Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mully410 Critical Blog Stat Update 2

It's been a month since I installed Google analytics on my blog. I am still shocked and thankful for the traffic. It's taken some time to "market" my blog and looks like it's paying off.

Last Saturday, February 21st I posted some stats-to-date here: Mully410 Critical Blog: Mully410 Critical Blog Stat Update

Here is a snippet from that post:

* 335 Absolute Unique visitors from 35 Countries * 114 Returning Visitors * 448 Total Visits * 1138 Total Page views * 29.5% of visitors view more than 1 page (11 visitors viewed 20+ pages) * 26% of these visits come from Digg.com and about 15% come from Facebook * My most popular post is this one on Comet Lulin with 136 page views and 7 Diggs (3 of my top 5 posts are about the comet) * The second most popular post is the Who is Closed Minded article * I have 5 RSS feed subscribers...way cool

As of today, here are some key stats:

  • 816 Absolute Unique Visitors from 51 countries.
  • 179 Returning Visitors
  • 993 Total Visits
  • 2361 Page Views

I need to figure out how to get visitors to view more posts. Only about 30% visit more than one post.

Special thanks to the 16 visits from people using a Dial-Up internet connection (that's dedication). Special thanks to the person from Vietnam who spent 2 minutes on my blog and to the Polish visitors that average over 2 minutes on my blog.

The Amaz!ng Meeting 7

I am so psych'd. I will be attending this great event. It will be sooo cool. Here is a snippet:

From July 9-12, 2009, the James Randi Educational Foundation will host TAM 7. Our goal is to make each TAM better than the last, and this one is no exception: we have a fantastic lineup of speakers, events, workshops, and shows.

At TAM 7 you'll hear great talks, participate in workshops to help you sharpen your skeptical skills, and hear how other people are promoting a rational world.

Our keynote speaker this year is Bill Prady, Executive Producer of the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory. Bill is a bona fide science geek who makes sure that every episode of Big Bang is chock full of science fiction and comic book references, as well as jokes based on cutting edge science -- going so far as to employ a PhD physicist as his science advisor for the show. At Comic Con last year Bill had the audience laughing so hard they were afraid they'd miss the next thing he said. We're very excited to have him take time from his incredibly busy schedule to speak at TAM 7.

We've loaded our speaker list with both old friends -- Mythbuster Adam Savage makes his fifth TAM appearance -- as well as new up-and-comers, like science writer Jennifer Ouellette, pediatric physician Dr. Joe Albietz, and therapeutic touch debunker Emily Rosa, all young skeptics and promoters of rational thought.

We'll also have our usual dynamite rosters of presenters such as JREF President and Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, IIG Investigator Joe Nickell, magician and mentalist Jamy Ian Swiss, and of course James Randi himself.

Go here to learn more and sign up: The Amaz!ng Meeting 7

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If you have young kids, READ THIS!

Here is another article about vaccines and the anti-vaccine movement. I wrote a little bit about this topic here and about the primary mercury arguments here and here. My favorite skeptic and astronomer, Phil Plait, has posted a link to what he describes as:

...the be-all and end-all of posts about the antivaxxers, showing their lack of evidence, their ad hominem attacks, their lies, their fraud, and everything else that makes them one of the greatest health threats in the United States, if not the world.

Here is a snippet:

From the vacuous pseudoscientific nonsense of antivax spokeswoman Jenny McCarthy, to the out-and-out evillness of Andrew Wakefield, the father of the modern movement whose conflicts of interest when it comes to vaccines are simply breathtaking, Dr. Gorskis post is nothing short of what should be The Link, the one you send to all parents who question whether they should vaccinate their children or not. Everything you need is there, with the history, quotations, false claims, and everything else about the antivax movement, including links to more information.

