Uncommon Descent breaks my irony meter yet again

BarryA at Uncommon Descent talks about a startling finding using this tool the blog readability test.

Thanks to one of our commenters for pointing out this website that calculates the reading level of blogs. Just for fun I inserted UD and it came back “High School,” which means that the general discussion at this blog is at a high school level. I then inserted Pandas Thumb and it came back “Elementary School.”

Make of this what you will.

Interesting, when I insert pandasthumb.org I get College/Post Grad. Oh wait, I forgot, the people at UD are morons. They put in Pandasthumb.com, an unregistered domain.

Now granted, this is a really stupid metric, that doesn’t really say much of anything, but you’d think these geniuses could at least criticize the right website. The only lesson here is never take anything the evolution denialists cdesign proponentsists say at face value.

Two links for you

So nothing special for today, I’m too busy with meatworld, but you might enjoy these two links:

Teen sex has been wronged by a puritanical society – it appears teens who have sex earlier are less likely to become delinquents (however I suspect it ignores that they are also more likely to get knocked up). This makes sense to me though. Why bother with drugs, crime, and other delinquent behavior when you’ve got sex?

Second we have news that Chiropracters might also be useless for back pain. Ouch, now that hurts. The last thing left to chiropractors that seemed to have any validity (subluxation as a cause of disease certainly doesn’t) might be lost to them. Also, check out the defensive explanation from the British Chiropractor – sound familiar?

Intervention Denial

Here’s a fun one from the archives–Modern Drunkard Magazine’s advice on how to beat an intervention. It includes this gem:

Counter Attack
Now that you’ve blunted their savage assault, it’s high time to launch your own vengeful attack. The only people bold enough to conduct an intervention are those who consider themselves very close to you, so you most likely will know more than a little about their habits. And everyone, even Mother Theresa, has bad habits. Attack these flaws with a strident, yet deeply concerned tone.

Boing Boing strikes gold – a new name for evolution denialists

Mark at Boing Boing proposes an excellent new name for Intelligent Design creationists – “cdesign proponentsists”. It’s in honor of this wonderful observation from “Of Pandas and People” the creati … I mean cdesign proponentsists textbook:

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This is one of numerous examples of their dishonesty in suggesting that they’re anything but creationists in disguise.

I like Mark’s this idea, this should be their new name. It’s a bit of a compromise. They don’t want to be called creationists, and we don’t want them to get away with lying. It’s perfect!

Now as to the pronunciation. How about “see-design proponent cysts”?

Global warming crankery from co-founder of the weather channel

Just watching CNN, and saw them mindlessly parrot the latest rant from a crank. In this instance it’s the founder of the weather channel John Coleman, now a San Diego meteorologist, who peels off a doozy.

It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motivesmanipulated long term scientific data to create an allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.

Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them, then teamed up with movie, media and other liberal, environmentalist journalists to create this wild “scientific” scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmentally conscientious citizens. Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minute documentary segment.

I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.

Ahhh, that is some fine crankery. I speak as a connoisseur. We have a conspiracy theory that involves, well, everybody. I’m really impressed. Not only do we have every climate scientist lying, and their “friends in government” steering research grants their way (he doesn’t know how grants are awarded clearly), but he manages to pull in every single media organization short of Fox news and Governor Schwarzenegger! I think I even detect a little bit of the Galileo gambit mixed with Gore-derangement syndrome in that last bit.

Why are we listening to this nonsense? CNN might as well broadcast an editorial from a man convinced the FBI put a chip in his brain (or an intelligent design advocate – same arguments). I think we’ve got to break out the tinfoil hats for this guy.
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Obesity and Overweight – what do these new studies really mean?

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchMultiple news sources have been covering this recent article in JAMA (1) which provides epidemiological evidence that being overweight (but not obese) may decrease the risk of some illnesses, while not increasing one’s overall mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Given that we’ve talked about overweight and obesity recently on the blog, I think it’s worthwhile to go over these findings in context, and discuss what this paper, and related ones in the literature, actually mean in terms of our health.

Sorry, the news is not all good, you don’t want to start putting on the pounds, and the analysis so far in the MSM has been pretty shoddy.
Continue reading “Obesity and Overweight – what do these new studies really mean?”

Skeptics’ Circle Number 73 – Holford watch

Holford Watch has a form letter for us to fill out for this week’s version of the circle.

