Category Archives: Science and Technology
See the blonde with the death toll to the right?——->
That’s Jenny McCarthy, ex-Playboy Bunny and campaigner against vaccinations for children. In this interview she gets well and truly sceptically pwnned.
Well OK, maybe that’s not actually Jenny McCarthy but then again her arguments aren’t really arguments.
I consider myself a fairly skeptical person. I try to base what I believe on evidence in order to believe as few false things as possible. In my opinion skepticism is one of the reasons the human species has advanced beyond petrified ignorant savages, well some of us have, to a position where we are actually visiting other planets and are begining to unravel the mysteries of the universe.
Which is why I get mightily irked when I see people using the term skeptic, or skeptical, to either justify their own ignorance or to push a political agenda, even if it’s an agenda I share. There are two groups of people that irk me the most. Firstly there are those that claim they are ‘skeptical’ over the safety of vaccines, anti-vaxxers, who simply ignore all the medical evidence and studies supporting the use of vaccines yet are happy to uncritically accept the ignorant ravings of turds like Glenn Beck and Jenny McCarthy. As if a second rate porn star and actress and a radio big mouth with a high school education have a better grasp of the science behind vaccination, epidemics and pandemics than people who have spent their entire lives studying the subjects. Now, I share the concerns of some of these anti-vaxxers over large pharmaceutical companies and wouldn’t trust any of them as far as I could throw them. Capitalism doesn’t concern itself with human welfare only with turning a profit after all. The claims of the anti-vaxxers however are that these companies are deliberately going out of their way to harm people. The claims for why they would do such a thing are wide and wacky but they do tend towards the right wing ‘New World Order’ conspiracy theories, that and something to do with Obama more than likely.
The other theory is that they have cooked up the scare over swine flu in order to make money. Now I don’t doubt that these companies could, and would given the chance, do such a thing but the evidence for the spread and danger of ‘swine flu’ would mean that they had carried out a conspiracy on such a vast scale that it simply is not possible. Well not just to make a few bucks. the amount of investment that would need to go into such a conspiracy would far outstip the profit form vaccine sales. It makes no economic sense. GAH!
The next group, and the ones who inspired todays rant, a the so called ‘Climate Skeptics’. These are the people who have for the past 20 years claimed that the science does not support the actuality of human influenced climatic change and claim to be skeptical of it. As with the anti-vaxxers the idea that they are being skeptical is absurd. Skepticism is an approach to accepting, rejecting, or suspending judgment on new information that requires the new information to be well supported by argument or evidence. In the case of climate change this means that the skeptical position is that it is happening and that there is a plethora of evidence to support it. The evidence is there and there is no denying it. The so called climate skeptics on the other hand have a political agenda that they seek to push and are supported by those with a vested interest in continuing their destructive practices. Funnily enough these people often seem to come from the American right and/or have links with oil companies and the like.
This particular group of pseudoskeptics have been all of a tizzy of late because of the UK’s Climate Research Unit emails that were recently acquired by some clever hacker. These emails date from between 1996 and 2009 and purportedly show a great conspiracy to hide the ‘facts’ that the world is cooling. In particular the ‘skeptics’ refer to two emails talking about a ‘trick’ and scientists being unable to explain the ‘lack of warming’ we have seen over the last couple of years. I was going to write something about the way these people have cherry picked two quotes from thousands upon thousands of emails as proof over the mountain of evidence but it seems that the youtuber potholer54 has already made a clear, concise video about this so I thought I would leave it up to him.
Plus these morons seem to put more stock in youtube videos than in actual science so amybe this mix of the two will do them some good.
If you want some real skepticism then check out The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast.
Reposted from Boing Boing.
The British government has brought down its long-awaited Digital Economy Bill, and it’s perfectly useless and terrible. It consists almost entirely of penalties for people who do things that upset the entertainment industry (including the “three-strikes” rule that allows your entire family to be cut off from the net if anyone who lives in your house is accused of copyright infringement, without proof or evidence or trial), as well as a plan to beat the hell out of the video-game industry with a new, even dumber rating system (why is it acceptable for the government to declare that some forms of artwork have to be mandatorily labelled as to their suitability for kids? And why is it only some media? Why not paintings? Why not novels? Why not modern dance or ballet or opera?).
So it’s bad. £50,000 fines if someone in your house is accused of filesharing. A duty on ISPs to spy on all their customers in case they find something that would help the record or film industry sue them (ISPs who refuse to cooperate can be fined £250,000).
But that’s just for starters. The real meat is in the story we broke yesterday: Peter Mandelson, the unelected Business Secretary, would have to power to make up as many new penalties and enforcement systems as he likes. And he says he’s planning to appoint private militias financed by rightsholder groups who will have the power to kick you off the internet, spy on your use of the network, demand the removal of files or the blocking of websites, and Mandelson will have the power to invent any penalty, including jail time, for any transgression he deems you are guilty of. And of course, Mandelson’s successor in the next government would also have this power.
What isn’t in there? Anything about stimulating the actual digital economy. Nothing about ensuring that broadband is cheap, fast and neutral. Nothing about getting Britain’s poorest connected to the net. Nothing about ensuring that copyright rules get out of the way of entrepreneurship and the freedom to create new things. Nothing to ensure that schoolkids get the best tools in the world to create with, and can freely use the publicly funded media — BBC, Channel 4, BFI, Arts Council grantees — to make new media and so grow up to turn Britain into a powerhouse of tech-savvy creators.