May 30, 2014
[Editor's note: O.K., this is embarrassing to have to admit, but faithful Tracker readers responded almost immediately to let me know that the National Report is a parody site. It's a measure of my cynicism, I suppose, that I took the darn thing seriously. And just to show I'm too big a person to try to bury my shame, I'm going to leave this post up. I hope you enjoy it.--PR]
Feeling a little chilly today? That's not surprising.
And here's why: Solar energy panels around the world are sucking energy out of the sun, "possibly with catastrophic consequences far worse than global warming."
This "news" comes from the "National Report," which describes itself as "America's #1 independent news team" and features head shots of Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin on its home page.
March 25, 2014
News Organizations Needed Science Reporters to Explain Flight 370 Ping Analysis (And Prevent Stupidity Regarding Psychics)
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.
July 17, 2013
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.
April 18, 2013
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.
April 8, 2013
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."
November 28, 2012
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.
November 26, 2012
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, particularly medical skeptics, as he used to be, to open their minds to an afterworld."
October 10, 2012
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: He's a scientist.