Publication, peer review, and the practice of pseudoscience

Most undergrads don’t get a chance to do their own research. I was lucky. I was at a small university with a great physics program, and I got to do multiple lab research projects before graduating. My capstone project, which dealt with quantum laser resonance, even afforded me the opportunity to present at the Alabama Academy of Science, and they published my abstract in their annual journal of proceedings.

I always hoped my professor would have time to get the paper submitted for peer review and formal publication, but time never came. So I was very excited when Dr. Joel Duff, a professor of biology at the University of Akron and a fellow science advocate, approached me about turning an old blog post into a formal journal article. …


Should the President get credit for stopping travel from China?

Imagine that your house is on fire.

The fire chief assures you everything is under control.

“We have a good idea of what’s going on, a very good idea, and a very good plan. People are saying it’s the best plan.”

“That’s good to hear. When will you be able to put it out?” you ask.

The chief doesn’t seem to hear you. “This started as an electrical fire, and I’m pleased to say that the first thing we did was shut off electricity to the house. …


The best-case scenario is a lot worse than we can handle.

Aisle after aisle stood empty, picked clean. No bleach. No laundry detergent. No flour. No bottled water. No bread. No oatmeal. No beans.

No bananas. Why are people buying all the bananas?

Plenty of overripe avocados.

With barely half of my shopping list checked off, I headed to the register.

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Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

We usually shop once a week, picking up basic staples and fresh produce. With coronavirus-related panic emptying the stores, this has been a challenge. My first attempt, last Friday night, met with little success. This Friday wasn’t much better.

“I’ll need to see your ID, sir.”

You’d imagine that with civilization evidently coming to an end, people wouldn’t worry about the bearded 30-year-old buying a case of IPAs. …


Are mutated viruses a challenge for those who deny science?

Over a third of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago. Most of these follow young-earth creationism, a widespread science denial movement which teaches that biological evolution is a hoax and that the earth, solar system, and universe are only a few thousand years in age. The nexus of young-earth creationism in the United States is an organization called Answers In Genesis, the subject of the 2019 critical documentary We Believe In Dinosaurs. …


What won’t protect you from coronavirus…and what will

As the developed world struggles to contain and respond to the novel coronavirus — some more effectively than others — there’s a marked change in many cities. Here in Washington, D.C., the streets are virtually empty. The metro at rush hour looks like the last train service on a three-day weekend. No one is concerned about manspreading because no one is willing to sit next to anyone else.

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A marked difference between the scene in American cities and Asian countries is the relative lack of masks. Ever since the 1918 Spanish flu, surgical masks became an entrenched part of Asian culture, increasing in frequency during the 2002 SARS scare and the 2009 swine flu pandemic. …


It’s not very reassuring, but at least he’s finally here.

“You have fifteen people, and the fifteen within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero; that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

—Donald Trump on February 28, 2020

Until yesterday, things at the White House appeared to be business as usual. Everything, the President assured us, was under control. He was doing all the right things — and doing them very strongly — and he was a much better president than any other president who had ever presidented. His biggest concern was that the markets were fine, and they were totally fine, no matter what any of those pesky graphs seemed to suggest. Just weeks earlier, Trump had told everyone that COVID-19 was a “Democratic hoax” intended to interfere with the election. …


Polling shows Sanders would win fewer electoral votes than any other candidate.

Donald Trump is a deeply unpopular president. Even apart from the repeated scandals that have rocked his administration and the revolving door of ever-more-volatile staff and support, his reactive policies and disregard for our allies have resulted in a lower net approval than any president who has been in office during a period of economic growth.

For Democratic voters agonizing over who should carry the party’s nomination into November, the ability to beat Trump remains the single-biggest consideration. This was former Vice President Joe Biden’s rallying cry, early in the primary campaign: he had the best chance of beating Trump. …


Ken Ham admits his promises to community never held water

A con artist depends on one critical tool: trust. As long as he can keep his victims depending on him and trusting that he’s got their best interests in mind, he can keep fleecing them. Typically, the con artist will go to tremendous lengths to maintain the relationship, carefully heading off doubts and demurring suspicions. When the con man finally stops cultivating the dependence of his victims, it means one of two things: either he’s been caught, or he’s already taken them for all they’re worth.

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Screenshot from documentary

Award-winning independent documentary We Believe In Dinosaurs from Chicago-based 137Films enjoyed its broadcast premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens this week. The film follows the construction of the Ark Encounter theme park, the subject of intense controversy due to its misappropriation of state tax incentives, discriminatory hiring practices, and depiction of discredited pseudoscience as a legitimate alternative to evidence-based science education. …


Cowardice, thy name is Republican.

On February 5, Donald Trump became the first American president to receive votes for removal from both the opposition and his own party.

It was also the first time any party in the Senate had unanimously voted to convict and remove a president for high crimes and misdemeanors. In 1999, ten Republicans — including current senators Susan Collins and Richard Shelby — crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats and acquit Clinton. The same was true with the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson in 1868. …


Why McConnell and his Republicans should definitely acquit Trump

“If the facts are on your side, pound the facts; if the law is on your side, pound the law. If neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound the table.” — Author unknown.

Deprived of even a table to pound, Trump’s defense attorneys decided to pound anything else they could find. They tried to pound Hunter Biden. They tried to pound Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. They tried to pound the whistleblower. Mysteriously, attorney Ken Starr decided to pound himself, arguing that politically-motivated impeachment without constitutional grounds set a bad precedent. …

About

David MacMillan

Anyone with really good ideas will always be looking for better ones. Writing about law, fundamentalism, and science denial…book to follow.

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