Sunday, November 29, 2009


From Probably Bad News. Bad math from Fox News is not news either.
Also at FlowingData, with flame war discussion to boot!


Breaking News: 193% Is The New 100%:

[post repaired November 2010]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Many Exciting Tables

Found in an online SPSS guide (very near the bottom):

SPSS gives you many exciting tables for repeated measures ANOVA, most of which you can ignore in whole or at least in part. [emphasis added]

Wow! Not only is it an exciting statistical result, but you can probably just ignore it??? WHAT!?!

Likely anyone who isn't a statistician won't see the humor in that -  But to see these described on one hand as "exciting tables" (somehow unlikely), and "can just ignore" on the other hand is unexpected, to the the least. Trust me; the statisticians are ROTFLAO. Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Moguls on the Move

Help! I'm a Rocky Mountain skier trapped in the flat-lands!

At Improbable Research I found this story describing how moguls - those bumpy things on a ski slope, gradually work their way uphill. That should make sense to experience skiers, though now there is an article at Physics Today that makes it more than just anecdotal belief. The video below illustrates the movement over the course of the ski season:

The ski slope is a run call Riflesight Notch at Mary Jane ski area, Winter Park, Colorado. It looked familiar even before I read the text describing the video. I have been there many times, skiing the moguls until every muscle ached and loving every minute of it, then dinner at Katie's Beanery in Granby on the way home.


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Selecting for kuru resistant cannibals

I'm trying to decide what to think of this. On one hand resistance to kuru it's a hopeful sign. On the other hand, the mere existence of a disease that turns you into a laughing zombie could put a damper on your next mortuary feast.

Selecting for kuru resistant cannibals
New Scientist reports on a new study on how a gene that gives protection against the deadly brain disease kuru became more common in people exposed to the condition through their cannibalistic tradition of eating the bodies of dead relatives.

Kuru is a prion disease, meaning the damage is caused by a poorly arranged or folded protein molecule which can trigger the same damaging changes in other proteins it comes into contact with.

The condition is related to what we know as 'mad cow disease' and causes a distinctive form of shaking, brain degeneration and eventually leads to death. It was restricted to the South Fore people of Papua New Guinea who seemed to pass on the condition by their tradition of to eating deceased relatives at mortuary feasts.

This new study shows that over time a new variant of the PRNP gene emerged in the population which gave protection against kuru.

Just to be safe, you might want to scratch brains-in-oyster-sauce from the Thanksgiving menu. Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In Search of the Mother Troll

I was reading an article at

Of course these people are organized, either at their churches or at various sources around the internet, and all I need to do is search around until I dig some up. So I searched, and I found a likely candidate; a forum post titled Help! need help debating an evolutionist! at a site called Just the sort of place where I might find a seething den of Creationist scheming to troll any public forum that dares to publish about science and evolution. The original poster (OP) asked for help ...

[outdoor_engineer] I have an ongoing debate with a kid at school about evolution.
He's presenting some pretty good arguments and he's kicking my butt, can anyone help?!

... and with a little prodding OP provided details of the argument:

It is a long, drawn out logic style argument, I'll go through it step by step:
First he said that there are two different types of claims:
faith claims: those which could not be falsified by observation or experiment even in principle.
(i.e. god exists)


science claims: those which can be falsified by observation or experiment
(i.e. the earth is roughly spherical in shape)
This seemed perfectly rational, so I agreed.

he asked if I would agree that only science claims should be taught in science class. After some hemming and hawwing I agreed.

then the argument went like this:

faith based claims are those that which cannot be falsified.
faith based claims should not be taught in science class.
Creationism / ID can incorporate any evidence by saying "God made it that way"
Therefore creationism / ID cannot be falsified
Therefore creationism / ID should not be taught in science class.

He got me, Where did I go wrong? where's the flaw in his logic that I can't see?

This OP kid is up against a good argument, but this is where things started to go wrong. I was expecting the first reply to an irrational screed, but what came next was this:

[Mallon] There is no flaw in his argument. He's right.

Why do you think creationism should be taught in science class?

Huh? What?! This was supposed to be an investigative post about where trolls come from - where they live, what they plan, how they organize. I wanted to blog about that. I intended to blog about that. WHAT'S GOING ON???  How can my seething den of rabid Creationism be filled with educated, thinking, rational people. This is horrible! My first attempt is an utter failure.

But what a wonderful way to fail.

If your read the thread you will see a number of rational people writing similar comments, but a real troll does finally show up on page 2, who writes ...

[Calypsis4] I'll give you some help, young person.

1. Evolution does not exist in the first place because if it did it would be a violation of natural law. (a) the law of must generate from life. It cannot generate from non-living matter and no one has ever observed such a thing occur in nature. (2) Entropy keeps non-living matter from developing into living organisms and entropy keeps living organisms from becoming a different kind of organism. (3) the fossil record reveals that living organisms began abruptly, highly complex and no transitional forms. [...]

2. God meant what He said through Moses and the creation in Genesis and there is no historical reason not to believe the account he gave us. Even the ten commandments affirm the six day creation account (Exodus 20:11). Secondly, the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed the six day creation account (Mark 10:6 & 13:19). All of His disciples taught that the creation was true and that Adam and Eve were real people.

3. Evolution is nowhere taught in the Bible. It is a fairy tale.
[emphasis added]

Pity this poor troll, for he is about to get body-slammed:

[pgp protector]
1) Evolution has nothing to do with Biogenesis, please learn what the theory states.

2) Genesis only works that way if you read it as 100% literal, and that also makes God a deceiver (God made the Earth look old, but told us it's young).

3) computers programing is nowhere taught in the Bible. Please stop using the internet.
[emphasis added]

I laughed. I howled. My wife wondered what the heck I found so funny. The troll introduces some fun and it turns into a rollicking good 8 flaming pages of Young Earth Creatroll versus Theistic Evolutionists. Darned sharp TE's too - I could learn something from them. I also learned that this forum has "darker" corners, which might be the lair of the trolls I seek. My search has just begun.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Each element represents a different type of data visualization, and hovering the mouse-pointer over any of them will pop-up an example. "Hi" stands for Histogram as demonstrated in the captured pop-up below.

Very nicely done! See for yourself.

This happy accident occurred while I was searching for "element-pun" material in response to comments on a recent post at The Endeavor. Thanks John!
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's this? Faith AND Reason?!?

 Todd Wood, a Young Earth Creationist, has this to say:

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.

Not the sort of thing you generally hear from YEC, and a pleasant surprise. I bestow upon Todd Wood the title of Scientia Causidicus, for demonstrating the capability to be honest, a rational thinker, and to maintain his faith. Thank God for that.
[Hat Tip Evolutionblog and Thoughts from Kansas]
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is fun ...

 I just discovered a nice blog tribute to ... oh ... but telling would spoil some of the fun. This series of posts at The Armchair Generalist is still fun, even if it is after Halloween.

Here, have some more fun:

How Superman Defeated the Ku Klux Klan

TV Shows Little Girls Watch

Monkey Business: Scientist Monkeys Around With The Economy

Internet Rules

Piano Stairs are fun too.

I Love the Internet

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