Friday, December 30, 2005

Looney Toons on Larry King...Again

And limited skeptic presence...again. Your Rockstar started calling LKL at 8:59 CST to try and get his brand of wit and skepticism on, but I imagine the amount of Creduloids trying to get one of these frauds to give them a "reading" was enormous.

The show, which aired 12/28/05 at 9:00 CST, was just what I expected from the man who asked "but if evolution happened, why are there still apes?". 3 of the world's biggest frauds:
Big Fat Idiot, Chuckles Van Praagh and some chick named Char Margolis were in studio. Dr. Bryan Farha, represented the sole true skeptic in my opinion. The other guy was a Rabbi who just argued that the psychics' view of the "spirit world" and religion was wrong.

Chuckles started the lunacy with this statement (you can read the transcript
right here) :

To a certain degree and it has been tested there are certain percentages of ["the sprit world"]
that have been proven to a certain degree in percentage certainly but there are certain scientific methods which also have not been invented yet or come up with a method that they can actually measure something like this.

Damn! I have certainly never seen that many certain uses of the word "certain" in an
appeal to gibbersh at any certain time. And get this - there are no scientific methods that can measure the spirit world. I agree - the only thing that exists that we can't measure or observe is NOTHING.

Oh boy does the bullshit fly after that. Larry King wonders what good it does when Syl tells someone their dead brother's name was "Herbie". Syl decides that's a good thing - the sitter sucker knows "Herbie" is with them spiritually...or that Syl knows how to read obituaries, whichever you prefer. Then we get this exchange when Char jumps in:

MARGOLIS: It's really interesting you say that because that was my father's name and out of all the names in the world why would you bring that up? See to me...

KING: Because one of my best friends is named Herbie.

MARGOLIS: OK but he...

KING: It had nothing to do -- I didn't get a feeling.

MARGOLIS: But to me -- but to me that's a sign.

BROWNE: It's called synchronicity, yes.
No, it's called two completely different people have the same fairly common name. Big deal.

For what it's worth, the Rabbi does point out that no psychic has ever "predicted" anything worthwhile. Where's Osama Bin Laden? Who cares if you know my brother's name is Herbie? Dr. Farha tries to jump in to rebut the buttheads, but gets shushed. Imagine that...

Char then claims responsibility for finding Dean Martin's son
Dean Paul after "Dino" crashed his National Guard fighter jet in the mountains of California. I'm trying to find information to verify this, but a google search comes up empty. The few sites that do cover Dino's death mention nothing about Char or her magic powers. I'll provide any findings in an update. Until then, we'll assume she's making it up.

At this point, Chuckles busts out the old fourth dimension bullshit and LK actually points out that he can't prove it. But Chuckles knows we all have magic powers:

Two- thirds of Americans have had experiences where, telepathic experiences where they thought about someone. Five minutes later the phone rings and it's that person. This is a sense that every single person has experienced.

Ok, well I would point out how many times I've thought about someone and they didn't call me 5 minutes later. Chuckles is taking advantage of our ignorance of
the law of large numbers and confirmation bias - basically the fact that we receive hundreds of thousands of phone calls in our lives, and are bound to be thinking of the caller at least once. However, we forget the 99,999 times it didn't happen and pay close attention to the one time it did happen. This is typically how I descibe psychic bullshit to fence sitters. They simply don't consider those two facts.

Chuckles continues:

Just because things cannot be proven scientifically in the scientific method or the way you choose it to be in your paradigm, your way of thinking, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Wouldn't you know it - I checked
Skeptico today (hey, rockstars are busy and take a couple of days to write articles, sheesh) and he comments on this! Says he:

[cut]...which the obvious rejoinder would have been: just because I can’t prove to everyone that you’re a fraud doesn’t mean you aren’t one.

(I'll skip over the whole discussion of mysticism, since religion and psi have same amount of evidence.)

Dr. Farha then proves his open-mindedness when questioned whether he was open to the possibility of another dimension:

I am open to that dimension. I'm open to the possibility. I'm not open to the idea that these people have proven it.

Exactly. No one has. Dr. Farha then asks Sylvia why she has not taken the
JREF Million Dollar Challenge, and shows her documentation that the money exists (which she slanderoulsy said did not on an earlier LKL). Sylvia provides the usual reasons the frauds back out of the test - Lloyd Auerbach says you can't win, Randi changes the rules, he'll run away from the challenge when it appears they'll win, etc.

