• Deeper and Down: Verbal Hygiene for Men, by DEBUK at Language: A Feminist Guide: An interesting response to “what about the men” in relation to language policing, with a focus on patriarchal beliefs about deep […]

    • Well, tenors make more money than basses. A supply/demand demonstration if there ever was one.

      Few things sound stranger than someone pushing the pitch of their voice out of whack to achieve some ‘special’ presentation. Elizabeth Holmes’ fake voice has been called out recently. The ‘uptalk’ and girly-ism of a tranche of younger women is irritating as fuck. And lots of voice professionals hide their ‘real’ voice in public; Placido Domingo commented on that once, deliberately softening and ‘fuzzing’ his speech to cover the dense brightness that came naturally.

      Being a bass myself, I’ve caught myself many times ‘pitching up’ to sound more friendly and sociable.

  • Complete, often willful, ignorance of biology is characteristic of the anti-choice forced birth movement, perhaps even more characteristic than religious faith. Yet this ignorance is equally fanciful, imagining […]

    • The meme above shows a fetus way older than 24 weeks. Thus the person who wants to block an abortion for such a case as displayed in this meme wants a dead woman, since after 24 weeks she can only abort if her life is in danger.

      (Some states have expanded that to mean the health of the woman, but that would be a different debate.)

  • As London braces for Trump’s arrival, Sky News makes hilarious use of the baby blimp, by Nicole Gallucci at Mashable: The Trump Baby Blimp is not new, but this time around, Sky News made a trailer featuring […]

  • This post was originally published February 5, 2015, but the measles situation has only worsened since then, with anti-vaccination propaganda leading to the worst outbreak since measles was all but eradicated in […]

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 4 weeks, 1 day ago

    Thank you for clarifying that article! I was confused by the headline, but I thought the article was interesting to ponder. Eliminating human bias in creating models (or, more realistically, minimizing it) also seems like one of the biggest problems with deep-learning models (as with surveys, study design, etc.).

  • North Carolina: Where ‘No’ Doesn’t Mean ‘No’ When It Comes to Rape and Sexual Assault, by Dara Sharif: “Yes, in the year 2019, in North Carolina, once a person consents to sex, there are no backsies. […]

    • The article about misleading (not actually malicious, thank you headline writer) AI is a perfect example of “human” dysfunctional thinking. The AI systems have discovered p-hacking!
      The author says that training AI systems (actually, AI vision systems, though I think the same effect could happen with any sort of pattern-recognition system) by exposing them only to “real” correlations, they are much less vulnerable to generating false conclusions. But how do you recognize “real” correlations and how do you ensure that the AI is picking out real versus misleading or imaginary correlations? The answer, which took humans (and baby dinosaurs, thank you Mary!) millions of years to develop and is still far from perfect, is “science”. Don’t just find statistical correlations, use them to develop hypotheses and then test the hypotheses. Repeat.
      This reminds me of the distinction the SBM people draw between science-based medicine and evidence-based medicine. You need a comprehensive theoretical basis to ensure your statistical models aren’t just based on chance. The self-driving cars need to talk to each other so if three of them think it’s a stop sign and four of them think its a 45MPH sign, they at least know the matter is in dispute and to proceed with caution. And hopefully not with scattering experiments.

      • Thank you for clarifying that article! I was confused by the headline, but I thought the article was interesting to ponder. Eliminating human bias in creating models (or, more realistically, minimizing it) also seems like one of the biggest problems with deep-learning models (as with surveys, study design, etc.).

      • Hi again Buzz, long time no see! Your points are well made.
        I reckon the biggest piece of human bias that needs eliminating is the blind faith of developers in their new gee whiz software that turns out to be poorly designed and implemented, rushed into production well before it is ready and before seeking input from actual local experts in the field to which it is to be applied.
        Example: practically every piece of government software ever. Always they go for the cheapest quote and fail to buy the modules that actually, you know, make the system work. Systems are then retro fitted on the fly with the result that the system always remains a badly cobbled together and buggy nightmare. Yes I am a cynic on this.

