Over the years I’ve made a huge number of blog posts here (well over 730 by now), and I’ve also participated in a number of public lectures and/or discussions. Many of these events were recorded on video, and I’m happy to share with you a collection of those public events through my Lanyard page…
Posts Tagged ‘video’
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 1, 2014
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 8, 2013
I ran across two articles recently about the latest research regarding the Loch Ness Monster. And by “research” I really do mean serious scientific work: it seems that many supposed Nessie sightings over the years have been accompanied by audible rumbling and gas bubbling up to the surface of Loch Ness. There seems to be a plausible geological (note: “geological” does NOT equate to “big freaking monster”, just to clarify) explanation for these phenomena.
As a lesson in critical thinking (or a lack thereof) in the media, let us compare the coverage of this research from two different sources, the Scientific American blog and the Huffington Post. First, the SciAm blog…
Summer is traditionally Silly Season, when newspapers publish strange stories about aliens and monsters again and again to bridge holiday time – and so will July on “History of Geology” be dedicated to frivolous science stories…
In 2001 the Italian geologist Luigi Piccardi presented during the Earth Systems Processes meeting in Edinburgh a hypothesis explaining the supposed appearance of the sea/lake monster “Nessie” as a result of geologic forces.
According to Piccardi’s idea the historic description of the monster – appearing on the surface with great (earth)shakes and rumours – could be associated with bubbles emanating from the bottom of the Scottish lake of Loch Ness in response of seismic activity along the Great Glen fault system, passing below the lake. …
… Not only biological constrains, also the geology don’t seems to support the existence of an earthshaking monster in Loch Ness. Common earthquakes from the Loch Ness area range between magnitude 3 to 4, larger events were recorded only in 1816, 1888, 1890 and 1901. These earthquakes don’t coincide with the years of supposed increased activity of Nessie (like 1933). Even the largest Scottish earthquakes were anyway too weak to cause any observable effects on the surface of Loch Ness (curiously the great earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 generated waves on Loch Ness, but no Nessie sighting is reported for this year).
Piccardi himself sees the value of his hypothesis more in the possibility to make geologists aware of the geological origins of some myths, as to propose verifiable cryptozoology.
Well, that seems pretty good: a well thought-out article regarding an area of actual scientific research, even going so far as to note the limitations of Piccardi’s hypothesis.
Now, let’s see what the HuffPo has to say…
Loch Ness Monster Mystery Solved? ‘Nessie’ Just Bubbles From Seismic Activity, Geologist Says (VIDEO)
… The first claimed sighting of “Nessie” occurred in the sixth century, according to Scientific American. Legend has it that the creature appears along with earth tremors and bubbling from the bottom of Loch Ness, one of Britain’s largest freshwater lakes.
Formed as a result of a long-ago collision between the northern tip of Scotland and the rest of Britain, the loch sits over the 62-mile Great Glen fault line. Piccardi argues that this position may have fueled centuries of Loch Ness Monster rumors.
“Loch Ness is exactly on the fault zone,” Piccardi said in 2001, according to The Telegraph. ”When there are small shocks, it can create a commotion on the water surface. Along the fault there can be gas emissions, which can create large bubbles on the surface. There are many surface effects which can be linked to the activity of the fault.”
But Piccardi’s theory is not without critics, especially among Loch Ness Monster enthusiasts like Gary Campbell, president of the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club in Inverness, Scotland.
“Most of the sightings involve foreign objects coming out of the water. There’s two most common — one’s a hump, and the other is a head and neck,” Campbell told ABC News. “At the end of the day, there’s still sightings that are inexplicable. There’s something physical in there.” …
Where to begin? First of all, the fact that the HuffPo elevates a pseudoscientific hack – in this case, the Gary Campbell who runs a fan club for the Loch Ness Monster – to the level of a serious critic of a pretty plausible area of scientific research speaks volumes. Apparently, to the HuffPo, “scientist” equates with “anyone who can make sh*t up”.
