Tag Archives | Pseudoscience

Chairobics Too Strenuous?

Wake Up, Disinfo: It's Time to Oxycise! Via Oxycise.com:
"Then one day, like Archimedes of old, it happened. In a physiology textbook there it was: fat oxidizes into carbon dioxide. Wait a second, I read that line again: fat oxidizes into carbon dioxide. No way! So you’re telling me that all I have to do is breathe to lose weight. I can’t believe no one has ever told me this before. Fat leaves my body through breathing??"  
Continue Reading

Want People to Believe in Your Paranormal Experience? Make it Sound “Science-y”

Picture: Harry Price (PD)

In this technological and mechanistic age that good old fashioned ghost stories don’t stand a chance of being accepted as plausible unless you sprinkle a little pseudoscience into the mix. This generation of  flim-flam artists may be just stumbling onto this fact, but fiction writers (as well as some of the earliest ghost-hunters) have known it for years. The protagonists of Bram Stoker’s Dracula bring modern technology to their fight against the eponymous vampire, as do the heroes (and villains) of several H.P. Lovecraft tales such as “The Shunned House”, “From Beyond”. Even Arthur Machen utilized scientific jargon in his classic story of the supernatural (or preternatural?) “The Great God Pan.”

An interesting study from LiveScience shows that a little techno-babble can go a long way in convincing people of the plausibility of supernatural experiences:

Fans of paranormal reality TV shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures” are treated to an array of technical jargon and references to fancy instruments — ion generators, electromagnetic field detectors and video goggles with built-in speech-synthesizers that allegedly can sense spirits.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Return of Scientific Racism

Picture: Library of Congress (PD)

Zach Musgrave writes at sleptlate.org:

“Scientific racism” is a slur in the academy, roughly analogous to calling something “psuedoscientific” in the mainstream scientific community. Largely because there are observed differences in the results of IQ tests of different races, it is politically correct in many academic circles to refer to general intelligence under the euphemism “whatever it is that IQ tests measure.”

And, in fact, it’s solid science that performance on such tests is strongly influenced by individuals’ own perceptions of their ability. Blacks taking a test that is presented as a “laboratory exercise” outperform those taking the same test presented as an exam. In Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely relates an even more intriguing experimental result. Researchers seeking to understand the effect that stereotypes have on math test performance decided to see if they could study the interaction between two conflicting stereotypes: that Asians are good at math; and that women are bad at it.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

What Does Your Blood Type Say About You?

Blood TypeA Japanese minister has resigned, saying that his blood type accounted for his failings. According to Japanese belief, what might yours mean? John Crace asks in the Guardian:

It came away in my hands. The dog ate it. Honest. When Ryu Matsumoto, Japan’s minister for reconstruction, resigned after just a week in the job, one of the excuses he offered was almost as lame. He said he had the wrong blood type — B — which made him a more abrasive personality and accounted for his less-than-tactful remarks about some areas of Japan badly affected by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.

Most people in the UK haven’t a clue what blood type and aren’t much bothered either way. But in Japan there is a widely held belief that blood groups can predict personality, temperament and compatibility with other people; so much so that many newspapers, magazines and TV shows carry daily blood horoscopes.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Phil Plait: No, The “Super-Moon” Didn’t Cause the Japanese Earthquake

Moon's Apogee and Perigee.

Moon's Apogee and Perigee.

The ever lucid Phil Plait writes on Bad Astronomy:

Japan suffered a massive earthquake last night, measuring nearly magnitude 9. This is one of the largest quakes in its history, causing widespread and severe damage. Before I say anything else, I’m greatly saddened by the loss of life in Japan, and I’ll be donating to disaster relief organizations to help them get in there and do what they can to give aid to those in need.

While there isn’t much I can do to directly help the situation in Japan, I do hope I can help mitigate the panic and worry that can happen due to people blaming this earthquake on the so-called “supermoon” — a date when the Moon is especially close to the Earth at the same time it’s full. So let me be extremely clear:

Despite what a lot of people are saying, there is no way this earthquake was caused by the Moon.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

From The Origin Of Life To 2012: Pseudoscience On The Loose

The Biological Big BangHave alien bacteria fossils been discovered in a meteorite by a NASA scientist?

