Scripturient: Why the panic over Julie Payette?

Governor General Julie Payette made comments in a speech to the Canadian Science Policy Conference on Nov. 1 in which she encouraged her audience at a science convention to ignore misinformation, fantasy and conspiracy theory and support facts and science, and to engage in “learned debate.” That has the right furious, and as is their ...

Scripturient: The ignorati rise

Chapman University recently published the results of a depressing, but hardly surprising, survey that shows American believe in codswallop continue to rise. Not political codswallop – this is the supernatural, paranormal, wingnut type.  And the numbers are huge. Or yuge as the ignorati-in-chief would say. The article notes, “nearly three-fourths of Americans do believe in ...

Scripturient: WiFi hysteria again

Every so often, old crackpot ideas, hoaxes, cons and plainly silly pseudoscience resurface online under the guise of Trump-like alternate fact. Scary stories about chemicals in your food, fake health tips, and Facebook-stealing-your-photos nonsense compete for attention with actual news and factual stories. The old bromide about wireless signals (WiFi) killing things is just one ...

Scripturient: Antarctica’s icy hoaxes return

Under the thick ice of Antarctica lies buried the remains of an advanced civilization, dating back 55,000-65,000 years. So startling was this discovery that world leaders were flown in to the perennially frozen continent to witness for themselves the proof of alien presence on our planet. Or not. Well, really not. Not at all. You ...

Scripturient: Hoax: Five-meter giant skeletons

Once again, the internet is being circulated with fake news that grabs the gullible by their grey matter. This time’s it’s a regurgitation of a 2014 hoax – then recycled in 2015- claiming the skeleton of a five-meter tall giant was unearthed in Australia. Accompanying the reports are risibly Photoshopped images that even a child ...

Scripturient: I missed my calling in quackery

I missed my calling. I realize that, now I am semi-retired and counting my pennies. But I could have been like Deepak Chopra: rolling in dough, had I been astute enough to see the trends. Too late, I suppose, for me, but maybe not for you. All my life I have criticized and lampooned New Age ...

Scripturient: The 10 Worst?

Skeptoid just published its top-ten worst anti-science websites and I’m sure you won’t be surprised at the awardees, especially not the regulars like Mercola, Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra and Food Babe (aka the Worst Assault on Science on the Internet). Predatory quacks, crackpots and fakirs you will easily recognize. Surprisingly, the uber-wingnut David Wolfe was ...

Scripturient: Enough with the astrology claptrap already

“No,” wrote Phil Plait on Slate, “NASA Didn’t Change Your Astrological Sign.” Which it didn’t. But that hasn’t stopped the wingnuts from wailing over the recent announcement from NASA allegedly changing your horoscope. Let’s start with the basics. Plait sums it up nicely: Astrology isn’t science; it’s nonsense. It’s been tested 10 ways to Sunday ...

Scripturient: Flat earthers? Must be a spoof…

At first, I thought a story on Tech.mic titled “Meet the People Who Believe the Earth Is Flat” was satire. You know, a parody of those zany conspiracy theorists who believe in such nonsense as chemtrails, gluten-free, the government staged the 9/11 attacks, homeopathy, vaccines cause autism, Trump is a good presidential candidate, astrology, creationism, climate ...

Scripturient: Not quite seven signs of the apocalypse

A 2014 story on Salon, titled 7 things Americans think are more plausible than man-made global warming made its way around Facebook again, recently. It lists seven statistics about things Americans believe in more than they believe that human activity has caused climate change. It got a lot of shares and likes. Climate change is, of course, fact, ...

Scripturient: Nibiru nuttiness

I’ve written about the wingnuts and their mysterious planet Nibiru – the so-called Planet X – in the past. It’s one of the furthest wacky conspiracies on the fringe of wackiness, and fairly recent. It mostly sprang whole cloth from the brain (if I can call it that…) of uber-wingnut Nancy Lieder, whose website, ZetaTalk, has ...

