04/01/2016 07:32:18 AM
Originally posted on The Science Bit: So, as you may have heard, Mr Akin, the Republican Party Senate candidate in Missouri (hi, Missouri!) has some weird views on rape, conception, and abortion. Basically, this is what the Todd Akin t-shir ...
03/21/2016 05:00:12 AM
Alright, there really is no humble way of putting this. My new book [*blush*], having been trailed as “imminent” for several months, is now officially available. In all good booksellers, as they say (and they actually do say this). I ...
02/26/2016 16:00:09 PM
We all know that the world is complex, and that science is increasingly so. Gone are the days when one person could successfully grasp the entirety of what science could teach. Not only that, but the way in which scientific research... Read ...
02/09/2016 02:43:27 AM
I have another post up over at Psychology Today, which has been included in a special feature on ‘The Science Behind Politics.’ This time I’m talking about negative political campaigning: …The US Presidential Primaries have b
02/01/2016 04:00:00 AM
I’ve posted a piece at Psychology Today on the methodological problems surrounding Britain’s new alcohol consumption guidelines: The UK government has published new guidelines on healthy alcohol consumption and, yes, as might be pre ...
01/05/2016 07:27:07 AM
Have you ever noticed how irrationalities (a) tend to cluster, (b) tend to offer hope to the desperate, and (c) tend to appeal to folks with strongly held dogmatic beliefs? No? Well here’s an interesting example of the genre: Get... Read More ...
10/20/2015 15:09:51 PM
I have a new book coming out. Seriously. I do. More info to follow shortly… Completists among you may now wish to pick up a copy of my old book. Well, I’m going to make it easy for you. Here. You. Go.... Read More ›
10/02/2015 05:55:40 AM
Venereal disease is hilarious. At least you would think so judging by the way it gets covered in some media stories (especially the soft and fluffy “And Finally…” stories that go viral towards the weekend). Another good trope is th
09/28/2015 12:03:41 PM
…so wait until you get HOME from work before watching this guy’s reaction to a weird looking fish: It’s a sunfish (mola mola) and, to be sure, it does look pretty weird. Here it is in all its glory courtesy... Read More ›
09/24/2015 05:54:23 AM
The most novel thing about this news event is the use of the phrase “new study” and “OKCupid” in the same sentence. Let’s get something straight. The type of “new study” conducted by an outfit called OKCupi
09/06/2015 07:37:02 AM
Well, not really. But — eek! — look at this: I get around…Filed under: Uncategorized
08/01/2015 10:41:04 AM
Metaphors are powerful tools. Similes are like tools. And tools are — well, tools are just tools. Now, of the three statements just made, only the last (‘tools are tools’) is truly indisputable. And yet for many people it will... Re
06/20/2015 13:05:21 PM
Kim (Jong-un, not Kardashian) has developed a cure for lots of stuff. Here are the details from the official North Korean central news agency: The researchers insert rare earth elements (REE) into insam (gingseng) by applying the mico-elementary ...
03/27/2015 14:06:24 PM
A letter in today’s Irish Times bemoans a recent column on homeopathy. The column had drawn attention to a report by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council that was dismissive of homeopathic treatments. But according ...
03/23/2015 05:00:17 AM
Here is Sunday’s episode of “Life Matters” on RTÉ Radio 1, which features (among many luminaries) none other than yours truly. Entitled The God of Aliens, the programme addresses those famous bedfellows, science and religion. It&
03/20/2015 15:12:38 PM
As you are quite possibly aware, today was #eclipse2015 day. In fact, today’s was one of the “best solar eclipses in years“, according to BBC News. I’m sure the eclipse must be proud of itself — well done, eclipse! I...
03/08/2015 15:00:14 PM
Okay, the official movie — featuring full slides and audio — has been made… Thanks to Chris Noone for the soundtrack (from the official PSI EGG talking-head version); background to the keynote as per here and here. As a reminder
03/01/2015 09:54:53 AM
Here are the slides from my talk at the PSI Early Graduate Group conference yesterday. The theme of the conference was ‘The Place of Psychology’ so I fashioned a talk entitled ‘The Point of Psychology (And How it Gets Missed)̵
02/11/2015 15:05:54 PM
The challenge: You know the drill. Waldo appears in different places in different scenes. There are 68 locations, therefore 68 places. The simulation: Let’s pretend Waldo is not a guy in a crowd but a dot on a page. The problem: There... ...
