Hot Air

Why PMS?

Should The Loved One ever come to her senses and throw me out of our happy home, I might take consolation in the fact that I then could be available to woo the redoubtable and comely Rebecca Watson.

Watson

Rebecca Watson

She’s the biggest shot among the new generation of big shot female skeptic/scientists. Meaning, she and her cohorts stand on their heads to bring the facts about ghosts, quack medicine, alien flying saucers, anti-vaccination hysteria, fad foodism, and the like to a blithely gullible public. She started what is now the must-read Skepchick blog back in 2005 for the express purpose, as she put it, of “promoting skepticism and critical thinking among women around the world.”

She describes herself thusly: “I’m a writer, performer, feminist, atheist, skeptic. Not necessarily in that order.”

My kind of dame.

Watson’s got a YouTube channel as well as a Patreon page, on which she opines, sermonizes, teaches, and tsks approximately twice a week. Her latest vid tackles a recent news media flurry about some researcher’s suggestion that women get PMS because it’s evolutionarily advantageous. As in, when your co-worker snaps at you every 28 days for your innocent habit of cracking your gum, it’s only because Natural Selection has turned her into a monthly gargoyle just so’s she can weed out substandard potential mates.

Weird, huh?

See, acc’d’g to the researcher, an Australian named Michael Gillings, only manly men of the stoutest character would hazard a lifetime of woe with hyper-PMS-y women, whereas pantywaists and milquetoasts would shrink away in unmanly diffidence. It all sounds rather romance novelish, and in truth it prob. indeed is fiction. There’s next to no evidence that Gillings’ hypothesis is true.

Nevertheless, news outlets like the Huffington Post and a pile of papers in Australia gave Gillings’ ramblings the attention they so richly do not deserve. Natch, Rebecca Watson’s take on the affair is entitled, “PMS and the Science of Making Shit Up.”

It’s a swell primer on how to read science reports in the media with a critical eye. Check it out:

Science Goes Woo!

Speaking of science, have you caught this? Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have found evidence that two people, separated by 5000 miles, can directly influence each other’s thoughts — as long as they’re hooked up to each other though scalp electrodes, a few high tech machines, and the internet.

Wow! Or should I say Woo!

Grau, Ginhoux, Riera, Nguyen, Chauvat, et al.

Binary Code Messaging Across 5000 Miles

The whole business is called EEG-based brain-computer interaction (BCI). Researchers for years have been toying with individuals connected to computers and have successfully demonstrated that, using a similar wire-up, a person can think into a computer. That is, the test subject is given a message, s/he thinks about it, and that thought is then communicated to the computer. Sheesh! The ghosts of Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Arthur C. Clark have got to be stirring.

Now, though, the Beth Israel mad scientists have replaced the computer on one end with another human. According to a recently released paper, the experiment worked. So this whole apparent science fiction story isn’t woo at all.

In this case. one guy in India was fed a message, translated into binary code. He thought about it while hooked up to the EEG/electronic translator/internet apparatus and — voila! — the message appeared in the peripheral vision of the guy hooked up to the other end of the apparatus in France.

At this point Stephen King joined the aforementioned dead scifi authors in a circle dance.

You have to read about this experiment. It’s all further proof that you don’t need to be suckered into believing in chemtrails, e-meters, homeopathy, reiki, and other voodoo pseudosciences if you want to be blown away by nature. In fact, we take the seemingly miraculous — but demonstrably true — for granted these days. Witness Louis CK’s riff on air travel:

No And No

A fellow named Jari Nation from Movoto contacted this communications colossus to tell me about the relo website’s recent “10 Bloomington Stereotypes that Are Completely Accurate” post. I suppose he wants me to help spread the word about the post so at first I thought, Hey, baby, you want me to flack for you, pay me!

Then I remembered people went all Facebook gaga over this list a little while ago so it’s doubtful any loyal Pencillistas don’t know it exists. Ergo, this won’t be flacking.

Although, if Jari wants to cut me a check, I’d be thrilled to cash it.

Anyway, I’ll take issue with two of Movoto’s “completely accurate” assertions:

  • No. 10) “Bloomingtonians Are Crazy Proud of Being Hoosiers” — If this means we dig being citizens of the great state o’Indiana, well, no. The next person from Bloomington I meet who’s happy to call IN her or his home state will be the first. In fact, I’d guess no one on this good Earth loathes Indiana more than (as Movoto so awkwardly puts it) a Bloomingtonian. In double fact, Movoto pre-contradicts itself with item No. 3: “Don’t You Dare Group Them in with the Rest of Indiana.”

Giordano's Pizza

No Caption Necessary

  • No. 7) “Bloomingtonians Are Real Pizza Connoisseurs” — Um, no again. People here eat pizza. This town has a number of different pizza options. Pizzas places even deliver here, as they do in the rest of the civilized world. But Bloomington pizza is to real pizza as Chef Boyardee® from the can is to a homemade mostaccioli dinner. The entry lists, for example, Cafe Pizzaria which, I’m sure, is run by nice people and is an institution here but they don’t even know how to spell pizzeria, for pity’s sake. Don’t start with me; I know pizza. My mother made it. I make it. From scratch. I grew up eating all sorts of pizzeria pizzas in my beloved hometown, from Salerno’s in Little Italy to Ricobene’s on 26th Street. I am to pizza as Albert Einstein is to special relativity. Although I haven’t tried Trailhead‘s pizza yet and I’m told it’s good. We’ll see.

Personal to Jari: As The Dude once said, “By the way, do you think that you could give me that $20,000 in cash? My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax….” Aw, forget it.

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