Supporting science speech

When someone hears about claims that seem ridiculous, they should be able to speak freely about what they think about the claims, especially when their thoughts are backed up by strong research. Unfortunately, it is all too common for those who are only backed up by wishful thinking to attack their naysayers with lawsuits, which is bad enough.

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The difference between science and pseudoscience

The post at Skulls in the Stars about how Michael Faraday attempted to experimentally find out if electricity and gravity were related is fascinating in its own right. But it's also an example of how a good scientist bows down to the evidence rather than trying to fit the evidence to his own beliefs. In fact, Faraday found flaws in his own experiments that had otherwise supported his ideas. Contrast this to most pseudoscientists, who latch on to the flimsiest of evidence as if it were incontrovertible proof for their beliefs, often even ignoring strong evidence that their beliefs are simply wrong.

Simply having a kooky belief does not make a kook (although in Faraday's case, believing electromagnetism and gravity are somehow a unified force wasn't a kooky belief, just an unsupported one). Loudly proclaiming the kooky belief must be absolutely true despite lack of evidence or even contradictory evidence is what makes someone a kook.

Have you seen a UFO?

Have you ever seen a UFO?

An unidentified flying object
An unidentified flying object

UFO is an abbreviation for "unidentified flying object", so anything you see in flying through the sky that you can't identify is technically a UFO. However, from the very beginning when Project Blue Book leader Edward Ruppelt presumably coined the term, it was associated with supposed extraterrestrials being seen visiting our planet. It is sort of ironic since it was meant to replace the term "flying saucers" for being too closely associated with extraterrestrial visitations, although there is also the additional factor that not all UFOs looked like saucers.

Given both meanings of "UFO" as an abbreviation for an unidentified flying object and as a sighting of an alien spacecraft, how should one answer when asked whether one has seen a UFO? If you have never noticed anything in the sky you couldn't identify, then the answer is an easy "no". But what if you did notice something in the sky you couldn't identify? And what if you're also a skeptic who doesn't leap to the conclusion that it's an alien spacecraft or something else just as fantastical?

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Three types of medicine

Stochastic scribble of the day:

There are only three types of medicine: medicine that have been shown to work, medicine that has yet to be tested, and medicine that have failed to show any efficacy. Mainstream medicine only really cares about the first category; there's a reason why most complementary and alternative "medicine" is not mainstream.