Footage from last year’s Fringe Festival. A talk on creationism for Skeptics on the Fringe.
People find my blogs using the weirdest search queries. Of course, I expect a strange mixture of results since I blog about science, reptiles, religion, alternative medicines, heroes of mine, and random shenanigans I get up to. Recently a friend was sharing the stranger queries that found her blog and I showed her mine. It was then suggested that the quantity and bizarre nature of the search queries would lend themselves well to an epic poem. In a wonderfully productive way to spend an afternoon, I have constructed an epic poem written using only search enquiries from my two main blogs. Every line is a separate and complete search query that has found either this blog or my personal blog. Enjoy.
A Chimpanzee’s Memory.
Composed by Peter Harrison. Written by the people who searched for his blogs.
I question my existence.
What is my scientific name?
Do I have powers?
Fire came out of my fingers.
I went to London.
The British Museum has a stairway with a statue.
It was a strange museum.
Images of rare ocean fish.
Pictures of anacondas eating people.
Photos of extraterrestrials.
Photo shoots of people at the beach.
Recent pictures of the Obama girls.
An interesting museum.
They had animals.
Really strange animals.
Dolphins sleeping with one eye open.
Other bizarre animals.
The coolest parasites.
Every single starter Pokemon.
How many types of Iguana are there?
Really strange animals.
Animals and cunts,
from the Cayman Islands.
There was a section for,
The most recognised names in mankind’s history.
Good fucking grief.
Atheists won’t believe I speak to ex-presidents.
Neil Armstrong dancing.
I love the way you move, the way you walk inside the room.
I have so many questions but not enough time.
How can I tell if a religious person is a reptile?
Why do our bodies become lighter after death?
How long can I hold a python upside down before it breaks?
Will homeopathy help my penis?
Is Sarah Jessica Parker attractive?
How do you make a cake in the form of a camera?
Peace for all mankind tattoo?
Rubik’s cube tattoo?
Rowan Atkinson tattoo?
Government arresting psychics over earthquake prediction.
Is it worth predicting earthquakes knowing it might not be right?
His religious experience confronting ovaries.
Icelandic people and,
Caused Dawkins to shut down his forum.
Peter Harrison vs Richard Dawkins
Please don’t pray for me.
Is Richard Dawkins dead?
Religion is funny.
Different forms of bullshit.
Lessons in life:
1. Everything is a miracle.
People with no genitalia.
2. Science has made god redundant.
3. Tweet in Japanese.
4. Don’t pee in the ocean.
Things that make me angry:
A distinct lack of morale in the shed.
A pink Rubik’s cube.
Why do blonde girls like pink?
How to tell if a toy is for girls or boys:
I stuck it in my eye.
Never again if they don’t pay.
Things that make me sad:
A chimpanzee’s memory,
He died from laughter.
A friend’s war cartoon,
Something that makes me smile but it’s not real.
Things that make me happy:
I’m a cowboy riding a dinosaur.
Riding a fucking dinosaur.
At least I can say I’ve lived.
Footage from last year’s Fringe Festival. A talk on creationism for Skeptics on the Fringe.
This Wednesday (3/7/2013) I’ll be speaking at Oxford Skeptics in the Pub about creationism. I spent a year working with the world’s top creationist organisations, collating the strongest arguments for creationism, so that I could discover and present the ultimate argument in favour of creationism. It was a serious investigation, but it might be unintentionally hilarious (like creationism).
The talk takes place at St Aldate’s Tavern and begins at 7:30 pm.
A shiny new Facebook page for my science/comedy/magic shenanigans.
Update: My animal won! The night was a sell-out and fantastic fun, thanks to all who came along! It was great to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and to make some new ones. The other acts were hilarious (and hideous), and Simon was a fantastic compere! My animal was Promachoteuthis sulcus, which isn’t very well known so doesn’t even have a common name. At the event, I proposed the “human-gobbed squid” or “gob-faced squid” to a large crowd. It was agreed at this event and at the Festival of the Spoken Nerd event on Friday that the animal should be known as the gob-faced squid. With several hundred people from these events now referring to it as the gob-faced squid, it’s the most common name it has as a relatively unknown creature! I’m happy and strangely proud that my animal won the evening. Here is the new mascot for the Scottish branch of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society:
This is a message for all the amazing people who have come to the brilliant Edinburgh International Science Festival. If you’re up for some shenanigans, and don’t have a weak stomach, come along to see us at the Ugly Animal Preservation Society! If comedy and nasty ugly are your things, you’ll be in a disgusting heaven!
As well as myself, you’ll see performers including Helen Arney (Uncaged Monkeys, Festival of the Spoken Nerd), Simon Watt (Inside Nature’s Giants), Steve Cross (Science Showoff), the guys from Punk Science, and more! It will be funny, interesting, and horrific in equal measure.
It’s on Wednesday night, 9pm-11pm. You can get all the details here!
