Category Archive: Bad Science

Jul 23 2014

They don’t understand allometry!


I think the engineers are just trying to wind me up, again. Joe Felsenstein tackles a paper published in an applied physics journal that redefines evolution and tries to claim that changes in aircraft design are a good model for evolution. It’s a terrible premise, but also, the execution is awful. But permit me a …

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Jul 22 2014

Those sneaky forms of academic bias…

It’s Tuesday…that must mean it’s “Let’s point out flaws in the academic system!” day. Here’s another example: some investigators did a study of the value of screening cancer patients for distress — they asked whether such screening actually contributed to patient’s feelings of well-being and willingness to follow medical recommendations, and whether it was cost-effective. …

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Jul 21 2014

The dose makes the poison

Princeton physicist William Happer is still getting invited on television to say stupid things. I keep hearing about the "pollutant CO2," or about "poisoning the atmosphere" with CO2, or about minimizing our "carbon footprint." This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." …

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Jul 18 2014

Shermer rides again!

Jesus. He’s written a climatological ‘Dear Muslima’ for Scientific American, defending Bjorn Lomborg. It feeds directly into a common Republican trope: ‘sure, climate change occurs, and maybe humans contribute to it, but it’s just too costly do what is necessary’. He lists a bunch of problems, and then does a “cost-benefit analysis”. The ranking is …

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Jul 18 2014

For shame, Discovery Channel

Do they show any science you can trust any more? Now they’ve been caught faking a shark scare in the Great Lakes, all in the name of promoting their shark week. Sensationalist lies for a so-called documentary series? I think I can give it a pass, again.

Jul 14 2014

Ladybrains evolved in the Pleistocene

Dr Gijsbert Stoet thinks we should stop trying to correct gender disparities. Speaking at the British Education Studies Association conference in Glasgow on Friday, he argued: "We need to have a national debate on why we find it so important to have equal numbers. Do we really care that only five per cent of the …

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Jul 11 2014

Anyone can be director of an institute of pseudoscience, I guess


So the Washington Times is disseminating quackery — nothing new about that, I guess. But this is pretty awful stuff. You have to suffer to find out what she is talking about: this link takes you to a canned presentation. You’ve seen these before, I presume. They use a custom video player with all the …

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Jul 10 2014

Dobbs vs. Wade

David Dobbs reviews ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’ in the NY Times. Once again, Nicholas Wade falls flat. If Wade could point to genes that give races distinctive social behaviors, we might overlook such shortcomings. But he cannot. He tries. He tells, for instance, of specific gene variants that reputedly create less trust and more violence in …

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Jul 07 2014

Closure on the Obokata/STAP affair

I’ve been following the story of stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells with considerable interest, and there’s a good reason for that: from the very beginning, it contradicted how I’d always thought about cell states, and if it were true, I’d have to rethink a lot of things, which was vexing. But on the other …

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Jul 03 2014

If your only justifications for sexism are stupid, you should maybe stop making them

Once again, we get stupid answers to a good question. A a guest post on the Curious Wavefunction decides that Larry Summers was right, there are innate differences between men and women. (Curiously, this is the same blog that posted a positive review of Nicholas Wade’s book — strange how sympathy for racism and sexism …

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