Next, pay attention to Campbell’s response: “At the end of the day, there’s still sightings that are inexplicable…” So that proves… what exactly? That there isn’t a full explanation? And how exactly does a lack of an explanation provide any validity to the explanation via invoking Nessie? This is a classic argument from ignorance, and one could just as easily invoke leprechauns or unicorns as an explanation using such shoddy logic.
Last, but not least, is the final few seconds of the video at the HuffPo link, wherein the host shows some TV anchors moaning about how they don’t want to accept the geological research of Piccardi because they like the idea of Nessie. The HuffPo host summed it up as follows:
“Sometimes you just don’t want scientific reasoning, and you just want to believe.”
Posted in cryptozoology, media woo | Tagged: bubbles, creature, cryptozoology, earthquake, fault, gas, geologic, geology, Great Glen, Huffington Post, illusion, Loch Ness, Loch Ness Monster, Monster, myth, Nessie, Piccardi, quake, ripples, Scientific American, Scotland, Scottish, sea lion, seismic, video, wake, water, waves | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 3, 2013
I’m quite pleased to pass along to you a hilarious, and quite informative, YouTube video on the importance of church-state separation. It features Jane Lynch (of “Glee” fame) and Jordan Peele (of “Key & Peele” fame), and it was put together by Americans United for the Separation of Church & State. If you agree with the message of the video, “like” it, pass it along, and please consider signing AU’s petition!
Posted in humor, politics, religion | Tagged: Americans United, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, AU, church, church state separation, Establishment Clause, First Amendment, Glee, government, Jane Lynch, Jordan Peele, Key and Peele, petition, politics, religion, state, Thomas Jefferson, United States, video, wall, youtube | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 30, 2013
If you’ve been following the ongoing saga over the years that is the Texas Board of Education and their textbook adoption process, then you no doubt understand that there has been a far-right conservative faction of people who have attempted to push their ideology (including creationism) into Texas public schools. Now the recent history of this saga has been chronicled in a PBS documentary titled “The Revisionaries”. I encourage you to take the time to share and watch this important documentary, which you can do online here until February 27th:
“Somebody has got to stand up to experts!” — Don McLeRoy, former Texas BoEd member
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, biology, board of education, Christianity, creationism, democracy, documentary, Don McLeroy, evolution, fundamentalist, history, ID, Independent Lens, intelligent design, PBS, politics, pseudoscience, Public Broadcasting Service, publishing, religion, science, scientific creationism, Texas, Texas Board of Education, Texas Citizens for Science, Texas Freedom Network, textbook selection, textbooks, The Revisionaries, theocracy, video, Wedge document | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 22, 2012
Well, it seems that yet another end-of-the-world prophecy has bitten the dust. Dec. 21st, 2012 – dreaded day of ”the end” as supposedly fortold by the Mayan Calendar - has come and gone just like every other doomsday. Beyond citing the obvious fact that we’re still here, I cannot help but poke fun by passing along this humorous photo of arch-skeptic James Randi while he was in Cozumel, Mexico just last week
Posted in doomsday, humor | Tagged: 2012, alignment, apocalypse, armaggedon, baktun, calendar, cosmic, Cozumel, debunking, Dec 21, December 21, doomsday, end of the world, flare, flip, James Randi, judgement day, Long Count, magnetic, magnetism, Maya, Mayan, Mexico, NASA, New Age, Nibru, Planet X, planetary, planets, poles, reversal, solar, storm, Sun, tidal forces, tides, video | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 10, 2012
*Sigh* I’ve said it before, but it is worth saying again…
The World is NOT Going to End on December 21st!!!
[In case you know anyone who thinks it will, please refer them to willtheworldendin2012.com ]
Incidentally, if common sense isn’t enough, and you happen to have some poor deluded family member or friend convinced they cannot come out of the basement until after the planet has been turned into a mutant-populated, radioactive hell, you could consider sharing this well-written article with them:
NASA says world won’t end in 2012 despite Mayan calendar
We’re less than a month away from the so-called end of the world, but NASA says you don’t have anything to worry about.
