Money for Nothing
by JREF Staff via randi.org
JREF senior fellow, magician and scientific skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, “The Honest Liar”, presents JREF’s newest video series, aptly titled The Honest Liar. Follow Jamy as he uses critical thinking, skepticism, and a healthy dose of humor, along with his expertise in legerdemain, to explore the facts behind false claims.
In our first episode, “Money for Nothing”, Jamy punctures the pretense of homeopathy. How much is too much to pay for a remedy with nothing in it?
View on YouTube
Here Be Dragons is a 40 minute video introduction to critical thinking. This video is on my “must watch” list for skeptics and critical thinkers
Most people fully accept paranormal and pseudoscientific claims without critique as they are promoted by the mass media. Here Be Dragons offers a toolbox for recognizing and understanding the dangers of pseudoscience, and appreciation for the reality-based benefits offered by real science.
Here Be Dragons is written and presented by Brian Dunning, host and producer of the Skeptoid podcast and author of the Skeptoid book series.
Source: Here Be Dragons – YouTube.
This is some pretty funny stuff. Are you familiar with a periodic table? Well, this is the periodic table of irrational nonsense courtesy of Crispian Jago’s blog Science, Reason and Critical Thinking.
How does it work? Simply click on the image to be taken to the interactive page. At the interactive page you simply move your mouse over an element to view a short description.
CAUTION: SOME OF THE DESCRIPTIONS CONTAIN SOME VERY SPICY LANGUAGE!
Click on the image to be taken to the interactive page.
by Crispian Jago via Science, Reason and Critical Thinking
Many conspiracy theorists seem very keen on the idea of hidden messages or codes secretly embedded within ancient writings. Believers claim hidden prophecies of significant world events and disasters can be uncovered and deciphered by analysing the Bible. By simply selecting a random paragraph and taking out the punctuation and merely inserting the passage into a matrix a skeptic, if suitably motivated, and with the benefit of hindsight is easily able to uncover whatever it is they fancy. Believers see predictions of the assassination of President Kennedy and the 9/11 twin towers terrorist attack uncovered in the bible as irrefutable evidence of divine revelation even though rational thinkers can locate predictions of the death of Leon Trotsky and Princess Diana secreted within “Moby Dick”.
Click image for larger view
via Science, Reason and Critical Thinking: Bible Code.
Published by Steven Novella via NeuroLogica Blog
Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC) is one of those classic pseudosciences that have been around for a long time – like astrology, Big foot, and the Bermuda Triangle. I put it in the same category as the myth that we only use about 10% of our brain capacity; it’s widely believed, but no one really cares that much. It’s just something people hear about and have no reason to doubt, so they lazily accept it. I did when I was younger (in my pre-skeptical days), you hear about it on TV and think, “Huh, isn’t that interesting.”
It’s therefore a good opportunity to teach critical thinking skills. People’s brains are clogged with myths and false information, spread by rumor and the media, and accepted due to a lack of having the proper critical thinking filters in place. It’s disappointing, however, when people who should know better, or whose job it is to know better, fall for such myths.
Recently an Irish coroner concluded that a man died from SHC, and it is reported:
The West Galway coroner, Ciaran McLoughlin, said there was no other adequate explanation for the death of Michael Faherty, 76, also known as Micheal O Fatharta.
The coroner said: “This fire was thoroughly investigated and I’m left with the conclusion that this fits into the category of spontaneous human combustion, for which there is no adequate explanation.”
First, let’s play a game of name-that-logical-fallacy. The core fallacy the coroner is committing is the argument from ignorance. The investigation could not find a cause for the fire, therefore here is the specific cause – SHC. The conclusion should rather be – we don’t know what caused the fire.
The coroner said the case “fits into the category” of SHC – but how?
Keep Reading: NeuroLogica Blog » Spontanous Human Stupidity.
“…magical thinking is “a fundamental dimension of a child’s thinking.” –Zusne and Jones
According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., magical thinking involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbols. According to Stevens, “the vast majority of the world’s peoples … believe that there are real connections between the symbol and its referent, and that some real and potentially measurable power flows between them.” He believes there is a neurobiological basis for this, though the specific content of any symbol is culturally determined. (Not that some symbols aren’t universal, e.g., the egg, fire, water. Not that the egg, fire, or water symbolize the same things in all cultures.)
One of the driving principles of magical thinking is the notion that things that resemble each other are causally connected in some way that defies scientific testing (the law of similarity). Another driving principle is the belief that “things that have been either in physical contact or in spatial or temporal association with other things retain a connection after they are separated” (the law of contagion) (Frazer; Stevens).
