Thursday, December 23, 2010

whats the harm?

A quick link to a BBC article about the harm caused to children by complementary and alternative medicine:
Alternative remedies 'dangerous' for kids says report
From the article: "Children don't make decisions themselves about their treatment; very often it is their parents, and parents can be misguided by the 50 million alternative medicine websites. The children are victims of lots of nonsense and false claims."

Monday, December 20, 2010

This is why science matters!

again..lazy post from work but seriously...Genetic Sequencing Used to Identify and Treat Unknown Disease ... basically this boy had a never before seen bowel disease and had over 100 surgeries because his intestines were trying to kill him. Doctors, with no better idea decided to sequence his genome (Fuckin' sweet) and actually identified a single gene (out or 20,000) that was mutated in a novel way(Fuckin's sweeter) and verified that it was the culprit, then they found a compatible donor and got stem cells from a Chord Blood Transplant (Sweet Jesus that's Fuckin' Sweet) and now he can finally be normal...This is Why SCIENCE MATTERS!!

now we need to contact Matt and Tray and get a Science-y version of this song...

Science...Fuck Yeah!

Friday, December 17, 2010

End of the year party

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we are having a year end party this saturday at 7pm. Call or email for directions.
Bring drinks and snacks and it should be a good time!
Hope to see everyone there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monkeys + Radiation = ??

just a quickie...apparently NASA had a project on the table (just announced to be put on hold for money reasons) to Irradiate 27 Squirrel monkeys with high intensity Gamma radiation.
Article Linked here

The purpose is to test the effects of long duration space flight (ie to Mars...).
**Side note, if the generation ship becomes a reality and they are offering one-way tickets to Mars to set up longer term colonies or bases or whatnot, SIGN ME UP!!**

Quick question...isn't Gamma radiation what caused mild mannered Bruce Banner to become the Green Machine of Destruction known as The Hulk?

Seriously while there are clearly animal welfare ethics issues to discuss here, I actually am glad that people are serious about understanding what the hell MIGHT happen if someone spends a decent amount of time (months) entirely exposed to radiation levels that don't exist in orbit around the earth.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Science Cafe and Meeting Saturday

Sorry for the short notice again, but science cafe is tonight, the lecture starts at 6, so arrive earlier than that if you want food or drink. Should be a good talk
Speaker: Dr. Sue James Co-Director
Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence in Musculoskeletal Research, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering

Topic: Orthopedic Biomaterials and for Joint Repair.

Dr. James will discuss the polymeric materials invented in her research laboratory over the last decade. The approach has been to make the synthetic plastics traditionally used in total joint replacements more like natural cartilage by infusing the plastic with natural biomolecules. These materials are currently undergoing clinical trials in the U.K.

Dr. Sue James Bio:

Dr. Susan P. James is Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University. She is also a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at CSU. She was raised in the Midwest (Lincoln, NE and the Chicagoland area) and went to school in Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon) and Boston (MIT). She came to CSU in 1994 as an assistant professor. She is the founder and former Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering at CSU. Her research on biomaterials has focused largely on orthopedic applications of polymers and has lead to the development of novel implant materials. She lives in Rist Canyon with her husband and two sons.

Find out more at

Also meet this week at Avo's at 7pm on saturday!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Science Cafe

For those of you that are interested- Science Cafe is tonight at Avo's. The lecture starts at 6, so arrive early to get food and drinks.

Science Cafe Fort Collins
Science has been a successful topic in the cafe setting for almost three years in Fort Collins and, since 1998, around the world. The second Wednesday of the month, Beet Street engages scientists and researchers to present and discuss their topics and research with our community members. Topics span the hard sciences, ranging from green technology to medical research developments to astronomy, to name only a few.

Nov 10:
Speaker: Eugene Kelly
Professor, Soil Science (Pedology and Forest/Range Soils)
CSU, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences

Topic: Soils and Global Change Research

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Avo's Saturday

So i'm sure we should post on here more often. We've had a lot of fun the past few weeks with halloween related stuff. Time to get back to our regular drinking schedule and meet at Avo's bar this saturday at 7pm.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

horses, dear friends and the devil

So this has been bothering me for a while. I have some friends, who are absolutely the nicest people i have ever met. They own and run a horse ranch, where another close friend both lives and works, and also my wife has worked on and off for over a year. They have been entirely hospitable, hosting many barbecues for their friends all the time. We even are always getting free farm fresh eggs from their chickens. They are nice people... I can't stress that enough. They are retired, made their money doing pharmaceutical research (I think he has a PhD), lately they've been seeing some money problems... (Dun Dun Duuuuuuuuuun) they have an addiction... one without the thrill of the win that gambling can give you when you hit 3 bars on the slot machine, one without the rush that even a drug or sex addiction has...
They cannot make a single decision without consulting their "friend"... her name is Sandy and she is a horse Psychic. She charges $50 for a half hour and $80 for the full hour. Now I know... what's the harm? Right? It's their money... they surely can afford it...blah blah blah...BULLSHIT! This lady is better than Miss Cleo because she can talk to the Horses over the Phone... for $80 an hour... hell Miss Cleo only charged .99 cents a minute... This lady is bleeding them dry.
They consult her on all matters. They call her BEFORE they call the vet. They call HER before they try and train a horse for riding or driving a cart to ask if the horse wants to learn. They call HER if they get an offer to buy one of their horses (their dream was to start this business with Irish Gypsy Horses and breed and sell them... to try to establish the breed in the region). They have turned down decent offers for a sale because "the horse didn't want to go with them" and even better when a second buyer made an offer a week later, the horse changed it's mind and "wanted to go with that first person"...I submit for your approval that she isn't even a good psychic... otherwise she would at least give good financial advise so that they arent forced to go bankrupt...Hell even a GOOD parasite will only do enough damage to weaken but NOT kill... then the host is no good and they have to move on.

