Friday, July 31, 2015

Research for Dummies

I heard it on the internet, so it must be true! Yeah, that's the punchline of a million jokes. Of course, information sources like Demand Media (parent company of eHow) like to pretend that they're paragons of perfection, but they aren't always ummm "accurate." For example, consider the bad research of eHowian Mark Fitzpatrick, which resulted in the erroneous information he passed along in "What Are the Dangers of Bottled Water in Your Car?

Mark's "answer" is, from the looks of it, spurred by an internet meme about plastic water bottles, driven by a chain email. Here at the Antisocial Network, we have a simple policy: assume that any statement made in a chain email is utter bull, and you won't be disappointed. Whatever the case, Mark's "research" discovered, or so he tells his readers, that

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Weathering for Dummies

One of the ways in which eHow.com always enables dumbassery among its freelancers is  the structure of its content: writers are not allowed to write a conclusion, merely an agglomeration of factoids. This increases the number of keywords for SEO, but is detrimental to quality. Take, for example, writer Annette Vee (yeah, sure, her name is "Vee"), and her piece entitled "What Type of Weathering Occurs in Deserts." It was so off-topic that the site had to retitle it "Weathering Effects (with pictures)" (and then move it to Sciencing.com)! 

Sadly, even those changes didn't improve Annette's inability to inform... for instance, Ms. Vee tells us

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crystals for Dummies

The folks at the Antisocial Network aren't much into the belief that crystals have powers. You're welcome to hold such a belief, but we're more convinced in our control over our own lives than are inanimate objects chipped off the wall of a mine somewhere. Still, we couldn't help laughing at the bullshit advice eHow.com's Sheri Lamb offered up for some metaphysically-challenged ninny who wanted to know "How to Tell if a Crystal Is Real" (now moved to OurPastimes.com by Leaf Group). We start with the assumption that said ninny wants to know not whether it's real -- most people can tell whether something's real or not by simply touching it -- but whether it's genuine. Unfortunately, Sheri wasn't much help. She starts out kinda right...
"Crystals consist of atoms, molecules or ions that extend to every spatial dimension in a repeating pattern."
Well, she got the "Crystals consist of atoms..." right, though the rest of it? not so much. We aren't really sure what "extend to every spatial dimension" might mean, but the repeating pattern thing is sort of right - assuming she means that any mineral has a specific crystalline structure. But enough science: Sheri's answering a question for someone in la-la-land, so why quibble? Let's see what else she has to say:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lumber for Dummies

There are dummies out there, and then there are dumbasses. At the Antisocial Network, we think the difference is that a dummy admits it when he or she doesn't know something. For us, a dumbass is someone who doesn't know anything but babbles on about it anyway. Take, for instance, Cheryl Ess of eHow.com, who clearly knows nothing about dimensional lumber, yet collected her fifteen bucks from Demand Media for misinforming readers in "What Is the Radius of the Edges of 2X4 Lumber?" (now safely ensconced at Hunker.com)

How do we know that Cheryl's a dumbass who wouldn't know a 2-by-4 if it bit her on the ass? because of mangled explanations like this one:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Map Scales for Dummies

We have no scientific proof, of course, but at the Antisocial Network we're convinced that if the first sentence in supposedly informative content contains the phrase "according to the... dictionary," there's a better than even chance that the content is total bullshit. Oh, it may be right, but that's probably only by accident. What's more likely is that it contains misinterpretation and misstatements galore. Take, for instance, Michael Keenan (sometimes known as Mark Kennan) writing "How to Use Map Scales," posted to -- where else -- eHow.com (it's since been moved to Sciencing.com). Mark's first paragraph?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Planets for Dummies

We're not going to get into an argument about whether Pluto is a planet or not. We're not even going to ask the question, "If Pluto is a dog, what the hell is Goofy?" No were' just here to point out that Sheri Lamb, freelance contributor to eHow.com, is an astronomical dumbass. We know this, because of the way Sheri tried to answer the question, "What Are the Four Planets Closest to the Sun Called?" (note: the article is now at Sciencing.com, but still stoopid...) Here's how Sheri introduced her topic:
"The universe continues to puzzle and amaze people. Its vastness is immeasurable and its cause of creation is uncertain. Much of the information astronomers have collected about the solar system is about the four planets closest to the sun. Though no man has visited these planets, probes and telescopes have helped collect valuable information."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Natural Gas for Dummies (The Oil Biz Week)

