Superbowl Predictions for 2009

"Dr." Shane, the psychic, says Steelers over Cardinals and no MVP for Warner (although "he will be recognized by many people as such"):

Check the video here (their embed link doesn't work for me).

Geez...what's this guy a Doctor of because I definitely don't want his brand of treatment. He's certainly no dentist. Blech!

Sister Jean Kenny, with a 17-6 record in successfully predicting the outcome of past superbowls, also predicts Steelers over Cards with a 23-17 victory. The beautiful thing about Sister Kenny is that she doesn't claim to be a psychic.

On the other hand, valley psychic Ann Evans predicts the Cardinals will be victorious. Don't let the fact that she operates out of Arizona affect your opinion of her abilities. That's just a little ol' coinkydink.

Here's a superbowl prediction that's about as good as any psychic's:
Over at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, an orangutan named Dee Dee was presented two team jerseys and pondered the situation in the throes of befuddled indecision for a half-hour. That's when another orangutan grabbed the Arizona jersey and tossed it into the water. Not sure what that portends. A tie?

Let me interpret this one for you: the Steelers will be victorious, it will rain, and the Arizona team will be attacked by a troop of Orangutans.

From the California Psychic's 2009 Predictions:
The New York Giants will go to the Super Bowl - and win!

That should tell you a thing or two about California psychics...

This loopy spiritual psychic (video here) says the Steelers are overconfident and that the win with a score 38-20. Oh, yeah...she's also from Arizona. What's with these Arizona psychics and why does their aura seem to be Cardinal red?

Finally, a tarot card reader posed the questions to his fanciful deck:
Who has a Better chance at winning?– Pittsburgh Steelers – 6 of Wands
The 6 of wands has a keyword of “victory” and would fit well when trying to find who would win and be victorious. Clearly this is a sign that the Steelers will win.

Who has a Better chance at winning?– Arizona Cardinals – The Tower
The cardinals think they will win but there false ideas will fall apart and they will be shocked. They will lose.

Hoookay. The lesson here is that psychics are a dime a dozen (they just charge a helluva lot more than that), they each have their own techniques, and they all have differing answers. Unless these folks are applying professional sports analysis, they're doing nothing more than guessing. You might as well flip a coin and save yourself $50 rather than getting your Superbowl prediction from a psychic.

Faces of the New GOP?

Are these the faces of the new GOP?

And do they remind you of these faces?

2012 is going to be a fun time.


Jim Geraghty of the National Review Online is liveblogging at the RNC while they elect their new chairman (it's a horserace between African-American Michael Steele and former whites-only country club member from South Carolina, Katon Dawson). Geraghty starts off the day with this beauty:

Dear RNC: When all of your candidates for chairman are saying, “We have to get better at getting our message out,” having no functioning wireless signal is a heavy-handed metaphor for failure.


Spot the Stupid

Newspapers have to grab a potential buyer's attention with sensational headlines. When it comes to reporting on science, they often get the story wrong as they try to translate the information for the layreader. But to get it wrong in the headline? Well that's just stupid! See if you can spot the problem with this one from Mirror.co.uk:
Sea will rise 'to levels of last Ice Age'
Sea levels will rise by a metre in the next 100 years and devastate the east coast of Britain, researchers say.

The rise, three times higher than current predictions, is based on past records rather than theory. The rise would be the same as the last Ice Age 11,700 years ago and hit lowlying areas such as The Wash.

Spot the problem yet? Well, for one, the change in sea level since the last ice age has been as much as 400 feet (150 meters). But more importantly, the change was in the other direction! Where does the ice come from in an ice age? From the water in the oceans, of course. This means sea levels drop as ice forms and moves across the continents.



At the Hotel Rieger in Sandusky, OH, something paranormal is in the air...at least according to a group of paranormal investigators who call themselves In Nomine Paranormal Research (INPR).

How quaint.

They say their mission is to advance the knowledge of paranormal activity:
Through the use of state-of-the-art equipment and scientific principles, they seek to produce positive quantifiable evidence of the existence of spirits, portals, paranormal energy, and the afterlife. (link)
During their recent visit to the Hotel Rieger, they experienced the unexplainable: orbs attacking their camera! Check out the video:

When Orb's Attack

Did you see what happened there?
Although Rob and Megan understand that most orbs are dust, insects, or moisture they are at a loss to explain the unusual characteristics of this particular orb.
My guess is they left they forgot to bring their "scientific principles" with them on this hunt.


