Comets, Aliens and Conspiracy Wingnuts

The European Space Agency has accomplished one of the greatest engineering and scientific achievements in human history this past week. Not only did it get a space vehicle into orbit around a comet travelling at more than 55,000 km/hr (34,000 mph), it landed a probe on the very rough surface of that comet. Outstanding, brilliant, superb… the superlatives fail me when trying to describe this event. The … (more–>)

The Ebola Panic

Ebola has gripped the imagination of North American media and been spun into a terrifying spectre looming like a horseman of the apocalypse over us. So widespread has it become that Jenny McCarthy, one of the top wingnuts of quackery and pseudomedicine, and poster girl for the pro-measles-pro-mumps parents, felt compelled to pipe up with her own “cure,” should it spread to the USA: Lemon juice. Yep. … (more–>)

Those Crazy Creationists

I know, I know, it’s the proverbial fish in a barrel when you critique creationists. They are just so easy to mock. But how can you help yourself when someone like Ken Ham opens his mouth in public? The media just love to pounce all over him. He must take his lessons in PR from Ann Coulter. And like with Ann, the controversy probably helps sell his books. (And, … (more–>)

Chemtrails: yet more conspiracy claptrap

A bit of simple math was used to debunk the chemtrail nonsense conspiracy recently. Over at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s website there’s a great piece explaining why there simply aren’t enough pilots, planes or chemicals for the chemtrail silliness to be true: A typical crop duster might use seven ounces of agent diluted in seven gallons of water to cover one acre of land. Chemtrail … (more–>)

Sometimes Our Opinions Just Don’t Matter

The headline for this piece comes from a recent article in Time Magazine: “Dear CNN: Sometimes Our Opinions Just Don’t Matter.” The article isn’t – as you might have thought – about local bloggers. It’s about critical thinking. Or rather, the lack of it, on CNN’s part.The lack of it on the part of local bloggers I’ll save for another day. CNN has been running almost … (more–>)

The dangerous idiocy of the anti-vax movement

Measles is on the rise in Canada. There have already been many cases in 2014: in PEI, London, Ottawa, southern Alberta, Regina, Qu’Apelle, Calgary, Fraser Valley (320 cases), Hamilton, Halton, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Nanaimo and other locations. Eleven cases in Ontario this year alone. Nine in Alberta. That ancient, deadly foe we recently believed we had conquered, is coming back. And it’s going to kill children … (more–>)

Conspiracy Theories: 2014 Update

It’s time to update a piece I wrote in December, 2012, outlining the secret deals, backroom negotiations and “barbecue politics” that our council has been involved in since that date, more than a year ago. So here comes the update, the emperor without his clothes: Secret meetings: none Backroom negotiations: none Barbecue deals: none Sorry, I know this is a disappointment to local conspiracy theorists and … (more–>)

Debunking the Adam Bridge

    A story popped up on the internet in late 2013, recycled in early 2014, claiming “NASA Images Find 1.7 Million Year Old Man-Made Bridge.” Claptrap. It’s not a bridge. It’s simply a natural tombolo: “a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar.” The conspiracy theorists and some religious … (more–>)

Pyramids in the Ice: Hoax

What is it about pyramids that excites the imagination? Their shape? Their size? Height? Age? The complexities and difficulties in their building? Or the sheer grandeur of them? And what is it about them that get the cranks and conspiracy theorists so fired up? What is it about these  constructions that convince some folks they’re made by – or for – aliens? Or that there’s some … (more–>)

Anti-Intellectualism: The New Elitism

There’s a growing – and disturbing – trend in modern culture: anti-intellectual elitism. The dismissal of art, science, culture, philosophy, of rhetoric and debate, of literature and poetry, and their replacement by entertainment, spectacle, self-righteous self ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. These are usually followed by vituperative ridicule and angry caterwauling when anyone challenges the populist ideals or ideologies. As if having a brain, as if having … (more–>)

Why do so few Canadians get a flu shot?

That’s the headline for a recent Toronto Star story. It suggests that as few as one third of Canadians get a flu vaccine, and in some place the number may be as low as 20 percent. This despite Ontario having the world’s first universal free flu shot program, introduced in 2000. The 2013-14 vaccine is on its way to doctors’ offices now. It’s also available at … (more–>)

Chemtrails redux: the attack of the tin-foil hat brigade

My earlier post on the nonsensical chemtrail conspiracy has generated quite a lot of activity recently (more than 1,000 views in a few days – thanks!). So much so that I decided to look online again to see why – had this silliness abated? Were people waking up and laughing at their former craziness? Or was it spreading more among the hard-of-thinking and the anti-science crowd? … (more–>)

$35 Million Costs Confirmed in Report

I was told recently that the $35 million projected capital costs  for the Central Park redevelopment had been called a “red herring.” That’s verifiably untrue. The actual total amount shown in the final report is $35,251,965.11. This isn’t a made up number, an inflated number or an imaginary number. It isn’t a council number, either. In fact the two council PRC representatives did not even attend … (more–>)

Casinos redux

First let’s clarify the terms. A “casino” was never really in the discussion, although just about everyone used that term. What the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) offered was a “gaming facility” as they euphemistically called it. A gambling joint, others said. It was to be a warehouse-like, windowless building with up to 300 slot machines. No keno, no gaming tables for poker or blackjack, … (more–>)

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