Friday, January 30, 2015

Scientific Paranormal Investigation with Benjamin Radford

Video interview (CLICK HERE) with author Benjamin Radford about his book, Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. Ben is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and a Research Fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a prolific writer on topics on urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, and media literacy. He is author of six books:
  1) Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking;
  2) Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us;
  3) Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the Worlds Most Elusive Creatures,
  4) Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries;
  5) Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore and
  6) The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Don't Be Fooled by the NON-Scientific Attempts to Misrepresent

Regardless of all the hyperbole of dishonest reporters, the "planet temperature" has not changed significantly in the past 18 years.  When they lie so egregiously, all their "claims" are suspect.
Quoting the temperature to one hundredth of a degree and the error on that measurement to a tenth of a degree is not normal scientific practice. It  is against normal scientific practice to have an error of the measurement larger than the precision of that measurement. This means that most scientists would have rounded the data so that it was 0.6 +/- 0.1 °C. If this is done to the HadCRUT4 dataset it is even more obvious that there has been a warming “pause” for the past 18 years. - See more at:

The HadCRUT4 dataset (compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit) shows last year was 0.56C (±0.1C) above the long-term (1961-1990) average. Nominally this ranks 2014 as the joint warmest year in the record, tied with 2010, but the uncertainty ranges mean it’s not possible to definitively say which of several recent years was the warmest. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Odds Are 2014 Was NOT the Warmest on Record

The Warmist cry has gone out, "2014 was the warmest year on record."  But was it?  There is a 72% probability that it was NOT.  This claim is based on temperature measurements from 3000 land-based thermometers known as the GISS Surface Temperature measurements -- all of which have a built-in error anywhere from a tenth to a half a degree.  These errors more than eclipse the so-called hottest year on record by one to two orders of magnitude.  The average temperature anomaly was only one-hundredth of a degree.  That is 0.01 of a degree with confidence factor of only 38%.  Wow! this truly pulling the fly scat from the dung pile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are All Religions Inherently Evil?

There is a frequent desire in the Charlie Hebdo incident to give Islam “a pass” again.  It is just the work of fundamentalist extremists.  However the Conclusion from a recent essay by Kenneth Krause is more condemning and addresses questions as to prevalence of violence in religions.
Islam is not universally violent, of course. The same polls, for example, show that few British and German Muslims and only five percent of French Muslims agree that honor killing is morally acceptable. But the data from Islamic nations tends first, to support the proposition that Abrahamic monotheism is uniquely adapted to inspire violence, and second, to demonstrate that the belief in one god continues to fulfill this exceptionally vicious legacy. It is no accident, for example, that nearly all Muslims in these countries are particularists, believing that “Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life.”  In conclusion, none of this would seem possible in the absence of religious devotion to an allegedly all-powerful god
Europe found non-secular humanism as a solution to its long-time problem.  The US attempts “separation” of church from state to keep its religious zealots in control.  Are all religions the basis for evil? Most likely not; just those which are quick to adopt “convert or be killed.”  That would be the dominant three: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

AARP Fraud Watch - Weight Loss Scams in 2015

Beware of Weight-Loss Scams in the New Year!
     According to the New York Times, about 45 percent of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution this year. Topping the list? Losing weight.
     When it comes to dieting, there are no easy answers – and plenty of scams. If a product promises weight loss without effort and sacrifice, it’s bogus and could harm your health.

A War Between Two Worlds

The Emerging Crisis in Europe 

The murders of cartoonists who made fun of Islam and of Jews shopping for their Sabbath meals by Islamists in Paris last week have galvanized the world. A galvanized world is always dangerous. Galvanized people can do careless things. It is in the extreme and emotion-laden moments that distance and coolness are most required. I am tempted to howl in rage. It is not my place to do so. My job is to try to dissect the event, place it in context and try to understand what has happened and why. From that, after the rage cools, plans for action can be made. Rage has its place, but actions must be taken with discipline and thought.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

     It is amazing that so many people in Europe rally in support of trash like Charlie Hebdo.  I view the irresponsibility of this magazine to be the same as the reason one does not yell “fire” in a crowded theater. It was good sense that US did not have a high-ranking official at the big march in France.
      Europe is clearly a powder keg of anti-Muslim sentiment. Without a doubt the over-the-top response of Europe to the Charlie Hebdo incident is reflective of a much deeper issue in Europe and “kindling” for greater trouble.  Europe was sending more than a free-speech message.      
      Charlie Hebdo was more than a satirical publication. It was disgusting cancer that societies mistakenly tolerate too long before recognizing its anarchical elements.  It is also indicative of misguided fringe liberalism that gives birth to fringe radical conservatism in compensation.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Religion is Dying

Perhaps 50 million adult Americans now say their religion is "none" or "don't know."  This number has climbed dramatically since the 1990s.
About 20 million U.S. Catholics have left that church - so one-tenth of American adults now are ex-Catholics.
Two-thirds of American Christians in their 20s drop out of church before age 30, one report estimates.
Once-prestigious mainline Protestant faiths with seminary-educated clergy have disintegrated so severely since 1960 that one analyst refers to "Flatline Protestantism."
An estimated 4,000 American churches close each year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Magnificent 18'th Century Automaton

One of three surviving automata from the 18th century built by Jaquet Droz. ''The Writer'' is a 240 year old doll that can write. Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790) was a Swiss-born watchmaker of the late eighteenth century. It inspired the Hugo Movie.

