Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Clever Hans (Kluge Hans)

Via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

In a nutshell: Clever Hans was a horse that some people thought could do math in his head and understand German. One group of people tested him and found these claims were true. Another scientist tested Hans and found the claims weren’t true.

cleverhans_250pxClever Hans (German: Kluge Hans) was a German horse who seemed to be able to do math problems in his head, tell time, name people, and answer questions by tapping his hoof. When asked to add 3 + 2, Hans would tap his hoof five times. If asked my name, Hans would have tapped twice for ‘B’, paused, tapped 15 times for ‘O’, paused, and then tapped twice again.

Hans could even answer hard written questions. Was he really able to read?

“If the eighth day of the month comes on a Tuesday, what is the date of the following Friday?” Hans could figure that out. He answered by tapping his hoof eleven times. This was one smart horse!

Hans’s owner, Wilhelm von Osten, began showing his clever horse to the public in 1891. He did so for about twenty years. Many people, including some scientists, were sure that Hans was really doing some heavy duty thinking. They were certain that his hoof tapping was not a trick. Clever Hans became famous.

CleverHans02The German board of education sent a group of people (the Hans Commission) to study Hans. Carl Stumpf, a philosopher and psychologist, led the commission. A few school teachers, a veterinarian, a director of the Berlin zoo, and a few others joined Stumpf.

The Hans Commission listed some possible explanations for what Hans could do. Maybe he could really understand both spoken and written language. Maybe he could do math in his head. Maybe he was acting on cues his owner was giving.

[ . . . ]

a skeptical scientist tests Hans again

[ . . . ]

Oskar Pfungst (1847-1933), a biologist and psychologist, tested Hans again. He found that the Hans Commission had not done a very good job. Pfungst proved that Hans was responding to very slight movements of those watching him. Hans was especially sensitive to small head movements by his owner. Pfungst also found that the movements by those watching Hans were not done on purpose to cue the horse. If asked to add 3 + 2, for example, the horse would start tapping. smart horseWhen he got to five taps, von Osten (or others watching Hans) would lean forward very slightly and that was the cue for the horse to stop tapping.

How did Pfungst figure this out?

He set up a test where the horse could be asked questions but could not see von Osten or others who were watching. He put blinders on Hans. When the horse couldn’t see anyone, he didn’t respond. In another test, the horse didn’t respond when the one asking the question didn’t know the answer to it. But the horse did give the right response when the one asking the question did know the answer to it, even if von Osten was not present. That last test ruled out the hypothesis that von Osten knew he was signaling Hans. He wasn’t cheating. He really believed his horse was doing math and reading letters. The evidence collected by Pfungst led the scientific community to hold that Hans was responding to slight movements rather than understanding written and spoken words. Von Osten, however, kept on believing that his horse could read, do math, and understand German. He was making a little bit of money showing off Hans and he kept on with his pony show.

one scientific discovery leads to another

ouija-board-gifOne of the beautiful things about science is how one discovery leads to another. One of the things Pfungst found is the ideomotor effect: making slight movements without being aware of making them. (See the entries on dowsing and the Ouija board for other cases of the ideomotor effect.)

While testing Hans, Pfungst discovered that animals respond to movements around them that can barely be seen. He also found that people aren’t always aware that they are moving and giving cues to animals (or other persons). We now know that humans also respond to movements or sounds without being aware of it. We call this giving of signals without awareness unconscious signaling. This discovery has had a major effect on how experiments should be done when they involve either people or animals.

We now know that humans are unconsciously aware of many things right before their eyes. A botanist might see a rare flower out of the corner of his eye and not be conscious of having seen it. Later, he finds himself thinking of that rare flower. Then, he sees the flower and says “wow, I was just thinking of that flower.” Isn’t that amazing? Yes. Scientists call it “sensing without seeing.”

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8 Alternate UFO explanations

via The Soap Box

ufo 835_200pxUFOs, and what they are, have been a subject of debate throughout the world for decades now.

For those who are apart of the UFO community, UFOs are usually considered to be extra-terrestrial spacecraft. For skeptics however most UFOs can be easily explained as either being some type of natural weather or astronomical phenomenon, a mis-identification of a man made object, or a hoax.

Beside the most obvious explanations for what UFOs are, there are a few not so obvious (or in some cases, accepted) explanations for what UFOs really are:

8. Extra-dimensional

Probably one of the far most common alternative UFO explanations is that UFOs (and the alleged beings operating them) are actually from other universes, rather than other planets.

This explanation has become so common among UFO believers that many believers actually try to determine if a UFO in a photo or video is of either extra-terrestrial or extra-dimensional origin (rather than of natural or man made origin).
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7. Time travelers

Another explanation for the origin of UFOs is that they are from Earth, just far, far into the future. Just how far exactly is often debated amongst the UFO believers who believe this theory.

Some people believe that they’re from a few hundred years into the future. Some people believe that they’re from several millions of years into the future. Some people even believe that they’re just from a few decades into the future.

6. Angels and Demons

Probably one of the more popular explanations amongst devout and fundamentalist Christians (especially those who don’t believe in even the possibility of extra-terrestrial life existing elsewhere in the universe) is that UFOs are either angels sent by God, or (more commonly) demons sent by Satan.

While this explanation is far more accepted with devout and fundamentalist Christians (at least those who actually believe in UFOs to begin with) most UFO believers (and skeptics for that matter) do not.

5. Secret and experimental military aircraft

UFO 941_250pxOne of the more common explanations for UFOs amongst both skeptics and UFO believers is that many UFOs are actually secret and experimental military aircraft.

The reason why this is accepted among skeptics as well as UFO believers is because several different kinds military aircraft, back when they were still secret and/or experimental, were thought to be UFOs (i.e. F-117, B-2) and that sometimes the government even used the UFO phenomenon as a cover to help keep certain aircraft secret for years (like with the SR-71).

While skeptics and UFO believers do accept that some UFOs are most likely secret and experimental aircraft, many UFO believers also believe that these aircraft are far more technologically advance than what anyone believes is currently possible, and that the technology being used in them is of extra-terrestrial origin.

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Wonderful new illusion…

Richard Wiseman

This is great.  Stare at the black dot on the lower right hand side of the picture.  Gradually you will see the moving grey stripe change from grey to blue.

illusion
Does it work for you?

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Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Still Dubious

steven_novellaWritten by Dr. Steven Novella via randi.org

electromagnetic-radiation 1005_250pxA recent article in The Star tells of “One Woman’s Battle with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity,” without a hint critical thinking, skepticism, or actual investigative journalism anywhere in evidence. This is one of those issues that does not appear to be going away anytime soon, despite a fairly solid scientific consensus that there is no such thing as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).

The claim is that certain people are especially sensitive to electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range used by modern technology (EMF) – wifi, cell phones, and radio. Exposure, they claim, causes a variety of symptoms. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) review:

“It comprises nervous system symptoms like headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles and many other health problems.”

It is important to note up front, and the WHO document reflects this, that no one doubts that people who identify themselves as EHS sufferers are having the symptoms they claim. The question is about the identified cause – electromagnetic radiation. There are very good reasons to doubt that this is the cause.

wifi ouch_200pxThe plausibility of EHS is very low, although skeptics argue about whether or not it is truly zero. EMF is non-ionizing radiation, meaning that it is too low energy to break chemical bonds. It is therefore not clear how it could have a significant effect on biological function. Our nervous systems do not appear to have receptors sensitive enough to pick up ambient radio signals. If we are being conservative, however, we can take the approach that plausibility is low, but there is a physical phenomenon present in EMF, and so perhaps it is having a biological effect through some unknown mechanism.

What, then, is the evidence for and against EHS? Self-identified EHS suffers claim that they can detect the presence of EMF because it causes symptoms. This leads to a very testable hypothesis – are EHS sufferers better able to detect the presence of EMF than healthy controls?

A number of studies have been performed to test this hypothesis, with a very clear outcome. When EHS sufferers are blinded to the presence of EMF they are unable to detect whether or not it is present. A 2005 review of such studies concluded:

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Reality Hits Hard

If you didn’t believe in telekinesis before, you will definitely believe after seeing this extraordinary video (said with extreme sarcasm).

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


Written by Kyle Hill via randi.org

RobinsonHeg Robinson has been a martial artist and Tai Chi teacher for four decades. He has surely taught legions of willing participants to relax and “find their inner flow.” Through his practice of this ancient art, Robinson claims “that a self-health practice such as T’ai Chi heals the mind/ body /spirit and prevents common ailments.”

It’s the boilerplate alternative medicine pitch. I was expecting that. Traditional Chinese Medicine has made that claim based on the supposed power of Chi forever. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was how extraordinary his demonstration of telekinesis was.

I have to be honest (and laugh). Even if skeptics unduly assume that many of those who claim to have supernatural powers are knowingly faking it, this demonstration does seem like an impression of an impression of a fake. It could be a Poe. I have seen spoon-benders and page-turners and other martial artists who can “knock out” an attacker without touching them. This is something else.

The flailing student is quite shocking. It’s reminiscent of the dances of trance-induced ecstasy cultures like the Amazonian Yanomami practice. Though “kinetic” implies some force being transferred, we get this imparted dance instead of an otherworldly punch or kick. But as bizarre as the reaction to Robinson’s “energy” is, it’s still no different from other feats of Chi. Reality always hits it hard.

A demonstration like in the video above, I will claim, can only be done with a student or willing participant. Like stage hypnosis, Robinson’s feat is a performance piece between two believing parties. Choose anyone else, and the supposed power will immediately evaporate.

