Blogs

Another take on the Florida "Science Experiment" Arrest...

Thousands were shocked in recent days to read of a 16 year old girl, Keira Wilmot, who was reportedly arrested for a failed science experiment which caused a small explosion and ended with the young girl being Kiera WilmotKiera Wilmotarrested and charged with “possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school sponsored event or on school property.” A conviction could have meant a five-year prison term, triggering Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of blogs to virtually explode with comments and requests to write to school and law enforcement officials to complain. An online crowdfund even netted an $8,000 legal defense fund, and a petition on Change.org that attracted over 195,000 signators.

But could there be more to this story than meets the eye?

Another Failure of Chelation Therapy

Chelation therapy is a long-time staple of medical quackery, but it isn't tested as often as it might be. Here's a curious report of a recent clinical test published in JAMA showing that chelation therapy chelationchelationdoesn't make any difference in heart attack, stroke, hospitalization, surgeries, etc, outcomes.

The report is curious -- and so is the publication of the article -- because the JAMA publisher editorializes against the use of chelation therapy yet the director of the study appears to be a believer, clinging to a very small improvement of outcomes for chelation when all the outcome variables are combined.

Top 5 Lessons from Psychology for Critical Thinkers - Part 3...

Your Common Sense Can Fail You

JREF LogoJREF LogoMy third article for the James Randi Educational Foundation's "Education Initiative," whose purpose is to promote teaching of critical thinking and skepticism, has been posted. Please take a look if you get a moment.

Which Aztec Artifacts are Fake? Expensive Ones.

Aztec "crystal skulls" make neat displays and fiction. But recent Crystal SkullCrystal Skullanalyses of several in museums show they're fake. CLICK HERE to read the full story.

Ohlone Psychology Club presents Bryan & Baxter, Paranormal Claims Investigators!

Please join me on Monday, April 1st at 7 pm for the Ohlone College Psychology Club Speaker Series' presentation of "Bryan & Baxter: What THEY Don't Want You to Know," a fun-filled one hour romp Bryan & BaxterBryan & Baxterthrough some of Bryan & Baxter's investigations of paranormal claims.

The Great Airship of 1897

J. Allan Danelek: The Great Airship of 1897: a Provocative The Great Airship of 1897The Great Airship of 1897Look at the Most Mysterious Aviation Event in History. Adventures Unlimited Press 2009. (A review by Norman Sperling, February 10, 2013.)

A Request to Help Fund "An Honest Liar," a Documentary About James Randi...

As some of you may recall, I recently hosted James Randi at Ohlone College, where he delivered a wonderfully entertaining An Honest LiarAn Honest Liartalk on “Prophecy, Divination, and Faith Healing” to an adoring overflow crowd.

That weekend, I was lucky to also spend time with a film crew who were making a documentary about Randi’s life entitled “An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story.” Heading up this endeavor are Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein, both talented and accomplished documentary filmmakers. Since that time, Tyler and Justin have kept in touch, and they recently wrote to ask that I help spread the word about their new approach toward completing this important, and no doubt entertaining, work.

BAS Founder Bob Steiner Dies

This is from an obituary composed by Robert Schaeffer. Other Bob SteinerBob Steinertributes will follow:

Robert A. Steiner (1934-2013)

Magician and skeptic Robert A. Steiner died on January 4, 2013 in a nursing home in Concord, California, at age 78. A longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay area, Steiner was a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and spoke at several CSI(COP) conferences. A professional magician, he was a former president of the Society of American Magicians, and a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood. He also was a Certified Public Accountant.

Great Stories From a Book You Can't Read: The Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript is just as good a story now as when I first read about it 50 years ago. If you're not familiar with Voynich ManuscriptVoynich Manuscript it, Wikipedia's article hits the highlights, and its bibliography gives a number of ways to dig deeper.

The Voynich Manuscript was probably written in the early 1400s, probably in Europe, possibly in Northern Italy. Most of it resembles an herbal (though the plants are unrecognizable), plus sections whose pictures suggest astrology and pharmacy, plus lots of naked and clothed women (only the naked ones get mentioned much), and less-understandable illustrations and pure-text pages. The text appears to be written in a cipher, which has tantalized and taunted people since the 1500s. No one has ever cracked it.

Top 5 Lessons from Psychology for Critical Thinkers - Part 2...

Your Beliefs Are Malleable

As some of you may recall, I was recently asked to join the James Randi Educational Foundation's "Education Initiative," JREF LogoJREF Logowhose purpose is to promote teaching of critical thinking and skepticism.

My second article, entitled "Your Beliefs are Malleable," was recently posted. Its topic is cognitive dissonance, and it focuses on how it can be applied to teaching students to evaluate their beliefs in a more rational way.

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