02/03/2015 11:02:41 AM
Check out the Siberian Times. Actually not a satirical website… TL;DR The News #1. People illegally smuggle a 200-year-old mummified monk out of Mongolia. They tell the cops the guy is still alive and simply meditating. An “expert ...
01/15/2015 04:50:37 AM
The Psychological Society of Ireland’s Early Graduate Group have asked me to deliver a keynote at their forthcoming annual conference. I’m guessing it is because they are “Early” Graduates that my keynote is scheduled for an
01/09/2015 03:51:23 AM
It’s early January. That time when other people’s New Year’s resolutions mean that you get lots of emails. About really important stuff that you simply must deal with, like, immediately. These folks need a reply because they only ha
11/29/2014 16:42:54 PM
There’s not much point complaining about the science in Interstellar. It’s a movie. There are actually some nice scientific touches (such as the depiction of artificial intelligence in the robots, and the basis for programming in humour ...
10/30/2014 05:24:13 AM
Interested in adventure? Well, then this public lecture is for you. It’s me again, this time at the invitation of Maynooth University as part of their celebration of Science Week 2014. Here is the abstract… Adventures in Science Commun ...
10/27/2014 06:06:12 AM
Exhibit A: 1989 and Pons and Fleischmann announce cold fusion — an “inexhaustible source of energy” — at a press briefing in Utah, before they had applied for patents or published their technology. Too bad they were just plai
10/03/2014 09:19:05 AM
Ah, the good old Sunday Wurdled…. I should warn you that the picture included in the article is a little graphic, but I still have to ask: does it really look like a human face to you? You’ll have to decide for yourself.... Read More ...
08/30/2014 05:58:44 AM
Like a good sharknado, Susan Greenfield is (a) ridiculous and (b) back for more. We all remember this defence of her claim that internet use causes autism, don’t we? I point to the increase in autism and I point to internet... Read More ...
07/29/2014 07:46:13 AM
So, let’s take it from the top: Men’s and women’s brains really are different. No they’re not. This study did not look at anybody’s brains, nor did it compare the brains of one sex to those of the other. The study recorded re
07/23/2014 14:21:10 PM
Readers might remember that I got nice new frames for my spectacles lately. Of course, the same visit to the optometrist revealed me to have ‘dry eye’, a condition associated with being pregnant, suffering a stroke, and other things ( ...
07/11/2014 10:45:20 AM
Hat tip to c*nty_mc_sh*tb*lls over on Reddit for this one. Irish patients warned ‘miracle cure’ from US church is bleach A CONTROVERSIAL American Church which is coming to Ireland this weekend is promising a “miracle” cure for patie ...
06/25/2014 07:40:44 AM
Reasons why footballer-biting-other-footballer resulted from nature (i.e., the passing of traits from parent to offspring at a biological, or genetic, level): “I would suggest he is hard-wired in this way. It’s not something thatR ...
06/24/2014 16:13:30 PM
Today, I had my head examined. Well, part of my head. Okay then, my eyes. I had an eye test. The usual results transpired. My macular degeneration continues to degenerate my maculae, and I need to get new lenses. And... Read More ›
06/18/2014 05:32:09 AM
1. Analyzing John Brooks’ Dream About Scoring the Winning Goal Source: Time.com, ‘HEALTH’ section (17 June) One-line summary: A US soccer player scored a goal and then says he previously had a dream about doing so. So then, can
05/24/2014 07:00:28 AM
My university has a number of interesting claims to fame. And one of the coolest, certainly, is this. Neanderthal Man, remember him? Well, he’s basically an alumnus. Well, to be slightly more accurate, the term ‘Homo neanderthalensis ...
05/21/2014 03:59:35 AM
I guess this was a fast-moving story. After all, by the time the sub-editor had finished writing that headline, it emerged that this particular UFO was neither U nor F. Apparently, it “turned out to be” a piece of a... Read More ›
05/05/2014 04:30:00 AM
Yesterday morning I watched an interesting breakfast TV show here in Accra, on Ghana’s GTV. Interesting for three reasons: (a) because it illustrated the passionately articulate and comfortably personable nature of many Ghanaians, with whom ...
