Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tai Ji Class, for College Credit?

OK, I know it's Evergreen, the hippie feel-good school of Washington, but this is a little much. I just got a flyer for their extended education courses for winter term. Included in the course catalog is this course, which is worth 2 credits.

"Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, Tai Ji Workshop"

It is described as a unique opportunity to study with Chungliang Al Huang: a philosopher, calligrapher, dancer, bamboo flute player and Tai Ji master. Chungliang is the embodiment of energy and wisdom: a matchless catalyst of East meeting West. The workshop will show people how to incorporate Tai Ji into their business and everyday lives. The participants will learn how to create an energy that transcends daily life activities in order to make them more successful in their professional and personal lives.

What a load of crap! This is a joke, shouldn't be worth any credits, and is paid for by public money, since it is a state university. Damn Hippies!
And the picture is from a billboard alongside I-5 south of Chehalis. It usually has statements that are of an extreme conservative, fundamentalist point of view. It's privately owned and maintained, so nothing can be done about it. Morons.

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Unfortunate End for Two Podcasts.

It is with much regret that I bid farewell to two of my favorite podcasts. Logically Critical and Dogma Free America are both calling it quits. The hosts cite the time needed to produce the shows as the primary reason for ending the shows. I only wish it wasn't so.

Logically Critical promoted rational thinking, and took a very humorous approach to presenting the material. Shows included topics on "Why Atheism?" "Wacky Bible Stories" and "Ode to a Superhero" and they always included funny references to TV shows and movies of all ages. Dogma Free America was put together to inform about news stories of extreme dogmatic thinking. Malaysia, Australia, and the Southern US were often locales for these news stories, and the unfortunate thing was the truth of the news.

Both shows are still well worth checking out. While they are still up on I-Tunes, give them a listen.

Friday, November 9, 2007

More Credulous Programming From the History Channel

From the moment I saw the ad for this show, I dreaded what the final product would be like. Monsterquest is produced by The History Channel, and the first episode I witnessed was about a Sasquatch sighting in Canada, north of Ontario. Ottowa. The show consisted of interviews with witnesses, who provided poor testimony at best, and a couple true believers, one with unfortunate authority provided by his position as a professor at University of Idaho.

Their evidence was flimsy, and the conclusions were pretty bad. Of particular note was the tissue that was analyzed. When evaluated by an independent lab, the result was that it was note of animal origin (likely synthetic) and they couldn't find any DNA. But the believers used their own method to extract DNA, by repeatedly adding chemicals and agitating the sample until something appeared. This "sample" tested as somewhere between chimp and human DNA, basically one gene was mutated, and somehow they managed to say it was halfway between humans 23 chromosomes and chimp 24.

MonsterQuest was yet another History Channel production that promotes pseudoscience in the worst way. Please, avoid this like you would avoid a mangy bear.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

New Bigfoot/Sasquatch Sighting

The bad photo taken at night is the most recent photo of Bigfoot, taken with a motion-sensitive camera. Hard to see what it really is, and I always thought Sasquatch was supposed to be a biped. I personally agree with Dr. Steven Novella (of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe fame) in his assessment that, if you absolutely had to pick a supernatural creature to compare this to, I'd chose a werewolf. Most credible people think it's a mangy bear.

Of course, everyone should know that good ol' Sasquatch, also known as Squatch, is drumming for the Presidents of the United States of America, and being a Sonics mascot while their still in Seattle.

Ben Stein and Intelligent Design

Ben Stein, he of "Bueller" fame, is apparently heading up a film on ID. The film is entitled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and focuses on ID, the "flaws" in evolutionary theory, and the controversy of how this aspect of science is taught in public schools. From the run-up I've heard about, this type of film is exactly what rational, pro-evolution thinkers need to come up with. Unfortunately, the first major volley in the evolution-ID wars to hit the big screen will come from the ID camp.

Ben Stein is a household name. Most people look at him as a very intelligent, reasonable person, and many will probably leave with the opinion of "If Ben Stein supports ID and thinks evolution is all wrong, and he's a smart guy, then he must be right, so I guess ID is correct." ID has the financial backing (from groups like the Discovery Institute) to put out big-budget movies, hire the notable names, and get people talking about the controversy. Stein was recently on "The O'Reilly Factor" where he and Billo were casually laughing and joking about those silly "Darwinists" and discussing how damaging the ideas of evolution are to society. It made me ill to watch.

