Four recent photographs in which Randi shows off his ride. And while we're on the subject, don't forget that the Amazing, along with DJ Grothe and tons of cool skeptics, will attend the Skeptrack at Dragon*Con next month.
In July of 2006, some unusual foot prints were discovered in the sand of Lake Michigan. There were very deep, with a rounded impression on one end and a scattering of tossed sand at the other end. What could have made them? Watch the video and see what you think.
They're obviously not made with normal shoes or sneakers, and don't look like any bird or dog that I'm familiar with. They do like they're from something heavy. What made them?
In the video, people are trying to find something to match what they see. They assume that the deepest part is the heel, which matches their understanding of how human footprints are made. They note that they're close together, and that they're in a single line. In order to show scale, they video taped a one cent piece.
So far, so good. But what happens next is directly related to the name of the YouTube account: Lightsideufo. Lightside UFO is an organization that believes we are being visited by extraterrestrial beings. Their site at thelightside.org contains information and advice on these visitations, including "evidence." And, you guessed it... they think the tracks are caused by aliens. Once again, believing is seeing. Oh, and lest you think they're just being a bit credulous, be sure to see the follow up video here for the "real" explanation.
Everyone knows... that you should wash chicken before you cook it
Everyone knows... that mayonnaise goes bad quickly
Everyone knows... that what we used to know is wrong, but what we know now is correct.
People are often wrong. Experts are only as good as their knowledge, observations, and ability to interpret what they see. In the three cases above, studies and new thinking have replaced "what everyone knows" with new knowledge – and they're all false.
While making your bed may seem tidy, it's been known by scientists for years that making your bed increases the growth of mites. During the night, you sweat and that moisture is absorbed by the bed. In turn this moisture provides a hospitable environment for the mites who breed and multiply as they feed on your dead skin cells. If their concentrations get too high, you may experience itchiness or other symptoms from their excrement. For the best results, don't make your bed, which helps it dry out during the day.
This Friday, Randi, DJ and I decamp for the Singularity Summit in San Francisco. There we will be guests of the Singularity Institute, and Randi will speak to the assembled scientists, futurists, idealists, philosophers, and writers about the importance of critical thinking.
Yes — ringing that old bell again. But this will be a special talk, even by Randi’s standards. The Singularity, as it is called — those unfamiliar with the concept may feel some alarm at my insistence on capitalization; please believe this is how it must be done — is defined in various ways by those who talk about it, but generally refers to the moment in the not-too-distant-future when a human being will construct a machine or computer program that is slightly smarter than its creator. After that, the thinking goes, all bets are off. The subsequent course of human history will undergo a significant weirding.
Thanks to Jennifer Newport and the Chicago Skeptics for helping to host the James Randi Educational Foundation’s regional workshop in Chicago this past weekend. Twelve attended the workshop on divination with dowsing rods and pendulums, which was offered free to JREF members. Participants made their own dowsing rods and pendulums while learning how to set up a scientific study to test their effectiveness. The workshop also included a historical review of divination as well as an in-depth look at the dangers of contemporary dowsing including the ADE 651 “bomb detector”.
Attendees, presenters, and others were then treated to an evening of fun at the Drinking Skeptically event, again hosted by Chicago Skeptics. The night featured video from the JREF’s Amazing Adventure to the Galapagos, a talk by me on the pseudoscience of cryptozoology, a little magic, and plenty of good conversation.
Watch Randi.org for information about new JREF regional workshops in additional cities to be announced soon.