, 2009 Comments off

Just in time for the holidays: The Ladybird Book of Chiropractic Treatment and English Libel Law. This is a hoot if you remember Ladybird books – if not, you’ll still get much wisdom about the stupidity of English libel laws and the treatment of Simon Singh whom you will remember wrote:

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments

and got in trouble for speaking the truth. See Sense About Science and the Libel Reform Campaign for more. The latter has a petition that you can sign even if you are not a UK resident.

A Field Guide to AGW Skeptics

December 17, 2009 Comments off

Jim Lippard has a nice post on the nature of the various groups who are skeptical about anthropogenic global warming. In it he follows a tack I (and others) have taken in the past regarding the “Deniers of Darwinism” that the Discovery Institute touts as evidence for a “controversy”. Jim concludes that his post

doesn’t demonstrate that climate skepticism is without merit, but it does demonstrate that there are reasons to be skeptical–and in many cases extremely skeptical–about some of the organizations and individuals promoting climate skepticism, independently of their arguments. In my view, the arguments for climate skepticism in most cases just increase the grounds for skepticism.

Wait a minute … I know that guy!

October 25, 2009 1 comment

Is this libelous?

July 29, 2009 3 comments

Simon Singh said:

The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.

The British Chiropractic Association took exception and a judge agreed. The full text of Singh’s article is being posted online in a few places (see here, here and here, for example). You decide.

SkeptiCamp Phoenix 2009

March 29, 2009 2 comments

Skepticamp.jpg

SkeptiCamp Phoenix 2009 went off wonderfully yesterday. Big thanks to Jim Lippard for doing such a wonderful organizational job.

The picture above is me beginning my 20 minute gallop through the issue of academic freedom and the intelligent design movement. Shorter – and undoubtedly more coherent –  version is:

  • Evolution is not an unchallengeable orthodoxy within science and major areas (of evolution as fact, the pathway of evolution, and its mechanisms) have been challenged in the past by researchers working within the field. These researchers used the institutions of science (peer reviewed journals etc) to bring about change.
  • Despite the claims of the DI, there is no evidence that there is active suppression of ID proponents in any way that would prevent them challenging the status quo using the institutions of science. There is no evidence of the academic freedom of ID supporters being infringed.
  • There is currently no theory of ID and it is likely that any theory of ID would eventually have to fallback on supernatural action and thus violate the bedrock principle of methodological naturalism. Given the success of MN and its centrality to modern science, this would most likely mean that any ID theory would fail to convince the scientific community.
  • The appeals to “academic freedom” to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution are spurious and indicate the lack of a positive argument for intelligent design and its ultimate reliance on supernaturalism.

Slides are here.

SkeptiCamp Phoenix

March 28, 2009 Comments off

SkeptiCamp Phoenix beings in a few minutes. Jim Lippard has all the details and Magic Tony, one of the presenters, will be live-blogging the event, and there may also be twittering at #skepticamp. I’ll be adding bits and pieces as the spirit moves me.

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