Category Archives: Reblogs

Prehistoric timelines

Texts about prehistory are liable to use three different timelines or naming systems interchangeably so it’s as well to be absolutely clear about …

Prehistoric timelines

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

That Mitchell and Webb Look – Moon Landing Sketch

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)

‘I think it is a very promising little war.’ (Lord Copper in Scoop, page 13) When you read Evelyn Waugh as a student you don’t have time to read the …

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

Royal Society of NZ is split by disciplinary action taken against prominent professors who signed letter in defence of science

Originally posted on Point of Order: Let’s meet Professor Garth Cooper, described on the University of Auckland website as one of New Zealand’s …

Royal Society of NZ is split by disciplinary action taken against prominent professors who signed letter in defence of science

1 Comment

Filed under Reblogs

Ad hoc fallacy

In July 2009, Danish psychic/dowser Connie Sonne was given the chance to prove her claimed dowsing ability in the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation. She was asked to dowse some randomly selected cards hidden in envelopes and lost the challenge by selecting other incorrect ones. In an interview afterward, she insisted that she lost merely because, “…it wasn’t time yet for my powers to be revealed.”

The ad hoc fallacy is not strictly an error of logic. Instead, it a fallacious rhetorical tactic in which a person presents a new explanation that is unjustified or simply unreasonable, in an attempt to rescue their original claim after evidence that contradicts it has emerged.

The Latin phrase “ad hoc” is literally translated as meaning “to this”. It refers to an idea or solution that is intended for a specific use, and not for any other uses. An ad hoc explanation is specifically constructed to be used in a particular case and is created hastily at the moment rather than being the result of deliberate, fact-based reasoning.

Another example encountered by skeptical investigators is as follows. This is a typical conversation between a supposed psychic who claims to be able to read minds and a skeptic.

Skeptic: “If you’re psychic then tell me what number I am thinking of”                        

Psychic: “My powers don’t work in the presence of skeptics.”

In this example, the fallacious tactic is pretty obvious. The response that their powers don’t work around skeptics is clearly a ridiculous explanation, and it’s an explanation that one would never accept unless one was already convinced that the person was a psychic. Further, it makes it impossible to discredit them no matter how fraudulent they actually are (a lack of falsifiability is a hallmark of ad hoc fallacies).

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

Roman engineering

1 Comment

Filed under Reblogs

Steven Pinker: Rationality Saves Lives

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

Three Simple Maths Problems

Here are three simple maths problems that you should be able to do in your head:

  1. A smartphone and a case cost $110 in total. The phone costs $100 more than the case. How much does the case cost?
  2. It takes 8 printers 8 minutes to print 8 brochures. How long would it take 24 printers to print 24 brochures?
  3. On a field there is a patch of weeds. Every day the patch doubles in size. It takes 30 days for the patch to cover the whole field. How long does it take for the patch to cover half the field?

Solutions will be provided at a later date.

1 Comment

Filed under Reblogs

Joseph Stalin: Waiting For Hitler (Part 2)

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs

Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck (2010) – 2

One reason van Reybrouck describes his history of the modern Congo as ‘epic’ is because so much happens that it becomes quite bewildering. Possibly …

Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck (2010) – 2

Leave a comment

Filed under Reblogs