Sam Harris gives a great example of the student-master delusion on his blog. A martial arts master, supposedly able to defeat multiple opponents (his own students) with unseen Chi-based attacks, meets reality rather violently. Outside of his own school, facing an unfamiliar opponent, the master is punched in the face multiple times. It’s rather sad. When he needed it most, his powers vanished. Of course, the die-hard practitioners will claim this or that condition was not met or this or that life force was not in line, but nothing can substitute for the empirical test. He put his money where is mouth was, as did the opponent his fist.

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British Psychic TV Channels Fined For Not Telling Viewers It’s All B.S.

By via The Huffington Post

Why don't you remember this headline?

Why don’t you remember this headline?

In a move no one saw coming, A British TV channel set up to offer dial-up psychic services has been fined for not telling viewers it’s all “for entertainment purposes only.”

Psychic Today, a 24-hour psychic network, was fined the equivalent of $19,079 U.S. for claiming on-air that its psychics could provide “accurate and precise” readings for callers, for offering anecdotal stories of successful predictions, and for making claims that presenters had helped solve crimes for the police, according to the Register.

Another TV channel, an interactive quiz channel called The Big Deal, was fined the equivalent of $15,262 for advertising psychic services.

The fines were laid down by Ofcom, an independent regulator of the British communications industry that has strict rules about how psychics can label their skills.

psychic_200pxIn one case, a psychic told viewers she was involved in the police investigation regarding the death of teenager named Milly Dowler, while another claimed she once accurately predicted that her friend would become friends with Michael Jackson.

Majestic TV, which holds the license for Psychic Today, told Ofcom that while the claims made in both cases were “factually correct,” the reference to Dowler was “unfortunate,” SkyNews reported.

According to a document the organization released in December 2011, anyone claiming to be in touch with a spirit guide or a dead person must qualify their powers by saying it’s “for entertainment purposes,” a phrase that must also be stated by the presenters and scrolled on screen.

Psychics are also prevented from predicting the future, offering life-changing advice, talking to the dead or even claiming to be accurate, the Register reported.

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Also see: Telly psychics fail to foresee £12k fine for peddling nonsense • The Register (UK).

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8 Bizarre Overdoses

A note from Mason . . .

Fluoride 250pxI’m sure by now you’ve heard of the fluoride conspiracy theory. Basically, fluoride conspiracy theorists believe fluoride is a deadly poison being added to our public water supplies by the government to cause us all kinds of harm. These conspiracists are adamant: fluoride is a deadly poison. Period.

When ever i confront a fluoride conspiracy theorist that asserts fluoride is a deadly poison, i always ask the same question: “At what dosage is fluoride SAFE to consume?”

Conspiracists almost always answer my question the same way: “Fluoride is not safe to consume at ANY level.”

On its face, this answer is completely ridiculous and exposes the irrationality of the conspiracist. Why? Consider the following:

  • Cyanide is a deadly poison. Apple seeds contain cyanide. Apple seeds contain a SAFE level of the poison cyanide.
  • Mercury is a poison. Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury[source]. There is a SAFE level of the poison mercury.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, did you know you can overdose on water? It’s called “water intoxication, also known as water poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by over-hydration.”[source]

Almost everything has a safe and unsafe level of consumption . . . and this includes fluoride. But conspiracists can’t concede this point. They don’t want to get caught admitting flouride has a safe level for consumption because it would undermine their belief of a government working in cahoots with the ADA, the AMA, Big Pharma, the makers of vaccines, circus jugglers, the Power Companies, the cell phone companies, the Communists, Walmart and everybody else on earth.

So the next time you confront a fluoride conspiracist, ask them about the safe level of fluoride. Guaranteed they will try changing the subject or start calling you all kinds of names. Persist. Keep asking them about the safe level of fluoride. Grab some popcorn and enjoy.

In keeping with this discussion about safe and unsafe levels of consumption, i present the story below.

Enjoy :)

Mason I. Bilderberg


by Grace Murano via Oddee.com

1 • Laughing Gas Overdose

a98613_overdose_7-laughing-gas_250pxIn June 2013, a 29-year-old Goleta man died of a laughing gas overdose. His body was discovered in his car, which was parked in the lot of the Human Performance Center located by the intersection of Calle Real and Pueblo Street. Police were alerted by a center employee who noted that the car had not been moved for several days. Santa Barbara police discovered the man slumped backwards in the driver’s seat with a plastic bag over his head and as many as 100 small canisters of nitrous oxide strewn throughout the car. Police spokesperson Sergeant Riley Harwood said there was no indication of “foul play,” adding that it remained uncertain whether the victim died from an accidental overdose or if he took his life intentionally.

(Link)

2 • Water Overdose

Jennifer Lea Strange

Jennifer Lea Strange joined a short list of people who drank themselves to death with water when she fatally consumed an overdose of H2O during a radio contest called “Hold Your Wee for a Wii.” The young wife and mother agreed to drink as much water as possible as part of the contest in order to win a Wii game player. Contestants competed to see who could go the longest without stopping to urinate. After the contest, Strange collapsed and died resulting in a civil lawsuit against the radio station. Water intoxication, which is also known as hyper-hydration, can cause a fatal disturbance in the brain when the electrolytes in the body are thrown off their normal balance.Strange had showed fellow contestants photographs of her two sons and daughter, for whom she was hoping to win the Nintendo Wii. The game console sells for about $250. (Link)

3 • Tea Overdose

a98613_teaA 47-year-old woman in Detroit is now making headlines after drinking so much tea that she ended up developing a rare bone disease known to the scientific community as skeletal fluorosis, eventually losing all of her teeth. For those who are unfamiliar with said medical condition, “skeletal fluorosis” is basically doctors’ talk for stiff joints, bone pain, and easily breakable teeth.

Long story short, fluoride is a mineral which, when administered in controlled and relatively small amounts, is actually quite beneficial.

However, this woman’s habit of daily drinking a pitcher of tea made from over 100 tea bags for a period of roughly 17 years eventually led to her body being exposed to whopping amounts of the mineral.

Still, there is one piece of very good news: the woman’s skeletal fluorosis has every chance of healing in time, provided that she cuts down on her tea intake and turns towards other beverages, instead.

(Image credit: Quernus Crafts) (Link | Photo)

4 • Coke Overdose

a98613_overdose_8-cokeIt always seemed like a scare tactic when fat-fearing parents would tell their sugar loving kids, “If you drink too much Coke, you could die!” (okay, maybe in a not such a morbid way) However, a woman actually died from drinking too much Coke. The coroner blamed the 30-year-old woman’s 2.2 GALLON a day Coke problem—as in Coca Cola—as the reason for her death. 2.2 gallons is about four 2-liter bottles, or nearly 24 cans of Coke every day.

Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old mother of eight from Invercargill in southern New Zealand, drank huge amounts of the fizzy beverage for years before her death in February 2010, coroner David Crerar found.

He said Harris suffered from a number of health conditions which could be linked to the “extreme” amounts of Coke she downed, playing a role in the cardiac arrhythmia that finally killed her. (Link)

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How to tell a Conspiracy Theorist from a Conspiracy Believer

Via The Soap Box

conspiracyfilesIn a previous post I discussed how some conspiracy theorists aren’t really conspiracy theorists, and that those people should instead be called “conspiracy believers”.

While I did point out some basic differences between the two, I didn’t really go into to much detail into what those differences really are.

Here I have put together a list of things that conspiracy theorists tend to do that sets them apart from conspiracy believers:

Terminology

Conspiracy theorists has certain words that they tend to use and is quite common for them to use in a conversation (or argument). Some of the more common words used are shill, sheeple, blue pill, red pill, and dis-info agent.

There are of course more then just that, but if you hang around enough conspiracy theorist websites (or get into an argument with a conspiracy theorist on Youtube) you’ll learn more of them.

Creating conspiracy theories

tin foil hat 1002 croppedOne of the primary things that set conspiracy theorists apart from conspiracy believers is that conspiracy theorists actually create conspiracy theories.

Many of these conspiracy theories tend to be either expanding on a already established conspiracy theory, or a conspiracy thats directed at them. Of course, sometimes conspiracy theorists create entirely new conspiracy theories as well.

Emotional Reactions

While conspiracy believers might not become to emotional when discussing a conspiracy theory that they believe in, many conspiracy theorists on the other hand tend to become emotional when they discuss a conspiracy theory they believe. The levels of emotional reactions varies depending on how important the conspiracy theory is to that person, how much they believe the alledged conspiracy affects them, and if the person they are discussing the conspiracy theory with believes them or not.

The use of logical fallacies

While conspiracy believers try to avoid using logical fallacies, conspiracy theorists on the other hand tend to use them all the time, and appear to not even know that they are doing so.

While logical fallacies of all types tend to be used, two of the most common types used are association fallacy and emotional appeal.

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3 Reasons to Doubt the TWA Flight 800 Conspiracy Theory

It took seven years for authorities to produce the most detailed aviation accident investigation in history. So how many people would it take to manufacture a fake report to cover up a plot?

By Joe Pappalardo via Popular Mechanics

Jim Wildey of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gives a tour of the 93-foot section of the TWA Flight 800 fuselage that sits inside an Ashburn, Virginia NTSB training facility in 2004.
Getty Images

The official investigation into the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996, which killed 230, concluded that a fuel tank had ignited from within, but never determined what sparked the explosion. (Dozens of airplanes have suffered similar events, and the safety regulations governing fuel tanks changed in 2008.) But now, all these years later, a new documentary, TWA Flight 800, claims that a missile or bomb took down the plane—and the U.S. government has been covering it up.

“It was either a terrorist attack that they wanted to ignore, or an accident as a result of a military operation that went wrong,” Hank Hughes, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator and driving force behind the film, told ABC News.