Go to this link and follow it to Dr. Gorskis post: How to crush antivax arguments | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ghosts in the Woods


Ghosts in the woods
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This is my first picture with over 300 views. Nice. I created a special set just for it on my Flickr photostream. People really like so called "paranormal" stuff. I guess I should know that already since the Hokey Channel and SciFi Network have all those UFO and ghost shows. Now if only I could swallow my ethics and lie about my pics. Then I could sell some of them to those goofballs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jesus' Brain - What is this?


slide.033
Originally uploaded by v2or

I wonder what this is. I was surfing Flickr's recent uploads and this picture came up. After some extra clicking, it appears that this photo is part of a larger collection of similar works. It appears to be some sort of lesson plan. Go look at v20r's photostream for more strangeness.

Whatever it is, I think it's funny. I can't decide if Jesus' brain is empty because there is nothing written in the space or if Jesus' brain is a straight line. Hmmm. Perhaps a zombie got Jesus' brain. "Brrrrraaaaainnnsss"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Definitive Comet Lulin Update

I've written about Comet Lulin here, here and here. Phil has the best post on how to find Comet Lulin.

Here is a snippet:

A fairly bright comet is passing through the neighborhood right now: C/2007 N3 (Lulin), or just Lulin to its friends. I have not yet seen it (busy busy) but I plan to soon: over the next few days its passing very close to the position of Saturn in the sky, making it a very easy target to spot.

Its position near Saturn in Leo means its up practically all night right now; it rises around sunset, so look East for it (check the map links above for details). With binoculars it should be pretty easy to find; its brightness is hovering just above naked-eye visibility, so it'll be an obvious fuzzy ball near Saturn. Just sweep around and I bet you'll find it.

Here is the link to the full article: Naked eye comet graces the skies

Emily at The Planetary Society has another great article on Comet Lulin here. Here is a snippet of her post:

Lulin has a special significance for us at The Planetary Society, because it was discovered by one of our recent Gene Shoemaker NEO Grant recipients: Quanzhi Ye, the now-19-year-old principal investigator of the Lulin Sky Survey.

Too bad it looks to be cloudy for the next few days here in Minnesota. Perhaps this weekend will be better...

Science is Everything and Everywhere

Here is a "philnominal" video by my favorite Astronomer, Phil Plait. In this video, Phil explains why science is important. Phil explains how science is part of everything in our daily lives. No science = No Electricity, No Cameras, No Internet and pretty no civilization as we know it today.



Here is a link to Phil's original blog post of this video. His video is actually part of the Why is Science Important project. I highly recommend that you visit their site and watch some of the videos from scientists.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Poll Feature on My Blog

I just finished the book Quirkology: How we discover the big truths in small things by Dr. Richard Wiseman. It's a very interesting read. It contains two things I really love: science and statistics. Richard has a very interesting blog where he posts puzzles and runs experiments. Both his book and his blog have influenced me to start thinking about what more I can do to learn new things.

I've decided to add a poll to my blog (look to the right side bar). This is a small experiment to start. Hopefully it will grow but I have no illusions that I'll be competing with Wiseman anytime soon. I'm excited to learn how many people will participate and equally excited to view the results. There are a few ideas for polls that have already come to my mind. Please add your suggestions to the comments.

Mully410 Critical Blog Stat Update

Earlier, I mentioned that I installed Google Analytics back on January 30, 2009. I almost have a month of data collected. In that time, I've been pleasantly surprised at the popularity of my blog. Here are some key stats as of this minute:

  • 335 Absolute Unique visitors from 35 Countries
  • 114 Returning Visitors
  • 448 Total Visits
  • 1138 Total Page views
  • 29.5% of visitors view more than 1 page (11 visitors viewed 20+ pages)
  • 26% of these visits come from Digg.com and about 15% come from Facebook
  • My most popular post is this one on Comet Lulin with 136 page views and 7 Diggs (3 of my top 5 posts are about the comet)
  • The second most popular post is the Who is Closed Minded article
  • I have 5 RSS feed subscribers...way cool
I'm pretty satisfied with these results. Thank you for visiting my blog! Now, get out and digg it and sign up to follow my blog on NetworkedBlogs.com

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Favorite Bird


chickadee_descending
Originally uploaded by patspacific1

This is the first time I've blogged another person's photos from Flickr. I just had to mention patspacific1 who does a most awesome job capturing birds in flight. Wow.

