The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Fun with Pareidolia: Mr. Bill in my Soup!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 28, 2012

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile, but I keep forgetting to do so.  During my summer vacation to the Adirondacks in New York, my wife and I took a break from hiking to get some dinner.  As we were getting ready to chow down, lo and behold, I observed the following “miraculous” appearance in my wife’s soup!…

Laugh if you will, unbeliever, but you should tremble in awe at the miraculous appearance of…

Mr. Bill!  Ohhhh Noooooo!!! :(

Of course it isn’t Mr. Bill in my soup, folks.  It’s just another classic case of pareidolia, the same phenomenon by which people think they see dogs or cars in the clouds, the so-called Face on Mars, the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast, or visions of Jesus in a window.  Essentially, our brains work as pattern-recognition machines, and one of the most familiar patterns which we are evolutionarily programmed to recognize is other human faces.  So we tend to see human (or human-like) faces in bits of random data even when there really is no face there to begin with!

I really like how skeptical magicians Penn & Teller put it during their Bullshit! episode on supposed “miracles”, so I’ll let them have the last word :)

Posted in humor, psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Even More “Sh*t Skeptics Say” (parts 2 and 3)

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 1, 2012

As if their first YouTube video, “Sh*t Skeptics Say” wasn’t hilarious enough, the skeptical comedians over at Skeptically Pwned have followed that up with two more videos guaranteed to make you LOL.  Enjoy! :)

 

Posted in humor, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Fun of “Sh*t Skeptics Say”

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 28, 2012

While presenting at the totally awesome Chicago Skepticamp today, during a break I saw something really funny: the “Sh*t Skeptics Say” video on YouTube.  The video is the work of the fine folks at Skeptically Pwned!, a group of comedic skeptics who spoof various kinds of nonsense and woo.  Check out their newest video, and tell others about their channel… (warning: NSFW)

Posted in humor, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Jesus Toast: Pareidolia You Can Believe In!

Posted by mattusmaximus on December 3, 2011

As a fun way of sharing some skepticism of “miraculous vision” claims, I wanted to share with you a really funny YouTube a friend sent me.  It pokes fun at the phenomenon of pareidolia, wherein people claim to see all manner of wild things – Jesus, the Virgin Mary, aliens, Michael Jackson, etc – in everything from the clouds to their shower curtain.  Of course, we know from modern science that these are illusions of perception, because our brains are marvelous pattern recognition machines, causing us to sometimes see things that are not really there.

Okay, enough seriousness.  Time for some fun… check out the “Jesus Toast” video, and share it with a friend.  Enjoy! :)

 

Posted in humor, psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Physics Demo Show @ Dragon*Con 2011

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 9, 2011

In this quick post, I wanted to share the footage from the physics demonstration show I did at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA over Labor Day weekend, 2011. Working with me on the show was Dr. Pamela Gay (of Astronomy Cast fame) and Jerry Hester (physics demo expert at Clemson University). We had a really fun time doing all of these demonstrations, and I think you can see the show was quite a hit!  So sit back and enjoy the show :)

It should be noted that at one point in the show, right before the final bed-of-nails demo, the audience is watching a video off to the side. To see what they were watching and why they were laughing so hard at the end of it, see my “Bed of Nails Blooper” video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9RLfUmju2A (start at the 3 minute 45 sec mark).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Placebo Band Bracelets and Opportunity for Easy Skeptical Activism

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 14, 2011

I have written before on this blog about the scam called Power-Balance, and how that company has raked in huge gobs of cash by essentially lying to its customers.  In fact, in Australia the company has basically been banned for false advertising, and fortunately more and more people are cluing in to this nonsense here in the United States.  But to help along everyone’s critical thinking skills as well as expose the Power-Balance for the scam that it is, I want to pass along to you a wonderful opportunity to engage in some easy and fun skeptical activism.  Dear reader, I give you the Placebo Band!

The Placebo Band: image courtesy of SkepticBros

There are two outlets for the Placebo Band, the original one at SkepticBros out of Australia and a new North American affiliate at the Placebo Band Store.  In addition, you can find testimonials on the power of  the Placebo Band, as well as instructions on how to educate your friends on how the whole thing works (hint: think placebo effect, hence the name ;) )

For example, here’s a real* testimonial on the power of the Placebo Band.  Order yours today!!!

*And by “real”, I mean totally fake :)

Posted in humor, medical woo, physics denial/woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Solution to the “Self-tying” Knot Trick from TAM9

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 24, 2011

This is the solution to the puzzle presented in my previous blog post – Self-Tying Knot Trick from TAM9  – wherein I show you how to supposedly tie a knot in a length of rope without releasing the ends. Of course, it is a trick, so watch the video carefully to see just how the trick is done. And have fun with some friends, family, or (if you’re a teacher) students with this puzzle.  It is a wonderful exercise in critical thinking!

