spudtater: (Default)
( Feb. 20th, 2010 08:15 pm)
First science linky is this very interesting article about ozone depletion denialists. It points out how the exact same tactics being used by climate change denialists today were being used by politicians and industry groups in the 70s/80s, before the discovery of the ozone hole forced a massive backpedal. Particularly interesting is... no, just read the article.   8^)

Second linky is to Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog, about the Ying Wu chinese herbal medicine case (a woman was given pills for acne, got cancer, and ended up having to have both kidneys and urinary tract removed).

Upon telling [personal profile] galaxy_girl that the industry was entirely unregulated, she responded that "they could be selling rat poison for all we know". I then proceeded to discover via this, this and this:

Aristolochic acid is a rodent carcinogen found in Aristolochia and Asarum, both in the Aristolochiaceae family of plants.

Well, then.
spudtater: (Default)
( Feb. 9th, 2009 08:25 pm)
Those of you who know anything about polygraph lie detector tests will know that they are considered pseudo-science by most academics — they tend to show the results that the examiner expects to see, and largely work on the principle of intimidation. They're basically a stress test, and stress is not a good indicator of when somebody is lying.

If a test that includes measures of breathing, blood pressure, pulse and skin conductivity is inaccurate, how much more so will mere telephone-based lie detection be? And yet our very own Department of Work and Pensions is currently running trials of one such system; already hundreds of thousands of pounds have been denied to claimants based on the results of these tests.

And the details of this system? It turns out that it consists of just 500 lines of Visual Basic code — that's less than most A-Level computing projects — written by a single person with no qualifications whatsoever, either in computing or psychology.

spudtater: (Default)
( Aug. 16th, 2007 11:35 pm)
I was sitting on the bus today, when an elderly, fairly sharply-dressed black gentleman descended the stairs and peered out at the church outside. "Fucking Christianity!" I heard him exclaim, which I admit I was not expecting. He then proceeded to inform the bus in general, and me in particular, that he had no love in his heart for any Christian church — "speaking", he was quick to point out, "as somebody who used to wear the collar myself". He went on to add the disclaimer that he had nothing against Jesus, who he still believed in and rated as a pretty swell guy. The man was remarkably soft-spoken and matter-of-fact about all this, considering.

Throughout this conversation I was a little unsure of what to add to this, other than seeming politely interested.

Before getting off the bus, the man calmed down and apologised for his sudden tirade; "this lot just get me so riled up". And he was gone, leaving only a group of slightly bemused passengers behind him.

I don't know why I thought this was worthy of an LJ post. He was just such a quirky character.
spudtater: (Default)
( Jan. 2nd, 2007 02:38 pm)
Got an... interesting comment on my post a few weeks back:


Anybody want to ring him?   8^)
spudtater: (Default)
( Dec. 4th, 2006 05:05 pm)
Oh, wow! My post from last May, on "The Holy Grail is a Dragon Bloodline", picked up a response, supposedly from the original author of the piece. (I can only assume that somebody else edits his articles for grammar and punctuation, though.)

We love teh intarwebs.

(I may have to start signing off as "butza brain".)   8^)
spudtater: (Default)
( Jun. 21st, 2006 10:26 pm)

Stephen Colbert, who very frequently rocks, in an interview with Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, on the subject of displaying the ten commandments in courthouses etc. Laugh track added post-interview.


(Even those of you who are religious want to watch this one. It's brilliant.)

Stephen Hawking says pope told him not to study beginning of universe

'Hawking, who didn't say when the meeting was held, quoted the pope as saying, "It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not enquire into the beginning itelf because that was the moment of creation and the work of God."'

— AP, 15/06/2006

And this doesn't really fit the topic of religion, but I have recently discovered that some people apparently still believe in the theory of phrenology. (That's the one about reading people's personalities by examining the bumps in their heads.) Oh dear.

