Archive for the ‘urban legends’ category

Bogus Facilitated Communication

February 23, 2010

In November, there was a well publicized news story that told of a man stuck in a coma for 23 years who began to communicate with his doctors. The stellar journalistic tome that is the Daily Mail gave the story the headline of “Man trapped in 23-year ‘coma’ reveals horror of being unable to tell doctors he was conscious“.

Oddly enough, in the entire length of the story, then never once reveal how he “talked” with doctors, alluding to some miracle computer system that allowed him to chat freely with the outside world. He had another tool they never mentions: a Facilitated communicator. This story corrects the error. The patient had never communicated.

Nobody wants anybody to be stuck in a coma forever , but what we really don’t want is to be lied to. If they story had been true, it would have been great. But, what we have is a John Edwards type charlatans, whether they knew it, or were convincing themselves they could do it. Double Blind testing is a must and is the very foundation of science.

The coma “miracle recovery” crowd is much like vaccination deniers: they are both so commited to proving their point, that they have lost sight of their goal, to find a solution. They instead spend all their time trying to convince themselves they are right, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Yes, we do need to know as much as we can about an individual’s state before we make decisions about their lives, but lying about it is about as wrong as anyone can get.


Norse God Odin as Santa Claus?

December 8, 2009

Saint Nicholas

That jolly old elf Santa Claus may have gotten his name from Sinterklaas, a Dutch derivation for  Saint Nicholas of Myra, but his wizened appearance, as well as a few of the customs and characteristics associated with Santa seems to stem from Norse traditions.


Phyllis Siefker, in her book Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years, sees parallels between the Norse god Odin and Santa.  The Germanic winter festival of Yule had many traditions attached to it that we would associate with Christmas today, including caroling and decorating evergreen trees. A Yule custom in which children would put straw for Odin’s eight legged horse into their boots and set them in front of the fire place only to find them filled with candy and toys the next morning seems to have led to the tradition of Christmas stockings today. Odin was, after all, a shape shifting wizard, able to sneak in and out under the cover of night. Saint Nicholas, it seems, was not gifted with such powers, though his love of cookies was notorious.

Vintage (pre-Coca-Cola) Santa Claus

In the early 20th century, Santa began to lose his rough around the edges wizard look and took on more of the child friendly fat man appearance we think of as Santa Claus today. This look was aided, though not invented, by a very popular series of ads by the Coca-Cola company.

Sinister looking vintage Santa

virginity pledges are crap

December 29, 2008

So, as it turns out, people that were raised to be naive about sex are … naive about sex. Amazing! Data analysis has shown that virginity pledges are absolutely worthless. Well, not absolutely. People who take the pledges are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
But, as obvious as the results may sound, these surveys need to be done because certain groups that happen to hold belief systems that involve magical fairies (angels) and invisible friends (jesus) tend to not accept reality.

What bothers me is that the government is investing in these abstinence only sex ed programs. So, you could say that the government is spending money to give kids STDs.

I really cannot wrap my head around people actually planning on keeping their kids ignorant of sex. Of course we need to teach people sex ed. People are not born fully formed out of the womb. They need to be taught even basic things like proper diet and what to and what not to stick your dick into.

When I Find Myself in Times of Trouble, Online Psychics Come To Me

November 11, 2008

According to an article on, practitioners of divination, many of them who give out  predictions online through email or IM, say that they see a marked increase in business during economic slumps. The hopeful patrons often ask about future financial and employment status.

Mmmm, I wonder what kind of economic downturn Jerusalem saw about two thousand years ago?

Wired Article


November 6, 2008

“…and he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand”

This, of course, is taken from an overtly sappy (even by Christian standards) poem meant to inspire the faithful.

The footprints that are of more concern to voters in America, though, are footprints that are claimed to be seen by Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and to fuel her belief that the world is only 6,000 years old. Footprints that purportedly show humans and dinosaurs walking side by side, perhaps going on a nice little stroll together, picnic basket in hand.

These footprints are near the Paluxy River outside of Glen Rose, Texas. If you do a Google search for it you’ll be hard pressed to find any site that isn’t run by a creationist yipping for joy claiming them as irrefutable proof in their theologically necessary young earth hypothesis.

If you go to the Paluxy River, you will see these prints. But are they what they appear to be? They “human” footprints fall into two categories:
1- Dinosaur tracks that resemble giant human tracks
2- Out right frauds carved by a local resident

The dinosaur tracks, once looked at closely (that is, without your head in a Bible) are tridactyl (three toed) footprints that had sediment washed into the toes. This is known as the Taylor site. Though the rough outline of the track do indeed look human, the actual contours and most definitely the stride of the track aren’t even close.

The second set of tracks, known as the Burdick Tracks, are more humanoid … slightly. Though human looking, they show grievous anatomical errors and signs of carving. Who carved them? A local man named George Adams and his son in the 1930’s. Why? Well, according to George’s granddaughter, Zana, “My dad and my grandfather decided one day — I don’t know if it was to make money, or what — to start carving man tracks alongside the dinosaur tracks.” And make money they did. They sold them for $15 to $30 apiece.

But, do you want to know what they real problem is? All this information is out there and is freely available. It took me no more than 5 minutes to find it. So, why is all this drivel still used by creationist groups? You would think that even they wouldn’t want to base their arguments on a (river) bed of lies. Or would they?