05/01/2014 11:39:58 AM
So, last week I had the pleasure of enjoying this delicious meal while exploring some backstreet neighbourhoods in Muscat, Oman. See can you guess what the green stuff is… Here’s a closer look… And here it is listed on the... Read M
04/25/2014 02:42:56 AM
Remember ‘Fair & Lovely‘? The face cream popular in India due to its skin-lightening properties? The one with the dodgy branding that invoked DNA (and thus eugenicist) undertones, not to mention a motif that could well be subtitled R ...
04/18/2014 09:48:07 AM
Greetings from Riyadh Airport. Saudi Arabia is, well, different. And, moving on… Here in Riyadh the government have been having to deal with mass panic over an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has taken the lives ...
04/10/2014 07:55:12 AM
One of the prerequisites for launching a military intervention in someplace like Ukraine is to figure out exactly where Ukraine actually is. So you can see what the problem is going to be here… Some folks think it’s somewhere around M ...
04/10/2014 07:23:57 AM
Good news everyone. I’ll be giving a keynote at next month’s Psychology, Health, & Medicine conference in Limerick. Here’s the abstract: How to Not Die: What we really know about stress and heart disease Everyone knows that stress i
04/05/2014 08:29:29 AM
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Here are some tweets… Yes, fans’ favourite Adam Rutherford makes a highly reasonable observation on The Guardian‘s use of media frames to pitch us the theory of special relativity. He’s right, you
03/29/2014 12:06:53 PM
So, how can it be that homeopathy sometimes seems to work? Well there are a few possible explanations: The universe is broken Placebo etc. They’re cutting the stuff with real penicillin Full marks to those of you who selected #3.... Read More ...
03/25/2014 15:03:45 PM
Waterford, Michigan apparently. As seen on imgur…Filed under: Animals, Evolution, imgur, Paleontology, Science
03/23/2014 07:44:51 AM
The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is a vastly complex endeavour. But it’s an empirical endeavour — it requires valid and reliable measurement and scanning methods, and an ability to objectively verify and trian ...
03/18/2014 06:00:29 AM
I am pleased to announce the establishment of the World Certifying Body for the Certification of Certified Healthologists, or WCBCCH. We’re seeking to recognise the rise of public interest in all things healthological, evidenced by cutti ...
03/16/2014 15:35:43 PM
Is it me, or are sample sizes just getting smaller? I mean, last time round we had that scare story warning us that the art of parenting is being destroyed by smartphones — you know, the one based on observations of 40 adults in... Read ...
03/12/2014 06:00:18 AM
I’ve concluded that they’re right. Mobile phones DO addle the brain. They DO interfere with competent cognition. They DO cause people to become rambling, incoherent, and negligent thinkers, and to talk ever-more-ridiculous garbage. But ...
03/06/2014 05:00:55 AM
Here’s a classic science communication fiasco. Many of us believe empiricism enables the resolution of uncertainty with data, and that more information is better than less. That’s why we do science. One of the moral imperatives that dri ...
03/05/2014 02:35:35 AM
Stephen Hawking encounters a stag-do in Cambridge: From The Telegraph: Chris Hallam, 29, and ten friends…turned a corner and bumped into Stephen Hawking getting out of his car. And they were stunned when the Brief History of Time author a ...
03/02/2014 04:36:18 AM
It’s akin to the Sokal hoax of our digital age, with a touch of Frankenstein in there too, and possibly some monkeys with typewriters. Two major publishers, Springer and IEEE, have identified over 120 papers that made it through their pe ...
03/01/2014 10:35:22 AM
From footballshirtculture.com: This the new Zambia Home football shirt to be worn throughout 2014, by Nike. The 2012 African Cup of Nations champions’ green shirt is embellished with a complex patterned sublimated watermark, with the stitched ...
02/26/2014 20:54:28 PM
Well, for geek pet owners at any rate… Although it must be pointed out that said Science Diet does not appear to be up to much: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a below average amount of named... Read More ...
