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Cardboard Pareidolia

26 May

I was walking around my neighborhood after the morning rain and saw this guy in a recycling bin:

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It’d be laughable if it weren’t so sad…

10 May

For the last three years I’ve worked in the insurance industry and I’ve learned a lot about how it works, at least as it relates to work comp. While I could go into the nonsense that insurance companies cover and what the states mandate they pay for, I opt instead to share an almost amusing trend I’ve noticed.

I process hundreds of bills a day and see a lot of doctors and “medical practitioners” and I’ve noticed that without exception, admittedly as far as I’ve noticed, the only people to put “Dr.” in their name when signing health care forms are chiropractors. Physicians, physical therapists, acupuncturists, even healing touch practitioners (yes, I’ve seen claims for healing touch be processed), not one of them sign the bill Dr. John (or Jane) Doe. I’m not sure if it’s pride or desperation that drives this. The only people to see these signatures are healthcare workers (and people at insurance companies) and I can’t help but feel that it might be born of a desire to be accepted and thought of as equals to MDs. Also possible, perhaps probable, I’ve put far too much thought into this. (In my defense, it’s a really mindless job, I’ve got to do something to keep my brain active.)

Side note: I also worked out how many Lego bricks would be needed to build a covered foot-bridge across the Mississippi: about a quarter million… Yeah, it’s that mindless.

The Light and Dark Side of Medicine

20 Feb

by Travis Peterson

Recently I spent a week in an ICU watching a fantastic team of highly trained doctors and nurses use every technology at their disposal to keep my mother alive after a blood clot in her brain nearly killed her. Machines that help her breathe, feed her, and monitor every vital system in her body. Doctors prescribing drugs to thin her blood, control pain, and reduce swelling. Nurses keeping track and filtering data, while simultaneously fawning over her as if she was their own mother.  A well oiled machine-made possible by science.  This is the good side of medicine.

The day after I got home my wife handed me an envelope she got as an insert in the bottom of a shopping bag (not a good start, I know).  The envelope was very thick with the word “Chiropractic” on the outside.  Knowing that not all Chiropractors subscribe to the more fantastical claims of Straight Chiropractic, I fought off the urge to roll my eyes and opened the envelope.  What I found inside was nothing short of astonishing.  The list of procedures included laser therapy, body chemistry diagnostics, heavy metal testing, Ion foot baths and ear candling.  After reading the seven pamphlets of incredible claims (evidence of which the  references and studies failed to validate) included in this packet-o-crapola, I remembered a phrase my father says, “A man is as good as the company he keeps.”  If this is the company Chiropractic keeps, then I know all I need to know.  Modern medicine is flawed and incomplete, but when you see the best and the worst at the same time, then the false balance people give to pseudo medicine is painfully clear.

Creationism For Kidz

9 Feb

Creationist propaganda can be both funny and sad. Especially when it is aimed at children. Just for funzies I thought I’d post just a few examples of the kind of absurd nonsense creationists put out there in a desperate attempt to indoctrinate kids against the evils of “Darwinists”. The good news is they do a really shitty job of it.

Harun Yahya is an Islamic creationist website with all kinds of wacky nonsense. I particularly enjoyed the children’s story of Charles Darwin & his Magic Barrel, which proposes the idea that Darwin thought all life came from a barrel or something. Seems like a pretty easy strawman to refute. So why did they need 70 pages to do it in? What kid is going to read 70 goddamn pages of this crap? Hell, I fell asleep after three.
(Sister sites include the disturbing, http://www.truthsforkids.com/ and  http://www.for-children.com/evolution01.html <–This one has cute pictures of kittens & ducklings next to the words, “Evolution is a lie!” Subtle.)

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Here is a link to a creationist dinosaur quiz for kids. I failed it. And if you’re a thinking person you should too.

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Amongst this website’s many tacky rotating gifs is what appears to be a triceratops on a leash being led by a caveman. There are many creationist activities for kids including crossword puzzles & coloring pages with lots of depictions of cavemen petting dinosaurs to ensure your dumbed down child never gets into college.

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Of course Answers in Genesis has a plethora of creationist propaganda for the kiddies. For just $18.99 you can purchase douchebag creationist extraordinaire, Ken Ham’s D Is For Dinosaur book & DVD set or Dinosaurs of Eden. “Young children will learn the true history of the world from creation to Christ to the coming Judgment.” The coming Judgement. Let me stress this is targeted at 2-7 year olds. Yes, what could go wrong with reading a story about the end of the world to a small child at bedtime?

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Kids for Truth is a pretty slick interactive website built for brainwashing. It includes many dynamations like this one in which they have the balls to declare, “Creationism is supported much better by the scientific evidence than evolution.” And you’re just a kid, so you’ll believe it, right? Of course you will…now go play with your Experience the Plagues coloring book.

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Found this one on the “Kid Explorers” section of Christiananswers.net, it’s called Kids, what to do if your teacher is an evolutionist. Better title: The Fast Track to Bringing the Shame of Dover, PA to Your Town.

Oh Christ, there’s SO MANY MORE…

Creation Response Team for kids

Creation for Kids A two-hour “mini-seminarfor those 9 to 15 years old

Dinosaur No More by Little Talkers  “Dinosaurs died out in the flood which God sent upon sinful man.”

Creationism Encyclopedia For Kids

*bkewww*  That was the sound of my brain exploding.

Oh No, Ross and Carrie! – A Podcast Review

20 Oct

“This is the first of a series, of the brand new blogpost series…” (Apologies to Mr. Hrab)

So, I like podcasts. I take that back, I LOVE podcasts, especially and specifically skeptical ones. I know I’m not alone, as a lot of people new to skepticism use them like how “gateway drugs” are supposed to work. There’s new ones popping up almost monthly and some that are so under the radar of the true giants of podcasting (SGU, Skepticality, The Skeptic Zone, among others) that I wanted to share some of the finds that take up space in my iPod, in case they might appeal to you.

First up is a relative newcomer on the scene with only 7 episodes up on iTunes: Oh no, Ross and Carrie. Hosts Ross Blocher and Carrie Poppy explore claims of the supernatural and pseudoscience by putting their own brains and bodies on the line, trying them out for themselves and reporting back on their experiences through the lens of critical thinking. Since they’re located in woo-soaked Los Angeles, they probably won’t be running out of material anytime soon!

What is really awesome about their show is their approach. They’re not scientists or doctors, so they have a real layperson view that I, being also not a scientist or a doctor, can appreciate. Also, Ross and Carrie have infectious enthusiasm and honest sincerity when it comes to dealing with true believers. They mean no harm in their honest evaluations, always reminding listeners that they are a “sample set of two.”

This show so needs a lot more love, and I feel it is worth your time and attention. Also, if you’re into theme songs (I know I am!), theirs is a short little stick-into-your-brain ditty written and performed by Brian Keith Dalton of the webshow Mr. Deity, yet another show that needs a lot more love.

Basics:

Average Time Length: 40 – 50 minutes

Kid-Friendly: Teen and older, as there is some swearing

Episode Frequency: Once a month

Website: ohnopodcast.com, www.facebook.com/onrac for extra photos from their investigations.