It's at this point my blood began to boil. I'm serious, I think I could've passed the Challenge myself my body temperature raised to such a degree. Chuckles has the gall to say:

Let me just say something. The skeptics (INAUDIBLE) use this thing about taking a test and proving it, the emphasis should be on them to prove it to us this is not real and I would say they always raise the bar.

What. The. Fuck. If you make a claim that is extraordinary, why should I help defend you? It's called
burden of proof. Were I to say give me $1,000 and you'll marry Natalie Portman, is it up to you to prove me wrong? Or would you ignore me till you had some proof?

I believe Dr. Farha made a serious mistake by not explaining the scientific method right here. I was twitching to get on the air. First he could explain burden of proof. Then, when the psychics say that psi can't be proven by science, ask them this:

Does psi produce effects that we can observe or measure?

If yes, then it can be tested scientifically through DBTs. If no, then I have to say there is only one thing in the known universe we all agree produces no observable effects.



The Big Sylvia Browne Thread

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Roosevelt converts to Hinduism!

Well, that's what Civilization 4 told me last night. I got the game for Decemberween, since it was the natural progression: the last two PC games I bought were Civ 2 and Civ 3. My laptop isn't up to specs, but the game still manages to work, though it's a bit choppy, and sometimes my horses, cows, and so forth turn invisible, except for their shadows, apparently possessing custom hoof-oriented knock-offs of the One Ring.

I'm thinking about getting a new desktop that'll meet and beat the specs so that it'll play smoothly. I'm nearly oblivious to the nuances of PC gaming and appropriate hardware, so if you have advice as to how to build and/or buy such a unit (preferably for cheap), please speak to me as if I had the IQ of a YEC... Well, maybe not that low. My idea of compatibility checking is looking for a Playstation logo.

But enough about my pansy PC. I thought I'd bring up Civ 4 because it features more detailed mechanics than usual on religion. For those who haven't played the Civ games, religious and political ideologies are in the big category of "technology" alongside more concrete things like chemistry, lasers, and robotics. Religious "technologies" often work as prerequisites for other technologies. To some extent, I think that's understandable. For example, with all the efforts humans have put into building bigger and better temples to the deities, we've probably learned a few good engineering lessons. I recall some shows that demonstrated some clever mechanics to produce "miracles" in Greek temples.

One (possibly flawed) analogy comes to mind: The space program. In the early days, scientists had to push the limits of engineering to put Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and all their buddies on the moon. The Egyptians had to do the same to build the pyramids. The difference: Religion hasn't displayed any evidence of a moon for it to land on. The end result might be the same, though: In the effort to achieve the end goal, many lessons are learned, and new, useful technologies are developed.

Counter-analogy: Religion can be a lot like war when it comes to technology. War has brought about many advances. There was even a show about it. The problem is that those advances have a cost in terms of homes and lives destroyed that I would prefer to avoid. Religion is similar in that it incurs often unacceptable costs: It can cause a reduction in critical thinking abilities. (Exception I'd make to the sweeping generality: The religious people who readily adjust their beliefs when new facts come in. You're okay in my book.) At its worst, it triggers witch hunts, wars, and other atrocities.

Though modern science has correctly shed its ancient dependency on religion and the supernatural, I'm curious how our distant ancestors would have progressed without religion. I imagine they probably would have progressed faster, not being held back by the phrase "Things Man Was Not Meant to Know." Then again, I can imagine the threat of a plague of vicious beasts if you don't build a perfectly hemispherical dome on the temple could encourage someone to accurately calculate pi.

For now, though, I'm going to continue researching Meditation, so that I can get Philosophy down the line, followed by Liberalism, so I can get the Free Religion civic. I'm not sure I qualify as a liberal, but I'll take it anyway.

P.S.: I typed "First Amendment" in's search engine for the "Free Religion" hotlink, and I got this bit of unintentional humor. I didn't intend to get political, but I couldn't really resist this.

EDIT: Tried the search engine again, and some results showed up. I guess it was a temporary glitch. It's still funny, though.

Monday, December 26, 2005

"Customer Service"


Has anyone ever noticed how completely unhelpful customer service lines really are? Well, maybe it's just me. Every time I call a customer service hotline, no one can seem to help me. They try, I'll give them that. But it never seems to fix the problem. Aren't they there to answer any and every question you can think of? I understand that it's difficult to comprehend some questions that people ask (i.e. "what's this thingy that just popped up on the screen?"), but they're trained for that, right?

Another issue I have with customer service lines is that a fee is generally involved. When my computer broke and I tried to call HP for some support, they first acquired my name, email address, and phone number. They then informed me that because my warranty is no longer good, I would have to pay approximately $100 for them to help me over the phone. For one freaking question. And this $100 only gets me one year of service. But wait, it gets better. If I simply wanted to suscribe to the 2-week service, it would only cost me half of that. But, I could also go online and get support for free. Because I had a functioning computer and all.

