Showing posts with label pseudoscience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pseudoscience. Show all posts

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hey, Global Warming Deniers! We Need to Have a Little Chat!

For you Global Warming deniers out there, I have a few things to say to you:

-Be wary of any research coming out against GW/GCC/AGW/AGCC. Check where it's coming from. Is it peer reviewed, and published in an accredited scientific journal? Or is it not (careful too, as now people in the denier communities for both global warming and evolution are starting to catch on to this and are forming their own journals, and claiming to be accredited and peer reviewed, so always, always look the journal up if it's not instantly recognizable). There's a huge difference between a study published in Nature and one published in some no name journal with author publishing and no peer review. Or ones coming from a think tank. A think tank that, if you do a bit of digging, you will find out is funded by Exxon Mobil and Sean Hannity.

-Be very skeptical of anyone in the media speaking out against global warming, and listen carefully to their arguments/claims. If they are making any that aren't obviously fallacious upon first hearing/reading/seeing them (like Limbaugh's argument from incredulity) look them up. Also, look the person up. Find out who's funding them. Who they work for.

-If any scientists speak out against global warming, pay attention to what discipline of science they are experts in. When a biologist or a chemist expresses doubt about global warming, appealing to that in an argument is nothing but an appeal to authority. Their expertise is not in climatology. Being as smart as they may be, and knowing what they know about their area of science affords them NO special bonuses when it comes to climatology. They're just a layman like myself, and can easily be wrong.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Atheist Billboard in North Carolina Defaced. NEWSFLASH, PEOPLE: "One Nation Under God" is DIVISIVE!!!!

I was sent a news story by a friend over MSN tonight. The story is entitled 'Atheist billboard defaced on N.C.'s Billy Graham Parkway' and it can be found at the following link:

An excerpt from the story:

Unknown vandals unhappy about atheists' billboard in Charlotte, N.C., spray-painted "Under God" on the ad, the city's atheist association discovered Monday. The defaced message will remain in place until after July 4, the group reports, which is the soonest that workers can furnish a fresh billboard image. Here's how the vandalized billboard now looks:

The billboard reads, "One Nation Indivisible," which is the phrase preceding the 1954 insertion of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, reports the Charlotte Observer's Tim Funk. The billboard was erected on Billy Graham Parkway last week. (Graham is, of course, the state's famous evangelical preacher.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Psychology: Science? Unscientific? Bullshit? Pt. 3

This is a follow up to THIS post, entitled "Psychology: Science? Unscientific? Bullshit? Pt. 2"

Some further discussion has taken place. A new comment from him, in response to the last one I gave (featured in part two of this (originally not intended to be a) series:

Then again I never studied psychology so thank you for elaborating. I just don't know how that general psychology or psychoanalysis as you pointed out helps any in the business world other than bettering someone as a person. I feel the same about art even though I am kind of an artist myself; I think it's totally useless unless you're actually going into art.

And my response to that was as follows:

Well, I'm not sure why you're using the business world as an endpoint (remember though, I still basically agree with your contention), but if that's the one you're going with, I suppose one could argue that, ina ddition to bettering yourself, as you pointed out, you could possibly use an understanding of the human psyche to aid yourself in processes like detecting falsehoods, guaging prospective employees, social networking, closing deals, etc.

Not that I really buy that (well, to some limited degree, sure) but I think that could be an argument. Although, if you remove the business world as the end goal, you have all sorts of ends: the sake of knowledge, interest, interpersonal relationships (famiial, marital, etc), professional endeavours (counselling), etc etc.

I was never a fan of it, but I don't think it's wise to write it off entirely (not that you or I are necessarily doing that).

If you compare real world benefits of something like your field and psychoanalysis, I think that the clear winner is your field. I think the argument could be made that of all areas of study, mathematics is probably the most important, as much as I hate(d) it.
What do you think? If you offered an opinion after part one and/or part two, does this have any bearing on your opinion at all? As always, feedback is mucho appreciado.

EDIT: Go back to part one to see a comment from this very same person. His original opinion is no longer one that he holds to the letter. I think we had a productive dialogue here. I also got his major wrong :(

Psychology: Science? Unscientific? Bullshit? Pt. 2

This is a follow up to THIS post, entitled "Psychology: Science? Unscientific? Bullshit?"

