The skepdick saw this picture going around his Facebook feed this Memorial Day weekend and wondered about the veracity of flag desecration laws, including this one from Arkansas. Is it really illegal to defile, burn, place on the ground, or trample a flag of the United States? Wouldn’t this be the antithesis of the foundation of our Constitution? Or does this country have a law that protects people’s feelings and intangible symbols? Let’s dig into some legal statutes and see what the Supreme Court has to say about this issue and whether or not you can be arrested for wearing this sweater.
while doing some skeptic research. It didn’t take me long to give it a very poor trustworthiness rating (Go to www.mywot.com to learn how you can rate sites as well). The article claims scientists just made this “new” discovery about how chemotherapy causes cancer but its nothing more than a rehashing of this news story from August 2012.
The actual journal article referenced in the article does not suggest that chemotherapy causes cancer. Far from it. But some reporter (I won’t call this person a journalist) decided to run with the “chemo causes cancer” headline and now the story keeps popping up like, well, cancer. Why? Because fear headlines sell papers. That’s why. Continue reading →
The skepdick attended TAM 2013 last weekend. There will be more than a few posts on skepdick.org 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.
The skepdick often wonders, “What’s the harm?”. If you take a daily multivitamin, are you wasting money? Yes. Are you doing any real harm to your body? Probably not. There’s no real harm in believing in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster (neither of which have any evidence of being real), nor is there harm in carrying a rabbit’s foot for luck (bad luck may be real, just ask any casino I’ve been to). My friends and I have a long running argument about how belief in reiki massage may actually be helpful (I say nay, they say yea. I’ve been dying to write that article, soon perhaps). You see where this is going, don’t you?
What’s the harm in allowing pseudoscience (any topic not scientifically proven to be real) to masquerade as real legitimate science?
More often that not we come across a case of how belief in pseudoscience causes actual harm. Whatstheharm.net is a fantastic site with hundreds of such examples. Examples of harm do not in and of themselves constitute a proper argument against the pseudoscientific belief, rather they serve as a warning against believing in the pseudoscience. The proper argument is that pseudoscience is not real. No good evidence, no good studies, no good reason to believe in it. These examples show how the belief in non-reality/fantasy can go horribly wrong.
The harm from pseudoscience is completely avoidable only if people start thinking critically. Let’s look at a very recent example of how belief in a pseudoscience like psychic abilities can be disastrous. Continue reading →
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.
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.