Monthly Archives: February 2009

You’re not in control.

And by “you’re”, I mean your conscious mind.  Robin Hanson points to the latest Nature:

Our conscious minds control less than we think.  From the latest Nature:

A person’s responses can often be explained by non-linguistic behaviours of other people and simple instincts for social display and response, without any recourse to conscious cognition. This `second channel’ of human communication acts in parallel with that based on rational thinking and verbal communication, and it is much more important in human affairs than most people like to think. …

Every day I see more evidence that points towards a simple conclusion: It requires rigorous self-examination to determine our own motives and the correct, rational response to any given problem. This rigorous self-examination is beyond what the vast majority of people are either capable of or are willing to do.

I’ll take 300 cents, please. Or, people’s brains are broken.

The New York Times points to research demonstrating the effect of big numbers on people’s ability to reason.

You would probably never sell out your friend for $5. But 500 cents? Now you’re talking!

UFO rants are fun.

Three people enjoy the summer sky over the Del...
Image via Wikipedia

Since I enjoy rants against those holding beliefs with no basis in reality, I enjoyed this little post on Skeptic Blog.

I had to laugh when I read fellow Skeptologist Brian Dunning’s article about the UFO True Believerâ„¢ Stan Friedman hating him. What an elite club! Friedman is no fan of me, either. A few years ago I wrote an article for Sky and Telescope magazine about UFOs, basically making the same claim I made here last week: if all these UFO sightings we hear about were real, the majority of them would be seen by amateur astronomers.

Friedman took exception to that (shocker, I know). In his internet newsletter (subscription required), he said: “Plait among other gems says about Amateur [sic] astronomers [sic] ‘Logically, they should be reporting most of the UFOs’. This is logic?”

Um, yeah, Mr. Friedman, it is. Maybe you should acquaint yourself with it. Note that this is all he said, just dismissing my point without actually saying anything about it. I know, it’s hard to believe that someone with such stature in the UFO community would make a claim with no evidence, and dismiss a claim that does have evidence!

Be sure to click on over and read it all.

HFCS and your health

New data: High-fructose corn syrup no worse than sugar –

Now, the tide of research, if not public opinion, has shifted. This week, five papers published in

Mexican Coke.  Made with real cane sugar inste...
Image by slworking2 via Flickr

a supplement to Clinical Nutrition find no special link between consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity. One paper was written by Barry Popkin, a co-author on the original 2004 paper.

I’m sure this won’t convince many on the anti-HFCS bandwagon, but some of us prefer to live in the world of evidence. The evidence points to no ill-effects. Sorry, Charley.

Of course, we all consume too much sweetener. Period.