Honestly, how mental are these people? I don't know if I speak for the general public or not, but we do not break things frequently enough to give the producer $100 to help us fix it. Or not fix it, in most cases. It's ridiculous that these "support lines" charge outrageous fees to answer simple questions. The more reasonable/logical option is to have people call a non-toll-free line and pay only for the time that they actually use. But I guess it's a part of the American way to fuck people for money, eh?

/end rant

Note: I do not mean to offend anyone who works in customer service. Nor do I mean to diss our nation's economic strategies. I love America. I just hate Americans that try to fuck up my life with bullshit. :D

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hey! Read the Skeptic's Circle and Don't Use Apostrophe's Unless' Needed's!

The Christy Eve miracle of the 24th Skeptic's Circle is up at Immunoblogging. Merry Jeesus.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

America? Fuck Yeah!

USA, not CSA!Now that it's unconstitutional to teach Intelijunt Desine as an alternative to evolution, it's made me wonder:

How can we as a country get some things right and others so wrong?

The Dover decision is for every assbag that ever said "If you don't want GOD in the Pledge of Allegiance/national motto/US currency, then LEAVE to a GODLESS country!"

I can't wait to tell them to LEAVE and go to a SCIENCELESS country. But these cocksnacks exist and will continue to exist, saying that Judge Jones is oppressing and censoring them. Face it Chet - you lost. You tried to mask Creationism as science by dressing it up with a fancy name. BANG! Shot down by scientists and biology professors who saw through the bullshit. You tried to get your religion into public schools by electing close-minded hillbillies. Score currently stands tied 1-1. You then tried to go through the courts to have Creationism taught to children as a viable explanation for the origin of species. BANG! Shot down. Kansas, you're next...

Speaking of BANG, I wish I had a bazooka for every dumbass who still thinks that I'm out to destroy Christmas. No, really, check out what
this lying piece of shit has to say (via 2% Company):

"It's a sad day in America when you have to retain an attorney to say 'Merry Christmas,' " said Mike Johnson, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney in Louisiana who will push the Christmas cause."
Whaaa??? If there is someone in the world who is holding you back from saying "Christy Christmas and a very Christy New Christ" to every mouth-breathing motherfucker who walks down the street, please tell them I have a bazooka saved for them too. Problem is, there is no one stopping you from doing so. Not person number one. Scream it from the top of your lungs. Wear the stupid sweaters, making sure to piss your dog off by making them wear one too. Have them match for shit's sake - I don't care.

But stop playing victim! I'm sick of these assholes making things up to raise money for the Jerry Falwell retirement fund. Show me evidence!

While we're on evidence, I have a new pet peeve. It's all the creduloids that drop by and spout their bullshit but don't back it up. It's fine if you disagree with me; even Your Rockstar can't be right about everything. But when I ask you fuckers for evidence, here are the responses I've been getting:

1. "Do the research yourself!"
2. "You're stupid!"
3. "Pastor Hank on says it's true!"
4. A shitty poem on an even shittier blog
5. The claimant disappears completely to uplink with the mother-ship.

Oh well. At least we've held religion out of public schools for the time being

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Bronze Dawg is in the Hizzy. Or Whatever You Kids are Saying These Days.

Since not all of you hang out at the JREF forums, much less the humor section thereof, I suppose I should introduce myself. I'm a geek and general skeptic. Although I've got a BA in art, I've got a good science background, and got that degree faster by CLEPing out 8 hours of chemistry.

I'd like to take a moment to thank Mrs. Isbell for that.

I think critically, and I'm fully aware that even I can slip up. If I do, don't hesitate to bring in the rolled-up newspapers and pummel me on the nose.

My pet peeves:

Bad grammar (especially those morons who don't know what an apostrophe is, but still use it)
Interesting Ian
Religious intrusion on government
Governmental intrusion on religion (which includes the government telling people who they can and can't marry)
Deities who act like mob bosses, exchanging "protection" for "respect" (See also: Pat Robertson's god.)
Marketing buzz phrases like, "Extreme," "edgy," and anything that unnecessarily starts with an X.

Things that really get me angry:

Propaganda techniques (especially straw men and stereotypes)

Some of my turn-ons:

Raw data
Non-submissive women. Skepchicks in particular.
Geometric forms
Good anime

As for my future at Rockstar Ramblings: I'll probably be posting some fairly generic stuff, like Skeptico has been doing, such as explaining common fallacies performed by the newage crowd, the nature of skepticism, as I see it, and so forth. As a regular poster at the JREF forums, I might spend a little time dissecting some of the truly stupid things the resident non-skeptics post.

-Bronze Dog

Friday, December 09, 2005

Alert the Scientists - We Now Have a Theory of Everything

Being an enemy of stupidity and a crusader against the credulous, we've come upon a lot of silly crap. Not just Fun Size Snickers Bar piles. Mountains of steaming horse crap. That being said, I now call your attention to The Final Theory. Yes, this guy has the "Theory of Everything". Wow. So instead of publishing this in numerous scientific journals for peer review, he writes this book. Probably because those evil scientists would ignore him - how else would they keep their jobs? All the science are belong to him!

Part I or "Are You Freaking Serious?"

On his
website author Mark McCutcheon frequently requests science base itself on common sense, yet refuses to do so himself. Case in point:

Q: Light slows as it passes through water or glass, causing it to bend, but how can it return to light-speed on its own once it exits?

A: This is impossible in today's science. No object in nature can speed up of its own accord after being slowed. A bullet doesn't spontaneously speed up after it is slowed by passing through a wooden block, so how does a photon of light mysteriously return to its original speed once it exits a glassblock?

Part II or "The Game"

For those who don't get the
False Analogy, here's some pretty pictures for you:

Rockstar Excuse me, Mr. Creduloid?

Dumbass WhAT?

Rockstar Let's play a game of "One of These Things is Not Like the Other".

Dumbass oTAY!

Here we go!

Ok, which one?

Dumbass i KnOW, i KnOW! dA LITE!

Rockstar Good! Why?

Dumbass BECOZ! i CAn'T EAT da LITE!

Rockstar Ok, not really the answer I was going for...

Mr. McCutcheon, try this - drop a dead body from a plane. Have it hit or break through something at about 5000 feet. I predict that it speeds up to terminal velocity before hitting the ground. That's what science does and your woo-woo drivel doesn't.
If the entire book is filled with this shit, I see about as much need to buy it as I do paying money to have Sylvia Browne ask if I'm related to an "R".

Part III or "This is What it's Like When Woos Collide"

Now dig this. A
Fundie wack-a-doo used this book as proof science can be disproven. No, really. Click the link. Back? Fascinating isn't it? This guy unintentionally (or maybe intentionally?) gave religious wackos ammunition in the "debate" over science. Except that using that ammo would be akin to throwing marshmallows at a velociraptor...

Using The Final Theory to show how science can be disproven is like saying I'll have Bugs Bunny kick your ass because you don't believe in the LORD (Praise the LORD!)

Here's what the author did not grasp: science doesn't care how something happens, be it against your common sense or not. We make observations and test our theories to make predictions. We try anything we can to make our theories not fit the data; it's falsifiable. "The Theory of Everything" ranks right up there with ID as far as being science.

The beauty of science is that it works whether you believe in it or not.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Why am I Anti-American for Being a Rational Being?

I don't believe in the supernatural. I don't believe in the paranormal. I am open-minded though; I'm willing to admit my beliefs are wrong. However, based on the fact there is absolutely zero evidence for the existence of a god/gods, demons, angels, psychic powers, dowsing, astrology, homeopathy, or any kind of magic in general, and in some cases evidence against their existence, I won't change my mind until they are proven.

Somehow, according to the Fundamentalist in
Lya's most recent post at God is for Suckers, because I don't believe these things exist I am Anti-America. My question to the Theists: Why?

To quote the billboard in the picture:

Attention: Lunatic Atheists & their Lawyers

Anti-God is Anti-American

There is a glaring error in that statement; an atheist can't be Anti-God because there is no God to be Anti about (not to mention the fact that I'd associate "Lunatic" with the Bleevers more than atheism). But apparently this fool thinks that since I don't believe there is a god/gods, I'm Anti-God and therefore Anti-American. Again - why?

Is God an American citizen? No, he'd have to have been born here or go through everything necessary to get citizenship. Hell, I don't even think he has a green card...
Is it because the country's legal framework is based in religion? No, it can't be that. A quick look at the Constitution of the U.S. would show
no mention of "God". So atheism isn't against the law...

So I ask all of you religious types: why am I Anti-America for not believing in God? What makes you hold this belief? Surely there is a reason or you'd not think atheism = Anti-American. Ask yourself. I'm willing to bet it is because someone told you to think this way. And that makes you a credulous fool.

I don't believe in God. And I love living in a country I can fucking say that!