Monday, 15 December 2008

Good for Goodness sake

I have just been catching up with some of last months Freethinker Sermonettes on the Effect Measure blog over at the borg-HQ.

One in particular talks about a series of ads the American Humanist Association has taken out on Washington, DC buses. The ads proclaim:

Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.

Not suprisingly christian groups in the US, are up in arms, crying foul and persecution at (as quoted in the Effect Measure blogpost)
the campaign's attempt to ban God and Christmas from the public square

Sorry say what, let me remind you that this is nothing more than the line from that famous of christmas carols Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

But that said sure we atheistic types can't have the chutzpah to suggest that Jesus is the reason for the season, but as is pointed out on the campaigns website people have been celebrating a midwinter festival since long before there were any christians and apparently Jeremiah 10:1-5 outlaws the whole idea of a christmas tree at all (damn those germans and their big forests of evergreens for introducing this tradition).

Of course we all know that the middle of winter is due to the axial tilt of the Earth and where that axis points as we orbit the sun. Which also makes all those traditions seem all the more ridiculous down here in the sunny southern hemisphere (ahem trying to ignore the fact that the cricket test was essentially washed out due to all the rain we have had over the last week).

So where does that leave our friendly neighbourhood christians and their celebration, well I say let them celebrate, why not. Of course given that Jesus, even if he did exist, almost certainly was not born in the middle of winter (after all who watches their flocks at night in winter). Well I dunno maybe just an excuse for a party?

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Wednesday, 26 November 2008


XKCD does it again with another great one, if you don't follow this web comic well maybe it is time to start.

Of course like any good myth it has a basis in reality, however an extension cord is several orders of magnitude to small for Geomagnetically induced currents, such as have caused black outs such as the one in Quebec in 1989.

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Friday, 21 November 2008

Skeptic 's circle turns 100

The skeptic's circle has turned 100. Go and see the great collection of posts up at the fearless leader's blog.

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Friday, 7 November 2008

Skepitics circle for you to read

The good news for all you out there is not only is the free world free again (or at least will be in January) but there is a new edition of the skeptics circle for you reading pleasure this morning

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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Sophisticated Political Commentary of the Day

This is worth a look at

Sophisticated Political Commentary of the Day

Posted using ShareThis

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Friday, 24 October 2008

Time for a new skeptics circle

The latest skeptics circle (the 97th) is up at hallq's uncredible blog.

I suggest that you go and read and enjoy. I know I will.

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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Out the airlock

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
Thanks to the Bad Astronomer for this interesting link, and note that I outlast him (though it is probably only because I am a young whipper snapper lol).

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Saturday, 13 September 2008

Not Vaccinating IS Child Abuse

Not vaccinating, for anything other than medical reasons, is among the worst kind of child abuse, and not just of your own children.

There is a significant proportion of the population that cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and these people require the benefits of herd immunity to protect them from the harms the rest of us are protected from by being vaccinated.

Now for those that don't know, herd immunity is when enough people (>95%) are vaccinated and there is no ability for the disease to have a reservoir in the population and hence infect people. If too many people do not vaccinate then diseases that can be avoided can become rampant in the community, e.g. the measles outbreaks in the UK in the last few years.

Edit: Oh and in case you missed it the point of this was to direct you to Mark Crislip's wonderful post at sciencebasedmedicine about exactly what we are vaccinating against.

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Monday, 4 August 2008

What is wrong here?

A london bus has this advert on its side. Can any one spot why it won't work.

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Friday, 1 August 2008

Google is in on the Conspiracy

Google seems to be in on the Apollo conspiracy as you can see in this video from youtube

It is funny, alas if only there weren't people out there who took it seriously.

Thanks to the Bad Astronomer for pointing this out

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92nd Skeptics' Circle is up

Wow and it is a good one, go over to Lay Science and enjoy the Ideology Olympics edition of the Skeptics circle.

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Monday, 21 July 2008

Facts and opinions

When reality is being gotten down here is a very pithy comeback:

You’re entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts.

This was uttered by US Sen. Joe Biden to fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham on the Meet The Press show, and thanks to Atheist Revolution for pointing it out.

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Friday, 18 July 2008

Teach the Controversy

Hmmm maybe we should be teaching the controversy, well you know if there was one.

'Big Science' is always suppressing The Truth with their blatant pro-evolution anti-wacko agenda: from the fact that UFOs built the pyramids to the reality of creationism and fact the universe is "Turtles All The Way Down". It is time to fight back and urge schools to Teach The Controversy with these intelligently designed t-shirts.

I want the Turtles one!

Thanks to Vicki Hyde of the NZ Skeptics for the link

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new skeptics circle

The latest edition of the skeptics circle is out and about at sorting out science, it all looks like some good reading, so I hope to see you there

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

Global Warming and the Sun

Well there was an opinion piece in my local daily (well ok to be fair I don't know if it made the press version but it was front and centre on the webpage this morning) and it was about global warming, and while it was not outright denying it (nobody who is anybody does that any more not even George W. Bush) it takes a look at the solar influences and presents them as the dominant factor.

Before I say more about the article I would like to mention that one of my supervisors does research on Solar Flares and how they effect the atmosphere (in particular the ionosphere), and as solar flares are caused by sunspots, this leads to me have a pretty good idea of the solar cycle.

So when Professor Geoff Kearsley (of the Department of Media, Film and Communication, though to be fair according the article a geographer by training) claims that anthropocentric claims about climate change are "distorted by dogma" and the real driving forces such as the sun are being ignored. I want to scream and tear my hair out, both about those that claim the mantle of Climate skeptics (not so much driven by the article - but it is related) and about the relationship between temperature and solar activity (as defined in the usual way by sunspot number).