Ironically she isn't a particularly good psychic as she recently has said that a horse was angry and dangerous...(he's not... he's a big warmblood and thinks that he's the boss...that's all (not to anthropomorphise)) and that another was a very skittish and angry personality and shouldn't be used around non-experts (this one is came from a charity and they are holding it until it can be placed... and it has been thoroughly trained as a therapy horse).

As an aside...I am NOT particularly a horse person... I like them, they seem nice, however my body apparently hates them...I am extremely allergic to them...does that stop me from going to help my wife and friend around the ranch on a regular basis...NO because I apparently get off on mainlining Benedryl afterward...That said...These are some of the nicest horses as a breed that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting... they are almost like a Lab...friendly and as babies they might even roll over and let you rub their bellies (or so I have been told)

These are very dear friends of mine and I have tried to talk to them. It sickens me that these people (and they are smart, MOSTLY scientific minded people) have been taken in by a charlatan and a fraud. They started this ranch as part of a retirement dream to run as a business... they wanted to breed and sell and ride and show these horses... From what I understand, they are having trouble shelling out the entry fees to show their horses in the arenas where they MIGHT just get recognized and be able to sell these horses for what they feel they are worth... now if only the psychic could tell them how the hoses feel about eating and if they have any suggestions for the ranch...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Drinking this weekend Haunted Tours soon!!!

First- Meet us at Avos Bar this Saturday at 7pm!
Then-let me know if you are interested in this ghost tour!!!!!

I am organizing a "ghost tour" of the Wyoming territorial prison for our group. This prison is the only prison where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were ever held captive. They have had "ghost hunters" there before who reportedly found ghosts or spirits or something haunting the place. I think it will be a fun use of our skeptical skills and a great way to get in the halloween spirit. The prison is in Laramie, WY, which is about an hour drive north of fort collins. Learn more about the prison at
I am thinking that the weekend of the 21-23 would be the best unless i hear otherwise, let me know what day you would like to go (tours run thursday through saturday) The earliest the tours start is 7pm and it runs about 1.5 hours.
Tickets are $10 per person and we need to reserve a tour spot. As soon as i reserve our spot, i can also start arranging a carpool (if you have a car we could use, let me know).
Email me ASAP if you are interested so i can reserve us enough tour spots and let me know if you have a car and would be willing to drive.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Movie Reshape: Another Concept to Throw in Your Skeptical Tool Kit

Came across this on DiscoBlogs, where there is an excellent article about it, and it seemed rather "skeptical" to me.

Is anyone else surprised that this technology was used on Baywatch to increase male chest size?

gotta love xkcd

A bit of skepticism from one of my favorite comics

This is a fun explanation to prepare your kids for; it's common and totally wrong. Good lines include; why does the air have to travel on both sides at the same time; and I saw the Wright brothers plane and those wings were curved the same on the top and bottom!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mitchell and Webb - Homeopathic E.R.

There is a part of me that wishes sooooo much that beer actually worked like that.

Skeptics in the Pub Meetup 7pm at Avogadro's Number

By popular demand, Drinking Skeptically has decided to make Avogadro's Number our new home starting this Saturday night at 7.

Aside from gaining obvious points for the scientific name, the atmosphere is fun, friendly, talkative and the staff is great.

Come down and have a drunken time with some fellow skeptics!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blasphemy Day!!! and drinking!

Tomorrow is International Blasphemy Rights Day and the CSU Leaders in Free Thought will be hosting an event on the student center plaza so come check it out. Also, check out our facebook event!

Also a reminder that we are changing locations this week. We will meet at Woody's Pizza on saturday at 6pm. Hope to see everyone there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

News Website Article About a Scientific Paper

Not much need for a lot of context for this article by Martin Robbins of the Guardian, it perfectly sums up the state of science journalism today.

"This is a News Website Article About a Scientific Paper"

Via Pharyngula

If you aren't reading either of these gentlemen, you definitely should be.

Friday, September 24, 2010

CB and Potts-One more time

We are meeting at CB and Potts this Saturday at 6pm. Hope to see everyone there!
If the weather is nice- we will be outside, if the weather is not nice look for us somewhere inside the bar.

