Who Could it Hurt?

I’ve got a post or two I could write up from what I experienced at ScienceOnline 2011, but for now, a link that was mentioned in one of the discussions.

Maria from Skepchick mentioned what’s the harm, which is a collection of incidents of people being harmed by uncritically accepting “alternative” medicine or antiscience. These beliefs are not benign. Logic is not usually effective in convincing someone who has made an illogical choice; I suppose e.g. a good rebuttal to the argument that such-and-such traditional mimbo-jumbo has been used for hundreds of years is that the dramatic lengthening of our lifespan has only occurred with the advent and adoption of modern medicine, and ask why that didn’t happen because of homeopathic acupuncture* (or whatever), but in case that doesn’t work, you can find actual instances of people being harmed by a particular practice.

Not all information is created equal. Some of it is correct. Some of it is incorrect. Some of it is carefully balanced. Some of it is heavily biased. Some of it is just plain crazy.

It is vital in the midst of this deluge that each of us be able to sort through all of this, keeping the useful information and discarding the rest. This requires the skill of critical thinking. Unfortunately, this is a skill that is often neglected in schools.

This site is designed to make a point about the danger of not thinking critically. Namely that you can easily be injured or killed by neglecting this important skill. We have collected the stories of over 670,000 people who have been injured or killed as a result of someone not thinking critically.

*which I practice. I have diluted it down to zero needles inserted into my back.


Superuseless Superpowers

SUPERUSELESS SUPERPOWER: Resistance to helium.
Legend has it that there walks a man with uncanny abilities. After a tragic blimp accident, this man has developed an immunity to Helium. As this man courageously inhales Helium, there is no effect on the timbre of his voice.


Basic Training

In the Uncertain Principles Links Dump I find a pre-owned physics blog. (pre-owned: Not new, but new to me. It’s been refurbished, having been moved to new blogging software from an old program that didn’t work so well, so it appears newer than it actually is. So far as I know)

A lot of good physics, including several posts on basic concepts:

Basics: Vectors and Vector Addition

Significant figures what are they for and what do they have to do with uncertainty?


Oh, yeah. Say that three times fast.

Basics: Kinematics

Update: Basics: Fundamentals of Algebra, posted today

Maybe I'm Amazed

I’ve read on a couple of blogs about The Amaz!ng Meeting 6, (TAM6), with some promises of summaries. A couple have been posted. (I’m still waiting on reports from some of you. Listen, I’m not joking. This is my job!)

The Bad Astronomer thinks it was the Best. Meeting. Ever.

Neurologica posts some thoughts

Moo gets an incomplete, having promised some cool hushhush surprise in a teaser.

Dilbert Betabert Sucksbert

I’ve been putting up with the new Dilbert website abomination for however long, a couple of months at least, and the fact that Scott Adams is a fellow Hartwick alum doesn’t mean I’m going to cut him any slack — the website breaks the first commandment of web design.

1. Thou shalt not abuse Flash.

Adobe’s (ADBE) popular Web animation technology powers everything from the much-vaunted Nike (NKE) Plus Web site for running diehards to many humdrum banner advertisements. But the technology can easily be abused—excessive, extemporaneous animations confuse usability and bog down users’ Web browsers.

What’s more, he’s admitted it. But it turns out that there’s a “fast Dilbert” web site.

This alternate site is a minor secret, mentioned only here and in the text footnote to the regular site as “Linux/Unix.”

So rejoice, go there instead (if you read Dilbert online) and pray that they look at web traffic statistics.

Twisted Sister

Jennifer Ouellette has a new blog, not the same as the old blog, at Discovery. Check out Twisted Physics. She promises shorter posts than on Cocktail Party Physics, which isn’t going away.

Rest assured, Cocktail Party Physics isn’t going anywhere. It will continue much the same, staunchly independent and wheezily long-winded.

No word yet on whether we will be able to observe her in a superposition of the two blogs, or what might happen if that wave function collapses.

Conference by Proxy

Chad’s got his complete summary of the DAMOP meeting up at Uncertain Principles. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and the wrap-up.

I would have liked to have gone but my plans were thwarted. Next year the conference is in nearby Charlottesville, VA, so I’ll definitely try and make that one. I don’t think there will be another conference competing for my time and attention.