I love this video (and all of Minchin’s stuff), it’s long been a favourite. Watch and savour.
A spokesperson for Australian Homeopathic Association has released a statement today conceding that they are “baffled” by the concept of cordial.
Homeopathy, an alternative medicine practice dating back to the 18th century, operates under the principle that water holds “memory” and that a substance will increase in efficacy as it is diluted in solution.
Bad skeptics suck. The BBC reports: A German biologist who offered €100,000 (£71,350; $106,300) to anyone who could prove that…
Good news, everyone! My talk for the Illini Secular Student Alliance at UIUC back in April is now up for everyone to see. In my presentation, I talk about the 20th century origins of the ancient astronaut hypothesis (now in its modern TV form, Ancient Aliens), the sorts of claims about the past and why they don’t hold up, and into the sorts of claims related to modern UFOs and alien visitations–that is, close encounters. I also get to bring up my research and book on the Star of Bethlehem.
A few weeks ago on the History Channel’s sister station, H2, the astronomy-based series The Universe went on a quest to solve an ancient mystery. Previous episodes in the previous few weeks had covered the construction and purpose of the pyramids (which was pretty good), Stonehenge, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first two certainly have an astronomical connection, such as the solstice alignment of Stonehenge, but explaining Sodom’s ruin via astronomical body begs the very serious question: was this simply a theological story or etiological myth? Apparently that skepticism couldn’t find its way to the heart of the show.
[Just to remind readers that the book I have recently edited, written by contributor Aaron Adair, called The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View. is out now in all formats from a variety of sellers. It is a great book, and one which Richard Carrier has said is “awesome”. Please support our work by buying it! It’ll make an awesome Christmas present! Over to Aaron’s launch piece for those who missed it – JP]
Nearly two millennia ago, a story was told of a wondrous star in the heavens, beaming forth to proclaim the birth of an infant, destined to rule. Coaxing priests from an eastern kingdom to travel in search of this infant, the object led them to their destination and allow for the worship of the savior of the world.
Or so the story goes. But did it really happen, and if so, what was this magnificent star? A comet? An exploding star? An astrological portent? Something more bizarre?
It’s been a good, long time since I have seen a bright, naked-eye comet in the sky. The last I remember was Hale-Bopp back in 1996, and that was a remarkable sight. But there is a lot of hope now for Comet ISON (aka C/2012 S1), which was discovered only a matter of months ago. Not only it is slated to be a very bright object, but what is more interesting to me is its orbit.
In my last post about the various ways that the Star of Bethlehem from the Gospel of Matthew had been imagined, I talked about the folks that thought it was some sort of alien craft or UFO. When I wrote it, my best efforts to find the earliest claim to that came from Rev. Barry Downing in 1968. However, Jason Colavito had discovered a slightly older reference. From there, I continued the search.
I went to see local fellow skeptic at Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub the other night. Crispian Jago has a great blog called Reason Stick and is fairly famous for some of the images that he has created, some of which I have tweeted and blogged. Here are a few below:
Jerry Coyne reported this recently. It follows in a line of items in the news about TED and their speakers being somewhat unscientific. Well, in relation to this, TED have pulled their licence on a TEDx to have taken place in Hollywood. As Coyne reports:
Last week, I posted this:
TEDx, Pseudoscience and the Rupert Sheldrake controversy
TED has reacted to a considerable amount of pressure from posts similar to mine. They have pulled the videos from their usual places. The TED blog explained the move, claiming they were not censoring the videos, but placing them on their blog where they can be viewed in a proper context:
There is a problem in the world of philosophy (only one?) dealing with the subject of science known as the demarcation problem: what counts as science, what is good or bad science, and what is pseudoscience? Generally there is agreement that there is no fine line between science and pseudoscience, though there are clear examples of both. But what features can we look for to know which is which and avoid the bad?