The time has come to fight back, utilizing the same methods and funding that ID has. Some form of significant funding needs to help produce an entertaining, engaging, and educational film that illustrates the true nature of evolutionary theory. Science is getting it's collective ass kicked by IDers in the public realm because science feels that the facts simply speak for themselves. When presenting the case for evolution, most scientists feel they are getting their point across in a dynamic fashion. (Sorry guys, but we're not always the most effective at engaging the target audience.) Most refuse, or struggle mightily, to get funding and consult some media specialists to make a "trendy"film that entertains and teaches that evolution is a fact!!

In the 80s, science declared the creationism movement dead, after creation science was ruled to not be acceptable for the classroom by the supreme court. It came back as ID. Several years ago, ID was proclaimed to be irrelevant and essentially dead by many scientists. Two months later, it was on the cover of Time magazine. After the recent Kitzmiller v. Dover court case, science had a tremendous legal victory over ID, and many considered this case closed. Now, Expelled and Ben Stein prepare to bring ID to the mainstream audience on the big screen. What will evolution science do to respond? How will we put the final nail in the ID coffin?

Thanks to Dr. Randy Olson, make of Flock of Dodos, and Derek and Swoopy of Skepticality for some of the information used above.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Another October 31st has come and gone. So passes Halloween, Samhain, Celtic New Year, or whatever you celebrate. I'm very pleased with how my pumpkin turned out (it was a drowning victim, poor thing) and, as usual, the only ghosts and supernatural events were either kids on the street or on TV.

CSI:New York themed the show around the house from the Amityville Horror story, and a zombie in the big city. I was pleased to discover that both mysteries were solved on the show to be natural in cause, no spirits needed. At least the show got something right for once.

Looking forward to next year's pumpkin and costume planning already. Now if only I could get to Bob Novella's Haunted House/Maze in Connecticut.....

Haunt you next year!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is It Real? Ghosts

One of my new favorite shows on TV is National Geographic Channel's Is It Real? I have written on it before. The show picks a topic (UFOs, Bigfoot, Lake Monsters) and they analyze the evidence for and against the phenomena, and often ends with the show asking you to do the same and draw your conclusions. Sometimes they flat out state that the topic is bullshit.

The other day, the topic was ghosts. The program destroyed all the photographic evidence for ghosts. "Ghost orbs" are particles of dust, ghost mist is water vapor in your breath lit up in the flash, double exposures explain many mysterious images, and pareidolia the rest.

The most humorous moment occurred when the expert brought in to explore a haunted house discussed his warm-up methods in preparing to commune with the dead. The gentleman discussed his meditation to prepare to feel the vibrations of the ghosts, mentally preparing himself, and "I've got my coffee." Coffee? This is the great secret to sensing and communing with ghosts, coffee? After exploring the outer grounds of the house, he made sure to have a second cup of coffee before entering.

This is a new technique! Bad photos, electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), electronic voice phenomena (EVP), all this I'm unfortunately familiar with. But now I find out that I should see ghosts on a regular basis, since I do imbibe in the coffee often enough.

Coffee, the drug of choice for loons and believers.
The picture is apparently some spirit vapor (or ectoplasm) rising from the graves in Salem, Massachusetts. I've got a great photo just like this from Leavenworth, WA on a night that was below freezing. Funny, but I never even thought it was ectoplasm. Hmmm.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ann Coulter Donny Deutsch Jews Perfected The Big Idea

Ann Coulter: Anti-Semite

I would write more, but I feel her words speak for herself. Of particular note, she says that Jews need to be "perfected" into Christians, and when asked if that is what she really means, she confirms it. Listening to this is shocking. Dogmatic, to say the least.

The View on evolution and a flat Earth

You're kidding me, right? You are one of the new hosts on a show watched by millions, many of whom blindly follow things you people say, and not only do you feel that evolution is wrong, but you're not sure if the Earth is flat or not?
Please, someone give this girl some brains! I understand that "The View" wanted to add another conservative Christian voice, but this will not help their cause. (Which is fine by me.) The Earth is round! Look at a picture from the space missions! And if your response to that is that we never went to the moon, my head might explode.

Tribute to Kent Hovind - What a fucktard

Enjoy jail, "Dr. Dino." For your own case you better be right about heaven, cause your life term in jail is all you get otherwise.

