Wednesday, 30 September 2009

On your head

Journal of Imaginary Sciences, Volume 25, 2009

Schools encourage standing on head whilst learning

The founders of the popular education programme, Brain Gym have released new guidelines in order to encourage learning prowess and increase the susceptibility of kids to absorb new information. Paul Dennison revealed today that he had divined some new activities to use in the classroom before and during teaching. These include standing on their heads and wiggling their ears.

Brain Gym is the controversial exercise program which relies upon stimulating points of the body to encourage learning. Its methods include drinking small sips of water to wet the palate in order to increase water access to the brain and stimulation of "brain buttons" to encourage circulation to the brain. As a result it has been proven popular with primary school teachers who have claimed that it has been helpful in calming children down and making them receptive to education.

During the interview Paul Dennison stated that:

"After careful consideration I realised that in order to encourage the brain to work efficiently, more blood needed to be pumped to the head. I concluded from this that standing on your head may help with this, using gravity to send more oxygen to the brain. I also realised whilst trying out this position myself that wiggling my ears may also increase my ability to tune out distracting sounds in the environment."

In order to demonstrate this property, Paul Dennison carried out the succeeding question and answer session after wiggling his ears and then standing on his head. Unfortunately, he became woozy after a few minutes and had to cut short this question and answer session that he had with the media.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Rest and relaxtion is over.....

My apologies for the lateness of this post, however, I arrived back in England from Belgium last Saturday and due to me starting my university course, I am currently busy at a placement in a primary school.

During this time I had plenty of opportunity to read two great books on Evolution and watch two episodes of Last Chance to See. The first book I read was River out of Eden, one of Dawkins' books. Dawkins discusses genetics in this book and likens it to the Biblical quote which the book title is based upon. He explores several fallacies such as argument from personal incredulity and displays the problems with these in a systematic fashion. Short and easy to read, this book is probably one of the best books to start with for those looking to explore his work.

The second book is one that again explores the fallacies creationists often propose to try and prove Evolution false. Why Evolution is True, by Jerry Coyne, examines these fallacies and reveals how to avoid them whilst providing clear examples. This is a fairly new book but I highly recommend it for those that are daunted by Dawkins or dislike his negative commentary towards religion. I would possibly question his data involving hominin evolution (such as the neutral manner over the confirmation on whether the Hobbit is a separate species and lending credence to the claim of hypothyroid cretenism), however, these are very minor controversial points in what is generally a very well-researched book. If you do wish to learn how to avoid the pitfalls of non-scientific thinking on evolution I highly recommend this book.

Onto the episodes of Last Chance to See, a TV programme that I am very excited about and I am not being disappointed at all. Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine have seen rare rhinos, chimps, gorillas, lemurs and chameleons in this fascinating show and it really has been a pleasure to watch. The programme is intelligent, informed and fascinating, showing rare species and the measures being taken to conserve them. Its the one show that makes you want to become a conservationist, for the simple reason of protecting these fascinating creatures.

Darwin made me do it!

Journal of Imaginary Sciences, Volume 24, 2009

Darwin made me do it, Dawkins explains serial killings.

Earlier today Richard Dawkins, former advocate of Evolutionary Biology was found guilty of murder on 15 accounts and charged with life imprisonment. After the trial we were able to get an exclusive interview with the man where Dawkins explains the reasons behind his murders.

"Well I've often been accused of not following true Darwinian philosophy, being a generally law-abiding person, so when a random Creationist loudly pointed this out to me last year I thought about this a lot. I realised that he was completely and utterly right and that I was being completely hypocritical.

Evolution states that it is "survival of the fittest", that there are no laws, no commandments from God, no morals, etc, just who is the strongest wins. After thinking on this I changed my lifestyle.

I started murdering people shortly after, often picking on the weak as they were obviously not fit for survival. Those that actually did survive, I admire them for their strength. I used my natural abilities including my brains and devised elaborate traps to test their fitness. Those that failed died.

This lifestyle lead me to be selfish and hedonistic, as my book the Selfish Gene depicts. I killed mainly men to clear the competition too, so that I could impregnate as many women as I could, as Darwinism preaches.

I believe I've done nothing wrong. After all, aren't I just trying to re-introduce Darwinism back into the lives of people? The fact that somebody caught me merely shows that I am weak and not fit any more to pass on my genes."

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Last Chance to See

I often wonder whether or not some creationists are mentally ill. Whilst I agree my last post was a little over the top, it does make me wonder whether some of the illogical things they have been known to do for their faith are the acts of a disturbed mind. Ignoring the religious fundamentalists that blow themselves up to promote their visions, creationists can be some of the most dangerous religious people around. Acts of illegal censorship, hoaxes, frauds and down right lying show how far these people will often go to keep their reality intact as well as attempting to propagate it. Those vocal and energetic defenders of the faith who tour countries, write books, spam web forums, fake evidence just to try and prove a belief without ever questioning the ethical dilemma this poses are indeed worrying people. Only logic and the outcasting of such insanity can truly hope to banish it to the fringes again.

