Slow News Week

Wow, this week has been the slowest ever. I've been looking all over the internet for some interesting news,but sadly mostly just the regular nonsense that we've all heard a million times.

I'm working on the chiropractic article but its slow going. I find it ironic that the one thing keeping me from finishing this,the internet,is also the thing that lets me do this.

In other news I am considering writing a book. No title right now but it will mostly be concerned with how a teenager views skeptism.I don't know if I should write about Atheism but im open to suggestions.I'm looking into self-publishers and I would also greatly appreciate it if you could e-mail me for suggestions for my book. I want to know what my potential buyers want to see in a skeptical book.


New Paranormal TV Show

A New Paranormal show was just produced by Dark Arts Films (I've never heard of them either) called "Out of the Static" At the bottom of their website there was this paragraph:
"We seek out normal everyday people that have been touched by paranormal events. We look for people who have lived through these strange unexplainable encounters and want to share their true tales with others"
I just saw a trailer for it. I really don't see what it had to do with the paranormal, but hey, it had creepy music. After seeing this clip, I doubt it will ever make past a local channel, but this will still pollute the minds of people with false ideas about science and how simple and explainable these encounters really are.


Starting Debates

Hey everyone!

This is my first blog entry, so please give me some feedback so I know what to tweak.

After becoming a skeptic, I've noticed that many people believe that they have the ability to argue a position logically. Unfortunately, many of these same people, either knowingly or unknowingly, employ logical fallacies to support their position. It isn't a lack of intelligence that causes these people to invalidate their argument, it is just an ignorance to the fallacies that the human mind can so easily fall in to. In skepticism, understanding why an argument is illogical is just as important as demanding evidence for claims; each leads to a better understanding of reality. There are many great websites on the internet that explain all of the numerous fallacies in full, such as The Fallacy Files and The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (which has a shortened listing), or podcasts such as Logically Critical, but I wanted to take a look at some of the most common fallacies used by crooked debaters and proponents of pseudoscience throughout the next few weeks. To begin with, I'd like to introduce one of the most commonly abused logical fallacies: the ad hominem logical fallacy.

Ad Hominem (Ad-Hom)

Sometimes shortened down to ad-hom, this fallacy is commonly used during a debate when the majority of an audience is biased against a particular world view, lifestyle, or other characteristic held by one of the debaters. Any argument that claims that the a conclusion is false because of a characteristic held by the debater, or attempts to personally attack the debater and claim this attack to be reason to dismiss their argument is an ad hom.

Paul claims that global warming is real.
Paul is not trustworthy.
Therefore, anything Paul says is invalid and global warming is not real.

In this example, Paul's untrustworthiness is cited as an excuse to dismiss his argument. It does not matter who makes an argument; if a mental asylum patient was to claim evolution is true, it would not invalidate existence of Darwinian natural selection. In the same way, a person's beliefs, behaviors, or other traits cannot be used to disregard an adversary's argument. Ad hominem fallacies are not always negative; they can attribute a positive characteristic to the opposing debater to discredit him.
Sally: "Wow Kent, you completely blew that evolution debate against Richard, what happened?"

Kent: "Well, it wasn't that my position was incorrect, it's just that Richard is such a good debater, he could win any argument he wanted to!"
Anyone who claims to lose an argument because "my opponent is a better orator" is using an ad-hominem; in this instance Kent is still using Richard's oratory skills as an excuse for his (miserable) defense of creationism or ID, whichever form of magical thinking he believes.

After learning of this fallacy, some budding skeptics have the unfortunate tendency to claim that every insult is an ad-hom, which is untrue. An orator can disparage their opponent as much as they wish, as long as their actual reason for denying the opponent's position is logical.

For instance:
Steve believes in homeopathy.
Steve is a crazy hippie using some form of amphetamines, and there is absolutely no evidence to substantiate Steve's outrageous claims.
Due to the lack of evidence or active ingredient, homeopathy is pseudoscience.

