Archive for the ‘Pseudoscience’ Category

What is the Meaning of SecondLife?

SecondLife is on the whole a boring game. Small modicums of entertainment can be gained by seeing people attachspiritualdarkness_001 couches to themselves as outfits. It is no wonder people are wondering “is there something more than this virtual 3D world?”

Out of boredom, and seeking answers to the great mysteries of SecondLife, I decided to attend a meeting on “spiritual darkness”. Surprisingly, the spiritual people seemed resistant towards me talking about silly scientific concepts like gravity.

Today I learned:

  1. We can’t explain consciousness, therefore atoms are conscious.
  2. Thinking scientifically = cynicism
  3. I am living in spiritual darkness because I’m too attached to intellectual enlightenment.
  4. “multi-dimensional realities make sense to me. this band of frequencies experiences a duality principle that is holographic to the rest of thee system” (see chat log below)
  5. Couch monsters are freaking hilarious.

A lengthy chat log follows. It can be seen either as depressing or entertaining, depending on the sort of person you are. Feel free to read it. Continue reading

Lessons in Logic

So myself, my mother, and two guests walk into a Chinese restaurant. Part of the conversation goes like this.

Mom: The way they grow food here in the US is different from the way they grow food in China. That must be the reason why people have allergies here.

Me: Have you ever heard of the phrase correlation does not equal causation? Yes, thats a possible cause i suppose, but you haven’t said anything to say why it is a better explanation than, say, genetics. Let me give you an example… Chinese people are lactose intolerant. Chinese people eat rice. Rice causes people to be lactose intolerant. Where was my use of a logical fallacy?

Mom: Well… Stop talking about scientific things with people who don’t understand science.

Me: Mom, you do realise that airplanes don’t fall out of the sky just because you don’t understand how they work. I know that this sounds crazy, but the same laws of reality apply to everybody, anywhere, no matter what your cultural predisposition is. Like… this is really insane but whenever you cross the International Date Line in an airplane you don’t fall out of the air.

Lunch Guest: How old are you?

Me: Sixteen.

Lunch Guest: You’re going to change your mind about a lot of things as you get older.

Me: … ?

Mom: That’s right. There are a lot of things that you don’t know yet.

That’s right. Because I’m a teenager, when I grow up I’ll come to realise that correlation does equal causation. And I will come to embrace the fact that the laws of nature operate differently for different people, and that the world is flat if only you believe it is.

Note to adults: Saying that a logical fallacy isn’t fallacious because the person telling you it’s fallacious is young doesn’t make it less fallacious. Also, if you really have some kind of knowledge that we lowly adolescents haven’t got then how would we ever grow older if you didn’t tell us? What good does it do to say “there are a lot of things you don’t know” and not tell us? Absolutely nothing.

Logic

It all started with ghosts.

Actually it started with 9/11 conspiracy theorists, but then it moved on to ghosts. A friend of mine from Atheist Nexus, Edwin, said that he believe in ghosts. When asked why he basically cited anecdotal evidence. When it was explained to him why it was not the case that anecdotal evidence is good evidence he simply said “I’m just not as nihilistic as you guys”.

My friend Chris continued the conversation with him…

Edwin (Lahash) says:
you don’t know my logic
Nerdfighters [rawr] says:
that doesn’t mean anything, you’re just firing back comebacks so you won’t have to deal with me telling you the truth
Edwin (Lahash) says:
what truth?
Nerdfighters [rawr] says:
that your critical thinking skills are astronomically nonexistant and your logic is honestly severely flawed
and that sometimes, like now, you’re a moron
Edwin (Lahash) says:
no, they’re there
if you haven’t realized by now, I’m highly misanthropic
I try not to be though
but it usually doesn’t work
Nerdfighters [rawr] says:
what does hating the human race have to do with logic
what the fuck

I took over from there.

[23:10] Elles: K. Well if the Bible’s the word of God it’s true, and the Bible says that it’s the word of God so we know that it’s true.
[23:10] Edwin (Lahash): no its not
[23:10] Elles: Why not?
[23:11] Edwin (Lahash): something cannot prove its credibility by referencing itslf
[23:11] Elles: In my logic it can.
[23:11] Edwin (Lahash): well you’re logic is flawed then
[23:12] Elles: How do you know? It’s logical to me. What’s logical to me may not be logical to you but it’s logical to me.
[23:12] Edwin (Lahash): but it’s illogical in general
[23:13] Elles: What do you mean, “in general”? Do you mean to suggest that the same rules of logic applies to all people in all places?
[23:13] Edwin (Lahash): I don’t know
[23:13] Edwin (Lahash): well, I do, I just don’t know how to explain it
[23:13] Elles: Now you know how Chris and I feel.

So ends lesson one in critical thinking.

Moonshine and Moonshine

I like to spend this time of day catching up on my news. One of the sites I visit is my customized BBC homepage where I have the science and nature articles placed right in the center of the page where it’s the first thing that catches my eye. So I learn a few things about finding an exoplanet only twice the size of the Earth, I read about finding n-propyl cyanide in space, and then I scroll down to the extended selection of science and nature articles and see an article asking if the lunar cycles affect the taste of wine.