Psychic Nikki's Near Hit on the Hudson

According to this link, Nikki, Psychic to the Stars, predicted an air crash near the Hudson River back on December 16, 2008. Specifically, her prediction was
Air crash near the Hudson River in New York

Almost exactly a month later, January 15, 2008, US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson river!

The Toronto Sun commends Nikki on her prediciton:
Kudos to Nikki, psychic to the stars, who Dec. 16 predicted a plane would ditch into the Hudson River.

I suppose crashing into the Hudson River isn't much different than crashing near the Hudson River. After all, you can't get much nearer than that!

Or is it? If Frodo had thrown the One Ring near Orodruin (Mount Doom to you non-geeks) rather than into it, things might have turned out differently for the race of men. But that's a story for another day. Suffice it to say that in some cases, the meaning of words are actually important.

So was Nikki's prediction fulfilled? Yes. But it didn't really take much to fulfill it. The Hudson River is 315 miles (507 km) long and there's a lot of geography that can be construed to be near it. A plane crashing in Yinchuan, China is near the Hudson from the perspective of, oh say, the Andromeda Galaxy. But that's not what Nikki means. She can claim this predicition as being fulfilled as long as there's a news report that mentions "plane crash" and "Hudson River" in the same article. If it's not in the media, then it really serves no purpose to her credibility. In this case, she can bask in the glow of the Toronto Sun which completely misrepresents her prediction, giving her credit for something that she really didn't do.

What really made the US Airways crash stand out was that no one died. The pilot successfully crash landed in the Hudson along Manhattan Island - a very high profile event - and everyone lived. Apparently Nikki's powers of prognostication is limited. And let's not forget that, had no crash occurred at all near the Hudson, this prediction would have found itself swirling in the detritus of the hundreds or thousands of others that have yet to find a home. Here's a few "plane" related ones floating amongst the garbage:
A Hollywood movie star will be on a plane that is hijacked.
Two planes crashing over Kennedy Airport.

Billy Ray Cyrus has to be careful of planes.
Two planes will collide over JFK Airport in New York (whoa - de ja vous)

A plane will crash into the Egyptian pyramids.
Tiger Woods has to be careful of planes.
Tony Curtis has to be careful of planes.
Donald Trump has to be careful of planes.

John Travolta opening a flying school but has to be careful of planes
Bruce Springstein (sic) - be careful of planes
Tiger Woods has to be careful of planes.

Planes crashing into the World Trade Centre (a feather in her cap - I've yet to see the original prediction)

A word of advice to everyone: be careful of planes. They could easily run over your toes if you're not paying attention.



Not Safe For White House:

It's gettin' hot in herre!


Texas SBOE Live Blogs

Live audio can be found here: http://at1.tea.state.tx.us/sboeaudio
Texas Freedom Network live blog is here: http://tfnblog.wordpress.com/
Thoughts from Kansas may be live blogging here: http://www.scienceblogs.com/tfk/
and finally, don't forget to check out Evo.Sphere, where Steve Shafersman is live blogging for the Houston Chronicle here: Click Me.


Stopped by Whole Foods yesterday and shook up some vials of homeopathic water.

Disco Spin

As part of their "Academic Freedom" initiative, the Discovery Institute has been on a crusade over the past year to require the "strengths and weaknesses" of the theory of evolution be taught in school. According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE),
In 2003, the "strengths and weaknesses" language was selectively applied by members of the board attempting to dilute the treatment of evolution in the biology textbooks then under consideration, and so it was clear that the "strengths and weaknesses" language would be a matter of contention when the standards were next revised.
A vote on the "strengths and weaknesses" language was held yesterday and, by a one vote margin, was defeated. Another vote is planned for today so the outcome is not yet certain, but it is interesting to see how the Discovery Institute, for whom this is nothing less than an abject failure, is spinning the results in a press release:

"The Texas Board of Education took one step back and two steps forward today," said Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute. "While we wish they would have retained the strengths and weaknesses language in the overall standards, they did something truly remarkable today. They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory such as the fossil record, universal common descent and even natural selection."

