Wakefield Conspiracies Begin

Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s work in autism has been discounted and his paper retracted by the Lancet.  He is being called a fraud because it has been discovered that he falsified data in his study that linked vaccines to autism andrew-wakefield-exposed-as-fraud.html

According to the above article investigative reporter Brian Deer, “confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.”

He continues on saying “None of this will matter to anti-vaccinationists,” he writes, “who view Wakefield as . . . a persecuted scientific hero . . .” And he nailed it dead on. Dr Rachael Dunlop confirmed just that when she shared this on Twitter: WakefieldWitchhunt.jpg

According to the diagram, The Lancet, The Sunday Times and Paul Offitt were all influenced by “Profiteers of the 20 Million Dollar Vaccine Industry”. The creator of this diagram has called the retraction by The Lancet a witch hunt. The author also claims that “21 autism organizations in the US and UK filed perjury charges against the head of the Lancet for lying about Wakefield’s disclosures of his conflicts in the GMC hearing not relevant to the fact that the Lancet retracted Wakefield’s article the following week” anatomy-of-witch-hunt.html

I hope someone can explain to me what that last quote means. I can’t quite make sense of it. What conflicts are they referring to? Is this their way of saying that Wakefield did NOT commit fraud?

Oh no. no indeed. As this article will show why_am_i_not_surprised_it_looks_as_thoug.php Wakefield is guilty of the same things that the antivaxers accuse Paul Offitt and many other doctors of.

I know from listening to James Randi speak that you cannot change the mind of a True Believer. All we can do is plant the seed and hope that somehow the truth will take root.


Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed 2

Ben Stein hosts this documentary which “examines the criticisms and hostilities that exist in today’s scientific field (both academic and professional) towards peers and journalists who subscribe to or even entertain the perspective of Intelligent Design in science”.

I have unfortunately failed to make it all the way through this film as of this writing. At the one hour mark, I set it aside for the time being. The cinematography and editing make it extraordinarily difficult to follow. The interviews with such notables as PZ Meyers pharyngula and Richard Dawkins richarddawkins.net along with Intelligent design proponents at The Discovery Institute www.discovery.org and more are interspersed with black and white film clips from what appears to be the early years of the Berlin Wall. There are other nonsensical clips inserted to act as confirmation of a point that had just been made by an interviewee.

In all honesty this looks like something a first year film student would throw together the night before a project was due while he was still high. Now IF you can get past that, the movie asks a valid question.

According to the narrative, a group of scientists, teachers and a journalist have all either been fired, censured or generally had their careers ruined for bringing up the question of Intelligent Design. Details are sketchy as to the content that led to the censure/firing, etc. The film indicates that in the cases shown, merely mentioning Intelligent Design or writing about it led to the firings. IF this is the case, why were these people censured so severely?

In the film, the main argument for creationism seemed to be that since a single cell is so complex, there must have been a designer. Most of those interviewed shied away from the idea that the designer was the Judaeo Christian god. They instead asked that the concept that “something greater than ourselves” be investigated as a possible theory for the origin of life.

It seems a reasonable request until you consider that they can’t or won’t even define what that “something” might be. They are simply theorizing that because everything is so complex that it could not possibly have happened by chance. Their example of why it couldn’t was an animation of a guy and a bunch of slot machines.

Like I said…stoned first year film student.

I’m bothered by the idea that these people supposedly all lost their jobs and careers, or nearly so, because they discussed an alternative idea. The makers of this film took pains to equate the censures and firings with Nazi Germany. Obviously an extreme example. It poses the question, however, “At what point does freedom of speech cease to be free?’. I hope someone will investigate this further and find out why these people were treated like this..


I’ve noticed that there are days when places like the Skepchick site has what I would consider filler. Opinions are bandied about concerning a multitude of fluff topics. Often such issues as the Facebook bra color thing and how we fill our down time have been par for the course. Please understand that this is not a criticism of Skepchicks. They rock and I really wish I was one of them.

This is an observation.

As part of the observation, I wonder why this happens. Are there simply not enough news-worthy skeptical topics to cover? Is it that, after a while they simply run out of educational things to talk about all the time? Is it because it offers a break from those times when the stupidity of anti-vaxers, the Catholic Church, religious extremists and conspiracy theorists makes you want to ram your head through a wall??

I think I’ll take door number three.

This is just a guess mind you. After all, I don’t always talk about educational aspects of skepticism. Sometimes we all need a break from the serious.

And so, today we have…Filler!! TADA!

Bomb The Moon!!

Tomorrow morning at 7:31 NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will crash its Centaur upper-stage rocket into the lunar surface. A mere 4 min. later, the main body of the LCROSS will follow, plummeting through the debris cloud caused by the first crash. It will collect and relaying information back to Earth before crashing into the Cabeus crater close to the south pole of the Moon. The concept behind this excercise is to look for the presence of water in the polar soil.

Already there are people foretelling doom and gloom. The conspiracy theorists are suggesting that the reason we are “bombing” the moon is that we found some sort of technology there years ago. One is also stating that the shapes of various space agency insignia has something to do with the technology that we supposedly found on the moon.

According to one of these people, they think that there will be tidal waves and earthquakes caused by this. There is absolutely no reason to think this will be the case. The Moon suffers impacts almost daily and yet we have no changes here.

The person in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggc1-jB2lhQ: clearly is NOT using deductive reasoning. His arguments are based in misinformation, conspiracy theory and fallacy. There are SO many logical fallacies in his argument that I cannot begin to name them.

This IS an excellent example of one of the formats of “Appeal to Consequence of a Belief”, though.  Here’s an idea. See how many logical fallacies you can find in his argument and post them here.

Seeing Is Believing

There is a type of logical fallacy called “Appeal to Belief”. It has a basic pattern of:

1 – “Most people believe that X is true”

2 – Therefor X is true

For instance,

“Most people believe that unidentifiable lights in the sky at night are UFOs”

Therefor “Aliens have visited Earth”.

Roswell and Area 51 is a perfect example of the “People believe it therefor it must be true” school of logical fallacy. Of course there will always be True Believers out there. We can only keep giving them information and hope that eventually it will stick with them.

Yes. Area 51 DOES exist. People commute by plane back and forth daily to the complex. Area 51 deals with research and development. You can read about the history of the place, why the airspace is restricted and some background here: http://science.howstuffworks.com/area-5113.htm

It has been shown repeatedly that what people thought was a UFO was nothing more than a weather balloon. BUT because people believe that a UFO crash landed there and “credible” witnesses claim that bodies were removed, then aliens MUST have crash landed there.

It all goes back to using your skeptical thinking processes. Can this be real? What does the evidence say? Is this really a credible source for information on this subject?

Question everything. It’s the Skeptic’s Way.

If you want to read more about what the possibilities are of humans being alone in the Universe, pick up a copy of Phil Plait’s book “Death From The Skies” There’s a chapter in there on aliens and their evil machinations on Planet Earth.