What would you have to believe to accept the idea of a 17-year-old sprawling government cover-up? We look back at the original NTSB report to see what it says, and who would have had to lie about forensic tests or doctored evidence. Here’s a refresher on what the report says, why the original, simpler explanation is still the most likely.

Blast Holes

KallstromInvestigators reconstructed and analyzed virtually the entire structure of the stricken airliner. The work revealed 196 blast holes in the airplane’s structure. So how did the investigators figure that an internal gas tank explosion caused this damage, instead of a missile or bomb?

The NTSB’s metallurgists requested that Boeing conduct the tests (and Boeing had no motive to reach the conclusion that a defect in its own equipment, rather than an act of violence, caused the blast). Its engineers created test plates and fired fragments at them at high and low velocities. An antiaircraft missile warhead detonates close to its target, spraying shrapnel at high speeds into the aircraft to destroy it. A bomb made with high-energy explosives would also hurl metal, this time from the inside out, at higher velocities than an inadvertent gas tank detonation.

These tests indicated that high-speed fragments leave particular signs behind, like deformations on the edges and melted parts of the walls of the hole. High-speed impacts leave little surface deformation. In the TWA 800 tests, all but two of the 196 holes exhibited signs of . . .

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Also see: TWA Flight Conspiracy Theories Advanced in New EPIX Channel Video

Is that a FEMA Camp? – June 15, 2013 Edition

Is that a FEMA Camp? is a blog dedicated to investigating claims of FEMA camp locations.
transparent
Below is some of their findings. Enjoy :)
FEMA-CAMP 954_250px

June 15, 2013 Edition

Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona

Davis-Monthan AFB

The claim: Tucson, 11,000

What it really is: A major Air Force base in Arizona.

While the base itself contains several large buildings, none of them appear to be the types you would find in a prison cam,. The base is also surrounded by numerous houses, making hiding anything like a prison camp difficult.

Little Rock AFB, Arkansas

The claim: Little Rock, 11,373

What it really is: The only C-130 training base for the Department of Defense.

While the base contains several large buildings, none of them are large enough to hold thousands of people, and appear to be for housing or plane maintenance.

Ira Eaker AFB, Arkansas
blytheville_afb_001

The claim: Blytheville, 3,931

What it really is: Eaker AFB was closed in 1994. Now the Arkansas International Airport. Originally called Blythville AFB.

Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

The claim: Huntsville, 38,000

What it really is: Redstone Arsenal is the Army’s center of testing, development, and doctrine for the Army’s missile programs. Also contains extensive wetland areas that’s maintained by the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

The claim: US Marine Corps Base – Presently home to 30,000 Mariel Cubans and 40,000 Albanians. Total capacity unknown.

What it really is: Actually it’s a navy base, not a Marine base.

Most of the Mariel Cubans that left Cuba actually ended up in the United States, not Guantanamo Bay, and while Cuban refugees do occasionally slip into Guantanamo Bay, the amount of refugees living there is no where near the 30,000 being claimed. In fact the most ever held there was 10,000 refugees.

There were Kosovar Albanian refugees there in the late 1990’s, but only up to 10,000 were there at the most, and it was temporary until they were later resettled in the United States, or went back home to Kosovo.

Ft. Detrick, Maryland

detrickThe claim: Biological warfare center for the NWO, located in Frederick.

What it really is: Until 1969 this army base hosted the American biological weapons program, but now it host most of the United States biological defense program.

Ft. Meade, Maryland

The claim: Halfway between the District of Criminals and Baltimore. Data needed.

What it really is: Fort George G. Meade Army base is the home to the National Security Agency, the United States Cyber Command, and the Defense Courier Service (all of which I imagine the sovereign citizens movement hates…) amongst other things.

There is also a lot of housing and even businesses around there as well. Also, while there are a bunch of large buildings in this area, none of them resemble prison camps.

The lack of information, combined with the fact that whomever made this claim didn’t even know that several intelligence agencies were located here leads me to believe that this claim is bogus.

Click here for the latest findings at “Is that a FEMA Camp?”

A map of non-existent FEMA camps.

A map of non-existent FEMA camps.

10 brand new bets you will always win!

Fun stuff!

Richard Wiseman

I have just released this brand new Quirkology bets video….

Which is your favourite?

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More bad science in the service of anti-GMO activism

by via Science-Based Medicine

GMO_rice_250pxI never used to write much about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before. I still don’t do it that often. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t been on my radar very much. That seems to be changing, however. It’s not because I went seeking this issue out (although I must admit that I first became interested in genetic engineering when I was in junior high and read a TIME Magazine cover article about it back in the 1970s), but rather because in my reading I keep seeing it more and more in the context of anti-GMO activists using bad science and bad reasoning to justify a campaign to demonize GMOs. Now, I don’t have a dog in this hunt, (Forgive me, I have no idea why I like that expression, given that I don’t hunt.) I really don’t. I was, not too long ago, fairly agnostic on the issue of GMOs and their safety, although, truth be told, because I have PhD in a biomedical science and because my lab work has involved molecular biology and genetics since I was a graduate student in the early 1990s, I found the claims of horrific harm attributable to GMOs not particularly convincing, but hadn’t bothered to take that deep a look into them. It was not unlike my attitude towards the the claims that cell phones cause cancer a few years ago, before I looked into them and noted the utter lack of a remotely-plausible mechanism and uniformly negative studies except for a group in Sweden with a definite ax to grind on the issue. Back then, I realized that there wasn’t really a plausible mechanism by which radio waves from cell phones could cause cancer in that the classic mechanisms by which ionizing radiation can break DNA molecular bonds and cause mutations don’t apply, but I didn’t rule out a tiny possibility that there might be an as-yet unappreciated mechanism by which long term exposure to radio waves might contribute to cancer. I still don’t, by the way, which has gotten me into the odd kerfuffle with some skeptics and one physicist, but I still view the likelihood that cell phone radiation can cause cancer as being just a bit more plausible than homeopathy.

As was the case for the nonexistent cell phone-cancer link, there has now been a steady drip-drip-drip of bad studies touted by anti-GMO activists as “evidence” that GMOs are the work of Satan that will corrupt or kill us all (and make us fat, to boot). Not too long ago, I came across one such study, a truly execrable excuse for science by Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen purporting to demonstrate that Roundup-resistant genetically modified maize can cause horrific tumors in rats. I looked at the methods and conclusions and what I found was . . .

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Paranoia

paranoia 1156

Edward Snowden Doesn’t Exist, Is a Gay Alien, and Other Conspiracy Theories

By DJ Pangburn via Motherboard

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Does Edward Snowden really exist?

Not long after the existence of the NSA‘s massive PRISM surveillance program leaked, Snowden truthers began speculating on the leaker’s identity. Was the whistleblower still an NSA agent? Was it all just a false flag operation?

These were more or less reasonable questions, as it was impossible to know at first who the leaker really was. Snowden’s very public outing of his identify only added fuel to the fire. From there, the conspiracy theories went into their theoretical paroxyms. That paranoia over Snowden’s real modus operandi even managed to infect journalists and writers like Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas.

Writing in their daily Washington Post column Wonkbook, Klein and Soltas even went so far as to suggest that Snowden doesn’t actually exist. That he is, more than likely, is an NSA creation—a diversionary tactic to get the masses following a narrative, “emotional arc,” and thus forget the NSA leaks themselves.

“Aeroflot flight 150, from Moscow to Havana, was packed with dozens of journalists who’d bought tickets to get a glimpse of, and maybe even an interview with, fleeing leaker Edward Snowden,” write Klein and Soltas. “But when the doors closed and the plane readied for takeoff, they made an unpleasant discovery: Snowden wasn’t on the plane… There is, of course, only one explanation for Snowden’s absence: He never existed in the first place.”

conspiracy-theory-alert_200pxLet’s pretend for a second that they aren’t being cheeky. (An added editor’s note makes clear that it’s a joke.) For the Klein and Soltas theory to work, an endlessly fascinating, all encompassing, stem-winding NWO-style conspiracy theory must be explored, in which all of the following would have to be true: Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian and Washington Post were complicit with the NSA; Julian Assange is an NSA agent; WikiLeaks is an ongoing false flag operation and isn’t actually with Snowden; and Russia, China, Hong Kong and Ecuador are all in league with the US. Put more simply, America’s domestic and international spy operations have completely infiltrated every foreign government, news organization and airport in the world.

We could even get playfully recursive with the theory. Perhaps Klein and Soltas are, in fact, NSA agents spreading disinformation. Maybe I am, too.

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Video: The curse of the spinning statue at Manchester Museum

By via Manchester Evening News

The 10-inch tall relic, which dates back to 1800 BC, was found in a mummy’s tomb and has been at the Manchester Museum for 80 years.

An ancient Egyptian statue has spooked museum bosses – after it mysteriously started to spin round in a display case

An ancient Egyptian statue has spooked museum bosses – after it mysteriously started to spin round in a display case.

The 10-inch tall relic, which dates back to 1800 BC, was found in a mummy’s tomb and has been at the Manchester Museum for 80 years.

But in recent weeks, curators have been left scratching their heads after they kept finding it facing the wrong way.  Experts decided to monitor the room on time-lapse video and were astonished to see it clearly show the statuette spinning 180 degrees – with nobody going near it.

The statue of a man named Neb-Senu is seen to remain still at night but slowly rotate round during the day.

Now scientists are trying to explain the phenomenon, with TV boffin Brian Cox among the experts being consulted.

