Sunday 30 October 2011

Weekly Round-up weekending 30/10/11

It’s weekly round–up time again for you lovely folks at Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub, and it’s another double helping; so welcome, welcome to the Halloween link fest, or as Frank-N-Furter would say “So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. I see you shiver with antici…pation.”

Let’s start off with a brain-picking story from the US: Psychic James Van Praagh claims to be able to talk to the deceased but gives zombies the silent treatment. Go team Randi.

Well would you look at this? Our favourite headphone tester, Psychic Sally, is appearing at the Alexandra Theatre next June, right next door to our Skeptics venue, and on the second Wednesday of the month to boot. How should we celebrate this momentous occasion? Suggestions welcome.

From the Daily Mash: Psychics censoring our abusive messages, say dead people.

On the same theme, and it’s quite a mouthful: Simon Singh suffers a session of the Psychic Sally show. I do like this point he makes; One hundred complaints to Trading Standards Offices around the country (or perhaps one office in particular) would probably persuade the regulators to look into this.

From a Yale University study: Women can expedite or delay spontaneous births, within a limited time frame, in response to cultural representations. Here’s the question: Are pregnant women refusing to give birth on Halloween? Nice witchy symbol on the graph X-axis too.

Turning rattling chains into art? Yeong-Deok Seo.

Edinburgh's Spiritualists have a new home and some bold claims. “About eight out of ten cases reported to us are genuine – something that you can’t put down to the fact that someone else is causing it or can be rationally explained.”

Some shameless milking (!) of a weak story here: Casper the friendly ghost appears in Cardiff coffee.

Two words we don’t usually see together: werewolf cathedral. Investigate further and you will also see werewolf radio. Have a listen; unleash your inner beast in this highly secret society! Go to their easy to find website now. Werewolf? There, Wolf.

Sky confirms "shining moon" behind Frankenstein: A Texas astronomer has used science to confirm one of the most famous tales in western literature, the "bright and shining moon" over Lake Geneva that inspired an 18-year-old Mary Shelley to write “Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus."

Fear is one of the most universally understood human emotions, yet the neural underpinnings of fear remain something of a mystery: How Scientists discovered the 'fear centre' of the brain.

Scientists who have spent their careers studying the behaviours of liquids are putting forensic techniques to the test: Halloween science: The bleeding edge of forensics.

Boosting mental performance with fish oil? Whoa! Slow down there. Didn’t you see the question mark? Let’s tease out the actual result of this study. Contrary to popular belief, these results suggest that taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements may not have an immediate or measurable impact on mental performance in healthy young adults; and relax.

Two local science stories this week: In a survey of 3000 people, launched at the start of National Science and Engineering Week, Birmingham Science City aimed to see just how blurred the lines between science and fiction really are. Also, Edgbaston school pupil wins national science award. Well done we say.

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Ben Goldacre recommends a book.

More free here: Here be dragons is a free-to-download 40 minute video introduction to critical thinking written and presented by Brian Dunning, host and producer of the Skeptoid Podcast.

The future will be digitised. (Sorry Gil): South Korea, one of the world's highest-rated education systems, aims to consolidate its position by digitising its entire curriculum.

Former Church of Scientology executive Marty Rathbun has been spilling the beans on the religious sect's detailed surveillance of the Emmy-winning 'South Park' creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Well I quite like the sentiment behind this story, sending Reiki to everyone that has been negatively treated by the church throughout time, but really… “Imagine the healing energy going across time and space causing healing to everyone’s DNA.” Oh, please! More on Reiki can be found at Orac.

Baseball players extol the virtues of Powerband's bigger, thicker, brother: Here’s the woo behind it. Featuring Phiten's exclusive Aqua-Titanium technology, this product helps to promote stable energy flow throughout the body. The benefits of this are longer lasting energy, less fatigue, shortened recovery time and more relaxed muscles.

Things that make you go ooh! In a highly impressive video courtesy of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Tel-Aviv University demos quantum superconductors locked in a magnetic field: Quantum Levitation.

Ooh No.2. Microsoft’s Kinect based Augmented Reality 3D HoloDesk Lets You Play With Balls In Real Time: Well, if you must.

Recent Human Evolution Detected in Quebec Town History: According to University of Quebec geneticists, other possible explanations, such as changing cultural or environmental influences, don’t fit. The changes appear to reflect biological evolution.

Got any gallbladder or gynaecologic procedures on the horizon? Then make sure your surgeon has a regular 3 to 4 hours a week of gaming under his belt: Why your surgeon should be a gamer.

Stereotypes challenged: Bestiality saddled with the wrong image.

Cat Physics: Even falling and skulking cats obey the laws of physics, research shows.

BBC criticised by deaf groups over computer generated subtitling errors: The Arch 'what' of canterbury? Leave it alone, I say.

Not long now until our next Sitp meet on November 9th where we have Michael Marshall: Bad News, How PR came to rule modern journalism. Go to our Facebook page and tell us if you’re going to be there.

This week's round-up was compiled by Roy Beddowes

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