Italian courts have sentenced several scientists and a government official to prison for six years over the L’Aquila earthquake. I don’t intend to dwell on the story, because it has already been covered very well by others. People are discussing what happened, whether these scientists should be jailed or not, and even what they’re actually being accused of. Are they being punished for failing to predict an earthquake, or not communicating the risks accurately? These are all important questions. But I want to ask a different question. If scientists fail to predict an event, or make a prediction that fails to come true, they can apparently be held accountable. Why is this not the case for charlatans and bullshit-merchants throughout the world selling bogus “cures” or predicting natural disasters? This blog entry is a trip down memory lane to 2009 for a story about superstition, censorship, psychics, and earthquakes. Read the rest of this entry
For the third year running, Edinburgh Skeptics will be organising Skeptics On The Fringe. If you somehow haven’t heard of the world’s longest skepticism festival, then allow me to explain. Taking place throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, Skeptics On The Fringe consists of free lectures and performances from skeptics and scientists for a whole month!
This year will be my second appearance for Skeptics On The Fringe, and I’ll be debuting a never-before-seen talk about creationism. For almost a year I’ve been working with (that’s right, with) some of the world’s biggest creationist organisations in an attempt to collate the strongest arguments possible in support of creationism. We can laugh away so many absurdly hilarious creationist claims as we come across them on blogs and YouTube comments, but what about the big guns? Given one chance to prove their point, what evidence do the world’s most powerful creationist groups cite? I’ve been collating a list.
I’m talking on Thursday the 9th of August. The venue is the Banshee Labyrinth and the show starts at 8:30pm. It’s free, though I do encourage you to make a small donation if possible. The lovely folks at Edinburgh Skeptics volunteer their free time in order to run a month of daily events for us lucky buggers.
You can find out more about Skeptics On The Fringe here.
I’ve been asked to speak about the science of lucid dreaming tomorrow (30/7/2012) at Hackney Skeptics in the Pub. It’s been a very popular talk that’s went down well at Skeptics on the Fringe, Winchester Science Festival, and other Skeptics in the Pub groups including Birmingham, Reading, Nottingham, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen. If you’re in the area, come along and say hi!
Update: Thanks to everyone who came along! I really enjoyed this one, especially the Q&A. Some really thought-provoking stuff! The audience were great, the venue is brilliant, and the organisers were awesome.
I also got Ned Evett to sign his album, Treehouse. All in all a great night. Cheers!
At the end of the week, Winchester Science Festival is taking place from Friday through to Sunday. I can’t wait to see the talks and performances, and I’m fortunate enough to be taking the stage on Saturday morning at 9am to talk about the actual science behind our understanding of lucid dreaming. Do come along if you can pull yourself away from your own dreams that early! All three days are filled with fantastic speakers. It should be a great weekend.
You can find out more at the website: www.winchesterscifest.org
Or follow on Twitter: @WinSciFest
Update: The first Winchester Science Festival was amazing! Well done to James Thomas for organising the entire event! I saw some incredible talks and performances, I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to an awesome audience, and along with Simon Watt I got an extra set as Lewis Dartnell was unfortunately ill on the day of his talk (it’s all good, he’s fine now). I hope to come along for a second one next year!
On my personal blog I’ve written a short anniversary piece for a conservation tragedy that occurred on this date four years ago. I know many readers arrive here due to an interest in reptiles, so I thought I’d link to it.
Homeopathy bugs me more than most alternative medicines because it’s at one extreme. It’s a “treatment” with no active ingredients. Proponents may claim there are still active ingredients, but any are removed during the process of creating the homeopathic remedies. At the opposite extreme we have TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). What are the ingredients in that? Who knows. One serious problem with TCM is that many of the ingredients that go into these “medicines” remain a mystery, and you have no idea what you are consuming. The other problem is that the nonsense, superstitious, and pseudoscientific thinking behind the “special properties” of the specific ingredients mean we have people killing rhinos for their horns, tigers for their penis (actually many species for their penis), bears for their bile (which is extracted through a permanent hole in a living bear’s abdomen), and all sorts of other charming ingredients with no medicinal value (snake oil, sea horses, turtle’s plastrons etc). While TCM carries the same risks as alternative medicines like homeopathy in that they are an alternative to real medicine (great if you want an alternative to health), they also may contain unknown ingredients that could damage your body, and they can do damage to ecosystems and biodiversity.
So, how exactly do you find find out what’s in TCM? Science!
The family Delphinidae, known commonly as the oceanic dolphins, are a clade of toothed whales (Odontoceti) within the order Cetacea. Most people have a decent understanding of what dolphins are, being smaller than most whales, and entirely carnivorous. Like all Cetacea, the dolphins are marine mammals with terrestrial ancestors. DNA sequence data and fossil evidence indicate that millions of years ago, these ancestors (Artiodactyl – even-toed ungulates) made the transition from a land-dwelling to aquatic lifestyle. The extreme change of environment resulted in selection pressures forming a diverse range of adaptations that allow the Delphinidae and close relatives to survive in the oceans. Some of these adaptations are quite well understood, while others are currently the subject of intense research and debate among scientists. Read the rest of this entry