02/25/2014 04:00:00 AM
So I got me some of them reasonably famous Po Chai Pills here in Hong Kong. The name means “protective aid” pills, but you won’t be able to tell much from that. And the box info deploys the standard ass-covering... Read More ›
02/22/2014 07:43:00 AM
When I first sniffed the internet buzz surrounding a woman being attacked by a stampede of rabbits, I admit I was both confused and intrigued. But basically, this is what happened: And this is all. The International Business Times reckoned... ...
02/20/2014 22:17:25 PM
Consider this a test post. Testing internet access from here (Hong Kong Airport- yay for free WiFi), WordPress access from here, and your nerves from everywhere. Popular Science are going with “Cat Bites are Linked To Depression,” using ...
02/19/2014 13:00:15 PM
I’m travelling to China in the morning, on some university work in Hong Kong and Shantou. It takes two days to travel between here and there, and I’ll be away for 8 days. So yes, I’ll be spending half my... Read More ›
02/16/2014 10:08:07 AM
Three quarters of Americans believe that the Earth orbits the Sun. Three quarters. That’s almost all of the quarters. It’s practically everyone who is awake at any one time. Good news, huh? I mean, the opposing view — that the Eart
02/15/2014 05:33:44 AM
“Could” is an awesome word. I “could” be in a position to help you. That dream job “could” be yours. Eating fish oil “could” make you smarter, or it “could” cause cancer. Or whatever. And, o
02/13/2014 08:19:13 AM
I’m on a bus, ploughing its way through an excessive headwind as yet another Atlantic storm blasts us to colour-coded distress (we’re are Code Red now; there are no more colours left). But even in distress, we have clever scientifically ...
02/09/2014 17:29:14 PM
This good is how: Thanks to h0norb0und for posting that to reddit. In a related vein, I will always, and forever, stand by the following screendump (of my own discovery) as representing the sine qua non of autocomplete genius: Ouch! A real... ...
02/07/2014 15:12:39 PM
I know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes words can be used to paint pictures. In return, therefore, sometimes word-based pictures can end up saying a thousand words. And here’s one of them: I mean seriously. Australia?... ...
02/07/2014 08:33:02 AM
Penguins. Nature’s best dressed flightless birds. Apparently, the UK climate is getting them down, what with all that rain. And contrary to meteorophobic stereotype, penguins actually like it sunny. So what to do? That’s right. Happy pi ...
02/06/2014 05:13:25 AM
Uh oh. Social media is rotting our brains. Or at least that’s what this particular researcher has discovered. Specifically, his concern is that using social media is undermining our capacity for original thought. So, shall you tell him or ...
02/03/2014 11:59:45 AM
…as did 20,000 other recipients (making their target sample an interesting n = 20,001): Dear Colleague: You have received this survey along with 20,000 other academics globally. This survey is meant to assess the attitude of the scientific ...
01/31/2014 03:28:02 AM
Here is a Guest Blog I was invited to write for the folks over at Neuroscience Ireland. I guess this is because I’ve recently been taxonomised as a “Neuroblogger.” It has heft, but such is the nature of being a... Read More ›
01/30/2014 03:57:00 AM
Infographics are all the rage at the moment. Here’s a nice one from the folks at Twisted Doodles: Feel free to add to the list yourself. Incidentally, when people think “Eureka!” you’ll probably hear them say something like
01/27/2014 09:43:38 AM
So here’s something to get the pulse racing. And that’s all there is to it. Sorry if it means absolutely nothing. Despite a tidal wave of news coverage, the only newsworthy element here is that the manufacturers of this so-called “
01/25/2014 06:11:27 AM
Here’s an interesting way to report the latest Science News: “Adam and Eve Were Real According to Study Out” declares the headline in the Guardian Liberty Voice. So, I assume a study has shown that Adam and Eve were real.... Read Mo
01/24/2014 08:59:42 AM
The week in six bits: 1. NASA startled by ‘Jelly Donut’ on Mars. Probably not a doughnut, though. Personally, I’m more startled by how dumbed down USA Today actually managed to make this report. 2. Conflicts of interest. It’s
01/22/2014 06:19:53 AM
Here is a table showing you how funny various errors made while texting actually are: You see, “I’ve sent you my fart” is much funnier than “Waited half n hour in the buss stop.” Good to know. So, scientists are... Read
01/21/2014 04:30:40 AM
Here’s this guy: I just wanted an excuse to post that Vine (on what is supposed to be a science blog). I was wondering what I could say. Then I looked up squirrels. Apparently, they chew incessantly — just like... Read More ›
01/20/2014 06:59:15 AM
Here is the spinning globe atop the University of São Paulo’s international webpage. Tut, tut, tut: I know what you’re thinking: “That’s the wrong direction of rotation! Why, if the Earth rotated in that direction, we’
01/18/2014 14:49:15 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you, to blogger James Kennedy, for this: You see, regular foodstuffs found in nature are chock full of E-numbers, sugars, acids, and things ending in “-ose” and “-dehyde” and “-zene”. I
01/18/2014 08:57:48 AM
Blatant Plug Alert follows. ALERT!!! As mentioned elsewhere, my own academic background is in the behavioural and health sciences, specifically psychology. And aside from my research on various biological and physiological aspects of behaviour, ...
