Friday, October 28, 2011

In search of Scientific Journalism

There are very few cases out there of science in the media which I can actually take as reliable.  Those of you out there who have read some of my earlier rants know how badly I wanted to eviscerate the fools who wrote about DCA and cancer treatment.  There is a general trend I find when it comes to science stories in the mainstream media.  They tend to be obscene scare stories, or stories of outrageous new breakthroughs.  Occasionally, you get something about strange occurrences or weird anomalies, but they are pretty silent entries on the back pages and nobody ever really remembers them.  The stuff that makes the front page are either stories that say how terrifying something is, or stories that say how amazingly wonderful something is.

Your iPhone could be giving you brain cancer!  But acai berry cures Alzheimer's!  The Large Hadron Collider will cause a black hole to form in the center of the Earth...  and they predict that it will happen on December 21, 2012.  Make sure to stock up on chocolate and red wine, because they will prevent all illnesses with their "essential" flavonols.  Don't you have a flavonol deficiency?  Well, it shouldn't bother you anyway, because every vaccine you take is full of poison!

It amazes me at times when you see a news program where someone will have a doctor interviewed, who has the benefit of decades of research, large-scale data, longitudinal studies, and scientific development on his side...  and then they will ensure that his time on air is shared with some horseshit peddling activist whose knowledge of medicine lies somewhere in the realm of a tapeworm's understanding of quantum mechanics...  or maybe even as poor as Michele Bachmann's grasp of anything that happens to actually be true.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Never say "Spiritual"

I get a whole lot of garbage laid before me by loads of people out there.  Unsurprisingly, religious nutcases dominate.  Most all of them are certain that everybody else is just following some false religion and that their particular belief is really The Truthtm.  And then there are those who feign a position above all that, and say they have all the "strengths" of religious belief and none of the weaknesses.  I'm talking about those who refer to themselves as "Spiritual."  These people act as if they've found some sort of all-encompassing uber-nebulous philosophy which envelopes the body of comfort-inducing religious tomfoolery and still maintains the open-mindedness that is a categorical requirement of rationalists.

I find these people to be just another brand of fatuous nonsense breeders.

The problem isn't just that "spiritualism" deals in spirits, souls, dualism, karma, and other such nonsense.  It's that the condition that we call being "spiritual" is little more than a ham-handed mechanism by which to insert any sort of metaphysical claim you could possibly imagine and treat as equal to any other idea regardless of whether it falls under the categories of the rigorously supported or the moronic claptrap of the first degree.  Spirituality is one of the many manifestations of the price of open-mindedness that Mark Twain once quipped about.

... The kind where your mind is so open that your brain falls out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Are they really that stupid?

About a year ago, I came across an example page out of a "Christian Science" textbook.  To be exact, it was a textbook published by Bob Jones University expressly for use by Christian homeschooling parents.  This particular page scan was actually a margin note/caption about the nature of electricity.  Here, you can see the actual scan from BJU's great and wonderful 4th-grade level "science" textbook.
There are just so many things wrong with that... where do I begin?  Oh yeah!  About the same place I begin with Bill O'Reilly's insane argument that the tides are an unexplained phenomena!