The McGurk Effect – Is Seeing Believing?

Great example of the McGurk Effect taken from the BBC show Horizon.

From Wikipedia (Check out that last sentence):

The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon which demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. It suggests that speech perception is multimodal, that is, that it involves information from more than one sensory modality. The McGurk effect is sometimes called the McGurk-MacDonald effect. It was first described in a paper by Harry McGurk and John MacDonald in 1976.

This effect may be experienced when a video of one phoneme‘s production is dubbed with a sound-recording of a different phoneme being spoken. Often, the perceived phoneme is a third, intermediate phoneme. For example, a visual /ga/ combined with an audio /ba/ is often heard as /da/. Further research has shown that it can exist throughout whole sentences.[citation needed] The effect is very robust; that is, knowledge about it seems to have little effect on one’s perception of it. This is different from certain optical illusions, which break down once one ‘sees through’ them.

Study into the McGurk effect is being used to produce more accurate speech recognition programs by making use of a video camera and lip reading software. It has also been examined in relation to witness testimony; Wareham & Wright’s 2005 study showed that inconsistent visual information can change the perception of spoken utterances, suggesting that the McGurk effect may have many influences in everyday perception.

Via The Daily

Snake gives ‘virgin birth’ to extraordinary babies

A female boa constrictor snake has given birth to two litters of extraordinary offspring.

Evidence suggests the mother snake has had multiple virgin births, producing 22 baby snakes that have no father.

More than that, the genetic make-up of the baby snakes is unlike any previously recorded among vertebrates, the group which includes almost all animals with a backbone.

Details are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Read on


Science saves

From the author of the video:

Yes, many of those thinkers to whom I owe my mental freedom were religious, like Newton, a Christian, who believed God made the Earth but who then showed me why the Earth would have formed without a god’s help. Or Plank and Schrodinger, two more Christians, who believed God ruled the Universe but showed me how God could not control a single electron. The discoveries these and many other people made, the laws they are famous for, are the very things that make gods getting humans pregnant, or angels whispering to prophets in caves, look infantile. I could never and would never question their intelligence. Their honesty and intellectual consistency are a different matter.


I can stand on the shoulders of giants and see what even they seemingly could not.

I’m not against the Creator(s), if they exist, if they ever existed. I’m not against the search for the Creator(s). What blows MY mind is that people think religion has anything to do with it at all.

Via Pharyngula

God steered the election

The twenty ten election belongs to the republicans.

I’m not upset or angry. I’m not worried or destroyed. I didn’t wake up to the news and throw my coffee cup across the room. I am rather cynical about it, really.

On the election night in 2008, I was playing pool at my league match. The owner of the bar where we were playing had a conniption when Obama won. She shut off all the TVs and cried that America was going to plunge down the toilet. I am not blowing smoke. I had to call my dad, a life-long, staunch republican and have him talk her off the ledge at one point.

All of us who had voted for Obama tried to console her. She wouldn’t have it.

“We’ve been in the toilet for eight years,” most of us said. She wallowed in her sorrow.

During six years of Bush, I became more politically active. I became a rally-er. I started going to war protests and gay rights protests.

You may not know this, but I voted republican in 2000. At the time, I was still searching for who I was. I came from a republican family. Of course I was going to vote the way they voted. Despite being considered an adult, I had not yet formulated adult thoughts. When you grow up in fear of hell, being a republican is a no brainer. I didn’t want to be a “no-brainer.” I was taught that I had a brain, to use it, and being a staunch anything isn’t a smart way to be.

Long before I moved to Chicago, I was finding that I wasn’t all that conservative culturally.

From 1994 to 1999, I lived near Asheville, NC, which exposed me to diversity and ideas that the Yeshua Fog™ shunned. For the first year and a half out of college, I worked as a designer and an advertising sales person at The Black Mountain News, a weekly newspaper in a small town 25 minutes from Asheville. My favorite people in Black Mountain were two lesbians who owned a framing shop. Through their friendship, I learned a lot of ways culture and politics made their relationship difficult.

The more I met people in Asheville, the more secular humanist I became and less “Christian.” When you grow up in a Christian home and school, most things secular are painted as great evil. When you step outside of Christianity, Christianity becomes what it is, a Hieronymus Bosch painting, a scary, dreary place, where only one panel is beautiful and the rest is a scary nightmare.

My friends in Black Mountain invited me to their parties where I talked to professors and secular-minded people who encouraged me to dispel the myths and erroneous education from my youth. They didn’t say, “Hey, you should think such and such.” They basically said, “Hey, check out these books.” And I did. At first, there was confusion. But once I allowed myself to let go of what I was taught, and embrace what I taught myself, my mind became a more peaceful place.

I moved to Illinois in December of 1999, and after I figured out that a culture of diversity and an emphasis on humanity is much better suited to a guy like me, I registered independent.

My income didn’t work well during Bush’s economy. Yes, I made money. I saved and saved, but I was taxed to high hell. I used my accountant to help me keep as much as possible, but damn, it was tough.

Tina and I bought our condo during the peak of the housing bubble, and we’ve watched the value of our investment plummet because of economic pressures long preceding Obama’s presidency. I’m not blaming Bush. I am only pointing out that it wasn’t a surprise when the economy tanked.

You showed up late, tea baggers, and your name sucks (literally and figuratively)

I can’t figure out why the Tea Baggers showed up so late to the protest party. They should have been rallying and protesting while Bush was obviously flushing the toilet during his administration. They should have formed no later than 2006. As it is, their protests are way too late to have any credibility with me. Although, look who’s wearing the pointy dunce cap after last night, right?

At the same time, a republican coup is not as dismal as I might think either. Or you might think. I’m not worried. I’m fiscally very conservative. I don’t use credit, except to keep credit. My only debt is to my mortgage.

I run my business like a tight ship, and it’s the way I expect other people to run the government and their businesses. I can dream right?

Tax wise, I had an amazing year in 2009. I was looking forward to how the democratic powerhouse would turn out should they have kept power for the next two years. Tina and I seemed to have been reaping some benefits.

The difference between me and all the yahoos screaming about politics, about taxes, I consult my professional accountant. She helps me see what’s going on, and while people email, facebook and blog about complete nonsense, I drop my accountant a line and say, “Hey, what does this mean for me?” And she says, “Hey, it’s not what they say. Keep on keeping on. You’re doing fine.”

In my mind, you have to be a moron to let dismal propaganda ruin your day. You have to be a sucker to forward that stuff with any ounce of seriousness. To anyone who believes anything that arrives in their email box with a subject line that says, “FWD” followed by a bullshit line like, “Your tax dollars at work,” it’s likely bullshit.

What I’ve found is that it’s one thing to know people who forward; it’s another thing to not forward that malarkey.

This whole post came from the republicans taking the country back last night. Great job, republicans. I’ll pat you on the back.

If you don’t mind, could you tell your constituency to calm down now.