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Here Be Dragons - The Movie - Comments

Tezcatlipoca's Avatar Comment 1 by Tezcatlipoca

Hmm, one of the podcasts that break up an otherwise dull commute for me...

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 11:30:00 UTC | #284619

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 2 by the great teapot

Buddhist wisdom
Lights touch paper and exits.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:10:00 UTC | #284632

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 3 by Colwyn Abernathy

"A Demon Haunted World"...first choice on the reading list. Hells...yesh...everyone SHOULD read that book. Even Sagan said that we're greatly misusing the medium of television. (argument from authority....D'oh!) ;)

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:27:00 UTC | #284637

Lil_Xunzian's Avatar Comment 4 by Lil_Xunzian

This kind of boring, basic Atheism 101 stuff has a place, I guess.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:29:00 UTC | #284639

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 5 by Colwyn Abernathy

He's not a very good performer. His gags (whack-a-mole, connection to 9-11) were the 9th Level of Horrible. Made me want to scream. Doesn't mean he's WRONG tho. ;)

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:35:00 UTC | #284642

skyhook's Avatar Comment 6 by skyhook

He gets the point across, explains critical thinking clearly and the common errors that are made.
I applaud such efforts.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:38:00 UTC | #284645

brian_d_w's Avatar Comment 7 by brian_d_w

There is quite a bit of scientific evidence to support taking omega-3 supplements. They lose creditability when they lump legit stuff in with the psychics. Nice intro though.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:47:00 UTC | #284648

beelzebub's Avatar Comment 8 by beelzebub

Lil_Xunzian wrote
"This kind of boring, basic Atheism 101 stuff has a place, I guess."

Uh... what has atheism got to do with any of this? Are you really trying to imply that anyone with a religious belief is a gullible fool? Belief in homeopathy, or astrology or whatever, is not predicated on one's religious outlook - I guess you are confusing Correlation with Causation? :-)

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:48:00 UTC | #284649

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 9 by Caudimordax

I thought he did a pretty good job. I still believed him about confirmation bias, even though he was wearing a white coat when he talked about it.

My only quibbles are:

1. What's his problem with organic? He didn't say, he just lumped it together with other things new-agers tend to believe in. Organic farming might not be practical on a large scale, but I'd like to know what he has against compost and integrated pest management.

2. Picture of Alli weight loss product with all the other nostrums. (Unfortunately) Alli is FDA approved.

Now if I could just get the people who really need to see this to watch the whole thing.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:51:00 UTC | #284650

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 10 by Colwyn Abernathy


I was surprised to see Alli in there as well. I honestly don't know much about it. Then again, I hadn't realized Zicam was homeopathic till my Mum gave me a box of the swabs.

Guess what? They don't work. ;)

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:58:00 UTC | #284652

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 12 by Caudimordax

"Proof by Verbosity": I always wondered what to call that (other than "bury 'em with bullshit.") I think I've seen some of that on this site now and again. (I seem to remember some troll going on and on about holes - or maybe it was no holes - in the roofs of concentration camp buildings.)

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #284654

Cube's Avatar Comment 11 by Cube

What's his problem with organic?

This was addressed in one of his weekly podcasts. You can read/listen to it here:

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #284653

Chris Davis's Avatar Comment 13 by Chris Davis

Charming stuff. But then it finishes, and we're back on this ghastly planet where nearly everything he says is anathema.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #284655

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 14 by Caudimordax

I was surprised to see Alli in there as well. I honestly don't know much about it.

Alli essentially prevents the intestines from absorbing most fat content in your food which means - well, it's sort of disgusting. But it does work. As far as I'm concerned, so would a tape worm.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 13:03:00 UTC | #284658

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 15 by Caudimordax

11. Comment #298708 by Cube

I'm reading that episode about organic foods, and I was stopped cold when I saw the link to, which is a front for agribusiness interests (I need to go back and check my facts, but I looked into them a long time ago) From their website:

Many of the companies and individuals who support the Center financially have indicated that they want anonymity as contributors. They are reasonably apprehensive about privacy and safety in light of the violence and other forms of aggression some activists have adopted as a "game plan" to impose their views, so we respect their wishes.

