Of Psi and Skeptrinos

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Tom Bartlett offers up a rather interesting tale of the travails of two psychologists and a replication study:

Back in January, a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology appeared to prove that ESP is real, that in certain circumstances (involving, as it happens, erotic pictures) people really can predict the future. Naturally, this got more attention than your average academic publication. At the time I talked to the author of the paper, Daryl J. Bem, who was reeling from all the media attention.

To summarise, 12 months on from the publication of Bem’s rather notorious paper, Bartlett went looking for replication studies for, one presumes, a follow-up story and unearthed… Read more »

In which I get a nastygram

A couple of months back I wrote about what appears to to me, and to quite a lot of other people, to be a utterly ridiculous and abusive libel action against a blogger by the name of Vaughan Jones. To save time, I won’t run through the particulars of this case as everything I wanted to say at the time is covered in this post but its fair to say that from what I’d read about the background to this case it seems to me to be a number of similarities with the cases brought by Johanna Kaschke against Dave Osler, Alex Hilton and John Gray, all of which had, by then, been thrown out by the courts. A couple… Read more »

Should Have Tried Chiropractic…

I’ve been meaning to blog this story since it appeared in a local paper over the weekend…

Birmingham councillor was offered sexual services in massage parlour A SENIOR Birmingham councillor has told how he visited a massage parlour to alleviate back pain – but was offered “sexual services” on the side. Coun Roger Harmer, deputy leader of the city’s Liberal Democrat Group, said he was shocked by the proposal made to him by Thai staff at Fruity Spa, in Erdington, and made his excuses and left. The 46-year-old father of three said he only visited the massage parlour once.

Yes, Roger was shocked, I tell you… until his excuse began to look more than a touch iffy…

It is based… Read more »

Jon Gaunt vs Ofcom

Jon Gaunt’s attempt to overturn a decision by Ofcom to uphold a complaint against him on the grounds that this constituted an ‘unlawful interference with his freedom of expression’ has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal in ruling which shows that the current Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, possesses a deliciously ironic mastery of the art of deadpan understatement:

39, When considering whether it offended paras 2.1 and/or 2.3 of the Code, the interview must be considered as a whole and in its context, as both Ofcom and the Divisional Court said. It would be wrong to focus too hard individually, let alone exclusively, on (i) Mr Gaunt’s specific insults, such as “health Nazi” or “ignorant pig”, (ii) his hectoring… Read more »

The Bill Bailey Review

There’s this one celebrity, Rosie O’Donnell, a talk show host, and she said this: “I don’t know anything about Afghanistan, but I know it’s full of terrorists, speaking as a mother.” So what is this “speaking as a mother” then? Is that a euphemism for “talking out of my arse”? “Suspending rational thought for a moment”? As a rational human being, Al-Qaeda are a loose association of psychopathic zealots who could be rounded up with a sustained police investigation. But speaking as a parent, they’re all eight foot tall, they’ve got lasers under their moustaches, a huge eye in their foreheads and the only way to kill them is to NUKE every country that hasn’t sent us a Christmas card… Read more »

Poetry in Ammunition

In today’s Indy:

Bullets similar to illegal dum-dum ammunition and designed to cause catastrophic injury are to be used as standard by police marksmen in London. Senior officers at the Metropolitan Police have selected the bullet because it is better at incapacitating a target and is less likely to pass through the body to hit someone else… Police used the term “petals” to describe the effect of the bullet opening out like a flower on impact but said it “should never be referred to as ‘dum-dum’, a slang term for ammunition deliberately and illegally altered by criminals to cause maximum injury and suffering”.

Oh still my beating heart at the poetry of it all. New guidance issued by the Metropolitan… Read more »

The End is Nigh

From the file marked ‘Religion rots your brain”…

The end of the world is nigh; 21 May, to be precise. That’s the date when Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California, is confidently predicting the Second Coming of the Lord. At about 6pm, he reckons 2 per cent of the world’s population will be immediately “raptured” to Heaven; the rest of us will get sent straight to the Other Place.

What.. The House of Lords…? Nah, the just aren’t enough stoats.

If Mr Camping were speaking from any normal pulpit, it would be easy to dismiss him as just another religious eccentric wrongly calling the apocalypse. But thanks to this elderly man’s ubiquity, on America’s airwaves and billboards, his unlikely Doomsday message… Read more »