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Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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  • Psychics scam the most vulnerable
    Despite days of searching, the hunt continues for the body of an abducted and murdered Woodstock, Ont., girl.

    By the time you read this, the grim discovery may have been made. Or, perhaps, another week or more will pass before the body of eight-year-old Tori Stafford can finally be recovered and laid to rest.

    There may be some individuals who are in a position to tell us precisely or approximately where the body is, but I think we can safely conclude that those claiming paranormal abilities don't have a damn clue.

    While that may seem self-evident to some, it remains less obvious to many others.


  • Bruce M. Hood - Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable | Point of Inquiry
    In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Bruce M. Hood explains how his agenda is different than the common skeptical agenda to disprove supernatural claims, and instead is an attempt to explain why people believe hold such beliefs in the first place. He argues that everyone is born with a "supersense," an instinct to believe in unseen forces and to recognize patterns and infer their causation, citing examples such as seeing Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich, or the case of the "haunted scrotum." He explains how this supersense is universal, and that even skeptics and rationalists often exhibit it in their lives through rituals and the owning certain valued possessions, such as Richard Dawkins' prizing of objects once owned by Charles Darwin or MIT growing saplings from the tree under which Newton first discovered the laws of gravity. He details how rituals give a perceived sense of control to believers, and how they may actually affect a believer's performance. He talks about the "secular supernatural," contrasting it with the "religious supernatural." He argues against Daniel Dennett's and Richard Dawkins's thesis that religious belief results primarily from indoctrination in childhood. And he defends the position that unbelievable beliefs serve important social functions.

  • Hay festival: Faith in science | AC Grayling | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

  • The E&P Pub: No Torture Needed -- Cookies Did the Job

  • space-time continuum: Sarcasm may be in my genes

  • PLoS Biology: A Broken Trust: Lessons from the Vaccine–Autism Wars
    Until the summer of 2005, Sharon Kaufman had never paid much attention to the shifting theories blaming vaccines for a surge in reported cases of autism. Kaufman, a medical anthropologist at the University of California, San Francisco, knew that the leading health institutions in the United States had reviewed the body of evidence, and that they found no reason to think vaccines had anything to do with autism. But when she read that scientists and public officials who commented on the studies routinely endured malevolent emails, abusive phone calls, and even death threats, she took notice.

  • Not-so-silent stupidity : White Coat Underground
    n case you were worried that the Huffington Post had "gone legit" with regards to medical reporting, fear no more. Barry Sears, creator of a popular diet book, has written a searingly stupid piece called We're Fighting the Wrong Epidemic. Like Gaul, it is divided into three parts: wrong information about influenza; an invented medical condition with enough truth to sound plausible; and a pitch.

 

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