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Puppets Like Skepticism, Too

by Kirsten Sanford, Jun 12 2009

This week I was interviewed by Farrah, a puppet on the Hoggworks Studios video podcast called The Rant Puppets. He asked me about bird smarts, critical thinking, crystals, PZ Myers, and chiropractic medicine. I liked his hair. Enjoy…

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Reckless Science Leads to Rash Conclusions in Stem Cell Tragedy

by Kirsten Sanford, Feb 27 2009

Last week’s news of the teenage boy with spinal and brain tumors resulting from stem cell therapy broke just in time. A failure for stem cell therapy in the eyes of the media. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research now have new ammunition against the recent FDA decision to allow clinical embryonic stem cell trials to progress.

But, would they still have the ammo if the story had been told a different way? What if the researchers hadn’t used the words “neural stem cells” in the title of their paper? Maybe a tale of reckless research methods would be better for everyone. Continue reading…

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Science and Hollywood

by Kirsten Sanford, Feb 20 2009

Hollywood isn’t too worried about getting the science in its movies right. It’s more concerned about finding useful publicity angles. Case in point:

A couple of weeks ago I recevied a PR email from Summit/Zoom Werks, the production company responsible for the movie Push (which was quite thoroughly reviewed by Mark last week).

“I wanted to touch base with you to see if you might have any interest in the subject of “Remote Viewing”? We are working on a motion picture about this subject and we have a professional Remote Viewer, Jack Rourke, who is consulting with us. Mr. Rourke has had extensive experience in this arena and has conducted work for government and law enforcement agencies.

As you may know, Remote Viewing (RV) refers to the attempt to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance.

It is a fascinating subject and apparently governments around the world employ individuals with this ability. I don’t know what the success ratio is for a Remote Viewer in accomplishing his/her assignments but it triggers a most interesting debate.” Continue reading…

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Dreaming Dreams and Changing Change

by Kirsten Sanford, Feb 06 2009

This article piqued my interest today. I hoped it would tell me more about why I am the way I am. Why I like going to the same coffee house, why I enjoy known restaurants. No such luck. Instead I got a fluff piece where there should have been much harder data. It was as if not only the writer, but also the researchers interviewed had fallen into the trap of over-interpreting the results.

The results for the large part suggest that people become increasingly set in their ways or resistant to change after their 20’s. The 20’s are a time of exploration and massive change. Then it is all downhill.

“The fact that an age-dependent pattern of decreasing openness appears around the globe and in all cultures suggests, according to biopsychologists, a genetic basis.” Continue reading…

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How to Make the Noise Stop

by Kirsten Sanford, Jan 30 2009

You know what? I’m tired.

I’m tired of people yelling at each other from opposite sides of the fence. Pick a side! Pick a side! I’m right! You’re wrong!

It doesn’t matter what the issue is these days. Everyone has an opinion whether or not it is well-informed, and that opinion is chained to the concrete slab in the ground that defines an issue. And, like dogs protecting a house, the barks are loud. Intimidating.

The chances of breaking that chain or moving the concrete are slim. So, how do you stop the barking? Drown it out with barking of your own? Adding to the noise just increases the din that drowns out reason.

Do you keep walking past the house until you can’t hear the noise, until the barking stops on its own? Just being there provokes the dog’s angry response.

So, what do you choose? And, why? Continue reading…

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Headaches? Stick Yourself With Needles… Or, Not

by Kirsten Sanford, Jan 23 2009

I ran across a press release on this week that piqued my interest.

“Acupuncture Stops Headaches, But ‘Faked’ Treatments Work Almost As Well”

Really? Interesting headline, I thought to myself, and proceeded to ingest the release. I have a love-hate relationship with acupuncture, you see. I don’t believe that it actually works. The evidence certainly hasn’t piled up in acupuncture’s clinical favor.  Yet, I have a friend or two (who I love dearly) who attend acupuncture school, and plan to make the craft their careers. So, I had to read on… maybe there is proof to my friends’ claims. Continue reading…

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So Many Choices

by Kirsten Sanford, Oct 31 2008

As I sit here on my couch I am struck by the wealth of choices available to me. I can write about whatever I choose. I can choose to wear any costume or none on this holiday of spookiness. I can choose to participate in our country’s political Olympics. I even get to choose what I believe. I can choose these things thanks to all the events and people that came before me and ended up landing me here on my couch.

However, I do wonder how much of what I choose is actually free-will as opposed to programmed responses. We know that there are intrinsic neural responses within the brain. They are present from even before birth. The brain goes through a period of incredible growth when you are young. During which time new synapses are being formed at the fastest rate of your life. Continue reading…

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