Also, again here are links to other skeptics in the community-if you want to be included on this list, just let me know!

Jeff's blog Untitled Vanity Project

Kai's Blog (he's on vacation for a bit, but should be posting again soon)

Brian's Podcast and Radio Show

And our college skeptics the CSU Leaders in Free Thought (LIFT)

Also, I have emailed info about our group to both
Drinking Skeptically
Skeptics in the Pub

So we will be listed on there sometime in the next few days.

Random Skeptical Quote of the Week:
"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one"

-George Bernard Shaw

Friday, September 17, 2010

CB and Potts Sat 6pm (Again)

September is CB & Potts month for skeptics in the pub, we decided to have one steady location for the first month or so of college to help encourage new members coming.  The Meet-up starts at 6 and we will be there till at least 8 (although often we are there much later) so feel free to come late should you be attacked by a rat.

Also, we will be setting up the schedule for the blog for the rest of the semester sometime in the next week or two, so if you would like to contribute email Amy or me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ahhh, College News

So today i was innocently reading the Collegian, CSU's daily news paper and came across an article that just made me sad for the world.

Group seeks truth on UFO activity-
First off- is this seriously newsworthy? Why are we even wasting time on nutcases? I guess the answer to this is that they managed to get a (and I quote) "ballot initiative that aims to create transparency in the government concerning all UFO related matters, as well as to form a committee to prepare for any future contact with extraterrestrial beings."

So, do i think that this may be newsworthy since we are now using government funds to deal with the crazy people? maybe...

Some of this groups major claims are that colorado is a hot spot for UFO activity and “There have been six to seven alien civilizations that have interacted with our planet throughout history,” Siblerud said. “They aren’t that much different than what we are; we share similar DNA. Some people can even communicate with them with their minds.”

Which would all be easily written off as just a typical conspiracy theory, but these people make the claim that they "are both followers of the new science movement, which aims to apply scientific practices to principles that mainstream academia would classify as the paranormal."

Seriously? I personally would like to see what kind of proof they have for these civilizations that have visited earth, but then of course, with statements like:

Both Peckman and Siblerud hear what naysayers have to say about their movements, but there is little that can be said that deters them or their beliefs.

I really don't feel like there is much actual science involved in their investigations.

Anyways, read the rest of the article, if you forget that they are talking about real people, its rather funny.

Somewhere Doug and Dave are Sharing a Laugh

Apparently Norwegian Skeptics are funny . . . who knew?  Here, they've taken a believer in "crop circle magic," out to see a fresh one for herself.

The crop circle is actually the logo for a British game show produced by Stephen Fry.

The footage is actually not part of a prank.  It is part of a credulous documentary about the psychic herself.  The psychic and her film crew decided (completely free from prompting) to come visit the crop circle which had been produced for Qi.

Thanks to PZ Myers for the original posting.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Happy Sunday Evening!
Last night, as an alternative to joining all of you at CB and Potts, I attended a BBQ at a friend's ranch. This was all fun and whatnot... until the bombardment began...

One of my fellow guests regaled me with stories of her terrible allergies, (anyone who knows me knows that i am two sneezes away from being John Travolta ). As the conversation was quickly turning into a metaphorical pissing contest she began explaining how she had heard that tapeworms (or some other variety of parasitic worms) are starting to be used for treatment of allergies. I guess the mechanism of action is somewhat based on the idea that allergies are an autoimmune response and that giving the immune system something to actually focus on, allergies will abate. She asked me if I would ever consider taking worms therapeutically, and my only response was that I would have to see the data before willfully infesting myself with parasites.

After a brief Googling on the topic I came upon a couple of websites that were leaning in the direction of Alt-Med and one even brought up Hulda Clark. So I searched Science Based Medicine ...nothing so I searched ScienceDaily and came up with a couple of articles...notably This one. please feel free to read it yourself but the basic conclusion is that there is data that was collected in Vietnam on children with hookworm infections and after being treated for the worms, they were found to have a higher likelyhood of allergies to dust mites. As a result there is a call to study the possible methods by which the worms suppress the inflammation reaction.

So we shall see if anything comes of it...until then I will make do with my cocktail of antihistamines and other medications.

Further several of the other guests began talking about massage therapy (my friend has had success for her chronic migranes) and the conversation began to deteriorate into "magical benefits of massage until one of them mentioned some reiki practitioner in town. Now I have to admit, I was taken a little off guard and was only vaguely familiar with reiki as being some Woo concept but no details. (Now here boys and girls, is what I should have said..."How do you suppose that works?" ) and then she went on to explain meridians and energy (Both words that should send up anyone's alarm bells). Now as my wife was in attendance, and I cherish NOT having to sleep on the couch, I decided that this was a convenient time for me to excuse myself and retire into the kitchen for a glass of water. I am inherantly not a very confrontational being so I know I should have gone and both taken the opportunity to learn what she thought about Reiki, as well as to encourage the thinking required to come to the conclusion "how DOES that work?" and "that doesn't seem too plausible". The best and most ironic point is that the vast majority of the guests have some background in the sciences (mostly Biology) and the Gal in question works in a necropsy (aka animal autopsy) lab determining cause of death for the division of wildlife. I would have found interesting to ask her if she had ever dissected a route of transit for these meridians that the Ki is supposed to travel through...

