Monthly Archives: July 2011

Einstein on God

I’m tired of hearing people cherry-pick quotes from intelligent historical figures to make their points, especially this one Albert Einstein said about god: “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” I imagine if Einstein was alive today, he may have regretted making that statement, considering how often it has been used to support proponents of “faith” – which Einstein would never subscribe to. Einstein was a man of science, and lived his life like a true skeptic. He allowed evidence to influence his opinion, which is how science should always be conducted. The unfortunate thing about Einstein’s legacy of brilliant quotes is that they are sometimes ambiguous, as the most poetic of statements often are (which is part of the reason they’re remembered so long afterwards). This post is intended to be a reference for whenever I see someone erroneously making a statement about Einstein’s quotes on God and religion.

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Skeptikai Notices (July25) – Japan, psychology, news

Japan

Fukushima Plant ‘Successfully Stabilized,’ 131 Days After Tsunami – Finally, plugging the reactors at the battered Fukushima Power Plant is no longer a goal. I mentioned last month that they had started implementing a promising new water system, which works by decontaminating radioactive water while cooling the reactors. Now, TEPCO may achieve a cold shutdown within six months. This is great news, but it’s still important to remember that cleanup efforts will continue for years. The damage from the tsunami seems like it went on forever. In fact, recent research has found that in places like Miyako, the tsunami reached 40.4 meters.

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Japan wins the FIFA Women’s World Cup, people care

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That’s Just the Way it Goes

handcuffs

Japan being traditional (in terms of its legal system), and sticking to its guns can be seen as a double-edged sword. It’s nice to see consistency, and enforcing the notion that no one is above the law, but is it going too far? Recently, after arriving at the Narita International airport, English comic actor Russell Brand was deported from Japan due to his criminal record from over a decade prior. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, though. He was not the first celebrity to be unceremoniously expelled from Japan.

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Skeptikai Notices (July11) – Psychology, robotics, Japan, & more

Psychology:

Monkey Business – From the creators of Freakonomics, this article talks about what happens when you teach monkeys how to use money. It’s just another link showing how similar we are to them… they gambled poorly, started stealing, and – that’s right – engaged in prostitution. (And I bet they all said the graphic above would be a waste!)

You Are What You (Think) You Eat – Researchers gave participants two milkshakes on different weeks, though they were the same concoctions. The only difference was that they were labeled differently. It turns out that the label influenced how hungry they were afterwards. Click the link to find out why.

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Good #Hacks

I briefly mentioned in an earlier post that a band of computer hackers, known as “LulzSec” had been breaking into Sony. But as many people know by now, they also hacked Nintendo, Bethesda Game Studios, ZeniMax Media and pron.com, to name a few. By the way, this basically shows that they’re mostly a bunch of nerdy guys, breaking into video game websites and a porn site. It’s pretty clear they were up to mischief, but their odd mixed signals were baffling. For example, they hacked into the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), saying “We mean you no harm and only want to help you fix your tech issues.” This reminded me of the hackers who broke into the world’s largest experiment – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – in 2008. It caused a bit of panic in the beginning, but ended up being a harmless and important lesson: The LHC is not immune from hackers. And now we know, incidentally, neither are hackers themselves.

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Say No to YES – Flower Essence

I know that Americans are big on believing that foreign things are somehow mystical, magical things, but my Japanese colleague showed the opposite stereotype when she bought some alternative medicine during a trip to America. When she came back, she asked me to check what it does and how it works. It is a liquid in a small vial, administered by taking a drop of the substance and putting it on your tongue. Being Japanese, she admitted that she couldn’t fully read the information on their English website, but thought that at the very least, the product couldn’t be harmful. The brand is “Yarrow Environmental Solution” (YES), and I decided to use the opportunity to highlight the kinds of things alternative medicine purveyors do to pussy-foot around the fact that their products are not supported by science. This is a brief analysis of the red flags for the “flower essence” product that is prospering.

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