  • To deny climate change in 2019, in the face of overwhelming evidence and the effects of climate change manifesting all around us, requires either a high level of ignorance and scientific illiteracy or sociopathic […]

    • It took me a while to figure out your 2nd point, about including global averages way outside the habitable range, until I realized what Moore’s inadequately described chart is actually showing. It took a very close look to discover all the bars didn’t begin at 0, but somewhere very close to 0. The tops of each bar are not the global average temperature each year, but the highest local average temperature somewhere, where? He doesn’t say. And it is probably wrong. And the bottom of each bar isn’t 0, it’s the lowest average temperature (somewhere?) Probably also incorrect.
      We can only assume the vertical scale is in degrees F, since he doesn’t say. Doesn’t he know that F goes negative? Zero isn’t the coldest possible temperature. He should h ave made the scale go to -60F, since he extends it to +120 F, or about 60 degrees above the top of the average bar. Much better, from his perspective, would have been to make the vertical axis in Kelvin, starting at 0. Then all the bars would be between 273 and 287, about 5% of the chart’s vertical size, and all the year-to-year variation would be about 1 pixel. But he didn’t do that because he is a moron.

      The chart should really be what I recently found out is called a whisker chart. Each year should have a very thin line running from the lowest regional average temperature to the highest, with a much fatter middle section encompassing the standard deviation (about 2/3’s of the sites would be in the fat section), with a line connecting the averages for each year. The vertical scale should accommodate the lowest and highest points and not much more. But he wouldn’t do that because it wouldn’t support his point. That chart would show the average temperature increasing exponentially and the thick part (not the extremes) following suit.
      I’m sure this graph is available on some climate change web site, but Google is not my friend today. No matter how I ask, it keeps wanting to show me snowfall averages in Burlington VT (a mere 200 miles away, but certainly not local to me and definitely ignoring the entire concepts of “global” and “temperature”. Feh!

  • “Fast Color” Director Points Out Film’s Lack of Marketing and Hollywood’s Old White, Male Gatekeepers, by Jordan Simon (h/t Muscadine): “‘There is so much lip service in this industry about wanting women […]

  • Donald Trump has an impressively horrific record for avoidable death tolls. At last count, American fatalities in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria have surpassed 3,000, many of them preventable had the Trump […]

    • Donald Trump follows his passions: Golf, Ivanka, and punishing people for not being him.

    • My guess is the red bar is the amount of aid promised and the blue part is the amount of aid actually provided for various humanitarian crises around the world, with the first bar representing Puerto Rico. Of course the data on the charts is totally fabricated and wildly out of scale (the red part should be 9 to 10 times as large as the blue bar in the 1st column.) Trump is attempting to claim that since the promised but undelivered aid is so much larger than the other columns (Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Indonesian tidal waves (there was another one last December) and third-world caddies being struck by errant golf balls at various Trump resorts), he is the Bestest Humanitarian Aid Promiser EVER. LOCK HER UP! NO COLLUSION!

  • Oglala Sioux Tribe Tells South Dakota Governor ‘You Are Not Welcome’ in Dispute Over Right to Protest Keystone Pipeline, by Dara Sharif at The Root. “In a letter to the Republican governor Thursday, Julian Bea […]

    • I am so glad to see some of the old posters come back. While I have continued to watch, and like, Rebecca’s video posts, I have missed the old posters. But now you all are back. Happy days are here again! 🙂

  • I should probably title this “The Return of the Return of Bad Chart Thursday: This Time I Really Mean It,” because I’ve struggled to write this column as often as I’d like—ideally, every Thursday, but now that T […]

  • Melanie Mallon‘s profile was updated 1 month, 2 weeks ago

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 1 month, 2 weeks ago

    Pay-to-play religion is the perfect description for Scientology.

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 1 month, 2 weeks ago

    That samurai sword has gotten me through a rough few years. As a reminder to hang in there and, of course, as a letter opener.

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 1 month, 2 weeks ago


  • Assaults on Border Patrol agents have been decreasing for years, but as Debbie Nathan of the Intercept reported earlier this week, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in fiscal year 2015, started quietly […]

  • US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared on 60 Minutes earlier this month, in part to plug her latest pyramid scheme: for-profit school choice.

    Yet DeVos couldn’t answer basic questions from host Leslie S […]

    • So the Secretary of Education is an ignoramus. And the Secretary of Defense is offensive. The Secretary of the Treasury is a bank robber (well, a banker and a robber). The Secretary of Agriculture is an herbicidal maniac. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is malignant and inhumane. The Secretary of State is, uh, what’s the opposite of stately? Someone want to help me? I don’t want to google the whole cabinet!
      BTW, welcome back, Melanie 🙂 I’ve missed you guys.