A bit more discussion has taken place. Him:

At the same time many psychological hypotheses are not testable and repeatable and that is a controversy in psychology. Modern psychology does use the scientific method a lot so that's why I consider it to be somewhat of a science. I totally agree with what you said about neuropsychology and evolutionary psychology but when I was talking about psychology being 'lame' I was talking about the main branch of psychology that most people study in college. I think it's kind of useless in the business world, not totally though.
And my response:

You're talking about psychoanalysis, and you're 100% right. However, I don't think that's the most studied branch of psychology. I think (at least, it was at the university I attended), that psychoanalysis was taught in intro psyc as a starting point, and also in history of psyc courses. I could be wrong though, as this is only based on one school. I can say that there are so many branches of psyc now that I feel confident thinking that it's probably no longer #1, and I DO know that it's an area of contention within pyschology itself.

When I studied psychology, I took courses on psychopharmacology, neuropsychology, psychology of health, psychology of sleep, personality, learning psychology, psychology of media, social psychology, behavioural pychology, cognitive beahvioural therapy, etc etc etc. The only times I ever really studied psycholanalytic theory was in intro pych (aka psyc 101 as it is commonly referred to) and in the 4th year borefest, history of psychology. I believe a bit of it was also covered in a philiosophy class I took, as some of it wasrelevant to some of the philiosophical ideas we studied, but the details of this are hazy.

Thanks for the eaboration though, and I must say (and I say this with no condescension, I swear) that this serves as an example of how we must be careful when we speak, as it is easy to totally screw up and have our message be misconceived. I mean, you stright up denigrated all of psychology, when really, you were taking issue with a paritucular area of study within it. There's a huge difference there, and I went from being a bit....well, off put to completely understanding and even agreeing (although we could both be wrong in our conceptions, and I am sure there are plenty of people out there who would like to alleviate us of our misconceptions!!!!) (and they'd probably have a big problem with me, having studied it and all lol).
What do you think? If you offered an opinion after part one, does this have any bearing on that at all? Mine might not, as it is merely a retread since I had already discussed psychoanalytic theory, but his comment probably will, as it represents further clarification on his end; clarification which changed the way I saw his original comment, and quite likely may for you as well.

As always, feedback is mucho appreciado.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Psychology: Science? Unscientific? Bullshit? Pt. 1

I've heard it many times before, as I am sure many of us have:

 "Psychology is not a science." I have even heard that "psychology is bullshit."

While the second sentiment is not uncommon (over 700,000 hits on google), the first, "psychology is not a science," is VERY common (over 50 MILLION hits on ze goog). In fact, I just ran into one such comment and engaged in a small conversation regarding it.

An online friend of mine, who is a molecular biology (or was it microbiology?....I can't recall, but something to that effect) major recently made a comment to this end on a blog of mine, in which I had interviewed someone who is going to be majoring in pyschology (which was the discipline in which I attained my BA as well). Here is his comment:

I think a psychology major is so lame.
His response to me after I asked him for an elaboration was as follows:

Well from all of my friend's experiences they say they absolutely got nothing out of psychology so similar to what Lenano is planning on doing they all ended up changing their majors. I just don't like it as a science; at least not compared to sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Sure psychology incorporates some aspects of biology and chemistry, but for the most part unlike those sciences, it doesn't provide conclusive theories. Since psychology uses a lot of deductive reasoning most psychological theories are in actuality hypotheses. I do however commend psychology for elaborating on stuff like social sciences and stuff, but for the most part I think other sciences could figure that stuff out and I consider psychology to be basically philosophy involving biology and chemistry. I may be stupid for saying that but that's just how I feel towards psychology.
I responded to him with the following:

One problem with this is that many psychological theories are testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. They also, just like theories in other disciplines, are based upon evidence. They are the explanations for the facts, and therefore, they ARE theories as opposed to just hypotheses. I see what you are saying about the nature of deductive reasoning, don't get me wrong, but psychology has changed much in the last 50 or so years.