Scientists who explored the Egyptian tombs in the 1920s were popularly believed to be struck by a ‘curse of the Pharaohs’ – and Campbell Price, a curator at the museum on Oxford Road, said he believes there may be a spiritual explanation to the spinning statue.

Watch the time-lapse video as the statue spookily moves all by itself…

Egyptologist Mr Price, 29, said: “I noticed one day that it had turned around. I thought it was strange because it is in a case and I am the only one who has a key.

“I put it back but then the next day it had moved again. We set up a time-lapse video and, although the naked eye can’t see it, you can clearly see it rotate on the film. The statuette is something that used to go in the tomb along with the mummy.

“Mourners would lay offerings at its feet. The hieroglyphics on the back ask for ‘bread, beer and beef’.

“In Ancient Egypt they believed that if the mummy is destroyed then the statuette can act as an alternative vessel for the spirit. Maybe that is what is causing the movement.”

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Man believes he found fossilized Bigfoot head

facepalm 827Here is a story about a man and a rock. He takes his rock with him everywhere he goes. He believes his rock is special. After you read this story you will think HE is special.

*FacePalm*

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


By Mark Saal via Standard-Examiner

OGDEN — “I found a fossilized Bigfoot skull.”

A journalist can go his or her entire life waiting to hear those six magic words. And yet, on a recent weekday afternoon, that very thing happened.

Todd May holds a rock.

Todd May, of Ogden, dropped by the offices of the Standard-Examiner to see if someone would be interested in a story about a fairly impressive fossil find. After showing off a couple of digital photos, May offered six even more compelling words — “Do you want to see it?” — followed by the motherlode of sentences: “It’s out in the trunk of my car.”

In the trunk of your car? Do I want to see it? Does Bigfoot make in the woods?

May proceeded out to his car, where he popped the hatchback on his Nissan 300 ZX. Peeling back an American flag draped across the cargo area of the vehicle, he hefted a black piece of luggage that resembled an oversized bowling-ball bag, lowering it to the asphalt of the parking lot with a clunk. He struggled to pull a noggin-sized, seemingly ordinary rock out of the bag, held it up and turned it over.

A face.

The rock looks vaguely like a smaller version of one of those Easter Island heads. Pronounced forehead. Large, flattened nose. What could only be described as a chiseled chin and jaw line.

It’s been about six weeks since May found the rock near the mouth of Ogden Canyon.

“I was looking for some fossils,” the 49-year-old “semi-retired” private investigator explains, “and I was kind of drawn to something in the ground.”

It was a rock, sticking up out of the dirt.

“So I went and dug it out, and you couldn’t tell what it was ’cause the head was face down; all you could see was the back of it,” he said. “But when I dug it out you could see the face, perfect.”

May believes his weighty prize — it tips the scales at 70 pounds — is a fossilized Bigfoot skull. What compels him to make such a claim? Because he says he has seen a couple of the nonfossilized, live skulls — attached to their monstrous, hairy bodies — in recent years.

“I’ve been tracking and watching for Bigfoot,” May said. “I’m very curious, interested in that, and wanted to get footage on it ’cause I’ve ran across him a couple of times.”

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Theory of Missile v. Flight 800

10 More Extremely Bizarre Phobias

By Jamie Frater via Listverse

We probably all suffer from a minor phobia or two, but some people’s lives are virtually debilitated by their fears. This list looks at ten more of the most unusual phobias that afflict people in modern days. If you suffer from any of these phobias, be sure to tell us about it in the comments. For those interested, here is the previous list of bizarre phobias.

10 • Agyrophobia – Fear of Crossing the Street

6a00d834517e6e69e200e54f1bb1738834-800wi-tm_250pxAgyrophobics have a fear of crossing streets, highways and other thoroughfares, or a fear of thoroughfares themselves. This, of course, makes it very difficult to live comfortably in a city. The word comes from the Greek gyrus which means turning or whirling as the phobic avoids the whirl of traffic. The phobia covers several categories, wherein sufferers may fear wide roads specifically down to suburban single lane streets, and can also include fearing jaywalking or crossing anywhere on a street, even a designated intersection. This phobia is considered independent from the fear of cars.

9 • Mageirocophobia – Fear of Cooking

119171631-fddf27ecde-tm_250px_250pxThe bizarre fear of cooking is called mageirocophobia which comes from the Greek word mageirokos which means a person skilled in cooking. This disorder can be debilitating and potentially lead to unhealthy eating if one lives alone. Sufferers of mageirokos can feel extremely intimidated by people with skills in cooking, and this intimidation and feeling of inadequacy is probably the root cause of the disorder for many. If you suffer from mageirokos and wish to develop some basic skills in cooking, check out our Top 10 Tips for Great Home Cooking and Top 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Cooking.

8 • Pediophobia – Fear of Dolls

abroken_china_doll_by_rebel_sta_by_-tm_200pxPediophobia is the irrational fear of dolls. Not just scary dolls – ALL dolls. Strictly speaking, the fear is a horror of a “false representation of sentient beings” so it also usually includes robots and mannequins, which can make it decidedly difficult to go shopping. This phobia should not be confused with pedophobia or pediaphobia which is the fear of children. Sigmund Freud believed the disorder may spring from a fear of the doll coming to life and roboticist Masahiro Mori expanded on that theory by stating that the more human-like something becomes, the more repellent its non-human aspects appear. My apologies to those who suffer from pediophobia for the picture above.

7 • Deipnophobia – Fear of Dinner Conversation

awkward-dinner-party-tm_250px_250px_250pxNow admittedly some dinner conversations can be very awkward, but some people are so terrified of the idea of speaking to another person over dinner that they avoid dining out situations. In times gone by there were strict rules of etiquette that helped a person to deal with these situations – but they are (sadly) mostly forgotten. In today’s society in which rules and formality are out the window, it is possible that the more controlled nature of a dinner party may lie partly behind this phobia. For those amongst us who are interested in some tips for coping with fine dining, read our Top 10 Tips for Fine Dining (number eight is specifically about dinner conversation).

6 • Eisoptrophobia – Fear of Mirrors

intoyoureyesbyenayla3dl-tm_250pxEisoptrophobia is a fear of mirrors in the broad sense, or more specifically the fear of being put into contact with the spiritual world through a mirror. Sufferers experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. Because their fear often is grounded in superstitions, they may worry that breaking a mirror will bring bad luck or that looking into a mirror will put them in contact with a supernatural world inside the glass. After writing this list I realized that I suffer from a minor form of this disorder in that I don’t like to look into a mirror in the evening when I am alone for fear of seeing someone (or something) behind me.

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Watch a Guy Freak People Out By Floating in the Air on a Moving Bus

Can you figure out how this is done? I have my thoughts (clue to my solution: “FA”). What are yours? Leave a comment.


via gizmodo

Though this prank video is an obvious attempt at force inducing viral-ity by Pepsi Max, it’s still a pretty fun watch. The magician Dynamo tricks people into thinking he can levitate by ‘magically’ following a bus around as it moves across London. Watch people freak out when they see him float.

MORE at gizmodo . . .

Skeptical ‘Zombies’ Attack Alleged Psychic James Van Praagh (VIDEO)

A slightly dated story from October 2011, but still fun. :)

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


via huffingtonpost

James Van Praagh plays a kind of twenty-questions game with his audience.

James Van Praagh plays a kind of twenty-questions game with his audience.

Psychic James Van Praagh has made a fortune by allegedly speaking to the dead, but apparently he has no time for the undead.

That’s what a group of zombies recently discovered when they showed up at one of Van Praagh’s $100-a-head “spirit circles” hoping to pick Van Praagh’s brain about his so-called psychic powers.

For the record, the zombies were actually members of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), an organization that works to expose paranormal and pseudoscientific frauds.

Still, that doesn’t mean they weren’t out for blood, as protest signs reading “Talk to us, we won’t bite,” and “Psychics do not talk to the dead” demonstrated.

According to head zombie D.J. Grothe, who is also the president of the JREF and a Huffington Post blogger, the zombie attack was a fun way to make a point the organization is dead serious about: People who claim to speak to the dead, such as celebrity psychics like Van Praagh, Sylvia Browne and John Edward, are taking advantage of grieving people.

“We’re not rabble rousing,” Grothe told HuffPost Weird News. “This is a guy who is taking advantage of people’s grief. He’s not performing for entertainment, he’s claiming he’s giving messages from dead relatives. He gets people when they are at their lowest and sees them as his target market.”

Grothe says the group decided to dress up as the undead because Van Praagh has, so far, dodged questions about whether he’ll accept the foundation’s million-dollar challenge to prove his claimed psychic medium abilities under scientific conditions.

In the video, Van Praagh’s representatives first promise to get someone to talk with the group, but instead have the group kicked out by security.

MORE . . .

James-Randi-Challenge_350PX

Why people believe in conspiracy theories

By Alex Seitz-Wald via Salon.com

xfiles-620x412_300pxWe’ve written before about the historical and social aspects of conspiracy theories, but wanted to learn more about the psychology of people who believe, for instance, that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government “false flag” operation. Psychological forces like motivated reasoning have long been associated with conspiracy thinking, but scientists are learning more every year. For instance, a British study published last year found that people who believe one conspiracy theory are prone to believe many, even ones that are completely contradictory.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia, published a paper late last month in the journal Psychological Science that has received widespread praise for looking at the thinking behind conspiracy theories about science and climate change. We asked him to explain the psychology of conspiracy theories. This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

matrix-red-pill-or-blue-pill_600px

First of all, why do people believe conspiracy theories?

There are number of factors, but probably one of the most important ones in this instance is that, paradoxically, it gives people a sense of control. People hate randomness, they dread the sort of random occurrences that can destroy their lives, so as a mechanism against that dread, it turns out that it’s much easier to believe in a conspiracy. Then you have someone to blame, it’s not just randomness.