In a good mood after having enjoyed learning a thing or two new about the way the universe works, I don’t immediately sniff out the fact that it’s woo woo because I’ve come to trust this newsource for interesting stories, but after the first few paragraphs I start banging my head against the desk. Back in the 1950s, some German woman published a calendar based on the theory that the position of the moon and the stars effects the way wine tastes and that some days were more favourable for tasting great wine than others. I don’t think that it can be described any better than this:

Her theory is that wine is a living organism that responds to the Moon’s rhythms in the same way that some people believe humans do. The so-called “lunar effect” has been widely dismissed as pseudo-science but its followers think that as the Moon exerts such a huge impact on the tides, it must follow that it affects the water in the human body and therefore human behaviour.

The article then goes on to state that the idea is not as “eccentric as it sounds” because “all wine experts tend to agree” on wine tasting differently based on the lunar cycle.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that those wine experts don’t know much about astronomy or physics. You can look up the formula, but gravitational influence is determined by the mass of the two objects multiplied together and divided by the distance sqaured. So, the more massive object is more influenced by a source of gravity. I haven’t seen any pictures of the German woman, but I’m willing to bet that she’s really not that massive. I mean, it’s the Earth’s oceans we’re comparing here.

You’ve also gotta love the reason why David Motion is now a believer in this:

“We tried eight wines on Tuesday, which was a leaf day and then the same wines again on Thursday, which was a fruit day. And it was totally conclusive.

“It wasn’t that the wine tasted bad on the Tuesday but it was much more expressive on the Thursday. It was more exuberant and on-song. It was like the heavens opened, the clouds parted and the wine just expressed itself.”

Wow, didn’t they do a great job trying to isolate variables? And didn’t they go through rigorous double blind proceedure? And isn’t that just the most objective way to measure this?

The article finally gives the last word to an expert who actually seems to know a thing or two about science and sums this up in better words than I think I could manage:

But Jamie Goode, a wine scientist and author of online magazine wineanorak, thinks too much is made of planetary alignments and the lunar calendar.

“But I’m not going to say it’s absolute nonsense. Wine tastes different on different days but the differences are not that huge and the differences are more about atmospheric pressure.

“And we are part of the equation when it comes to tasting wine. We are not measuring devices. The taste of the wine is something we generate in response to the wine.”

People taste wine with expectations, and part of that could be the knowledge that it is a “good” day for wine, he says. Mood also influences

Don’t get me wrong. I always enjoy reading about a new pseudoscience. It gives me some amount of mental exercise in skepticism. I can’t tell you how much of this was tongue-in-cheek, but this definitely comes across more as astrology than astronomy.

Duuuuuuuddddeee

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We’re part of this information field… consciousness… it’s like a property of the continuum… it’s like the old physical physicist’s concept of the ether. It permeates everything.

Dennis McKenna

Because that’s how science is done!

Nobody can really say but that model in some ways appeals more to me.

Dennis McKenna

Because that’s how science is done!

Points I can’t disagree with even though I’ve as of yet never done drugs:

  1. Drugs can sometimes enhance creative ability.
  2. We are all, in a sense, “one” with the universe.
  3. Psychedelics = subjective super happy fun time!

I’ll leave you guys to think whatever you want about their shamanism and their relativism.

“Reality will kick your ass.” -Roy

Roy’s a good friend of mine. I once broke into his house while he was sleeping and tried to drag him out of his bed. Bastard was too heavy.

This YouTube video that he made about why critical thinking is important was so awesome that I just had to post it here:

Everything I’ve Ever Wanted to Say About Pseudoscience

Except I didn’t say it…

Via Skepchick, which was via Pharyngula

Update: Nevermind. Video got removed for whatever reason. I’ll try to poke around and see if I can find another video.

Update: I’ve replaced it with something that works!

Update: Apparently that has been removed as well. *sigh*

Dark Matter = ZOMG! Government Weather Manipulation!

“What’s that dark matter moving line going right across the middle of the screen?”

Brought to you by the same woman who worries about what’s in her water causing rainbows in her sprinklers (wouldn’t that be the dihydrogen monoxide?!?):

All I can say is that’s one of the more confused uses of scientific terminology I’ve ever seen.

Whatever method this woman has been using to convince herself, it’s not quite science. It’s what those charlatans who call themselves Dr. Greer, Deepak Chopra, or whoever-you-can-think-of uses. Throw in a bunch of terms you don’t understand the meaning of which the public probably won’t understand the meaning of, then jump to a conclusion. Like so:

First the quantum matrix of the thermodynamic field begins to buckle under the vectors from the flourescence of the krebs cycle. Thus the mitochondrial interactions between the commensalism and the quantum photons begins to create a biofeedback system upon which the delta waves of the thought patterns signals the beginning of a derivation of the vibrational frequency electro-magnetism.

Then something spiritual happens.