I'll finish reading though.

Edit: That "many of the companies and individuals" list includes:

Initial funding for the Guest Choice Network [original name of CCF]organization came from Philip Morris, with the initial donation of $600,000 followed by a $300,000 donation the following year. Philip Morris attorney Marty Barrington wrote in a 1996 internal company memorandum: "As of this writing, PM USA is still the only contributor, though Berman continues to promise others any day now." [27] By December, 1996, supporters included Alliance Gaming (slot machines), Anheuser-Busch (beer), Bruss Company (steaks and chops), Cargill Processed Meat Products, Davidoff (cigars), Harrah's (casinos), Overhill Farms (frozen foods), Philip Morris, and Standard Meat Company (steaks)...Other companies that have publicly acknowledged making donations to CCF include Coca-Cola; Wendy's; Tyson Foods; and Pilgrim's Pride.

Not exactly an unbiased source of information!

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 13:11:00 UTC | #284660

Isherwood's Avatar Comment 16 by Isherwood

That was great. Thanks. I sent it to several family members, both of whom are smart people but lack a desire to examine their world critically.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 13:12:00 UTC | #284661

Scotty B's Avatar Comment 17 by Scotty B

I have been enjoying the Skeptoid podcast almost since the beginning. I like the short, single-subject format.

For those who like the Here Be Dragons movie, I recommend going to the site ( and downloading the .iso image and burn a dvd for yourself and/or your friends/family.

Caudimordax, I was going to mention the episode on organic, but it looks like Cube beat me to it.

p.s. I have a special place in my heart for the Reflexology episode ;)

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 13:23:00 UTC | #284665

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 18 by NewEnglandBob

This is a poor presentation.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 14:22:00 UTC | #284675

Mark the Hiker's Avatar Comment 19 by Mark the Hiker

Emerging from the land of the lurkers to ask if anyone here can point me to a video, with a similar point to make, but more accessible to kids? My daughter is 9, and is a smart kid, but some of the vocabulary is above her.

Her attention span would be broken by having to ask what 'quantify' means, etc.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 14:29:00 UTC | #284676

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 20 by Stafford Gordon


Plus, I now have a Christmas reading list for our science student twin daughters.

Thank you the Richard Dawkins website.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 14:30:00 UTC | #284678

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 21 by Rawhard Dickins

What's wrong with fish oils and omega 3 ?

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 15:41:00 UTC | #284705

ukvillafan's Avatar Comment 22 by ukvillafan

The issue about organics is that organic food contains no added pesticides etc rather than it's better for your health. It depends what you think organic food is for. The only legitimate claim for organic food is that there are no added bits of chemicals added.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 15:47:00 UTC | #284708

tvictor's Avatar Comment 23 by tvictor


Mon, 08 Dec 2008 15:56:00 UTC | #284714

decius's Avatar Comment 24 by decius

<!-- Be sure tags are closed -->Comment #298731 by Mark the Hiker

Material on scientific scepticism and critical thinking for children is famously rare. Being childless, I've never really looked. However, just by googling, I've found this. They seem to address the issue from a wider, more abstract perspective, though.

You could contact Brian Dunning, the maker of this movie, and enquire further.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 16:05:00 UTC | #284725

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 25 by Dhamma

In the beginning they showed slides of fraudulent treatments and one was a yoga place. Isn't there a consensus that it's a proper "treatment" or training?

I do yoga, and find it remarkably well-working. It relaxes me and makes me feel better, like meditation. I have a very hard time believing it's placebo. At least meditation most scientists seem to find great effects from.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 16:38:00 UTC | #284742

Skep's Avatar Comment 26 by Skep

Did ancient maps really say things like "Here Be Dragons" **often** as Brian Dunning claims? Or is he starting his so called introduction to critical thinking with a specious claim of his own?