See what they did there? They made it look like a win for them when in fact science education is all about "analyzing and evaluating scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing." Dr. West is trying to put on a good face about this and, to his credit, he did call the vote "something truly remarkable". But it's a painful rebuke of the Discovery Institute. Just look at the nice document (pdf warn) they put together to promote "strengths and weakness" language...all for naught.

Still, as I said, there are more votes on the issue so we're not out of the woods yet.

For a detailed account of how the voting went down, check Steve Schaferman's live-blog of the Texas State Board of Education Meeting. It's really very well done. If the link doesn't work, check the homepage of the Houston Chronicle...they should have a direct link there.


Bush's White House Bio

Did you know that George H. W. Bush sent troops in to Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega? Did you know that he also bombarded Iraq and sent in troops to liberate Kuwait?

Did you know that Ronald Reagan sent naval escorts into the Persian Gulf to maintain the freeflow of oil during the Iran-Iraq war? And that he gave support to anti-Communist insurgencies in Central America, Asia, and Africa?

How about this. Did you know Bill Clinton "successfully dispatched peace keeping forces to war-torn Bosnia and bombed Iraq when Saddam Hussein stopped United Nations inspections for evidence of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons"?

If you didn't know any of these facts, you could easily find them in their WhiteHouse.gov biographies.

But here's a couple things you won't find: that former President George W. Bush had anything to do with the wars in either Iraq or Afghanistan. There's absolutely no mention of these two significant events in his bio. In fact, other than a mention of 9/11, there's no measure of any conflict during his two terms to be found in his bio. You will, however, find this:
The Bush family also includes two dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, and a cat, Willie.
Now why do you suppose that is?

Bill O'Reilly on Annoyed Secular Progressives

During the Talking Points segment of his show Tuesday night, Bill O'Reilly threw out this quip to chew on:
Finally, there were five references to God and one reference to the Scripture in President Obama's speech, which should greatly annoy the secular progressives who are hoping for a Godless administration.

I guess O'Reilly missed this part of Obama's inauguration speech:
We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.
Obama is more open-minded than O'Reilly thinks. Our new president is seeking to bridge the divide that keeps whole segments of people from talking to each other rationally. O'Reilly is a troll under that bridge.


NASA Rover at the Inauguration Parade

This is a really, really cool piece of technology and NASA really needs it, but IMHO it looked out of place in the inauguration parade. I was glad Obama perked up when he saw it, but it could just as well have been a Mickey Mouse float and it would have evoked the same reaction. Again, your mileage may vary, but for me it was a hokey advertisement for NASA. At least they didn't set out a tray of rusty dirt for a spacewalker to leave his footprint in (i.e. a not so subtle hint from NASA administrator Michael Griffin to stay the space course).

The Inauguration from Space

A view of the National Mall from space during the inauguration of Barack Obama, the United States' 44th President. I'm not sure what time this was taken, but it looks like people were still pouring in, so probably sometime before 11:30 am on January 20, 2009. Thanks to NASAWatch for pointing the way. Some details that I can comment on, having been one of the great unwashed masses (click pictures for larger view):

Getting off of the metro north of the mall, we were directed to the 3rd Street tunnel, which goes South under the mall. After a very long march, we found ourselves in daylight with nobody telling the people which way to go.

We headed west and at 7th street were told "The Mall was closed". Well, the red hatted volunteer was overstating things. He meant that the portion of the mall that 7th street leads to was closed...i.e. it was filled to capacity. But as you can see in the picture above, this portion of the mall was relatively uncrowded. We continued to 12th street, where we were told to keep going to 14th street, where we finally made our entrance.

Check out the good seats. When the announcement came for everyone to "please be seated" following the anthem, everyone on the mall laughed except for these folks.

So, there I am. I'm the one with the black hat. No problem to access the porta potties...only had 3 or 4 people in line for each one. Notice the shadow created behind the media booth. If you were in that zone, you couldn't see the jumbo tron.

The Washington Monument was behind me. From the vantage point of space, it looks like a lot of ants flowing out. The geometry based on jumbo tron positioning is interesting. Obviously, with a few more placed around the monument, more people could have filled this space. Lessons learned for the future, assuming we'll ever have another massive event like this.

Check out CNN for an interactive map. Better yet, if you have Google Earth, then open it up and load this kml file from geodetyx.