On Friday night the “Journal of Cosmology” published an article entitled “Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites: Implications to Life on Comets, Europa, and Enceladus,” attributed to one Richard B. Hoover of the NASA/Marshall SFC [1], claiming such a discovery.

Extraordinary claims, however, require extraordinary evidence, which is nowhere to be found in the paper. While I am trained in and have worked in scientific fields, I am admittedly not a scientist, so I refer you to the blogs of PZ Myers [2], David Dobbs [3], and Rosie Redfield [4] for detailed analysis/straight-up debunking. In sum, per Redfield: “Executive Summary: Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.”

There’s nothing wrong with alternative theories – and certainly nothing wrong with leveling a critique at the scientific establishment – provided that they are supported by data and arguments that meet the epistemic criteria for scientificity.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Is There A Real-Life Dharma Initiative?

Editor's note: Congrats to regular disinfo.com contributor klintron on the interview! Henry Hanks writes on CNN's SciTech Blog: Dharma Initiative
Much of their research does exist in the real world, leading one to another question: Are there organizations from history that may have inspired the idea of the Dharma Initiative?
Ask many who have pondered that question, and one answer you often hear (aside from Skinner, obviously) is DARPA. DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — is often credited with creating the internet and has researched and developed some pretty advanced stuff, especially in the area of robotics. DARPA even sounds like "Dharma," but as tempting as it is to draw conclusions about the two, the similarities start and end there (for one thing, Dharma is a private organization).
One person who has thought about this quite a bit is blogger Klint "Klintron" Finley, who has written about the concept of "real-life Dharma initiatives" extensively at Hatch23.com. "I think it stems from various trends and movements from the '60s and '70s," he said. "More specifically, anywhere that two or more of the following intersected: Eastern spirituality, fringe science, defense spending, disturbing psychological research, experiments in utopian/communal living and experiments social control."
Continue Reading

Scientologists Using Touch to ‘Heal’ Haitian Earthquake Victims

Charles Onians writes on the AP via Yahoo News:

Scientology Touch Healing in HaitiPORT-AU-PRINCE — Amid the mass of aid agencies piling in to help Haiti quake victims is a batch of Church of Scientology “volunteer ministers”, claiming to use the power of touch to reconnect nervous systems.

Clad in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the controversial US-based group, smiling volunteers fan out among the injured lying under makeshift shelters in the courtyard of Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital.

A wealthy private donor provided his airplane to fly in 80 volunteers from Los Angeles, along with 50 Haitian-American-doctors, in a gesture worth 400,000 dollars, said a Parisian volunteer who gave her name as Sylvie.

“We’re trained as volunteer ministers, we use a process called ‘assist’ to follow the nervous system to reconnect the main points, to bring back communication,” she said.

“When you get a sudden shock to a part of your body the energy gets stuck, so we re-establish communication within the body by touching people through their clothes, and asking people to feel the touch.”

Read More: AP via Yahoo News

Read the rest

Continue Reading

ABC News Asks Jenny McCarthy for a Medical Opinion

JennyMccarthyPhil Plait writes on Bad Astronomy:

You may have heard the recent news that an expert panel of pediatricians reviewed the literature on gastrointestinal disorders and autism, and found no link between them. A key phrase in their findings was:

The existence of a gastrointestinal disturbance specific to persons with ASDs (eg, “autistic enterocolitis”) has not been established.

They also found that there was no evidence that special diets help autistic kids. Mind you, this was a panel of 28 experts, scientists who have devoted their careers and lives to investigating autism.

So if you were a reporter at ABC News, who would you turn to to get an opinion on this? If you said Jenny McCarthy, then give yourself a gold star, because that’s just what ABC News did. Go and watch that interview (have some antacid ready). In it, she says that scientists need to take anecdotes seriously, a statement so awful it’s hard to know where to start with it.

Read the rest
Continue Reading