7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.3)

7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.3) July 3, 2013

1. Stories about things parents would never have to teach their children in a just world: Story Number 1; Story Number 2.

2. Scott Lemieux reminds us that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest pitching duels of all time.

The Giants beat the Braves 1-0 on a solo home run by Willie Mays in the 16th inning. Juan Marichal, who was then 25 years old, got the win, pitching all 16 innings for the shutout. Warren Spahn, 42,  took the loss, pitching all 16 innings on the losing side. Giants manager Alvin Dark tried to pull Marichal for a relief pitcher in the ninth, but Marichal refused to leave the game “as long as that old man is still pitching.” Marichal wound up throwing 227 pitches in that game. Spahn threw 200 before Mays belted the 201st. Daniel Brown interviews some of the players from that game, which Jim Kaplan called “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched.”

3. Carlos Whitaker takes a look at the Oxygen Network’s new reality show, Preachers of L.A., which he finds “a bit nauseating.” The show appears, he says, “a bad idea all the way around.” He’s not wrong.

Watching the trailer I can’t help but wonder if the title refers to what it is these preachers preach — a gospel of “L.A.,” the good news of Hollywood and of Rodeo Drive. With only a few slight edits, this trailer could be teasing an upcoming documentary — a muckraking exposé of the salesmen selling “prosperity” as religion. Except that none of the preachers profiled quite seems to realize that they’re being exposed. They don’t seem to have more than the slightest inkling of how they appear to a watching world.

Related: “Irish Prosperity Gospel Church Collapses Under 18-million Euro Debt.”

Also related: Mark Evanier on “psychics”:

It is my belief that 100 percent of people who claim to have psychic or similar abilities are frauds. They are occasionally frauds who believe their own steer manure but they are still frauds.

See also the Kyle Swenson article he links to, in which grifters posing as psychic advisers fleece their marks with a message remarkably similar to what some of those L.A. preachers are saying.

4. Ralph Reed is not a “fraud who believes his own steer manure.” Ralph Reed is a fraud who believes in nothing. I’m not saying that because he is politically conservative and I am politically liberal. Ralph Reed is not politically conservative. He’s a parasite posing as a political conservative so that he can move among them and take their money.

5. I’m a big fan of the story of Peter and Cornelius in the 10th and 11th chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. Some American Christians, unlike Peter himself, think that story is just about shellfish, bacon and cheeseburgers and not the gospel of radical inclusiveness I see there. But that radical inclusiveness is a major theme throughout the book of Acts, not just in that one story. Here’s the sermon Katherine Willis Pershey preached on Sunday based on the story told in Acts 8. Same theme. You can’t miss it — the whole story revolves around one question: “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” The man asking that question is Gentile. And a foreigner. And a eunuch. And the answer to his question is “nothing.” Nothing at all.

6. Blow your mind. Or try to, at least. If you need help, here’s some good advice on how to do that from Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” and from Vi Hart’s “Twelve Tones.” That video from Hart is about 30 minutes. It’s more than worth it.

7. Item: “Chris Christie Vetoes Family Planning Funding for the Fifth Time.” So as one Jersey guy to another, here’s a word from the Boss:

Booby said he’d pull out. Bobby stayed in.
Janey had a baby wasn’t any sin.
They were set to marry on a summer day.
Bobby got scared and he ran away …


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  • LoneWolf343

    You call it “rank sensationalism.” I call it “nobody has been able to provide a sliver of real, verifiable evidence that it exists.”

    One of these is dubious puffery, and the other is a simple fact.

  • MarkTemporis

    I’m feeling a “tell…tell who? sky…space…”

  • guest

    ‘If someone in 1950 said “billions and billions of people have lived on Earth and not one of them has been documented as breaking a 4-minute mile” they would have been correct.’

    That’s an interesting example. Bannister was actually the first (middle class) amateur to break the four minute mile; many lower-class people ran as quickly as that, or more quickly, for money, or as part of a wager, at least as early as the 18th century. So in fact this feat was being accomplished regularly, if not routinely, but it wasn’t being ‘documented’ by the correct people (though obviously documented well enough for significant sums of money to change hands). I heard about this in a lecture at the IET on engineering in sports; I’ll see if I can find more information if anyone’s really interested.

  • dpolicar

    Yup, agreed with all of this.

  • A somewhat justifiable test would be to see if the ability could be replicated among animals in high-stress environments. Humans are not that fundamentally different that the ability should fail to manifest in the primates generally.

  • I’d leave open the mind-reading ability as it is always possible someone’s brain is a sufficiently sensitive antenna to other people’s EM signals (albeit they would be very hard to detect).

  • MarkTemporis

    Translating the EM signals back into brain activity is the real trick. How would you differentiate coherent thought from motor control and autonomic response?

    If you believe in psychic powers and the like, there really isn’t any scientific way to prove it. It’s more like the new-age/pagan equivalent of Christian miracles – an article of faith.

  • It’s actually George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”, but your answer is easily in the top five.