Rush Limbaugh - No Longer A Patriot

Per Webster's online dictionary:

Main Entry:
\ˈpā-trē-ət, -ˌät, chiefly British ˈpa-trē-ət\
Middle French patriote compatriot, from Late Latin patriota, from Greek patriōtēs, from patria lineage, from patr-, patēr father
Date: 1605

: one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests

From Rush Limbaugh (membership required, though not advised):
I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

Rush may (or may not) love his country, but he suddenly does not support its authority, specifically Barack Obama, our new wartime president.

The point cannot be made any clearer: Rush Limbaugh is not a patriot. He would rather the president fail in order to advance his own agenda. Remember how harsh the right wing talking heads were to those critical of former President Bush after we invaded Iraq? These people were branded as being unpatriotic simply for their criticisms. Well, what's good for the goose...

More on this at Think Progress.

New White House Website

Wow, the new White House website is already up...and it's got a blog!

Peer Into A Soul

If you've seen a strange commercial of people looking into the camera, followed by the words "Want to Peer Into A Soul?", it was probably this.

What does it mean? Turns out, it's a cliffhanger type commercial for an automobile, which you can find here.

Update 1/28/09: This is an even better link to visit. As all the commenters have said, it's a very creepy commercial...all for a KIA automobile. Also added poll.

What do you think about the 'Peer Into A Soul' commercial?
I'm intrigued
pollcode.com free polls

Hallucinations of a Rock

Richard Dawkins makes no bones about it:

(via PostChristianity)


Christopher Walken Peers Into Your Soul

I won't quite say it's haunting, but this is...disturbing.

Some Images of Inauguration Preps

There's something in the air.

Thousands of empty seats

The media descend

Pentagon City Mall decorated for the inauguration. The line of people across the way are waiting to have their picture taken with Jay-Z and Lisa Price.

Even Macy's gets into the act with patriotic hat decorations for the kids.

Lincoln and Washington - Together At Last

Two former Presidents were seen standing along Constitution Ave. in Washington, DC Saturday night, hailing a taxi. Three taxis passed them by without even slowing down! What kind of world do we live in when our two most famous presidents can't even get a ride?

When asked to have a picture taken by a citizen, President Washington was overheard to say, "Madam, I'm afraid we are on the move." And with that, the two finally caught a ride with a middle-eastern taxi driver who looked as if there was nothing he hadn't seen.

Street Preaching in DC

The religious kooks came out to exhort the masses yesterday. According to their website, they do this because
...the Bible teaches us to confess Jesus before mankind (Mt.10:32-33) and that is not just praying a 'sinners prayer' one time in front of the church, but repenting, paying restitution for ones SINS and then proclaiming or declaring one's faith in public! It is doing so with the fearlessness of a lion rather than the quiteness of a mouse! (Pr.28:1).
Whatever their reason, they sounded like lunatics.

A Day at the National Mall

I spent yesterday milling about with the crowd on the National Mall, watching the jumbotron, and trying to get a glimpse of the action at the Lincoln Memorial through my binoculars. The atmosphere was very festive and it was incredible to see so many people. Even despite the two second delay between audio and video, everyone was having a good time watching the show on the big screens. There were many visitors in town. Many asked me to take a snapshot of them in front of the Washington monument, and I gave directions to best eateries to dozens of others.

After U2 performed, Obama took the stage to loud applause followed by sudden silence. Everyone stopped to listen. Soaking up the moment, I felt that we were starting a new country. I know that sounds ridiculous, but after 8 years of Bush and his administration, it really did feel like change was in the air and that we were all part of some historically defining moment. There was a palpable sense of unity that I had not seen in this country since 9/11 (which was squandered on the tyranny of the majority). I think Obama will capitalize on America's willingness to right the past wrongs and make us all a part of something much larger than each of us individually: the idea of America.


Speaking of Breathtaking Inanity...

...there's this, from CQ Politics:

History May See Lincoln-Like Greatness in George W. Bush

The specific points of "greatness" are
  1. He was commander in chief during 9/11 during which "he was decisive in his response and showed admirable leadership both at home and abroad"
  2. His administration has been forceful in trying to bring calm and dole out money to industries during the recent financial turmoil
  3. He got rid of Saddam Hussein
  4. He paved the way for democracy in Iraq
Forget Bush's "The Pet Goat" moment (or two...or fifteen), and his administration flailing around with bailout money, and that Saddam Hussein wasn't a threat, and that Iraq didn't quite welcome democracy raining down on them with open arms...forget all that and consider the burdens Bush has shouldered compared to Lincoln. "Lincoln-like greatness"? Pshaw...Lincoln didn't even serve two full terms.