Chickadee's are my favorite birds. I get to watch them for hours while deer hunting every November. They are amazing and have a beautiful song.

If you like bird pictures, this guy does a super job of capturing their images.

I have some primitive bird photos here.

PS: I know I've bored you with a couple of photo posts in a row. I've been busy and will think of something to write about soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another Visit to Adams, MN


Post 146 Sign
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I spent some time in Adams Minnesota this week. We stopped at the American Legion for beers. They opened up their little memorial museum for us so we checked it out.

I took some interesting pictures of war memorabilia and posted them in my Adams set on Flickr.

7 Dumb Things We Do And 8 Tricks To Keep Errors at Bay

Here is an interesting article from the Reader's Digest website. Some of these are typical logical fallacies and some are explained by psychological studies that I've read about. This author does a good job of explaining these phenomena.

I know I'm guilty of #6 frequently, especially when proof reading my posts and I found the #2 trick pretty funny. If only some of my previous managers would see this....lol.

Here is a snippet:

We all know the expression "To err is human." And this is true enough. When something goes wrong, the cause is overwhelmingly attributable to human error: airplane crashes (70 percent), car wrecks (90 percent), workplace accidents (90 percent). Once a human is blamed, the inquiry usually stops there. But it shouldn't not if we want to eliminate the mistake.

We're all affected by certain biases in the way we see, remember, and perceive the world, and these biases make us prone to commit certain types of errors.

Here is the link to the full article: 7 Dumb Things We Do And 8 Tricks To Keep Errors at Bay | Work & Career | Reader's Digest

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Congratulations Phil Plait and Bad Astronomy

Congratulations to Phil Plait! Time magazine just announced that his blog "Bad Astronomy" is one of their top 25 blogs of 2009. Here is a snippet:
Time.com has announced its picks for Best Blogs of 2009, and I am very honored that Bad Astronomy — hey, that’s here! — is one of them.

They seemed to like the idea of a skeptical blog, which is probably what I like most about what they wrote. It’s very gratifying indeed to know that people out there appreciate a reality-based opinion.
My new favorite quote:

...I have found over the years that the hardest thing to accept as a skeptic is that the Universe doesn’t care what you think is true, it only cares about what is true.
I read Phil's blog every day. It's very informative, entertaining and well written. Keep up the good work, Phil.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Randi Speaks, Episode 6

Here is another video by James "The Amazing" Randi. "In this episode, James Randi discusses parapsychologists, ghost hunters, PhD's with whacky ideas, and demonstrates how a competent magician can make the impossible appear before your very eyes."


Here is the link to the original post: Randi Speaks, Episode 6

Monday, February 16, 2009

Republicans are not anti-science?

My favorite astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson, talks about the Bush administration. It turns out Republicans are not as anti-science as the left would have you believe. Science budgets under Bush's administration increased. This makes me feel a little bit better about voting Republican last year.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Atheist Is Not Arrogant (well...some of them are...)

Here is a post that I found interesting. This author does a good job of describing my thoughts on the definition of Atheism. I do my best to make no claim there is no god/God/gods. I only think it's very unlikely and until I learn of good evidence, I will continue to have non-belief. Here is a snippet:

As a statement of non-belief, atheism is not inherently arrogant.

Often when a disbelief in deities is attested, the faithful believer will assert that it is arrogant for anyone to claim an absence of god. Where atheism becomes misconstrued lies in what believers feel it asserts.

Read the full article here: Uniform Velocity: The Atheist Is Not Arrogant

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Update on Comet Lulin.

