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In defence of pseudoscience › Opinion (ABC Science)

In defence of pseudoscience › Opinion (ABC Science) | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it

Believe it or not; pseudoscience provides the perfect launch pad for logical thought, says Dr Paul Willis.


Recently, I was watching an old MythBusters with my son. It was the one where they investigated the Hindenburg myth, that what caught fire was not the hydrogen but a thermite mixture in the paints used to dope the fabric covering of the behemoth airship. (They concluded that it was a mixture of both the thermite and the hydrogen).

Watching their models of the Hindenburg burn with varying intensities took me back to my high school days and a bout of paranormal fakery and investigations that developed my abilities to think rationally.

In hindsight I started out with hoaxes, pseudoscience and pulp-science as a training ground for rational investigation. And it hasn't surprised me that over the years as I've met thousands of scientists and science communicators, their ranks are filled with people who started thinking in the rational paradigms of science by dabbling in the pseudosciences.

It all started when a school mate whose name has long since been forgotten came to school one day with some colour photographs of the last minute of the Hindenburg as she crashed to the ground in that infamous fireball. We gathered around realising that there was something wrong — we'd never seen colour pics of the incident before and there was something about the pose that rang alarm bells in the backs of our minds.

They were, of course, hoaxes; he'd spent the weekend making a scale model of the airship then photographed it after setting it alight. But what he also ignited was a wave of hoaxing across the school that lasted for months. I got in on the craze hoaxing photos of UFOs and ghosts. It was all good fun and some of the results I remember were very convincing. But we were learning something important; that it is relatively easy to fake data and that the kudos of creating a convincing fake is intoxicating!

Testing claims
Up until that point I had dabbled in all kinds of pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo from UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, past life regressions, psychic abilities etc, etc. You name it and I was interested in it. But the hoaxing fad started me down the path of devising ways of testing the claims made by the paranormal, and questioning the evidence that had been put forward. I had already dispatched creationism as a corrupted belief system by conducting some simple investigations of the evidence for an old earth and the evolution of life that could be found all around me. And as I investigated all the other non-science and 'fringe' science that had held my attention to that point, one by one my interest in them dropped as they each revealed themselves to be based on bunkum, probable fraud and impossibilities.

I tested past life regressions by planting questions that could not have been answered by someone who was genuinely from another period ("You enter the room where you died in 1760, where is the light switch?" "On the left of the door").

I covered three identical buckets, only one with water in it, and got dowsers to tell me which one was full — they couldn't do it. I once taped a large quartz crystal under a chair that I got a crystal freak to sit on without knowing it; they detected nothing until I told them they were sitting on a crystal (I actually told them it was a garnet taped to the back of the chair and they started prattling on about how they could feel 'garnet energy' in their back and they were shocked that they were actually sitting on a large quartz crystal without realising it).

Conversely, I even had the science teacher at school convinced that his hand was tingling because of the radiation coming from a lump of uranium ore that a friend brought to school — the powers of suggestion!

Throughout my career as a scientist and science communicator I've been struck by how many of my colleagues also shared an early interest in the pseudosciences and how examining and testing those beliefs led them to appreciate rational thinking and dispatch the pseudosciences as implausibilities that are often riddled with fraud. In this way pseudoscience has been a scratching post for many young scientists upon which they can hone their logical abilities to investigate and test claims. In some cases this has been their introduction to science but often, as in my experience, I had a pre-existing interest in science and used the pseudosciences as a testing ground for my abilities as a budding rational thinker.

Thus I wish to praise the pseudosciences as useful in the ontogeny of so many of our scientific minds. Not as a constructive contribution to their knowledge but as a convenient foil to test their growing powers of reason.

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Juan Enriquez: Will our kids be a different species? | Video on TED.com

TED Talks Throughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now?
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Sakis Koukouvis's comment, July 1, 2012 11:39 PM
Thanks. Great video
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‘Hyperbolic metamaterials’ closer to reality | KurzweilAI

‘Hyperbolic metamaterials’ closer to reality | KurzweilAI | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Hyperbolic metamaterials could bring optical advances including powerful microscopes, quantum computers and high-performance solar cells. The graphic at left
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Means so much - we will be able to "see" more.