NASA Rover at Obama's Inauguration

This will be cool:
According to JSC PAO the rover will be at the very end of the parade. Along the way it will demonstrate its various control features including the ever popular "crab walk". Astronauts from the STS-126 crew as well as other astronauts and NASA personnel will walk alongside the rover.
Obama has been heard to say that he's not too happy about the direction NASA is going and I'm not sure this stunt by NASA will inspire him...but then again, that's what NASA has become best at doing - not inspiring.


Shields Down in Louisiana

Apparently the shield generators in Louisiana were on the fritz. It looks like the proposal to deflect teaching ID and religion from the classroom failed. More here, here and here.

Shields Up in Louisiana

Last year, the Louisiana State Government passed a law (see here and here) that would “encourage critical thinking” in the science classroom. Promoted by the Louisiana Family Forum (known for advancing religious causes in state government) and the Discovery Institute (known for their sham theory, Intelligent Design, which has been called “creationism warmed over”), this so-called Academic Freedom law is seen as an attempt to allow the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution, thereby allowing creationism back into the public schools, separation of church and state be damned.

Despite much dissent, the Louisiana Science Education Act was passed into law. The law calls for the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to “create and foster an environment…that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied…”. Sounds like something everyone can agree on, right? But what was the problem that sparked this requirement in the first place? What great conflict existed in the Louisiana schools that demanded nothing less than a state law be passed to soothe the aggrieved? Within the schools, there was none. However, the theory of evolution is in direct conflict with fundamentalist teachings of the bible and the tentacles of religion, extending from the church, sought to reach back into the classroom to regain some stronghold over young minds. In Louisiana, they found weakened minds and impassioned hearts that made for a relatively easy victory.

So where do we stand today? The law further goes on to say
A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board unless otherwise prohibited by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
A BESE committee is meeting today to consider a new proposal which effectively preempts the teaching of intelligent design in schools (this would be the “unless otherwise prohibited” provision of the law). Here’s a Times-Picayune take on the proposal:
The law includes a clause stating that the intent is neither to promote nor discriminate against any religious doctrine.

The proposed BESE rules essentially repeat that language, including the statement that "materials that teach creationism or intelligent design or that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind shall be prohibited for use in science classes."
Essentially, the proposal is a deflector shield against religion and intelligent design, and the Discovery Institute is none to happy. From the same article,
That goes further than the Legislature intended, according to John West of the Discovery Institute, which publishes materials that discuss "strengths and weaknesses" of Darwinian theory. "The bill was silent on intelligent design," West said.
Similarly, the Louisiana Science Coalition, the defenders of science education in Louisiana, are displeased at what’s been stricken from the proposal:
Barbara Forrest of the Louisiana Science Coalition, meanwhile, is displeased that the latest draft does not include a line it featured in an earlier version: "Religious beliefs shall not be advanced under the guise of encouraging critical thinking."
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting. John West is wrong in objecting that the proposal “goes further than the Legislature intended”, unless he thinks that it discriminates against religion. But then he’d be admitting that intelligent design is religion.

Center for Inquiry Open House

For those who will be visiting DC for the inauguration, you might want to stop in to check out the Center for Inquiry. They're having an "Inauguration Weekend Open House", though it's on a Monday...not really a weekend, but at least they're much more welcoming than the Discovery Institute!
Center for Inquiry DC, 621 Pennsylvania Ave SE (Eastern Market metro), Washington, DC 20003

The Center for Inquiry DC and Office of Public Policy will be opening its offices to Friends of the Center and interested parties from around the country who are interested in learning about our Center. In commemoration of the inauguration weekend, we would like to welcome anyone visiting our Nation's Capital, as well as DC residents, to stop by our office for coffee, a light snack, and a conversation with any of our staff members about our office and what it has to offer. Please stop by our Capitol Hill office any time on Monday, January 19th from 9am-5pm and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the forthcoming inauguration with us. Whether you supported Obama, McCain, or another candidate, we would love to meet with you!

