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13 June 2011

Skeptical News Roundup!

There are several newsitems (major and minor) that have cropped up over the last few months that I've been meaning to blog about, but have simply slipped through the cracks. As you may have heard, I'm helping my friend Scott produce a film about nonbelievers that is scheduled to debut at the Manitoba Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists (MASH) Film Festival on August 14th, and that's currently taking up much of the time that I usually allocate to writing. So there you go.

Courtesy of DragonArt, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

It's okay to be Takei.

The Takeis have been in the news quite a bit, lately. Over at Blag Hag, Jen discusses Germany's Union of Catholic Physicians, which is endorsing homeopathy as a cure for the gay. Fitting: a non-existent solution to a non-existent problem—and (as Jen points out) probably less psychologically damaging than the A Clockwork Orange-style aversion therapy that's more commonly employed to "treat" gays. But if like cures like, you and I both know that there's only one cure for gay sex, and it's gay sex.

Also making the rounds is a blog post by Nathan Heflick at Psychology Today. He talks briefly about a 1996 study that found that while both homophobic and non-homophobic heterosexual men were equally aroused by heterosexual and lesbian pornography, only the homophobes were aroused by man-on-man action. Neither the abstract nor Heflick's discussion of the study raise any real red flags, but I'm not qualified to evaluate it. I am, however, qualified to snigger.

There's been much ado over the past few months about Ontario's public Catholic schools, what with their recent decisions to "ban" rainbows, appropriate donations to an LGBT-friendly help-line for a Catholic homeless shelter, suspend students for expressing pro-choice sentiment, and generally being bigoted and disgraceful institutions. BoingBoing reminds us that the United Nations has condemned Canada's public religious schools as a human rights violation. (Full disclosure: my eleven-year-old brother attends a Catholic school in Thunder Bay, and by all accounts receives an excellent education.)

Hat tips to Anlina Sheng, Blag Hag, and BoingBoing.

Why, WHO, why?

People have been concerned for some time about cellphones and cancer. I've discussed this briefly in the past, first in my response to an awful Free Press article about "dirty electricity", and then again in my last Skeptical News Roundup.

Despite the hysteria that has gripped news organisations and Facebook users alike over the WHO's recent classification of cellphone use as a type 2B potential carcinogen, there is still no good evidence that your mobile device is poisoning your brain.

Hat tips to Skeptic North and BoingBoing.

Scott Adams almost catches up to Vox Day in the douchebag department.

I enjoy Dilbert, but I have the good sense to be a little ashamed about that, because Scott Adams is such an appalling jackass. He has a history of saying laughably stupid things, and when people call him on it, he responds by ridiculing his critics for taking what he has to say seriously. (He sort of reminds me of Insane Clown Posse in that respect.)

Anyway, it's now been revealed that—surprise, surprise—he's been going around the Internet with a pseudonym, praising Scott Adams (himself) as a "certifiable genius", and going on to claim that those who disagree with him are "too dumb to understand what he's saying".

What a douchebag.

Hat tip to Pharyngula.

Dear Oprah...

As you might imagine, I don't much care for Oprah. I cheered when Brian Dunning named her #1 on his list of celebrities who promote harmful pseudoscience. BoingBoing contributor David Ng does an excellent job of elaborating on her history of endorsing bad science.

That was why I was so delighted when I heard that Opera Software has been receiving emails intended for Oprah for years. And they responded to them!

Hat tip to BoingBoing.

And finally...

The fool, or the fool who follows him?

Also, remember when Judgement Day happened last month? Well, apparently some people were a little upset about it. For example, this woman slashed her daughters throats with a box cutter. So... there's that.

Hat tip to Pharyngula.

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