Tuesday 9 October 2012

The Round-up w/e 7/10/2012

It’s time for your skeptical something for the weekend. At least it would be if we got ourselves sorted in time to get it out for the weekend. Still, we’re here now so pull up a chair and enjoy the delights we have spread before you.

Simon Singh has gone and got somebody angry by calling out the claims they make as being pseudoscientific; sound familiar? There is a good overview of the details from Josephine Jones and some great parodies here.

I actually thought this was a parody, alas not.

Fascinating article here about how the introduction of bed nets to protect against mosquitoes might actually be influencing the evolution of those deadly critters. Somebody who would have had something to say on this is Alfred Russel Wallace. The man who first went into print promoting the survival of the fittest alongside Charles Darwin and has oft been overshadowed and forgotten. Now he may be getting a little more well deserved recognition.

Remember all the stuff about the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society being censured for offending Muslims last year? Well Reading University students have used a “blasphemous pineapple” to encourage discussion about religion and liberty and guess what happened.

The BBC has reported on a group of Christians that have claimed to heal Aids through faith. It’s hardly a new story though and I remember talking about this with the guys over at Cognitive Dissonance some time ago.

Another person I’ve had the pleasure of talking to and meeting is Narendra Nayak. He travels all over India teaching people about rational thinking and challenging mysticism and dangerous magical beliefs. Here’s an account of him doing just that.

Whilst we’re on the theme of people I’ve interviewed in the past one that I really enjoyed and one of my all-time favourite podcasters is Mark Crislip. I love the sardonic way he strips away the BS. Lest you think it only the purveyors of quackery that overestimate the positives have a listen to Ben Goldacre talking about his latest book Bad Pharma. Perhaps there is a way we can help them counter these over optimistic interpretations of the data.

Ahh Lego, is there nothing you can’t do?

The bee keepers were complaining here, but I think they missed out on a great marketing opportunity, blue honey, how cool is that!

At SitP we do like to mix science with drinking, but not in this way.

An article I have some mixed views on here. It’s a good piece satirising the nonsense that much of theology produces. I'm a bit defensive as I did a theology degree myself and I don’t remember it as being like that. We were taught to look at sources, criticise the evidence and put together an argument. It made me the atheist I am today. Perhaps there is more than one sort of theology course.

By the way, if you’re reading this whilst driving a car, operating heavy machinery or juggling babies, please don’t.

I'll have a guess and say that you’re probably into stuff like maths. And since you’re on the Internet observation would suggest that you’re more than likely into cats too. So let’s have some fractal kitties.

Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can.
Can he swing from a thread?
He mated the wrong species and now he’s dead.

From web slingers to bionics as Australian and American scientists increasingly perfect some pretty cool medical tech.

A disturbing report from Orac on the denial of Shaken Baby Syndrome by anti-vaccers to promote their cause.

They might not have cracked the Turing Test yet, but they’ve got some pretty nifty bots out there.

Chris Kresser looks at some fishy nutritional advice. (Did you see what I did there?) And whilst we’re on the subject of dodgy claims, here’s a good one.

Should we ever be faced by the reality of nuclear devastation, imagine how bad you’d feel if you didn’t know why that cloud was mushroom shaped.

When you consider thousands of years of religious slaughter, mass manic exorcisms and the beliefs of the Westboro Baptists as outlined in this interview with the son of the founder it’s hard to believe that an innocent follower of Pastafarianism should find himself in trouble.

Time for a very pretty space gif.

Non-human primates like a good laugh as much as the next person, apparently.

Scientist’s your gender bias is showing.

It’s been suggested that if you drive a car you probably hate cyclists. If you drive a car and ride a bicycle do you therefore hate yourself? That last question isn’t answered here but Rebecca Watson looks at some of the other hypotheses.

Here is a brilliant behind the scenes look at the world of cryonics.

It’s very close to our next event, Hypnotism without Hypnosis, it should be a cracking night. Don’t forget to have a look at our DVDs, we’re adding new ones all the time.

I’m going to finish with telescopes, because that’s the kind of wild guy that I am. First a super, fast and groovy new radio telescope in Australia and to finish a lovely time-lapse film from the imaginatively named Very Large Telescope. Cheers all.

This week’s round-up was put together by Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex) with contributions from the very wonderful Roy Beddowes

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