Doubtful News is changing

Life moves forward. Dear Readers: Thank you for the many years of support and growth of Doubtful News. It’s been a very satisfying experience and I’ve learned so much and…

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Stupid beliefs kill rhinos; penalties becoming harsher in South Africa

white rhino

Organizations to save rhinos from poaching to their extinction call for a zero tolerance policy. In order to achieve that, harsher penalties must be proposed. This newest sentencing is much harsher but probably not enough to stem the killing. South Africa: Rhino Poacher Gets 77 Years in Jail – ABC News. A rhino poacher in…

Backfire Effect? Herbalife shares up despite webcast to investors decrying practices.

233px-Protein_shake

Scientific skepticism is viewed by many as an intersection between science education and consumer advocacy. To that end, Doubtful News has had its eyes on news items concerning Herbalife, a multilevel marketing company who has recently had to ask its distributors to tone down medical claims about its products, and has come under fire by critics for its…

The Strange remains the same for 22 July 2014

Megaloptera specimen found in China

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. ~E. O. Wilson Why the Malaysian Jet Crash Sparks Conspiracies : Discovery News. 40 Mexican bishops are taking an ‘intensive’ exorcism…

Billions of mayflies swarm the Mississippi valley

gas station mayflies

A mass hatching of mayflies, also known as shadflies, invaded the LaCrosse, Mississippi area Sunday night and hatched all along the Mississippi river valley. Mayflies hatch along Mississippi. The hatch was so large you could see it on radar maps. The bugs are harmless and they’re actually a sign of a healthy river because they can…

The Strange remains the same for 21 July 2014

giant rubber duck

Monday is like a math problem. Add the irritation, subtract the sleep, multiply the problems, divide the happiness. ~Unknown Robert Kennedy Jr.’s belief in autism-vaccine connection, and its political peril – The Washington Post. Student filmmakers find themselves drawn into the vaccine/autism fray – LA Times. Sixth-Grader’s Science Fair Finding Shocks Ecologists : NPR. Creationist…

Beware of scams regarding the victims of flight MH17

mh370

This excellent consumer warnings website out of Australia warns of fraudulent activity online surrounding information on the MH17 tragedy – dubious ads, malware and fake charities. Beware of scammers taking advantage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy. Scammers have set up false Facebook profiles for Australian victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy…

Those pesky goblin infestations! Burn the house down!!

Goblin

I’m wondering if there is anything for which “goblins” isn’t a kickass excuse. Sangoma in court for torching goblins’ house. A self-styled sangoma from Chief Nyajena area in Masvingo yesterday appeared in court for allegedly setting his uncle’s house on fire because it had goblins. Mike Musiiwa of Mutadzo Village pleaded guilty to arson before Masvingo…

UFO researcher Jacobs profiled – Relies on weak evidence and fallacies

ufo night

This article falls for the appeal to authority, saying Jacobs is a tenured professor and “makes his case with well-reasoned, articulate explanations and applies a scholarly approach to his research, which he has shared in four books – printed by well-known and academic publishers.” Since when are there well-reasoned arguments for aliens visiting earth and…

Doubtful News is changing

IMG_4815

Life moves forward. Dear Readers: Thank you for the many years of support and growth of Doubtful News. It’s been a very satisfying experience and I’ve learned so much and intend to keep learning and supplying information to the public in support of scientific reasoning and evidence-based skepticism. I’m not going anywhere. In fact, I’m…

The clouds parted

Photo credit: Joe Zuniga

A man captures an interesting phenomenon during a rain event. Motorist captures parting of the storm. As Zuniga drove along Interstate 75, the clouds suddenly shifted in a peculiar way, creating an large square-shaped sunny patch through which motorists passed. It was as if rain clouds had parted over the motorists for a reason. “They…

A rare case of Munchausen By Proxy does not mean the syndrome is increasing

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Last month, we posted the shocking story of a mother who apparently poisoned her own child in order to gain sympathy and attention. She now faces court. The case will likely be studied by psychologists to gain more insight into Munchausen By Proxy syndrome. Experts: Lacey Spears Case May Shed Light On Munchausen By Proxy…

Witnesses say man catching on fire was “supernatural”

fire

This headline is slightly deceiving. For hits, I suspect. Man wakes up on fire in Edmonton home; witnesses call it spontaneous combustion. The truth is there seems to be nothing to connect this to spontaneous HUMAN combustion. That is, people just bursting into flames for no obvious reason does not really happen. A man suffered second…

Did officials cover up an anaconda on the loose in NJ? (UPDATE: No evidence of snake)

Green anaconda - suspected to be the type on the loose in New Jersey

It looks like they did. Not helpful. But see update below. Reptile Expert: Snake On Loose In NJ Actually An Anaconda « CBS New York. A reptile specialist leading the search for a snake on the loose in Lake Hopatcong now says it is a green anaconda, not a boa constrictor, as officials had maintained.…

The Strange remains the same for 18 July 2014

Jackalope, Nelson NV

Both your DN editors are back in their respective headquarters in the US and Europe. We managed to spot both a “chupacabra” and a jackalope. We now return you to your regular leftover links. ‘Persecuted’ Focuses on a TV Evangelist – NYTimes.com. Seaplane almost lands on whale – CNN.com. Pop star’s ‘haunted’ Sussex house up…