If there's one theme that's repeated itself over and over during The Oil Biz Week here at the Antisocial Network, it's the general public's complete disconnection from reality on the topic of petroleum reservoirs. Once again, we repeat: oil is not found in pockets, puddles, ponds, pools, rivers, lakes or layers. No, it's found in pore spaces between grains of a reservoir rock - spaces much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. But Sam Jones over at InfoBarrel.com "knows" otherwise, as he informed us in "Fracking Allows Business Gas Suppliers to Drive Prices Down." Here's what Sam says about gas reservoirs...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Horizontal Drilling for Dummies (The Oil Biz Week)

Monterey Shale outcrop
There's only one greater source of misinformation on the internet than freelancers grubbing for money at content farms: blogs. Bloggers, bless their pointy little heads, have even fewer checks on truth and accuracy than content farmers. Take for instance a Californian by the name of Jim Taylor, who's vehemently opposed to "fracking" in that state. In a post he called "What Do You Want In Your Water?" Jim went off track when he conflated fracking with horizontal drilling, and he missed the mark by a mile as he "explained" the reasons for going sideways:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Drilling Rigs for Dummies (The Oil Biz Week)

Where's that large ship, Aaron Marquis?
After just three days of dumbass "information" about the oil and gas business, we at the Antisocial Network have begun to wonder just how stupid can people be? Not only do they know nothing, they happily allow other people who know nothing to "inform" them (the business model of talk radio?). A case in point: eHow.com's Aaron Marquis, here holding forth on "Facts About Oil Rigs" at BizFluent.com. Although Aaron may have graduated from the University of Texas, he apparently knows more about comedy than the oil patch and probably isn't funny, either).
Here's where Aaron gets it wrong: 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Petroleum Reservoirs for Dummies (The Oil Biz Week)

Considering how vital petroleum is to people -- besides gasoline, diesel, and heating oil; crude oil is the base of plastics, makeup, food additives, pharmaceuticals, paint, and a gazillion other products -- the average person is pretty much in the dark about where oil comes from. That doesn't stop some of them from sharing their ignorance, however. Take John Crew of InfoBarrel.com, aho shared his "expertise" in a series of oil patch job descriptions like "Oil Field Jobs: The MWD (Measuring While Drilling)."

John's description of the process of MWD is fairly accurate (probably because it's pretty much a reword of a more authoritative website). We're a little confused about how one could get a job as a "MWD," since that's a process instead of a job title -- the MWD operator is (usually) a drilling engineer (contrary to Crew's claim that one can get the job just by being the son-in-law of the "coordinator of the rig," whatever that is). We're not here to parse job titles, though. We're here to correct Crew's totally dumbass description of an oil reservoir:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Oil Forms for Dummies (Oil Biz Week)

If there's one single misconception about petroleum that endures among the dumbass class, it's the notion that oil comes from dinosaurs (that, and "underground lakes/rivers of oil," but we'll get to that one tomorrow). Over at eHow, somehow they managed to weed out most content built on that notion, but not so at sites without editors. We're talking HubPages.com, where a dumbass who called himself Joer4x4 (real name Joe Reichart) once held forth on "Peak Oil or Nonsense - Are Wells Refilling or Running Dry?" 


Joe's level of dumbassery about the oil business is quite impressive. take for instance, his belief that

Monday, July 20, 2015

Backyard Oil Wells for Dummies (Oil Biz Week)

Everyone wants to strike it rich, preferably without working for it. Why else do you think almost every state in the USA has a lottery? And why do you think those who have studied statistics call a lottery the "idiot tax"? Well, when the price of oil crests $100 per barrel, the same idiots come out of the woodwork -- and idiot freelancers are there to feed their hunger. Today's example is Louie Doverspike of eHow, (mis)informing his readers about "How to Drill for Oil in Your Backyard" at CareerTrend.com.

