Gongol.com Archives: July 2013
Brian Gongol

July 13, 2013

News Do not fall for the story that "psychic powers" found a murdered boy in California
A woman claims she had "visions" that told her where to find the body of a missing boy. But let's examine the evidence: The body was found on the property of his family's home, which was a highly likely place to search. And the body was actually located when her kids (10 and 12 years old, mind you) smelled the body and saw a mound in the dirt. None of this -- not one thing -- suggests anything other than a hunch (backed by a little use of Google Maps) that is convenient to back-fill with a good storyline about "visions" and a little dramatic license. ■ What reasonable person, legitimately believing him- or herself to discover a dead body, would bring along two pre-teen children for the search, undoubtedly leaving them with terrible memories for life? But, no...this story will be used to legitimize the role of self-appointed "psychics", who waste the precious resources of law enforcement and give worried families false hopes and fake reasons to grieve. ■ Everyone has intuition -- that's just the result of the subconscious mind assembling conclusions while the conscious mind isn't paying attention. And some people may be better than others at assembling those intuitions -- but there is still no evidence to prove that anyone has psychic powers of the type widely claimed in these cases. Purely by coincidence (and practice), "psychics" will occasionally get a call right, just like some people will win lotteries by choosing their children's birthdays. There is no magical power behind it -- and anyone who claims that there is must show the evidence to be believed. ■ A great way to lose an argument is to overstate your case. "Psychics" overstate their case, when they could be saying "I have a hunch, and I think my intuition is better than yours."

News Those fake pilot names reported in the Asiana crash? The NTSB blames an intern.

Health Always wash your fruits and vegetables
The parasite cyclospora (which causes the illness cyclosporasis) has been found on vegetables being sold in Iowa and Nebraska, and it's making people sick. According to the CDC, "This most commonly occurs when food or water contaminated with feces is consumed." And now you know why safe, reliable public systems for sewage disposal and clean drinking water are essential.

Business and Finance Casey's is the nation's #5 pizza chain
The convenience-store chain ranks nationally as a pizza franchise, thanks to the in-store pizza sales. Now Valentino's, a Nebraska-based pizza chain, wants to mimic the success by working its way into convenience stores.

Business and Finance You are about 0.5 to 0.75 percentage points more risky than the Federal government
That is, from a credit perspective. The baseline US home mortgage rate tracks very closely with the 30-year Treasury rate. So closely, in fact, that it explains almost precisely why mortgage rates have jumped so much in the last month -- Treasury rates have jumped, too.

Computers and the Internet Lawsuit alleges over-broad Florida law makes computers and smartphones illegal
The law was intended to crack down on slot machines, but it's pretty hard to distinguish electronic slot machines from other computers, particularly when the legal definitions are imprecise.

Broadcasting This week in trends, tips, and technology
Show notes for the WHO Radio Wise Guys, airing at 1:00 pm CT on WHO Radio.

Recent radio podcasts