For info on this morons ideas, read


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hangar 18 vs. Is It Real: UFOs

Ahh, remember those days back when the History Channel showed history and it's programming had some basis in fact. Not so much anymore. I recently viewed a program entitled Hangar 18: The UFO Warehouse, based on personal accounts and observations from those stationed at or near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. This program ended with me feeling like I lied in a previous post. Bible Code II is no longer the most credulous show I have seen. It at least had a token skeptic or two. Not so for Hangar 18. Every person on the show bought into the UFO mythology completely. The evidence presented was entirely "eye-witness" accounts of things people saw, and these usually seem to be of the " I saw in a dark hangar a disk-shaped craft while passing by" sort. This program seems put together by true-believers in an attempt to legitimize themselves and to bring UFO-logy back to the forefront.

On a similar, but more rational, note: the National Geographic Channel aired Is It Real: UFOs a couple nights later. This program addressed the 4 types of close encounters.
1st - UFO Sightings
2nd - Generally crop circles
3rd - Alien meetings
4th - Alien Abduction/Probing
For each encounter, NatGeo (as they are selling themselves now) interviewed believers and summarized their evidence, then talked with skeptics/scientists who explained what phenomena was actually observed. Of particular interest was their diagnosis explaining alien abduction/probing in relation to sleep paralysis. This program I would highly recommend watching. The program explains things well, includes both sides of belief, and summarizes the evidence in the end while encouraging the viewed to draw their own conclusions. My opinion, 5 star viewing here.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

W's Nightmare: Stem Cells or Fight Terror

I new study has revealed that stem cells can be used to help in fighting against terrorists. The stem cells can be used to detect chemical threats (and hopefully the person who placed the chemical weapon). Now our dear esteemed president (excuse me while I gag) must deal with what must be his personal nightmare. Do I allow stem cell research, which destroys the "soul" of the baby that will never be anyway, and progress in fighting terror, or do I let the terrorists win by sticking to my stubborn, irrational Christian beliefs?

See more here:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Evolution shown false, peanut butter overthrows Darwin's/evolutionists work.

There are so many things wrong with this video. I just hope it is some kind of a joke, because if it's not, those of us with a clue as to how evolution works are in for a long, prolonged, and painful fight to promote understanding of evolution.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bible Code II, brought to you by the (Pseudo-)History Channel

The History Channel. The name seems to imply that this network should deal in facts and historical analysis. After watching a program called Bible Code II: The Apocalypse and Beyond, I now understand this to be only partially true. It was the most credulous program I have seen in this topic.

I have read some on the Bible code in previous issues of skeptical magazines, so I was not expecting much from this program. However, the information about the show stated that it would have members form both sides of the issue, so I thought I might partake to hear the debate. I thought there would be some sort of back and forth debate, maybe give a fair shake to both sides. Those who feel that the Bible Code is false, and that similar methods can find messages in almost any piece of writing, were given about 4 minutes out of the hour long program. And even then, their points were immediately rebuffed by believers during separate interviews, and that was it.

Of particular interest to me were the comments made by Barry Ruffman, a true believer in the code who feels that it can be used to predict future events. His comments in regards to the origin of the code were laughable. Obviously, if there was a code, the bible would have to be written so that the code could be deciphered, so it couldn't just be stories, and the creator of the code and its message would have to have knowledge of the future events (such as 9/11, World War II, and the "missing" WMDs from Iraq). Ruffman suggests that this knowledge comes from one of three possible sources:

1. God, who has no bounds of time.

2. Some humans in the future who have found a way to transport messages back to the time the bible was written.

3. Aliens, who have "warped" the knowledge to the past. (Warped is Ruffman's term. I guess he thinks it lends scientific credibility.)

He also states that the code reveals the years of World War II. Losing credibility is the fact that he uses one sequence/matrix to find the beginning year, and has to use a different matrix to get the end. Don't you think that if the Bible code was really meant to reveal this information for future generations, it wouldn't take having to crack the code in two ways to get the two date?!

