Should the Government be investigating UFO’s? No.

How could that be possibly be hanging in the air? It must be aliens!

The great joy of the Internet is that you can find the nonsense that comes out of just about any part of the world.  Prime example: this morning when looking for something to write about, I found letter written to a Malaysian paper called malaysiakini titled “Gov’t should investigate all UFO sightings.”

Before I just say “no they shouldn’t,” let’s look into the article a bit.  The author, identified as S Param discusses a number of UFO sightings that have happened before.  Param complains that they haven’t been adequately investigated by the local authorities and yearns for a day when they will be given the respect Param believes they deserve.  Param suggests that if there aren’t locals who can identify the UFO, money should be spent to bring them in from the US and Europe. … continue reading this entry.

An Anti-Vax Tea Party (Part 2 of 2)

Who has a question for "Dr." Wakefield?

During the Q&A, I’d wanted to ask Wakefield what vaccines he was in favor of giving to infants as it’s clear that many of his supporters are far more anti-vaccine than he professes to be but someone asked a similar question first. When I finally did ask a question, I simply asked for clarification about the studies he claimed supported his research. At times during the Q&A, it seemed as though Wakefield was among the least insane in the room. But his answers were so slick as to somehow appease both less fanatical anti-vaccinationists as well as those who believe vaccines have no benefits at all and are used to deliberate poison the populous. … continue reading this entry.

Anti-vax Tea Party (Part 1 of 2)

Andrew Wakefield, the British medical researcher notorious for his discredited work that attempted to link autism to the MMR vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease based (largely on bogus analyses of twelve children), stands in the front of the room sporting an adolescent haircut. Giving a warm smile to his audience, over and over again, the man, with the sleeves of his collared shirt rolled up, angrily condemns what he calls an, “effort to erase these children’s histories from the public record.” Composing himself, he continued, “And that will fail. And I will explain to you why it will fail.”

The evening had begun with a brief introduction by a woman representing DAN! or Defeat Autism Now!, an organization that claims to medically treat children with autism. She then passed the proceedings over to Tony Lyons, President and Publisher of Skyhorse Publishing, without whom this event would not be taking place.

Skyhorse is the company that published Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard. Lyons began his short introduction by calling the book controversial. He mentions how his own daughter has autism and that nobody knows if vaccines are responsible. In fact, he expresses this last sentiment exactly five times over the course of the next three minutes, while drawing comparisons to a time when doctors didn’t object to cigarettes and would even sometimes recommend certain brands. … continue reading this entry.

The end is not near

For thousands of years people have been predicting the end of the world, often even supplying specific dates near in the future when it would happen. And so far as I can tell, every single last one of them has been demonstrably proven 100% wrong.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are constantly predicting the date of the end of the world. So is Harold Camping, a radio evangelist who predicted the world would end specifically in 1994, based on the words of the Bible…even though in the Bible, Jesus clearly says that no one can predict the date or the hour of the end. So if you’re reading this that means one of two possible things:  either you’re one of the unfortunate souls that were “Left Behind”…or more likely, Harold Camping is just a moron and another yahoo who deludes himself into thinking he can predict the end of the world. … continue reading this entry.

Lazy conspiracy theorists

The Ancient Mystic Society of the Stonecutters

The Ancient Mystic Society of the Stonecutters

Often when I get into discussions with grand conspiracy theorists it seems to start with just a “simple” conspiracy of under a hundred players. Then as more and more plot holes are pointed out, they start applying the Infinity + 1 gambit I discussed in a previous piece, and the conspiracy grows to involve thousands. Then, as if that wasn’t implausible enough, they gradually seem to introduce the shape-shifting space aliens lizards, or the black magic, or the Antichrist, etc.

But one other element that seems consistent among conspiracy theorists is that they claim to know who the evil villains pulling the strings are, and it’s almost invariably rich elites such as all the recent U.S. presidents, FEMA the British Royal Family, pretty much the entire U.S. government (except Ron Paul, who somehow managed to be the lone elected public official who slipped into power without swearing allegiance to the evil New World Order), the bankers aka “The Jews”, Big Pharma, the Bilderberg group, the Rothchilds…and of course Arnold Schwartzenegger And often at the very center of it all is David Rockefeller. … continue reading this entry.

Infinity + 1

Remember when you were a kid and you’d get into arguments with your friends that would go something like this:

“Are not!”

“Am too!”

“Are not!”

“Am too!”

And remember how, much like Godwin’s Law, sooner or later one of you would eventually pull out the old, “Are not times infinity!”

Mathematically represented as: X = AN x I

This would then quickly be followed by “Are so times infinity plus one!”

Mathematically represented as: X = AS x I + 1

…which would then lead to a lengthy cycle of each party incrementally increasing the value added to infinity by one on each pass.

Most adults outgrow this level of argumentation. But there’s a whole subsection of the populace who never do. We call them denialists. … continue reading this entry.

Antivaccine movement’s bad PR hits critical mass

Six months ago we were looking at a serious flu pandemic, a very strong  and vocal campaign demonizing vaccines, as well as a growing public distrust of vaccines and the entire medical industry. But then a funny thing happened. Despite all their bark, the antivaccine movement proved to lack sufficient bite, as enough Americans still seem to have gotten vaccinated against one or both prominent strains of flu, leading to a dramatically reduced number of flu cases and flu-related deaths this season.

It also goes without saying that none of the doom-saying predictions made by the antivaccine crowd panned out either. There was no dramatic increase in autism, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, or dystonia. Nor were there many deaths or serious injuries directly linked to the vaccines. And many of the “alternative” “medicines” the antivaccine crowd flock to like homeopathy and chiropractic  also got hammered with terrible press. But that’s not all that went wrong for the antivaccine movement over the last few months. There are numerous other reasons why 2010 is already proving devastating to their entire movement. … continue reading this entry.

TQM Pierces the Veil

I was so wrong.  I’ve pierced the veil, seen the devil with his shorts down and boy are his balls red.  Of course it’s real, I should have always known!  I just needed to connect the dots… You don’t understand.  Consider me Virgil in your tour of the modern hell.

The penny.  It was always about the penny.  … continue reading this entry.

The Real Problem with Conspiracy Theories

A quick note before I start this one.  I’d like to say thanks to Scott, Benny, Michael, and Jareth for letting me babble on about this one before and after the Darwin Day lecture.  All of your comments helped me solidify my thoughts on a few of these issues.  And Benny?  You were right about “On the Media.” I’d also like to give a little warning here: it’s highly likely that in the course of writing this post, I’m going to start ranting about politics.  I will do my best to stay non-partisan and just yell at all the bastards at once.

I love me a good conspiracy theory movie.  Watching as our hero stumbles upon a secret that reaches into the highest echelons of government and manages to expose it, changing his whole world… I consider that a fun two hours.  That said, if the movie goes long, I start getting really bored with it, and that makes me really not understand why anyone could stand actually believing one of these damn things.  Conspiracy theories are ultimately acts of logical abandonment, which can be perfectly fine and fun when taken in moderation, but in the end, I feel they harm society by putting up straw men for theorists to break down, rather than letting us focus on real problems we may be facing.

The Bigger the Theory, the Harder to Keep Secret … continue reading this entry.

Dangerous Legal Games

Shackling Reason

(Image Pelham Library)

The anti-vaccine community is at it again, launching inane legal assaults in an attempt to gain a foothold in their war against science and reason. This time, Barbara Loe Fisher, infamous founder of the ironically-named National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), has launched a libel suit against Paul Offit, renowned vaccine expert and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I can only hope some good will come of this idiocy. First, some background. … continue reading this entry.

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