Tag Archives: Skeptic Magazine

Paranormal Idiots Influence Children’s TV

This week, the Cartoon Network is broadcasting a children’s ghost-hunting show called The Othersiders. Following in the footsteps of those incredibly stupid paranormal shows on other channels, The Othersiders has children walking through creepy buildings at night with loads of high-tech equipment, with them pretending to interpret meaningless data or quibbling over non sequiturs. The $3000 microphone picked an unexplained farting sound; must be a ghost. The electromagnetic field detector indicated electrical activity near the toaster; must be the devil himself.

What’s doubly ridiculous about this show is that it has actually offended some of the professional, ghost hunters, but not for the reason it bothers reasonable people. They don’t like the idea of children handling the dangerous paranormal. Here’s a quote:

All it will take is one of these kids getting attacked and traumatized for life and all these underage shows will be removed overnight from the network. Until that happens, let’s protect them by not making the focus of Cartoon Networks new season an underage ghost hunting show. TV will not be there when stories surface of kids getting hurt while ghosthunting after watching this show. These shows are role models for this next generation of ghosthunters. . . . if we let them watch alone, we are responsible for what happens, especially if it is later determined to be dangerous.

The only danger I see in this farce is that children are being taught to act like fightened gullible sheep. Of course, there is the risk of someone tripping in the dark and falling down some stairs. But hopefully, what most of these kids will walk away with is a good laugh.

1 Comment

Filed under Skepticism

PETA Is A Stupid Organization

I didn’t say animal rights are stupid. I said PETA is a stupid organization. Animal rights are great. It’s the anti-intellectual buffoons who run PETA who bother me. They make the rest of us liberals look bad. The main reason is that PETA members bend reality to fit their views instead of the other way round. PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk, in order to spread the word about vegetarianism, has repeatedly made several baseless pseudo-scientific claims.

1) Newkirk claims meat and dairy cause most human diseases, from cancer to diabetes to mental illness. Aside from the complete lack of evidence for this belief, it’s funny that hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection hasn’t removed this harmful behavior from the human lineage. PETA’s “science” seems to indicate that the most sickly and poorly adapted animals survive to reproduce.

2) Newkirk has said many times that meat enhances human aggression. To back up this claim she points to wild carnivores like lions and tigers. The problem is she doesn’t know nature very well. Newkirk confuses aggression with killing. An animal that kills another animal to eat isn’t necessarily aggressive. Cheetahs, for example, like others cats, spend most of the day conserving energy, not picking fights with strangers down by the watering hole. Herbivores, like hippos or moose, are generally more aggressive than carnivores because they have more reasons to be aggressive, like holding grazing territory and warding off predators.

2) Newkirk advocates dogs and cats being converted to a vegetarian diet. I guess it’s not enough that Fluffy-The-Cat’s owner must subsist on berries and twigs, Fluffy must be converted to the same diet. Perhaps Fluffy can be convinced to join the Green Party, for if pet and owner eat the same, they must also vote the same. But I’ve read nothing but bad things about a vegetarian pet diet. For one, vegetarian cats and dogs can develop severe intestinal problems. Part of being a carnivore is having a shorter intestine than a herbivore. Meat is, in fact, easier to digest than plant matter. This is an engineering problem, one that cannot be overcome with wishful thinking.

Currently, PETA promotes the idea of In vitro meat, meat cultured in a lab from animal cells. PETA is even offering a $1 million prize to scientists to make this happen. I suppose all the health problems attributed to meat eating by PETA are going to be removed from this laboratory grade stuff. Yes? No? Maybe?

92 Comments

Filed under Skepticism

What’s Wrong With Being A Mad Scientist?

Fictional mad scientists are most often portrayed as highly driven and glory hungry; they are the unwitting villains, the victims of their own inquisitive natures. Author, Reto Schneider, has written The Mad Science Book, which chronicles the history and present of questionable experiments carried out by real-life “mad” scientists. A list of nine of these experiments is on The New Scientist website. My favorite is Dogbot, the robot dog that was a social reject. Real dogs wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe his nose glowed red or he aspired to be a dentist. Whatever the reason, Dogbot was not allowed to participate in dog games.

What I like about mad experimentation is it’s raw unbridled curiosity. What does it matter if some experiments go wrong or if others are completely useless and outright wacky? What counts is that humans have a desire to understand the world. Thomas Edison was a mad inventor; he wasted ten years of his life on devising a new mining technique, which failed miserably. He also designed furniture and homes made out of that comfortable substance know as concrete. Not big sellers.