History Channel, please do something to maintain some credibility and stop airing fictional crap such as the Bible Code. Your name attached to this sort of thing lends authenticity to the BS, and gives the proponents of the bible code more ammunition to continue to pedal their nonsense.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monkeys vs. Birds

Perry DeAngelis would be rolling over in his grave at this. Of course, on Wednesday's The Tonight Show, Jay showed a clip of what happens later. The clip shows the monkey snacking on the bird. Faked, yes, but Perry would proclaim another victory for monkeys over birds.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thank You Bill Maher

Thank you, Bill, for your comments regarding 9/11 conspiracy nuts on your September 14th show. It seems Bill is often inundated with e-mails from these people who persist that 9/11 is a giant government set-up. They claim that the government enlisted people to crash the jets, used explosives to bring down the Twin Towers, and that the incident at the Pentagon was just a missile. So on the show just after the 6th anniversary of 9/11, Bill told the conspiracy people that the are full of crap, and should get some medication to deal with their psychosis.

Thanks, Bill. Thanks for making more of America aware of these fringe nutjobs, and for tearing into them at the same time.

Pseudoscience Rampant at the Puyallup Fair

As the three week insanity that is the Puyallup Fair winds down to a close, I am again amazed at the the level of crap that it pedaled at such an event.

Yes, the fair is a great place to shop for "As Seen on TV" gadgets, saunas, specialized rain gutters, as well as useful items (mmmm....garlic!!!), but apparently they let anyone willing to pay the fee sell whatever nonsense they choose. Walking through the main plaza, I was repeatedly assaulted by chiropractors (some legit, some still convinced that AIDS isn't caused by HIV, but a bad back alignment), saw iridologists (for those unaware, these people believe that can find illness and deep mysteries of the body and "soul" by examining the coloration of the iris), quick-fix aromatherapy and homeopathy, and the dreaded Republicans. All right, so republicans aren't as involved in quackery as the rest (well, most anyway), but their straw poll with Sen. Brownback easily in the lead was scary.

There was even a sales pitch for hypnotherapy. My friends, wife, and I took in a well-done hypnosis show, with the guests on the stage acting crazy as shit. It was a very nice stage show, with good laughs and good jokes. The problem came at the end, when the blow-off featured the hypnotist pedaling his "weight-loss" and "better sleep" and "Financial success" through hypnosis DVDs and CDs. What a disappointing end to a nice act. Yes, there are marks in the audience that will fall for this, and I guess I shouldn't blame the guy for trying to make a buck, but it is a bit shameful.

So the fair ends on Sunday. If you live in the area, check it out and support the local farmers and producers. It is generally a good time (there are even some half-way decent acts at night, like Weird Al and Howie Mandel), just beware of the quacks looking to take your money. Give it the good people of Garlic Gourmay. (free plug, it's really good!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Billy Meier - Idiot

So I just finished listening to the Skeptic's Guide for this week, and am appalled by the news from the Billy Meier camp towards the rogues of the SGU, particularly Dr. Steven Novella.

Apparently, after thoroughly disproving many of Meier's claims in terms of UFOs (esp. the photos involving the UFO flying around using parabollic engines; AKA on a string and a pole.) the SGU received notice to openly debate a representative of Meier's camp on their radio show (acutally a podcast, but we'll move on), and failure to respond will be viewed as a retraction and apology. Libelous claims are alleged, so could follow if they fail to comply. (Note: not being a legal person, I can't tell you one libel from slander off hand, so feel free to tell me.)

So on that note, an open statement to Billy Meier and his followers.
All your claims are ridiculous, your "proof" has repeatedly been shown false, and you're all nuts.

Bring it on.

An Introduction

Hello Reader,

Welcome to the "Monkey of Moderate Intelligence" blog. This site will be feature news and commentary relating to science, pseudoscience, and skepticism. Common topics will include charlatans in medicine and quackery, evolution v. creationism/intelligent design, and religious dogma. While I have a fairly extensive science background, I do not consider myself an expert, so this blog will try to keep things in simpler terms for the reader, and somtimes just due to my limited background.

I hope you enjoy the reading. Look for posts on a semi-regular basis, but not daily! With that, I bid you farewell with a quote from a great science-fiction show, Futurama.

Farnsworth: "But, what about your super-intelligence?"
Gunther: "When I had that there was too much pressure to use it. All I want out of life is to be a monkey of moderate intelligence who wears a suit. That's why I've decided to transfer to business school!"
Farnsworth: "Noooooooooo!"

Perry Deangelis: 1963-2007 A Skeptical Rogue of some note.