Let's check the wiki:

"The earliest and only known use of this phrase is in the Latin form "HC SVNT DRACONES" (i.e. hic sunt dracones) on the Lenox Globe[2] (ca. 1503-07). The term appeared on the east coast of Asia. Earlier maps contain a variety of references to mythical and real creatures, but the Lenox Globe is the only known surviving map to bear this phrase."

If the wiki is true then Dunning is the very thing he claims to debunk, and manages to be so even in the title of his video. Awful. Just awful.

Sure, you can argue that Dunning gives himself an out when he claimed "In ancient times, unexplored regions on maps would often be given fearsome legends like 'here be dragons.'" But using an example that is atypical in the extreme (one known instance) as if it is representative is dishonest, especially when used as the founding premise for a video that is supposed to be about accuracy, intellectual honesty and the scientific process. You can't teach critical thinking if you don't use it yourself.

Brian Dunning has some talent, but his sloppiness is not good for proper science or skeptical inquiry, nor does it serve well for public outreach. Perhaps he can do better in future if his ego will let him acknowledge his shortcomings and work to improve on them--but I hold little hope that should be the case.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 17:01:00 UTC | #284756

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 27 by KRKBAB

ukvillafan- That only addresses the quality of the food item, but what about the entire process of non-organic foods? Especially over fertilization of soil and the run-off. Concerning meat (I'm no vegetarian), the humane (I know, animals are not human) issues of that business are my main concern.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 17:29:00 UTC | #284784

King of NH's Avatar Comment 28 by King of NH

Are you really trying to imply that anyone with a religious belief is a gullible fool?

I'll say it: YES! Every reason to believe in religion is based on the same reasons to believe in polarizing energy detox eye wear. Religion is a flat out failure to correctly judge fact from fiction. Religion is gullibility. Correlation does not mean causation, but it can imply it. Once implied, and probed more, it appears the actually is causation. Uncritical thinking and delusion enforced authority causes gullible and reckless behavior. Giving a 10% tithe to save your "mystical inner being (soul)" is EXACTLY like paying $19.99 for a braceless to balance your "mystical inner being (chi, booga booga, etc)."

Perhaps you think religion deserves more merit. I think it deserves the same as every other snake oil. It should, I feel, be required to admit, "Statements made by this church are unsupported by critical reason, and faith is not meant to be used to treat or diagnose disease, political affiliation, sexual relationships, money management, education, and personal responsibility. Faith is intended for entertainment purposes only."

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 17:40:00 UTC | #284794

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 29 by KRKBAB

Right on King of NH. I like it when pseudoscience is put on the same page as religion. That's why the term Atheism just doesn't say enough because it doesn't address pseudoscience and woooooo.
BTW- what "Notch" are you hiking in your avatar?

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 18:14:00 UTC | #284810

Eshto's Avatar Comment 30 by Eshto

I have one little problem with this, where he says if there's a social or ideological movement around something, it's an indication that the claim is bogus. That's not always true. It has nothing to do with whether or not the claim is true, but it doesn't per se hurt it either, and can sometimes help it along.

What comes to mind immediately was the push to remove homosexuality from the APA's list of mental disorders. It was on there in the first place because of social and ideological biases and assumptions, and it was removed after a loud social outcry. Of course, the outcry itself didn't make it true that homosexuality isn't a mental disorder, it literally doesn't meet the criteria and that was true regardless of the social movement; but the movement did call attention to the problem.

Likewise if there is a large social activism movement to push for the teaching of evolution, it won't be an indication that evolution is a bogus claim either.

However I do like that he points out that "organic" doesn't mean safer or better for you. Growing up I had friends who insisted marijuana is totally safe because it's "natural, dude". Well I do think marijuana is relatively safe compared to tobacco or alcohol, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it's natural.

I liked to retort by saying "scorpions are natural". Coulda named a lot of things I guess, but I just think scorpions are cool.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I do yoga too. It's not placebo, you are actually doing stuff. Isometric toning, deep breathing and stretching. It doesn't need all the mystical mumbo jumbo a lot of people attach to it, but that's besides the point.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 18:47:00 UTC | #284824