Penn and Teller and PseudoScience


Showtime’s show with Penn and Teller is called “Bullshit” and it’s usually really entertaining. Not exactly scientific method here, but I appreciate how they dispense with nonsense somewhat ruthlessly.

I don’t know why Penn is so compelled to say the F word so often, but the show is a very entertaining way to examine silly, bogus, or stupid claims by health, government, and others.

Bullshit is a huge global problem because people choose to believe other (usually misinformed or opportunistic) people rather than examine questionable claims with their own research, now relatively simple to do thanks to the internet. Research won’t get us all thinking the same, but it’ll help keep the irrational nonsense out of the discussion.

Judge to Google: YouTubers Will Be Viacommed


There is a lot of blogOspheric gnashing of virtual teeth at today’s Viacom v. Google decision that is telling Google to release the YouTube clip watching histories of all users to Viacom as part of Viacom’s efforts to demonstrate that much of the activity at YouTube is infringing on their rights.

All I can say is people better get used to this type of decision. Contrary to most of the foolish drivel that passes as analysis of the current state of digital rights, the fact is that until *laws are changed* the courts are going to continue to be very sympathetic to the obvious – there’s a whole lot of copying going on here.

Most people like to confuse what the law *should be*, which is far more tolerant of most regular uses of online material, with what the law *is*, which is very protective of the rights of a big business to protect a intellectual property.

What we see now is a clash between the lax enforcement of many copyright violations and the assumption by onliners that this meant there were *no violations*. When it becomes mainstream practice to break the law (e.g. copy music for distribution rather than backups, drive 60 MPH in a 55 zone, etc) this does not mean the law has changed!) It may suggest the law needs revision, but it does not reasonably support the idea that the law no longer applies.

Napster’s sad experience should have been a wake up call to those who think