Monday, July 16, 2018

Hypocrisy vs Reality and Jerry Brown

Remember this
Jerry Brown in China with a climate message to the world: Don't follow America's lead http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-brown-china-20170607-story.html#
Is this guy that clueless or just stupid?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Miracle Cancer Cure

Center for Inquiry Sues CVS for Fraud

      The Center for Inquiry has filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia on behalf of the general public against drug retailer CVS for consumer fraud over its sale and marketing of useless homeopathic medicines. CFI, an organization advancing reason and science, accused the country’s largest drug retailer of deceiving consumers through its misrepresentation of homeopathy’s safety and effectiveness, wasting customers’ money and putting their health at risk.

Click here to access the official complaint (PDF).

     Homeopathy is an 18th-century pseudoscience premised on the absurd, unscientific notion that a substance that causes a particular symptom is what should be ingested to alleviate it. Dangerous substances are diluted to the point that no trace of the active ingredient remains, but its alleged effectiveness rests on the nonsensical claim that water molecules have “memories” of the original substance. Homeopathic treatments have no effect whatsoever beyond that of a placebo.

Check this out at https://centerforinquiry.org/press_releases/cfi-sues-cvs/ 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Seeking CREDIBLE Internet Sources

      The WIRED article, The Complexity of Simply Searching for Medical Advice, highlights the importance of seeking credible sources when doing an Internet search.  Often it's the noise associated with pseudo-science that perks to the top of a simple search engine listing.
https://www.wired.com/story/the-complexity-of-simply-searching-for-medical-advice/?CNDID=48648177&mbid=nl_070818_daily_list3_p5

      It is what Michael Golebiewski at Bing calls a "data void," or search void: a situation where searching for answers about a keyword returns content produced by a niche group with a particular agenda. It isn’t just Google results. It is happening on social media and YouTube too.
      There’s an asymmetry of passion at work. Which is to say, there’s very little counter-content to surface because it simply doesn’t occur to regular people or credible experts that there’s a need to produce counter-content. So much of the information on the first few pages of search results repeats false claims  of the hyper-culture. Their message looks like it represents a widely-held point of view. But it doesn’t. It can be wrong, dangerous, and potentially deadly.
      The best advice on to handle this problem is -- always chase down the source of the information.  If the result in the Internet search does not provide references to claims, treat it as not worth forwarding or repeating to friends. Then checkout the source.  Is it credible?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Suicide Now the 10'th Leading Cause of Death

According to the CDC Suicide rates have spiked and it is now the 10'th leading cause of death in America.
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html

According to Catholic League president Bill Donohue
If Anthony Bourdain had been a religious man, would he have killed himself? Probably not.
http://www.standardnewswire.com/news/2587414062.html   

Donohue goes on to claim with hugely erroneous logic
As I have recounted in my book, The Catholic Advantage: How Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful, there is an inverse relationship between religiosity and suicide: those who are regular churchgoers have a much lower rate of suicide than atheists like Bourdain.
That is purely a correlation and hardly causation.   According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The community is an important setting for suicide prevention. A wide variety of community groups and organizations, including schools, after-school programs, health care providers, workplaces, and places of worship, can all work together to carry out prevention activities that reflect local needs and resources.
Jesse Bering, Director of the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago, New Zealand, an experimental psychologist, and author of the Suicidal says
Not only is the tenor of Donohue’s sentiment completely tone-deaf and insensitive, his claim that Bourdain—or, for that matter, any other atheist suicide victim—could have been saved by religion is presumptuous and misleading.  
https://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/being-religious-will-not-save-you-from-suicide/?utm_source=eSkeptic&utm_campaign=f899f7b24b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_11_04_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8c0a740eb4-f899f7b24b-73446941&mc_cid=f899f7b24b&mc_eid=968a2f6f5e

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Michigan’s Senate Legitimizes Quackery

According to CFI Cause & Effect Newsletter, Issue 106, May 30, 2018      

      Practitioners of naturopathy have no actual medical credentials and rely on a hodgepodge of baseless, pseudoscientific remedies such as homeopathy, “electromagnetic” therapy, and musculoskeletal manipulation to treat patients. Nonetheless, the State Senate of Michigan decided to legitimize these fake doctors with the passage of SB 826, a bill that would grant state licensure to naturopaths and give them the authority to prescribe medications, perform lab tests, givephysical exams, and even treat wounds.

      CFI Michigan Executive Director Jennifer Beahan said in our formal statement that SB 826 “would give the state’s blessing to unqualified practitioners of pseudoscience and their baseless remedies, meaning more people will waste their money and risk their health by pursuing quack treatments.” And Dr. Harriet Hall reminds us that naturopaths “discourage evidence-based preventive measures like vaccination and water fluoridation.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Lies Spread Faster Than Truth

There is worldwide concern over false news and the possibility that it can influence political, economic, and social well-being. Vosoughi et al investigated the differential diffusion of all of the verified true and false news stories distributed on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. The data comprise ~126,000 stories tweeted by ~3 million people more than 4.5 million times. 
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146   

They classified news as true or false using information from six independent fact-checking organizations that exhibited 95 to 98% agreement on the classifications.