My favorite from this week is Action Skeptic’s essay, which I think describes a character flaw common among cranks. That is, it’s not so important for them to operate with scientifically valid rules of evidence or inquiry, but as long always perceive themselves to be right.

It was right then that I realized a major difference between skeptics and woos, between those dedicated to using and promoting the scientific method and those whose ignorance, nihilism, and epistemological hedonism lead them to believe all kinds of total nonsense. We are interested in being justified in our beliefs and claims. They, on the other hand, just want to be right. They need to be right. They hunger and thirst to be right. They have an ideological mental framework that is immune to evidence and so perserves their rightness ’til the bitter end.

That’s why they’re so fucking insufferable when they are right.

But the problem is that it isn’t about being right. This is the same mentality that so many psychics and prognosticators showcase on a daily basis: “If I say Y at time t0, then later on at time t5 Y is shown to be true, I was right.”

No, you were not right. You made a lucky guess. If I hand-pick my lottery numbers and then happen to win, it does not mean I was right. It means I was extraordinarily lucky.

But that’s beside the point. When somebody makes a claim like that, they don’t want to hear that they weren’t right and they won’t listen to you when you say it. What you must ask them is “Who cares?”

Because seriously, who does? If your prediction or claim or opinion is not backed up by any evidence, it doesn’t matter that you were “vindicated” by new studies at a later date. What matters is that you were not justified in holding your original opinion. What matters is that, though I may have doubted your claim at time t0, I was justified in my doubt. Now I’m more than happy to admit that I was wrong, but you think that somehow that means you “won.”

Really a dead-on essay describing a very common behavior that I think we’ve all seen with the crank mentality.

Fraud, Debt Levels & Educational Attainment

I’m continuing to bore you with the Federal Trade Commission’s report on Consumer Fraud in the United States.

Would it be surprising to hear that individuals with higher levels of debt are more likely to be victims of fraud?

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Yes, people in debt can be desperate, and thus be more likely to fall for scams, but there is another reason–people in debt are highly targeted by listbrokers (companies that sell lists of consumers). DirectMag’s Listfinder has over 400 lists of debtors for sale. Scammers can buy these lists and target these populations for their frauds.

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The good news is that, generally, educational attainment reduces the risk of falling victim to a consumer scam, but not by much.

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Related post: Could Scientific Thinking Help Curb Consumer Fraud?

Could Scientific Thinking Help Curb Consumer Fraud?

The Federal Trade Commission just released their second report on Consumer Fraud in the United States. Since it is full of interesting information, I’m going to do several posts on the Commission’s findings.

First a quick notes about methods: this report presents findings from 3,888 telephonic interviews of Spanish and English speaking adults. The Commission oversampled to ensure that several minority groups were strongly represented, because it is believed that inadequate attention is being paid in particular to scams against Latinos with limited English skills.

Despite the limitations of telephonic surveys, I think that these studies are essential, because several biases operate to make individuals not take consumer protection issues seriously. There is optimism bias, but there is also a general dismissiveness of these problems. I frequently hear individuals deny that there is a problem with a certain practice, because it doesn’t affect them. When one considers consumer protection seriously, one has to consider how framing, limited attention, differences in education, limited language skills, age, and gullibility may make all of us likely to fall victim to a scam at one time or another.

So, I doubt many people who read Scienceblogs buy scam weight loss products. You know something about science, so claims that you can lose weight by eating everything in sight are probably suspect, but you also are probably more skeptical of claims of product efficacy. Now, would you be surprised to learn that 4.8 million Americans reported falling victim to 8.3 million incidents of weight-loss product frauds?

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Now, what’s shocking is that because people generally don’t like to admit that they have been swindled, and because the Commission’s definition of weight loss fraud is so narrow (“only those who indicated either that they lost only a little of the weight they had expected to lose or that they did not lose any weight were counted as victims of weight-loss fraud”), the numbers of victims and incidents are probably much higher.

There are many different approaches to dealing with consumer fraud. One can bring lawsuits, the government can prosecute scammers, industries can initiate self-regulatory programs, and there’s always consumer education. These approaches all have strengths and weaknesses. But I wonder whether general science education could help–whether teaching individuals to be more skeptical of claims and evidence–could curb fraud. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the data to tell. But in the next few posts, I am going to talk about some of the trends we can see in fraud, and what these mean for consumers.