I gave a TEDx talk a few years ago. A fascinating experience to watch from the green room and even the stage (although my performance was pretty bad). One thing that marred the event for me were a couple of talks that we unabashed pseudoscience. I've seen regular TED talks that also fall into that category. This clearly isn't good as the venue bestows a bit of expertise on a speaker and the audience may get a bad message.
1. What is bad science/pseudoscience? There is no bright and shining line between pseudoscience and real science, and purveyors of false wisdom typically share their theories with as much sincerity and earnestness as legitimate researchers. Needless to say, this makes it all terribly hard to detect and define.
But here are some basic guidelines.
Marks of good science:
It makes claims that can be tested and verified
It has been published in a peer reviewed journal (but beware… there are some dodgy journals out there that seem credible, but aren’t.)
It is based on theories that are discussed and argued for by many experts in the field
It is backed up by experiments that have generated enough data to convince other experts of its legitimacy
Its proponents are secure enough to accept areas of doubt and need for further investigation
It does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge
The proposed speaker works for a university and/or has a phD or other bona fide high level scientific qualification
Marks of bad science:
Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth
Is not based on experiments that can be reproduced by others
Contains experimental flaws or is based on data that does not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims
Comes from overconfident fringe experts
Uses over-simplified interpretations of legitimate studies and may combine with imprecise, spiritual or new age vocabulary, to form new, completely untested theories.
Speaks dismissively of mainstream science
Includes some of the red flags listed in the two sections below
2. Red flag topics
These are not “banned” topics by any means — but they are topics that tend to attract pseudo-scientists. If your speaker proposes a topic like this, use extra scrutiny. An expanding, depressing list follows:
Food science, including:
GMO food and anti-GMO foodists
Food as medicine, especially to treat a specific condition: Autism and ADHD, especially causes of and cures for autism
Because of the sad history of hoaxes with deadly consequences in the field of autism research, really look into the background of any autism-related talk. If you hear anything that sounds remotely like, “Vaccines are related to autism,” — RUN AWAY. Another non-legitimate argument: “We don’t know what works, so we have to try everything.” Pretty much all the time, this argument is designed to cause guilt in suffering parents so they’ll spend money on unproven treatments.
“Healing,” including reiki, energy fields, alternative health and placebos, crystals, pyramid power
“Free energy” and perpetual motion machines, alchemy, time travel
The neuroscience of [fill in the blank] — not saying this will all be non-legitimate, but that it’s a field where a lot of goofballs are right now
The fusion of science and spirituality. Be especially careful of anyone trying to prove the validity of their religious beliefs and practices by using science
Look carefully at talks on these topics: ask to see published data, and find a second source, unrelated to the speaker and a recognized expert in the field, who can validate the research.
Be alert if a potential speaker (or the speaker’s advocate on your planning team) does any of the following things:
Barrages you with piles of unrelated, over-general backup material, attempting to bury you in data they think you won’t have time to read
Holds a nonstandard degree. For instance, if the physics-related speaker has a degree in engineering, not physics; if the medical researcher does not have an M.D. or Ph.D.; if the affiliated university does not have a solid reputation. This is not snobbery; if a scientist truly wishes to make an advance in their chosen field, they’ll make an effort to engage with other scholars
Claims to have knowledge no one else has
Sends information only from websites they created themselves; there is little or no comment on them in mainstream science publications or even on Wikipedia
Provides data that takes the form of anecdotes, testimonials and/or studies of only one person
Sells a product, supplement, plan or service related to their proposed talk — this is a BIG RED FLAG
Acts oddly persistent about getting to your stage. A normal person who is rejected for the TEDx stage will be sad and usually withdraw from you. A hoaxer, especially one who sees a financial upside to being associated with TEDx, will persist, sometimes working to influence members of your team one by one or through alternative channels
Accuses you of endangering their freedom of speech. (Shutting down a bogus speaker is in no way endangering their freedom of speech. They’re still free to speak wherever they can find a platform. You are equally free not to lend them the TEDx platform.)