This article explains how best to find and view Comet Lulin. Here is a snippet:

On the night of Feb. 7, for instance, Lulin will rise above the east-southeast horizon around midnight and will appear at its highest in the sky toward the south at the break of dawn. But on the night of the 24th, when it will be passing nearest to Earth, Lulin will be visible all night, rising in the east at dusk, peaking high in the south shortly after midnight and setting in the west around sunrise.

Currently located in the constellation Libra, Comet Lulin will appear to move on a northwest trajectory, crossing over into Virgo on Feb. 11 and passing 3-degrees north of the 1st-magnitude star Spica in Virgo on Feb. 16 (for comparison, your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10-degrees in width).

On the night of Feb. 23, now virtually at its peak brightness, the comet will be sitting just 2-degrees south-southwest of the planet Saturn, which you can use as a benchmark to locate the comet. Moreover, around this time, Comet Lulin will be racing at more than 5-degrees per day -- that's roughly the equivalent of the distance between the stars Dubhe and Merak, the "Pointer Stars" of the Big Dipper; so even a few minutes of watching with a telescope should reveal the comet's slow shift relative to background field stars.

On Feb. 27, the fading comet will slip just 1-degree south of the 1st-magnitude star, Regulus in Leo. And come the night of March 5, Lulin -- by then probably between magnitudes 6 and 7 and no longer visible without binoculars or a telescope -- will pass to within 2-degrees of the famous Beehive Star Cluster in Cancer.

Read the full article here: Newfound Comet Lulin to grace night skies - Space.com- msnbc.com

Valentine's Day - Worst Holiday Ever.

feh...nuf said

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Darwin!

I read this and it's awesome...learned a lot. Here is a snippet from an awesome post by the awesome Steven Novella on the awesome skepticblog: ! (He's the host of SGU...click on the pic of Tom Cruise on the right side of my blog)

Skepticblog » Ten Major Flaws of Evolution - A Refutation

Ten Major Flaws of Evolution - A Refutation by Steven Novella, Feb 09 2009

February 12th is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. This year is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of the Species - arguably one of the most important scientific publications ever. In honor of Darwins idea and the subsequent scientific triumph of evolutionary theory, I am posting my refutation of a popular creationist internet meme.

Read and study the full article here: Skepticblog » Ten Major Flaws of Evolution - A Refutation

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Penn Says: What's the Harm?

Here is a short video from my favorite skeptic, Penn Jillette. You should know him because he's half of the great illusionist comedy team, Penn & Teller, and has the great Showtime show, Bullshit. In this short video, Penn talks about the What's the Harm website. (warning...naughty words)

From Crackle: What’s the Harm?

Go check out their YouTube channel here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10,000 Views !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

flickr stats 10000 posted by Mully410

Today, my photostream on Flickr received it's 10,000th view. WooHoo! I'm not sure which photo was exactly the 10,000th, unfortunately. I haven't been out much over the winter but did post a bunch of new pics last weekend. Thanks for viewing and keep on viewing.

Here is an addendum to my post: Beware of "Single Payer" Healthcare Systems.

Below is a snippet from the U. of C. Emergency Room:

The emergency room of the University of Chicago Medical Center may no longer be for every illness or injury. Have a severe injury from a car accident? Head to the ER. Have pneumonia that can be treated with antibiotics? You may be led elsewhere. That's because the hospital is changing the way it admits emergency room patients as part of its effort to deal with the worsening economy, a move underscored by Monday's announcement of 450 layoffs, or 5 percent of its workforce.

U. of C. emergency room to get more selective -- chicagotribune.com

Now that you've read the above article, imagine what it will be like with a couple million more visits per year.

See my previous post here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Get ready to be stimulated...for the rest of your life.

Have you read the two version of this stimulus package? mmmmmm...bacon. Try the 674 pages of the House version. Then, I dare you, try reading the 778 page Senate Version. Once you are done reading, get together with all your friends, and make one version that satisfies everyone. Add a vacation, some photo ops and get it all done in a week. Good luck. This super urgent, do it or we all die, mentality is the same propaganda crap used to ram the Patriot Act down our throats.