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Researchers, Startups Hope One Drop of Blood Could Diagnose All Types of Cancer

Researchers, Startups Hope One Drop of Blood Could Diagnose All Types of Cancer | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it

As genetics reveals the incredible diversity among cancer cells, researchers have largely given up pursuing a silver bullet to cure all types of cancer. Instead, many have begun searching for the next-best thing: a silver bullet test to diagnose all cancers. The test would look for markers of cancer in the patient’s blood, where the process of tumor-making leaves a trail that can often be picked up before tumors are big enough to spot.

 

And early diagnosis makes a big difference in survival rates. When cancer is found in Stage 0, as it’s just getting started, or in Stage 1, it kills only 10 percent of patients, regardless of what type of cancer it is, for the most part. Many of the cancers we know as the deadliest are so known because they are rarely found in earlier stages.

 

 


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amazing research here

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6 Wild Quotes From Christopher Hitchens That Will Remind You Why You're An Atheist

6 Wild Quotes From Christopher Hitchens That Will Remind You Why You're An Atheist | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Hitch may have passed on, but his words still ring loud and clear.
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Tony Abbott incorrect on the history of marriage

Tony Abbott incorrect on the history of marriage | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says marriage has always been between a man and a woman, but that's not the case.

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add your insight...

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Infographic: Article Summary Writing Tips

How and Why to add an Article Summary to each Post.Have a look next time you do a search. In addition to seeing the heading, you can also see a few sentences about what is next.This is where you can expand on the heading by giving reasons why people should read on, by enticing readers with some juicy anticipation of what is to come.Can
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Parkwood Golf Club

Parkwood Golf Club - revampedMy husband started playing golf in 2003 when we were living in Fiji for 12 months.When we returned to Australia in October 2004, he joined the Parkwood International Golf Club, not far from where we lived.Over an area of 26 km Gold Coast coastline, there are more than 50 golf clubs of varying length, standard
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A ‘universal smart window’ for instant control of lighting and heat | KurzweilAI

A ‘universal smart window’ for instant control of lighting and heat | KurzweilAI | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Smart-window glass that can be switched to block heat or light (credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Researchers at the U.S. Department of
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Researchers track facial expressions to improve teaching software | KurzweilAI

Researchers track facial expressions to improve teaching software | KurzweilAI | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Student workstation with depth camera, skin conductance bracelet, and computer with webcam (credit: Joseph F. Grafsgaard et al.) Research from North
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Potential new target to thwart antibiotic resistance: Viruses in gut confer antibiotic resistance to bacteria

Potential new target to thwart antibiotic resistance: Viruses in gut confer antibiotic resistance to bacteria | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Bacteria in the gut that are under attack by antibiotics have allies no one had anticipated, scientists have found.
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Islam and the Misuses of Ecstasy : Sam Harris

Islam and the Misuses of Ecstasy : Sam Harris | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape.
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Man gets 3D-printed face

Man gets 3D-printed face | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
When restaurant manager Eric Moger surprised his girlfriend by proposing over Christmas dinner, he could have no idea that less than a year later his life and appearance would be changed beyond recognition.
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Response to Controversy : Sam Harris

Response to Controversy : Sam Harris | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape.
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He analyses with such clarity.

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Who is Narendra Modi - India's New Prime Minister?

Who is Narendra Modi - India's New Prime Minister? | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Who is Narendra Modi?

India's election, which was won convincingly by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), revolved around only one male: India's next head of sta
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An interesting man

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Replacing a defective gene with a correct sequence to treat genetic disorders | KurzweilAI

Replacing a defective gene with a correct sequence to treat genetic disorders | KurzweilAI | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
(Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT) Using a new gene-editing system based on bacterial proteins, MIT researchers have cured mice of a rare liver disorder
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Just amazing!