      • Berlusconian? Though the centrists are now trying to convince me Five Star Movement’s a leftist party.

        At the same time, there’s more and more Clinton’s cult of personality striking back. Now opposing anything either Clinton did is becoming a dealbreaker, yes, including things like DOMA and the Iraq invasion.

  • ThumbnailIt’s a new year, and that means it’s time to start getting excited about another SkepchickCon! As you’ll remember, last year was pretty sweet, what with our Science Salons, our interactive Sandbox activities, our […]

    • 1) The donation form and receipt say “SkepchickCon 2014”. Shouldn’t this be 2015?

      2) Also, is Skepchick LLC (the organization receiving the donations) a 501(c)3? (In other words, are donations tax-deductible?)

      3) Buzzed Aldrins are tiny and delicious. This makes it easy to drink hundreds of them. DAMHIKT.

    • Thanks! I must have deleted it while changing the order of the links. Fixed now.

  • ThumbnailRoman Bystrianyk and Suzanne Humphries have a cherry to pick with proponents of vaccination. Their article on the measles vaccine was recently published on Health Impact News’s Vaccine Impact website under a […]

    • Our Skeptics in the Pub reboot on Monday watched Invisible Threat, a DVD about vaccines made by some amazing high school students. They included the first chart (or one very similar) and explained exactly what was wrong with it (conflating morbidity and mortality). Well worth watching if you get the chance. (You can download it for $5 from Vimeo; I would try to watch it with some friends or a class or other group so you can discuss it. There’s a lot of material to digest in 40 minutes.)

      BTW, we had 12 people show up in the midst of a blizzard (12″ of snow, single digit temps), so this is definitely a topic a lot of people are interested in.

    • Mr. Spock has got his shots. Your kids should too. It’s the logical thing to do.

      Mr. Spock Wants You to Vaccinate Your Kids

  • ThumbnailSo you want to make a point about Americans’ skewed perceptions of race?

    Step One: Don’t use a racist chart. Even if your heart is in the right place. Even if you really, really didn’t mean to be racist while […]

    • Okay, so according to that chart, am I white, black, Hispanic, or Muslim? I mean, I know, mitochondrial haplogroup X is related to Kurds, but still…

    • Of course, the number of Americans who think ‘Muslim’ is a race is significant. Along the the flat-earthers and climate change deniers.

      Still, wow! No Asians, including South Asians, no non-Hispanic Native Americans….? Who took the survey? Who were the people questioned? Hobby Lobby shoppers?

      • I can’t help but point out that James Abourezk and Darrell Issa are both Arab Christians. (And that Christians are one of the groups targeted by ISIS.)

        Then again, they probably don’t even realize not all Middle Eastern ethnic groups can be called Jews or Arabs.

        In other MENA news, fuck yeah!

    • The silliness of the chart is astonishing. Aside from the fact that, biologically speaking, race is a bogus concept, neither Muslim nor Hispanic is a race by any reasonable definition. Asian is usually considered a race, and in my neighborhood a highly visible one. Some of the Asians are Muslims, and some aren’t.
      There might be some value in a good study of general perceptions of the distributions of different groups versus the statistical reality. This is either not a good study or a terrible presentation of the data, probably both. And a pie chart is only useful if it includes ALL the possibilities and the possible groups don’t overlap. Aside from those issues, it’s great.

    • I actually thought the research showed that in general most people overestimate the percentage of the population of their own ethnic group. It makes sense when you consider the fact that we live in segregated areas, so the people you live around are likely to look just like you.

      A lot (A LOT) of the Hispanic population is going to overlap with the “white” population since the U.S. census includes Hispanic in “White” with hispanic being a separate question. White Non-Hispanic was 64% in the 2010 census, so it looks pretty clear to me that about 10 percentage points of the “White” are overlap.

      Also, the Muslim population overlaps a ton with both White and Black. I mean, perhaps the person making the chart meant “Arab.” However, in the 2010 Census Arab Americans self identified as about 0.5% of the population, half of the 1% claimed here, but perhaps he rounded up? Muslims as a religion do make up about 1% of the population, but even if you assumed all American Arabs were Muslim (hahahaha yah no but just role with me here), then the other half of all Muslims still overlap with the other ethnic groups. Not to mention there are plenty of Asian Muslims who apparently are imaginary according to these charts.

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