slumber-powered

after the sleeping comes the waking up.

Archive for October, 2009

This explains a lot.

Posted by c. wagner on October 30, 2009

Yeah, that about covers it.

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They never give up, do they?

Posted by c. wagner on October 30, 2009

Okay. My head hurts from this one.

A recent article in the Telegraph starts out talking about how Dr. Richard Wiseman, a well-known psychologist who has investigated the paranormal for years, conducted an informal experiment into remote viewing over Twitter. Remote viewing is the supposed ability to “see” things that are happening at a distant place or at least something that they should have no prior knowledge of. Wiseman recruited about 7,000 people, traveled to a location in England, and sent a tweet using his mobile phone. Participants were supposed to use remote viewing and choose from five photographs to locate him. 15% got his location right. That’s less than chance would allow.

More formal experiments into remote viewing (which is a type of ESP), including one conducted for the CIA by Ray Hyman and Jessica Utts, have also shown that remote viewers have a no better than chance … chance of success. Wiseman’s Twitter test only added to the pile of negative reports on remote viewing.

But the Telegraph pairs the summary of the Twitter test with stories about how remote viewing is supposedly “helping” to find missing persons and medical diagnoses. The author cites a person who shows only 2 letters of congrats for finding the bodies of missing persons. No mention of how many times the remote viewers had tried to find missing people.

Then the author relates that remote viewers were asked to apply their skills to her life.

Before my ex-husband died two years ago, I had discovered that he’d been unfaithful. I wanted to know if he’d had any illegitimate children. I waited more than a week for the reply. Four remote viewers came up with colourful, jerky impressions: the effect was like reading blank verse. They did not answer my question but they described my husband, scenes from his life and mannerisms with such accuracy that it made me cry.

This sounds like the Barnum Effect to me.

Besides, an single, personal anecdote doesn’t cancel years and years of research. And like any crappy “psychic” technique, it can distract from more productive avenues of research.

Read the article at the Telegraph.

Watch the Penn and Teller: Bullshit! episode about ESP and remote viewing.

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See the way Galileo saw the universe.

Posted by c. wagner on October 30, 2009

This replica of Galileo’s telescope is on display at London’s Space Museum.

With a device like this, Galileo saw things that have changed the way we viewed the universe and our place in it.

He studied the moon, discovered the four major satellites of Jupiter, observed a supernova, verified the phases of Venus, and discovered sunspots.

He also helped prove the Copernican system, which states that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.

Before Copernicus’ and Galileo’s work, it was held that the sun revolved around the Earth.

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Would punk have worked better?

Posted by c. wagner on October 30, 2009

Finally! Someone is going to have to suffer for those annoying Baby Einstein videos. And it’s not the babies anymore.

Seems that Disney and Brainy Baby are offering rebates to anyone and everyone who bought Baby Einstein videos. They’d already been forced to remove claims about the videos being “educational” and helping babies develop into geniuses.

Sure, the DVDs probably make decent babysitters, but they make even better coasters!

Read the article from the New York Times.

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They’re just like people.

Posted by c. wagner on October 30, 2009

Still one of my favorite bits of video on the interwebs.

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What are the odds on Bigfoot?

Posted by c. wagner on October 30, 2009

William Hill bookmakers in the United Kingdom will lay odds on anything. Recently, the news came out that they’ve worked out a deal with London’s Natural History Museum. William Hill pays the museum a bit of money every year and the musem promises that it will examine the body of any monsters found in Loch Ness, verify whatever it is, and then put it on display (after stuffing and mounting it, one supposes).

The odds William Hill applies to finding Nessie within the year: 500 to 1.

They give the Yeti at 200 to 1. No word on if you can get odds on Bigfoot.

Read the article at the Telegraph.

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Seeing this might be worth the trip to Australia.

Posted by c. wagner on October 29, 2009

A beautiful picture from the Hubble Telescope of a cluster of supergiant stars called the Jewel Box. Unfortunately for me and most of my readers, the cluster is only visible from the southern hemisphere. Awwww….

Read more about the Jewel Box at Bad Astronomy.

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Why did it take so long?

Posted by c. wagner on October 29, 2009

President Obama on Wednesday signed a law that makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sure, Congress had to append it to a defense spending bill, but it’s been passed. About time.

Read more at CNN.

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