Skeptical Thoughts

August 2021

Here are the topics I chose to talk about on RadioLive for the month. Some of them may not have been mentioned on the radio due to a lack of time.


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  • August 9, 2021

  • Hate Speech Submission

    The NZ Skeptics put together a submission for the Ministry of Justice in response to their new Hate Speech proposals. You can read the submission on our website, but I thought it would be fun to use EleutherAI's free online GPT-J-6G deep learning model to write a submission for us. I gave the software the first few paragraphs of our real submission, and then clicked the button to guess the next hundred or so words. I then fed the result back into the algorithm so that it could create the next block of text, and so on.

    7 min read, 1256 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Free Speech

  • QAnonsense

    Using an older algorithm, GPT-2, with a fairly small data set that it had been pre-trained on, I fine tuned this particular piece of software on the entire back catalogue of QAnon posts. Below are 6 QAnon posts - three are the genuine article, and three are fakes created by GPT-2. Can you figure out which is which?

    2 min read, 349 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy, QAnon

  • August 22, 2021

  • Lockdown Bingo

    It feels like it was inevitable that some of the conspiracy theorists, or “freedom fighters” as they call themselves, would end up protesting our latest level 4 lockdown. I’m not surprised that their shared delusion that lockdown is just a ploy by the government to permanently remove our freedoms would cause them to risk the health of all of us. But it has been disappointing to see a few hundred people around the country gathering to protest at a time when we’ve all been told to stay at home to limit the spread of a deadly disease.

    7 min read, 1226 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: COVID, Lockdown, Arrests

  • An alternative legal opinion

    Of all the people who spoke publicly about this week’s lockdown protest arrests, Amy Benjamin, a senior lecturer of international law at AUT, was the most surprising to me.

    2 min read, 302 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: COVID, Lockdown

  • (Another) Psychic Failure

    This one’s a little light hearted, and not overly surprising - Kelvin Cruickshank, one of our most famous local psychics, appears to have failed to have been warned by the spirits about the impending lockdown. Kelvyn had booked a live event for Thursday in New Plymouth, in what turned out to be the second day of our national lockdown. David Chisholm, a member of our Facebook group, managed to take a great screenshot of the event being advertised under a large banner warning of event date changes due to our COVID lockdown.

    1 min read, 96 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: COVID, Lockdown