Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Skeptical Look at Pseudoneuroscience

One of the best books I've read lately is "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)" written by Carol Tavris (along with Elliot Aronson). The subtitle of the book is, "Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts". I was hoping that Carol would be at TAM this year so I would have a chance to tell her how much I enjoyed it, but she was not. Fortunately, the JREF not only puts on a truly AMAZING meeting, they also post videos of all the great talks that take place there. Here's a talk that Carol Tavris gave at TAM 2012, titled "A Skeptical Look at Pseudoneuroscience"(definitely worth a watch):

I just wanted to include quickly a quote by Lenny Bruce that Tavris shared in her great book. The following was said by Bruce after watching the Presidential Debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960:
I would be with a bunch of Kennedy fans watching the debate and their comment would be, “He’s really slaughtering Nixon.” Then we would all go to another apartment, and the Nixon fans would say, “How do you like the shellacking he gave Kennedy?” And then I realized that each group loved their candidate so that a guy would have to be this blatant – he would have to look into the camera and say: “I am a thief, a crook, do you hear me, I am the worst choice you could ever make for the Presidency!” And even then his following would say, “Now there’s an honest man for you. It takes a big guy to admit that. There’s the kind of guy we need for President.”
Pretty great, huh?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Great is Kyle Hill?

I've been a big fan of science writer and JREF Research Fellow Kyle Hill for awhile now. I first discovered his writing at his blog "Science Based Life", but he now writes a blog at Scientific American (Overthinking It) as well. His writing has been featured in Pop Sci, WIRED, the JREF Swift blog, and Slate. Basically, you can find him anywhere they are willing to talk science. You'll even find him popping up in places that you don't normally associate with science. Fox News, for example. Here's a video of him on Fox and Friends talking about the Kopp-Etchells Effect.

I was fortunate enough to meet Kyle at TAM. I attended a workshop he gave with Barbara Drescher titled, "How Rational Are You?". Also, Kyle and Sara Mayhew recorded a GREAT episode of Skeptically Yours. The episode also featured John Whiteside (affectionally dubbed John the Super Atheist by Penn Jillette). John founded the United Church of Bacon and is a member of the MRFF (Military Religious Freedom Foundation) Advisory Board. I'll post a link to the podcast once it's available. 

Ardent Atheist - Episode 115

Here's the link to the episode of Ardent Atheist that I was a guest on. Oh yeah...Paul Provenza and Father Guido Sarducci were on it, also. (This is a really short and lazy blog post. Whatever. You're not paying for this. Fuck you!)

If you like what you hear during the free portion, sign up for a premium subscription and listen to the whole damn thing! It's only $10 a year. That's cheap! Go here now.

Monday, July 29, 2013


At the risk of turning this blog into a shrine for Paul Provenza, I want to share an excerpt from the introduction to his book, "¡SATIRISTAS!" I picked up a copy at TAM and it's really a great book (the photography by Dan Dion is wonderful). Ok, here's goes. Speaking about satirists, Provenza pens the following:

"...because they want you to listen and pay attention, because they want you to relate, because they want you to think, because they want you to get angry, because they want you to know you're not alone, because they want you to wake up, because they want you to learn, because they want you to understand them, because they want you to understand yourself, because they want us to understand each other, because they want you to be skeptical, because they want you to feel passion, because they want you to be empowered, because they want you to be free, because the truth will set you free, because they want to tell the truth, because they want us to discover the truth, because truth is absolute, because, as William Shakespeare said, "Jesters do oft prove prophets," because as Dario Fo said, "With comedy I can search for the profound," because as Moliere said, "The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them," because as Mark Twain said, "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand," because as George Orwell said, "Whatever is funny is subversive," because as Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph over evil is for good men to do nothing," and because we all know what happens if someone doesn't stand up and say, "Stop drinking the Kool-Aid!," the only thing that matters is the laugh." 

You NEED this book! Fortunately, I've got your back. Here's the link to click to pick up your own copy. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Just Me and Paul Provenza biggie.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my first TAM (The Amazing Meeting) this year in Vegas. I had so many wonderful experiences and met so many wonderful people. This is one of my favorite pictures from TAM...maybe ever (the picture was taken by Ed Ondrick. Thanks, Ed!). Just me and Paul Provenza...podcasting (I'm the dipshit with the stupid beard wearing a stupid hat).

And then one more with Don Novella (Father Guido Sarducci) after the show.

Emery and Heather asked me to moderate the "Wall of Reason" during the Ardent Atheist podcast on November 18, 2011. It's one of the most enjoyable things I've done in my life. I've met a ton of great people and heard a bunch of great shows. I'll never forget being on the show with Provenza and Don. I probably said less than 50 words (I was nervous) and really only had one funny line, but it was a truly AMAZING experience. I'll add the link to the episode in this post as soon as it's available. I'll share more of my TAM experiences soon. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how much fun I had. I can't wait for next year!

Here's the link to this episode of Ardent Atheist (episode 115).

My Kid is 13 and I Have a Stupid, Stupid Beard

My son, Jeffery, is 13 today. I'm 39. I'm three times as old as him. This won't happen again (I think, right?) It's a big deal (no it's not). You know what's crazy, man? If you add the two digits of his age (I'll help you. 1+3= 4) and the digits of my age (hint: it's 12), guess what? My number is still three times more. Do you have any idea what this means?!? It means I'm tired and stupid...and if you add the numbers from his birthday this year (like this: 7+2+7+1+3) and the numbers from my birthday this year (5+2+9+1+3) they both equal 20. And if you add the two twenties together you get 40, which is how old I'll be next year. You know what that means?!? That in addition to tired and stupid, I'm also old. Old, tired, and stupid. With a stupid beard and a brain that won't shut the fuck up. Happy birthday, kiddo. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I'm gonna start writing here again. Try to contain your excitement.