And to add insult to injury, the owners of the horse ranch are among the nicest people that I think I have met. And it pains me to see people like them get taken advantage of. I have been trying for months to figure out the best way to broach the subject of the Horse Psychic that they call at the slightest whim if any horse is acting odd in any way. Now does the psychic rush to the ranch to read the horse's mind...not a chance...She's so powerful that she can do it over the phone (probably from the bathtub or whatever). And does she divulge the information free of charge as a service to both humanity and equine kind...OF COURSE...NOT! So as I said... it pains me to see these people that are so nice, be taken for a ride.

Next week...See you at Potts for some enlightening conversation.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

CB and Potts Sat 6 pm!!!!!

Hey Skeptics- so we've been slacking off on the blog, but join us this week at CB and Potts (1415 West Elizabeth Street, Fort Collins). We will meet for food and drinks and good skeptical chat. It should be a lot of fun. We've got some new people joining us for drinking, so to keep it simple for people we are going to meet at CB and Potts for the rest of september. We meet on Saturday at 6pm. We will be somewhere in the bar area. Come join us anytime after 6 we usually hang out for a couple hours, at least till 8, so if 6 is too early for you, come by later.
Also, check out some blogs from our local skeptics:
First Kai has a blog (although updates are random at best)
The Metaskeptic
Jeff also has a blog
untitled vanity project
And, don't forget the CSU Leaders in Free Thought website

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finally, the Story Behind Roswell Comes Out

Just came across this on Bad Astronomy and had to repost:

I can't decide if I like it or the moon landing one better:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Asking Questions

One favorite tactic of those who are strong with the woo, is to claim they are “just asking questions,” or preface non-sequiturs with “isn’t it funny that.”

For Example:

Isn’t it funny that the man accused of JFKs assassination was killed before he could get a chance to talk?

They have insulated themselves from really taking any kind of stance or having to support their claim with evidence, because they are “just asking questions.”  It’s a great way to pretend you have legitimate concerns, when in actuality you are just being iconoclastic.

Another Huge benefit of this tactic is that if any skeptic points out that no real argument has been made they can be accused of “trying to silence the questioners,” which is more evidence for a cover-up.

Since most of this blogs readers are familiar with this tactic I’m not going to shred it here, instead I’m just going to ask some questions . . . the righteous have nothing to fear.

1.       Isn’t it funny that Murders in Chicago peaked in 1974, just two years after the birth of Jenny McCarthy?
2.       Don’t you find it strange that Oprah Winfrey has never accounted for her whereabouts during the planning stages of 9-11?
3.       I wonder why you never see pictures of Pope Ratzinger and Hitler together in the same place at the same time?
4.       Isn’t it funny how wherever Sylvia Brown goes, people keep asking her about their brutally murdered loved ones?
5.       Isn’t it strange that since the birth of Uri Geller in Israel there have been thousands of deaths in the Middle East, and no long lasting peace arrangements?
6.       Don’t you find it weird that Fred Phelps has never once denied blowing Andy Dick in a corolla parked behind a Dairy Queen after the Pam Anderson roast?
7.       Why hasn’t Pat Robertson produced evidence that he wasn’t in collusion with Charles Manson at the time of the Sharon Tate murder?
8.       Isn’t it weird that children have been sexually exploited in every major city Glenn Beck broadcasts too?
9.       Why hasn’t Ray Comfort specifically denied paying migrant workers to pleasure him using frozen bananas as make shift strap ons?
10.   Why hasn’t Ken Hamm released creation museum security camera footage which would prove he doesn’t dress in a pink teddy and wander the museum at night, practicing autoerotic asphyxiation by hanging himself from the plaster genitals of the dinosaur exhibits?

You see, by ending statements with a question mark, I can imply whatever I want, it’s neither libelous nor irresponsible, after all . . . I’m only asking questions.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yoga Might Not Have An Effect On Practitioner's Moods, But This Study Sure Affected My Mood

"New Study Proves Nothing!!!"  Hmm, I guess I can see why they didn't go with that for a headline, but they very well could have.  According to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine or NAMBLA, yoga has "mood altering effects."

I'm not going to trash CAM in general, or the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine (well aside from that one cheap shot at the beginning).  Instead, I'm just going to arm you with some of the flaws of this study so you'll be prepared when Hoda and Kathy bring it up during hour 4 of the Today Show tomorrow.

No Blinding - When you hear "no blinding," your inner Babel Fish should throw up in his mouth a little bit, then translate that as "useless data."  Especially in a study like this, where the primary indicator of "mood" was self reported.