I watched the extremely good first episode of Stephen Fry's Last Chance to See. The show is based upon the original series of the same name presented by Stephen Fry's friend, Douglas Adams, who become a passionate conservationist after researching the series. After Douglas Adams' death, Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine (the original zoologists that Douglas Adams did the show with) set out to discover how the rare species from the first series 20 years ago, fare today.

The first trip took us to the Amazon where Fry and Carwardine saw the rare manatee, a type of underwater cow for lack of a better description. In this, we saw how rare these animals were and what steps were being taken to try and save it from extinction. At the same time we got to see some pink river dolphins (possibly the best way of hooking the audience by showing them one of the most loved animals around in a pretty shade of pink) and Stephen unfortunately breaking his arm towards the end. However, I found the shots of the animals together with Fry's boyish enthusiasm combined with his exquisite vocabulary entirely viewable. Rhinos tomorrow I think.

Creationism, the new mental illness

Journal of Imaginary Sciences, Volume 23

Creationism, the new mental illness

Today mental institutions were in shock as it was announced throughout the medical community that the people who propose the idea that a deity created the Earth as it currently is, without any acceptance of Evolution are to be considered mentally disturbed and in some cases dangerous.

A report was recently published in the scientific journal Nature, which demonstrated the lack of connection between creationists and the modern world, showing that prominent creationists such as Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, etc, were living in a fantasy world of their own devising which could cause them to resort to extreme measures in order to maintain these illusions.

Dr Suess of the Royal Institute for Mental Illness stated this morning that:

"The people that often propose the literal translation of the Bible is true, often have been found to resort to deceit, threats of violence, intimidation, paranoia and immature behaviour in order to propagate their own world view. Evidence of this includes attempts of illegal censorship, death threats towards prominent scientists and the common practice of internet trolling. This has been found not only occurring with the prominent figures supporting creationism but normal internet posters. After extensive study of their behaviours including laboratory tests, psychological researchers have requested that some of the prominent figures in the creationist campaign are put in a secure institute for the safety of others and that re-education should be attempted.

Doctors at a range of mental institutes have reacted with horror at the news.

"We're going to run out of facilities in religious areas" moaned one un-named psychologist. "With a high percentage of people in places like the Bible Belt in the USA, it'll mean putting whole communities in the institutes! We haven't the room!"

Outside the Texas Home for the Mentally Frail, a shot of Kent Hovind is shown, being dragged in a strait jacket into his new home whilst angry protestors demand his release.

"This isn't fair, you can't lock up people simply for having a different viewpoint" cried one angry protestor. "Afterall, its just as equally valid as Evolution!"

Whilst this may be a successful day for reason, it seems a dangerous day for free speech.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

And we're back

After a long summer, I have finally got my net sorted again and I am happily typing new stories for the Journal. Hopefully, over the next few weeks whilst I have a lot of leisure time, I am planning to devise new stories with the extensive material I've gathered during my free time reading.

Over the holidays I managed to read 2 great books, Bad Science by Ben Goldacre and The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins.

Bad Science, by Ben Goldacre covers the world of bad medicine mainly. It looks at practices such as Homeopathy and Nutritionalists and covers the problems with their science. It explains how scientific fraud can be carried out and how to detect it. With its analytical nature and good writing, I feel this is one book I would definitely recommend for anyone interested in delving in a more complicated side of the pseudosciences. After reading it I

The Blind Watchmaker is another of Richard Dawkins books. In this book Dawkins analyses the criticisms with Evolution and how they are overcome as well as presenting his own views on the various stances in Evolutionary Biology. A great comprehensive and accessible guide to the subject which helped me learn more about the ideas behind it as well as open my eyes to other aspects such as convergent Evolution.

Finally, we mention this week's Journal entry, water memory. I found this particular link to the wiki fascinating:

Man dies from Strychnine poisoning in Homeopathic rememdy

The Journal of Imaginary Sciences, Volume 22, 2009

Man dies from Strychnine poisoning in Homeopathic remedy

An unknown man was admitted to hospital today after suffering from Strychnine poisoning caused by a homeopathic remedy which he had recently taken. The remedy was a new drug, being tried out for the first time in order to treat convulsions.

Homeopathy relies on the idea that by diluting the causes of symptoms (e.g. strychnine for convulsions) it would cure the problem. This is done by diluting the substance in water about 30 times and shaking it (succusation). This apparently creates a memory in the water in which the remedy uses to work upon. Unfortunately this caused the patient to suffer from the same convulsions that the remedy was trying to prevent.

The man was later reported to have died in hospital.