Backwards evolution busted: People walking on all fours do not have “apelike” gait but have adapted

quadrupeds

A new study shows that a group of humans made famous by a 2006 BBC documentary called The Family That Walks on All Fours are not exhibiting backward evolution to that of our ape ancestors, but have just adapted to this strange means of locomotion due to their brain conditions. The family from remote Turkey,…

Discovery Channel: Jumped the shark long ago, now just despicable

Fake shark used in Discovery media hoax in Lake Ontario

Once again, Discovery Channel shows they are not science-based and will even pull unethical stunts to get ratings. Epic. Fail. We posted the link in the leftovers of 16-July to the story in Canada’s National Post about a video that purportedly showed a bull shark spotted in Lake Ontario. The best answer at the time…

A case of mystery meat, all over the road

What the Fort? (WTF) by Ethan Kocak

Talk about a bloody mess. This one is a rather “Fortean” incident. Mysterious Chunks of Rotting Meat Close New York Highway. A highway in upstate New York was shut down after being covered with chunks of rotting meat earlier this week, creating quite a stink for drivers. The strangest part? Officials aren’t quite sure where the…

Human-like depictions in Indian cave art? Nope, aliens.

India alien paintings

I need a shortcut name for these ridiculous evidence-devoid stories that make you scratch your head as to WHY it would be printed in any media outlet except as a joke. In this story, the depictions must be aliens because… because… it makes for a snappy headline. Who needs evidence? 10,000-year-old rock paintings depicting aliens…

Ryan Buell cancels paranormal tour, claims health problems (UPDATE: Fans file complaints)

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See Update below After public exposure of trouble with his paranormal lecture tour and events, Ryan Buell, formerly of the Paranormal State TV show and the Paranormal Research Society, has stated he has cancelled his tour. Buell announced on his facebook page that health problems among other issues have scuttled the schedule. Ryan D. Buell –…

Anti-vaxxers in Australia get their info into hospitals and hire new prez

stoptheavnbadge

Australia’s anti-vax network continues their underhanded deeds by sneaking their propaganda into info packs given to mothers of newborns. Low? No, not really, par for the course for this propaganda group. Queensland Health pulls Australian Vaccination-Skeptics leaflet from pregnancy pack | Gold Coast Bulletin. A LEAFLET promoting the Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network (AVN) has been pulled…

Paging national medical orgs: Dr. Oz needs a response

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This is a pretty good target for some skeptical activism. However, it’s going to take a large-scale effort to do something about Dr. Oz, the nation’s doctor, sad as that is. But, I think the clouds are forming over his head ever since his disgraceful display before a congressional hearing. Meet the medical student who…

Discovered four-winged dinosaur was largest flier of its type at more than quadruple usual weight

Microraptor from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

This is rather exciting news for feathered dinosaur fans (who could probably use a win lately). A new species of feathered dinosaur has been discovered, and it is the largest four-winged flier yet known. Changyuraptor, Large Species of Flying Dinosaur, Is Discovered (New York Times): The new species, Changyuraptor, found in northeastern China, was four feet…

The giant Siberian hole: Yep, media does a crap job reporting (Update)

Closer look at the pockmarked surface of Yamal peninsula, Siberia

Oh man, I really hate to start the day with such an awful excuse for a headline. ‘Bottomless’ pit baffles scientists | New York Post. A huge, mysterious crater spotted in remote Siberia has scientists scrambling for answers: Was it a meteor? Was it a weapon? Or was it an explosive sign of global warming?…

Michigan: Another Pacu Panic?

Pacu from Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

Another specimen of the South American piranha relative has been caught, this time in Michigan. Doubtful News has previously covered pacu stories from Denmark, Paris and New Jersey, as well as the panic associated with unsourced “testical eating” claims about the species. Fortunately, some of the coverage has been less credulous this time around, though…

Steven Spielberg, dino hunter

steven-spielbergv2

Wait, WAAAAAAT? A Whole Bunch Of People On Facebook Thought Steven Spielberg Killed A Real Dinosaur. Internet humourist Jay Branscomb posted it on Facebook with the caption: “Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.” Steven Spielberg…

Skeptics in Vegas: The Amazing Meeting 2014 brought cheers, smiles and a call for education

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The premier gathering for advocates of evidence-based skepticism and critical thinking, THE AMAZING MEETING (TAM), the annual conference run by the James Randi Education Foundation, took place from July 10-13 in Las Vegas. James (The Amazing) Randi, aged 85, one of the world’s greatest living magicians and conjurers, was very accessible throughout the several days, taking photos…

Texas Medical Board files detailed complaint against Burzynski

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The screws continue to be tightened on “Houston Cancer Quack” Stanislaw Burzynski. Burzynski’s clinic has been the focus of very many serious allegations of violations from the state, FDA, and from diligent skeptics who know snake oil when they see it. Burzynski advocates a treatment, antineoplastons, which has not been demonstrated to work even after the…