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Category: pseudoscience

After three weeks of mystery regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, representatives of a British satellite company called Inmarsat have claimed that with a complex mathematical analysis, they’ve narrowed down the fight path and made a solid case that the plane went down in the Southern Ocean.

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After three weeks of mystery regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, representatives of a British satellite company called Inmarsat have claimed that with a complex mathematical analysis, they’ve narrowed down the fight path and made a solid case that the plane went down in the Southern Ocean.

This news raises just the kinds of questions that cry out for good science reporting. Is the satellite company’s claim to be believed? How did they do it? Some stories explained in very simple terms that they applied the Doppler effect to “pings” transmitted between the plane and a geostationary satellite.

The New York Times and Wall Street...

When Jenny McCarthy gets offered a job, people notice. Initially, I thought that McCarthy's new job as a co-host on the ABC daytime television show "The View" would attract attention mainly from science bloggers and reporters because of her embrace of...

When Jenny McCarthy gets offered a job, people notice. Initially, I thought that McCarthy's new job as a co-host on the ABC daytime television show "The View" would attract attention mainly from science bloggers and reporters because of her embrace of the thoroughly discredited view that vaccines cause autism.

I was wrong. Entertainment reporters, celebrity bloggers, and news services took note. That includes Perez Hilton, who linked to and quoted from Michael Spector's highly critical post at The New Yorker. "We couldn’t be more thrilled that Jenny McCarthy is officially set to join ABC’s The View as new co-host. And yet, it seems that the news of her new gig is being met with some public outrage!" Hilton bubbles.

Indeed....

Last week, researchers at the University of Bristol published a study in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in which they report that much of what passes for research in neuroscience is--what's the word I'm looking for?--worthless....

Last week, researchers at the University of Bristol published a study in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in which they report that much of what passes for research in neuroscience is--what's the word I'm looking for?--worthless. 

The researchers, led by Marcus R. Munafo, entitled their study, "Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience." In their abstract, they note that "a study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect," and it also allows for "statistically significant" results that do not represent real effects.

"Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low," they write. That means the studies are likely to overestimate the size of any effect they find, and less likely to...

Paul Raeburn
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Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org has pointed me to an incisive and entertaining post by a Canadian writer who makes toast of Gwyneth...

Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org has pointed me to an incisive and entertaining post by a Canadian writer who makes toast of Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook, "It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great." 

The blogger is Julia Belluz, the senior editor at The Medical PostThe blog is Science-ish, a joint project of the Canadian publications ...

Only a few weeks after Newsweek and Simon & Schuster gave us proof of heaven,  The...

Only a few weeks after Newsweek and Simon & Schuster gave us proof of heaven,  The New York Times now offers us immortality in the form of an article entitled "Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?" It is now online and will appear as the cover story in the Dec. 2 New York Times Magazine.

The premise of the story, written by the novelist Nathaniel Rich, is that the unusual life cycle of a tiny sea creature called a hydrozoan could hold the key to human immortality. The organism, a species of Turritopsis, begins as a small polyp that...

On Oct. 11, I wrote that the book Proof of Heaven, an account of a near-death experience by a neurosurgeon, reflected badly on its author, Eben Alexander, and its publisher, Simon & Schuster, for allowing mystical belief, "visions," and...

On Oct. 11, I wrote that the book Proof of Heaven, an account of a near-death experience by a neurosurgeon, reflected badly on its author, Eben Alexander, and its publisher, Simon & Schuster, for allowing mystical belief, "visions," and religion to masquerade as science. 

I wrote then that I had no doubt that "all of the parties involved will make a large amount of money from this project--money that will not, I suspect, be accepted as legal tender in their glittering afterlives."

In an article today in The New York Times, Alexander continues to push the same story, saying that he hopes his medical expertise "will be enough to persuade skeptics...

If you've been wondering, you can now put yourself at ease: Heaven is real. 

That comforting end to a discussion lasting thousands of years comes not from an evangelical group, not from a pastor, not from a mystic or a saint--but from the cover of this week's Newsweek and ...

If you've been wondering, you can now put yourself at ease: Heaven is real. 

That comforting end to a discussion lasting thousands of years comes not from an evangelical group, not from a pastor, not from a mystic or a saint--but from the cover of this week's Newsweek and its online counterpart The Daily Beast.

The story wastes no time telling us the author of the story, Eben Alexander, is a neurosurgeon at Harvard, and the son of a neurosurgeon. "I grew up in a scientific world... and had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death." Their "strange stories...didn't mean they had journeyed anywhere real." No religion or mysticism for him, in other words:...