Ns of Less than 20 - It is perfectly acceptable to use a low number of participants in a pilot study, funds are sparse, and when you are simply trying to figure out which direction research should go in, an N of 19 for the experimental group and 15 for the control group is fine.  That being said, you know what Pilot studies are designed to prove . . . NOTHING.  Even rigorous, well designed studies don't prove anything in and of themselves, they have to be balanced against the state of the scientific consensus.  Small pilot studies are simply a tool for determining which areas of research may yield results, nothing more nothing less.

Self Reporting - Other than a test for GABA levels, self reported anxiety and mood scales were used to determine the effects of Yoga.  Self reporting doesn't by itself invalidate a study, but what it does do is raise a red flag in terms of placebo effects.  The combination of self reporting and no blinding makes this little more than hearsay as there would have been powerful social pressures towards validating the researcher's biases.

GABA testing -  The tests for GABA levels were only performed 3 times, once for a baseline, and twice 12 weeks later before and after the participants participated in their respective exercises.  If you were trying to design a study so that by chance there would be some significant outcome, that is exactly how you would design it; non repeated testing of a small group.  In addition, walking (used for the control) and yoga are very different types of exercises.  Why wasn't non-yoga based stretching in a quiet room used for the control?  My guess is (intentional or not) to help ensure there would be a significant difference between the control and experimental conditions in the data.  From what I understand, resting GABA levels are typically higher (someone please correct me if I'm mistaken), it's hard to imagine that slipped the minds of these researchers.  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Richard Saunders - Applied Kinesiology

This video is pretty dry, and whoever did the music needs to be bitch slapped, but it's an incredible introduction to applied kinesiology from our Australian skeptical brethren.

Gotta love Richard Saunders, I want a British/Australian accent to increase my level of authority when I denounce things.

BTW the necklace they are using is Surly-Ramics. For those of you who aren't familiar with Surly Amy, she is a skepchick (of Rebecca Watson and SGU fame) contributor and just recently finished a fund raising even with Phil Plait selling her jewelery for skeptical causes.  If you happen to find something of hers you like, it's a great company to support.

Skeptic Book Meetup

I realize my inclusion of this picture is going to cost me
credibility.  Fortunately, I think my blog is offensive
enough to have bought me some room to work with.
Since we are headed into fall, and likely to get a few new members, I thought now might be a good time to discuss some possible plans for the school year.  I was wondering if anyone would be interested in doing sort of a skeptic book group once a month, we could combine it with the normal meetup, or have it be separate.  I'm just sick of being a weirdo for preferring Death From The Skies to Harry Potter or The Secret.  Let me know what you all think.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

This week for NoCO Skeptics

We are going to meet at CB and Potts (1415 West Elizabeth Street,) this friday at 6. Topics of discussion will include the trip to the renaissance fair, LIFT at CSU, the meet-up group, and anything else people would like to bring up. Should be a fun time and if anyone would like, after dinner and drinks we can head to the drive in theater I believe they are will be playing Despicable Me and Inception or The Revenge of Kitty Galore with Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Hope to see everyone there!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Charles Darwin's Home Life

I'm sure most of you saw this on Respectful Insolence, but just in case you haven't.

It's a good thing Emma Darwin didn't actually look like Jeniffer Connelly or that threat at the end might have worked.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BP Buying the Scientific Consensus

Below is a clip of Rachel Maddow explaining, better than I ever could, the new tactic being employed by BP in response to the spill in the gulf.  Apparently BP has been offering scientists $250 an hour to help defend them against future litigation.  The only catch?  BP is requiring those scientists to sign confidentiality agreements which will effectively silence them for the next three years.

I'm a huge believer in science informing political issues, not deciding them.  So, I don't necessarily believe that there is a "skeptical" perspective on things like environmentalism and energy policy, except to say that we should have the best information and science possible as we approach those issues.  It is not only possible, but likely that with the same set of facts, variances in values will lead to variances in opinions on policy, which is why I have yet to comment on anything oil spill related in the blog so far.  While my skeptical nature informs my political beliefs, the two are not interchangeable.   However, in this instance, BP is no longer trying to simply sway public opinion concerning their activities, they are actively trying to discourage the dissemination of information and science, and that is something that as skeptics, we can't afford to tolerate.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Atheist Evangelist

Something i ran across on the web, an interesting view on atheism. While evangelism is not something i would promote, he does make some good points and points out hypocrisy very well. Check out the rest of his videos at

Now flyers with "in god we trust" on them out number pictures of George Washington in classrooms across the country.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Skeptical Field Trip- Renaissance Fair!

So we've been discussing a trip the the Renaissance fair all summer and its about time we planned one. I am busy this coming weekend, but the weekend after that (july 1, aug 31) is the last weekend of the Fair and I'd like to get a carpool headed down there. For more info, check out
If you are interested in coming, email me and let me know if you prefer to go on saturday or sunday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stonehenge: What's The Harm?