Scripturient: The Flat Earthers Respawn

While flat-earther might be a metaphor for a certain kid of myopic, political stupidity (think of your local council…), I learned this week that it’s also a thriving online subculture of rabidly pseudo-science wingnuts. A couple of entertaining articles about the flat-earthers appeared on the UK’s Guardian paper site (here and here) this week. They ...

Scripturient: The “Secret” Space Program Hoax

It’s just one more of those wingnut fantasy conspiracies that popped up on my Facebook feed recently. It’s not a new one: the old aliens-among-us nonsense just gets recycled and re-spewed by a whole new group of ignorati who follow the scam artists, hoaxers and charlatans who in turn make their living off this stuff. ...

Scripturient: Putting Homeopathy to the Test

Homeopathic products often make a lot of outrageous claims. Given that these products are just water, or sometimes water and sugar, anyone with a gnat’s worth of common sense doesn’t believe those claims. Nor are they backed by any evidence. It’s no wonder homeopathy is called the “air guitar of medicine:” It should not be ...

Scripturient: Going Clear Reviewed

I found it difficult to read Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (Random House, 2013): it gave me a sense of unease, forcing a frequent over-the-shoulder glance to see if someone was following me just because I was reading it. But nonetheless, it proved compelling – so much so that I dropped all ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Ontario’s Assault on Health Care

Earlier this month, the Ontario government took a shot at real medicine when it became the first province in Canada to regulate homeopathy. What the government should have done, if it had any real concern about our collective health or our health care system, is ban it. Instead, although it at first seemed an April Fool’s ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Extraordinary Claims

As the poster for the Centre for Inquiry notes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s a popular catchphrase for the skeptical movement, but should be an intellectual policy for everyone. Regardless of what is being claimed, it requires evidence at the same level of the claim. Anecdote is not evidence, please note, especially personal anecdote ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: It’s Official: Homeopathy is Bunk

“Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds,” reads a headline in The Guardian this week. Well, that’s hardly news. But it repeats saying anyway. It’s a story about the latest in a series of studies that again and again debunk homeopathy as a treatment and conclude it is useless. Australia’s National Health and ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Bad News For Balderdash

A recent story on New Scientist gives a glimmer of hope for those of us who bemoan the swelling tsunami of claptrap and codswallop that fills the internet: THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Pinnacle of Homeopathic Stupidity

“Have Homeopaths Reached Peak Stupid?” asks the headline on Quackometer.net. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting dumber than a belief in homeopathy (aka The One Quackery to Rule Them All), but apparently there are higher levels within their madness that homeopaths continue to scale. This, however, looks like their Everest of stupidity. The story in question ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Debunking Homeopathy. Again.

Homeopathy. It’s absolute bunk. But you already know that. All those forms of ‘magic medicine‘* are bunk, of course, but homeopathy has a special place reserved for it in the kingdom of codswallop. Codswallop is dangerous to the mind, and often to your wallet, but homeopathy compounds that by being dangerous to your health, too, ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reflexology: another daft New Age idea

As medicine, reflexology is bunk. Just like iridology and phrenology. Of course, you knew that. But not everyone does. Reflexology popped up recently in a shared post on Facebook (a popular venue for moving codswallop and cat photos from one user to another at the speed of light…). Coincidentally it appeared right after a post promoting a ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Those Crazy Creationists

I know, I know, it’s the proverbial fish in a barrel when you critique creationists. They are just so easy to mock. But how can you help yourself when someone like Ken Ham opens his mouth in public? The media just love to pounce all over him. He must take his lessons in PR from Ann Coulter. And ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Chemtrails: yet more conspiracy claptrap

A bit of simple math was used to debunk the chemtrail nonsense conspiracy recently. Over at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s website there’s a great piece explaining why there simply aren’t enough pilots, planes or chemicals for the chemtrail silliness to be true: A typical crop duster might use seven ounces of agent diluted in ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Food Babe and other nonsense

She’s been called the “Jenny McCarthy of food.” That’s not a compliment and should warn anyone with half a brain to beware of her. She’s a New Age wingnut helping turn the public from science to superstition. She’s also been described as the “latest quack making a name for herself on the Internet by peddling pseudoscience” ...