01/17/2014 04:30:00 AM
The week in six bits: 1. Nope, pruny fingers and toes don’t give you a “better grip”. Researchers claim to demonstrate that people with wrinkly hands are no better at set-up tasks requiring grip acuity. However, does this really dis
01/16/2014 04:30:00 AM
It turns out that Lucozade Sport doesn’t hydrate and fuel better than water after all. In the UK, our old friends the ASA have finally told them to quit saying so in their celebrity-laden ads. I guess it always did... Read More ›
01/14/2014 15:08:03 PM
Our old friend, ex-Canadian Defence Minister Paul Hellyer is back in the news, this time featuring in a story on the website of Iranian news agency, Fars. It turns out that prior to appearing on SophieCo to explain the true... Read More › ...
01/13/2014 04:30:02 AM
My three-year old daughter is now doing ‘science’ in pre-school. It’s all neat contrasts: stuff that floats vs. stuff that doesn’t; stuff that is magnetic vs. stuff that isn’t; stuff that is soluble vs. stuff that is
01/13/2014 03:04:39 AM
Reblogged from Scepticemia: Today (13th January, 2014) is a landmark day in the history of public health in India. It is exactly three years since the last Polio case was detected in India. Ruksha Shah, from the Subharara village in... Read ...
01/11/2014 16:15:19 PM
As reported before, the angst regarding traditional scientific journals rumbles on. Previously, the growth of ‘Open Access’ was greeted with much fanfare as representing a David-style stone lob by researchers (and their public funders) ...
01/10/2014 06:47:21 AM
Sophie Shevardnadze is the presenter of SophieCo on Russian satellite TV station, RT. Normally SophieCo is a sedate affair. Recent guests have included social entrepreneur and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, ...
01/09/2014 06:21:33 AM
Baby, it’s cold outside, what with polar vortexes and the like. Except maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s a conspiracy. Maybe it’s a left-wing conspiracy, designed to blame right-wingers for climate change. Here’s conservative U
01/08/2014 05:39:04 AM
More news from the crazy world of time travelling: it’s still impossible. A team of intrepid researchers have trawled the Internet looking for references to Pope Francis that preceded his becoming a pope (i.e., the Catholic one; there are ...
01/06/2014 04:51:32 AM
Here are the top ten most read posts on The Science Bit in 2013: 1. Correlation? Causation? YOU decide! (It’s as good an approach as any…) After reading a Daily Mail article on how eating vegetables makes you more conscientious,... Read ...
01/03/2014 06:35:59 AM
Remember, folks, if (a) it’s new, (b) it’s popular, and (c) it’s invisible, then you know what it is. That’s right. It’s a cancer-causing death ray inflicted by lazy-minded bureaucrats who wilfully want to kill your kids
01/02/2014 06:44:04 AM
It’s official. Dogs poop and wee in non-random directions, taking their cue from the Earth’s magnetic field: Several mammalian species spontaneously align their body axis with respect to the Earth’s magnetic field (MF) lines in dive
12/30/2013 15:10:14 PM
Okay, 2013 is as good as over, and you’re no doubt currently bombarded by countdowns and reviews describing cultural highlights from the last 12 months. Basically, it was all twerking, One Direction, Rob Ford, North West-Kardashian, Edward ...