Tag Archives: Bad Science

How Bigfoot Fits Into His Genes

Bigfoot still is a mystery, dudes. I know. It’s a bit shocking.

Especially considering all the hoo-ha a couple of months ago when a researcher claimed she had a some viable Bigfoot cells and was on the cusp of being able to sequence the entire Bigfoot genome.

You might recall, reputable scientists did just that a number of years ago, under the aegis of the Human Genome Project. We know where every single AGCT goes in our randy little genes. That knowledge should enable us, in the years to come, to delicately craft designer medications that will work best for you, or for that guy over there. Or maybe that dudette in the front row.

Handy thing, knowing yer entire genome.

Imagine my excitement when I learned that Dr. Melba Ketchum, a Texas-based forensic scientist and the face in front of the genome-sequencing effort, announced to a disbelieving world that she was getting ready to map the elusive possibly-primate’s genetic sequence.

Of course, the disbelieving LAME-stream science community poo-pooed the idea. So Ketchum and the others in her group, took their paper describing the Bigfoot genome and got it published in a scientific journal: the online De Novo . In case you don’t keep up with the scientific literature and find you don’t know the name of this journal, that’s because, prior to this paper being published, it didn’t actually exist. And the only paper that the De Novo ever printed was Ketchum’s paper on Bigfoot.

That’s right. Ketchum and her group purchased an existing journal, renamed it De Novo and then published their paper. A paper which: conclusively proves that the Sasquatch exist as an extant hominin and are a direct maternal descendant of modern humans.”

According to Ketchum and her group, the DNA shows a distinct speciation effect, showing that Bigfoot is not human, but a mix of human and something else.

So, yeah. That’s that. Case closed. Bigfoot exists and is the product of relatively recent intermingling between humans and some other primate. By relatively recently, of course, we’re talking tens of thousands of years. Geologic time, you see. Unfortunately for Ketchum and the rest of her group, there’s a whole bunch of scientists who don’t see it the same way she does, including John Timmer, the science editor for Ars Technica.

Timmer and other biologists looked at the samples and saw contamination of the sample, bad science and decomposition of the supposed DNA sample. In other words, it wouldn’t work. Period.

My initial analysis suggested that the “genome sequence” was an artifact, the product of a combination of contamination, degradation, and poor assembly methods. And every other biologist I showed it to reached the same conclusion. Ketchum couldn’t disagree more. “We’ve done everything in our power to make sure the paper was absolutely above-board and well done,” she told Ars. “I don’t know what else we could have done short of spending another few years working on the genome. But all we wanted to do was prove they existed, and I think we did that.”

Timmer has a fantastic article that goes through Ketchum’s research, talking with the good doctor herself, step by step and points out where things got a little wonky.

This is a great example of public science journalism. He’s not out there to make fun of Ketchum. He’s not some sort of rabid disbeliever out to debunk the “TRUTH” (notice the all-caps. Yeah, it’s that kind of truth.). He’s a scientist, a journalist and a curious man.

Go check it out. It makes for a fascinating read.

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More Like Power-Of-Suggestion Bands

by Richard

If you’re at all connected to the recent sports culture (that is, you happen to catch a few games on the television now and then), then you dudes have probably seen athletes wearing these power necklaces or power bracelets.

And you’ve certainly seen the commercials for those special bracelets and necklaces that (and I’m paraphrasing here) increase your body’s energistic flow, promote balance, enhance strength and (in an unspoken assertion) make certain dangly bits a bit more dangly, if you know what I mean.

Now, call me cynical (Hey, you? Mr. Cynical!), but I’ve always looked at those commercials with a huge amount of skepticism and an equally large amount of disgust. Especially since I started reading this great book about quacks and scientific hoaxes called Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks. It’s a great book about the importance of actually using the scientific method to investigate spurious claims and how certain industries try to pull the wool over our collective eyes with a whole bunch of verbal shenanigans.

Anyway, with all that in mind, I found this, from the United Kingdom newspaper The Telegraph, very, very interesting.

Manufacturers had claimed that the wristbands, sported by the likes of Kevin Pietersen, David Beckham and Ian Poulter, helped improve an athlete’s strength, balance and flexibility.

But amid ongoing scepticism regarding the £38 accessory’s supposed benefits, Power Balance have confessed they have no credible proof to support their assertions and have offered customers a refund.

A statement released on the company’s website read: “In our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility.

“We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

“If you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologise and offer a full refund.”

Remember, it’s from England, which explains the strange price and even stranger spelling of apologize.

So, what does this tell us? Well, what I think is that basically we need to do a bit more thinking before we start to swallow whole any sort of bizarre or too-good-to-be-true claims. As they say in UFO investigations (and, no, I’m not saying they have any validity, but the saying is sound), extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, these things just don’t show. All they show is that we, as a group, are incredibly gullible. But we don’t have to stay that way.

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