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.