Keep Reading: magical thinking – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com.
This is the next installment in series of articles being written by a fellow blogger. His name is Muertos and he’s one of the best thinkers in the blogging world.
Mason I. Bilderberg
This is the second installment in a series of articles entitled “Confessions of a Disinformation Agent.” For the introduction and Chapter I, go here.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I got up very early, five o’clock. I was working on a novel, and, as I was usually too tired to write when I got home, I started doing it in the early mornings before going to work. At this time I lived alone in apartment in the central city. I got up, showered, and spent about a half hour writing. At 6:45 AM—Pacific time—as I was making breakfast my phone rang. Instantly I knew it was bad news. No one ever calls at 6:45 AM with good news. I picked up. It was a friend of mine. (Not the same one who almost caught TWA 800). “Have you seen the news?” he said. I said no. He replied, “Someone tried to kill the President!” That was how it was reported to me. Oh, and there was the small detail of the World Trade Centers on fire after planes having been crashed into them.
I switched on the TV. This was about 9:45 AM, after both towers had been struck, but just before the first of them collapsed. Like almost everyone else in America, I watched in rapt horror. I’ll never forget seeing the first of the towers collapse into a cloud of dust. I also remember seeing the little black specks of people jumping from the towers before they fell. That’s one of the most horrifying sights I’ve ever seen—even on TV—and one that will stick with me forever. Mind you, I watched the 1986 Challenger explosion live, and I also witnessed the infamous Bud Dwyer suicide as it happened. Neither of those horrible events could touch September 11.
Continue Reading: Confessions of a Disinformation Agent, Chapter II: From 9/11 to MySpace. | Muertos’s Blog.
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce to you a new series of articles being written by a fellow blogger. His name is Muertos and he’s one of the most rational thinkers i have come across.
When you get a chance, click the link (below) to his blog and feed your brain some great information!
Mason I. Bilderberg
Posted on July 3, 2012 by muertos:
This story is going to be a history of my experiences with conspiracy theories, including the time when I used to believe them myself. I’ll explain what got me into them, why they fascinated me, and eventually why I became a debunker. I have a very strange and complicated relationship with debunking. Sometimes I love it and look forward to it; at other times it’s something I hate and want to be finished with forever. Therefore, this piece is a very personal journey.
Keep Reading: Confessions of a Disinformation Agent: Introduction and Chapter I. | Muertos’s Blog.
“Communion” at 25: Whitley Strieber’s Alien Claims Re-examined
The following three part series is courtesy of Muertos, owner and operator of Thrive Debunked – a blog dedicated to fact checking errors and false statements contained in the conspiracy theory documentary “Thrive“.
||Today, the concept of “alien abduction” is now a cultural meme. Virtually everyone in the Western world, and probably a good chunk of the non-Western world, is familiar with the paradigm: the belief that extraterrestrials visit the Earth, occasionally kidnap unsuspecting persons, subject them to weird experiments (usually involving an anal probe or some other humiliating procedure) and set them loose again. Alien abduction is now mainstream enough to be mentioned on comedy shows like South Park and Mad TV and gag lines in blockbuster movies like Independence Day. It’s one of those fringe topics that arouses intense, but usually temporary, curiosity.
||Continue Reading Part 1
||In part 1 (above), I wrote about the book Communion by Whitley Strieber, which so far as I know remains to date the best-selling book ever written on UFOs or related subjects. Strieber’s central claim was that he was abducted and sexually assaulted by nonhuman beings, which he calls “visitors,” on December 26, 1985 (a quarter century ago this week) and that after this experience he realized he’d been interacting with the “visitors” for most of his life. In this blog I continue the discussion of Strieber and his claims, focusing on his sequels, Transformation (1988) and Breakthrough (1995), as well as the film of Communion made in 1989.
||Continue Reading Part 2
||In the two previous blogs in this series (Part I (above), Part II (above)) I examined Communion and Transformation, the books written by horror author Whitley Strieber in which he claimed that he has been abducted by aliens repeatedly for most of his life. Communion came out in 1987 and began with the claim that Strieber was abducted from his New York cabin on December 26, 1985, which was 25 years ago this week. From there his claims evolved to include the following: (i) the beings that abducted him, which he initially declined to state were objectively real, actually are physical reality; (ii) that these “visitors” are conducting a large-scale program of “contact” with the human race; (iii) that the point of this “contact” is to transform human consciousness and get us to pay attention to spiritual matters; and (iv) that there are a number of weird side effects of “contact,” such as the ability to have out of body experiences (OBEs).
||Continue Reading Part 3
Critical thinking explained in six kid-friendly animations