I will address the skeptics point first - anyone who claims to be a skeptic of something just because they disagree with it is should really be named as what they are contrarian. I suppose a lot of the general public get the wrong idea when all the media does with respect to skeptics is give them a brief quote anti to any of the journalists favourite quackery - such as psychics.

But a skeptic is one who looks at the evidence for any phenomena (and the quality of evidence which is very important) before making up his mind. So if there was concrete evidence for psychics, or for homeopathy, or what ever then the skeptics would be behind such things rather than against them.

As such I will proudly call my self a climate skeptic despite the fact that I am completely swayed by the facts that it is a man-made phenomenon. That is right I just said that we are causing climate change.

And my response to the good professor is has he seen the image at the top of this post. Ok it is old data now (from an article in 2004 - which should be available here but you will need a subscription - if you are desperate to see a copy just ask), but the point it makes (and I apologise if it may be a bit hard to make out some of it this was pinched out of one of my supervisors presentations and I will try and extract it anew from the original) is the the global temperature in recent times (the green and blue lines and the plot is over the last 300 years) follows reasonably (although with a little lag) the red line which is the smoothed trend for sunspot cycle length (orange line) up until approximately the 1950s at which point the temperature leaves the cycle of sunspots behind and increases.

This would tend to indicate that even if more recent data might show a slight dip in the trend in the past couple of years, that there has been a shift in the global temperature response to the solar cycle. More recent data may show (and I haven't seen any) a change in the trend but that does not deny the massive change in temperature compared to solar cycle activity that has occurred in the last 50 years, the point of this being if this abnormally long solar cycle (which has officially ended now) is visible in the temperature trend it is unlikely to have had a big effect as it would have without the effect of the industrialization of our planet.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Sugar in the Morning

I've never really been a big fan of the whole artificial sweetner thing. And now it seems as if replacing the sugar in your diet can be a bad thing.

A study by Purdue University researchers that came out in February links artificial sweetners to weight gain.

Why would a sugar substitute backfire? Swithers and Davidson wrote that sweet foods provide a “salient orosensory stimulus” that strongly predicts someone is about to take in a lot of calories. Ingestive and digestive reflexes gear up for that intake but when false sweetness isn’t followed by lots of calories, the system gets confused. Thus, people may eat more or expend less energy than they otherwise would.

Now to be fair this research was done on rats, and not humans but as Cliff Mintz of BioJobBlog notes

Although this study was conducted in rats, its findings are consistent with the observations that increased use of artificial sweeteners can contribute to human weight gain.

As always more study is going to be needed on this and in particular human studies, so time will tell.

Thanks to Science to Life for the hot tip

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Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Its about time

It appears that Obama has finally beaten Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Why on Earth did this process take so bloody long, why can't all those little states get their acts together and vote over a time period that isn't 6 months.

Seriously they could do it all on one day (as we will see in November) but if they want to take a bit of time, why not 1 - 2 weeks, surely with all the campaigning that happened before the the first of the primaries would that not be enough time to shake some hands and kiss some babies? Or if you are a republican shake some babies and kiss some hands.

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Friday, 23 May 2008

Dirty Limericks and Skeptics

Well I'll be that sounds like just the best combination ever and it can be found in the 87th skeptics circle of at Action Skeptics, go and enjoy if you dare.

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Friday, 11 April 2008

The latest skeptic's circle

The latest edition of the skeptics circle is up Archaeoporn, read and enjoy.

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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

A few things to think about

Well courtesy of the Scienceblogs weekly round up email I found several posts that I just had to share with you all.

Firstly Living the Scientific Life gives reason why more science education (especially biology in this case) is needed.

Secondly Pharyngula highlights possible the best comeback to a creationist statement ever! (from Mike the Mad Biologist).

And finally again from Pharyngula something that just has to be watched.

Enjoy and stay tuned for when I actually get back to blogging again lol.

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Friday, 14 March 2008

New skeptics circle is up

Well here is most recent skeptics circle hosted by Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes. Read and enjoy

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Friday, 15 February 2008

Love is in the air at the skeptics circle

Well at least the Valentine's Day edition of the skeptic's circle is out at Bug Girls Blog.

Check it out as usual the quality is good and the quackery is busted.

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Friday, 8 February 2008

Homeopathy the way it should be sold

Here is a site that sells homeopathy the way it should be sold with plenty of disclaimers as to the actuall effects and lots of winks and nods to the placebo effect. Now if only I had thought of it sooner.

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Diet Water

Hmmm well i guess someone had to try and sell it after all people will buy anything it seems

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Friday, 4 January 2008

Science Based Medicine

Orac has kindly made us aware of a great new group blog looking at Science-Based Medicine.

As he succinctly puts it:

It's a new year, a year that I, as an advocate of science- and evidence-based medicine hope will be less filled with dubious claims and quackery than last year. (I'm ever the optimist.) To that end, Steve Novella has asked me to announce a new blog to the Skeptics' Circle mailing list as well as to bloggers who are alarmed by the proliferation of non-evidence-based medicine. It is a blog that many of you, I hope, will be interested in and find to be of value in the never-ending battle against woo.
I hope you join with me in enjoying what the big guns of the medical/skeptical blogosphere have to teach/share with us.

First up is a great article on the false dichotomy between herbs and drugs, or to put it another way Herbs = Drugs, so why should they be treated differently?

Oh and on a similar note the latestest skeptics circles is up at Whitecoatunderground.

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