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Blue Monday, bad science and nonsense PR

Blue Monday, bad science and nonsense PR | Michael Marshall | Science |

Excellent blog post by Michael Marshall on The Guardian science blog on pseudo-scientific nonsense created by PR companies and dutifully/lazily reported on by newspapers. As a sceptic – in the sense that I don’t necessarily take things at face value, rather than just being a curmudgeon who doesn’t believe anything anyone says – it’s very easy for me to see through the PR fluff and see rubbish like the notion of the most depressing day of the year for what it is. What I hadn’t really appreciated, because I was too lazy to think it through, was the pernicious effect of what you might think is at worst harmless nonsense:

[F]or many people, the only interaction they have with science is via the pages of the newspapers, and every academic who puts their name to a cheap PR story cashes in a little of their credibility, and a little of the legitimacy of their profession in the eyes of the general public.

When serious science is under attack from the kind of idiot who thinks bad weather is caused by a god angered by the legalisation of gay marriage, we really don’t need the fluffy science taking up column inches and making people think scientific research is a money-making sham.

73-year-old man creates magnificent paintings using nothing but Excel

I spent most of the working day today in Excel hell so it was good to see this on Bored Panda: 73-Year-Old Man Creates Magnificent Paintings Using Nothing But Excel.

Being the sceptical kind, I downloaded the raw file just to check the art was genuinely done in Excel and, as far as I can tell, it has been although disappointingly, and unsurprisingly, it was done using the rudimentary artwork tools in Excel rather than, as would have been brilliant, by colouring in individual tiny cells. Don’t get me wrong – the work that’s gone into it is impressive. Just not as impressive as I thought it was going to be.

How dogs really drink water

A gif version of this was doing the rounds on Twitter earlier but I made the effort to find a decent quality video. Just one thing to say about this: searching for ‘dog drinking’ may give lead to some NSFW links appearing on the results page…