I was doing a Google search on "Edonian" when I stumbled across this article:

THE HOLY GRAIL IS A DRAGON BLOODLINE http://www.tribwatch.com/holygrail.htm

Madness follows )
spudtater: (Default)
( Feb. 26th, 2006 10:12 pm)
I was getting off the bus tonight (at quarter past ten at night) when a short, greasy-haired man in a baggy jacket came up to me and jumped straight into a conversation. Well, a tirade. A rather mad one.

This is, to the best of my recall abilities, how it went: )

"Radio-activity is neither a drug nor medicine. It is an element of nature—and therefore accepted as harmoniously in the body as sunlight, fresh air, or the vitamins in foods, and is of like importance."

"it is but common sense to restore it to water that has lost it just as we restore oxygen to a stuffy room by opening a window"

"One should drink water from the REVIGATOR at all times and at least eight full glasses per day."

It's the Revigator; a revolutionary health product from the 1920s. It's just a gallon-sized water jar, really... only it's lined with a thick layer of uranium ore. The "vigor gas" it adds to water is radon, a product of uranium decay.

Here's a PDF file of the leaflet quoted above. It's funny because it's so sincere. And, as its ex-owner points out, it does read disturbingly like the "alternative medicine" leaflets of the present.

Suffering from chronic pain? Eczema? Asthma? Diabetes? How about a relaxing session down a radon mine?

Radon: the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., now with health benefits! Honest!

As those of you who follow internet rumour will recall, the letters "NYC", when rendered in the Wingdings font, display as a skull-and-crossbones, a star of david, and a thumbs-up sign. Obviously Microsoft is anti-semitic! OMGWTFBBQ!!1!

I take this quote from the Snopes page on the subject:

"Young calculated the odds of three letters of the alphabet being combined with 255 symbols, and said he found that the odds of obtaining the message were less than one in a trillion."

More great journalism from the New York Post, then.

One in a trillion!? Even with the most naive calculation I can think of—26 * 26 * 26 * 255 * 255 * 255—I get only a quarter of a trillion. What crack was he smoking?

spudtater: (Default)
( Oct. 4th, 2004 11:33 am)

Some of you may have seen this before, but I haven't shared it with too many LJ folks yet:

kabalarians.com provides a numerology-based interpretation of how your name determines your personality. So...

Dear Cthulhu... )
spudtater: (Default)
( Sep. 29th, 2004 06:31 am)
Went to my first Aikido lesson. Am still unsure about it; it does seem just a touch culty. The thing is that they don't appear to even realise this. The teacher placed a picture of the founder of Aikido on one wall, and as they step onto the mat they bow deeply in that direction. I asked them about this and got a mumbled response basically saying "it's traditional".

I sort of did a half-bow because I didn't want to make a fuss on my first day. But I have an unspoken principle of never bowing to anybody (or anything) who doesn't bow back. This includes pictures. I think I'll have to sort this out with them. I'll bow to the teacher, sure. I'll bow to my classmates, no problem. But to a dead dude's portrait? I'd really rather not, thankyouverymuch.

As for the actual art, it seems pretty neat. The first thing we learned was how to fall over.   8^)
Then we did a whole bunch of stuff revolving around one person grabbing the other's wrist, and the latter trying to break free or to force the former to fall over. It kinda suits me because the whole idea is to find ways to move such that the opponent can't resist in any way. So it's less of a physical struggle, and more tactical.

Now for karate on Friday. Hope I haven't missed too much.
spudtater: (Default)
( Sep. 16th, 2004 01:50 am)

From the leaflet handed out by the Aikido society:

The founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, felt that the true spirit of aikido aimed to create a world without enemies. "This world was designed by our creator", he said, "there is no need to fight against its natural harmony. With true mind of love and compassion we can go back to the original principles of creation, end establish noble and pure world. [sic] This is what we are obliged to achieve and this is the purpose of our life".

Okay, non-violent martial art: good. Talking like a freaky cultist: bad.
From the next page:

Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the founder of aikido, was possibly history's greatest martial artist. Even at 80, Morihei could disarm any attacker, repel multiple opponents, and pin a man with a single finger.

Ummm... the first two claims were stretching credibility. The last one's just silly.



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