Apr 292010

I’m a skeptic and a photographer. Certain subjects are so ridiculous that to take them seriously enough for a formal skeptical analysis seems like a waste of time. But people in general and skeptics in particular vary in what they take seriously. For me, I took Bigfoot seriously enough to devote a great deal of time investigating one particular and quite esoteric branch of the mystery, namely “Bigfoot’s Dermal Ridges.”

But out in the real world most people equate the subject of Bigfoot with Weekly World News stuff, and so to even take the subject seriously enough to look into it seems like a foolish waste of time.

These days, the notion of a “Hollow Earth” is so ridiculous that it would be a waste of time to even investigate its claims, as there are numerous subjects that are vastly more important to investigate like anthropogenic global warming, vaccine safety, and homeopathy.

Some time back, I was visiting friends in Astoria, Oregon. Jan took me to the nearby town of Seaside which thrives on tourist business, especially in the summer. He took a photo of me in front of the window display of a palm reader.

For me, palm reading is about one click lower than astrology on the scale of what should be taken seriously.

I posted my photo to the popular photo sharing site Flickr way back in December. My characterization of palm reading was a parody; that one could read dermal ridges with the same degree of accuracy as reading flexion creases. Surprise, surprise, several months pass, and “Zorina” the palm reader wanted me to take the photo down! Instead of arguing that her palm reading was valid or accurate, she wanted the criticism of it to go away! It’s the lowest and sleaziest form of rebuttal, something that Simon Singh recently had to endure.

But I’m no lawyer, so I decided to utilize one of the Internet’s best resources for generalized questions; Metafilter’s AskMeFi. I got a number of very useful answers concerning copyright, and I’m satisfied that I’m not violating copyright by publicly posting my photograph.

One poster on Metafilter mentioned the Streisand Effect which is in fact happening to the photo on Flickr. If “Zorina” had never complained in the first place, she would have never become the butt of Internet ridicule!

 Posted by on 04/29/2010 Pseudoscience Comments Off on The Streisand Effect