False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people. 

The effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. They found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. 

Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.

Monday, May 21, 2018

PBS Test Your Skill at Spotting FAKE NEWS

According to PBS and Merriam Webster, “Fake news appears to have begun seeing general use at the end of the 19th century.”
Throughout 2017, as example after example emerged of bad faith actors pumping false stories into social media algorithms for clicks, profit, and political gain, the idea of “fake news” infused the public consciousness. Recently Facebook announced it would begin ranking news sources in its feed based on trustworthiness.
No matter what measures tech and media organizations take to restore trust, media consumption will always require a healthy dose of skepticism.
To find out how good you are at spotting fake news, take the fake news quiz.

Aside from resources linked within the quiz, here are more resources used and referenced:


Friday, May 18, 2018

Pence Like Trump Has Alternative Facts

As in the case of Donald Trump, Mike Pence likes to make up his own facts. In his commencement address at Hillsdale College, Vice President Mike Pence said,. "Facts are facts. Faith is rising across America." Actually the opposite is true.

According to Gallup, church attendance is going down, belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is going down, and belief in God is going down. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated are growing as a share of the American population, and according to Pew Research, they are now the second-largest “belief” group in the country at 23 percent.

In addition, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that the nonreligious now outnumber white evangelicals. Between 2003 and 2017, white evangelicals dropped from 21 percent of the population to 13. During that same period, the nonreligious swung the other way, rising from 12 percent to 21.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What's Happening with Global Warming Measurements

The official NASA data shows that global temperatures dropped sharply over the past two years. Writing in Real Clear Markets, Aaron Brown looked at the official NASA global temperature data and noticed something surprising. From February 2016 to February 2018, “global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius.” That, he notes, is the biggest two-year drop in the past century.

A study published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate showed that climate models exaggerate global warming from CO2 emissions by as much as 45%

The journal Nature Geoscience that found that climate models were faulty, and that, as one of the authors put it, “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models.”

The University of Alabama-Huntsville showed that the Earth’s atmosphere appears to be less sensitive to changing CO2 levels than previously assumed.

Over the past 13 years the U.S. has cut CO2 emissions faster than any other industrialized nation.

The polar bear populations are increasing.

We haven’t seen any increase in violent weather in decades.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Rise of Political Power of Atheists

According to the most recent Scientific American article by Michael Shermer
... this means that there are more than 64 million American atheists, a staggering number that no politician can afford to ignore. Moreover, if these trends continue, we should be thinking about the deeper implications for how people will find meaning as the traditional source of it wanes in influence. And we should continue working on grounding our morals and values on viable secular sources such as reason and science.
https://michaelshermer.com/2018/04/silent-no-more-rise-of-atheists/ 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Another Way FACEBOOK Spies on You

      We're all used to seeing "Log in with Facebook" or "Log in with Google" at sites around the Internet, such as CNN.com, the Guardian newspaper, Spotify, and tens of thousands of other online retailers, apps and games. Facebook gets 62% of all social log-ins across the tens of thousands of sites and Google is used 24% of the time. 
      It should be obvious that every time this is done, one is surrendering personal information to FACEBOOK's or Google's dossier on the user. Logging in to a website using a service such as Facebook or Google allows the website to make a request for data about you -- your birthday, friends list, email address, employment, colleges attended, photos and information that your friends have posted about you.  This data covers your habits and preferences, your Facebook Likes, products or articles you've liked. and which of your friends already use a particular website or what you do while on the site. 
      This can have serious repercussions. Allowing another account who has weak security practices means if this account is hacked, your data may be compromised and you will never know or be notified.
     People who use Facebook and Google log-in trade away some data privacy.
  • Personal data is shared between the social network and the third-party app.
  • Don't link a social profile to sensitive info like your Social Security number or financial details. Always use a separate account and password.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Weakest Security Link on your Computer - the Web Browser

How Criminals Can Build a “Web Dossier” from Your Browser

All kinds of personal information, from your location, work hours, habits, banks, applications, and even passwords are there for the taking. 

Web browsers store an incredible amount of sensitive information about you. Website developers have a variety of ways of using modern browsers to customize the experience for users. Advertisers also use these features to maximize the impact of ads shown on sites. The result is that a lot of information about you is stored deep in your browser, and it can potentially be exploited by cyber criminals in a number of ways. 