Intrigued?  Try this earlier computer

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Models Miss the Mark

     The global warming alarmists (GWA) state unequivocally that the "science is settled."  If so, why can't it come close to predicting the warming trends of the planet (see below)

The orange band shows where ALL the GWA models predict temperature anomalies were going to be.  The black line shows the actual anomaly.  A complete discussion of this discrepancy can be found at
     This long reference also addresses some of the excuses the GWA crowd are giving.  The bottom line however is quite simple.  This discrepancy was totally unexpected and is totally unexplained using the "settled science" of the GWA crowd.  For them to continue to claim they are even more confident of the human involvement (IPCC Fifth and latest Summary) is absurd. 

Monday, January 5, 2015


From the International Climate Science Coalition 
- Climate change negotiators in Lima, Peru seemed oblivious to the findings of the UN’s ongoing My World survey about what the people of the world really want the agency to focus on.
- Perhaps most out of touch with reality is the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself who on Wednesday asserted that climate change remains his ‘top priority’,"
That ‘action taken on climate change’ rates dead last among the 16 priorities the public wants to see action on.
- During the UN Climate Change Conferences in 2007, 2009, and 2012, hundreds of climate experts endorsed open letters (see here) to Mr. Ban explaining his mistakes on the science.
- Not only is climate science highly uncertain but there has been no statistically significant global warming for 18 years despite a 9% rise in carbon dioxide to a still miniscule 0.04% of our atmosphere per a 2012 open letter to Mr. Ban,

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Repent - The Rapture Is Nigh

     Here we go again.  Those who anxiously await the "end of times." are predicting "the Rapture" on September 23, 2015.  You can google this date, but the website Tribulation-Now is the most bizarre.
     As a challenge check out Prophecy-Proof Insights Information and Insights about the End Times That You Won't Hear in Church.
What is worse - those making the absurd claims or those thinking they need refuting?

Retraction Watch

Unfortunately, bad science is often quickly exploited by the main stream media by "journalists" out to get that scoop.  Not many are around when is is discovered these reporters "jumped the gun" and failed due diligence (think Rolling Stones or Dr. Oz, for example).

A good follow-up source is the blog Retraction Watch.  Here is what Physics World had to say about it.
If you have ever had your results plagiarized, or spent months trying to reproduce someone else’s unsound work, then you will appreciate Retraction Watch‘s efforts at bringing sunshine into a murky area of research. If, in contrast, you were the one at the business end of a retraction, reading this blog will reassure you that you are almost certainly not the worst researcher ever. But even if you have never had any personal experience with retracting a paper, you should still read Retraction Watch for its fascinating insight into a world that no good scientist ever wants to enter.

Living Together

     On January 1/2/15 the ABC TV show 20/20 showed some extreme examples about how some people go out of their way to impose themselves upon their neighbors.  The most striking examples were 1) where two once-close suburbanites built a 12-foot high fence between their houses and engaged in a childish war, and 2) where a town made war on a family that had a pet pot-belly pig.  They were examples where some people seem to go out of their way to be disrespectful of those who aren't perfect clones of themselves.
     We contrast this report to a letter from the Chief of Police in Nashville to his staff where he commented on a letter from a citizen who disagreed with his handling of a matter that has torn other cities apart.  A Christmas Message for the MNPD from Chief Steve Anderson >was posted at  In it he makes this remarkably insightful comment
While I don’t doubt that you sincerely believe that your thoughts represent the majority of citizens, I would ask you to consider the following before you chisel those thoughts in stone.
As imperfect humans, we have a tendency to limit our association with other persons to those persons who are most like us.  Unfortunately, there is even more of a human tendency to stay within our comfort zone by further narrowing those associations to those persons who share our thoughts and opinions.  By doing this we can avoid giving consideration to thoughts and ideas different than our own.  This would make us uncomfortable.  By considering only the thoughts and ideas we are in agreement with, we stay in our comfort zone.  Our own biases get reinforced and reflected back at us leaving no room for any opinion but our own.  By doing this, we often convince ourselves that the majority of the world shares opinion and that anyone with another opinion is, obviously, wrong. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Way to Get Published

     Number of papers published in peer-reviewed journal is key to tenure, grants, and promotions. However, psychologists Sarah Brown-Schmidt and William Horton have found a new approach. They published a study that cast doubt on the findings of a previous one. It wasn’t especially monumental, except for one thing -- the author of that now-refuted paper was same as the author refuting it. It was William Horton himself.  He got TWO papers for a result of nothing contributed.
     In 2007, Horton, of Northwestern University, reported that people could more quickly recall the names of objects if they were in the presence of a partner. The latest study, using a nearly identical protocol but with more participants, found no sign of this partner effect on memory.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

     Well maybe.  The American Chestnut Project is a genetically modified organism (GMO) and a few Luddites were prefer the project not proceed, because of a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything GMO, even though bioscience has found the procedure perfectly safe.
     For 25 years, William Powell and Charles Maynard at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York have been using genetic engineering methods to try to revive the American chestnut tree. The tree was once populous from Maine to Georgia, consisting of as much as 25 percent of the forest and providing food and lumber. In early 1900s, an Asian fungus began and continues to kill billions of trees.
     In early December, the activist group called “The Campaign To Stop GE Trees” called on consumers to shut the project down, saying the transgenic trees are “unnecessary, undesirable,” and “unpredictable”.
Horizontal gene transfer between unrelated species is not unnatural. It does happen in nature and is an important force in genetic diversity and evolution. But instead of happening randomly, genetic engineering allows some thought to be put in behind this natural process.