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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why you need to be cautious about believing current science claims

Due to a relative's recent acute illness, I have been slow blogging, and thanks to all for any patience offered, and special thanks to generous PayPal donors. Your help makes a huge difference. Meanwhile ...

Friend Rob Sheldon writes to say, regarding the excellent Sharon Begley's comments about some scientists' affliction with physics envy:
... , your comment about voodoo fMRI ended with a comment about "physics envy". But Physicists play these same games!

I once taught physics in the University and sat on a PhD defense in which the advisor was disturbed that his student found only a 0.07 correlation between the advisor's theory and the data. So he told the student to rebin the 200 data points into 3 bins and then fit the theory to these bins. Lo-and-behold, the correlation coefficient went up to 0.98. The professor was pleased, and told me that he was gratified to see his theory vindicated.

I objected on the grounds that if he had used 2 bins, he would have achieved 100% correlation, and that such work would make him the laughingstock of the community. He huffily replied that it had been already published in the most prestigious journal of our field (Journal of Geophysical Research).

He then made sure I lost my job before accepting a chairmanship elsewhere.

It's a truly weird world, and there is no normal.
Okay, Rob, it is indeed a truly weird world. The reason I disabled all comments at all my personal blogs (you asked about that) is this: The Canadian government actually has employees who can go to a blog and post a comment and, if someone deems it offensive, the blogger can be charged.

Welcome to the Nanny State. Now get out quick, if you have a brain. I can't leave because I was born and raised here.

What was once proudly the True North strong and free! is, for better or worse, my "home and native land," - and my family has lived here for three centuries. My father (about ninety), who fought in World War II, wonders now why he bothered.

Never fear. We WILL take our country back from the despicable weasels who have insinuated themselves into our system of government, undermining our ancient system of justice that has been hailed as exemplary throughout the world! The presumption of innocence is the "golden thread" that runs through it!

One consequence of the egregious government intervention is that we have no idea how much "hate" there is (or isn't) in Canada. Probably not that much among the native-born population.

Most of us are preoccupied with making a living during the current depression and - oh, yeah - ploughing and shovelling snow. Amazing amount of snow this year. I guess global warming hasn't hit Toronto yet. Perhaps I just need more faith, and then I would, like, "see" it.

Just up at Future Tense

Future Tense is a blog operated by The Word Guild, an organization of Canadian writers who are Christian. Its purpose is to provide information and help to all interested writers during this historic transition to new media. I was working over there this morning.

Google's proposed settlement with authors of books scanned without permission

Google dumps program for newspaper ads

Christian retailing: One stop shop for the facts

Proposed new free resource for science writers - whether they ever wanted to write about science or not

Rrring!!! tones: What they tell us about the new world of branding - Denyse O'Leary

New bookstore launched to fill R. G. Mitchell's void - Wendy Nelles

Vintage Wendy:
Sounds like this might be the kind of formula that is enabling a few atypical Christian bookstores, such as House of James in Abbotsford, B.C., to survive and thrive. When visiting traditional Christian bookstores in recent years, my reaction is increasingly veering from boredom to frustration to depression. I’ve got huge empathy for people who truly are motivated by wanting to help people by owning or working in Christian bookstores, and who have lost their jobs or businesses.

Yeah, the testimony mints and the fish-shaped candy?

Uh .... can we rethink all this before it gets any worse? If it ever gets round to Jesus toilet paper, I will be tempted to deny that I am a Christian. So if that's happening, don't tell me. I really do not want to know. (I would have to admit that I am a Christian despite the embarrassment, but - as you can imagine - I would not thank the person who brought it to my attention very profusely.)

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