Data shows that male animals are not naturally promiscuous, nor are females naturally reticent

It's a commonplace that in the natural world, males attempt to mate with multiple females, while females attempt to entice males into being monogamous; this is attributed to the high cost of producing an egg and bearing children (or laying eggs) for females, and the low cost of sperm production for males. Read the rest

Kellyanne Conway: lies are "alternative facts" and if the press says otherwise, there's gonna be trouble

Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer inaugurated his first day on the job by telling easily falsifiable lies about the relative sizes of the Trump inauguration crowds and those of the Obama administration. Read the rest

Obviously fake "paid protester" site sets right wing media aflutter

Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing "deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact" purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017). Read the rest

Inside this Star Wars blanket's box, a card informing you that you've just waived your right to sue

When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest

A potential college course on detecting and combating bullshit in all its forms

University of Washington profs Carl T. Bergstrom (Biology) and Jevin West (Information School) have proposed a course called "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data" that characterizes "the majority of administrative activity" as "sophisticated exercise(s) in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit" and aims to train students to "navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument." Read the rest

Why are license "agreements" so uniformly terrible?

An excerpt from The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, by Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, coming this Friday from MIT Press.

"Power Poses" are bullshit

In 2010, three psychologists published a paper on "power poses", with their finding that people who adopted "power poses" -- think of superheroes on skyscrapers -- felt more powerful and took more risks. Read the rest

Trump campaign chief: it's not lying if he didn't know whether it was true or not when he said it

Donald Trump said Lester Holt, tonight's debate moderator, was a Democrat. Holt is in fact a Republican. Leaving aside why Trump assumed he was a Democrat, when called on this mistake, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway gave this response: Read the rest

Broadcasters should time-delay presidential debates, allowing them to mute any outright lies

Dan Gillmor writes: "Time for journalists to declare a boycott on bullshit. Start with muting the sound when Trump lies during the debate." Read the rest

Oppps.ru: patient zero in Russia's fake news epidemic

Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect. Read the rest

Why Facebook's "It's too hard" excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit

On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest

Facebook returns trending picks to mechanical feed only to see total garbage float to top

After being accused of political bias in its trending news picks, Facebook returned to a purely algorithmic feed. Within hours, the machine picked a gross fake-news hatebait item claiming Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was being forced out of the network, thereby forcing a human being to remove it from the trending feed. Bias! Read the rest

British Muslim detained for reading a book about Syria while on a plane

A British woman of Muslim descent was detained and questioned by police under terror laws after a flight crew member noticed she was reading a book about Syrian art while flying to Turkey.

The Thomson Airways attendant reported her for “suspicious behavior,” which amounted to reading a book.

Read the rest

Flossing is bullshit

The Associated Press filed Freedom of Information requests with the US government to find the evidence behind the Surgeon General's admonition to floss regularly for dental health and found that there was no good evidentiary basis for flossing. Read the rest

How a cooked Assange quote ended up media gospel

Wikileaks, the clearing house for state secrets, seems more about founder Julian Assange's grudges these days: especially the one for Hillary Clinton. Much fuss was made over a quote—that he had "enough evidence" to guarantee an indictment of her—that was widely attributed to him. It turns out, though, that the quote doesn't check out: most point to a mangled interview on the UK's ITV where it isn't even said. Jesse Singal set out to track down a source that no-one bothered to verify. It's a surprisingly tantalizing and teasing journey, but the tl;dr seems to be that the quote was originally fabricated by the blog Zero Hedge. Read the rest

Olympics to companies: mentioning "Olympics" in social media is a trademark violation

The US Olympics Committee has sent a letter to companies that sponsor athletes but don't sponsor the games, warning them that mentioning the Olympics in social media is a trademark violation. Read the rest

Web Sheriff's legal scare strategy: throw everything at the wall, hope something sticks

Web Sheriff has been retained by the mysterious celeb(s) at the center of the super injunction over an olive-oil threesome in a paddling pool, and as we learned, merely mentioning that such a thing exists is enough to lure them out of their caves and onto your doorstep, from which vantage they will endlessly pastebomb a series of legal threats, each more bizarre and incoherent than the last. Read the rest

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