Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Logical Fallacies Challenge (Just Skeptics Episode 8)

As advertised from episode eight of Just Skeptics podcast, this is a just-for-fun competition to see how good our skeptical listeners are with arguments. The following conversation is very slow paced and is an argument that you could conceivably see two friends having - can you spot all of their Logical Fallacies? 

If you think you can then pop your answers in the comments section (or send the Just Skeptics team an e-mail!). The best answer will win a tall glass of smug satisfaction - so read on and see how much you can spot!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

E.T is probably not the explanation. (Just Skeptics Episode 8)

The Chinese UFO sightings were discussed in more detail on episode 8 of our Just Skeptics podcast, which is available now on iTunes, or you can use the direct link at the bottom of this page. If you like this blog post why not give us a listen? 

When people find out that I'm a skeptic, the most common question I get asked is "what about UFO's then"? Because I'm far too pedantic for my own good I nearly always point out that a UFO is simply an object in the sky which the viewer can't explain - not necessarily an alien space craft that's travelled thousands of light years just to probe our livestock.

This may be a poor answer to the question, but it's still important to note that a UFO is simply an object which the observer cannot explain sufficiently, yet some will leap to their preferred 'supernatural' explanation. Instead of saying "I don't know what that is", they'll assume that it's some kind of alien spacecraft, or secret government aircraft.

Here's an interesting example from Greater Manchester - a UFO sighting from Ardwick, which can also be viewed on YouTube. The poster asks "Is this a UFO? You decide because I'm convinced it is". This statement doesn't make any sense unless by UFO he means something along the lines of 'alien spacecraft'. Taking into account the pictures of aliens, saucers and X-Files music in his video, I'm pretty convinced that he believes it to be an alien craft.  

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Polygraph - Complete Nonsense? (Just Skeptics Episode 6)

For episode 6 of the Just Skeptics podcast we were joined once more by Rick Owen, who talked at great length about lie detectors. You can listen to this episode (and more) by searching iTunes for "Just Skeptics" or by visiting the Just Skeptics blog. He was kind enough to write this accompanying piece for us:

As with my rant in episode 2, my soap-box session on episode 6 of the Just Skeptics could have gone on for hours, and there are so many more things that could be said about it. I’m not going to give you a full transcript of the podcast, you will have listen to the podcast, but here are some extra points.

As I mention, polygraph operators are “trained”, even certified. In some states they may even enjoy the tacit government approval of needing to be licensed. But this training can be completed in 7-12 weeks. That’s not a lot for a thorough understanding of the human mind under stressful conditions, and the ability to tease out genuine deception from the other possibly causes of stress during the polygraph examination.