The lesson here is that in a complex world, curiosity saves the cat, it doesn’t kill it. But still there is an intellectual divide in society. There are those who care to know the world, and those who don’t care to have their world views tarnished by reality. I’m talking about creationists here. To them a mad scientist is someone to be feared.

Leave a comment

Filed under Science

Sarah Palin, Not A News Hound

Is it me or does Sarah Palin sound here like she could be George Bush’s equally dumb sister? I don’t know how to interpret her answer to Katie Couric’s question. Does Palin not read newspapers or news magazines, or does she not remember any of the titles of her favorite periodicals? Either way, it doesn’t look good on  camera. Her style is more appropriate for an unctuous saleswoman than a Washington politician. I can picture her now trying to sell me an insurance policy or a time-share in Miami Beach.

If I didn’t already know her belief in creationism, then I would have guessed. It follows that Curious George, the monkey, must be a Democrat, or at least a libertarian, because ultra-conservative, Christian Republicans don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the wide world outside their bubbles of ignorance.

P.S. Check out how defensive McCain gets when Palin’s qualifications are questioned.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Top 15 Christian Conservative Ice Cream Flavors

15. Post The Ten Command-Mint (Available everywhere)
14. Baby Killer Coconut Scream (May not be legal in some states)
13. Blasted Bambi & Bible Thumper Wild Berry (Not for children under 7 years of age)
12. Try The Peppermint Stick From My Cold Dead Hands (Requires a 3 hour waiting period)
11. Adam & Steve In Hell-Fire Fudge (Packed hard in a cone)
10. King Kong Evolution Is Dead Banana Mocha (Artificial flavoring)
9. The North Of The Border, The Whiter The Chocolate (Made In Mexico)
8. Chewy Jewie Bubblegum (A traditional Germany Recipe)
7. Charles Darwin’s Soulless Ice Cream Coffin Sandwich (Part of our school lunch program)

6. Burnt Atheist Brownie (All natural ingredients)
5. Jerry Falwell’s Judgment Day Peanut Butter Surprise (High in cholesterol)
4. Liquorish Whip The Liberal (Seasonal flavor)
3. Sarah Palin’s Half-Baked Alaskan Nut Bar (Aged for 6000 years)
2. The Evangelical Express-O (Our most popular flavor)
1. Marshmallow McCain Wafflecone (Changes flavor with temperature)

P.S. Check out Fox News’ reporting on Barak Obama. it parallels their analysis of John Kerry in the 2004 election. Disgusting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Top 15 Lists

Jesus On A Tiny Wing And A Worthless Prayer

Image-of-Jesus stories make the American media, especially this local news station (where there’s a poll), appear trite and superficial. And they make the American public appear credulous and superstitious. In this case, appearances aren’t deceiving. No wonder people don’t believe lions mutate into zebras overnight.  

Also, I find it particularly disturbing when people think all of nature is here for the benefit of the human race, which is what this story is bordering on.

But upon close scientific analysis of the insect photograph, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Jesus-on-a-moth image and this enigmatic creature bear a striking resemblance.    

Finally, I wonder, would CNN have aired a story on Jesus’ image being “found” in a pile of poop? Feces is part of the natural world, too, and part of “God’s Creation”. I’m going to start following dogs around with a camera and a minister; I want my 15 minutes of fame. And my local TV station has a hottie Asian reporter I’m dying to meet. Ohhhh riiiiight!

3 Comments

Filed under Skepticism

The Montauk Monster Eats Human Brains For Lunch

It looks like the mystery of the Montauk Monster is solved. It’s a decomposing raccoon with missing teeth and missing fur. But what’s fascinating about the story of the monster is that it inspired such imaginative stories and outrageous speculation.

What is it in our human minds that makes us choose the unknown over the known. Why do some of us reject reasonable explanations for fantastical ones? For example, the media and the public automatically assumed the creature washed up on the beach, that it had an aquatic origin, not a terrestrial one. Which one is more reasonable? It’s clearly a mammal. And raccoons do love the seashore and seafood.

And minds leaped to the conclusion that the Montauk Monster was a creature completely unknown to science. Why didn’t the same minds consider the possibility that the “creature” was just unknown to them, and not to science. Not all of us are experts on anatomy and the decay of animal remains. Why can’t we just admit ignorance, instead of grasping at straws?

When a reasonable explanation isn’t immediately available our minds seem to reach for the stars.

6 Comments

Filed under Skepticism