Archive for category: Skepticism

Horoscopes for Professionals

25 Oct
October 25, 2018

Reason has a review up on the new book The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing by Merve Emre.

Probably one of my favorite quotes of the article:

The test has been most influential among the kinds of businesses given to weekend “success seminars” in Ramada ballrooms. Today you’ll still see people putting their Myers-Briggs type on their LinkedIn pages, the way others might mention their astrological sign on a dating profile.

My coworkers are big into this stuff, to the point that we need to talk about what style we are. Well, they do. I just answer sarcastically and remind them it’s all bullshit.

Which they say is typical of my type.

Not a Good Few Weeks For Peer Review

22 Oct
October 22, 2018

Okay, three academics getting papers they knew where utter bullshit published and considered great scholarship was one thing. Now, we have a respected journal publishing a horrific paper on homeopathy. The peer review process and the issues with p-hacking are undermining the current scientific process. What to do then?

I lean to not publishing without duplication. I always said that if I hit the lottery, particularly one of those big payouts, I’d start a lab for the purpose of just duplicating experiments. Kind of a UL for experiments.

First Question

20 Aug
August 20, 2018

If I’m going to debate someone, one of the first questions that need to be addressed is this:

Do you believe, or are you willing to concede that I believe, that I want you to have the best life you can according to your needs, wants, and desires?

If the answer is “yes,” then we can have a civilized conversation about the best means of bringing this about. If the answer is “no,” there is real doubt we can even have a conversation. Because there are very few people that I want them to have less than the best life possible. Those generally fall into those who willfully and maliciously harm others.

Junk Science – Forensics Edition

05 Jun
June 5, 2018

I call anti-vax arguments as junk science with a body count. Homeopathy does as well, too a lesser degree. Another field of bad science that ruins lives is the current forensics “science”.

A few techniques, such as DNA analysis were developed by traditional scientific processes and stand up to rigorous testing. There are many more – such as hair analysis, bite analysis, and fiber analysis – that were developed by crime labs for crime labs. They have not had the rigorous double-blind studies that would affirm their effectiveness. In all too-predictable manner, people are being wrongly accused and convicted.

From a recent Reason article on the issue:

quote”If you think that maybe even 1 percent of convicted defendants may be innocent,” replied Fabricant, “we have 2.6 million people in prison today, (so) we are talking about tens of thousands of (innocent) people!”

quoteFabricant works with the Innocence Project, a group that works to get innocent people freed from prison. Through DNA evidence, the project’s lawyers have helped free 191 people.

IMHO, many of the forensics people really think that they are doing good work to the rigors of science. Of course, so do many naturopaths and chiropractors. Further, I believe that many cops and prosecutors are relying on these

State of My Podcasts

07 Mar
March 7, 2018

I’m going to try and do this on an annual basis. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go.

I’m going to list the podcasts into some broad groups, with any annotations about frequency I listen to them or general impressions.

I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. I use four playlists:

  1. Daily – This is a playlist of what I want to listen to during my commutes, work, and other times. Some of the podcasts are put to the top on certain days. Some are “promotable”, which means they go to the top behind that day’s podcasts. The rest are filler, and I’ll get to them when I can.

  2. Writing – I use this as a warm-up for when I’m going to write as well as general knowledge to improve my writing

  3. Roman History – This one has two finished podcast series I’m listening about the history of Rome from its early beginnings to the fall of the Byzantine Empire

  4. History – Self explanatory

My podcasts as of March 2018:

Liberty

Cato Daily Podcast – A good quick bit in various topics from a libertarian viewpoint. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist.

Cato Events Podcast – Recordings of various panels put on by the Cato Institute. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting discussions and arguments. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist. I will delete if the topic doesn’t interest me, as these can be pretty long.

Clear and Present Danger -A History of Free Speech – This is a Friday morning podcast on my “Daily” playlist. Still a little uncertain about this one.

The Good Fight – Formerly “The Liberty Files”, this one is a promotable on my “Daily” playlist. This is one I like using for hearing the conservative side of civil liberty discussions. A bit heavier on the freedom of religion than I’d like, but understandable from the hosts’ perspective.

Reason Podcast – Reason’s weekly podcast with their editors is promotable on my Daily playlist. The others are filler. Some good content and some that just don’t interest me.

Short Circuit – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is a part of. This is a promotable on my Daily playlist.

So To Speak – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

Economics

Econtalk – Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot. This is a Tuesday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

GAO Podcast – GAO discussing some of their reviews. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist

History

Hardcore History – Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various topics is spellbinding. This is promotable on my History playlist on the infrequent occasions new podcasts show up.

Hardcore History: Addendum – New one from Dan Carlin. The first two were interesting. This will be promotable if he continues.

The History of Byzantium – I only listened to a couple of episodes. It’s on my “Roman History” playlist to go after the “History of Rome”

The History of Rome – This one is on my “Roman History” playlist. Good for amateur historians like me. It’s a finished series.

