Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We were almost hit...

...by a Winnebago!

You can also find pictures of the asteroid (<--warning: have to watch an ad first) but don't get your hopes up about seeing something like Saturn's moons or that Armageddon rock.
The asteroid was discovered four days before non-impact and passed below the GPS satellites. Pretty cool.
Shortly after, the flyby was followed by an odd, plaid patterned aurora australis. And some southern radio telescopes report capturing data that sounded like "Looone Sssstaaaaar".

And we have another, larger, one coming by in November that is also supposed to miss, by a larger distance. Which is good because that one's 400 meters long.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Snubbed, again

Once again the Skeptic Wire team has been left out of the list of leaders of the modern freethought movement. Check out this supposedly "complete" Periodic table of Atheists and Antitheists. I'm going to write my representative!

Original Link:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Poe's Corner from Episode 011

Which one of these is fake?

1) The Life Force Inc. Frequency Alignment Device - How Does It Work?
The Earth has an electromagnetic field surrounding it. This field has a frequency. All matter within this field has it's own vibration frequency. From time to time this vibration frequency can become upset. The Life Force Inc. helps realign your body frequency. 
How does it work?
The Life Force Inc. works by applying very definitive bandwidths of frequencies in three specially created groups of waveforms.   One band contains all the frequencies pertaining to the pathogen (bacteria, viruses, fungi) range. We omit the frequencies of enzymatic bacteria and some floras, they are needed for our digestive functions and therefore need not be disturbed. Much research has been done in defining these frequencies and   research continues to define the frequencies of new strains of pathogens as they emerge; to date none have fallen outside of the over one million frequencies we employ in our devices. The wave shape and orientation instruct the cells of the body to open and release their pathogen content to the bloodstream, where they are more readily exposed to the frequencies contained in the perspective band we use to effect them. Each pathogen frequency then meets with its own frequency contained in the waveform; this sets up a strain on them, where it is impossible for each to vibrate at their own Life Frequency. They slowly self destruct. These now-dead pathogens are carried through the bloodstream to our filter organs to be processed out of the body. This is why we suggest, during the use of the technology, when you find it is time to urinate, consume some clean water before urination. What this does is to create pressure for the flush and to leave some fluid in the filter organs for the next batch of die-off to be suspended. This allows the filter organs to function with less strain. Please consume adequate clean filtered water or fluids! 
NOTE! You must maintain a fresh battery supply to ensure your device's effectiveness. Two 9-volt alkaline batteries are required for your initial 30-day application. The first battery will be used from day one to day fifteen, the second to day thirty 

2) G-Oyster™
Electromagnetic Stress is often an unrecognized and undiagnosed factor in many minor and serious illnesses, including slow recovery from illness. Contributing factors to Electro Stress include: mobile phone masts, substations, pylons, DECT phone systems, GSM and UMTS mobile phones, computer equipment, household appliances, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth systems. 
G-Oyster™: The conclusion of many years of research and development in miniaturising the unique Geomack Energetic Vitalising Technology™ has culminated in the release of a product that is totally revolutionary in personal energetic protection - both in terms of Electro Stress and Geopathic Stress - while at the same time being an amazing personal energy booster that can be carried right in your pocket! 
How does it work?
The products interact with the natural electromagnetic fields eminating from the earth and create a charging energetic field that has the following characteristics: it boosts the energy levels of the inhabitants of the relevant property and this vitalising field also neutralises the harmful effects of natural electromagnetic radiation – Geopathic Stress (GS)- which has become distorted by other electromagnetic fields such as underground running water, underground cavities, certain mineral concentrations or power cables. Also the energetic field emitted by the products very efficiently combats the effects of man-made Electromagnetic Pollution (also called Electro Sress) caused by, amongst others, electrical appliances, pylons, substations, mobile phone masts, computer equipment, mobile phones and DECT cordless phones.  A draining environment becomes revitalised. 

