Saturday 6 August 2011

The Weekly Round-up w/e 07/08/11

Time to sit back, relax and soak up the delights gathered for you by the us good folk at Birmingham Skeptics. Yes, it’s time for the weekly roundup and once more we’ve herded the good and bad into one easily digestible post for your discerning skeptical consumer.

To kick us off the excellent Heather Doran @hapsci tackles a summery story and takes on one of those science sounding reports that we are all too familiar with in the media. You know the type I mean. “This or that seemingly random object has been found to have this or that seemingly random effect.” There’s no end to them. Well Heather has a go at setting the record straight over on her blog with Wine and Grapes Will NOT Prevent Sunburn.

We had to include the next story for a number of reasons. One is that it involves particle physics which featured in our last Podcast. The next is that it was written by David Gregory the BBC Midlands Science correspondent and one of our previous speakers. Thirdly it involves scientists from Warwick and it’s always nice to see local people at the cutting edge. Read and enjoy a brief post about some lovely neutrino events.

The next post is longer but nonetheless fascinating and momentous. The UN is officially declaring a disease as eradicated for only the second time ever. The disease is one that affects cattle but when you look at the intricate way that cattle relate to humans throughout time and society this is no insignificant moment. The history of what has led up to this incredible situation is described beautifully in this piece by the New York Times.

If you got the link to this blog through Facebook then beware. Cover your children’s eyes lest they be corrupted and don your tinfoil beanie for fear your brain be sizzled by the ravages of the Internet. Heed well the warnings of Martin Robbins as,  with tongue firmly planted within cheek, he warns that Facebook will destroy your children’s brains.

Here are two articles of interest that relate to our very own fair city  Firstly there is this one on a research project at Good Hope Hospital involving... I can barely bring myself to type it, spiritual healing. Then hot on the heels of that the revelation that Birmingham Schools are shelling out on alternative therapies for the students.

Whether you love or fear chemicals will often depend upon whether you read the Daily Mail. The fact is they are all around us, and in fact they are us. Did you know it’s the International Year of Chemistry? Join us with Scientific American to celebrate some of the elements and molecules that make life what it is.

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. This oft quoted mantra is in itself a case in point that you shouldn’t always take things at face value. I had this in my head as coming from Disraeli but a quick check on its origin shows that this is very possibly tosh. What isn’t tosh though is Ben Goldacre’s wonderful critique of the use and abuse of statistics in the media.

This final link caused me no end of trouble. If you’re not familiar with the cartoons of Abstruse Goose they are brilliantly geekily funny. My problem came in choosing one to put down on here. As an old DC Comics fan I picked this one, but feel free to hit Random and be transported to alternative dimensions of fun.

This weeks roundup was compiled by Patrick Redmond with considerable help from the other organisers.

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