Demands that TEDx present “both sides of an issue” when one side is not backed by science or data. This comes up around topics such as creationism, anti-vaccination and alternative health
Acts upset or hurt that you are checking them out or doubting them
Accuses you of suppressing them because TED and TEDx is biased against them and run by rich liberals ;)
Threatens to publicly embarrass TED and TEDx for suppressing them. (The exact opposite will happen.)
Very nice! Now if only the media would do the same thing..
OK - here is the 18th year of the card I first put up around now in 1994 ... the last host went out of business and my free hosting doesn't support auto streaming, so you'll have to click on the player to listen..
The drawing came together in about a minute. The music was done in midi editing with a keyboard looking at a score and happened to take considerably longer. I put it on a server I was running on a computer under my desk and sent the link to readers of The Crandall Surf Report - an early pre-blog I wrote in the Mosaic era.
I didn't think much of it until the second year when people started bothering me to re-post it. Dozens of people. One thing led after another and now it is celebrating its 18th year.
The current server, and I think this is the fifth, no longer supports midi and I was forced to convert it to mp3. So much for authenticity.
anyway ... whatever your holiday, have a good one!
Over the past three decades clothing prices have plummeted, but the amount people spend on clothing hasn't changed a lot - we just buy much more of it. Quality is awful, labor has shifted to the third world sometimes involving human slavery and large brands have become more powerful. And there is little ownership for "little things" like working conditions and safety or the environment..
Jheri and I have been having discussions about the future of apparel for some time and she recommended Overdressed by Elizabeth L Cline as a good history of the past several decades as well as the current state of the business.
Worth the read - her recommendations are what Jheri preaches. Spend more on quality clothing that will last for years and repair or modify it as necessary. The overall cost may turn out to be less and you'll benefit from higher quality clothing, a smaller environmental footprint and support of better labor practices. Elizabeth keeps a list of recommended manufacturers and vendors.
The industry is largely based on a distribution control model not unlike that the music industry had until about a decade ago - there are signs apparel may be disrupted in a big way over the next decade.
Jheri participates in street fashion - putting together not-off-the-shelf outfits that are usually made of modified clothing. She likes to start with vintage clothing and notes she has to go back about thirty years to find anything suitable - not for the fashion of the time, but rather the quality is high enough to permit modificaiion and there is a lot of it as newer clothing has been thrown away as it fails.
I'm not a fashionable person, but I'm interested in the mechanics of what it takes to do made to measure apparel - largely because I have some friends who are of very unusual sizes and it is impossible to fit them in stores. It is interesting to note that the notion of sizing is recent - not much over 100 years old. Before sizing, which was made necessary by the centralized mass production of clothing, clothing was more custom (although a lot of it wasn't very good and all of it was labor intensive). In a few decades it is very likely we'll return to made-to-measure, but for the time being these friends rely on alterations of often non-suitable clothing, some homemade and more rarely clothing from emerging made to measure companies. Indie Denim was one of those new companies - a well-built pair of jeans that were made to measure with some custom features. But new companies often fail and Indie went out of business last Summer. Of course there is always bespoke clothing, but it is out of the budget of the 99%...
No matter what your holiday culture is it would be hard to top babka as a treat. NYC, or perhaps more properly Brooklyn, is babka ground zero but it is possible to get excellent product almost anywhere through the magic of shipping.
My favorite is Green's Chocolate Babka - their Cinnamom is also excellent. Available in the NYC metro area in some of the higher end markets and also online. The shipping is stiff, but it beats a trip to Brooklyn.
Of course its not good for you, but you probably deserve a treat anyway.
Not surprisingly there is a lot of variation ... stay clear of counterfeits and make sure the charger will work with your device. Counterfeits and cheap units commonly appear in on-line stores (including Amazon) - so if the price is too good to be true, you may be getting a piece of garbage.
As inventors invented prior to any design standards automotive development witnessed an enormous amount of variation. Here we have a steam powered tricycle that appears to have borrowed some bicycle technology. via the Smithsonian blog