I wonder what's different now? Up until November, a common whine I heard from BO supporters was how far in debt Bush put this country. I don't get it. If it was bad for Bush to deficit spend us into a recession, how can MORE deficit spending possibly pull us out of recession? Does drinking more vodka make you sober?

I encourage everyone to write their Senators and Representatives and ask them to slow down. Read the bills. Listen to the opposition. Carefully and critically evaluate every small part of this unprecedented humongous spending package. Keep in mind: one person's stimulation is often another person's rape.

It turns out, there is no deodorant for this kind of BO.

The cult-of-personality hereto referred to as BO is President Barrack Obama. Over the last couple years of campaigning, I've heard it all from BO supporters. Change, Change, Change and more Change. Sheesh...give me a break. BO is pretty much same as every other politician. Bipartisan...feh. No earmarks...feh. No lobbyists...feh. No pork...feh. Oh ya, and the tax cheats...double feh.

BO supporters I know were also quick to point out that the rest of world hates us because of Bush well, here is a snippet from an Op-Ed by Melanie Phillips at the Spectator:

President Obama has had, by general consent, a torrid First Fortnight. To put it another way, it has taken precisely two weeks for the illusion that brought him to power to be exposed for the nonsense that it so obviously was.

I don't think I could say it any better than this:

Tax cheats, pork-barrel politics, ancillary child abuse, incompetence, chaos, treachery and infantilism. America – what have you done?!

Read the entire article here: The Spectator

Beware of "Single Payer" Healthcare Systems

There has been much talk in America about a single payer health care system. Basically, we'd all pay into a government sanctioned, sponsored or manadated "insurance" program in order to get low-cost (cheap) health care. It turns out that cheap health care results in cheap health care.

First of all, I don't like the government running things. The top of their resume should be the Veterans Administration, which we all know works just great. My father has to schedule his VA appointments one year in advance. How's that for service to a Korean War Vet? I suggest you speak to anyone who is on the new Medicare prescription drug plan. The people I've spoken to are too please with that government program.

Secondly, when prices for products and services decline, people tend to buy or use them more. See Supply and Demand. I've seen this in action. When people I know (including me) had a high deductible health plan, they went to the doctor less. It's a lot easier to grin and bare a cold when it's going to cost $100 to get some antibiotics that don't kill viruses anyway. My deductible wasn't high enough to prevent me from seeking treatment for a more serious condition, however. I believe people who have a simple $20 co-pay plan seek care frequently for less severe ailments like a common cold when they could just wait it out. As a side note: companies and schools that require a doctor's note for every little absence are contributing to this problem. If I feel like shit, let me stay home without fear of reprisal.

Finally, does our healthcare system really have the capacity to treat two or three times the people who would be seeking healthcare for every little thing? Perhaps you live in a neighborhood where you can get an appointment with a specialists within a week? I doubt it. I've never managed to get an appointment with a specialists in under a month. I suppose it might be possible to get in sooner if I was coughing up blood and pissing out puss, but I'm not so sure.

Sandy at the Junkfood Science Blog points out a recent tragedy in Japan. As always, she has well researched content and many links to the data she uses. Here are some snippets:

A tragic casualty: Many of us have been reading in the medical journals for years Japanese doctors discussing the growing financial crisis in their countrys medical system...

Mari Yamaguchi, reporting from Tokyo, said that more than 14,000 emergency patients were rejected at least three times by Japanese hospitals before getting treatment in 2007, according to the latest government survey. In the worst case, a woman in her 70s with a breathing problem was rejected 49 times in Tokyo...

Single-payer medical insurance systems fail in part because of what they called the tragedy of the commons*.

Doctors working in countries with nationalized health insurance responded to the BMJ article, noting other consequences to the tragedy of commons. Dr. Akira Ehara with Koala Medical Research pointed out the serious shortage of doctors, providing government statistics showing that by 2002, there were only about half the number of pediatricians needed to cover pediatric departments in Japanese hospitals. Doctors were working 32 consecutive hours and could not continue without burn-out, he said.