Recently, I was involved in a discussion concerning extra terrestrial visitors to earth.  Aliens are one of my favorite pieces of woo because they are my "hypothetical."  Like the skeptical equivalent of the "if you had to" game.  "If you HAD to sleep with a guy" (Ryan Reynolds)  "If you HAD to sleep with a golden girl" (Betty White, even before the others kicked off, she was my girl)  "If you HAD to beat a celebrity with a sock filled with nickels" (Glen Beck, although I had a lot of trouble narrowing the field on that one).  "If I HAD to pick a piece of woo" Aliens are the piece of woo I hold out the most hope for; I find it extremely unlikely that our planet is so unique and fortunate as to be the only one in all the universe to have life.  That being said, I also don't think your uncle was abducted, Groom Lake wasn't filled with little green men and what crashed at Roswell was Project Mogul.  The only real mystery involving aliens is, why I can never remember if it was Bill Paxton or Bill Pullman who played the president in Independence Day, the god damned Olsen twins aren't that similar.  But I digress, the real point is that I was speaking with someone who contended that man made wonders such as the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, and the statues of Easter Island are evidence that aliens had visited earth in our not so distant past; the assumption being that humans couldn't possibly have accomplished these marvels on their own.  There are far better discussions on the web about the law of parsimony and Occam's than I could ever give so I won't start down that path.  Instead I'd simply like to ask the true believers; how dare you?  These monuments are testaments to the ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness of the people who built them.  They stand as tribute to the limitless possibilities of the human spirit, how dare you take that away without evidence.  Skeptics are often asked "what's the harm?" this is the harm.  In each of these cases, a group of people managed to do what could easily seem impossible.  Through their hard work and determination, they managed to leave behind proof that when we work together we can both accomplish and become more than we each are alone.  When you take that from them, you cheapen not only them, but the rest of mankind.

Below is a video of a man who has chosen to pay homage to the actual creators of Stonehenge.  I can think of no more fitting tribute.


According to an article in this months Nature, the age of the earth may actually be closer to 4.467 billion years than the previously estimated 4.537 billion years.  Even though this represents a discrepancy of about 1.5%, this is the kind of thing young-earthers love, and you know that in the coming months you are going to hear this spun as "well, scientists disagree about the age of the earth to the tune of 70 million years, so how can you trust anything they say."  So, I wanted to put 70 million (1.5%) in a context that even young-eathers can understand.

*If dietitians were adjusting the 2000 calorie a day diet 1.5%, the discrepancy is 31 calories, or about 4 gummy bears

*If Ron Jeremy were involved in some horrible accident and lost 1.5% of his money maker, we're talking a little under an eighth of an inch, or about the thickness of a piece of wrapped cheese.

*If your work week was off by 1.5% you would save about 36 minutes, or most of an episode of Buffy, hope there's no twist ending

*If Glen Beck were tragically struck down with 1.5% remaining in his 60 minute program it would amount to about 54 seconds less inane chatter (even less if we account for time spent crying, or watching commercials for mail order gold buyers and militias)

*If Andre The Giant's weight changed by 1.5% it would represent 8 lbs, or about a gallon of water weight (yes men can put on water weight too dammit)

*On a flight from New York to LA 1.5% saves you 36 miles, or about 3 and a half minutes in a 747

*To the average 25 year old making 28000 a year a 1.5% raise means about $8 a week, or Starbucks twice a week (but only if you're willing to step it down from the venti)

And last but certainly not least, if a young earth creationist was off in their estimation of 6000 years by 1.5% that would be a discrepancy of 90 years, funny how I tend to hear the error bars placed closer to 6-10 thousand years, a 66% discrepancy if my calculator hasn't failed me.  How do you explain the lack of accuracy fellas, all you gotta do is hit the "+" sign on your calculator every time you see the word "begat."

Feel free to add your own wonderful examples to the list, and thanks to Discover Blogs for the original story.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pop-up LHC

It can be easy as a skeptic to end up rather pessimistic about the future.  Most people can be described as scientifically illiterate, and just as with literacy in general, it’s hereditary.  The future can look bleak, and that’s why I think it’s extra important to celebrate the wins.  Here is a popup book version of the Large Hadron Collider, because science is cool and kids have a right to know that.

Faking it

A discussion of faking religious beliefs and other parts of your life to please people. How often do skeptics and atheists have to do this in their lives?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meetup Friday the 9th at the Stonehouse Grille 6pm

George Hrab - Trebuchet

Congratulations to George Hrab on his 6th studio album Trebuchet, you can give it a listen by downloading the Geologic podcast episode number 170.

For those of you who haven't heard of George, he is a white skeptical funk guitarist.  Which is about halfway between "differently-abled Inuit bisexual" and "folk-dancing Aboriginal philosopher" on the minority scale.

Here's a video of George doing his thing live in Texas:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why are skeptics so often misanthropic?

Why are skeptics so often misanthropic?

I would bet that most, if not all, of my skeptic/atheist type friends would consider themselves on some level misanthropic. I know I say it a lot, I hate people and I really do mean it. People as a group are stupid, they don’t react to anything rationally or even accomplish anything good as far as I can tell.