What are the psychological forces at play in conspiracy thinking?

Conspiracies 901_250pxBasically what’s happening in any conspiracy theory is that people have a need or a motivation to believe in this theory, and it’s psychologically different from evidence-based thinking. A conspiracy theory is immune to evidence, and that can pretty well serve as the definition of one. If you reject evidence, or reinterpret the evidence to be confirmation of your theory, or you ignore mountains of evidence to focus on just one thing, you’re probably a conspiracy theorist. We call that a self-sealing nature of reasoning.

Another common trait is the need to constantly expand the conspiracy as new evidence comes to light. For instance, with the so-called Climategate scandal, there were something like nine different investigations, all of which have exonerated the scientists involved. But the response from the people who held this notion was to say that all of those investigations were a whitewash. So it started with the scientists being corrupt and now not only is it them, but it’s also all the major scientific organizations of the world that investigated them and the governments of the U.S. and the U.K., etc., etc. And that’s typical — instead of accepting the evidence, you actually turn it around and say that it’s actually evidence to support the conspiracy because it just means it’s even broader than it was originally thought to be.

Are there certain types of people who are more prone to believing in conspiracy theories than others? Does it match any kind of political lines?

I don’t think there is a systematic association between political views and the propensity to believe in conspiracy theories. There are some studies that suggest people on the political left are inclined to it, and there are some that suggest people on the right are. But it’s always a weak association.

MORE . . .

Latest TWA 800 Conspiracy Theory: How Likely Is It? Former NTSB Member Responds.

By John Goglia via Forbes

Flight 800 wreckage recovered and reconstructed.

Flight 800 wreckage recovered and reconstructed.
(Wikipedia)

Conspiracy theories abound.  For TWA 800, those theories began almost immediately after the aircraft exploded mid-air and came plunging into the waters off the coast of Long Island on July 17, 1996.  Now a petition to re-open the NTSB investigation has been filed and a new documentary is scheduled for release which raises those conspiracy theories once again.  How do these “new” theories stack up against the NTSB investigation?

I was one of five NTSB Board members that approved the TWA 800 accident report that determined that the probable cause of the accident was an explosion in the Boeing 747’s center fuel tank.   I have read the petition filed by a former NTSB accident investigator and have watched the documentary (made available to the media) that was recently produced to refute the NTSB’s probable cause determination.

The petition and film rely on four main points: 1) radar data  that allegedly shows an explosion next to the aircraft 2) eyewitness accounts  of flashes of light traveling from the ground up that were allegedly discounted; 3) trace amounts of chemical residue that were found; and 4) aircraft wreckage that was inconsistent with a center fuel tank explosion.  In addition, they allege a conspiracy by the NTSB and FBI to destroy and cover-up evidence.

No Evidence in Aircraft Fuselage Wreckage of Explosion Next to Aircraft

I was personally involved on-scene in the accident investigation and spent many, many hours over the course of four years reviewing data and wreckage from the aircraft.  If an explosion had occurred outside the aircraft while it was in flight, aircraft damage inside the aircraft would have shown a pattern of blast fragments coming from outside the aircraft.  Aircraft debris from inside the fuselage did not contain evidence of such an explosion.  Nor did the aircraft skin around the fuselage.  This skin is relatively thin and easy to damage and would have shown evidence of an explosion.

While this latest analysis looks at one very small part of the radar data, it fails to account for the fact that none of the radar data shows any missiles [see below].

Eyewitness Accounts Not Supported by Radar

To reconcile the various eyewitness accounts, the documentary makes the preposterous charge that not one, but three missiles were launched on the night of July 17, 1996 and exploded near the TWA 800 aircraft.  While the film claims to have the radar data from five different locations surrounding the accident site, it has no radar evidence to support any missile launch, let alone two or three.

It’s hard to imagine that three missiles large enough to get to 13,800 feet (the altitude of the aircraft just before it broke up in flight) would not show up on radar.  During the course of the NTSB’s investigation, I reviewed the radar data with NTSB experts and was convinced that no missile traces at all were on the radar.  Not one missile trace was ever found on the radar data and the film makes no claim that missile traces exist on the radar.

In my opinion, the eyewitness accounts are less reliable than the radar data.  Period.

MORE . . .

Facebook, Privacy and the US Government

Via Facebook, Privacy and the US Government – CLASSIC – YouTube.

By any measure Mark Zuckerberg’s social media site is an enormous success. But who actually owns Facebook, and why do some people believe it’s owned by the U.S. government? Listen in to learn more about Facebook conspiracy theories.

Don’t Fear the Supermoon, NASA Says | Biggest Full Moon 2013

by Miriam Kramer via Space.com

Seen from West Orange, New Jersey, the full moon hangs over the Manhattan skyline like a celestial clementine Sunday night. In general, the moon appears redder near the horizon, because its light is passing through more of our planet's thick atmosphere than when the moon is higher—the atmosphere tends to scatter blue light, letting mostly red wavelengths through. CREDIT: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

Seen from West Orange, New Jersey, the full moon hangs over the Manhattan skyline like a celestial clementine Sunday night. In general, the moon appears redder near the horizon, because its light is passing through more of our planet’s thick atmosphere than when the moon is higher—the atmosphere tends to scatter blue light, letting mostly red wavelengths through.
CREDIT: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

There is no reason for anybody to dread the largest full moon of 2013, known as the “supermoon,” a NASA scientist says.

On Sunday (June 23), the moon will reach perigee — the closest point to Earth in the rocky satellite’s orbit around the planet. Although some people have suggested that the supermoon might drive people crazy, cause natural disasters and wreak havoc on the tides, there is scant evidence in support of those claims, NASA assures.

NASA planetary geologist Noah Petro said today (June 21) that while the tides might be slightly higher because of the moon’s close approach, it won’t make a noticeable difference for the average observer. The only thing that humans might experience this weekend is a good lunar show. [Amazing Supermoon Photos of 2012]

“There should be no impact on anybody on the Earth,” Petro said during a series of televised interviews on NASA TV. “There should be nothing unusual except maybe for more people staring up at the moon, which should be a wonderful thing.”

MORE . . .

Exorcism-gone-awry lands Wyoming woman in hospital

By Jessica Chasmar via Washington Times

exorcism-of-emily-rose_300pxAn exorcism-gone-awry landed a Wyoming woman in the hospital after she reportedly went into cardiac arrest after being sprayed with Holy Water.

A bizarre emergency call was made to the Fremont County Emergency Dispatch Center last week by several occupants of a residence, reporting that the 31-year-old woman was possessed by a “poltergeist” and that a “biting demon” had been terrorizing their home, The Daily Mail reported.

Those performing the exorcism told police a demon had broken windows and dishes and bitten people inside the home for two days, but the deputy found nothing to indicate criminal (or supernatural) activity.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition the next day, KTAK radio reported.

Attempted exorcisms are not so rare in the United States. Earlier this month, a Virginia man was sentenced to more than 20 years after he told police that an evil spirit entered his body while he was trying to exorcise his 2-year-old daughter, and it forced him to murder her in cold blood, the Associated Press reported.

Here come the Edward Snowden truthers

Some think he’s a CIA plant, others say he’s a useful idiot.
But they all agree: Something stinks to high heaven!

By Alex Seitz-Wald via Salon.com

Naomi Wolf, Edward Snowden (Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar)

Naomi Wolf, Edward Snowden
(Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar)

Every time there’s a shooting at an elementary school or a bombing at a marathon, people harboring an obsession with — or financial interest in — conspiracy theories will jump on inconsistencies to tear down the “official narrative” and replace it with their own, no matter how far-fetched. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before the conspiracists set their eternally skeptical eyes on another target. Meet the Edward Snowden truthers.

What’s surprising about the Snowden theories is that one might think he’d be a sympathetic figure to people deeply skeptical of government power. But instead of holding him up as hero (or even a traitor), some are intent on labeling him a co-conspirator.

Perhaps the most prominent Snowden truther is Naomi Wolf, whom Al Gore reportedly paid $15,000 a month to advise his presidential campaign. People were a little surprised Friday when the prominent feminist author and activist posted a lengthy essay on her Facebook page wondering if Snowden may actually be a plant from “the Police State.”
matrix-red-pill-or-blue-pill_600px
Wolf wrote that she has a “creeping concern” that Snowden “is not who he purports to be,” mostly because Wolf expects leakers to be disheveled, inarticulate and litigious (apparently based on her experience with Jullian Assange), and Snowden is none of these things. “To me this reads as someone who has learned his talking points,” she wrote. And his girlfriend “happens to pole-dance?” — very suspicious! “It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled,” she wrote. Ergo: Snowden is likely a government stooge.

conspiracies04The missive was rightly mocked online, and predicated on a number of factual misunderstandings. Still, Wolf is hardly alone. On the fever swamps of the Internet’s conspiracy sites, plenty of posts dissect Snowden’s biography and find gaps that can only be filled by CIA dirty tricks, apparently.

Webster Tarpley, a Lyndon LaRouche ally who hosts an antiwar radio show that often dips into 9/11 trutherism, proposed this theory Friday: “The most likely hypothesis for Snowden is that he’s a triple agent.” Here’s how that would work: On the first level, Snowden works for the NSA (via Booz Allen), and on the second level, he’s a whistle-blower. As for the third level: “Then at bottom, where is his bread really buttered? CIA. At the bottom, he’s a CIA agent all along,” Tarpley said on his radio program. The CIA’s purpose with Snowden is both to weaken Obama and push the president to intervene in Syria, which, conveniently, the White House announced it would do Friday. See?