However, health insurance system in Taiwan is impending bankrupt due to overcrowded grazing on the common land, he wrote. The solutions being proposed, he said, include ever increasing health taxes and co-payments, and tighter managed care to discourage patients from seeking medical care. [That was striking because Massachusetts, testing such a system here, ran into financial solvency problems and moved towards these solutions within the first year.]

Please read the full article here: Junkfood Science: A tragic casualty.

Perhaps some of my UK and Canadian readers will share their experiences...

* I added the link to "tragedy of commons."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Randi Speaks : Episode 5

Here is the latest episode of Randi Speaks by James Randi of JREF.

In this episode, James Randi answers selected user comments, spends some time explaining why 3X and 6x preparations are not truly homeopathic, and explores an unsolicited "professional" horoscope reading he recently received via YouTube. Randi points out some interesting discrepancies in the reading. To comment on the video, visit YouTube.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How to Find Comet Lulin:

Follow the link below to SkyandTelescope.com where you can find out how to see Comet Lulin. I haven't been out to look yet, so let me know what you see.

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin), discovered in July 2007, is the highlight comet of this season. It's predicted to reach about 5th magnitude in late February, and as of early February it's easily visible in binoculars if you have good viewing conditions. Here is the full article with downloadable PDF maps:

SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Catch Winter's Comet Lulin

Click here for more information on Comet Lulin. APOD has some more recent pics.

Jesus, he's everywhere.

Jesus, he's everywhere!
Jesus, he's everywhere posted by Mully410

I've been having fun with this site today. (click on the pic to embiggen)

My name is #90 with about 252,000 of me in the US. So, here is the proof that Craig quite a bit more popular than Jesus.

Richard Wiseman blog has an interesting quirkology take on names in this post: Are you a sinner or a saint?

Cocktail Party Physics: skeptic etiquette

Cocktail Party Physics is a skeptical/sciencey blog that I read only occasionally. I really should read it more often because the contributors are very smart and entertaining. Allyson Beatrice wrote an interesting post on skeptic etiquette. I often struggle with the same issues. Do I say something to the person who is about to spend money on some new detox scam or has hired a psychic for a reading? Do I point out the implausibility of the latest conspiracy theory to the credulous? I guess the answer varies. It depends on how well I know the person and how much I want to continue to know them. Sometimes it's better for some people to keep our conversations to weather and sports. If your faith in whatever is so tenuous that simple questions can shake that faith, then it might be difficult for you to hangout with me.

Here are some snippets from Allyson's post, skeptic etiquette:

In the face of my very scientifically brilliant co-bloggers, this post might seem ridonkulously dumb, but this problem has been weighing heavy on my mind, and I'm trying to work it out...

...Michelle is convinced a ghost is turning the lights on and off in her kitchen. Michelle sees ghosts and troubled spirits in every electrical problem and broken radio. But dude! An OLD LADY DIED in that apartment! she exclaims. DUDE! Something like SEVENTY BILLION PEOPLE died since the dawn of humanity. An OLD LADY DIED EVERYWHERE! I holler...

...I told her that the universe is wonderful enough on its own. Space, stars, planets, black holes, galaxies, suns. The fact that out of all the elemental soup, people like us have evolved to walk and talk and create art, music, white wine, patent leather stacked mary jane shoes, Cocoa Puffs cereal, truck nutz, chocolate chip cookies, surf boards, and the Neiman Marcus cosmetics department is AMAZING. All by itself. Saying, god did it is heartbreaking. It pisses on the sheer wonderousness of it all, you know? I dont need more. The universe doesnt need to be imbued with the mystical to make it more special. Its like salting a pot of soup in someone elses kitchen without permission. Its awfully presumptuous, and, well, more than a little rude.

