Monthly Archives: June 2012

Are the ESL Programs in Japan Doing More Harm than Good?

When you see the same mistakes being made over and over by different people – which you will inevitably see in the English education system in Japan – then the problem is clear. It’s not an individual thing; it’s a systematic issue. Students are all somehow being taught the same mistakes, and/or not enough people are fixing them. There are hundreds if not thousands of small businesses and little organizations (especially in Tokyo) that are trying to beat the bad habits out of students, but you will be surprised at how far these mistakes reach. I didn’t have to look hard to find examples of this in the newspaper.

Posted in Culture, Japan, Media, Translations | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

God on Trial (A BBC Masterpiece)

With a day before the next batch of Jews are to be dragged off to the gas chambers in another day during the Holocaust, a group of learned prisoners decided to conduct a trial. Perhaps it was to distract themselves, perhaps it was to vent, or maybe it was to feel some semblance of control or power before meeting their ultimate demise, being left to the memories of those who might live on. Whatever the case, the suspect in the trial was God. The charges? Breaking the covenant. The film “God on Trial” tells the story of these prisoners, and ends with a conclusive verdict, after a trial that completely engrosses everyone who would watch.

Posted in Culture, Skepticism | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Safest and Most Dangerous Countries in the World

The Global Peace Index was released for 2012 recently, and it’s surprising in some ways, and totally expected in others. Nations were rated for safety, based on a wide range of factors, including: homicides, violent crimes, violent demonstrations, police activity, perceived criminality in society, political instability, weapons importing/exporting and access, terrorist activity, neihgbouring country relations, and deaths from conflicts. Those were just some of the major indicates, but there were even more minor indicators that were also considered, such as freedom of press, gender inequality, adult literacy rate, hostility to foreigners, unemployment, life expectancy, and infant mortality.

Posted in Aggregators/lists/rankings, Culture | Tagged | 232 Comments

Schizophrenia is NOT Multiple Personality Disorder

“Acting is not that far from mental disease: An actor works on splitting his character into others. It is like a kind of schizophrenia.” –Vittorio Gassman

Most people erroneously believe that schizophrenia is the mental disorder characterized by alter egos, or multiple personalities. This is probably because of simple linguistic confusion, mixed with the recurring mistakes we see in popular culture and online. I just want to set the record straight, because it’s important not to perpetuate misinformation.

“Schizophrenia beats dining alone.” –Oscar Levant

Posted in Abnormal & Clinical Psych, Culture, Psychology, Science | 5 Comments

Western Games Are Becoming More Popular in Japan

A decade ago, if you asked a gamer what the best video game ever made was, some of the most popular answers would be Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, and Ocarina of Time. These still frequent many lists on the web of the best video games of all time, but what’s really notable is that they were all made by Japanese companies. For many years, the Western game industry failed to make a significant impact on the Japanese market, whereas Japanese companies had success in both markets. But now it appears that Japanese people are picking up more Western titles than ever before, and perhaps Japan’s games are not as acclaimed as they used to be.

Posted in Culture, Japan, Technology, Video Games | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Science and Art of Being a Sniper (15 Top Documentaries)

Snipers are one of the best-used weapons in armies and law enforcement agencies all over the world. The lone sniper hides behind an open window, waiting for the perfect opportunity. Their guns fire several kilometres away, so they can take aim and get out of a situation quickly without being seen or putting themselves at risk. Or at least… that’s what we think of when we see them in the movies. Evidently, there is a heck of a lot more to using a sniper rifle than these experts are given credit for, considering factors such as altitude, location, light, weather, wind speed, and timing. The documentaries compiled below show the science and art of being an effective sniper.

Posted in Aggregators/lists/rankings, Science, Technology | Tagged | Leave a comment

Skeptikai Reaches Another Milestone! – Admitting Being Wrong

I made a mistake. I recently published a post critiquing a research article on the notion of “gaydar,” investigating whether or not it may have been “bogus science.” My conclusion was essentially that it was poorly conducted. I still maintain that it could have been conducted better, but I no longer believe that it was bad science. This shift in my opinion came in the form of a tweet, when the lead author kindly informed me that I made a factual error in my post. So I apologize to the researchers, Joshua Tabak and Vivian Zayas, for reporting these errors. Let this set the record straight.

Posted in Blogging, Science | 2 Comments

Why Are Scientists Wasting Time When They Could Be Curing Cancer?

When a scientist does something like genetically modify a fruit to make it seedless, create a cement mixture to keep roads from being worn out by seasonal changes, or finds new information on insect pollination, the public reaction is predictable. A tiny fraction are interested, while most people don’t care. But then there are the many others who begin to ask the question that it seems everyone has asked at some point: Why are scientists wasting their time on trivial matters when they could be doing something important like curing cancer? It’s what I call the “worthless scientist question,” and I’ve heard it enough to warrant an answer.

Posted in Activism, Culture, Science | Tagged , | Leave a comment