3) NRG Recalibration Module
The NRG Recalibration Module(tm) is a proprietary and new technology that stimulates and relaxes the bodies natural electromagnetic field causing a balancing of the bodies internal biorhythms. Years of testing have proven the NRG Recalibration Module(tm) technology to be 100% effective in correcting years of damage done by modern society's growing dependence on electro-magnetic wave emitting devices. 
How does it work?
The NRG Recalibration Module(tm) uses semi-passive Q-Crystalline(r) technology to alter incoming electro-magnetic waves and create a harmonious living or work environment. Dangerous artificial electro-magnetic waves induce vibrational energy into the 3-Dimensional Q-Crystalline(r) grid, which is tuned to the body's natural frequencies. The NRG Recalibration Module(tm) then absorsb and remodulates the waves to frequencies that are safe for humans and animals. By having one or more of the modules in your work area, it is possible to create a natural electro-magnetic safe zone, where your mind and body will perform most efficiently and without stress. 
The NRG Recalibration Module(tm) is even capable of protecting you from your personal computer or  laptop, by wearing it around your neck or placing it in a shirt, jacket, or pants pocket!

From The "Duh" Files: Don't Hit Your Kids

Being a sensitive new-age guy who grew up in the Northeast I always thought that the general cultural consensus in the U.S. now-a-days was that spanking is a bad thing. It only teaches the kids not to get caught and to think problems can be solved by violence. What starts with a spank can "slippery slope" into full on abuse. But it could be worse.

Then I saw this breif article:

Probation? Sure. Parenting classes? Fine, OK, good. But losing custody?!? Unfortunately there is probably more to this story that we're not getting. You can see hints of it in the line "after the child's grandmother reported the injuries and took the child to a hospital." There was probably more than just spanking going on. But wow, for the judge to focus ONLY on the spanking surprises me.

So maybe that was a possible overreaction by the judge. But then I looked over at the poll listed with the short article:

Should parents spank their children?

Last I checked it was "Yes" at 94.36% and "No" at 5.64%. To quote Phil Plait: Holy Haleakalas!!! Even given that Fox News (this is Fox News Latino) consumers are more conservative and authoritarian, this is pretty sad. It shouldn't take the threat of jail time or losing your kids into foster care in order to realize that hitting a kid is not a good idea. I'll paraphase Plait: Don't be a dick...to your kids.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Episode 011 counts to three in base 2

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This week:
- Greg's return rant
- Happy post Summer Solstice
- Lightning Round
- Netherland Study shows IT employees have more children with autism
- Inattentional Blindness
- Poe's Corner (moved to separate post)

- James Arthur Ray is convicted of three counts of involuntary manslaughter
James Arther Ray was in the movie "The Secret", was on Oprah, and became a highly paid motivational speaker type person.

- NBC removes "Under God, Indivisible" from a television spot. Conspiracy or Accident?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Episode 010 has a bangin' stereo system doncha think?

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This week:
Intro things
- Mass grave psychic isn't even apsychic
- Wayne Christian nearly halts passing of legislation
Lightning Round
Terry Pratchett and Alzheimer's
Atheist Bus Ads cause consternation
Poe's Corner
- This week: energy and healing items

And the dogs make splashy drinky noises because that's the way they roll...drink.

Follow the blog at: http://skepticwire.blogspot.com
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Write us at: skepticwire@gmail.com
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...leave a review, if you are so inclined!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Episode 009 makes a small nest in a 1943 Ford engine block

Download it directly here or get it from iTunes

This week:
Intro things
- Dan Savage vs. Jen McCreight
- R.I.P. Jack Kevorkian
Lightning Round
- KKK vs Westboro Baptist
- Autism App
- Mike Adams
- Dr. Sears' anti-vax removed
- Catholic church and homopathy
- Dolphins kill porpoises
- Photons created from nothing
Greg's surprise segment: Poe's Corner (see earlier post!)

Texas things:
- Medina Prayer
- Perry exhorts other Governors to pray
- "Psychic" gets it wrong
- No low pants on Ft Worth Buses

And the dogs execute a well-orchestrated performance art where-in they eat food at us and bark.