Like most people who think gasoline comes out of tanks at their local GetGo, Louie knows nothing about the processes of hydrocarbon and exploration, much less how one might actually do what some (other) idiot on the 'net is thinking about. Nevertheless, he launches into his six-step process:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wildcatting for Dummies (Oil Biz Week)

Probably no business -- except perhaps the law -- is more reviled than big oil. This week we're featuring dumbasses who we found attempting to get rich by telling everyone on the "oil biz" even though they know nothing about it. Our first awardee of Oil Biz Week comes (no surprise here) from good old eHow, where Brittany Prock once informed the world "How to Drill for Oil on Your Land in Kansas."¹ At least she  wasn't talking about our back yards, but we'll get to that later. Brittany's instructions, in short, break down as
"1) Test your property to determine the possibility of the presence of oil below the surface. Hire one of the many geologists or oil drilling specialists in your area..."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Carburetors for Dummies

Though almost all gasoline-powered cars and trucks on the road these days have fuel injection, a lot of people still have a carburetor or two lurking in their garages: carburetors can be found on lawnmowers, trimmers, chainsaws and leaf blowers, for example. The carbs on either two- or four-cycle small engines are notoriously finicky, especially if the tool's not used on a regular basis. If your small engine's not running well, you'll probably head to the internet for some help (especially if your owner's manual was written and printed in China or Japan). With luck, you'll get help; if your luck's bad, you'll find Larry Parr, (a returning "expert") holding forth for Hunker.com in "How to Adjust Carb On Craftsman Leaf Blower."

We say "bad luck," 'cause the advice you get from Larry is pretty useless. Larry's sole instruction for adjusting the carburetor on a Craftsman Leaf Blower - or for any other small engine carburetor - is:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cabinets for Dummies

Out on the 'net, there are instructions and then there are instructions! The good tutorials have images or even videos to demonstrate complicated procedures. Heck, even the bad tutorials are image-rich in an era where phones are "smarter" than the people who own them. Not everything, however, is illustrated: take for instance "How to Build a Curio Cabinet," posted to Suite.io by Dianne Christensen-Hermance

Not that images would have helped in this case...

For Christensen-Hermance, like so many other Dumbass of the Day candidates, her ignorance of her topic is evident from the first sentence. Dianne tells us,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Exaggerating for Dummies

Whether it's a classroom, a debate, or a press conference; you can usually tell when someone is trying desperately to conceal the fact that he or she doesn't know the answer to a question: the fumbling and restating are dead giveaways. On-line, self-proclaimed "freelancers" at sites like eHow are just about as obvious to those who know the topic under discussion. Our staff cartographer at the Antisocial Network caught eHow contributor Jennifer Fleming (multiple winner of the Dumbass of the Day) doing her best, and failing, to pretend she knows "How to Calculate Vertical Exaggeration."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Obsolete Technology for Dummies

Ahhhh, obsolete technology: the rotary phone, the eight-track tape player, the typewriter... In an age when some people don't even use physical keyboards any more, a typewriter seems "quaint" or "antique." Nonetheless, there are still people out there who remember how to use one of the behemoth machines. Their number, however, includes neither some unknown internet fact-seeker nor eHow.com contributor Suman Medda. That Suman doesn't know how to use a typewriter, however, didn't deter him from telling the world "How to Remove a Typewriter's Print Error"¹ - sort of.

Suman's dumbassery about Royals and Olivettis (not to mention IBM Selectrics) is obvious from the get-go. Why else would someone introduce this topic with the moronic statement, "Typewriters were once a popular device for creating documents"? In reality, they were pretty much the only device for creating documents. Nevertheless, it gets worse: Medda's instructions begin by telling us to

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sic for Dummies

"Do as I say, not as I do" is the unofficial motto of the internet, doncha think? It's especially true of a certain subset of grammar cops - you know, the ones whose advice is to "be sure to check your grammer and speling"... The Antisocial Network's house grammar curmudgeon (yes, we have one) always finds that error irresistible. Of course, it's not the only bad grammar advice out there - check out some of the dumbassery contained in the "answers" to a HubPages.com user who had a question about errors in quoted material. The original questioner asked, 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Plumbing for Dummies, Again