This blog will describe what we call the “web dossier” that can be created from these artifacts, how this profile can be exploited, and what you can do to protect yourself.

https://www.exabeam.com/security/criminals-can-build-web-dossier-browser/

What You are Worth on the Dark Web

Dark Web Market Price Index (Feb 2018 - US Edition)

Scammers are buying and selling your stolen personal info on the dark web and it's not just credit card details. With hacked dating profiles, streaming services, even Airbnb accounts for sale, we've created the Dark Web Market Price Index (US Edition) to monitor this illicit trade.

https://www.top10vpn.com/privacy-central/privacy/dark-web-market-price-index-feb-2018-us/

Sunday, March 25, 2018

FACEBOOK Data Treasure Trove

FACEBOOK never forgets.  It retains a remarkable amount of information about anyone who has ever logged in.  With the recent data breach by Cambridge Analytica,
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/cook-county-illinois-sues-facebook-and-cambridge-analytica-over-data-breach/

users can kiss there personal records goodbye. Now how much does FACEBOOK have? EVERYTHING you or your "friends" have entered.  To find out just how much that might be
1) Open your FACEBOOK page
2) In the upper right hand-corner, click on the small black triangle
3) In the drop-menu select 'Settings"
4) On the page that opens locate Download a copy of your Facebook data.and click on it.

The data are sent to your email account associated with your FACEBOOK account in a very big zip file.
You recently requested a copy of your Facebook data. It's now ready for you to download.
Because this download may contain private information, you should keep it secure and take precautions when storing or sending it, or uploading it to another service.
Click the link below to go directly to your download. If the link redirects you to your account settings page, simply click "Download a copy of your Facebook data" to get redirected to the file we've prepared.
Please note: For security reasons, you can only download the copy we've prepared for you within a few days of this email being sent. You'll need to start the process again if you're unable to access your download.
 

7 Reasons Why Quitting Facebook Now Is Good For Your Future
https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/7-reasons-why-quitting-facebook-now-good-for-your-future.html

What I Learned When I Quit Facebook
https://www.themuse.com/advice/what-i-learned-when-i-quit-facebook 

What to Look for in your Facebook Data—and How to Find It
https://www.wired.com/story/download-facebook-data-how-to-read/?CNDID=48648177&mbid=nl_032918_daily_list1_p3

How NRA Enables Gun Violence

Although gun violence is a major contributor to deaths, relatively little money is spend of research 
The fact that the NRA blocks most spending on research should be little surprise.
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/us/26guns.html

Nevertheless, Mother Jones has corrected many popular myths.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check/ 

Myth #1: They’re coming for your guns.

Myth #2: Guns don’t kill people—people kill people

Myth #3: An armed society is a polite society

Myth #4: More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys

Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer

Myth #6: Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer

Myth #7: Guns make women safer

Myth #8: “Vicious, violent video games” deserve more blame than guns

Myth #9: More and more Americans are becoming gun owners

Myth #10: We don’t need more gun laws—we just need to enforce the ones we have

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another Reason Just to "Tune Out"

      Saying “it is a whole new world in ‘News Media’” has got to be a naïve under-statement.  This article explains why it is probably best just to turn off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
https://www.wired.com/story/how-liberals-amped-up-a-parkland-shooting-conspiracy-theory/
      It is beyond comprehension how automated the whole matter of Fake News has become. Many people were naïve enough to assume the Russians were the bad actors, mostly. Not even close.
      It has been reported that 60% of Millennials get their news through social media and nothing else.  Now that has got to be scary.
      A good start is always to first check WIRED for media bias via
https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/wired-magazine/
     (This checker can be found at http://mtskeptics.blogspot.com/2018/02/media-biasfact-check.html)
      The world of cyber criminality is now moving just too fast.  Is anyone who actually can make a difference paying attention?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

CSI's Continued Climate Disgrace

      When in 2007 the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) later renaming itself as the Committee for Scientific Inquiry (CSI) proclaimed a policy of the organization that Global Warming was irrefutable and that humankind was primary cause, we assumed the data must be undeniable.  Nevertheless, even though supported nearly all of CSI's stands, we decided to do a little critical analysis and check the data.
     It was hardly irrefutable.  In fact, serious debate challenging this claim was underway led by some credible, highly-respected climatologists.  It seemed obvious that the premier skeptic organization should be the ideal platform on which to have a meaningful SCIENTIFIC investigation of the FACTS that were becoming government policy. 
      No way! In a completely disgraceful manner CSI only doubled down on its questionable position.
     We don't dispute global warming.  We don't dispute humankind's contribution to global warming.  We are disappointed in CSI abysmal failure to standby the principles of Scientific Inquiry, thereby severely discrediting its work on addressing other significant matters of pseudo-science.
     We had little influence on matters at CSI.  The only way we could protest this failure of the skeptical method and critical thought was to terminate our small financial support.
     Now a decade later CSI adds to its failure to be a credible skeptical organization by announced that Michael Mann had been elected as a 2017 Fellow of CSI. 
     Mann was the topic of the book "A Disgrace to His Profession."  He hardly stands with the likes of Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, B.F. Skinner, Philip J. Klass, Paul Kurtz, James Randi, Martin Gardner, and Ray Hyman. Mann only disgraces their legacy and their once skeptical mission.