I do have friends, I interact with people all the time and mostly its not that bad. There will always be certain people that I could live without, but the people that I spend most of my time with I really do like. I enjoy our drinking skeptically and spending time with other skeptical people. Most of the skeptics I know are genuinely nice people. They truly care about people and want the best for them. They are helpful and generous and generally fun to be around.

Hanging around our skeptics group you would never know that all of us hate people in general and have probably spent more time reading than hanging out with people (and prefer it that way). So why is this? Its obvious that we aren’t just evil people that can’t stand the sight of another human being, so what makes us dislike the human race so much?

There are easy answers to this of course. People act like sheep and don’t act rationally. Many people you meet (especially in middle school and high school) are just plain mean and tend to pick on the smart kids who tend to grow up to be skeptics. But is there something more to it? Is there something inherent in being a skeptic that makes us dislike or distrust other people? Or is there something inherent in people that only those skeptical of the world pick up on?

Are skeptics really as misanthropic as they would like to think? Why would Skeptics in the Pub be so popular if they were truly misanthropic? Skeptics is an international organization that provides skeptics a way to socialize with people. Skeptics also have things like TAM (the amazing meeting) and skepticamp. So what makes us think that we are misanthropic when obviously we aren’t (at least toward certain kinds of people).

I think its that we distrust those people that do not think for themselves and since for most of our lives, few people around us actually have thought for themselves, we tend to assume that everyone is like these people. People by their nature dislike the things they do not trust and so we as skeptics decide that we dislike people. I propose that we do not dislike people, we dislike people’s thoughts and actions but if they were able to change those and prove to us that they were thinking and acting rationally, we would like them as much as we like the other skeptics we have found. I know that as soon as too many people start agreeing with an idea, I start to question it immediately and distance myself from that group until I know more about the idea.

I know that to my non-skeptical friends I come off as not friendly and rather closed off to the world, but to my skeptical friends (as far as I know) I am a very friendly and open person. I know that skeptics in general have this problem as well, so how do we make ourselves seem more friendly and open to people and their ideas? This group started because a certain “skeptic” decided that she knew everything about everything and wouldn’t let any other idea survive. She came off as almost “religious” in her skepticism because she had decided that her ideas were right before even considering other’s opinions or sources of knowledge. So how can we prevent ourselves from coming off as “religious” while still finding certain ideas and opinions to be more worthy of merit than others? And how can we teach others that we are not trying to disprove everything another person says, but that we are trying to learn from them where the idea came from, why they hold that idea, and if the idea stands to logic and reason?

On that note, I will end with a quote from my favorite author Douglas Adams:

Well, in history, even though the understanding of events, of cause and effect, is a matter of interpretation, and even though interpretation is in many ways a matter of opinion, nevertheless those opinions and interpretations are honed to within an inch of their lives in the withering crossfire of argument and counterargument, and those that are still standing are then subjected to a whole new round of challenges of fact and logic from the next generation of historians - and so on. All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others. (as found at

Banana Madness

For some reason I keep stumbling across Ray Comfort everywhere I seem to turn so I felt the need to share something I found on the Skepchick blog from last christmas...

Notice the recipe at the bottom... I think it may need to make regular appearances at skeptics meetups lol

Friday, July 2, 2010

Occam's Razor

Occam's Razor. A simple, yet arguably one of the most powerful tools in any critical thinker's toolbox. Recently I had to explain the sheer improbability of the moon landing conspiracy and faking to a coworker who is convinced that humans have never landed on the moon. I explained that the simpler explanation is usually the best. Which is a gross oversimplification but I felt that "Plurality should not be posited without necessity" or even "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" would both be beyond the level of conversation of someone whose greatest conversation has finished with some of the worst fart jokes I have EVER heard. So I stuck with "the most simple solution is most likely the answer". I discussed with him the sheer size and complexity of the space program up to and including the Apollo program (and even the up-until-recently cancelled Constellation program). The hundreds of thousands of people that were involved in design and engineering, the mission planning and mission control, and not to mention the kind fellows like Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I feel obligated to include this video

Buzz, you are among a very select, lucky few who deserve every ounce of that punch

Now, which seems to be more likely, that all these people legitimately worked on an actual project, Built the rockets, capsules, rover, landers, command module, and computers that sadly are well outpaced by any cellphone even after it goes through a spin or two in the washing machine. Or that at least a large portion of these people were either payed off or given the Jimmy Hoffa treatment. Not to mention that in the almost 40 years since, not one family member has come forward with evidence even remotely suggesting that it was faked.
And finally I pointed out that at the time we were in the heat of the space race... Russia (USSR) was watching every move we made with insane intensity, had they had even the remotest inkling that anything was hinky they would have gone to town and taken NASA to task over it.

Now on the positive side of things it seemed that I didn't have to go into all of the other arguments that the nutters toss out such as radiation, or the flag waving, dust falling etc etc etc...