The punchline of an old joke has a plumber saying, "Yeah, I only made $150 per hour when I was a lawyer, too..." The hourly rate for plumbers explains why many a DIYer performs, or tries to perform, their own plumbing repairs. When installing a garbage disposal costs $225, it makes sense for a confident tool-user to take on the task him- or her-self. On the other hand, there's the likes of Sharon Vile, who calls herself blueheron at HubPages.com. Sharon thinks plumbing is a "ladies' craft project": she said that herself in "How to Install an Outdoor Spigot for Watering Your Garden."

There are lots of reasons you shouldn't take the advice of a stranger on the internet when you're attempting a DIY project. For one, you should generally steer clear of anyone who claims something is "easy," or as Sharon gushes, "is as easy as playing with Tinker Toys..." Let's not get into that, however, let's just look at some of the dumbassery inherent  in Sharon's project:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fence Posts for Dummies

Ponder this, will you: if you built a house following the directions of eHow "contributors," how long do you think would it stay standing? Over here at the Antisocial Network, we figure it would only be a few days, if not just a matter of hours. On the other hand, follow the instructions Jack Gerard (also known as J. Edward Casteele or John Casteele) passes on for setting fence posts, and your fence will never come down - even when you want it to! Check out "How to Pour Concrete for Fence Posts in Cold Weather" (found at Hunker.com) to get an idea of how well Jack knows this subject.

The dead giveaway that Jack's only exposure to fencing is with sabers or epees (he claims to be a nationally-ranked fencing trainer: touché!) is instructions like this:

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Austin, Texas, for Dummies

Austin Texas
Come summer; it's vacation time. Once you've chosen a relaxing destination, you will of course -- this being the information age -- google things to do once you've arrived at your destination. People like Isabelle Esteves of WritEdge.com long ago figured that out. People like Izzy are happy to share their broad experience of the destination with you - the chief problem being that their experience consists of googling the destination and doing a copy-and-paste job. Take, for instance, Ms Esteves' recent advice about "Things to Do In Austin, Texas In the Summer."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fifth-Grade Math for Dummies

Remember fifth-grade math? or are you old enough to have called it "arithmetic"? Whichever, your teacher - Jack Larimer in the case of the Antisocial Network's house mathematician - drilled you hard on checking your work, as did every other teacher you had. Well, unless maybe you're Lillian Teague from eHow.com. Lillian forgot that lesson when she "researched" and wrote "How to Calculate Dirt Yards"... 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Guitars for Dummies

The hallmark of good old eHow.com has always been freelancers holding forth on topics about which they know nothing. Even a rudimentary knowledge of a topic is often sufficient to realize that the content isn't original, but simply parroted from another website. We don't have an expert on guitars at the Antisocial Network, but even our wannabe Eric Clapton knows hella more than eHow's Meredith Jameson, who tried to explain "How to Identify Antique Guitars" (moved by Leaf Group to their niche site Our Pastimes [and then deleted¹]). She failed miserably...

Meredith's "process," such as it is, breaks down into 5 steps.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Forest and Trees for Dummies

If you've ever taken calculus, you're familiar with the phrase "it's intuitive." Being able to solve problems intuitively is why many natural mathematicians are so bad at teaching the subject. We don't know whether Barrett James, Jr., of Suite.io is a natural in the building trades or not, but it's for sure he can't teach the subject -- perhaps because he can't see the forest for the trees. For an idea of this form of selective blindness, check out the story (Suite's cutesy name for content is "story") he called "An Easy Method to Square Foundations of Free Standing Structures."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Home Repair for Dummies

It's said that a house is the most expensive thing most people will ever own. What isn't usually mentioned is that maintaining that home is one of the reasons it's so expensive. That's probably why so many websites are jammed with do-it-yourself information (some of it pretty bad...). But what if you're not a toolhead? What if you can't tell a flange from a frammis? (hint: there is no such thing as a frammis) Have no fear, InfoBarrel.com's reagenaguda is here to advise you in "Home Repairs: When to Call an Expert." 