Here is a link to the full article: Cocktail Party Physics: skeptic etiquette Thanks to the Bad Astronomer for this great post on his blog.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Indiana man sees Virgin Mary in block of ice...pareidolia

Indiana man sees Virgin Mary in block of ice

If I was to pick a god/God/gods to worship, one that communicates via blocks of ice that look like his mother would be towards the bottom of the list. I would want a god that kicks ass, kinda like Steven Seagal, perhaps.

This is another case of pareidolia making headlines...Sheesh. Go here to learn more about this phenomenon.

How to Argue...with Me.

I truly enjoy arguing. Some of the best conversations I've had are with people who are skilled at presenting their case while avoiding logical fallacy. Even though we often disagree on the conclusions, I still have great fun. It's like mental gymnastics, if you will. Below, are some snippets from a favorite critical thinker of mine, Steven Novella, MD. Dr. Novella is the President of the New England Skeptical Society and host of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast. I like how Dr. Novella defines arguing and how he explains, with examples, common logical fallacies. Please read the whole article.

Arguing is one of those activities most people do but few people do well. Many do not understand what a logical argument even is or how to do it correctly. Yet arguing is an essential skill of critical thinking. How we argue reflects how we think, how we evaluate our own conclusions, and how we challenge the beliefs of others...

...Even the very purpose of arguing is often misunderstood. I have arguments almost every day. This does not mean I verbally fight with others on a daily basis, but rather I have discussions that involve either attempting to convince another of a specific conclusion, or resolving differing conclusions on a factual matter...

...The more you practice examining arguments for their premises and logical fallacies, the better you will get. I think you will find it is the best method for resolving differences in factual conclusions. It is also helpful in that it can take away the personal emotional content of an argument; if the focus is on facts and logic, the arguments tend to be less personal.


Finally, the most important arguments to examine in this way are your own.

Here is a link to the full article: The NESS - How to Argue by Steven Novella, MD

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Conservative Atheists?

I found an interesting blog the other day: Moxie. I think this blog is going to make it to my daily read list. Here is the description posted in the NetworkedBlogs listing:
Moxie is the conservative Republican blogger who has earnestly tried to fulfill each and every one of the left's absurd GOP stereotypes. No day is complete without: calling into into Rush Limbaugh's show and speaking in tongues, using Halliburton stock certificates to blot her lipstick, or agitating the sleeping homeless intellectuals with some target practice.
What really surprised me about this blog is that the author is an atheist. I knew all along that a person without a believe in God/god/gods could subscribe to conservative principals. Less government, 2nd Amendment and personal responsibility are my favorites. I've been struggling with the way the religious right has taken over the Republican party since my days in college. The zeal and motivation of the religious have alienated many conservatives especially those with a less than fanatical belief in christ.

Anyway, I look forward to regularly reading this blog. If I find some extraordinary posts, I'll be sure to share them here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm #1 and #3

Mully410 Critical Blog is now the #1 blog on Facebook with the tag "critical thinking." Go here and click on the tag. For some strange reason, if you type "critical thinking" in the NetworkedBlogs search on Facebook, this blogs comes up as #3. Go figure. Two very great blogs are ahead of Mully410. Either way, out of 100,000+ blogs, I think this is way cool.

Most of the visitors to this blog are coming from Facebook and NetworkedBlogs, so join up already.

A New Comet is Coming and We Are All Going To Die!

Ok. I apologize for putting together 2 completely unrelated items in my title. Comet Lulin is coming for a visit and unless you are a vampire, you will die some day.

I got to see Comet Holmes in 2007 with a good friend of mine and her kids. She has a nice 60mm scope that worked just great. It was spectacular. For a time, it was literally the biggest object in our solar system. It was clearly visible with the naked eye out here in the 'burbs. I hope we can see this one. Here is a snippet and a link to some more information.

There's a new comet on the way, and this one could get quite interesting! This comet's name is Comet Lulin, more formally known as Comet C/2007 N3. This potential naked eye comet could be a very interesting one since it follows an unusual orbit.