So to return to my original premise, Occam's razor comes to the rescue. As a tool for rational and critical thinking, Occam's razor is quite possibly unsurpassed in it's usefulness.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rand Paul Doesn't Know the Age of the Earth

Recently, when addressing the Christian Home Schooler’s Conference, Republican candidate for senate and MEDICAL DOCTOR Rand Paul passed when directly asked the age of the earth (it happens at about one minute twelve seconds into the video, I like to play a game where I see if I can hear the nation losing respect for him during the deafening silence).

Now, Rand Paul is a fair and honest man, he would never deny the people of Kentucky a piece of information that would help them to make an informed decision about the type of person they were electing. Given that, I am forced to conclude he actually doesn’t know the answer. This had me worried at first, if he was lacking this basic piece of science knowledge. . . WHAT ELSE MIGHT HE BE CONFUSED ABOUT!!! It’s a terrifying thought, but fortunately I think I have found the perfect tutors to take him by the hand and teach him about our world, the universe and all its wonders!

Screw it! Eric Idle for president in 2012!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Combination MMRV Vaccine Linked With Two-Fold Risk of Seizures

Interesting study, but I won't know how I truly feel about it until I get Jenny McCarthy to parse it for me =P

I mean, look at those mommy instincts, why wouldn't I trust her with my child's health.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This week for NoCO Skeptics

This was a great week for our skeptics group. After an awesome house party (that involved one slightly drunken person falling asleep in the bathroom), several of us drove down to Boulder, CO for the annual Skepticamp ( Skepticamp was a great opportunity for meet skeptics from all over the state and learn about their areas of interest. A member of our group won the Skeptical Trivia Challenge! and came back with the board game Playing Gods, which we hope to get a chance to try out soon.

Our next meet-up will be at Woody's Woodfired Pizza (518 West Laurel Street, Fort Collins, CO) on this coming friday July 2 at 6pm.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

According to Cnet, apple has just approved an app to help with erectile dysfunction through the use of "high frequency alpha waves." And you thought downloading porn was the only way to "increase your sexuality" with an Iphone!

My congratulations go out to Lady Gaga, who is officially no longer the biggest waste of 3 dollars on itunes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tonight, I and another skeptic from our group were treated to a wondrously, momentously, splendiferously, supercalifragilisticly fabulous occurrence! We were privileged enough to meet a young lady who was never wrong! It was during our local lyric cinema book group* that we watched a girl in her mid twenties take control: cutting people off, patronizing attendees twice her age, and outright laughing at other people’s opinions.

Of course, I was a pitcher or so in, and as my mind is wont to do, it started to wander. Is this what it’s like to be seated next to a table of skeptics? How can we avoid being perceived as a bunch of know-it-alls? Was “Turning Japanese” really about masturbation? Sure the last one is no “To be or not to be?” but I’d still like an answer damn it.

But, back to my point, how do we avoid becoming a group of elitist know-it-alls? While I’m sure anyone who knows me is laughing at the idea that I would try to tackle this issue, I’d like to respectfully submit that the answer is: loving the process. We have to love the logical steps that lead us to a provisional answer, not the answer we get.

As skeptics, we are blessed to have so much low hanging fruit: Roswell was project Mogul, the Bermuda triangle is a case of confirmation bias, and Silvia Brown is a horrendous b****; easy, done, knocked out before breakfast. But, I think we lose something when we approach things in that manner, we lose the process. After all, everyone has the capacity to be skeptical; it’s just a matter of what we choose to apply our skills to. With each final answer we come to, with each decision we become 100% certain of; we create one more set of circumstances in which our skeptical tool kit plays no part. A true believer is just a skeptic who has picked a “yes” in their life that they feel is beyond the process, and a denier is just a skeptic who, conversely, has chosen a “no.”

Tomorrow, someone is going to confront me with woo; it could be a friend, a teacher, a colleague or a salesman; and, at the end of the conversation it’s likely that homeopathy still won’t work, I won’t be signing up for any expeditions to capture big foot, and I won’t be hanging crystals from my nipples to ward off insomnia. But, I hope that I’ll manage to listen openly and honestly to those who disagree with me, and ply my skepticism in a way that lets people know that I’m looking for the answers, not providing them.

Not that I’m so fucking clever,


*The lyric cinema book group is a monthly group in Fort Collins where we read a book, watch the movie, drink a few beers and have a great discussion. If you get the time it’s a lot of fun.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who we are!

When I opened up my email today I found two messages, one leading me to our new skeptical blog (hold for applause) with the label "Who we are," and a second from a brilliantly nerdy friend entitled "Who?" I may have to rethink my position on signs. Image courtesy of Pu-sama of DeviantART

What is drinking skeptically?

There are many different ways to be a skeptic, and certainly no clear rules. What we are trying to accomplish (you will hear from the rest of the "we" later, and they may voice a different mission) is to create a inclusive group focusing on a variety of skeptical ideas and different bars to talk and argue over these different ideas, as well as meet new people. If you are interested, let us know, this blog is not a calender as much as it is a way for us to talk and spread the ideas, much like one spreads crunchy peanut butter on toast.