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: Ghostly claptrap

Does the Large Hadron Collider Actually Disprove Ghosts? That’s the question asked in a recent article posted on Gizmodo. Well, of course it doesn’t. The LHC doesn’t disprove invisible pink unicorns, either. It can’t disprove what doesn’t exist. No matter how many wingnut websites promise to reunite you with your long lost loved ones (for ...

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: TEOTWAWKI, New Year’s Eve

Some religious wingnuts aren’t planning to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year, 2017. Nope: they’re going to await the arrival of their zombie deity who, one can only suppose, will be bringing the champagne to his own party when he returns from the dead. The end of the world party, of course. And ...

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: Fake Ark, Fake Religion

Well, it finally opened: the $100 million-dollar Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky that features an allegedly life-size model of the mythological boat described in the Bible. It’s 510 feet (155.4m) long, 85 feet (26m) wide, more than three storeys (51 feet) tall, uses 3.1 million board-feet of lumber, steel and other modern materials, on a ...

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 ...

A. Picazo: Legitimizing Pseudoscience: What’s The Harm?

This column ran in The National Post on March 24, 2016. After weeks of trying “natural” extracts and homemade remedies like smoothies cut with ginger root and horseradish to cure a suspected case of meningitis, 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan’s tiny body had so deteriorated that he was too stiff to bend. Unable to be sit in his car seat, Ezekiel’s ...

Scripturient: 432 vs 440Hz: Science or Codswallop?

Canadian band Walk Off the Earth posted excitedly on Facebook that they had just recorded a new song. Great. I like WOTE and look forward to their new song. What was really different about that notice was that they also said they had changed their instruments from the standard A440 to A432 tuning, and it ...

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: The Continued Rise of Anti-Intellectualism

I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter* Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America, says the headline in this recent Psychology Today story. The subtitle reads: Social dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason. I wrote about anti-intellectualism as ...

Scripturient: The Paleo-Fantasy

Perhaps the best – and certainly the funniest – description of what happens to your life when you pursue pseudoscience fads like the “paleo” diet is here on Popsugar. It’s laugh-aloud funny and too good not to be shared. I loved so many lines it’s hard to pick one or two, but from the description ...

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Another TEOTWAWKI

TEOTWAWKI – The End Of The World As We Know It – has been predicted ever since humans looked up in wonder at the sky and decided it was peopled with invisible beings. Beings who wanted to do us harm, it seems. And as quickly as we people the sky, there developed an industry predicting ...

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: 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: Evolutionary Dead-Ends

Some people seem genetically inclined – perhaps I should write doomed? – to believe in nonsense: believe in conspiracy theories, in myths, legends, superstitions and supernatural, in magic, in pseudoscience and pseudomedicine. Nothing – no amount of fact, truth, education, reason or contrary evidence will change their minds. The harder you try to correct them, the ...

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, ...