Comet Lulin's closest approach will be on February 24th, 2009 at a distance of about 61 million kilometers.

Visual Astronomy: Comet Lulin

Update: Here is a link to some sciencey pics of Lulin.

Here is an APOD Photo of Lulin

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Save Money on Toilet Paper

Over the last few months, the topic of detoxification has come up in conversation a couple of times. I even met someone who was "detoxing." I wish I'd asked him more about the process. If any of you readers are considering a detox diet, I urge you read up on it.

Here is snippet from a great article by Dr. Steven Novella:

Recently detox is all the rage. The basic concept is nothing new - potential customers are scared with the notion that their bodies are being harmed by invading toxins. This triggers our disgust emotion - an evolved defense against eating spoiled, contaminated or dangerous food. There is something deeply satisfying about the idea of getting bad things out of our bodies. It also is an appealing notion that symptoms we may be having are not a problem with our body itself, but is the result of something foreign that can be purged. The word detox tries to capture all that. Its an effective marketing slogan. It is also (as used in such marketing) utterly meaningless.

For the complete story, go here: NeuroLogica Blog » The Detox Scam

Brian Dunning of Skeptoid had a very interesting podcast about Detox a couple weeks ago. Here is a snippet:

Today we're going to head into the bathroom and suck the toxins out of our bodies through our feet and through our bowels, and achieve a wonderful sense of wellness that medical science just hasn't caught onto yet. Today's topic is the myth of detoxification, as offered for sale by alternative practitioners and herbalists everywhere.

You can listen to Brian's podcast or read a transcript here: The Detoxification Myth

Sandy at the Junkfood Science Blog talks about Detox in this article. Here is a snippet:

Not only were the claims about how the body works wrong, some claims were even dangerous. Companies were using phrases that sounded scientific, but didn’t actually mean anything. Most of the producers and retailers were finally forced to admit that they had even simply renamed simple cleaning or brushing, as detox. As the scientists explained, “detox” has no meaning outside very select medical treatments for poisonings or drug addiction.

As always, I recommend that you do your own research. Start with the above great articles and follow their links. Wikipedia is also a good place to START your research. Always drill into the details and follow the links.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Critical Thinking Club, St. Paul Meeting: 9/11: Conspiracy, Complicity, or Coincidence

I've attended three meetings of the Critical Thinking Club, St. Paul Chapter and learned a few things. I think I'll try this one. The topic sounds interesting despite being pretty old. Everyone is invited. Here are the details:

Location: Kelly Inn, Rice Street and I-94

Date: February 8, 2009

Time: 10:00 a.m. to Noon

Presenter: Michael Andregg

Subject: "9/11: Conspiracy, Complicity, or Coincidence."

Breakfast Buffet $10.00 Coffee only $3.00. We need to plan for the room setup and meal, so if you are going to attend, please RSVP to criticalthinkingclub@gmail.com.

We will review about 30 minutes of evidence regarding the fall of World Trade Center Tower #7 and of intelligence agencies active behind the scenes, both of which raise extremely serious questions about the official story regarding what exactly happened during 9/11/2001. We will then consider how consistent this, or any other evidence produced by the group, is with 4 hypotheses: two conspiracy theories (the official one and the critics' one), complicity and coincidence.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

OYG

removed

Everything You Need to Know About Hg

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mercury: Don't be afraid.

One of the blogs I read on a daily basis is Junkfood Science. Here is a snippet on the recent mercury scares in the media.

The biggest give-away that this weeks mercury in HFCS story was nothing but a scare story was that it tried to use mercury to frighten us about an ingredient (and foods made from it) that some want us to believe are bad and supposedly making everyone fat and diseased. This was an egregious example of using fear to advance political ideologies about food production and sales not good science, nutrition or medical information. Consumers were not given the full story and werent able to make informed choices.

Here is the full story: Junkfood Science: Mercury in HFCS retake

See my previous post on Hg.

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