Monday 2 January 2012

Round-Up W/e 1/1/12

Hello and welcome to the first round-up of the year.  We're looking forward to 2012 as we have a host of interesting speakers lined up as well as some very special guests that we've not managed to pin down to an exact date yet.  Happy New Year to you all, here's the round-up.

Here’s Richard Dawkins talking about our next speaker, Professor Andy McIntosh of Leeds University.  Andy will be with us on Wednesday 11th January at The Vic as always.  The talk is entitled ‘A Sceptical View of Atheism’ and we’re looking forward to some lively debate.  Details of the talk are here.

Hertfordshire Police have begun to use polygraphs to detect lies told by sex offenders.  Bruce Burgess, a former chairman of the British Polygraph Association (BPA) is in favour of this you’ll be surprised to learn.  Independent tests have found it to be little better than chance.  For those that require a little more evidence than the word of those with interests, then here’s a review of the current scientific status by the British Psychological Society.

Lie detection has never fared well when subjected to scientific rigour, the Department of Work and Pensions trialled Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) software in 2008 to detect benefit cheats.  They found it to be not sufficiently reliable and therefore decided not to introduce it.  The company that supplied the VRA software got upset and sent the lawyers in, another example of libel threatening science in the UK.

Cee-Lo green has spoketh, all ye atheists repent.  According to that bloke that sang that song last year, you know the one that had swearing in it sometimes, all religion is true.  He decided to cover John Lennon’s Imagine and change the bit that goes “and all religions too” to “and all religion is true” the prat.  FU Cee-Lo (DYSWIDT?)

JOB SECTION: Famous physicist requires computer genius to maintain wheelchair with integrated custom-built computer-controlled voice synthesiser.

PAREIDOLIA CORNER: Another Jesus one (Isn’t it always?), this time in the Telegraph, perhaps they’d run out of pictures of pretty young women or bashed the BBC all they could this week.  So, Jesus has appeared in the crumple of a sock, thanks for that The Telegraph.

It’s the Sense about Science (SAS) annual review, always good for a laugh and a cry.  SAS correct some of the bullshit spouted by celebrities throughout the preceding year.  According to one ‘famous’ person, the sea is salty due to whale sperm.  Another regurgitates the old detox stuff and, more dangerously, the anti-vax myths are squirted into our ears.  Tracey Brown talks about the review here.

Nice to see the BBC prominently reporting the detox is claptrap story.  My Facebook feed is always full of discussion of detox products at this time of the year, sadly not concerning the evidence base.

Police time is wasted by people requesting information of reports into zombies, UFOs, werewolves etc.  That is according to Chief Constable Ian Arundale of Dyfed Powys Police of course, maybe he’s just saying that because he’s scared that people are cottoning onto the truth that these things are among us.  “There’s no evidence for it, but it is scientific fact” Dr ‘Neil’ Fox.

Suzanne Somers is famous in America and she survived breast cancer.  She underwent a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. Oh, and she also had injections of mistletoe extract.  In her opinion, it wasn’t the evidence-based treatment she received that helped her survive, it was the mistletoe.  Now she has become a scientific guru touring the talk show circuit and selling her book.  Joe Schwarcz writes about Pseudo-scientific blather and star power, a crazy mix.

Fresh from taking on ‘mongs’ and ‘the PC brigade’, Ricky Gervais has turned his attention to more worthy targets, fundamentalist Christians.  This is not in anyway a PR move after his recent bad press.

Rebecca Watson calls out inappropriate behaviour in atheist reddit groups.

Cracked ran a list recently of 4 things both atheists and believers need to stop saying.  Kazim responds to this.

It seems that the Righteous Indignation podcast has come to an end, at least for the moment.  Hayley Stevens talks here about ‘Talk about Strange’, her new podcast which is a relaunch of the Ghost Field Guide.

The Telegraph is not looking good in this week’s round-up, now we have someone who believes the war on Christmas is real, and on top of that, the atheist barbarians are winning.

God has announced crab 2.0, now with forward motion.

Sadly, Tim Minchin's excellent Woody Allen Jesus song got cut from the transmission of Jonathan Ross' ITV show. Here it is:

This week's Round-Up was patched together by Birmingham Skeptics co-organiser Paul Bryant (@thebigyeti)

1 comment:

Andy said...

Good work, Paul... :-)