False Flag Alex JonesBut writing at Alex Jones’ InfoWars.com, investigative journalist Jon Rappoport sees Snowden as a pawn in a clandestine bureaucratic struggle between the CIA and the NSA:

Here is a more likely scenario. Snowden never saw any of those thousands of documents on an NSA computer. Never happened. Instead, he was either used or volunteered as a CIA operative to carry the endless turf war between CIA and NSA a new step forward. […]

This was a covert op launched by the CIA against a chief rival, the NSA. NSA, the agency that’s far bigger than the CIA. NSA, the agency that’s been taking over intelligence gathering, that considers itself superior to everybody else in the intelligence field. The CIA, of course, couldn’t be seen as the NSA leaker. They needed a guy.

This is the more plausible scenario to Rappoport because he just doesn’t believe Snowden’s biography, as he wrote in more detail at Activist Post. For instance, how did he sign up for special forces training if he never completed high school? “These are red flags. They raise questions. Serious ones,” he wrote.

A widely shared blog post from Scott Creighton, meanwhile, calls Snowden a “manufactured hero” and expands the conspiracy to include . . .

MORE . . .

Acupuncture Doesn’t Work

steven_novellaPosted by via Science-Based Medicine

About a year ago the editors of Anesthesia & Analgesia solicited a written debate on whether or not acupuncture is effective or simply an elaborate placebo. Four experienced acupuncture researchers agreed to write the pro-acupuncture article, Wang, Harris, Lin and Gan.

"In layman’s terms, acupuncture does not work – for anything."

“In layman’s terms, acupuncture does not work – for anything.”

They asked David Colquhoun to write the con position, and David asked me to write it with him (which, of course, I enthusiastically agreed to do).

The article is fortunately published in open access, and so I can reprint it here (full article is below). What I think David and I convincingly demonstrated is that, according to the usual standards of medicine, acupuncture does not work.

Let me explain what I mean by that. Clinical research can never prove that an intervention has an effect size of zero. Rather, clinical research assumes the null hypothesis, that the treatment does not work, and the burden of proof lies with demonstrating adequate evidence to reject the null hypothesis. So, when being technical, researchers will conclude that a negative study “fails to reject the null hypothesis.”

Further, negative studies do not demonstrate an effect size of zero, but rather that any possible effect is likely to be smaller than the power of existing research to detect. The greater the number and power of such studies, however, the closer this remaining possible effect size gets to zero. At some point the remaining possible effect becomes clinically insignificant.

In other words, clinical research may not be able to detect the difference between zero effect and a tiny effect, but at some point it becomes irrelevant.

What David and I have convincingly argued, in my opinion, is that after decades of research and more than 3000 trials, acupuncture researchers have failed to reject the null hypothesis, and any remaining possible specific effect from acupuncture is so tiny as to be clinically insignificant.

In layman’s terms, acupuncture does not work – for anything.

This has profound clinical, ethical, scientific, and practical implications. In my opinion humanity should not waste another penny, another moment, another patient – any further resources on this dead end. We should consider this a lesson learned, cut our losses, and move on.

I suspect, however, human nature being what it is, that this will not happen anytime soon.

Read the entire article Acupuncture Is Theatrical Placebo (Anesthesia & Analgesia).

The Sedona Energy Vortex

Do a series of spiritual energy vortexes, of a type unknown to science, exist in Sedona, AZ?

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

Read transcript below or listen here.

Today we’re going to visit central Arizona in the American Southwest, along a wet green valley cutting through the red rock desert. This is the town of Sedona, once a humble ranching and retirement community, later popular with art galleries, and today a full-blown, prices-through-the-roof home to the rich and famous and opulent resorts, overrun with private jets and Range Rovers. Cathedral Rock TenWhat catapulted this remote hamlet into stardom? In large part, it was Sedona’s reputation among the New Age elite as a mystical Mecca, a place where the Earth breathes its energy in and out, invigorating the enlightened and enriching the meditative. For the city of Sedona is virtually synonymous with what the faithful call an energy vortex.

Normally, the plural of vortex is vortices, but people in Sedona have a slightly abnormal view of what a vortex is. Accordingly, they refer to them in the plural as vortexes. Although most vortex believers are genuine, a huge tourism industry has been built up around these mystical constructs. Most tourist maps describe four main vortexes in Sedona: the Airport Vortex, the Boynton Canyon Vortex, the Cathedral Rock Vortex, and the Bell Rock Vortex. What exactly are they?

vortex_cropped
Sedona Vortex Tours says:

A vortex is a place of concentrated energy that people can sense.

About.com says:

These vortexes are subtle energy centers where spiritual and psychic powers are enhanced.

Love Sedona says:

The energy resonates with and strengthens the Inner Being of each person that comes within about a quarter to a half mile of it. This resonance happens because the vortex energy is very similar to the subtle energy operating in the energy centers inside each person.

Sedona.net even warns of potential physical effects:

…You may feel a range of sensations from a slight tingling on exposed skin, to a vibration emanating from the ground when you encounter a vortex. Most often a vortex is felt by palpable sensation across the nape of the neck and the shoulder blades.

[…]

Vortex.ico_02_250pxA vortex is an exquisite manifestation of fluid dynamics. You see them around the edge of your paddle when you canoe; you see them in the storm clouds of Jupiter; you see them when someone blows a smoke ring; you even see them when you stir your coffee. Vortices can occur in any fluid; air, water, magma, so long as there is some force stirring it. A vortex is the most common way that a fluid converts the energy put into it by the stirring motion into potential energy. Pressure is highest at the edge of the stirring spoon, the tip of the aircraft wing, or whatever is doing the stirring. As the pressure is reduced the further you go from the axis, these differentials in pressure cause movement at different speeds. The formation of vortices follows Bernoulli’s Principle, set forth in Daniel Bernoulli‘s 1738 magnum opus on fluid dynamics, Hydrodynamica.

[…]

So from a physics perspective, we see there are two necessary ingredients for a vortex to exist: first, a fluid; and second, some stirring influence. When we try to match up a real vortex with the Sedona version, we quickly find there are no matches to be made. The “energy field” described by the vortex proponents is not the air or anything else that has the physical properties of a fluid; therefore there can be no pressure differentials or fluid dynamics in play. Since the fluid is not there, there is no canoe paddle or stirring spoon or uplifting warm air against falling cold air to initiate turbulent flow. Physically, anyway, a Sedona-type vortex does not exist. If there’s no physical fluid, there are no fluid dynamics.

Spiritual-Awakening-Sedona_250pxBut many vortex proponents will be the first to acknowledge this. It is a vortex of spiritual energy, not of any physical force. You’re not likely to have any success trying to pin down a vortex believer by discussing the properties of this alleged energy field. The whole idea is, of course, completely unscientific; as we discussed at length in the very first Skeptoid episode #1, New Age Energy. Energy is simply a measurement of work capability, it is not a physical thing unto itself. It is not a glowing cloud of power. It’s a measurement, not a fluid that swirls and flows. There is no such thing as an energy field. Yet, a few vortex proponents buck the trend and do attempt to ascribe physical properties to them.

The usual suspect is magnetism, as discussed at length by independent researchers such as Ben Lonetree, who has gone to great lengths to analyze US Geological Survey magnetometer readings of the region. A 2002 USGS report says:

Volcanic rocks are the most prevalent magnetic lithology of this region, and we expect high-amplitude, short-wavelength anomalies over volcanic terranes, especially in the Black Hills and the area between Page Springs and Sedona.

811_200pxThis is referencing paleomagnetism. When volcanic lava comes to the surface as liquid, its ferromagnetic particles align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field like so many tiny compass needles. As it cools and hardens into rock, these alignments become fixed. When later tectonic processes disrupt the placement and orientation of this rock, a magnetic anomaly results, which is basically just a tiny variance in the local magnetic field.

The problem with trying to associate such magnetic variances with the vortexes is that Sedona’s variances are not especially remarkable, certainly not unique, and certainly nowhere near the magnitude of much greater variances all around the world.

MORE . . .

Also See: I Tried to Have a Spiritual Experience in the Desert (Vice.com)

sedona-vortex1_600px

Top 10 Secret Societies

By Jamie Frater via Listverse

Through history there have been many secret societies and conspiracy theories about those societies. This is a list of 10 of the most famous and popular secret societies or alleged secret societies.

1. Skull and Bones [Wikipedia]

georgewskullnbones-tm_250px

Members of the Skull and Bones (George Bush is left of the clock) [1947]

The Order of Skull and Bones, a Yale University society, was originally known as the Brotherhood of Death. It is one of the oldest student secret societies in the United States. It was founded in 1832 and membership is open to an elite few. The society uses masonic inspired rituals to this day. Members meet every Thursday and Sunday of each week in a building they call the “Tomb”.

According to Judy Schiff, Chief Archivist at the Yale University Library, the names of the members were not kept secret until the 1970s, but the rituals always have been. Both of the Bush presidents were members of the society while studying at Yale, and a number of other members have gone on to great fame and fortune.

The society is surrounded by conspiracy theories; the most popular of which is probably the idea that the CIA was built on members from the group. The CIA released a statement in 2007 (coinciding with the popularity of the film The Good Shepherd) in which it denied that the group was an incubator for the CIA. You can read that document here.

2. Freemasons [Wikipedia]

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Freemasons Annual Meeting [1992]

The Grand Masonic Lodge was created in 1717 when four small groups of lodges joined together. Membership levels were initially first and second degree, but in the 1750s this was expanded to create the third degree which caused a split in the group. When a person reaches the third degree, they are called a Master Mason.

