Editor and owner of Doubtful News. Writer, specializing in science and society, science policy and education.

Phenomenal view of Atlas V launch

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News driblet: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V blasted into space Wednesday morning carrying a Navy communications satellite and creating a spectacular light show that had some people wrongly worried that the rocket had blown up. Source: Atlas V liftoff creates cloud of confusion across Florida – Orlando Sentinel The launch was very bright across Florida,…

JREF changes focus, slips into the background

James Randi Educational Foundation

As was briefly announced at The Amazing Meeting #13 in July, the James Randi Educational Foundation is changing focus. The new plan is announced on their website. The JREF will be awarding grants to worthy applicants. Starting in 2016, we will be making grants to non-profit groups that we believe are promoting activities that encourage…

Muller talks in jail, while FBI listens – Vaccine isn’t a good excuse


A strange and bogus excuse of vaccines side-effect will not wash in this criminal case. But several media outlets have choses the “vaccine” bit as their headline. Such use will promote misunderstanding regardless if people see that there is no basis for it. The man charged in a California kidnapping that police initially dismissed as a…

Curiosity spots another curiosity on Mars

floating spoon

The parade of weird things on Mars continues. Today, a floating spoon. A floating spoon? Discovery has a good writeup on it. This latest Mars oddity was spotted by members of the forum in an image captured by Curiosity’s Mastcam on sol 1089 of the mission (Aug. 30). Once you spot it,it becomes obvious;…

Psychic fraud in Russia busted


News snippet: Moscow police say they have busted a group of dubious folk healers and psychics who made at least €680 000 through various frauds, including selling a farmer a “dagger of power” to help his crop. Source: Moscow cops bust €680 000 ‘psychic’ scammers

Ordovician extinctions may have been caused by metals poisoning in oceans


Science news driblet: Toxic metals such as iron, lead and arsenic may have helped cause mass extinctions in the world’s oceans millions of years ago, according to recent research from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Center for Scientific Research, France; and Ghent University, Belgium. These findings largely came from studying “teratological” or malformed fossil…

Lovely lilac surf in Oregon


It’s a lovely purple color but that’s not normal. Purple tinted waves have been spotted on the Oregon coast for the last month. It’s not unusual for the purple sails jellies (Velella velella) to be in bloom but this was something different. Testing showed it was salps (sea squirts or tunicates). Oregon Coast Mystery of…

Wayne Dyer, self-help guru and advocate of positive thinking, dies at 75


Dr. Wayne Dyer, a self-help guru whose wrote the best-seller “Your Erroneous Zones” as a guide to better living, has died at 75. Dyer was promoted by Oprah Winfrey and several other celebrities. While self-help advice is typically harmless and may be advantageous to some people, the disturbing role of Dyer was to suggest that…

Dangerous times in India as another rationalist is killed


Scholar and academic, Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, has been assassinated in what appears to be retaliation against his outspoken views of Hinduism and his denouncing of superstition. He was 77. His murder is reminiscent of that of Narendra Dabholkar in August of 2013. Renowned Indian scholar and rationalist, M M Kalburgi, has been killed after being shot by unidentified…

Dr. Oliver Sacks Dies at 82


News brief: Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died Sunday at his home in New York…

Convicted “psychics” admit it was all a scam


Several psychics that are in jail admit that they were scamming people. In other news, water is wet. But, there are several more interesting threads to this story that I encourage everyone to read in its entirety. Source: The Secret to the Psychic Trade? It’s in the Parole Board Transcripts – The New York Times Celia…

Don’t eat toad


Folk remedies can go terribly wrong. A 70-year-old man in Shanghai was sent to hospital after eating three boiled toads believing it to be a folk remedy for his skin disease, Jiefang Daily said yesterday. The man, surnamed Gao, had a skin disease for many years. He was told eating toads could help clear toxins…