Category Archives: Random Bullshit

Hey Mark Edward, Jamy Ian Swiss was wrong. There’s no such thing as a lowercase skeptic.

The skepdick was enjoying the magicians vs. psychics panel discussion at TAM 2013 when he heard Jamy Ian Swiss call Mark Edward a skeptic with a lowercase ‘s’. Jamy seemed barely able to contain his disdain and certainly didn’t feel Mark deserved to be called a Skeptic with a capital ‘S’.  I’m sure most of the crowd could easily sense along with me that the tension on stage was nothing new between the two men.

Mark had just admitted that when he gives psychic readings he walks away without explaining to his audience that what he did was just a trick. He leaves it up to them to decide whether or not what he did was real. He calls this psychic entertainment, and his website states: “Mark neither declares himself as a genuine psychic nor gives any disclaimers, preferring to let his work stand on its own merit and allow each individual to arrive at their own personal conclusions”.

I think this is the heart of what Jamy was alluding to, and what I am struggling with as well:

Can a psychic still be a skeptic?

I asked this of Mark in a comment on a few days after TAM:

Mark, you mentioned on stage this weekend that when you give a psychic demonstration you leave it up to your audience to decide if paranormal abilities are real or not. You implied that you don’t explain to them how you are just doing tricks and all other psychics are just doing tricks as well. This seems to me the difference between a psychic and a mentalist. Both deceive, but the audience knows the mentalist is just doing magic tricks. Can you please clarify this for me? I find it difficult to understand how a skeptic (the lower case thing is silly), who should feel a responsibility to make it as clear as possible that there is no evidence for the paranormal, would deliberately cloud the issue for an audience who would benefit greatly from a more direct approach. That sort of person isn’t really a skeptic at all, just a hypocrite. You didn’t have much time on stage to defend yourself, but I heard what I heard. Do you present people with clear evidence or do you pretend to be psychic and leave them wondering what is real? “

He responded with, “Read the past five years worth of my blogs here, Read “Psychic Blues” and Google my name and you will have your answer. “

So I did. I read his book, looked back at years of posts, and googled the heck out of him. Here is what I learned:

Continue reading

38,992 total views, no views today

Don’t be a dick? Sorry Phil Plait, but I’m not that kind of dick.

The skepdick attended TAM 2013 last weekend.  There will be more than a few posts on inspired by the conference, but this one had to be written first.

I discovered the term, “skepticism”, in the fall of 2012; I can’t pinpoint the exact source, but it was probably from something on the radio. When googling this wonderful new term, I came across the Skeptics Guide to the Universe and the Skeptoid podcasts. After listening to a few (hundred) of those podcasts I felt I too might have something to offer the world, so after some deliberation I decided I liked the word skepdick. My friends would agree that I am often accused of coming off like a dick in situations where I feel I’m not being mean at all, but merely showing people that their beliefs are not grounded in reality. Thus was born a skepdick. Imagine my surprise when no one had already claimed the website; looking back perhaps I should have been a little more suspicious of that fact.

Continue reading

17,734 total views, no views today

Saliva. Not just for scuba masks.

The skepdick has believed for years that children born via cesarean are more likely to develop allergies than those born traditionally.  I hadn’t had a chance to revisit this through my recently developed skeptical lens, but when I did some research recently I quickly found some studies showing that it may in fact be true (mostly just for food allergies and asthma).

Also I discovered that a good way to clean your baby’s pacifier is to put it in your mouth and suck off the dirt.

What?  Yep.  And not just the tip, the whole pacifier.  Suck off that grime and save your kid from getting eczema.

Continue reading

12,805 total views, no views today

Does your smartphone keep you awake at night?

The skepdick was using his Samsung Galaxy S3 during the Ironman 3 credits last week checking on imdb if the movie was originally scheduled for a Christmas release (it wasn’t) and if there was a typical post credits Marvel universe scene (there was and it sucked).  The phone was quite bright in the dark theater and my friend suggested I install this new Twilight app on my phone.  The app supposedly helps keep you in a stable sleep cycle.

At night, using your phone’s gps to synchronize with the local time of day, the app automatically dims the screen and at the same time applies a red filter to the display.  The red filter and dimness are all user adjustable.  The idea is that bright blue-tinted light from tablet and phone displays is more deleterious to sleep patterns than red light.  Let’s investigate this notion of specific types of light-dependent sleep patterns and see if the app is worth the cost (it’s free).  Open your eyes wide, look into the light and say hello to Carol Anne.

Continue reading

20,105 total views, 1 views today

Nanotechnology – a word used just a little bit too much

The skepdick heard about a new product claiming to waterproof your cell phone called Liquipel .  While the company doesn’t mention nanotechnology in its own website materials, the phrase “watersafe nanotechnology”  is mentioned liberally throughout most media reports and if you google waterproof nanotechnology you will find other self-proclaimed nanotech companies like NeverWet.  Is this the new frontier in nanotechnology or is the word being used as a gimmick because it sounds sciency?  Let’s get out our electron microscope and take a look.

Continue reading

51,356 total views, no views today

Is obesity a disease?

obesity billboard

When the skepdick saw this billboard, my gut reaction (pun intended) was incredulity.  Can someone with pancreatic cancer modify their behavior so their cancer will just go away?  Of course not, but someone who is obese can lose weight by eating less; cancer is a disease, obesity is not, right? Well, it’s not that simple.  Let’s examine the current definitions of disease and see if obesity fits.  In a later post we’ll reexamine those definitions and try to come up with something a little more precise.

Continue reading

36,696 total views, 1 views today

Isms. Good or bad? It depends.

The skepdick has been thinking about isms lately, specifically feminism, racism, sexism, socialism, and atheism.  What does the -ism mean and are all isms bad, or are some good?  In Ferris Bueller’s opinion they certainly are not good:

Let’s do a little research and find out what an ism really is.

Continue reading

46,047 total views, 11 views today