Biology might point out that x follows from Y, but the manifestation of X will have to be pyschology. So if you think that form and function are good, but the interactions between and processes behind those functions are ''lame,'' well, I'd say you're looking at an incomplete picture. Without psychology, you'd have neurology but no neuropsychology. Without psychology, you'd have evolutionary biology but no evolutionary psychology.

Psyc is sort of like the why to the how. And the why toay is functionally much different than the why's of people like Freud and Jung. Of course, there are still those fanciful pychoanalytical theories (or hell, hypotheses) out there, as you drive at, and I agree. Even back when I was a fresh undergrad, I had issues with that stuff.

And psychology is the reason I am in the career I am in today.
What do you think? Is psychology a science?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Atheist Experience: Global Warming Denial and God Belief

The Atheist Experience: Global Warming Denial and God Belief

The Atheist Experience blog has been updated with a post regarding Rush Limbaugh, who, after identifying himself as a creationist, stated, "I simply cannot accept the fact that we would be created to do things that would destroy our environment..."  (apparently he has never heard of pollution, industrialization, holes in the ozone layer, forced extinctions, and the (egregiously!) fallacious nature of arguments from incredulity)

Don, who posted the blog, went on to postulate why it is he feels that the religious are the most vocal when it comes to global warming denial. For me, the issue is not one of motivating factors in the denial (one of which religion may be) but rather, the denial itself, and how it comes to pass. The unfortunate thing here, is, religious or non, most people seem to come to decisions regarding these sorts of issues based not on the actual science, but what they hear in the media and read on the internet/hear from friends.

A few convincing soundbytes and it's over, which is really sad, and must be inordinately frustrating for those hard at work on these issues.

Sadly, I was one of these people for a while I can understand how it easy it to fall into the trap. The important thing to remember is that the science should speak for the science. Analyze the data yourself, be critical of the methodology and the concluisons but go to the data itself, not an intermediary.

Go the the source, folks, go to the source.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Astrology is Bullshit

Repeat after me:

Astrology is Bullshit!

Astrology is Bullshit!

Already knew this? Good, now read this anyways.

Find yourself a bit miffed right now, thinking I'm full of crap? Keep reading.

So, I am going to make the case today that Astrology is nothing than a pile of outdated and laughable ridiculous pseudoscientific fucking bullshit. And I will do this through 3 pathways:

Scientific Evidence

Psychological Evidence


After this is all said and done, my goal is for everyone who reads this to understand that


Man, this feels good already. You have no idea how much I detest this astrology shit. Everytime I get asked ''What's your sign?'' I want to punch through the persons' stomach, pull their liver out, and beat them with it. I especially love how no one ever knows your sign, until you tell them it (well, I used to, to humour them, but now I just tell them it's nonsense, but I digress) and then they either nod and say ''yup'' or get all perky and say ''I knew it.'' Ya, you fucking knew shit, you liar, because if you did, you WOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO ASK ME!!!!.

Like that one time I saw a ''psychic'' who gave me all sorts of vague information about what was going on with the situation between myself and my sister, which was great, save for the fact that I DON'T HAVE A FUCKING SISTER, YOU FUCKING FRADULENT LIAR!!!! YOU WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT, IF YOU WERE REALLY PSYCHIC!!!! Ever notice how ''psychics'' always have vague answers, general statements, and they have to ask you your birthday and things.....I THOUGHT YOU WERE FUCKING PSYCHIC YOU SHOULD KNOW MY BIRTHDAY!!!! Funny, with the thousands of psychics in the world, not ONE steps forward before a terrorist attack and warns the people. Were were all the psychics before 9/11, HUH? WERE WHERE THEY? TOO MANY CROSSED ENERGY WIRES THAT DAY?

….Okay, sorry, big digression there. Back to the topic at hand (and yes, ''psychics'' are also bullshit; perhaps I'll get to that in another edition).

So, on with the evidence.

Scientific Evidence

Definition of atrology: Astrology is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the relative positions of celestial bodies and related details can provide information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters.

Well, guess what? It has been scientifically demonstrated that this is bullshit.

I'll attack this in 2 ways:

1)Studies done on the accuracy of astrological predictions
2)The problem with the ''science'' behind the astrology to begin with

Studies done on the accuracy of astrological predictions

''Good news for rational, level-headed Virgoans everywhere: just as you might have predicted, scientists have found astrology to be rubbish, writes Science Correspondent Robert Matthews.''