In this second instance, Steve was referred to as a "crazy hippie", as well as a user of amphetamines, but the actual reason for dismissing his argument was that there was no evidence after repeated trials (as well as no logical mechanism for its working) of homeopathy's efficacy. It is admissible (even if impolite) to ridicule a pseudoscientist's claims as long as the actual reason for dismissing their assertions is based in sound logical reasoning.

Well, that's it for this week; hopefully I'll be able to contribute more to this blog as time goes on. Have a happy Flag Day!


Psudeoscience Kills Another

In Melbourne , Rowan Cooke died of heat induced dehydration during a ritual conducted by David Jarvis, a new age spitualist. The ritual included 8 days of fasting meditaiton and purification. On November 3rd 2004 Cooke and another man were dragged out of a steam tent and upon seeing the men unconcious the other people decided that they were on another plane of existance, astral projecting they said, to get the men back to their bodys they preformed a ritual where they beat drums, massaged their hands, buried feet in dirt and, chanting. the other man awoke after 40 minutes but Cooke remained unconcious and the alarm was not raised for at least 6 hours.Cooke died at the hospital.

a sad occurence showing just how harmful psudeoscience really is.

for another article on it go here.


Stem Cell Research

In a new study a group of scientist were able to revert a muture stem cell into its former embryonic stem cell form. most scientist regard the embryonic stem cell as the best of all of them for potential to cure diesease they have now been able to insert a "time machine" gene which reverted the stem cell to an embroyonic state. This study was carried out in mice so it is unknown whether it will pan out in human trails but this has been replicated in three independent labs so any skeptisim regarding fruad is put at ease.

Hopefully this will quiet the people who equate embyonic stem cell research with murder.


Homeopathy: Fact or Crap?

Alternative medicine is rampant in America and Homeopathy is one of the most used, but it also remains relatively inconspicuous about its methods. This is somewhat depressing as many numbers of people trust their health to this theory, and it remains unquestioned. Most people would demand an explanation of how a surgery, for example, would save their life or health, but I suppose those are the people who don’t use Homeopathy. In the following paragraphs I will overview the history and theory of Homeopathy.

The history of homeopathy is very simple, it started with the creator Samuel Hahnemann (hah-na-men) who was a doctor dissatisfied with the medical field of the day, which was understandable as the medical field of the time did more harm than good. It is also understandable that he would become upset at the practices and want to develop an alternative; however the result is so ridiculous and silly that it boggles the mind as to how anybody buys into this. The homeopathic philosophy (I call it such because it is not a medical practice) comes from one anecdote (story), a giant no-no in science, this was when Hahnemann took a small amount of the cinchona bark ,which contains quinine a common treatment for malaria, and he developed the symptoms of malaria. This established the first law of homeopathy: like cures like. This law is the basic premise of homeopathy and this has never been scientifically proven. There are a total of two homeopathic laws that I know of, I’ll cover those later. After its conception homeopathy rose in popularity mainly in the 19th century and then went into a decline here in the US. In the UK the royal families were great supporters of it so it was able to retain its popularity. There has recently been resurgence in the UK which is slowly spreading to the US.

