You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

Cheers to Fuller from the Young Australian Skeptics forum for bringing this to my attention.

The following is a video of Tim Minchin performing his poem “Storm” at the ‘9 Carols for a Godless Christmas’ concert at Hammersmith Apollo on the 21st of December. Please watch it, it’s really good. Oh, I fantasise about doing things like this.

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Yes, it is finally up. No need to wait any longer, people. Click right here to be taken directly to the place where you can download the first episode of the official podcast of the Young Australian Skeptics, The Pseudo Scientists. Don’t be discouraged that the first episode doesn’t feature me (or the next episode, for that matter), it’s still a good podcast! No, really, it is!

Plus, with the power of the Internet, you can become a fan of The Pseudo Scientists on Facebook here. If you’re into that sort of thing, of course…

I spent a lot of time on this. A lot. But, finally, it’s here: the complete transcription of the Steven Novella/Rachael Dunlop interview on Episode 6 of the Skeptic Zone podcast. The 50 minute interview took me so much time to do it’s really not funny. Just think of all the blogging I could have done in that time…

Oh well, I guess I owed the guys at the Skeptic Zone something, due to their tireless efforts at putting out such a great podcast every week. Cheers guys. Plus, I also wanted to do it just so I could get in Steve’s good books for when he comes to Australia in 2010…  More of that in the interview.

I thought I might share a little of it with you, to whet your appetite for some hot, hot Novella ranting. The full transcript of the interview can be found here, on the Skeptic Zone website. That’s http://skepticzone.tv/trans_sn.htm for those who missed the non-spelt-out URL. How more obvious can I make the plug, guys? Oh, and Steve’s blog is here, at http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/ Just, you know, so he knows that I care…

Here it is, a brief snippet of the interview I so lovingly wrote down.

R: Mmm. So that sort of leads me onto the next question, which is about the hijacking of scientific terminology by CAM proponents. Recently, I attended the Mind-Body-Spirit, or -Wallet, festival, as we affectionately call it in Australia-

S: Right. *laughs*

R: -and you’d be amazed, Steve, did you know quantum technology is working in alternative medicine? I don’t know if you’ve heard about this-

S: Oh yeah!

R: *laughs*

S: Quantum technology is awesome, you know, throw the word “quantum” in there and it becomes instant pseudoscience.

R: Oh yeah, it’s fantastic.

S: It’s all about the marketing, which is one thing that the CAM industry does extremely well. It’s all about the marketing. They also have an advantage in the fact that they’re not constrained by things like facts and ethics.

R: Exactly.

S: If you’re not so constrained, you can model your marketing purely for psychological impact. There are certain themes that they follow: one theme is the new gee-whiz technology, and this has been going on for a long, long time, ever since Western science has been institutionalized and in vogue in civilization. So, a hundred years ago, the cutting-edge, science-y kind of treatment was radiation, so there were radioactive tonics that people thought were the latest-greatest thing. A hundred years before that it was electromagnetism, so that’s where Mesmer comes in with his animal magnetism, that you can use to cure just about anything. And now, it’s quantum, Deepak Chopra’s quantum healing, for example. It’s a new way of justifying the vitalistic notions that are thousands of years old, you know, the notion that there’s this life energy. So, now you just throw “quantum” in front of it, and you’ve got quantum life energy. But it’s the same sort of spiritual, pre-scientific notions that were weeded out of scientific thinking over a hundred years ago. But yeah, extremely effective marketing.

Don’t you just love the use of scientific technobabble in alternative medicine? Now I know I’m not alone in thinking that it’s deliciously digusting!

Yes, I’ve been neglecting blogging for a while, but for a good reason! The start of the holidays is always a bit rough, and I have been on my school’s Bike Camp for the past five days. Anyway, a new Common Creationist Claim post is up on Homologous Legs, which you can visit here. It’s all about abiogenesis, and should be a good introduction to the kinds of arguments creationists make regarding the scientific study of the naturalistic origin of life.

In other news, the second “first” episode of the Yougn Australian Skeptics was a failure (audio sotware recording problems again). Perhaps it was because I wasn’t there. We may never know. The next attempt is next week, but, being the busy man I am, I cannot attend, AGAIN. Darn Awards Night at school. Darn me winning an award for academic excellence. </humility>

Yes, it’s Part 5 of “Monkeys, Evolution and VenomFangX”. Watch at your peril, the arguments Shawn (VenomFangX) makes are quite bad.

I’ve written a new article on Young Australian Skeptics called “Creationist Argument – Mutations cannot increase information”. You can find it here, if you so wish to read it.

Basically, I’m going to be laying out the foundations of various arguments used by creationists in a way that young people can understand, provided they have a basic understanding of genetics. If they don’t know anything about genetics, it’s probably the case that they’re not interested in evolution very much, and so they wouldn’t read my articles.

We’ve also had two guest articles written already (here and here), and plugs on the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, the Skeptic Zone, Bad Astronomy and Teen Skepchick. Much love all around, especially to those teen skepchicks. Just about my age, wouldn’t you think?

Don't stress.

Informal Skepticism seeks to discuss skeptical, scientific and religious topics in a way that won't make you stay awake at night, increase your blood pressure or cause stress-induced hallucinations.

Updated when the author feels it necessary and is able, which pretty much translates to "random", as he is a high school student.

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