Map-dowsing competition in UK

Via The Guardian‘s science department (yeah, figure THAT out!), evidently there are some segments of the dowsing community that are skeptical of some other segments of the dowsing community — those that evidently believe they can dowse using a pendulum and a printout from Google Maps.

However, even believers in the muddy wellies type of dowsing often have grave doubts about map dowsers, who claim to be able to locate such features just by holding a pendulum over a Google Earth satellite view taken from miles above a site. The debate has rumbled on through many archaeology forums, with believers and sceptics equally passionately engaged.

A website dedicated to prehistoric archaeology called the Megalithic Portal is now launching a competition to try and resolve the question, with would-be psychics and scoffers invited to join a hunt for archaeological remains from the comfort of their own armchairs.

Andy Burnham, founder of the website, says dowsing has consistently sparked “more discussion and discord” than any other subject on the site. “We always end up with the same stalemate. Dowsers claim they can find anything and non-dowsers doubt that because there is no documented proof.”

I hate this sort of test. If you crowdsource this large of a dataset with the opportunity to make some money, all you have to do is guess correctly, and with enough guesses in the pot someone’s probably going to win. It won’t mean these people actually found something except by pure chance. Not that that’ll stop the inevitable self-satisfied crowing. Le sigh.

Hitler’s reaction to Casual Pepper-spraying Cop Meme

Going to a lodge somewhere deep in some woods and possibly belonging to a mad scientist of some sort for the weekend. I’m only blogging ahead for this weekend, so if there’s some sort of evil dimensional tearing or something (possibly as a result of our misadventures at this lodge), which eventually consumes the world in darkness, well, there’s only stuff scheduled to hit the blog til Monday morning. Sorry! You’ll just have to deal with the demon apocalypse without me. A pro tip: get a chainsaw.

Via Michael Fisher, Hitler has a few words to say about this meme:


It’s the American Thanksgiving, which is different from the Canadian Thanksgiving in that it happens in November instead of October. It also differs in the amount and variety of things that we shall consume, and the kinds of thanks that shall be given.

And around these blogospheric parts, it seems we’re directing those thanks appropriately, to the people who enrich our lives and give us reason to give thanks. We do not thank the seemingly-random set of circumstances that brought us together, or some nonexistant monotheistic deity who supposedly directs these circumstances, but we thank instead the people themselves for how they bring us comfort and joy. Telling them so is a bonus, but reciprocating the comfort and joy is paramount.
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Broken Blade launch

Kelly McCullough posted the following to his Wyrdsmiths blog. I am reblogging it out of laziness a genuine effort to spread word about his book.

So, I have a new book coming out a week from Tuesday, Broken Blade. The first chapter can be found here.

It can be bought at all the usual places, of course, but if you want to get a signed copy, you might want to come to one of the events I’ll be having in November and December.

1st up: Launch day reading and signing at the Barnes and Noble in Har Mar Mall in Roseville (St Paul) MN. 7:00 pm, Tuesday November 29th.

2nd: I’ll be signing and chatting with whoever shows up at Uncle Hugo’s science fiction book store in Minneapolis, MN. 1:00 pm Saturday December 3rd.

3rd: I’ll be signing, maybe reading, and chatting with whoever shows up at Bookends on Main in Menomonie, WI. 5:00 pm Thursday December 8th.

4th: I’ll be signing and chatting with whoever shows up at Dreamhaven Books in Minneapolis, MN. 2:00 pm Saturday December 11th. This will be one of the last events at the book store before they become primarily on online book seller.

I read it. It’s epic.

FYI: This is what censorship looks like

Remember the charge that we bloggers who moderate our comments are actually engaging in censorship? This will surely come as a surprise to the howler monkeys making the claim that we’re censoring them: censorship actually exists, and is actually significantly more onerous than you folks thought! Via our blog-compatriot Aliasalpha, Ars Technica brings news of a list of 1600 words that are to be censored in text messages in Pakistan within seven days, with the penalty of legal action if telecom companies do not comply.

Phrases such as “beat your meat,” “fairy,” and “lovegun” are among the list of words banned in text messages by the Pakistani Telecommunication Authority.

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The casual pepper-spraying cop meme

Dana linked a picture of a campus cop by the name of John Pike casually spraying a line of seated Occupy Wall Street protesters with pepper-spray. This video went viral. Then, like most viral things do once they reach a certain level of critical mass, it mutated. In some cases rather drastically. Here’s some pictures I’ve found around the intertubes, proving that there’s a lighter side to a violent fuckwit attacking peaceful protesters with damaging “non-violent weaponry”. Images link to the sources.
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If you wish to bake an apple pie from scratch, you must first postulate another universe

A gentleman by the name of Clay Farris Naff wrote up an anti-Gnu piece providing apologetics for creation myths by inventing one of his own. I use the term gentleman rather loosely, given his “with me or against me” stances in comments defending this piece. His stated purpose?

The claim I aim to rebut is that science forces us to conclude that life is accidental, purposeless, and doomed. It’s a stance with quite a claque.

As this was a post in Scientific American, and Bora Zivkovic (the blogosphere’s Clock King, editor of Scientific American, and all-around stand-up guy) likes to get both sides of hot debates like that New Atheists vs Accommodationists rift, he asked Stephanie Zvan to provide the counterpoint. And provide she did.
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OPERA duplicates previous results: neutrinos still 60ns too fast

Via Science 2.0:

So what does OPERA find ? Their main result, based on the 15,233 neutrino interactions collected in three years of data taking, is unchanged from the September result. The most interesting part of the new publication is instead that the find that the 20 new neutrino events (where neutrino speeds are individually measured, as opposed to the combined measurement done with the three-year data published in September) confirm the earlier result: the arrival times appear to occur about 60 nanoseconds before they are expected.

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Mike Adams has never met a skeptic in real life, part 3

Part three of a point-by-point fisking of Mike Adams’ January 2010 anti-skeptic article, which amounts to a single monolithic colony organism made up of individual strawman arguments that come together to become one massive strawman Voltron. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here. I’m almost through all the things Mike Adams thinks that skeptics “believe”, and will finish them up in this post. We begin immediately below the fold.
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