Thursday, September 29, 2005

Up is Circle Skeptic's 18th the

Here out it check. Tom's Wolverine at up is Circle Skeptic's 18th the.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Anecdotes - Good or Bad?

As every critical thinker knows, anecdotes are the main ammunition for pseudo-science. Since they have no hard evidence to back up their claims, one is usually presented with the old argument "I've tried it; it works". But is all anecdotal evidence fallacious?

Your Rockstar says no. Anecdotal evidence is typically unreliable, but not guaranteed to be false.

Part I or "Einstein > Moron"

Prior to modern medicine, many cures were determined solely on anecdotal evidence. For instance, James Lind observed that the 18th century British Royal Navy had fewer cases of scurvy when the sailors ate fresh citrus fruits. One of the common methods of preventing scurvy was sucking on limes - which is supposedly where the American slang term for Brits, "limey", came about. So it became anecdotal evidence in the form of "we're not sure why, but sucking on limes prevents scurvy".

Why was this an example of good anecdotal evidence? Due to the tales, Lind decided to make observations based on his knowledge of science and nutrition. Lind figured there was a plausible explanation. He made predictions, and was able to test his hypothesis, making the cure for scurvy in the 1700's akin to Einstein's idea of a "cosmic force" (one recently shown to be plausible due to the fact the universe is not only expanding faster than expected, but gaining speed. I'd probably need the Bad Astronomer to confirm that). Unfortunately, like Einstein, the theory could not be proven until later in time when Albert Szent-Gyorgyi discovered the properties of Vitamin C.

Part II or "Dealing with Fools"

Bad anecdotal evidence is that which deals with the paranormal, supernatural, magic, or that which has already been proven false. For instance, not only is there no evidence for astrology, but it's been proven that astrology doesn't work at all. The same can be said for the anti-vaccination nutbars. Yet there are still assholes out there using anecdotal evidence to try and "prove" this silliness to the rest of the world.

Take Phiten® Titanium products. Via Skeptico we learn magic necklace salesman Scott McDonald states:

Everybody has electricity running through their bodies… This product stabilizes that flow of electricity if you're stressed or tired. Pitchers are seeing that they aren't as sore. Injured players are seeing that they recover faster from workouts. People are always skeptical, but when they try it, they become believers.

Translation: Our necklace is just a piece of metal. So we'll come up with some scientific words and anecdotes to correlate our magic necklace to stress relief!

Skeptico further reports:

Phiten® Titanium products promote pain relief and performance enhancement. Titanium emits energy that is effective in controlling the flow of bioelectric current. When this current is stabilized, the muscles relax and blood circulation increases, allowing for easier movement and pain relief. All Phiten® products help relieve pain in muscles and joints by improving the alignment of ions, especially at the body's crucial motor points. Our product is also effective in the temporary relief of pain from bursitis, sciatica, tendonitis, certain types of arthritis and numberous other conditions.

Riiiiiggghht. Titanium emits "energy"? What energy? (Ad Hominem alert) "Numberous"? Very respecatabel...

They go on to provide gleaming testimonials from baseball players and the like, soundly endorsing the product.

Part III or "But Rockstar, why is this bad anecdotal evidence and Lind's limes aren't?"

Lind heard the anecdotes - "Scurvy-grass cures and prevents scurvy!" Using his knowledge of nutrition, it sounded plausible. He made observations, created a hypothesis, and construed and tested a valid theory. This theory was later proven to be scientific fact.

Metallurgy tells us there is absolutely no reason to believe Titanium emits "energy". There is no reason to believe the "stabilizing the bioelectric current" would assist in curing dick. The only people to observe the effects of the magic necklace were those using the product. The easiest person to deceive is one's self.

Anecdotal evidence can be useful in the realm of science. The main difference between good and bad:

Good anecdotes lead to scientific discovery.

Bad anecdotes are used to prove something against all observation and logic.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

One Nation Indivisible

As it stands, mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is completely unconstitutional. It is religion forced on a nation that is supposed to separate church and state.

The new argument I heard on my favorite talk radio show today is something like this:

The majority wants "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a Democracy, and the majority rules. Therefore, the phrase stays.


Democracy is an important system of government; not only to the majority, but to protect the minority as well. Recall folks, several hundred years ago, the majority of human beings in the USA thought it was ok to enslave other human beings.

Keep that in mind next time - Democracy means you can have all the silly ideas you want. But when your rights (even the majority's) infringe upon the rights of others, it is inherently wrong.

Now, if you still believe "The majority wants "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a Democracy, and the majority rules. Therefore, the phrase stays", I politely ask you to suck on my athiest nuts.

Thank you.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My Chat with Almighty God

God is for Suckers is fast becoming a favorite blog.

I found a way to talk with God on their site. Here's our conversation:

What’s up Dude?
I am chatting with others like you.
Why are you on the internet and not doing good, like cleaning up your Katrina mess?
Myself programmed me for it.
You programmed you for internet or cleaning up your Katrina mess
That’s good information: said I programmed you for internet or cleaning up your Katrina mess.
Why is God confused?
Why do I exist?
You dont.
Thanks for the information: said I dont.
Talking to you is just like talking to Christians
What do they say?
Thanks for the information: read the Bible
It was nothing.
Indeed it is so.

Almost frightening how accurate the chat bot is. Post your conversations in the comments section. Mbains, I especially await your talks with the Almighty.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Creation Science Textbook

Chapter I: All Things Through Him

Q: Insert any who, what, why, when, or how question relating to science.

A: Goddidit.

*If an evil Satanic Nazi Darwinistic skeptical atheist asks how you know this, point them to the proper verse in the Holy Bible.

*If the evil Satanic Nazi Darwinistic skeptical atheist attempts to point out historical/scientific inaccuracies:

-Laugh, then inform them they are not interpreting the verse/chapter correctly.
-Tell them you will pray for them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

You Were All Wrong!

Inside envelope: Coffee cup

Written on the outside of the envelope: YOU GUESSED WRONG

No new apprentice this year!

(For extra credit, what movie is that from?)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

16th Skeptic's Circle

Check out the 16th Skeptic's Circle over a Pat Hayes' excellent blog Red State Rabble. Even though your Rockstar is a conservative at heart, he's been leaning to the Red quite a bit as far as science is concerned!!

*By the way - voting for Bush over Kerry was like voting for a douchesicle over a turd sandwich.