Month: February 2011

Tricks of the mind: Confirmation bias

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In considering all the topics I’ve covered in this blog, such as pseudo-science, alternative medicines, medicine proper, and religion, there is one phenomenon which keeps appearing: confirmation bias. So let’s take a quick look at confirmation bias, and how it helps skew our view of reality.

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Single-digit IQ on display

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This incredible display of stupidity has been doing the rounds, first reported by Andrew Sullivan here.

While the original story is shameful – a brutal gay bashing – one of the accomplices proudly displays a tattoo on his right arm bearing a biblical quote:

“You (sic) shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman.  It is an abomination.  Leviticus 18:22”.

The only trouble is that this moron doesn’t know about something in the very next chapter:

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28″

There are some lessons to be learned from this episode, including:

  • Homophobes are morons.
  • Religious homophobes are even worse
  • If you’re going to cherry-pick bible passages, make sure they are consistent with the rest of the bible.
  • If you’re then going to tattoo them on your arm, make REALLY sure they are consistent with the rest of the bible.
  • If you’re hoping to escape a conviction for a brutal hate crime, then don’t display the bible passage on your arm, as if it’s a free pass to do what you did.

Hopefully the Lord’s punishment for the transgression by this nut-case is at least as horrible as that which he handed out to his victim.

Assessing Snake Oil

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Every day we are confronted with all sorts of remedies, potions, and feel-good supplements, and it’s a constant challenge to do the research to assess the efficacy and/or safety of these things.

In searching for information on Goji Juice, I found this handy reference  called ‘Snake Oil II’ which attempts to summarise our knowledge on the various concoctions out there, and provides links to other documentation.  You’ll still need to follow the links, buts it’s a neat launching point.

Oh, and what did I learn about Goji Juice? There is no available evidence for any efficacy, BUT, there are interactions with several common medicines. For example, it has been found to counteract the intended effect of Warferen, a blood thinning agent, and therefore could contribute to clotting. A useful thing to know, right?

Oxymoron of the day – the Psychics code of ethics

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It seems that psychics have a code of ethics, and it’s published by the Australian Psychics Association on their website. It’s entertaining reading, and I couldn’t resist a little light-hearted review:

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High Court Challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program

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Having followed the debate on ethics in schools, and the associated bleating by the religiati that their rightful place in society is being eroded, here’s another example demonstrating how religion is a protected species, and that successive governments are just not willing to stand up to them.

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SCENAR and the Pathology of a Scam

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While going about my business the other day, I came across SCENAR in a facebook entry by a member of the family, who claimed that after a SCENAR therapy treatment their shoulder was now back to normal.

Having been on the receiving end of therapies for a lot of sporting injuries over many years, I was surprised not to have heard of this one, so I once again enrolled into the University of Google, the institution in which everyone is an expert, or so they think.

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