  • MarkTemporis

    Evanier and Swenson, like many other skeptics, is a bit more hostile to psychics than is warranted. Few skeptics care or realize that for many offering these services is an expression of their religion.

    I see little difference between fortune tellers and marketing / financial consultants except their manner of dress.

  • MarkTemporis

    We share a number of different fora. Never would have guessed that one. The remake was generally a stinker, but I *LOVED* the bit where they lose control of a chainsaw inside their badass armored van. Must steal for an RPG session.

  • MarkTemporis

    I laminated a woman’s Major Arcana once, and had a scare when I only counted 19, until I figured out which cards were missing: Death, Devil, Tower… She flat out told me that nobody wants to be told they’re going to die.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Yes, I’ve often wondered about “stress events” precipitating psy-powers. So do tell me how many of the desperate people who jumped from the burning Towers on 9/11 floated safely down to earth? How many parents have levitated a truck off their trapped child? How many soldiers have teleported themselves off the battlefield?

  • J_Enigma32

    Antenna alone isn’t good enough. You need a transducer, too (an example of a biological transducer is the inner ear, so they do exist). Since the brain doesn’t think in complete thoughts and the thoughts are jumbled and chaotic, even if it were a possibility, you would have a hard time understanding anything beyond static.

    What’s more, depending upon what frequency you were emitting them on, a brain that generated EM signals would screw with other, nearby signals. To test for it all you need is to project your own EM signals and varying frequency to see which ones are piggyback (are made stronger) and which ones are nullified (made weaker), and once you’ve got that signal, you can generate it that and aim it at a person who claims to be a mind reader to see if they can pick up scrambled signal and interpret it.

    Unfortunately, there’s a few issues. First is that the brain doesn’t generate EM signals (brain waves that you see are measurements of brain activity during certain stages of brain rest; they aren’t actual waves). It generates a weak EM field, but that’s true for the human body as a whole. Second, the brain doesn’t have the proper equipment to be an antennae/transducer. So without some heavy mutation in humans, that method would be so improbable as to be impossible. Your transducer is in your ear, but the ear doesn’t pick up EM fields or signals, it picks up air vibrations and turns those into analogue signals for the rest of the brain to interpret. Having an EM signal-transducer would go a long way, but you need to have some way for the brain to project EM waves with usable information. And it doesn’t that we know of, and it isn’t likely that there is one.

    Now, would I rule something like that out in a species other than humans? Not remotely. It violates no laws of physics and if you have different methods of cognition available for different species (radically different; I would expect if this is possible, it exists in some extraterrestrial species), then this is certainly a possibility. It just isn’t one in humans.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    “Bobby said he’d pull out, and though he did, he didn’t quite make it in time and some of his ejaculate stayed in” doesn’t make for quite such a snappy song lyric.

    Not to say that scumbag dudes don’t take advantage of the excuse (and it’s entirely possible that Bobby was one of them), but you can’t take the most error-prone family planning method around and call the guy a rapist every time it fails.

  • Jurgan

    Maybe. It’s never happened to me, but I don’t really know how likely it is for others. I was told when I was younger that it happens, and I don’t have any sort of data supporting or refuting it, so I’m going to assume it’s at least possible.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    From Planned Parenthood:

    -Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 4 will become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly.

    -Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 27 will become pregnant each year if they don’t always do it correctly.

    Honestly, the method is so error prone that I think the only way to even do it “correctly” is to pull out well before the point of climax and finish through other methods.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You, sir, are my hero.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Not “always on”? Well that’s really convenient.

    Tell me, do you also have times where you randomly can’t add 2 and 2? Can’t see the color red? Can’t use adjectives? Can’t tell a hawk from a handsaw?

  • Guest

    I doubt you actually find that “curious.” Lots of people came here from the blog “Pharyngula” and are not particularly enamored of priests. Rather than “curious,” could you choose a different word?

  • caryjamesbond

    I’ve always used a condom because pulling out is so untrustworthy a method, and I can say from personal experience that, ESPECIALLY when sexually inexperienced, orgasm can just….sneak up on you. The first time I had sex, actually, I didn’t use a condom and I just barely managed to pull out in time. After that I was obsessive about it, and even with a condom and the reduced sensation that comes with it….yeah. Until you know what you’re doing, and Bruce rarely sings about sexual relationships where people are experienced, pulling out is untrustworthy for a reason.

  • caryjamesbond

    Not to mention that precum can also have sperm in it as well. A lot fewer but….only takes one.

    Condoms- one of mankind’s finer inventions.

  • caryjamesbond

    I dunno, that sort of seems like the very definition of accident. In any case where the accident is at all your fault, it seems to be because you thought you’d be safer and more in control than you were. than you were-whether driving at a certain speed, or pulling out in time.

  • caryjamesbond

    Only if her ex-husband kills Irish terrorists.

  • caryjamesbond

    But like I said in the other thread- that doesn’t explain why the human brain would have an organ for receiving this data.

    There is information-carrying stuff all around us- infrared, ultraviolet, radio, gamma rays, neutrinos. We are equipped to pick up a very, very small range of it. Sound/physical vibration, a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum, some chemicals. Many animals have better senses than us- dogs have better hearing, and many animals can smell water well before humans can.

