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13 balderdash to the extent that we understand what

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13. Balderdash. To the extent that we understand what the author is saying, we don’t believe it. These observations conflict with the background knowledge of most sane people. 14. Since these claims are made by staff writer for a reputable nontechnical science magazine (you can look him up), he is probably well informed; and since they are printed in Esquire , a magazine that is not in general a suspicious source of information; and also since they coincide with our won observations that a person’s features seem to become more pronounced with age, we are inclined to accept them. The claims are not particularly precise, and they are clearly general statements not intended to apply to every individual to the same degree. All this said, we would be very pleased to see a more authoritative source—for example a professor of physiology writing in a science journal—pronounce them one and all false. 15. Probably true IM – 4 | 6
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16. This comes from a credible source. Without hearing conflicting claims from other equally credible sources, we’d accept it as a reliable assessment of the evidence as of that date. 17. Probably true, although we’re a bit skeptical. We’re generally suspicious of claims made by promotional groups like this—they are notoriously interested parties. But we think they couldn’t get away with this if there weren’t some truth to it. (Incidentally, research indicates that exercise such as weight training is a larger factor in the strengthening of bone than is extra calcium in the diet.) 18. We’d guess this has at lest a slightly better than even chance of being true. Of course, since Cook has the claim stated by a fictional character in a novel, he is not accountable for its truth. Still we’d expect him to know something of which he speaks and to be moderately careful about getting things right just to keep his reputation among his readers. 19. We’d give this one credit. We wouldn’t trust the AP to get all the details exactly right, but we’ve certainly heard of more bizarre things happening in Wal-Mart stores. ▲20. Although the Defamer Blog bills itself as “the Hollywood gossip sheet,” which suggests that it trades in rumor and innuendo, this claim is apparently true. It is at least partly confirmed by a Fox News report (September 7, 2007) that Hilton filed a federal lawsuit against Hallmark Cards over a $2.49 greeting card that uses her photo and “her trademarked phrase, ‘That’s Hot.’” Fox attributed the story to The Smoking Gun, a Web site that’s been around for several years. We give rather less credence to the claim (published on the speciousreport.com ) that Ms. Hilton also lays claim to the following assertion: “I have absolutely no talent or personality yet I’m world famous, have a hit television series, a best-selling book, and my own record label, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God.” Exercise 4-16 We think the credibility of the “Petition Project,” which Mr. Watts endorsed, is called into question on at least one ground. If the writer’s claim is true that the petition was produced by Frederick Seitz, and that Mr. Seitz had produced reports denying the health-damaging effects of cigarette smoking while he was in the pay of tobacco companies, then one would want corroborating evidence that the claims made in the Petition Project were true.
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