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Naked Skeptic

The Naked Skeptic column

Just the Facts, Ma’am

By Peter Bowditch

Legislators continue to either refute or ignore science when it clashes with their ideology.

One of the nice things about science is that scientific facts are true whether you believe them or not. (I know there are no “facts” in science, just hypotheses that are strongly supported by all the evidence so far available, but “scientific facts” is a convenient shorthand way of saying this.) This has not stopped legislators in various parts of the world trying to pass laws that either refute science or simply ignore it.

The Sweet, Simple Things of Life

By Peter Bowditch

From artificial sweeteners to fruit, sugars give wellness warriors a sugar high.

When Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all,” she wasn’t referring to things used to make food taste better, but it is undeniable that humans have a preference for sweetness. There is even some indication that a preference for sweetness is common throughout the animal kingdom.

Foxes and Henhouses

By Peter Bowditch

Parliament is considering legislation that will give the complementary medicine industry more freedom to make deceptive claims.

Go! Learn Things!

By Peter Bowditch

Knowing about science is more important than doing science because it helps you separate sense from nonsense.

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Counting the Opinions

By Peter Bowditch

The same-sex marriage survey repeats the statistical mistakes of most opinion polls.

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Vaxxed Spreads Like a Plague

By Peter Bowditch

The anti-vaccination movement has employed dishonest tactics to ensure the public screening of Vaxxed in Australia.

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Hold the Front Page!

By Peter Bowditch

The loss of specialist reporters in the clickbait era of journalism matters more for science than other rounds.

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Irregular Regulation

By Peter Bowditch

A caustic paste can dissolve the authority of regulators more effectively than its purported use against cancer cells.

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Don’t Let Straw Men Give You Hay Fever

By Peter Bowditch

Be prepared to face these straw man arguments when arguing with climate change deniers, anti-vaccination advocates and creationists.

In my previous column I talked about the futility of using straw man arguments in debates. A straw man is a statement that intentionally misrepresents your opponent’s belief or position. I also said that the use of such arguments is usually due to ignorance, and advised that it is wise to actually research your opponent’s position before going into battle if you don’t want to look foolish.

Is Philosophy Dead?

By Peter Bowditch

Beware the strawman when arguing that science has outgrown philosophy.

Smart people have recently talked about the uselessness of philosophy with regard to science. Yes, science grew out of philosophy, but the claims are now that science has outgrown philosophy completely and it has no relevance at all. An example is a recent video made by Bill Nye in which he responded to a student asking him: “Is philosophy meaningless?”.

The problem with his comments was not that they were just wrong about philosophy; they were fractally wrong. Nye didn’t know what he was talking about. His concept of philosophy was extremely naïve.