Follow the blog at: http://skepticwire.blogspot.com
Follow on twitter: @theskepticwire
Write us at: skepticwire@gmail.com
Leave us a voice message through the iPhone podcaster app (coming to Android soon?)
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Subscribe on iTunes
...leave a review, if you are so inclined!

New Podcast Segment - "Poe's Corner"

In the recording session for Episode 009 I surprise the guys (Donna couldn't be there) with a new segment for the podcast. I called it "Poe's Corner" as a reference to Poe's Law. There are three quotes from one kind of "woo" and the other members of the Skeptic Wire Team (tm) had to guess which one I completely made up. This time I choose "Crystal Healing."

Here are the three quotes I used for Episode 009. See if you can spot the poe! (No google cheating).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Junk DNA and Junk Science

Intelligent Design proponent Jonathan Wells has released a new book called The Myth of Junk DNA. I have not read the book, but his arguments have been posted to the Evolution News and Views blog. Also, biochemist Larry Moran has read the book and blogging about it on his blog Sandwalk.

Before we get into the case he's making I always like to look into the personalities behind these debates, so first little about the author. Jonathan Wells holds a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology and in Religious Studies. He is a member of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. He's held positions in the church and is considered a Unification Church marriage expert. His theology studies, paid for by Rev Moon, were focused on the conflict between Christianity and Evolition. He was hand picked by Reverend Moon to enter a biology PhD program in order to "destroy Darwinism".

He published Icons of Evolution in 2002, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design in 2006 and Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution in 2008. He co-wrote a few books with William Dembski, one with the clever title "How to be an Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or not). "

Oh, and he's an AIDS denialist.

The new book is about junk DNA as it relates to the Theory of Evolution and Intelligent Design. So what is junk DNA and why is it important to the theory of Evolution according to Dr. Wells?

DNA's purpose is to code for proteins. We've known that since the 50's. But in the 70's we discovered that only about 1 to 2 percent of human DNA actually codes for proteins. Following this discovery there was a lot of scientific work done to figure out what this other 98% of our DNA might be doing. At the same time there was a realization that the much, if not most, of this non-coding DNA might be artifacts of the evolutionary process and might have no function at all, adding support, of course to evolutionary theory, foe why would a designer create useless DNA. Throughout this time there have been varying opinions about how much of the non-coding DNA is functional and how much is truely junk. There's no certainty here, but there are clues. Functionless DNA isn't prone to selection pressure and so it tends to degrade. This results in a loss of homogeneity in the gene in the population which can serve as an indicator. On the other hand, about 80% of our DNA is transcribed, which supporters of Intelligent Design point to as evidence of some function. Many, maybe most scientists believe that it's mostly non-functional and could be removed without much effect. This view hasn't changed much since the 80's.

This is not the history that Jonathan Wells paints. Jonathan Wells is David Barton of science history. According to his history, Darwinists latched on to the idea of junk DNA because it saves their theory, which otherwise is all but disproven. (Wells wrote a blog a few years back about junk DNA titled "Darwin's Last Stand? Which promote this view.) The ID crowd says that the idea that the genome is full of junk is a myth, and that recent advances in our knowledge of the cell, especially since the Human Genome Project has shown that what Darwinists have dismissed as junk actually has many functions. Thus, another icon of evolution has fallen and the theory is in trouble. Dr. Wells even claims that millions have died because of Darwinists' dogmatic adherence to the myth of junk DNA, preventing the advancement of life saving genetic research. Damn, first The Holocost, now this. Millions are always dying because of evolutionary theory!

The arguments that have been raging in the blogosphere is largely about what did scientists know about junk DNA and when did they know it, with the IDers saying that scientists have always dismissed function from the start, and those on the other side say "no we haven't".