Revolutions – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution. I’ve listened to the first four seasons. This is on my History playlist.

War Stories – Good military history podcast. It’s in my “History” playlist.

Guns

Black Man With A Gun Podcast – Kenn’s podcast was one of the first I started listening to, and then I wrote Zombie Strike for him. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Down Range Radio – Right now, this is my Wednesday morning podcast, but it may get downgraded to promotable. Some of Bane’s nonsense and glad standing is getting on my nervesz On my Daily playlist.

Geeks Gadgets and Guns – A recent addition after they discussed Pathfinder with Erin Pallette. Right now it’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

The Gun Nation – This one is promotable on my Daily playlist on the rare occasions it drops.

Handgun Radio – This one I’ve been enjoying. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Handgun World – This one might go from promotable to fuller on my Daily playlist. Bob has good information, but sometimes his views annoy me, particularly when he goes off on rising evil.

Polite Society Podcast – Good information, but often too long. This one is filler on my Daily playlist

Riding Shotgun With Charley – Interesting so far, but currently filler on my Daily playlist

Safety Solutions Academy – Real good information. Paul is one of those trainers I’d like to learn from if I could scrape together the time and money. This one is promotable on my Daily playlist.

Self-Defense Gun Stories – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This one is a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Politics

The Economist – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. It provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds.

The Fifth Column – This is a really good roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Charles C. Cooke. That’s why I listen to this podcast. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Neal Boortz Daily Commentaries – I loved listening to Boortz when he was on syndicated radio, and now I get two minutes of him. It’s interesting to see how I’ve diverged from him over the years. It’s only considered promotable on my Daily playlist because I get it daily.

The One With Greg Gutfeld – Only listened to a couple of episodes, but it feels similar to Greg’s Redeye days. Currently promotable on my Daily playlist.

Part of the Problem – Rabid anti war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Promotable on my Daily playlist.

War College – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. An interesting look at politics and military issues.

Tech

Clockwise – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. I like the format and it helps keep me up to date on tech issues and trends.

Daily Tech Headlines – Good summary of big tech stories, and the weekend history segments are interesting. It’s considered promotable on my Daily playlist only becuse it comes out every day.

General

Friendly Fire – New one about three guys watching and critiquing war films. It’s a Friday afternoon podcast on my Daily playlist.

The Incomparable Game Show – Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving. It’s a Friday afternoon podcast on my Daily playlist.

Penn’s Sunday School – Penn prognosticating on the world. It’s a Tuesday and a Thursday morning podcast on my Daily Playlist.

Squirrel Report – It’s not a Friday afternoon drive without this one.

Unjustly Maligned – On hiatus, but I’d recommend going through the back of episodes.

The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Science & Skepticism

Skeptics Guide to The Universe – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism. It’s a Monday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

Skeptoid – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Writing

Writing Excuses – If you are a fiction writer, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s currently the only one on my Writing playlist.

Going To Do My Civic Duty

27 Aug
August 27, 2017

I got something that I haven’t gotten for about fifteen years – a jury summons. It’s been even longer than that since I sat at the courthouse waiting to be called. That got me to thinking of what has changed in my thinking since the last time I sat in the pool.

1. I started carrying a gun on a regular basis. That alone has radically shifted my worldview, but then I attended trainings and started learning about the legalities of self defense – and the intricacies of the legal system.

2. I don’t have the automatic deference to police that my younger self had. Because of the powers that a police officer are granted, I’m more likely to hold them to a higher standard.

3. I don’t trust forensics as much as I used to. Some forensic tools, such as DNA testing, were developed through rigorous processes, and are generally reliable. Others, such as handwriting and hair analysis, were developed in crime labs, and are less reliable. Then there’s the small item of the numerous lab scandals.

4. I no longer expect the heroic prosecutors and scumbag defense attorneys. If anything, I don’t trust either side. Probably about as much as I trust MSNBC and Fox to present their cases.

And now I have to go through my EDC and start yanking out stuff that is not allowed at the courthouse. That may take a bit.

Friday Quote- John Locke

20 May
May 20, 2016

“To love truth for the truth’s sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.”

John Locke

Friday Quote – Christopher Hitchens

08 Apr
April 8, 2016

“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”

Christopher Hitchens

Friday Quote- Bertrand Russell

18 Mar
March 18, 2016

“A fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity is to hold a belief true because you think it useful and not because you believe it to be true.”

Bertrand Russell

Michael Shermer Blasts Lack of Ideological Diversity in Social Sciences

18 Feb
February 18, 2016

His article in Sci-Am is worth a read.

Shermer begins with saying the insanity taking place on college campuses can be laid at the feet of having no other ideologies to act as a reality balance. Locked in an echo chamber, it’s a race to the extremes – kind of like a primary race. 

Then Shermer lays out that bias affects not only the descriptive terms used during studies (conservative values as indicators of mental disorders), but in how the data is interpreted. 

RTWT