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The Making of “Screwed!”

by Brian Dunning, May 21 2009

Recently I hit a milestone on my audio podcast Skeptoid: the 150th episode. I wanted to do something really fun, and decided a lavish broadway musical was the way to go. Normally my listeners expect 10 minutes of me talking in a dry and boring manner, so I figured this would be a fun way to surprise everyone.

The concept was a musical version of a secret meeting of the Illuminati, ruing the fact that the population has discovered alternative and faith-based everything, and thus profits are down. Continue reading…

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Trip Report – Woo in my hometown

by Yau-Man Chan, Apr 05 2009

I just came back from a 10-day trip to my home town of Kota Kinabalu, capital of the State of Sabah (formerly North Borneo) in East Malaysia. It was a wonderful vacation.

Troupe of Proboscis monkeys

Troupe of Proboscis monkeys

The purpose of the trip was to attend my high-school class of 1969 40th reunion. In addition to meeting up with classmates who stayed and made their lives in Malaysia, I met up with classmates from Canada, Australia, Singapore and the U.S.  A few of us made our way (45 min. flight, 5 hr. drive and 45 min. up river by boat) to the interior of Borneo and spend a few nights in the Kinabatangan valley to see for ourselves what was left of the virgin primary forest – and communed with orangutans, horn bills, proboscis monkeys and even a pygmy Borneo elephant.
Continue reading…

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The Belief Trilogy

by Michael Shermer, Mar 26 2009

This is a brief video introduction to the power of belief through the three books of my trilogy: Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, The Science of Good and Evil, and (pace Douglas Adams) volume 4 of the trilogy, The Mind of the Market. The first volume is on science and pseudoscience and, as the title says, why people believe weird things. Vol. 2, How We Believe, is on why people believe in God (but the publisher didn’t want to call it that so they went with the more generic title on belief). Vol. 3 is on why we are moral, but since the book deals more than with the evolutionary origins of morality, they once again went with the broader title. Vol. 4, then, expands on the theme of belief in the realm of economics, and why people believe weird things about money and why markets seem to have a mind of their own.

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Creating A Science Sensation

by Kirsten Sanford, Mar 13 2009

Why is it that crackpots get so much air time? Is it because they yell louder than anyone else?

While that is probably true (non-crackpots see the world logically, and don’t understand how it could be any other way. Hence, no yelling.), the factor driving the publicity engine is controversy. The media loves controversy because it is usually fueled by emotion, and emotion gets peoples’ attention. Continue reading…

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How to Bend a Spoon with Just Your Mind

by Michael Shermer, Jan 06 2009

Most skeptics know that self-proclaimed psychics such as Uri Geller, who claim to be able to bend cutlery with just their minds, are actually using magic and trickery to do so. Of course, if they could really bend metal with just their minds you have to wonder why at some point they always have to touch the spoon. The answer is obvious to skeptics: because the only way to bend a spoon is by physically bending it! But how? Continue reading…

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Tao of Traditional Chinese Medicine – II

by Yau-Man Chan, Nov 09 2008

Rewind the tape 50 years – I awoke one morning with a bit of extra sleep on my eyes and complained to my mom about canker sore in my mouth. That afternoon when I came home from school, a tall glass of cooling barley water awaits me to offset the extra heat due to too much activity in my liver. In the folklore of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our bodies can be too heaty, or too cool, or damp or dry. Our bodies can also, according to that tradition have a combination of these undesirable conditions such as dry heat or damp heat which must be treated accordingly.  By Western (and modern) standard of behavior, as an eight-year old kid with a ten-year old brother, it would not be considered the least bit unhealthy to engage in some sibling rivalry scuffles and quarrels. But whenever we bickered or had some spat in front of older relatives we could count on them to admonish my mother to brew us some chrysanthemum tea (and make it extra sweet!) Childish verbal or physical jousting between us brothers must be due to overly vinegary or acidic disposition and can be neutralized by sweet chrysanthemum tea. Arthritis is damp wind in the joints so the cure is to take herbs that will remove the wind and dry up the joints. For every condition, physical or mental where external manifestations can be observed, there are corresponding herbs, animal parts/by-products or even toxic minerals to help neutralize and restore harmony to the body. This is TCM in its most rudimentary form and is still practiced today. Continue reading…

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The Tao of Chinese Medicine – I

by Yau-Man Chan, Nov 02 2008

I am not a medical doctor and I don’t even play one on TV!  So how am I qualified to write about Chinese medicine?  Well because I grew up with it! Is that really good enough?  Yes, and every Chinese who grew up in a Chinese household in a Chinese community are inculcated with knowledge about Chinese medicine and how it works.  Like any other Chinese kid growing up, when I was sick my mother could quickly diagnose my illness and if she couldn’t, she could turn to her mother or aunts or other higher authority figures. In more severe cases, there’s always the guy selling herbs. Continue reading…

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Tying Up Skepticism with a Pretty Ribbon

by Brian Dunning, Oct 24 2008

I would like to have a drink with the master purveyor of harmful pseudoscience, author and direct marketer Kevin Trudeau.

It’s all well and good for us to sit back and snicker at Kevin Trudeau for being a scumbag and selling snake oil, but it’s also true that he’s kicking our ass. Absolutely kicking our ass. He makes millions of dollars selling useless products, and the skeptical community makes virtually nothing offering only scientific fact. As a consequence, Kevin Trudeau has more marketing dollars and spreads his message much wider than we could ever hope to. Continue reading…

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