Afterwards, have a burger and shake (and don't dare miss out on the fries!) at Chef Spike's (of Top Chef fame) The Good Stuff Eatery (just three blocks away, 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE). Also, don't miss out on DC's own Ben's Chili Bowl for their famous half-smoked hot dog (Obama had one this past Saturday), or Cake Love, both on U-Street and likely to be very crowded.



Remember when President Bush said he wanted to close Gitmo? That was back in 2006 and he still hasn't done it. He and his advisers were so ideologically hidebound that they decided to pass the mess on to the incoming President. Although he won't be President for another week, Barrack Obama is already moving to close the detention facility:
Obama preparing order to close Gitmo
President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to issue an executive order his first week in office -- and perhaps his first day -- to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to two presidential transition team advisers.

'Change' means moving past these Bush-Cheney tautologies and getting the job done. Perhaps we'll even see some headway on curing our addiction to foreign oil.


Lesson Learned at NASA

Apparently NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS) learned its lesson in checking data quality before publishing their monthly GISS temperatures. GISS goofed last month when it published some erroneous data for the November global temperature. The data point, if true, would have meant the Earth experienced its hottest November since record keeping began. Why this didn't ring any alarm bells at Goddard before they "went live" with the data is still unclear, but once the error was found, NASA quickly updated the database with the corrected temperature (or more precisely, the change in temperature over a baseline averaged over the period 1951-1980). You can find their most recent data here.

As of this posting, NASA has NOT posted data for December 2008 nor have they released their formal assessment of the past year. The reason can be found here, with the relevant passage being
Starting this month, the data will be held, investigated, and potential problems reported to and resolved with the data provider before making them public. However, as we noted in the "Data Quality Control" section of our 1999 paper: We would welcome feedback from users on any specific data in this record.

Given how politically charged each data point is (something I believe they failed to recognize earlier), I think this is a wise move. There's no hurry. Get it right first.

BTW, although they didn't publish a formal assessment of 2008 temperatures, they do have a preliminary assessment. They note that this past year has been the coolest since 2000, but still ranks as the 9th warmest year since instrument records were first kept. Global Warming deniers will give you half of this information. Care to guess which half?


Attention Hoddesdon Sceptics...

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Your time is drawing nigh. Put on your skeptic's utility belt and your good shoes because it's time for you to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.

Or, if you'd rather not do that, then at least go out and confront "psychic" Susan DeVere because she has challenged YOU (and don't think she doesn't know who you are - because she does) to a question and answer event at the Quaker Meeting House on Lord's Street in lovely Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (at least it looks lovely in Google Maps).
Psychic Challenges Sceptics At Hoddesdon Event
Susan DeVere will use her ancient Native American Spirit guide, Red Cloud, to try and transform the minds of non believers.

Susan says she will challenge people's preconceptions of spiritualism, respond to queries people have about their past and amaze them with predictions about their future.

She also claims to be able to communicate messages to the spirit world.

Susan is so confident that she freely invites sceptics who doubt her gift to come and put her to the test.

The showdown is on January 13. Be there or be there. And say "Hi" to Red Cloud for me.


Is Will Smith's Son Really Psychic?


32 Participants of Homeopathic Study Found Dead

In a recent study of the long-term effects of homeopathic remedies, 32 participants of the study were reported to have died. Furthermore, 260 former participants have since declined to participate with the study and 12 (including 3 children) have mysteriously gone missing. Despite this, the researches of the study conclude that "patients who receive homeopathic treatments are likely to improve considerably".

Based on the evidence provided in the report, I've formed my own conclusion: some patients who receive homeopathic treatments are likely to die or go missing.

The "provisional" study report can be found here (pdf warn).

Note that some of the authors of the study have also been involved in performing needle experiments on humans as well as performing the bizarre, ancient procedure known as "wet cupping" on their subjects (in which the patient is intentionally wounded and a vacuum device applied to forcibly withdraw blood!).

Christian Voice Nonsense

Remember the atheist bus campaign in Britain? It's been outrageously successful in generating media hype and bringing the atheist voice to the forefront. And the campaign is spreading. Adverts have gone up in DC and Germany, and they're trying to get it going in Australia and Spain. Over in Britain, where the tender was first ignited, the Christian Voice lobby group is starting to complain, demanding that the atheists prove their claims in order to meet the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), namely that what they put on the bus meets the standards of substantiation and truthfulness.

