Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Psychic Finds Public Breaking Point

3 September 2009

You’ve probably already heard about Jaycee Lee Dugard, the now 29 year old woman who’d been held kidnapped, raped repeatedly, and become a mother twice over the past eighteen years.  It’s astounding that Miss Dugard has been found alive, I’m sure I speak for all of the New York City Skeptics when I say that we hope she will be able to move forward in her life, and that one day, maybe she’ll be able to attain some totems of normalcy.  But, this is not the sympathy blog, this is the Gotham Skeptic, so we’re actually here to talk about Dayle Schear. (more…)


Science fair project takes on major corporate claims

1 September 2009

In 2004, two 14 year old girls in a New Zealand secondary school conducted an interesting science project. They wanted to test their favorite drinks for vitamin C content. Using a simple iodine titration technique, when they tested the blackcurrant drink Ribena, the girls stumbled across some surprising results. The Ribena brand has been a staple of the UK market since the 1930’s, but despite the advertising claim that “the blackcurrants in Ribena have four times the vitamin C of oranges,” the girls found almost no vitamin C content in the fruit drink, in fact, it appeared that Ribena had far less vitamin C than almost every other product they tested.

The girls then sent a letter to the makers of Ribena, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), about their findings, then an email, finally a phone call. The girls received little response from the corporate giant:

“They didn’t even really answer our questions. They just said it’s the blackcurrants that have it, then they hung up,” Jenny said. (more…)


27 August 2009

Over the last week or so, Nessie was caught via satellite footage and a mermaid was sighted in Israel. Atheists appeared at the Creation “Museum,” and the HuffPo wrote about pseudoscience without supporting it. This mish-mash of contradictions and coincidences can only mean one thing, our world is characterized by a series of stochastic events. Or wait… does it mean that the apocalypse is coming? I always get those two mixed up.


25 August 2009
A Venerable Orang-outang, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine

"A Venerable Orang-outang", a caricature of Charles Darwin published in The Hornet, 1871

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-authors of “Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future,” wrote an op-ed piece for the Guardian yesterday rehashing their views on the tumultuous relationship between science and religion. Their points have all been made before… and have all been criticized before, e.g. But in this piece, they wrapped up their discussion of how the rift between science and religion might be assessed and resolved by asking the question: What would Charles Darwin do (WWCDD)? (more…)

What Character from Seinfeld are you: Lessons in Instrument Design on Facebook.

19 August 2009

seinfeld quizI, like many, am addicted to Facebook. More so, I love Facebook quizzes and supposed personality tests. Yes, yes, I know. I’m a skeptic, as well as a student and teacher of psychological science; I shouldn’t spend my valuable time on something I know to be utter nonsense. But, truthfully, recently it’s all about examining the thinking behind it, and what their popularity reveals about human nature.

About a month ago I was taking one of the more interesting quizzes: “What Character from Seinfeld Are You?” (see above). I thought about the question, “If you were a diary product, you’d be…” A) Cheese B) Yogurt C) Sour Cream or D) Milk. Of course I immediately thought, “I’m totally yogurt”, but then spent a considerable amount of time asking myself why I thought I was yogurt, and more so, why whoever designed this test asked this question and how it would ultimately result in my personality being like Jerry Seinfeld’s (which was my result). (more…)

The Manson Mindset

18 August 2009

Charles Manson has been much on my mind lately. Not that I particularly want him there; it’s just that a confluence of events have put the wannabe-Messiah and his brainwashed gaggle of zombie drones back in the news.

August 9th and 10th marked the 40th anniversary of the Tate-La Bianca murders, the most notorious but by no means the only atrocities to be carried out under Manson’s command. Squeaky Fromme, the would-be assassin of Gerald Ford (and as far as I know the only one of Manson’s hippie harem to remain a true believer) was released from prison on August 14. Leslie Van Houten, a deeply repentant former Manson follower convicted for the La Bianca killings, remains housed in the California Institution for Women; her friend, filmmaker John Waters, recently published an eloquent five-part plea for her release on the Huffington Post. (more…)

Peer-review for the younger generation

11 August 2009

A Correspondence in the most recent issue of the journal Nature called attention to an endeavor designed to allow grade-school students to participate in the scientific peer-review process. The journal Young Scientists, “a free online journal for scientists aged 12-20,” was launched in 2006 as a collaborative project among students and teachers at a historical boarding school in Kent, England. The journal is structured like an academic journal and includes original research articles authored by students from around the world. As a particularly endearing divergence from the traditional scientific journal format, there tends to be lengthy bios about the authors at the end of the articles. Overall, the journal is an uplifting glimpse into the excitement that science can foster in our youth. (more…)

Hey, you got art in my science! No, you got science in my art!

7 August 2009

There has been a recent trend to blend science and art as a means to promote science to a broader audience, and perhaps to promote art to a broader audience as well. I endeavor to be the beneficiary of the latter effort. This marriage of disciplines seems an especially apt way to reach New Yorkers. The most recent broadcast of NPR’s Science Friday did a piece on “The Art of the Natural History Museum,” in which they described the work involved in creating scientifically accurate exhibits and reconstructions of extinct organisms. The show featured individuals who were more scientist than artist, and those more artist than scientist, and described how they work together to create projects that are at the same time both accurate and pleasing to the eye. (more…)

Defying Gravity Kinda Sucks

6 August 2009

I love to cook.  I’m just saying.  Ladies?  I like cooking.  But here’s the thing, most of those things I make wind up taking me some time, and as anyone who cooks out there knows, a lot of that time is downtime.  Which means Hulu has become my best friend in the world.  45 minutes to make a salsa?  Don’t mind if I do!  There might be some 40 minutes of television out there that I have not yet seen.  And it was thus, in the spirit of exploration, curiosity, and a desire to avoid boredom, that I discovered the first two episodes of the new ABC drama, “Defying Gravity”. (more…)

The Paranoids Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out

5 August 2009

Last week, I happened upon the 2002 video clip of Buzz Aldrin punching a moon-landing conspiracy theorist in the face–a joyous artifact that had never before come to my attention. The punchee was filmmaker Bart Sibrel, who confronted Aldrin (then 72) and his stepdaughter outside a Beverly Hills hotel, screaming “You’re the one who said you walked on the moon and you didn’t!” Aldrin warned him to back off, at which point Sibrel called him a “thief, a liar and a coward.” When Sibrel initiated physical contact (as attested to by several witnesses), Aldrin hauled off and clocked him one. (more…)