October 2010 Blog Posts

Today's favourite crossword clue

C-A-N-B-E-R-R-A (7,7) Capital Letters

Argumentum ad Populum, No True Scotsman, Cognitive Dissonance

C: Christianity must be true. It has nearly 2 billion followers A: So what? That's just argumentum ad populum. Just because lots of people believe it, doesn't mean it's true C: Does so! [leaves in a huff] ----- some time later ----- C: Catholics aren't real christians A: I thought you said earlier than christianity had two billion followers? C: I did. So? A: If catholics aren't christians, then it doesn't. Dummy. C: *wha?*     (no, really. I've seen these two arguments from the same "apologists" within short periods of time. Cognitive dissonance writ large)

Sydney Drinking Skeptically + LKS Podcast

So anyway. A few of us have decided that Sydney is skeptical enough to manage two skeptical social meetups. This being the case, we've got our heads together and we're starting a new social night under the banner "Sydney Drinking Skeptically". To be honest it's something I've been thinking about for ages. There's already a very good Skeptics In The Pub on the first Thursday of each month at the City Hotel, with a speaker, and an agenda and all that Skeptics In The Pub goodness. It's run by the guys who produce the Skeptic Zone (on which I occasionally appear...

Miracle Mineral Solution investigated in UK and Europe thanks to one dedicated young skeptic

Miracle Mineral Solution, a quack product made from bleach and marketed to the gullible by the cynical, is under investigation in the UK and Europe, and is looking to be in serious trouble. And the credit is,deservedly, going to a 15 year old welsh skeptic called Rhys Morgan. Rhys's blog recently made it onto the Skepticator, so I was aware of him, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the developments with MMS and Rhys's age and level of involvement. Rhys is also active in 10:23 and is a credit to the skeptical movement in the UK. I don't want to harp...

Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) No longer a charity

Yes, that's right. Meryl Dorey's AVN is, as of the 20th October, no longer a charity. The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR), which regulates charities in NSW, has revoked their charitable licence, and not a moment too soon. The OLGR release hasn't hit the web yet, but Meryl Dorey's response is here. Note that Meryl has cherry-picked the OLGR finding to support her assertion that it's all based on the HCCC complaint. What, as I say, do items (b), (d) and (e) say? Notice also that Meryl is using this opportunity to beg for more donations before the 20th. She's also lying about...

Tapdancing Roof Mice

 One of the delightful and trivial things I like about Australia is the preponderance of tin (actually, galvanised steel) roofs. Almost everywhere is roofed in thin layers of corrugated sheet metal, and when the regular Sydney rain piles through and hammers down, the sound is really quite lovely. Like millions of tapdancing roof mice, all jigging away to their own mousey beat. I really, really like it. A lot. Back in the UK, most of the places I lived were either ridged tile roofs or bitumen flat roofs. I slept under thatch a couple of times, and slate too, but the sound of rain on roof in Britain is...

Skepticator Stats and Facts

I just thought I'd share a little Skepticator trivia with y'all Skepticator's first feed was added to the DB on 16 Feb 2010, and it was... Australian Skeptics. The JREF wasn't added until two days later, 18th Feb 2010, when it became the 36th feed in the DB. The first Podcast, as you might expect, was Skeptoid, the fourth feed overall on the second day of the DB's existence SiTPs started to appear early - Westminster Skeptics In The Pub being first in on 18th Feb 2010 ...

In which I have a fanboy meltdown moment and talk TAMOZ

That's me! Yes, that's me just next to James Randi's face. Randi's face! His beardy face! Squeeeee! SQUEEEEEE! *faints*   Yes, I'm quite excited about #TAMOZ. I'm speaking on the activism panel 2.00pm - 4.00pm on the first day. We're directly opposite the Science Based Medicine panel, so I expect our attendance to be zero, as everyone will be off listening to The Novellatron methodically destroying quackery in the next room. But still, if you're passing by on the way to SBM, toss us a biscuit through the door. I know for sure Travis Roy is on the panel, as is Elliot Birch, making it a sure...

Any time now, Skepticator will hit 50,000 articles

 See that magic number? 49,958 articles. I registered the Skepticator.com name on 14 February 2010, and the site launched a while after that*. Since then, the Extracticator robot has crawled far more articles than I expected, and I've found far more skeptical content than I ever knew about - even with my stated policy of going slow on the specifically atheist content. Now, to be a skeptic about this - it's actually 50,000 unique URLs rather than articles - I know of a few duplicate articles, but the engine has no sensible way of knowing that an identically worded article exists in...

The nature of error, in being unexpected

Cast your eyes over the following screenshot This raises the question "When exactly is an error expected?" Surely if you expect an error, it's not actually an error? It's merely the outcome you thought would take place. Yes, OK, it fits the dictionary definition "a deviation from accuracy or correctness; a mistake, as in action or speech", but that's not the point. The point is that "error", in its form as a synonym for "mistake" probably isn't the ideal word to apply to the outcome of a computer program when coupled with "unexpected". If you expect it, it's not an error. If it is an error, it's...

Important factors to consider when choosing a new house

I just moved house. It wasn't by choice. We rent (we also own, long story) and the landlord decided it was prime time to re-architect. Therefore, new house. So off we went. We considered a number of factors in choosing the new house. Location, location, location, location. Also, location. Sydney's Inner West, not far from our previous abode. Single storey for @tinydalek, who is not very good at stairs. Three bedrooms (one to sleep, two as "playrooms") Garden for dog Away from...

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Say NO to the National School Chaplaincy Program