Friday, September 25, 2009

Kindle: Paper Goes Bye, Bye...

I got my Kindle DX yesterday, and it is a beauty! The screen is crisp and very readable, the books download fast, and the ability to read your own PDFs and other documents is great. I also tried it in my car today, with the Text-To-Voice feature, and while the "voice" is a bit artificial, it's not Stephen Hawking for sure, and you get used to it very fast.

Guess, what was the first book I purchased? Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth". I did not get far yet, but as his previous books, it appears to be a great read, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it immensely.

Sorry, Mr. Gutenberg, your time has come to an end...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Skeptics in the Park

This is something I have been waiting for: Skeptics in the Park

Great idea!!! I created a group called Tampa Bay Skeptics ITP and I hope we can have some people signing up and maybe meeting in the future. Family fun and bringing our kids into the scientific world.

I hope it works!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grassroots Skeptics

I found this great web site/organization recently, and saw it popping up on a few blogs, and I think it is a fabulous idea:

Grassroots Skeptics

I think we need a central place to enable us, small town skeptics, to communicate and organize in a more efficient fashion. I know, there is a local CFI chapter in Tampa, but it would be nice to find some local skeptics (and by local, I mean local to the community I live in), and maybe form a grassroots organization as well. There is so much woo and nonsense out there, that we need all the people we can get.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Sane Voice on Vaccines

It is nice to see a sane voice in the mainstream media from time to time:

Her concern about the safety of vaccines is not unique, at least not in the
liberal, wealthy part of L.A. where we live. Several friends have not vaccinated
their children, and we know pediatricians who recommend avoiding some or all
shots. And I know almost no one who is willing to get the swine-flu shot, and
not because everyone here is Jewish. It's because while the far right gets a lot
of crap about not believing in science, the left isn't crazy about it either.
Only instead of rejecting facts that conflict with the Bible, it ignores
anything that conflicts with hippie myths about the perfection of nature. That's
why my neighborhood is full of places you can go to detoxify with colonics, get healed with
crystals and magnets and buy non--genetically engineered food. We complain less
about the liberal side of antiscience because the women who believe in this
stuff are generally hot.

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

Not only the article addresses some of the nonsense associated with childhood vaccines, but it's a nice encouragement for all of us, fighting a hard war in our communities and (sometimes) our families. There is so much misinformation floating around, small talk between moms and dads, crazy "data" from the Internet, and personal anecdotes, that every time I have to face someone, who almost implies that I must be a bad person to even consider believing doctors and science on this hot issue, I feel like throwing the towel.
Articles like this help me realize that it's important to keep the pressure on, and try to eradicate the woo from our lives, if not for ourselves, then for our children and their well being.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Doctor is in the House

Guess who thinks she's a doctor: Suzanne Somers... yes, the same one, who was spilling her nonsense on Oprah's program not long ago, and caused a decent uproar in the sane side of media.

Suzanne Somers thinks Patrick Swayze could have been alive today if he
would have used alternative methods to treat his pancreatic cancer instead of
"They took this beautiful man and they basically put poison in him," she
reportedly said. "Why couldn't they have built him up nutritionally and gotten
rid of the toxins in his body? I hate to be this controversial. I'm a
singer-dancer-comedienne. But we have an epidemic going on, and I have to say

Here is the clue: "I'm a singer-dancer-comedienne." What makes someone like that think she can go against centuries of experience, knowledge and scientific inquiry, and just declare that SHE KNOWS IT ALL!!! What's worst, is the fact that she is a celebrity and some people actually believe whatever celebrities say. As we have the "Jenny McCarthy Body Count", this should prompt someone to start a "Suzanne Sommers Body Count". She might be on the way to the top fast, since she's dealing with cancer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Still Smoking (My Brain, That Is)

I found this great video, thanks to the excellent Science-Based Parenting Blog:

If homeopathy works ... I'll drink my own piss

Gotta love it!!! And it's entertainment value goes well with my previous post about homeopathy.

Cheers to all of you, who still use "Airborne" and think that you are getting anything but a few vitamins, and a bit of the good, old placebo effect.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homeopathy: It Fries Your Brains

In the recent months, I have been somehow exposed to the "art" of homeopathy via various channels. It was astounding to see a person, who in all other ways seems to be very rational, being pulled into the world of this woo without a shred of critical thinking. I guess, one thing I saw being confirmed is the fact that in desperate moments of our lives, we can abandon reason and venture into some really weird territories.

One bonus of me being exposed to this situation was the fact that I received a copy of the instructions on how to take the "prescribed" homeopathic "medicine". In this particular case, the treatment was applied as part of the traumatic brain injury recovery.

The whole treatment was comprised of a few steps:
1. Interview, which seemed to me more like a cold reading, because it asked about various aspects of life, not related to the illness itself.
2. Purchase (for a rather steep price, given that you only get water) of a "medication", specifically formulated to help with the condition, as determined by the interview.

Now, take a look at the instructions and all the BS found in them:

Click to enlarge...

I hope you get tons of laughs from this, as I did.
The only think that makes me furious is the fact that someone is paying a lot of money for this nonsense. As ff this is not enough, people very often stop using regular doctors and medications prescribed by them, and switch to those "alternative" methods, and that could lead to real problems. I wonder, why a complete BS like this is even allowed?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Failure of Psychics

Interesting (not surprising for those who know the subject) article that highlights the nonsense associated with psychics, who claim they can help solving crimes. We all know about Sylvia Browne, who'd failed miserably a few years ago, predicting that a missing boy was dead, and he was later found alive. Recent news about Jaycee Dugard shows that police should NEVER, EVER rely, or even use pseudo-scientific methods in their investigations.

Jaycee Dugard Abduction Case Highlights Failure of Psychics

Florida Gets an A!

Whoa... I saw a report from Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 being passed around the blogosphere today, and I'm shocked! My home state of Florida gets an "A". It's hard to believe, given the amount of crazy, anti-scientific chatter we get in the media and from our politicians around here.
Nevertheless, I am very happy to see that despite all the bad about the local public schools, there is some light at the end of this tunnel.

Over the past decade, Florida has improved its standards more dramatically than
perhaps any other state. The 1999 standards received an F from Lerner (2000)
for their (lack of) treatment of biological and geological evolution and scored
zero in the Fordham Foundation’s 2005 report, “The State of State Science
Standards.” As both reports observed, evolution was not even mentioned by name
at the time. However, after several months of public discussion and debate, the
Florida Department of Education’s writing committee developed a vastly superior
set of standards in 2007. Biological evolution became prominent, human evolution
was explicitly discussed, and geological and cosmological evolution were covered
as well. In February 2008, after fierce creationist opposition, the Board of
Education approved a revised version in which evolution was persistently
referred to as “the scientific theory of evolution.”

More: Why Science Standards are Important to a Strong Science Curriculum and How States Measure Up