    All these things have advantages.

    Now, for any sort of psychic ability to manifest itself, there has to be some sort of information carrying energy involved, either from another realm, or from the future, – exotic quantum entanglement, or tachyon bursts, or some other sort of exotic particle.

    But to do so would not carry more of a survival advantage than detecting alpha particles- less so. Being poisoned by radioactive materials,even without our modern nuclear society, happens more often than truly useful-to-a-caveman psychic events. (knowing grandma is ok and happy in another place is sweet and all, but on the savannah, it doesn’t get you meat or berries or a mate)

    So how did this physical yet undetected (so far) structure evolve, why did it evolve, and why is it not more widely distributed?

  • David S.

    Yes, there are times when I can’t see the color red. I suspect before we knew how the eye worked, the fact that you could see fine in dim light but couldn’t see colors was quite confusing.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That’s a completely different situation, an issue of insufficient sensory stimuli due to a lack of the physical stimulator (red light), not that your ability to perceive “red” isn’t “on” right now. That’s what Jarred is describing: that a psychic’s ability to perceive psychic stimuli only works sometimes. If you want to try and claim that it’s a case of not enough psychic stimuli available, that would first be equally convenient, and second be just as untestable. Whereas we can easily test, without human eyes, for the presence of red light in a dim room. And the reason we can so easily do so is because red light is a real, physical phenomenon, with physical consequences that go beyond human visual sense.

    Put simply, your counterexample isn’t remotely the same thing.

  • David S.

    A curtain is just as red whether it’s dark or not. I’m sure that a blind person would find it convenient that all of a sudden you claim you can no longer see just because it’s dark.

    For another example, a long-range radio can fade in and out depending on upper atmospheric conditions. You can call it convenient, but that’s just the way it is.

    We can easily test without human eyes for the presence of red light, using stuff we’ve developed only recently, using our knowledge of how light works. You’re putting the cart before the horse.

    I’m not arguing for psychic powers, but any real fair examination of them has to understand that we don’t understand how they work and that they, like most other things, may not be entirely reliable or consistent, especially when we don’t understand the compounding factors.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m not talking about what colors are reflected from objects, I’m talking about what light is available to be seen. In blue light, the curtain would appear black, that doesn’t mean that you’ve lost the ability to see red, there’s simply no red light to be seen. A blind person, to simplest definition, lacks the ability to see. A sighted person doesn’t gain and lose their sight at random intervals.

    “For another example, a long-range radio…”

    ..is again about a lack of physical stimulus to the radio, not that the radio is only capable of receiving a signal sometimes. Do you understand the difference.

    “We can easily test without human eyes for the presence of red light, using stuff we’ve developed only recently, using our knowledge of how light works.”

    The reason we can build such devices is because light is more than just something we can see. That’s true of every type of human sensory information. Furthermore, these particular physical phenomena are detectable by all but a tiny percentage of humans. So, verifying that the detection devices work is a simple task.

    “You’re putting the cart before the horse.”

    No, I’m putting the explanation after the evidence. I’m also demonstrating how your counter-example doesn’t apply.

    “any real fair examination of them has to understand that we don’t understand how they work”

    The question of “how it works” is irrelevant if the phenomenon can’t be demonstrated to exist at all. The idea that psychic abilities can be “on” or “off” is an attempt to get around that initial problem by alluding to (but not explaining) some sort of mechanism. That’s putting the cart before the horse.

    “like most other things, may not be entirely reliable or consistent”

    Really? Red light isn’t reliably and consistently an electromagnetic wave of a wavelength between 630 and 740 nm? You maybe wanna rethink that statement?

  • David S.

    about a lack of physical stimulus to the radio, not that the radio is
    only capable of receiving a signal sometimes. Do you understand the

    The difference between what? You’re looking at a radio that’s not receiving and claiming that’s because it doesn’t work. You could be a blind man looking at a sighted man and calling him a liar because when you pulled him into your indoors lab he couldn’t “see”, making the excuse it lacked something he called light.

    Do psychic powers lack evidence? Yes. Are they contrary to what we currently know of the universe? Yes.

    But it’s a basic logical failure to demand evidence of things you don’t believe that you wouldn’t demand of things you do believe in. Many animals won’t breed in the lab. A few, like the giant squid, we have no evidence about them breeding in the wild. That doesn’t mean we believe they don’t breed. Likewise, meteors don’t fall out of the sky on demand. That caused early scientists to deny their existence. Sometimes, that fact that something is not easily replicated in the lab is not good enough evidence to reject their existence, however convenient that would be.

  • Sorry; the armored bus / chainsaw scene is in the Zack Snyder remake. That movie has some decent wonderful stuff in it, but overall I find it to be far inferior to the original. But it’s interesting to know that someone who just read some of my posts somewhere else could get within four spaces of my favorite without psychic powers of any kind.

    Edited to add: Whoops, misread your post. You too know that the chainsaw bus was in the remake.