Thursday, December 23, 2010
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
now we need to contact Matt and Tray and get a Science-y version of this song...
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
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
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!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
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.
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
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
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 good...it 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...
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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 http://www.wyomingterritorialprison.com/
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
Is anyone else surprised that this technology was used on Baywatch to increase male chest size?
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!
read more at http://xkcd.com/803/
Thursday, October 7, 2010
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
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
"This is a News Website Article About a Scientific Paper"
If you aren't reading either of these gentlemen, you definitely should be.
Friday, September 24, 2010
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
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
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
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.
Thanks to PZ Myers for the original posting.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Also, check out some blogs from our local skeptics:
First Kai has a blog (although updates are random at best)
Jeff also has a blog
untitled vanity project
And, don't forget the CSU Leaders in Free Thought website
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
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
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.
|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.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Hope to see everyone there!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
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
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
Now flyers with "in god we trust" on them out number pictures of George Washington in classrooms across the country.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
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
Thursday, July 8, 2010
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
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 http://www.atheists.org/interview:__douglas_adams)
Friday, July 2, 2010
Buzz, you are among a very select, lucky few who deserve every ounce of that punch
Thursday, July 1, 2010
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
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
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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
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