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Multivitamin and mineral use and breast cancer mortality in older women with invasive breast cancer in the women’s health initiative - Springer

Multivitamin and mineral use and breast cancer mortality in older women with invasive breast cancer in the women’s health initiative - Springer | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it

Postmenopausal women with invasive breast cancer using MVM (multi-vitamins with minerals) had lower breast cancer mortality than non-users. The results suggest a possible role for daily MVM use in attenuating breast cancer mortality in women with invasive breast cancer but the findings require confirmation.


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I love anything from Ray and Terry - they are in the forefront of anti aging research.

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Bees use 'biological autopilot' to land › News in Science (ABC Science)

Bees use 'biological autopilot' to land › News in Science (ABC Science) | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Bees get a perfect touchdown by detecting how fast their landing site 'zooms in' as they approach, new research has found.
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Rise and Shine: 5 Things Uber Successful People Do First Thing

Rise and Shine! Morning time simply became your new best buddy.Love it or despise it, making use of the morning hours prior to work may be the secret to a successful, and healthy, lifestyle. That's right, early rising is a typical quality discovered in numerous CEOs, government officials, and other influential individuals who have the rise and
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Content Marketing the New SEO – Infographic

Another great Content Marketing infographic from Berrie Pelser of Wordpress Hosting SEO.More and more today, business uses great content marketing to attract more readers, shares and likes.Makes sense really.Good content marketing works better in the long term, instead of unreliable black hat SEO which can often be affected by changes
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The Most Astounding Fact – Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Most Astounding Fact – Neil deGrasse Tyson | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it

Time magazine once asked astropysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson 10 questions.

One of those questions asked by a Time reader was “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”

Neil’s response is very awe-inspiring, especially when brought to life in this video which is a compilation from various sources by Max Schlickenmeyer.

Our knowledge of the universe and where we come from is known more today than at any time in history.

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I get goosebumps whenever I watch this video!

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Any Day Now, Malaria, TB and AIDS will be Dodos.

Any Day Now, Malaria, TB and AIDS will be Dodos.
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Watch the inspiring video and then contact your local member to spread the word.

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BigBrain: an ultra-high-resolution 3D roadmap of the human brain | KurzweilAI

BigBrain: an ultra-high-resolution 3D roadmap of the human brain | KurzweilAI | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
BigBrain (credit: Montreal Neurological Institute and Forschungszentrum Jülich) A landmark three-dimensional (3-D) digital reconstruction of a complete
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Unfrozen mystery: Water reveals a new secret

Unfrozen mystery: Water reveals a new secret | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Using revolutionary new techniques, a team led by Carnegie's Malcolm Guthrie has made a striking discovery about how ice behaves under pressure, changing ideas that date back almost 50 years.
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Using Thorium for Energy

Using Thorium for Energy

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors LFTRs were invented 50 years ago by an American named Alvin Weinberg.

LFTRs are revolutionary liquid reactors that run not on uranium, but thorium. These work and have been built before.

The main reason this technology is not in widespread use today is our irrational fear of nuclear energy, despite the fact that more people have died from fossil fuels and even hydroelectric power than nuclear power.

That plus the multinational companies and governments invested in fossil fuel use such as oil, coal and gas.

How much Thorium for Energy do we Have?

Latest research says we have at least 2.6 million tonnes of it on earth, distributed over all the continents.

For every kilogram of thorium, LFTRs can produce 3.5 million Kwh of energy.

This is 70 times greater than uranium and 10,000 times greater than oil.

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Huge online attack exposes internet's vulnerability - tech - 29 March 2013 - New Scientist

Huge online attack exposes internet's vulnerability - tech - 29 March 2013 - New Scientist | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
The largest online attack ever reported – which may have slowed down the internet itself – is over, but the next battleground is already
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China’s next-generation Internet is a world-beater | KurzweilAI

China’s next-generation Internet is a world-beater | KurzweilAI | anti dogmanti | Scoop.it
Artist rendering of city-sized cloud computing and office complex being built in China (IBM) An open-access report published in the Philosophical
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can't wait for it!

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