When I first starting seeing items online and in social media about plastic snow, I didn’t pay much attention. I love The Onion as much as the next guy but I rarely find the time to read much more than a lead story or three in any given week.
But then last week I was speaking with a friend who lives in the frozen North of the U.S., and she mentioned the stories about plastic snow in the Southeast. And I do confess that it was a revelation to me that claims that Georgia was being hit by fake plastic snowfall were not being written by comedy writers, but rather were being made and taken seriously by modern individuals known to be of the species Homo sapiens.
It was a wild week for weird news. Here is a rundown courtesy of Doubtful News.
Let's start with two photos that made people hit the "share" button and pass along though I don't know why. This one apparently shows a female figure behind the man. While the church thinks it's an angel, skeptics figure a ghost phone app or photoshop is at play.
Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.
Animal rights activism: Petitions aren’t science (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/animal-rights-activism-petitions-arent-science/ British Parliamentary EDM 263 calls for properly moderated public scientific debates about the human cost of misleading results from animal experiments. Dr. Gorski was puzzled to find his name included on the list of targeted UK scientists. The organization responsible, For Life on Earth, claims that animal research provides no knowledge or benefit. Their arguments are easily refuted, but a public debate is not the place to do that.
Food for Thought (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/food-for-thought/ An outstanding free online course is being offered by 3 professors from McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. It covers facts and myths about food and nutrition and educates students about the scientific method and how to evaluate the published research with a critical eye. Over 20,000 people in 150 countries have already registered. Highly recommended.
JREF Senior Fellow, magician and scientific skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, "The Honest Liar," presents JREF’s newest video series, aptly titled The Honest Liar. Follow Jamy as he uses critical thinking, skepticism, and a healthy dose of humor, along with his expertise in legerdemain, to explore the facts behind false claims.
In this installment of The Honest Liar, Jamy Ian Swiss recounts a tale of years gone by when he and his friend and skeptical colleague, psychologist Ray Hyman, appeared on radio along with a channeler, and the talking spirit of a 6th-century Irishman who spoke English and offered career advice to callers. HONEST!
Last week, on January 23rd, one Thom Nickels, identified as a “Philadelphia-based author/journalist,” contributed a piece on Huffington Post entitled “The Most Talented Psychic in Philadelphia.” Perhaps it should have been attributed to the most credulous “author/journalist” in Philadelphia.
Mr. Nickels is obviously a big fan of his proclaimed friend and the subject of his story, Arlene Ostapowicz. In the course of his breathless narrative, Mr. Nickels recounts that:
Ms. Ostapowicz “… has been a guest on many television and radio shows,” although the only specific show mentioned is one in which she was allegedly invited to appear on but declined.
“In the 1980s, [Ostapowicz] was in high demand with [Philadelphia] City Hall politicians and judges.”