Masons conduct their regular meetings in a ritualized style. This includes many references to architectural symbols such as the compass and square. They refer to God as “The Great Architect of the Universe”. The three degrees of Masonry are: 1: Entered Apprentice, this makes you a basic member of the group. 2: Fellow Craft, this is an intermediate degree in which you are meant to develop further knowledge of Masonry. 3: Master Mason, this degree is necessary for participating in most masonic activities. Some rites (such as the Scottish rite) list up to 33 degrees of membership.

Masons use signs and handshakes to gain admission to their meetings, as well as to identify themselves to other people who may be Masons. The signs and handshakes often differ from one jurisdiction to another and are often changed or updated. This protects the group from people finding out how to gain admission under false pretenses. Masons also wear stylized clothing based upon the clothing worn by stone masons from the middle ages. The most well known of these is the apron.

In order to become a Mason, you must generally be recommended by a current mason. In some cases you must be recommended three times before you can join. You have to be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Many religions frown upon membership of the Masons, and the Roman Catholic Church forbids Catholics to join under pain of excommunication.

3. Rosicrucians [Wikipedia]

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Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians

The Rosicrucian order is generally believed to have been the idea of a group of German protestants in the 1600s when a series of three documents were published: Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, Confessio Fraternitatis, and The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz anno 1459. The documents were so widely read and influential, that the historian Frances Yeats refers to the 17th century as the Rosicrucian Enlightenment. The first document tells the story of a mysterious alchemist (Christian Rosenkreuz) who travelled to various parts of the world gathering secret knowledge. The second document tells of a secret brotherhood of alchemists who were preparing to change the political and intellectual face of Europe. The third document describes the invitation of Christian Rosenkreuz to attend and assist at the “Chemical” wedding of a King and Queen in a castle of Miracles.

Current members of the Rosicrucian Order claim that its origins are far more ancient than these documents. The authors of the documents seemed to strongly favor Lutheranism and include condemnations of the Catholic Church. Rosicrucianism probably had an influence on Masonry and, in fact, the 18th degree of Scottish Rite Masonry is called the Knight of the Rose Croix (red cross).

There are a large number of Rosicrucian groups today – each claiming to be closely tied to the original. Of the two main divisions, one is a mix of Christianity with Rosicrucian principles, and the other is semi-Masonic. The Masonic type tend to also have degrees of membership.

4. Ordo Templis Orientis [Wikipedia]

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Crowley with OTO Instruments

The OTO (Order of the Temples of the East) is an organization that was originally modeled on Masonry but, under the leadership of the self-styled “Great Beast” Aleister Crowley, it took on the principles of his religious system called Thelema. Thelema is based around a single law: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, love is the law, love under the will” [1904]. Membership is based upon degrees of initiation and highly stylized rituals are used. The OTO currently claims over 3,000 members worldwide.

Crowley created a “Mass” for the OTO which is called the Gnostic Mass. Of the “Mass”, Crowley wrote:

“I resolved that my Ritual should celebrate the sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disputable metaphysical theories. I would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science. On the surface this may sound difficult; but in practice I found it perfectly simple to combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity.”

The ritual is very stylized and uses virgin priestesses, children, and priests. Many Ancient Egyptian God’s are invoked, as well as the Devil, and at one point the priestess performs a naked ritual.

5. Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn [Wikipedia]

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Golden Dawn Symbolism

The order of the Golden Dawn was created by Dr. William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. All three were Freemasons and members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (an organization with ties to Masonry). It is considered by many to be a forerunner of the Ordo Templi Orientis and a majority of modern Occult groups.

The belief system of the Golden Dawn is largely taken from Christian mysticism, Qabalah, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Magic, and Renaissance writings. William Yeats, and Aleister Crowly are two of the more famous members of the group.

The fundamental documents of the order are known as the Cipher Documents. These were translated into English using a cipher attributed to Johannes Trithemius. The documents are a series of 60 folios containing magic rituals. The basic structure of many of these rituals appear to originate with Rosicrucianism. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the origins of these documents.

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10 Astounding Examples of Pareidolia In Outer Space

Patrick Weidinger via Listverse

Ever look at clouds and see a rabbit or a dog?  Or pop out a piece of toast and see the partially burnt face of Jesus looking at you? 

This bizarre experience is called pareidolia—a psychological phenomenon whereby a sight or sound triggers something in your brain, persuading you that what you hear or see is something recognizable.

One well-known example of pareidolia involves seeing “the man in the moon”. But there are many more examples of pareidolia in space—and as our robots, spacecraft, and telescopes take more and more images, we’re discovering more space pareidolia daily. Here are ten of the most astounding examples:

10 • Horsehead Nebula – Orion

ic434_mtm_200pxOne of the oldest and most familiar examples of space pareidolia is the horsehead nebula, or Barnard 33, which is a cold and dark cloud of dust and gas silhouetted by the bright nebula IC 434. The Horsehead Nebula is located in the constellation Orion, and appears to be a side-on view of a horsehead.

First noted in 1888, it is 1,500 light years from Earth. The dark shadowing of the Horsehead Nebula is created by dust, but at the base of the nebula you can see bright spots which are young stars just being formed. The bright star just visible in the top left side of the horsehead is a young star still embedded in the stellar nursery of gas and dust. The radiation from this young star is so powerful that it s starting to erode the cloud – so millions of years in the future, the Horsehead Nebula may not bear any resemblance to its current form.

9 • The Face on Mars – Mars

pio_med_200pxAnother very well-known example of pareidolia in space is Cydonia Mensae, or “The Face on Mars”. On July 25, 1976, NASA released a series of images snapped by the Viking spacecraft orbiters. These images depicted the Cydonia Mensae region of Mars—a region of flat-topped mesa-like formations. The first image showed what appeared to be a human face looking skyward. This was originally dismissed as a trick of shadowing on the Martian rocks; a subsequent image, however, likewise showed what would become known as The Face on Mars—even with the sun at a different angle.

These images sparked decades of speculation about the possibility of life on Mars, and prompted talk of advanced civilizations which may have left behind giant, human-like memorials on the planet.

Twenty years later, however, Mars was visited by three more spacecraft which orbited the planet and took higher resolution images.  These better quality images proved that what appeared to be a giant statue of a human face was simply a normal Martian mountain, which—when seen with the correct shadowing and illumination—created pareidolia in the minds of the observers.

8 • Tinker Bell or The Space Hummingbird – Three Galaxies

eso0755a_200pxIn an amazing image captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope, we can observe the collision of three different galaxies. Most interestingly, we can note the effect that each of them is having on the others. As the three galaxies collided, they have twisted, stretched, and pulled one other into a recognizable shape.  Is it Tinker Bell or a Space Hummingbird?  Whichever you decide, it is certainly a beautiful image.

7 • The Elephant on Mars – Mars

Screen-Shot-2013-06-09-at-7.43.51-PM_200pxMars is home to many examples of pareidolia, largely due to the fact that—like the moon—it is so highly photographed. Either that, or Martians have just been busy creating human-like structures for such a very long time. You decide.

Another example is the “Elephant Face”, which resembles an elephant head in profile, complete with an eye and an elongated elephant trunk. The image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and was intended to capture a lava flow in Elysium Planitia.

6 • The Crowned Face – Mars

Screen-Shot-2013-06-09-at-7.45.11-PM_200pxIt seems to me that “The Face on Mars” looks more like the human alien in the film “Prometheus” than any real human. But another pareidolia on Mars, located in the Libya Montes region, looks more genuinely human.

It appears to be an almost classical Greek or Roman face, complete with a crown, and it is often imaginatively referred to as “The Crowned Face”. Remarkably, most people can “see” the Libya Montes face in many different kinds of light.

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Who Is the Grinning Man?

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

Read transcript below or listen here

Should a bright UFO ever streak across the night sky in front of you, don’t be so quick to think the show might already be over. For throughout the 1960s, some who had that very experience found there was more to come. The Grinning Man 01_250pxIt came in the figure of a man, unnaturally tall, strangely dressed in a long shiny green metallic jacket, bald headed and eery looking. But his most distinctive feature is that from which his name comes: his bizarre ear-to-ear grin, like a silent shriek dashed across his face. The Grinning Man frightened UFO witnesses for many years, and some say his visitations are not yet finished.

The original Grinning Man report to make it into print, so far as anyone knows, was published in UFO researcher John Keel‘s 1970 book Strange Creatures from Time and Space. He devotes an entire chapter to the Grinning Man. This original incident concerned two boys walking along a street in New Jersey one night in October 1966. Keel wrote that they saw a strange tall man standing in some brush beneath a turnpike:

Jimmy nudged me… and said “Who’s that guy standing behind you?” I looked around and there he was… behind that fence. Just standing there. He pivoted around and looked right at us… and then he grinned a big old grin.

The man was over six feet tall, they agreed, and was dressed in a “sparkling green” coverall costume that shimmered and seemed to reflect the street lights. There was a wide black belt around his waist… He had a very dark complexion and “little round eyes… real beady… set far apart.” They could not remember seeing any hair, ears, or nose on this figure, nor did they notice his hands.

That same evening, Keel wrote that a strange UFO was being reported just kilometers away at several sites throughout New Jersey. It was a brilliant white light, darting through the sky and behind hills, and was reported in various locations by civilians and police officers alike, most notably at Wanaque Reservoir.

