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Media Incompetence

Is Your Fitbit Crap?

Let me cut to the chase: No. Full disclosure: I own a Fitbit Flex™. I haven’t worn it in months, but I do like the thing. It’s a long, boring, irrelevant story why I’m not wearing it, so I won’t get into that. Just know that I am sincere when I say that I like my Fitbit. I don’t think my Fitbit is telling me exactly how far I’ve walked or how many calories I’ve burned. I do think that it gives me a ballpark figure that can be used to compare one day to other days. I don’t think that it’s telling me exactly when I am sleeping, either, but the information about how restless I am some nights compared to others is interesting and even […]

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Odds-Defying Babies With Numerical Superpowers!

So this Good Morning America piece showed up in my Facebook feed the other day touting the sensational headline “Odd-Defying Babies Born 10:11 12/13/14″. Now, I think it would be adorable to have a baby born on 10:11 12/13/14 (in America, of course. In Europe, that would be 10:11 13/12/14, which just doesn’t hold the same cuteness). Human beings love the symbolism that comes from conventions such as labeling and ordering. My good friend and fellow Skeptic, Ani Aharonian (Insight blogger and guest blogger here) was married on 5/8/13 for a reason (can you guess?). But “odds-defying”? No. These babies defied no odds. Odds are a property of something that is yet to be. They are really only valuable as a means of predicting something and have […]

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Hope for Narcissists? Not Here.

A piece by Joseph Brean that I read recently displayed the headline New hope for narcissists: New Canadian study suggests there may be a cure for self-centred[sic] grandiosity after all. My first thought was “I doubt it.” The press release for this study is pretty accurate and, although I have some criticisms of the study, the journal article doesn’t make the dubious claims found in this piece. However, I will say that it’s a little hard to tell if Brean is fully responsible because it is unclear whether he interviewed the scientists who wrote the article himself. Even if he did, it’s hard to know what that interview looked like. I’ve been on the other side of such interviews and usually the end product is a gross […]

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Are Atheists More Compassionate or Prosocial Than Highly Religious People?

I hope I grabbed your attention with that title, but do not expect to find the answer to that question here. What I am going to discuss today is a study that many people seem to think answers that question, but it doesn’t. As I noted in my last post, the study I’ll be discussing was grossly misreported, starting with its press release. Since the study itself appears to be behind a pay wall for most people, I’ll describe as much detail as I can in a blog post as I discuss the study’s validity and findings of the study, published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science and titled “My Brother’s Keeper? Compassion Predicts Generosity More Among Less Religious Individuals”. But for those who are not at all interested […]

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Science and Spin Are Very Bad Bedfellows

It seems that the best motivation for me (to write) is frustration. A press release by UC Berkeley about a study that was recently published on the relationships among religiosity, compassion, and prosocial behavior has been making the rounds over the last couple of days, waved by proud atheists as evidence of superiority and bashed by the more skeptical as bad science (even though most haven’t appeared to have read the study). The latter has been exacerbated by the fact that the majority of reports include very big mistakes. I’m going to analyze the study, but I will post that separately since it is likely to be long and I also want to discuss the incredible mess of BS this has become. In that post I will […]

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