The Homeopathic theory is based on the holistic approach which basically means that every patient is unique and needs a specific remedy for them. Now while this sounds very nice it is not how the doctors of today treat illness, they diagnose your illness by reviewing your symptoms and conclude from that and your medical history what treatment you should receive (at least that’s what I got from watching House) Besides the holistic approach there are two homeopathic laws I have already covered the first law, like cures like, the second law is the law of infinitesimal doses, which is that the “active ingredient” should be diluted in either alcohol or water. This really doesn’t sound that silly, I mean why would that matter at all when it’s all said and done? Really it wouldn’t matter that much except that they dilute to such a degree that it becomes ineffective and they do so in the following steps: take 1 cc (cubic centimeter) of the active ingredient, dilute in 9 cc’s of water. Shake across all axis’s, this means shaking up, down, side to side, and every other way you can think of, ten times. Fourth, repeat 29 more times on average. Now to see just how stupid this is lets take a look a fairly basic chemistry principle, the molecule, most will now this but just to be sure I will explain. A molecule is a grouping of at least two atoms that is electrically neutral and is stable through strong chemical bonds. Basically it means it is a bunch of atoms that make the substance have its properties. YOU CAN NOT DILUTE A MOLUCULE, IT CANNOT HAPPEN. The only way you can take a molecule down to a more basic level is to make it into a single atom at which point it is no longer the same substance, for instance if you take water (H2O) and try to break it into a more basic substance all you would end up with is 3 atoms, 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen. When you try to do what homeopathy suggest you would, by some point, just be moving the molecules into separate containers. Now homeopathic remedies in your local pharmacy are usually sold between 6X and 30X solutions. I came across a website that actually did the math and found that in a 30X solution to find a single molecule of the actual ingredient you would need a container 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth. I am not making this up go here to check for yourself. There actually a 120X solution, now I don’t know how big of a container you would need but I have heard that it would be bigger than the known universe. Now most homeopathic practitioners probably know this and so they made a loophole, they say that the water retains the “memory” of the substance. If this rational holds true than all homeopathic remedies would have a memory of the ocean which probably has a diluted form of toxic waste, human waste, oil, and countless other toxins. It probably has about the same dilution so why don’t these ‘ingredients’ have an effect? Here we have two choices: it doesn’t because homeopathic practitioners say so or because Homeopathy doesn’t work. You decide.

I would go into the clinical trails of homeopathy and their conclusions but this would be needlessly tedious because I can cover it in these few statements: any placebo controlled double-blinded studies are conclusively negative. The few times it shows any positive results are when it is a poor study or when it is published in an alternative medicine journal.

Homeopathy is a hallmark of the SCAM’s (supplementary complementary and alternative medicine) (I love that acronym by the way) it takes people away from proven medical treatments and makes them afraid of the pharmaceutical companies and the medical community in general. It enables people to shut off their brains and never think critically about the treatment, they say there are no side effects, they never admit they could be wrong and that is one of the least skeptical things you can do.

For two much better written blogs by two experienced skeptics would be: Neurologica by Dr. Steven Novella of the New England Skeptical Society and host of the podcast The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. The Second would be The Memoirs of a Skepchick by Rebecca Watson, The Skepchick and panelist on the Skeptics Guide. Two fantastic skeptical podcast are the aforementioned Skeptics Guide and Quackcast a review of fraudulent medicine. Another humorous podcast is about critical thinking, LogicallyCritical.


Psychic predicts earthquake in California

On Coast to Coast AM, a radio show listened to solely by insomniacs, a psychic predicted that the BIG ONE is supposed to happen this month. For those of you who dont know what the BIG ONE is its a earthquake thats supposed to be a giant earthquake that is going to basiclly rip apart Califonia. Now I dont know if this is ever going to acctually happen, i dont know what geologist say about the BIG ONE but ill just talk about this pychic. first off this is a very vauge predition, there is practiclly NO chace of no earthquakes for an entire month in California. if there is just a big earthquake but not THE big one then he'll just claim thats what he meant. so its really just a win-win if there is the BIG ONE then he's a genius, psychic, national hero,blah blah. If theres just a regular earthquake he still wins. so either way he cant lose.

By the way i would just like to say he didnt actually say anything that could ,you know, save lives.

the homeopathy blog should be up by friday at the latest. sorry about the latness


People Hate Atheist

In a recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology it was found that most Americans see Atheist as the most immoral and untrustworthy people in the world today. the study,which can be found here, was conducted as part of the American Mosiac Project a three year long funded project which looks at Americans views toward religion, race, and sex to see how america reacts to issues.

In the study over 2,000 households nation wide were asked what minority group “[shared] their vision of American society.” Atheist were the lowest scored below Muslims,Homosexuels and illegall immigrants in these standings. They were also shown to the the lowest ranked in whether a parent would allow their children to marry the minority. The lead researcher,Penny Edgell, had this to say about the findings "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,”

This study shows just how misunderstood Atheist really are, it shows just how people dont listen to other people about any ideas that dont agree with their world view.people dont like to shake up their world view so anybody elses becomes transformed beyond recongnition.

In other news the homeopathy article will be up probably by tommorow. I also still in need of another writer on this blog please email me for this at skepkid@yahoo.com