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Professional Standards Among Psychics

CA PsychicsLast night, as I was falling asleep, I heard on the radio an ad I had never heard before: Click here for a link to the ad audio

It was for California Psychics, apparently a huge organization that has its hands in everything ‘psychic’. I did a little Google search and found that they’ve been around for a while, and they’ve been discussed recently, such as on the JREF forums.

The part that I find extremely fascinating from the radio spot is this line: “At California Psychics, we thoroughly test our psychics to make sure they’re professional, have real gifts and communicate clearly.” I’m not sure whether to laugh or turn my head to the side and grunt, much like a dog does when it can’t figure out what the hell is going on. Ok, I understand the professional part; you don’t want some crazy person running their mouth off to a customer like they’re in a liquor store–that drives the customer to hang up the precious pay-by-minute phone call. This goes for communicating clearly too. Nothing weird about that. Gibberish doesn’t make the money either.

But “have real gifts”? How do they even do this? How is this even verified. Some sort of committee? Do they combine their powers, ask Captain Planet if the applicant is legit, and then have a psychic party? I like how the gifts part is shoved in between two normal and regular job applicant qualities. Perhaps they were thinking, “if we throw it in the middle, people won’t hear us talking crazy on the radio”. Let’s be honest, if someone had “real gifts” don’t you think they’d be cashing in on James Randi’s generous donation to their personal psychic fund? In the ad, the woman speaking describes the process, but it is very vague and non-committal. Also, it could be an actor/fictional person. Either way, I see no real gifts.

Furthermore, at the end of the ad is an invitation for a free reading. If the reading isn’t the best I’ve ever had, it’s apparently free. Speaking for myself, that would be the case every time.

So next time you here this radio ad, remember that it is the duped paying the advertising fees.

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New 13th Sign of the Zodiac!

Apparently there’s a new zodiac sign. They added “Ophiuchus” in last month of the year. So if you loved your old one, you might not have it anymore. Personally, I was right on the cusp of Taurus and Gemini. Some horror-scopes had me as setting Taurus and others had me as a rising Gemini. Well, all that doesn’t matter now, because I’m firmly a Taurus now, according to the new breakdown.

The real tragedy? I can’t act all Gemini-y anymore. I’m gonna have to change my entire behavior because of this new shift. Behavior fit for a Taurus! Although astrologists claim it shouldn’t affect our horror-scopes, which basically means it is a bunch of malarky anyway.

Tell me, did yours shift?

On a side note: This means all zodiac is unlucky now. Sorry horror-scope readers.

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Vaccines and Autism: Faked

Sorry about the breaks between postings here on Woo Fighters. I will try to increase my postings as I come across interesting things on the internet.

This story came out a few days ago: Medical journal: Study linking autism, vaccines is ‘elaborate fraud’

This the type of thing we here at Woo Fighters love to see. It is truly important scientific findings are accurate and real. Fraudulent data only hurts the scientific community, and as a scientist, I hate to see that this doctor meant to use his fake data for profit. Unfortunately for him, knowledge is, by and large, free. Of course this man denies any wrongdoing or fraud. Perhaps one day he will relent.

The story can also be found here: British Doctor Faked Data Linking Vaccines to Autism, and Aimed to Profit From It

Anderson Cooper: Autism & Vaccines

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Silly News Magazines: Confusing Correlation with Causation

I was perusing a website today and I stumbled across a headline that bothered me:

Does Being Left-Handed Make You Angry?

In this Time Magazine blog on health-related news, the author discusses findings from a correlational study of tympanic membrane temperature and dominant handedness.

Without going into the integrity of study, my main beef is the way the title is presented by Time and the aggregating website. It implies a general causation between being left-handed and more prone to anger. The word “make” is the hook. I strongly doubt the researchers used the words the blog post did.

I suggest a better title: Does being Left-Handed Relate to Issues with Anger? Of course, I’m no journalist, and that title may not grab readers.

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Smoking & Alzheimers

So I came across this video (pretty well produced) on recent “information” on the link between smoking cigarettes and Alzheimer’s disease:

(My apologies on getting the video embedded. For some reason WordPress does not like the HTML the site has given, even though the preview work. Go figure…)

I’m pretty impressed by the investigation. The interview at the end with the representative of an Alzheimer’s organization in Oregon is spot on: Common sense.

However, the real reason I’m reposting this video for more to see is the source/fact checking that went into the production. It is a clear sign that we all must take the time these days to determine where information is coming from and if it can be trusted/believed. Too often we see newspaper/online articles purporting some new study that links things with other things that seem extremely unlikely, and at the same time, there isn’t a link or a citation of the study. We cannot be persuaded just because the article says “researchers” or “scientists”. It’s important for people to be informed, but it should be WELL-informed. Scientists get things wrong too, and of course, there are some who just make stuff up.

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Skeptically Speaking: Young Skeptics

The link for the podcast is on Skeptically Speaking’s Website as well as below.

Listen to me talk about Woo Fighters in the first segment entitled ‘Speaking Up”.

Young Skeptics.

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Waltke Resigns at Seminary Over Evolution

I came across this story on The Huffington Post the other day and I was surprised for two reasons: 1) A religious scholar endorsing evolution, and 2) that he had to resign from his position at a seminary to “save face”.

Admittedly, I’m not overly surprised by Bruce Waltke’s affirmation that biblical scripture and evolution can coexist, so I’m obviously more surprised by the latter. Unfortunately, for many who hold this belief who also serve at schools of theology, they face this “closet” experience.

I do hold his statement regarding Christianity’s likeness to a cult if it continues down the path of evolution-bashing. It takes one in deep denial about the way the world works to refute the claims of evolution, but to most Christians, it seems relatively easy. However, if you compare evolution to other situations not mentioned in the Bible, there are many things that we have evidence for that shouldn’t be correct, but doesn’t create such a heated debate (e.g., dinosaurs living with humans).

I applaud Waltke for his willingness to break the mold… even though the immense pressure of the establishment forced his hand. We all know that it wouldn’t do the budging.

As a side note on evolution, Discovery Channel’s Life miniseries that has recently aired mentions evolution quite a bit. After doing a brief search, I cannot find any controversy surrounding the use of this word and its application to the animals and plants filmed for this series from sources outside the Discovery organization.

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