Its central claim - that our human characteristics are moulded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of our birth - appears to have been debunked once and for all and beyond doubt by the most thorough scientific study ever made into it.

For several decades, researchers tracked more than 2,000 people - most of them born within minutes of each other. According to astrology, the subject should have had very similar traits. Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading - all of which astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts.

The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between the time twins, however. They reported in the current issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies: The test conditions could hardly have been more conducive to success . . . but the results are uniformly negative.

And that's not all.

The time-twins study is only the start of the bad news for astrologers, however. Dr Dean and Prof Kelly also sought to determine whether stargazers could match a birth chart to the personality profile of a person among a random selection.
They reviewed the evidence from more than 40 studies involving over 700 astrologers, but found the results turned out no better than guesswork.
The success rate did not improve even when astrologers were given all the information they asked for and were confident they had made the right choice.

Dr Dean said the consistency of the findings weighed heavily against astrology.

It has no acceptable mechanism, its principles are invalid and it has failed hundreds of tests, he said. But no hint of these problems will be found in astrology books which, in effect, are exercises in deception.

From wiki:

Studies have repeatedly failed to demonstrate statistically significant relationships between astrological predictions and operationally-defined outcomes. Effect size tests of astrology-based hypotheses conclude that the mean accuracy of astrological predictions is no greater than what is expected by chance.

But there's more

The problem with the ''science'' behind the astrology to begin with

The whole thing is based on the fact that your your zodiac sign supposedly corresponds to the position of the sun relative to constellations, right? Well, check this out:

The positions changed over 2200 years ago.

Let that sink in for a second.

You see, the Earth wobbles around in it's axis in a 25, 800 year long cycle. This phenomena is called precession, and it is the reason why your ''signs'' are completely wrong. Even if this was all true, they'd be off by about a month:

Over the past two-and-a-half millennia, this wobble has caused the intersection point between the celestial equator and the ecliptic to move west along the ecliptic by 36 degrees, or almost exactly one-tenth of the way around. This means that the signs have slipped one-tenth—or almost one whole month—of the way around the sky to the west, relative to the stars beyond. For instance, those born between March 21 and April 19 consider themselves to be Aries. Today, the Sun is no longer within the constellation of Aries during much of that period. From March 11 to April 18, the Sun is actually in the constellation of Pisces!

You will most likely find that once precession is taken into account, your zodiac sign is different. And if you were born between November 29 and December 17, your sign is actually one you never saw in the newspaper: you are an Ophiuchus! The eliptic passes through the constellation of Ophiuchus after Scorpius.

Here is how the ''real'' chart would look:

Capricorn - Jan 20 to Feb 16
Aquarius - Feb 16 to Mar 11
Pisces - Mar 11 to Apr 18
Aries - Apr 18 to May 13
Taurus - May 13 to Jun 21
Gemini - Jun 21 to Jul 20
Cancer - Jul 20 to Aug 10
Leo - Aug 10 to Sep 16
Virgo - Sep 16 to Oct 30
Libra - Oct 30 to Nov 23
Scorpius - Nov 23 to Nov 29
Ophiuchus - Nov 29 to Dec 17
Sagittarius - Dec 17 to Jan 20

Ever heard anyone mention Ophiuchus before?

Ya, me either.

Psychological Evidence

Two psychological concepts can easily explain why people are so convinced of the veracity of astrology: The Forer Effect and Confirmation Bias.

The Forer Effect

The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.

Psychologist Bertram R. Forer (1914-2000) found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone. Consider the following as if it were given to you as an evaluation of your personality:

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

Forer gave a personality test to his students, ignored their answers, and gave each student the above evaluation. He asked them to evaluate the evaluation from 0 to 5, with 5 meaning the recipient felt the evaluation was an excellent assessment and 4 meaning the assessment was good. The class average evaluation was 4.26. That was in 1948. The test has been repeated hundreds of time with psychology students and the average is still around 4.2 out of 5, or 84% accurate. In short, Forer convinced people he could successfully read their character. His accuracy amazed his subjects, though his personality analysis was taken from a newsstand astrology column and was presented to people without regard to their sun sign.

