science

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

Recently, whilst casually sliding through the list of potential choices for sonic accompaniment to my morning trek to work using the touch screen of my other half’s MP3 player (he was asleep, he didn’t miss it), I overheard a conversation from the back of the bus that actually put a spring in my step for the rest of the day. One of the normally self-absorbed and entitled little private school shits that I found myself daily sharing public transport with was thoroughly pwning one of her colleagues who, in spite of what must have been a not insubstantial educational investment by her parents, had expounded the idea that science was stupid and pointless. The devastating blow, delivered effortlessly by her contemporary, was the unassailable point that science was entirely responsible for eradicating the diseases that made her existence even possible. Just as I had done earlier in the month when reacquainted with moments in the life of one of my heroes, Neil Armstrong, I felt a twinge of pride at the thought that, as with almost every aspect of the modern world, a geek was responsible for the progress. Read more “The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth”

You label me, I libel you

Despite having spent much of my time since the beginning of the easter weekend in and out of the vets with a conveyor belt’s worth of poorly pets (the full exciting story of which can be read in last week’s post), I’m in a relatively good mood … so much so, in fact, that I thought I’d make this week’s offering a bit of a special one by giving you this site’s first-ever actual proper interview (not with me, obviously, that would be mindlessly self-indulgent and bizarrely schizophrenic). Joining me almost live via email is Vaughan Jones, sceptic blogger and lifter of heavy things who found himself neck-deep in lawyers recently when a christian author sued him for libel over reviews he’d written on Amazon (as well as a few comments) telling everyone that his book, a supposed satire on the religion versus science debate, was crap. So, grab yourself a cuppa and a few jaffa cakes, pull up a comfy chair, and I’ll try to set the scene before asking Vaughan some (hopefully) interesting questions. Read more “You label me, I libel you”

Science, bitches: it works

Disgracefully, I haven’t written a blog post in a little over a month; predictably, I have an excuse; surprisingly, it’s a really good one. Since easter weekend my partner, Raven, and I have been engaged in a seemingly never-ending battle against the forces of contagion present in the numerous furry creatures we’ve chosen to take on as pets. As you may be aware, we are the proud keepers of a number of rats, and since Good Friday we’ve been trying desperately to manage an outbreak of respiratory infection that spread through the colony faster than internet rumours about John Travolta’s predilection for man-handling the occasional man-handler. As we spent many an hour trying to persuade our collection of adorable nuisances to take a variety of different medicines, weighing them to ensure correct dosing, measuring the amount of food and drink they were taking each day to make sure they were getting enough, and looking for changes in both their behaviour and demeanour, it occurred to me that we were, in a very real way, demonstrating successful application of the scientific method. How do I know it was successful? Simple … it got results. Read more “Science, bitches: it works”

Goddidit

I have to be really careful what I say this week; not because I’ve offended someone and I suddenly feel all guilty about it (as if). No, the reason I should put on my comfy slippers and tread softly, rather than donning my beloved heavy-as-fuck New Rocks and stomp (as usual) through the subject with the kind of psychotic vigour that the hammer-happy god Thor would be flushed with when playing “Whack-A-Mole”, is that the book I’ve been reading and mini-reviewing chapter by chapter on Twitter over the last few days was written by someone who had previously sued, for libel, the author of a scathing review (and general comment on the book’s author) that had been posted on Amazon. Since I’d ideally like to avoid sharing that particular experience, I will be taking great pains to distinguish clearly between the things I state as opinion, and those I state as fact. With that consideration, and the first eight chapters of “The Attempted Murder Of God: Hidden Science You Really Need To Know” by Scrooby, freshly in mind, I’d like this week to talk in a light-hearted satirical fashion about scientific ignorance, specifically the kind that only ever seems to come from religious drivel-mongers [opinion]. Read more “Goddidit”

New Model No. 15

I don’t know about you, but when I heard the news this week that the twin bills SOPA (Screwing Over Proper Artists) and PIPA (Positively Invading People’s Anuses) had suffered a humiliating defeat/climbdown when pretty much the entire world told the entertainment industry to go fuck itself and stop trying to ruin the internet, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, wiped the self-satisfied “Ha ha, we did it!” grin off my face, and then started to wonder just what kind of monstrous form the bills will take on once Hollywood and the record companies had re-grouped and returned to begin the next leg of their “Stealing Freedom Tour 1996 – 2047”. For reasons I can only imagine have something to do with my brain feeling particularly charitable (knowing that I had a blog post to write and no ideas), these thoughts began colliding with ones about the nature of religion versus science and how, as it is with content producers versus the internet, the battle is about nothing more than destroying the competition in order to protect an obsolete business model. Read more “New Model No. 15”

Bring it

So, as I was saying last week before I became hopelessly sidetracked into ranting about Jeremy Clarkson (it’s easily done, I know, what with him being in possession of a face that would look infinitely better if a fist was ploughing through it faster than a Bugatti Veyron with a rocket up its arse), I have recently been involved in a Twitter-based scientific argument with a user by the name of @Adam4004. His name, which consists of a reference to both the bible’s first man and the year (BCE) literalists claim is when the earth was created, was my first clue to his being a young earth creationist (or “moron” for short). The second was that he offered not a single scrap of evidence for any of his frequently asinine claims, choosing instead simply to assert the truth of his statements whilst ignoring all requests to provide references and citations for the many studies and peer-reviewed papers that undoubtedly support them. The reason we had to go through such a frustrating dance is that evidence to a theist is like a backbone to Nick Clegg; they can’t show any, because they ain’t got any. Read more “Bring it”

Too orangey for crows

When I was young, maybe about 5 or 6 years old, my mum was always telling me not to put so much orange squash in my glass before filling it with water. In a time when actual proper orange juice was still considered something of a luxury, putting in a bit more squash than I should have would give it a decent, fuller, more orangey taste – it was like giving myself a treat! Mum would always tell us that “too much is bad for you”, which, of course, is true, but it masked her real feelings that using more meant that it would run out sooner and she’d have to buy another bottle. Like many children, this would have been my introduction to the concept of dilution; the idea that the more you water something down, the weaker it gets, and it seemed so obvious to me that a large amount of something should overwhelm a small amount of something else. So how is it that the only people in history, it seems, who never grasped this concept were the proponents of homeopathy? Read more “Too orangey for crows”