Earlier this month, NASA posted a list of frequently asked questions about why the world won’t end in 2012, like some believe the Mayans calendar indicates.
The post explained that Earth has been getting along fine for the last 4 billion years and there is no threat to our planet this year. …
But how can those egghead geeks at NASA be so sure? Well, there are these things called “logic” and “reason” which tend to give validity to arguments such as this:
… But just as your desk calendar ends on Dec. 31 and world keeps going on, the same goes for the Mayan calendar, NASA explained. Just before you run out of pages doesn’t mean life as we know it will cease to exist. …
Personally, I cannot wait until December 22nd. Because then there are going to be a LOT of people with a LOT of egg on their faces, just like all the other times the world was predicted to end and it didn’t.
In fact, regarding all the doomsday predictions ever made in the past, there is one thing they all have in common: They were all dead wrong.
Posted in astrology, doomsday, space | Tagged: 2012, alignment, apocalypse, armaggedon, calendar, cosmic, debunking, Dec 21, December 21, doomsday, end of the world, flare, flip, judgement day, Long Count, magnetic, magnetism, Maya, Mayan, NASA, New Age, Nibru, Planet X, planetary, planets, poles, reversal, solar, storm, Sun, tidal forces, tides, video | 5 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 3, 2012
I just ran across this parody of the “History” Channel by some folks calling themselves the EVP Patrol Squad. They are spoofing the various pseudoscientific “experts” that are regularly paraded out on that channel in favor of various ancient alien, paranormal, and ghostly claims. The funny thing is that if you actually watch some of the stuff on the History Channel, it is so goofy that it almost seems that this is straight from one of their shows – so this is good evidence of Poe’s Law. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you all, but I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to look a sporks the same again. The horror… THE HORROR!!!
Posted in aliens & UFOs, ghosts & paranormal, humor, skeptical community | Tagged: aliens, ancient astronauts, cable, EVP Patrol Squad, ghosts, History Channel, humor, mystery, Mystory, paranormal, parody, Poe, Poe's Law, Soundiron, spoof, spork, TV, UFO, video, youtube | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 16, 2012
In recent weeks, it seems the controversy within the skeptical movement over misogyny and women’s issues appears to have heated up somewhat (that’s putting it mildly, I think). While I do welcome this discussion and the debate it has kick-started, I wanted to comment on the one thing which really, REALLY chaps my ass about the whole thing: misogynistic Internet trolls.
Whether we’re talking about so-called Elevatorgate or the creation of sexual harassment policies by various skeptical conferences (which I fully support, because I think it is needed), it seems to me that these sort of discussions bring out the worst in some people. And by “some people” I mean some men. And by “some men”, I mean, specifically, the misogynistic Internet trolls who are basically bullies who want to slap a woman (or women) down for having the gall to publicly disagree with what they think women should accept.
Some of these men think that women speaking up about issues that concern them is somehow a threat to them, or a threat to what they perceive as their manhood, or a threat to their “freedom” and society in general; and some of these men decide to express their disagreement with these women through the worst kind of insults, ranting, and trolling I’ve ever seen. It is a bully tactic intended to shut these “uppity” women up for having the audacity to hold an opinion contrary to their own.
And it makes me sick. In fact, it makes me so sick that rather than continue in my own words, which would doubtless be laced with rage and profanity at these sorry excuses for men, I would like to reference an excellent source on the issue (many thanks to Jason Thibeault for posting this video on his blog):
AnimalNewYork.com Video by Jay Smooth — Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones
While this video isn’t explicitly about the skeptical movement, it is about the broader issue of misogynistic Internet trolls. My favorite part is right at the end of the video (at the 3:21 mark) where Jay Smooth says:
“No matter what scene on the Internet is your scene, if you are a dude on the Internet and you see other dudes in your scene harassing women or transgender people or anyone else who’s outside of our little privileged corner of the gender spectrum, we need speak up, we need to treat this like it matters, we need to add some extra humanity into our scene to counteract their detachment from their humanity.”