If you think I said anything in there that made any sort of sense at all please consider remedial science classes. I don’t mean that disparagingly, but I apologise for the education system having failed you, for you are missing out on the true answers to who we are, where we came from, where we are, and where we are going in this splendid universe.

In the meantime… the government is using dark matter streams to manipulate my weather and you managed to capture dark matter on camera before any real physicists have? Jolly good.

2012 Theorists: Young Earthers?

We’ve all heard people telling us for some reason or another that the world will end on some variation of December 12, 2012 (if Palin runs in 2012 it will be more like January 20th 2013), and we’ve all heard that this is based on the Mayan Long-Count calendar which ends on that date.

Let us ignore for a moment that the 2012 Doomsday proponents have been unable to present us with any evidence that Mayan myths are true, and let us ignore the fact that the Mayans didn’t actually believe that the world would end with the calendar ended but that they actually believed in a cyclical nature of the calendar (however, I’ve heard that to prevent the world from ending they actually sacrificed somebody).

Let us pretend that these New Age gurus are correct and that the mythology surrounding the Mayan’s beliefs about the way time works are all correct…

The Mayans believe that the world began on August 11, 3114 BC.

So, if you’re going to accept that the Mayan Long-Count calendar ends on 2012, you’d have to agree with their starting date in 3114 BC…

That would make the world 5,122 years old.

That’s nearly 900 years less than the age of the Earth that the Young Earth Creationists believe.

Anybody know any 2012 Doomsday proponents who would be willing to tell me if they agree with the age of the Earth calculated using the same source of their information for when the world will end? If they do agree how do they reconcile their denial of radiometric dating with our understanding of the laws of physics (if you’re going to go about denying nuclear physics you might as well deny our ability to explode a nuclear bomb)? If they don’t agree why do they choose to believe only some of what the Mayans say over other things?

Why I’m Proud to be Coloradoan

Ah… Colorado. The upcoming DNC, Focus on the Family, and Stan Romanek. A list of reasons why I am so fucking proud to be Coloradoan right now:

1. CBN is claiming that the Bible could be censored in Colorado due to Section 8 of Senate Bill 08-200.

Mmm… Legalese, I know. But it basically just says that you don’t get to publish things that would discriminate on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry if you work for a place that offers some form of public accomodation. The big question is if this means employees can’t do this in their private time or if they’re only restricted to not doing it through the business. If they’re only restricted to not doing it through the business then the worst that could happen would be the Bibles they leave in motel rooms would have to be removed but only if you could prove that it does discriminate against sexual orientation. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t keep a Bible on your shelf at home.

Via Skepchick

2. Oh, and you know how everybody’s hyped up about the DNC? The inter-faith panel won’t include the second largest religious group in America, those without faith. The Secular Coalition for America protested this and an opinion article appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on the subject:

Yet an amazing number of atheists have taken to confronting and insulting believers of other religions. They pretend that atheist beliefs are proven true, while others are proven false.

It’s not so much that I am (or any atheist I know is) aiming to insult religious people as I am aiming to criticise their beliefs. I respect good people. Not stupid beliefs. If they don’t like me not respecting zombie Jesus then they don’t have to respect my belief in dancing pink unicorns on Neptune. At the end of the day, if they want to come with me to get some gelato or lunch and just hang out I’m fine with that… even if they believe in a 6,000 year old Earth.

I don’t believe that my beliefs are proven or that religious beliefs are disproven so much as I believe that religious beliefs aren’t proven and are highly improbable. I’m open to evidence like the Ten Commandments suddenly appearing on the moon in letters so big you can see them with binnoculars or something appearing magically.

Hitler imagined a world without Jews. The Freedom From Religion Foundation rented a billboard near the Colorado Convention Center that says: “Imagine No Religion.”

Ok, ok. John Lennon was Hitler and mass-murdered religious believers for saying those words.

Atheists might bring pseudointellectual proselytizers, who are intolerant, self-aggrandizing and rude. Atheists should fund universities and hospitals. They should feed and clothe starving kids. They should act more like Christians and Jews. If they do some of that – if they contribute to a diverse humanity – they might get better party invites.

That’s right. Atheists never volunteer for non-profit organizations, never send money to the Red Cross, and are involved in an evil eugenicist plot to murder starving black kids in Africa.

What a polite article!

Seen, ironically, at Friendly Atheist.

3. Oh, and yesterday I had the opportunity to see evangelicals waving a Christian flag with a sign saying “Support Amendment 48” which would define a fetus as being a person at the moment of conception. This would also mean that a woman who had a miscarriage could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

4. And to top it all off, Denver might be the first city to have its very own Extra-Terrestrial Affairs Commission. I can’t think of a better way of spending tax dollars and time…

The good news is there will be a lecture at Auraria campus in Denver, CO on October 23 from 3-5 pm in the North Classroom building of University of Colorado Denver by science author and curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, David Grinspoon on why astrobiology says we don’t need an extra-terrestrial affairs commission. I’ll post again on this later.

Why does Colorado feel more and more like the Bible Belt all of a sudden?