Those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook know that I received an inflammatory e-mail this morning. I wasn’t the only one to receive it – it was sent to a number of TV stations and public skeptics. And of course, this isn’t unusual. If you blog and take up a controversial position (yes, skepticism is sadly controversial), you’ll receive this delightful mail as well.
It was quite an offensive piece that threatened the entire population of the United States with slaughter and included a picture of “Goatse,” a well-known photo that I urge you not to Google. (When you do it anyway, just remember that I did warn you.) As the e-mail is offensive and even disturbing, I’ve put a photo of it here. You needn’t look at it to get my point.
What at first glance looks like a threat of violence from a mad man is actually something much more upsetting. It’s a cry for help that none of us are able to answer.
Lest you think that quack treatments are on the way out, let this collection from Canada's CBC refresh your memory. There is very little commentary on the photos, though a spirited debate rages in the comments below.
"Ancient wisdom" persists even today. Often it does no harm; sometimes it's deadly. What it isn't is progressive – no one is learning how to "perfect" these techniques or make them better, because no one is thinking about mechanisms or trying to explain their efficacy (or lack thereof). Modern medical science, on the other hand, is a never ending quest for the next better thing and we have much better things now.
So while these pictures are interesting, quirky, and in some cases downright silly, other pictures are truly astounding.
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.
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.
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.