Want to see a short 1:35 second video of this in effect? It's awesome:

Astrological readings are always vague and present common characteristics.

Think about it. What about the fucking assholes in the world? The serial killers, psychopaths, sociopaths, rude, bitchy, annoying, etc people. Where are their readings? You ever see a reading that said ''You will be a fucking prick today?”' NO! They present ideas that people are likely to agree with, because we all like to think of ourselves as being ''At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.''

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency for people to prefer information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses, independently of whether they are true. In the context of ''psychic'' and astrological ''readings,'' this describes the tendency for people to remember and place significance on the ''hits'' and to forget the ''misses.'' It has been demonstrated that people will come out of a ''psychic'' reading which had a success rate of that equal to chance (duh) and state that they thought the reading was 80 or 90% accurate. I have seen video footage of this, and in more than one, people even reported things like ''he knew all about my aunt theresa's illness, and I didn't even mention it'' when in reality, they are on video telling the ''psychic'' ''my aunt is sick.''

So you get people hearing a vague reading applicable to anyone, thinking it's really accurate and specific to them, all because they place significance on the things that seemed right, and downplay the ones that are ''off.'' Then, they tend to report a much higher accuracy after the fact than there really was.


Ah, logic. I love logic. We all should love logic. Astrologers hate logic. Tell me something:

Astrology states that our personalities are determined by celestial positionings at the time of our birth, right? Well then, WHY DO TWINS HAVE DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES? Shouldn't they be exactly the same?

Here's a hint: YES, they should be, and NO THEY ARE FUCKING NOT!

Why, in that video I posted above, did a room full of people with completely varied ''signs'' all agree that the reading they got described them, when they ALL GOT THE SAME MOTHERFUCKING READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


How many times does science have to disprove bullshit before people let it fucking go?

Another one, as I posted above: What about the fucking assholes in the world? The serial killers, psychopaths, sociopaths, rude, bitchy, annoying, etc people. Where are their readings? You ever see a reading that said ''You will be a fucking prick today?”' NO! They present ideas that people are likely to agree with, because we all like to think of ourselves as being ''At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.''

So, again, Think abouuuuuuutttt iiiiittttttt!!:

There are tons of assholes in the world, yet NO READINGS for them? So, what, celestial positiongs only determine the personality of nice people? Assholes get their personalities from, like, what? Genetics? Environment? Give me a break. Our personalities come from the fucking sky, man, we all know that!!!!!

Astrology is absolute fucking horseshit. It's bullshit, it's fake, it's a huge money making industry (seriously, famous astrologers make MILLIONS) that takes advantage of people. Astrologers should be in jail for fraud, not making millions. Same with ''psychics'' but that's for another day.

They are propagating pseudoscientific nonsense that has been discredited since we moved to a heliocentric view of the cosmos. In other words, a few hundred fucking years. They are exploiting people, and if you have ever paid for a ''reading'' you should go demand your money back.

The End

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

When Nonsense Kils

Pseudoscientific nonsense such as Dowsing (see: has been around for ages. It's something that I detest, but never more do I abhor such nonsense as when it actually results in death and bodily harm.

Jim McCormick, based at offices in rural Somerset, UK., has sold $85 million (yes, million) worth of completely fake ''bomb detectors'' to various governments for profit under the guise of offering protection. These ''devices'' are nothing more than glorified dowsing rods, and the ''chips'' inside them were discovered to be useless RFID chips, such as those found on price tags. There were warnings about this fraudster over a decade ago when he was selling these from within the US, mainly coming from the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) but these went ignored.....

Now that people have been killed by bombs not being detected by this stick with fake technology in it, the UK government has finally stepped in.

The large question here is why are governments buying untested technology from a single person making wild, unsubstantiated claims? This has to stop. Police using ''psyhics'' is bad enough, and now this. When our very governing bodies buy into pseudoscientifc bugaboo with nary a discerning glance, we're either dealing with rampant stupididty and gullibility, amazing greed, or both. Either way, we need to WAKE UP.

Read the story and watch the embedded video to get all of the details.