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Showing posts from July, 2010

HOW OPINION POLLS WORK

Yesterday the Skeptical community was abuzz about a crooked poll, PZ Myers found on a creationist website. It reminded me of this clip from a great, British sitcom I loved in the 80’s called “Yes Minister.”
If you don’t know, PZ Myers is a biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris. On his website, Pharyngula, he is a distinguished bulldog, relentlessly fighting the nonsense that is creationism and intelligent design.

The poll question was:
What do you believe about evolution?
It’s a religion. 46%
It’s a fact! 43%
It’s a reasonable scientific theory 11%
The skullduggery here, as PZ points out, is that the creationists split the reasonable choice into two, thereby ensuring its loss and their win.

URBAN LEGEND TRUE

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Someone at the office told me this story: It seems there was this zoo in Bristol, England, which had a small secondary parking lot that was owned and administered, not by the zoo, but by the city. It was manned by a loyal parking attendant, who in 25 years , never missed a day of work. That is until one day, when the parking attendant didn’t show up for work. The zoo administrator called the city to tell them they needed to send a replacement over. The city said they had no idea what the zoo administrator was talking about. The city had no employee collecting money for them in that location. It seems this phony parking attendant had been collecting money and pocketing it. They figured it was 400 pounds a day for the past 25 years. When the authorities went to the employee’s home they found it empty and no one knows what had become of him.

When I heard this story, immediately my “skepty” sense started tingling. I informed my coworker that what he just told me was probably an urban lege…

DISCO STROBE LIGHT AND RACOONS IN MY GARAGE HAVE LED ME TO MY FIRST PODCAST

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Here is the progression. After discovering the dirty animals in the rafters I started asking friends what I should do about it. Some suggested poison, but I was afraid my cat might get into that. Some said I should trap the animal but I already have experience with this. In the end, you find yourself in possession of a ravenous, spitting, growling, devil beast contained in a flimsy cage, which you then have to set free in the woods someplace. Here is a little advice. After relating the ghastly story to your friends of trying to unlatch the cage door for this flea (and possibly rabies) infested vermin, do not finish by showing them a picture that you snapped on your phone of the trapped beast. All you will elicit is sympathy for the monster and comments of how cruel YOU are. I swear there was spitting and growling and clawing at the cage handle. It was horrificSo where does the strobe light fit in? Well one of my friends suggested I put a strobe light in my garage at night. He said thi…

TIDAL WAVE CAUSED BY OIL VOLCANO TO SLAM INTO FLORIDA -more critical thinking in action

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Someone sent me this video recently, and it wasn’t even my birthday. Thank you very much. I live to address claims like these.
So if we are going to evaluate a video like this, why don’t we start with the two guys talking? A quick Google search for Bill Ryan and Dr Bill Deagle (the guy without the accent) brings up their web sites. Deagle’s site talks about how the Federal Reserve, 911 and the Avian Flu are all tied together to bring about a “New World Order.” Bill Ryan’s web site talks about Freemasons, World War III (which is apparently going to happen in the next 18 to 24 months) an “Anglo-Saxon Mission” to Christianize the world and of course the “New World Order.” Well, I guess my work here is done. Good night everybody. Drive carefully, and don’t forget to tip your waitresses.

Actually that’s not quite fair. What I did there was called an “ad hominem argument.” I attacked the messengers, rather than the message, and it is a logical fallacy. So, let’s actually look at the claims.