Triscuit

When I visit my parents, we watch a lot of Food Network. It’s just about the only thing we can all agree on, and it’s also just about the only time I see television commercials. Last time I was up there (in June), this was in heavy rotation:

I believe Nabisco when they say Triscuits don’t contain any genetically modified ingredients. In fact, I know they’re telling the truth. The reason I know that is that Triscuits are made of wheat, and there is no commercially available GMO wheat. You couldn’t buy a GMO wheat cracker if you tried. [Read more…]

You misspelled “Irresponsible reporting”

Earlier this week, Tom Sheldon caused a flurry when he published an opinion piece in Nature:

Sheldon header

While the article casts preprints, preprint servers, and scientists who post their work to preprint servers as potential sources of misinformation, its arguments better support the case that science reporters should act more responsibly. Full disclosure: as a scientist who posts [some of] their work to a preprint server, I have a horse in this race.

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Sonic weapons on Skeptoid

Cuba

Photo credit: Aexandre Meneghini/Reuters/Newscom.

I’ve been meaning to get back to the absurd claims of Cuban “sonic weapons” for a while now (Sonic stupidity; It may seem the stuff of sci-fi novels; More acoustic credulity; No means, no motive, and no suspectCuba’s “magical sci-fi sound gun”; More Cuban science fiction), but Brian Dunning has beaten me to it. The latest episode of Skeptoid is all about the alleged attacks on the U.S. embassy, and it leaves the administration’s claims in tatters:

Beginning in early 2016, American diplomats stationed in Cuba began reporting a mysterious illness. They believed they were under attack by what they described as a sonic weapon. No culprit could be identified, no such weapons were found, no clear motive could be established…

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Criticism ≠ bullying

I’ve never been the victim of bullying, either in science or social media. I have, in fact, been called a bully (and worse) for some of the things I’ve written on this blog (Responses from both Davids (I’m Goliath)). But I know I’m among the privileged (white, cisgender, middle-aged heterosexual male) few who are least likely to experience bullying. So when Ed Yong tweeted his approval of a Slate article by Simine Vazire, “Criticizing a Scientist’s Work Isn’t Bullying. It’s Science,” I checked it out.

The backlash Yong received on Twitter would lead one to believe that the actual article was much more extreme than it really was:

The story of Amy Cuddy, as told in a recent New York Times Magazine story, illustrates why self-correction is so rare in science. In painting a moving portrait of Cuddy’s life over the past few years, it conflates Cuddy’s experience as the target of scientific criticism with her experience as the target of something much more vicious and universal: actual bullying.

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Sonic stupidity

You and I may disagree about politics. It’s a near certainty that we disagree about at least some political issues. But I hope we can agree that United States foreign policy shouldn’t be based on pseudoscientific claims with no plausibility.

The Executive Branch is flirting with doing just that. Whether or not you think reversing Obama-era warming of relations with Cuba is a good idea, I hope you agree that we shouldn’t do it based on phantom attacks using a non-existent weapon. I’m talking about the so-called ‘sonic attacks’ that, until recently, were being touted as a reason to close the U.S. embassy in Cuba:

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