How much does this history really matter? Not much, it seems to me. Only someone who dismisses the evidence for Evolution might think this an important argument at all. Mr. Wells fits this description. He calls the evidence for evolution 'underwhelming' and 'flimsy'. He says that the only evidence we have for evolution is comparing fossils with existing life, and the matter of junk DNA of course, which he has now dismissed.

So, how much does the Theory of Evolution rest on the existence of junk DNA? And are we at a point in our scientific knowledge that we can say that the vast majority of noncoding DNA is functional and consistent with good design, functional enough that a good designer would have created it in it's current form?

If Junk DNA was as important to holding up Evolution as Wells says it is, you would expect the two recent popular works on the theory, The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins and Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, to give the subject a significant treatment. Instead, neither of them give Junk DNA more than a passing mention. Is junk DNA an icon of evolution? Would the theory suffer if we were to discover that all DNA had function. No and no.

Has the hypothesis that most of the DNA our genome has no purpose been falsified by the evidence since the 70's. The answer is no.

Has Dr. Wells taken a fairly minor controversy in science, cherry-picked the history and built a narrative of a theory in crisis around it, starring dogmatic Darwinists suppressing research to save the icons of the Darwinist faith, costing millions of lives by refusing to admit they're wrong and corrupting our children with a debased sense of our existence. Yes.

David Harcourt

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Episode 008 is out and about, placing orbs in your photos

Download it directly or get it at iTunes

This week:
- Briefly: Update on Wayne Christian, Castroville TX Graduation Prayer kerfuffle, update on WOAI ghostses, Gail Lowe unconfirmed on the TX SBoE
-Lightning round (please go to the blog [below] for links to discussed articles)
- Cell phones cause cancer?
- Autism One Conference and The Woo of "The Work"...you decide
- Junk DNA and the new Intelligent Design book offering
- And the dogs do their favorite "I'm outside barking at something; I'm inside with no clue why I'm barking" and "please let me in why would you lock me out?!" routines

Follow the blog at: http://skepticwire.blogspot.com
Follow on twitter: @theskepticwire
Write us at: skepticwire@gmail.com
Leave us a voice message through the iPhone podcaster app (coming to Android soon?)
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Subscribe on iTunes
...leave a review, if you are so inclined!

Links to topics discussed (or at least a majority of them...mostly kinda in order):
Local concerns:

Lightning Round:

Long Topics:

WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk
Autism One, The Work:

First You Laugh, Then You Think...Then you Laugh Again.

OK, let's start with the laugh. Go to the link and watch the video.

Rodeo Queens On Stick Ponies

Kinda funny huh? Little kids gussied up just shy of a toddler beauty pageant contestant running around on stick ponies! You stare in disbelief at this girls pretending to canter between traffic cones while waving around their hands showing off (and hopefully not dying of shame in the process). Then you get to snicker at the "old" Davis County Sheriff's Mounted Posse Junior Queen Contest queens trying to pretend the whole exercise isn't silly. Or maybe you giggled at the picture of a lonely barrel of stick ponies waiting to be chosen by a Davis County Sheriff's Mounted Posse Junior Queen and imagined a Toy Story-esque inner life for the stick ponies.

Unfortunately all this comedy is the result of an outbreak of equine herpes. A fatal and highly contagious version of herpes only transmitted between equine species (horses,donkeys, and zebras). The event organizers started by postponing the contest for a week in the hope that the quarantine would work and the disease would run its course. Unfortunately for the kids this delay wasn't enough.

What makes my inner skeptic happy is that the organizers absolutely made the right choice. Holding this event at this time would be a grave danger for the horses. There was no short term thinking of "Oh, but if we don't go on with the show the kiddos will be devastated." Someone realized that the kids would be more devastated if their horses died. They made the best of a bad situation and tried to encourage the kids. Despite the silly costumes and overly bubbly adults (who still wear their sashes?!?) these kids put in a lot of effort in learning their routines. They were rewarded as best was possible for their patience and what they learned without putting their animals to an unnecessary risk...

But that doesn't change the fact that it's a pretty funny video. :)

Hopefully this will tide you over until Episode 008 is posted.