Category: Published paper

What ‘Science By Press Conference’ looks like

Exhibit A: 1989 and Pons and Fleischmann announce cold fusion — an “inexhaustible source of energy” — at a press briefing in Utah, before they had applied for patents or published their technology. Too bad they were just plain wrong. I bet they feel embarrassed now.



Exhibit B: 2002 and five-word headlines circle the globe as Clonaid announce their human cloning activities. Twelve years on, and we’re still waiting for any evidence whatsoever of said clone.



Exhibit C: The WHO issue a press release concerning a yet-to-be-published paper on mobile phones and brain cancer. The world media reports a definite causal link, even though the yet-to-be-published-paper was (a) unseen by everyone in the world media, (b) focused on only a small subset of possible cancers, and (c) was merely a document where a group of boffins “discussed and evaluated” the available research literature, rather than a new study bringing new data to bear on the issue.


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And finally, apropos of nothing at all, and arising just randomly from miasmic boredom of a Bank Holiday, here is today’s Irish Indo front page…

(Pic: Twitter)

(Pic: Twitter)

Hmmm. Stream of consciousness, eh?

Here are some observations on that story featured in the main headline. Continue reading “What ‘Science By Press Conference’ looks like”

Scientists now working on the perfect joke (Not a joke)


Here is a table showing you how funny various errors made while texting actually are:

My sides are *literally* splitting here! Please make it stop!!!

My sides are *literally* splitting here! Please make it stop!!!

You see, “I’ve sent you my fart” is much funnier than “Waited half n hour in the buss stop.”

Good to know.

So, scientists are now trying to “harness the power of autocorrect errors” in order to “make computers more humorous.” Here’s the Telegraph:

Hannu Toivonen, a computer scientist at the University of Helsinki, is leading the research into how autocorrect misnomers could be used to inspire greater comedy in the world of digital communications.

The professor was inspired to carry out a study into the unintentional humour of predictive text mistakes after falling victim to an erroneous email sign off…“It was meant to say ‘Best Regards’. What it actually read was, ‘Best Retards’.


This is the first time such written idiosyncrasies have been subjected to scientific analysis.

Really? The first time?

Because it all reminds me of this 1969 Monty Python sequence where the military set about trying to perfect the funniest joke in the world, as a weapon:

They eventually get to a stage where the joke is so funny that the scientists keep dying from laughter, so they have to break the joke up into parts and get different scientists to work on each bit separately.

Now that’s funny.

Somebody needs to stop these people before they go too far.

American Psychological Association promotes pseudotherapies. Again.

As we all know, the old days were the best. You know. Ye olden days. This is what I thought when I received this tweet alert from @ClaireMcCallion earlier today:

It links to an article just out in the American Psychological Association’s house journal, Monitor on Psychology and yes, @ClaireMcCallion’s right, it does SCREAM pseudoscience.

This all reminds me of an incident many years ago, when the Monitor published another article about pseudotherapies in psychology. Essentially, that article soft-soaped the use of complementary/alternative approaches in clinical psychology and encouraged psychologists to collaborate with the National Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in researching and developing CAM approaches.

Let’s remind ourselves, for a moment, that such therapies — by definition — (a) lack biological plausibility and are argued to operate using forces that are as yet inexplicable to mainstream science, and (b) have not demonstrated medicinal effects in ways that can be demonstrated in unambiguous, rigorous, empirical trials.

You might refer to such therapies as quackery. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Nonetheless, back in ’04 I was in the habit of banging my letter-writing head off the brick wall that is the editorial offices of such publications. As per the following: Continue reading “American Psychological Association promotes pseudotherapies. Again.”

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