OK, we'll grant - grudgingly - that Reagan is on the right track, and even did a fairly good job of spinning this content (awkward wording like this...

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gutters for the Compleat Dummy

There are probably worse places on the internet to look for home maintenance advice than eHow.com, but no one here at the Antisocial Network knows where they are.... except we're pretty sure Bubblews would have been a good candidate before it folded. If you do look for home maintenance advice at eHow, you'd be wise to steer clear of anything written by serial dumbass Lacy Enderson, author (we use the word loosely) of such rubbish as "How to Fix Gutters."

If you needed advice about your gutters, would you want it from someone who thinks that
"Rain gutters installed along the perimeter of your roof provide a water runoff so water doesn't pool on your house"?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Safe Stops for Dummies

We're down one today as the Antisocial Network's staff geologist sits in the corner mumbling to himself and playing with mineral samples: Tectonics week was awfully hard on him... but life goes on. That's why we're handing out a Dumbass of the Day award in another category - cars - to eHow.com's Andrea Stein (a repeat offender), sharing her lack of automotive knowledge in "What is a Brake Light Switch?" at ItStillRuns.com.

We caught on that Andrea was an automotive ninny just by reading her first paragraph:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mountains for Dummies (Tectonics Week 7)

Tectonics week wouldn't be complete without a visit to HubPages,com, perhaps the biggest remaining content farm besides the Demand Media empire. So that's where our staff geologist goes today, to the hub of one Livingsta A, a "data assurance officer" (according to LinkedIn) who claims to have a physics degree. Uhuh... Livingsta treated us all to her version of tectonics in the marvelous content she called "Types and How Mountains are Formed – For kids." We repeat: uhuh...

Liv (can we call you Liv?) opens by telling us that

Friday, July 3, 2015

Trenches for Dummies (Tectonics Week 6)

Using a familiar word for an unfamiliar concept often creates serious problems for the common dumbass. Take, for instance, the word "trench": most people immediately think of a long, narrow ditch for burying pipes or cables. Our staff geologist, like others in his field, thinks instead of a subducting oceanic plate. It's not a straight-sided vertical hole (spade wide and shoulder deep), it's just called a "trench" because it's so long and narrow. Apparently, however, eHow.com's Mary Freeman didn't learn about trenches while picking up her "degree in human communication," which is very easy to tell from the lack of rudimentary knowledge she displays in the article "Characteristics of Deep Sea Trenches."

As is often the case among dumbass freelancers, Mary begins by displaying her ignorance in the first sentence:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Plate Tectonic Theory for Dummies (Tectonics Week 5)

For the fifth Dumbass of the Day in his tectonics week, our staff geologist returned to mining the internet's richest vein of garbage written by grasping freelancers, eHow.com. He found today's dumbass, Sheri Lamb, by simply googling the site for the word "tectonics." Sheri demonstrates a journalism major turned freelancer's typical scientific illiteracy in the piece she called "What Drives the Process of Plate Tectonics?" Sadly, visitors to the post (relocated to Sciencing.com by Leaf Group) are not going to learn the correct answer...

Sheri opens with a bang in a sentence no newspaper editor (even in the sports section, we hope) would allow to stand:
"Scientists claim the theory of plate tectonics has caused the movement of continents ever since they were formed."
We're pretty sure saying that the theory of plate tectonics causes plate tectonics is circular reasoning; regardless, we're damned sure her claim's wrong. Sheri goes on to explain that...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Earthquakes for Dummies (Tectonics Week 4)

eHow.com isn't the only content farm filled with the work of halfwit freelancers, though with helium.com, suite101.com and AssociatedContent.com gone, it's the biggest one left. A few little guys remain out at the edges of the Panda universe, sites like InfoBarrel.com and WritEdge.com that try to keep the bullshit to a minimum. In the case of InfoBarrel, though, there's still plenty of the old crap on the site -- crap like "Biggest Earthquake in History" by a dumbass who claimed to be named Xath Cruz.

Xath's piece is actually about the ten biggest earthquakes in history, a list he (she?) copied from somewhere and translated into dumbass-ese. What left our staff geologist scratching his head was rubbish like: