Tag Archives: humour

A cynical take on effective speakers

This video is a parody of a TED talk – you know, those talks which often come across very impressively but may not have much in the way of real content.

Or is this just me getting cynical in my dotage? I certainly feel I have an excuse for that.

Source: This Parody Of Every TED Talk Ever Is Absolutely Perfect – Digg

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Science and management – a clash of cultures


Found this while weeding out some old computer files. It certainly described the conflict between science and management I experienced while working – particularly since the reforms of the early 90s. “Science” became a dirty word while “profit” and management-speak became almost compulsory.

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost.

He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted,”Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 55 and 56 degrees north latitude and between 3 and 4 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be a scientist,” said the balloonist.

“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist. “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman below responded. “You must be in Management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems.

The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

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Syrian karma


The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this was the US/NATO policy (or excuse for a policy) in Syria – “Assad must go!”

“Natural News” on trial in The Hague for crimes against science


This is a spoof, of course – but a legitimate one. It’s a response to reports like this from The ecologist – Monsanto on trial for crimes against nature and humanity.” Some readers may have been fooled by this, but the so-called International Monsanto Tribune and the impending trial is nothing more than a publicity stunt by campaigners against genetically modified organisms (see No, Monsanto Is Not Going On Trial For Crimes Against Humanity).

But there are some organisations which should be put on trial for their crimes against science – and hence against humanity. The Spudd Times have targeted “Natural News” in this spoof (source: Breaking: Natural News put on trial for crimes against science, educide in The Hague).

THE  HAGUE, NL – The website Natural News is in big trouble as reports indicate they are to be put on trial for crimes against science and educide by a special medical tribunal in The Hague.

Since the late twentieth century, Natural News has been infecting peoples minds with pseudoscience and bullshit, all the while profiting from their irrational fears and selling miracle cures through their online store.

The special tribunal will consist of medical doctors, researchers, and scientists.

Relying on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted by the UN in 2011, an international court of doctors and scientists will assess the potential criminal liability of Natural News for damages inflicted on science and the scientific environment.

The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against science and “educide” as a prosecutable criminal offense.

The International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting educide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy scientific environment and the right of our brains to be protected.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Discussing science on social media

Some relevant memes I picked up on Facebook recently.

How often do discussion partners adopt this approach?:

Comfirm bias

Or when pushed for their “evidence” we have to respond with:


Finally, a citation from their recommended “scientific” source – but:


Then – the “nuclear” or Mutually Assured Destruction  (MAD) approach  – scientists can’t be trusted anyway:


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The bureaucratic solution to a problem

Sometimes satire is very close to the truth. Take this piece from The Shovel – Liberal Party Commits To Having 50% Women In Seats Shown On Camera By 2025:


Tony Abbott says his party is serious about the advancement of women, and has set an ambitious target to have half of all seats shown on TV filled by women within five years.

“We are deeply committed to giving the impression that a high proportion of Liberal MPs are women,” Mr Abbott said.

“These are plum seats – not just any old seats. They’re right behind where the men and Julie Bishop stand when they’re giving a speech, so it’s not just a token gesture”.

He said women had an important role to play in the party. “The party’s women are crucial for the Federal Budget, for example. They’re on screen for the entire length of the budget speech, which is beamed to millions of Australians. They feature on the front page of the nation’s newspapers”.

A Liberal Party spokesperson said there was still work to be done to meet the target. “At the moment women make up 20% of Liberal MPs, and around 45% of those on camera, so we’re not quite there yet”.

So often on issues like these bureaucrats are interested only in appearances – not correcting the problem. This reminds me very much of the approach taken by Human Resources bureaucrats in dealing with the issue of laboratory safety in my earlier life when I was employed. They talked a lot about “signage.” To them the way to resolve (or appear to resolve) a safety issue was to put up a lot of signs!

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The problem of “Fact-Resistant Humans”


OK, this is satire so don’t take it literally. But this article in The New Yorker makes a good point – Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans.

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

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The frustrations of modern technology


And after all that there is the problem of remembering the password(s).

“I just know”

This is from a satirical site – but the trouble is many people seems to think this way. They are continually commenting on blogs and other social media and think their arguments trump science!

From The Spudd.


“I just know” replaces systematic reviews at top of evidence pyramid

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) announced today that “I just know” will replace systematic reviews as the top level of evidence available in medical research. For years scientists and doctors have dismissed anecdotes from the likes of anti-vaxxers and pseudoscience pushers, but it appears they are finally ready to listen.

“After much research and deliberation, we feel we cannot ignore what a parent or conspiracy theorist feels “in their gut”. There are just too many anecdotes and too many people buying untested alternative health products to ignore this any longer,” explained SHEA spokesman Dr. Harold Rami.

Homeopaths, Naturopaths, Chiropractors and anti-vaxxers the world over are celebrating this as a huge victory.

“Even though my son was showing signs of autism before he got vaccinated, I know in my gut and in my heart that it was still the vaccines that caused it,” said mother and anti-vaccine advocate Cheryl Jones.

“This is a big win for us,” said Naturopath and homeopathy dispenser, Paul Theroult. “I have seen it many times. I sell my patients a homeopathic remedy – for say the common cold – and then bam, they are cured within one to two weeks. There is no science backing up my claim that the homepathic pill cured their cold, but in my gut I just know it did.”


When science deniers turn to science

Cartoon by Joe Heller, www.hellertoon.com

Readers no doubt recognise this situation. It’s a pretty blatant form of science denial. Division of science and into pro and anti forms –  such as pro-fluoridation and anti-fluoridation science –  is just another form of science denial – but it does seem to fool some people. “There are no sides! just facts!”

Mind you, most deniers will look to science when their lives are in danger. This satirical article from The Borowitz Report at newyorker.com makes this point.

Some Fear Ebola Outbreak Could Make Nation Turn to Science

NEW YORK The Borowitz Report—There is a deep-seated fear among some Americans that an Ebola outbreak could make the country turn to science. In interviews conducted across the nation, leading anti-science activists expressed their concern that the American people, wracked with anxiety over the possible spread of the virus, might desperately look to science to save the day.“It’s a very human reaction,” said Harland Dorrinson, a prominent anti-science activist from Springfield, Missouri. “If you put them under enough stress, perfectly rational people will panic and start believing in science.”Additionally, he worries about a “slippery slope” situation, “in which a belief in science leads to a belief in math, which in turn fosters a dangerous dependence on facts.”At the end of the day, though, Dorrinson hopes that such a doomsday scenario will not come to pass. “Time and time again through history, Americans have been exposed to science and refused to accept it,” he said. “I pray that this time will be no different.”