Cork Skeptics

Promoting Reason, Science & Critical Thinking in Cork City & Beyond


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The 15 Minute Baloney Detection Kit

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As part of Culture Night in Blackrock Castle this weekend, I talked about a number of techniques we all should be on the look out for when confronted with strange claims that don’t seem to make much sense. These techniques included strong emotional appeals, the use of celebrities, “magic” words, claims that seemed to be too good to be true, and the “black or white” fallacy, where only two options are presented even though other alternatives may exist. These are just some examples of what are called Logical Fallacies – you can find more fallacies discussed in the website below.

Click on the link to go to the Logical Fallacies website

I also spoke about the dangers of anecdotes and testimonials and why we can’t always rely on our memories or perceptions to explain what we might have witnessed. Finally, I contrasted scientific claims to baloney claims, outlining the hard work that has taken place to provide a reliable understanding of the world around us.

Further reading: 

The following books are worth a look if you are interested in finding out more about science and baloney.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) – Carol Tavris & Eliot Aronson

Bad Science – Ben Goldacre

Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst

The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan

Flim Flam! – James Randi

Why People Believe Weird Things – Michael Shermer

Bad Astronomy – Philip Plait

Paranormality – Richard Wiseman

Internet Resources

The Skeptics’ Dictionary

Doubtful News

Skeptic Magazine

James Randi Educational Foundation

Snopes.com

Bad Astronomy

Podcasts

The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe

Skeptoid

Skeptics with a K

Skeprechauns

Videos

Storm (Tim Minchin)

The Strange Powers of the Placebo Effect

The Problem With Anecdotes