Well, how hard can that be? After all, the advert reads "There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life." When I first saw it, I thought it sounded a little wishy washy until I read that the "probably" was inserted precisely because of these ASA requirements. So, the atheists were smart. But the Christian Voice is demanding that these claims be proven. Now I doubt they'd ask for proof if the sign on the bus read "Jesus loves you". That would be pretty hard to substantiate. What do these Christians have to say for themselves in this case? Stephen Green, national director of the Christian Voice puts it this way:
"It is given as a statement of fact and that means it must be capable of substantiation if it is not to break the rules," he said.

"There is plenty of evidence for God, from people's personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.

"But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it," he added.

Hearing voices and a general feeling of well-being is not evidence for God. All his examples that he cites as evidence are subjective - that is, they are open to individual interpretation. In fact, if you had to weight the evidence for "there probably is no God" against "there probably is a God", you would find the negative case to be a clear favorite. On one side you find the bible and a lot of testimonials. On the other, you find science texts, theories, supporting observations, successful predictions, etc. to show that a god is not needed to account for all the things we see or experience.

Beyond this, I haven't really heard of any significant acts against the atheist bus campaign, at least over in Britain. That's a good sign. It shows tolerance towards those of differing beliefs - or non-beliefs. Hopefully, rational thought will shortly follow.


Essays on the Nature of Time

Damn! I missed it. The fqx(i) community is having an essay contest on the subject of time. Of course, I found out about it after they stopped receiving submissions. Is time a fact of nature? Is it, like music, man made? Does it even exist at all? Why is it so different from the dimensions of space? Alas for me, I may never find another vehicle to express my particular opinion on the whole matter. There just doesn't seem to be any public venue for things of that sort.

Oh well, I'll have to console myself with reading and voting on other peoples essays. Then maybe do some blog hopping.

If you're interested, check'em all out here.

Well, what are you waiting for? Time's a'waisting. Tick tock.


New Front Opens In the Creation/Evolution War

The next battle between teaching science and creationism in schools will likely take place in Oklahoma. John Lynch over at Stranger Fruit notes (via NCSE) that the first anti-evolution bill of 2009 will be from Oklahoma. This is another one of those "academic freedom" bills that the Discovery Institute likes to trumpet so much. Everything goes good with "freedom" spread on it, why not academics?

Unfortunately, the bill's sponsors want the freedom to push our kids back into the dark ages by allowing criticism of the theory of evolution without offering any credible alternative theories. Actually, it's worse than that. Evolutionists are their own worst critics - at least they were until the Discovery Institute came along - so I don't really have a problem with criticizing certain aspects of any theory. You just have to check the credentials of the critics to just it's validity. No, what these people really want is to build a door in the science classroom with these academic freedom bills. Then when everyone is comfortable with the door, they want to open it and let Jesus in.

In reaction, I signed up to receive updates from OESE (Oklahomans For Excellence In Science Education). Do the same, if you're so inclined. Let them know you're interested.


The Most Inane Statement of 2009

From the Washington Times article on the recent drop in gas prices,
Price dip adjusts Bush's gas legacy
"I wonder if the same people who blamed the president for the increase in prices will now credit him with the reduction in prices. It's only fair," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Oh, I get it now. Instead of promoting energy efficiency, the administration's policy is to just stop making things.

Good job, sport.

Is Lou Dobbs Even Relevant Anymore?

Why is Lou Dobbs still on TV? While I respected his financial reporting in the 90's, he's since taken a turn for the worst and. I suspect that he has to stir the pot, so to speak, to maintain ratings. In doing so, he's lost a lot of credibility. Sometimes I can't tell if he's being snarky or just a moron. Consider this gem:
Still ahead here: winter storm sweeping the country. Is this what you call global warming?
Coming up next, snow falls in the desert? So what are -- what are those folks talking about, global warming? We'll find out.
We'll tell you about that and a big freeze across the country. What's that global warming deal? We'll be talking with two meteorological experts -- a special report on it next.

Then he goes on to conflate seasonal weather with climate change. Dobbs should be (and probably is) smarter than that, which indicates he is intentionally generating conflict in the public where none exists within the science community (with regard to climate vs. weather). And that's despicable.