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Posts Tagged with ‘skepticism’


6 So-Bad-They're-Actually-Still-Bad Scams

March 30th, 2012 by

One thing I want to make clear here is that when I say these businesses are scams, I’m not making any claims about conscious fraud. It’s entirely possible that all of the people involved in all of these businesses honestly believe they’re providing goods and services of actual value for their customers. My point is that if they do believe that, they’re wrong. (more…)

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BEASTcast 25: Dr. Rachael Dunlop

March 29th, 2012 by

Rachael Dunlop¬†is an ALS and ageing researcher and¬†Vice President of the New South Wales committee of the¬†Australian Skeptics. She also won the¬†most hilarious internet award ever. She blogs at¬†Skeptic’s Book. We talk about science communication, homeopathy, the anti-vaccination craze and some of the other pseudoscience she and her fellow skeptics deal with in Australia.¬†Music is by¬†Pigface¬†and is used with permission.

You can¬†subscribe to the BEASTcast here¬†or¬†rate and/or leave a review¬†in iTunes. (more…)

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BEASTcast 24: Joe Nickell

March 21st, 2012 by

Joe Nickell is a paranormal investigator at the Center for Inquiry and a historical document consultant. He’s also a senior research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the author of many books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin. We  talk about the subject of that book because some dude is coming to Western New York to do a presentation for the Shroudies. Why is God so bad at Photoshop? Listen to find out!

Music is by Pigface and is used with permission. You can subscribe to the BEASTcast here or rate and/or leave a review in iTunes.

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TWiC #10: Free Will and Other Fairy Tales

March 9th, 2012 by

[I should probably point out that I started writing this post before I heard that Sam Harris just released a short book / long pamphlet about this subject. You'll just have to take my word for it.]

Being a connoisseur of crazy ideas carries with it a sort of demarcation problem. Is there a clearly defined line between a belief being totally unreasonable and kooky, and a belief which is just simply wrong? What kind of method can we use to tell the difference?

Sometimes it can be tough to distinguish between one unjustified belief categorized as crackpottery while another equally unjustified belief escapes unscathed simply because it’s popular. As it goes with pornography and Supreme Court justices, we might not be able to clearly define woo, but we can know it when we see it. As hazily defined a term as it is, maybe it would help the cause to expand its definition to the point where it makes more people re-examine their positions. (more…)

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TWiC #9: David Icke's 5 Most Hilarious Fantasies

March 2nd, 2012 by

So I’ve almost got to the double digits of this column about crackpots and craziness without even having addressed David Icke. He’s probably best known for spreading the idea that European royalty and other powerful elites like George Bush and Boxcar Willie are secretly the descendants of reptilian shape-shifters from another planet who interbred with humans in ancient times to create special bloodlines… Bloodlines of evil! And they eat babies! And stuff. It’s an extension of the Ancient Aliens hypotheses you get from guys like Zecharia Sitchin and Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (who I hear is actually a really nice guy, for what it’s worth) with a little interplanetary erotica thrown in for fun.

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TWiC #8: Alex Jones is the King of All Crackpots

February 24th, 2012 by

I first heard about Alex Jones during one of my first breaks home from college, catching up with a friend from high school. He went to college in Meadville, PA, at the same school which after one semester drove Trent Reznor into the happening nightlife of Cleveland and probably fueled his angst-based career for the next 20 years.

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TWiC #7: Flat Earthers Are Probably Smarter Than You

February 17th, 2012 by

… But they’re still wrong.

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” -Thomas Paine

Last weekend my Twitter timeline blew up when Kirk Cameron showed up at CPAC to lecture at the attendees about creationism and the worldwide mad deadly evolution conspiracy. But the mocking wasn’t coming from scientists or secular activists who work at keeping religion out of science classrooms. Those people tend to not show up at events like CPAC. No, it was coming pretty much exclusively from liberal political activist bloggers and journalists. And not only that, it was also exclusively coming from bloggers and journalists who, as far as I could tell, have never once written about biological evolution or the fallacies involved in creationist arguments. I speculated that most of them have never even opened a text on evolution before. (more…)

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TWiC #6: Obama is a Secret Pharaoh Clone

February 9th, 2012 by

“OBAMA! And BIDEN! The Three Musketeers!”

So it looks like birtherism is about as dead as we could hope. Sure, the WorldNetDaily and Washington Times crowd will never be convinced Barack Obama is an American human, but the public consciousness has at least shifted enough around this issue that when someone admits to being a birther it’s pretty much the end of any serious conversation. So now the would-be birthers who still want to be taken seriously have to limit their race-baiting to the kind of dog-whistle buzz words and phrases that people like Newt Gingrich are so fond of. (more…)

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