You said it, brother. Gentlemen, let’s not allow these trolls, these pathetic excuses for men, these losers speak for our gender and represent us to the wider community. Let them speak for themselves in their sad little corner of the Internet, and let us follow Jay Smooth’s excellent example and call them out for their lack of humanity. Only by enough of us doing that can we hope to bring a more respectful tone to these important discussions.
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: abuse, bully, conferences, cons, Elevatorgate, feminism, feminist, harassment, internet, intimidation, Jason Thibeault, Jay Smooth, meetings, men, misogyny, sex, sexism, sexist, sexual, skeptical community, skeptical movement, skeptics, trolls, video, women | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 18, 2012
No doubt, unless you’ve been living in a hole, you have heard about the supposed end-of-the-world coming this December 21st, 2012 – at least, that’s what some New Age whackadoodles and apocalyptic doomsayers would have you believe. Why do they believe this? Because, according to them, the Mayan calendar predicts it.
Unfortunately for the doomsday prophets, the Mayan calendar predicts nothing of the sort. Take, for example, the fact that recently the discovery of the world’s oldest Mayan calendar seems to have thrown the whole “Mayan 2012″ prophecy of armaggedon into serious doubt:
The oldest-known version of the ancient Maya calendar has been discovered adorning a lavishly painted wall in the ruins of a city deep in the Guatemalan rainforest.
The hieroglyphs, painted in black and red, along with a colorful mural of a king and his mysterious attendants, seem to have been a sort of handy reference chart for court scribes in A.D. 800 — the astronomers and mathematicians of their day. Contrary to popular myth, this calendar isn’t a countdown to the end of the world in December 2012, the study researchers said.
“The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future,” said archaeologist David Stuart of the University of Texas, who worked to decipher the glyphs. “Numbers we can’t even wrap our heads around.” …
Oops. That’s embarrassing. So the Mayan calendary doesn’t predict the apocalypse? Why exactly is that?
… The Maya recorded time in a series of cycles, including 400-year chunks called baktuns. It’s these baktuns that have led to rumors of an end-of-the-world catastrophe on Dec. 21, 2012 — on that date, a cycle of 13 baktuns will be complete. But the idea that this means the end of the worldis a misconception, Stuart said. In fact, Maya experts have known for a long time that the calendar doesn’t end after the 13th baktun. It simply begins a new cycle. And the calendar encompasses much larger units than the baktun.
“There were 24 units of time they actually could have incorporated into their calendar,” Stuart said. “Here, we’re only seeing five units and they’re still really big.”
In one column, the ancient scribe even worked out a cycle of time recording 17 baktuns, the researchers found. In another spot, someone etched a “ring number” into the wall. These notations were used to record time in a previous cycle, thousands of years into the past. The calendar also appears to note the cycles of Mars and Venus, the researchers said. Symbols of gods head the top of each lunar cycle, suggesting that each cycle had its own patron deity.
“There was a lot more to the Maya calendar than just 13 baktuns,” Stuart said. …
Of course, another reason to doubt the claims of the doom-mongers, despite the structure of the Mayan calendar, is the fact that no matter what the source for the supposed end-of-the-world prophecy, every prophecy of this nature in the past has had one thing in common: THEY HAVE ALL FAILED SPECTACULARLY! This includes at least one high-profile prediction from last year!
It’ll be interesting to see what the doomsaying believers have to say on December 22nd, 2012 when we’re all still here
Posted in doomsday | Tagged: 2012, alignment, apocalypse, armaggedon, baktun, calendar, cosmic, debunking, Dec 21, December 21, doomsday, end of the world, flare, flip, judgement day, Long Count, magnetic, magnetism, Maya, Mayan, NASA, New Age, Nibru, Planet X, planetary, planets, poles, reversal, solar, storm, Sun, tidal forces, tides, video | 1 Comment »