Check out the Youtube video for the answer…

One last thing: I cannot claim credit for inventing this trick. I learned about it from Penn & Teller’s old book “Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends”, so credit should go to them :)

Posted in education, magic tricks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Self-Tying Knot Trick from TAM9

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 18, 2011

Well, I’m back from The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 in Las Vegas, and I’m slowly but surely getting caught up on things.  I just wanted to take a moment to share with everyone a trick I showed off during my “Skepticism in the Classroom” lecture at TAM9.  In this video, I show how to use a simple nylon rope to perform a *seemingly* mathematically impossible feat: having the rope tie a knot in itself without releasing either end of the rope. I show this to my students as a lesson in skepticism and critical thinking, and it never ceases to catch their interest.


Can you figure out the trick? Stay tuned to my Youtube channel for the solution ;)

Posted in education, magic tricks, mathematics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Evolution Bumper Sticker Contest!

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 7, 2011

I just received the following note from the National Center for Science Education, and I view this as a perfect chance to promote science in a fun and meaningful manner.  Read on :)

Two examples of previous NCSE bumper stickers

Announcing NCSE’s Bumper Sticker Contest!

Our classic bumper stickers…

“Evolutionists do it with increasing complexity”

“Honk! If you understand punctuated equilibria”

…will remain in the lineup. But it’s time to bring some new players onto the field.

This is your chance to speak loud, speak proud for evolution, by crafting a killer slogan that could end up on the tail end of thousands of cars. The aim of this mobile message: to spread the good word about evolution and evolution education. Your bumper sticker can be funny, profound, fierce—whatever, as long as it’s good.

Send your entries to bumpersticker@ncse.com

Rules & regulations:

  • Be original. Run a Google search and make sure your slogan hasn’t been used or overused.
  • Size constraints. Your basic bumper sticker is about 2.75″ high and about 15″ wide. That’s enough room for up to two lines of text, approximately 22 characters across (including spaces) per line. Remember: shorter is better.
  • Submit as many bumper sticker slogans as you like. Winning slogans become the property of NCSE for all time. By emailing your entry to bumpersticker@ncse.com, you warrant that the slogan is your own work, to which you own the copyright, except for any phrases that fall within the scope of fair use, the public domain, or a Creative Commons license.
  • Entries must include your full name and postal address.
  • Winners will receive one of these prizes: 1) a bumper fun variety pack of evolution books, 2) NCSE’s famed “ooze” T-shirt, 3) a Darwin bobblehead, 4) the 2009 UK Charles Darwin £2 Brilliant Uncirculated 200th Anniversary Coin, 5) a copy of Greta Schiller’s new documentary, “No Dinosaurs in Heaven”, OR 6) an 11×16″ Darwin poster suitable for framing.
  • Submissions will be accepted between July 5, 2011 and September 5, 2011

Posted in humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Women Thinking Free Hosts an Un-Psychic Fair in Indianapolis!

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 19, 2011

I just wanted to pass along to you some news which might interest those of you in the Midwest next weekend: another Un-Psychic Fair!  You may recall the first WTFF Un-Psychic Fair in Chicago last year, and we hope that this one will be even more fun, more skeptic-y, and more un-psychic-y!!!  Read on for details…

John Edward, un-psychic douchebag, endorses this event :)

… This event launches our presence in Indianapolis, a city where we’ve found great skeptics and the potential for a truly bad ass skeptical mofo community. Our only option was to invade Indy and bring some mofos together to help us save them from their little notch on the Bible Belt.

Come out to the Unpsychic fair this weekend and be a part of WTF Indy! We’ll give you all you can eat food and buy your first drink. Then, we’ll be raffling off an entire bottle of alcohol. And we’ll do unpsychic readings… by real fake psychics!

The Women Thinking Free Foundation has arrived in Indianapolis!

Please join us on June 25, 2011 for our first ever Indy event: Mysteries of the Totally Explained, an Unpsychic Faire.

Tarot card readings!

Psychic predictions!

Discover your fate with a oujia board!

You will be amazed at the occasional accuracy of your readings!
We can already sense your presence!


Tickets are $20 and include all you can eat appetizers, cash bar with drink specials and your first drink is on us!
FREE admission for ghosts entering through the Ouija board or other spiritual portal.
We predict an awesome time!

Register to attend

Contact

Louise Kellar
Women Thinking Free Foundation
louise@womenthinkingfre.org
312-869-9833

When

Saturday June 25, 2011 at 6:00 PM EDT

Where

Loughmillers Pub
301 W Washington St
Indianapolis, IN

Posted in psychics, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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