The Grinning Man 02_250pxBut the most dramatic and seminal encounter with the Grinning Man came about three weeks later. Woodrow Wilson Derenberger, a 50-year-old sewing machine salesman, was driving home from Marietta, OH to Mineral Wells, WV, on the night of November 2, 1966. He had a very strange experience. So strange, in fact, that the next day he went on WTAP television in Ohio to recount his tale:

I am a salesman and I drive a truck, and last night shortly after 7:00, I was coming from Marietta OH, coming down Interstate 77, and just before I came to the insection of route 47, there was a car, passed me, overtaking me from behind; and following closely behind this car was this unidentified flying object, and as the car behind passed me, this object was following close behind it and swerved directly in front of my truck, turning crosswise. And when it turned crosswise, it slowed down. It started slowing not abruptly or too fast, but gave me plenty of time to step on my brakes and slow down with it. But it forced me to come to a complete stop. As soon as I had stopped, there was a door opened in the side of this vehicle, and this man stepped out, and came directly to me, came to the truck. He walked to the right hand side of the truck, and he told me to roll down the window; he asked me to roll down the window on the right hand side of my truck, and I done what he asked. And this man stood there, and he first asked me what I was called, and I knew he meant my name and I told him my name. And then he asked me, he said “Why are you frightened?” He said “Don’t be frightened, we wish you no harm.” He said “We mean you no harm, we wish you only happiness.” And I told him my name, and when I told him my name, he said he was called Cold. That was the name that he was called by.

They had a telepathic conversation, mostly small talk, where Derenberger was headed, what the next town was; and after a few minutes Cold returned to his vehicle and flew away. Derenberger described the vehicle as a shiny, charcoal-colored thing the shape of a kerosene lamp, tapered at both ends and with a bulge in the middle.

Together, these two events alone comprise the bulk of the Grinning Man legend.

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Weirdly, None of the Conspiracy Theorists at Bilderberg 2013 Made Any Sense

By Matt Shea via VICE Nordics

01_300pxEvery year, the Bilderberg Group – a collection of the world’s most powerful people – get together to discuss how to keep on being powerful. Now, considering that the past fortnight hasn’t been a great one for democracy (shouts to Turkey and the NSA), I wouldn’t blame you if the prospect of heads of state covertly meeting with the financial elite far from the media’s watchful gaze gets your goat a little. Especially as all the while unemployment continues to rise, cities continue to burn and things are so bad in Syria that Nick Griffin just went there in an attempt to score political capital.

The thing is, the average conspiracy theorist will look at this information, and not just see a horrible mess that we’ve arrived at through basic human weakness and error. Conspiracy theorists see the word “Bilderberg” and immediately start joining the dots: they’re poisoning the water supply, they’re enslaving your mind – this isn’t the result of human weakness or error at all, but a malicious plan being orchestrated against humans by a New World Order of aliens from space. With a guestlist including David Cameron, IMF chief Christine Lagarde (one of 14 women among 134 delegates), David Petraeus and the heads of BP, Goldman Sachs and Shell, the public surely does have a right to know what they’re discussing. Unfortunately, that legitimate demand for media clearance gets discredited by the swarms of conspiracy theorists who show up at the event each year to stand outside the gate and scream stuff about secret occult societies.

Sure enough, when the Bilderbergers arrived at the five-star Grove hotel in Watford last weekend, they were joined by the biggest crowd of conspiracists to date. They’d decided to turn it into an event and so the inaugural Bilderberg Fringe Festival was born, complete with campsite, makeshift press tent, citizen security and the biggest names in the conspiracy world, including David Icke and Alex Jones. So what’s the latest in secret truths dreamt up by the powerful to fuck us? I went down to the Grove to test the (fluoride saturated) water.

Indie Meds.

Indie Meds.

When I arrived, the police were operating a one-in, one-out policy. “The event has already exceeded capacity,” they shouted. “We intended to have 1,000 people there; there are now 2,000. Please keep off the grass.”

“Keep off the grass? Is that what we’re paying our taxes for?” one guy shouted, to whoops and cheers from the crowd. I waited patiently for my turn to get closer to the fringe festival, along with a bunch of totally legit media organisations, like InfoWars, WeAreChange and Truthjuice. Everyone seemed nervous and the air smelled of Cannabis Cup-winning weed. I wondered whether these two phenomena might be connected in some way.

After watching journalists peel off and away all around me, I finally got through. Alex Jones, the keynote speaker, hadn’t begun his speech yet, so I started making friends.

“What’s your name?” I asked a guy in a brown robe.

“Indie Meds. That’s my enlightened name since I started to wake up.”

“When did you wake up?”

“I started to wake up about a year ago, when I had a stroke on the left side of my brain. Afterwards, my aware side woke up and I started to notice that the news was a load of rubbish. I started doing my own research into Egyptian pyramids, the Mayans, sacred geometry, the whole package – and aliens. They all sort of came together in a package and I put the pieces together myself.”

“What ties all those things together?”

“The message is the same – back to the Mayans, back to the Egyptians and back to the Atlantians even before that: You are God; you are one.”

Right at the back there is The Grove Hotel, where the Bilderberg Meeting was being held.

Right at the back there is The Grove Hotel, where the Bilderberg Meeting was being held.

Right at the back there is The Grove Hotel, where the Bilderberg Meeting was being held.

“What does this have to do with Bilderberg?”

“Bilderberg’s just part of the power game,” Indie Meds told me. “All the wars, all the media, all the politics, all the religions. I’m sure they’re tied in with the Vatican, too. Once you start doing research, you find you can link everything together, and once you’ve linked it together it changes your outlook on life.”

“Okay. What’s the costume for?”

“Because I like dressing up as a Jedi.”

After speaking to Indie Meds, I was still confused. What did it mean to be “awake”? Do I need to have a stroke in order to wake up? And how did sacred geometry have anything to do with a load of powerful people who meet once a year without any cameras present? I asked some more people for help.

Phillis (left) and Jud Charlton.

Phillis (left) and Jud Charlton.

Maybe Jud Charlton and his ventriloquist dummy, Philis, could help me wake up.

“The idea with Ventriloquism Against Conspiracy (VAC) is that we come together,” Jud said.

“If I came on my own, it’d be no good,” chuckled Phillis.

“Fair enough,” I replied. “What’s the conspiracy?”

“It’s all about: let’s get the information out. Let’s get all the stuff that they’re doing out.”

“What are they doing?”

Many of the "awake" people seemed to spend a lot of time sleeping.

Many of the “awake” people seemed to spend a lot of time sleeping.

“Well, that’s the issue, isn’t it?”

I stared blankly at him for a few seconds. “Yes. Wait – what’s the issue again?”

Alex Jones

Alex Jones

Before I could enquire any further, a wave of hollers and people shouting the Star Wars “Imperial March” song told me that Alex Jones had taken to the podium. The show was about to begin.

I’m sure by now you’re aware of who Alex Jones is. If not, he’s kind of like a wrestler, if the WWE scriptwriters forced that wrestler to assume the persona of an extremely paranoid person every time he entered the ring. He seems to have mastered the debating technique of overwhelming you with such a torrent of falsehoods that you couldn’t possibly address them all in real time.

“If you think hundreds of raped children and necrophilia is anything, that again is only the surface,” he began, gently feeling his way into the swing of things.

MORE . . .

Also see: Alex Jones, moron extraordinaire, strikes again!!!! (iLLumiNuTTi.com)

Is that a FEMA Camp? – June 9, 2013 Edition

Is that a FEMA Camp? is a blog dedicated to investigating claims of FEMA camp locations.
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Below is some of their findings. Enjoy :)
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June 9, 2013 Edition

Black Hills Nat’l Forest, South Dakota

3989_20015_Black_Hills_National_Forest_md_200pxThe claim: north of Edgemont, southwest part of state. WWII internment camp being renovated.What it really is: A bogus claim. There are neither any Japanese internment camps, nor POW camps located in the state of South Dakota.

Warsaw, Missouri

The claim: Unconfirmed report of a large concentration camp facility.What it really is: Using Google maps the largest facilities that I found there was a Walmart and a U-Haul dealer. Nothing there even comes close to looking like a FEMA camp.

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri

The claim: Situated in the middle of Mark Twain National Forest in Pulaski County. This site has been known for some UN training, also home to the US Army Urban Warfare Training school “Stem Village”.What it really is: Fort Leonard Wood has not hosted any training for UN troops, or any other foreign troops here, nor does it host urban combat training, although it is used for the Army Police Corps training.

afb_250pxRichards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri

The claim: located in Grandview, near K.C.MO. A very large internment facility has been built on this base, and all base personnel are restricted from coming near it.What it really is: This Air Force base was closed down in 1994. A few companies do use the site, but much of it is now the in a deteriorating state.

Oakdale, Louisiana

The claim: Located on US route 165 about 50 miles south of Alexandria; two federal detention centers just southeast of Fort Polk.What it really is: There are in fact two Federal detention centers here. One is called the Federal Correctional Institution, Oakdale, and houses low security inmates.The other one is called the Federal Detention Center, Oakdale, and houses male hold over inmates, pre-trial inmates, and minimum security inmates in a prison camp.

Livingston, Louisiana

The claim: WWII German/Italian internment camp being renovated?; halfway between Baton Rouge and Hammond, several miles north of Interstate 12.What it really is: The World War Two interment camp (known as Camp Livingston) was shut down in 1945. The site of the camp is now run by the U.S. Forest Service, and is open to the public for any one who wishes to explore the site and see what remains.

Ft. Polk, Louisiana

Welcome to Fort Polk_200px

The claim: This is a main base for UN troops & personnel, and a training center for the disarmament of America.

What it really is: Fort Polk is an army and National Guard training base. The land on which Fort Polk is on also has multiple historical and archaeological sites located on it as well, information of which can be found here.

Click here for the latest findings at “Is that a FEMA Camp?”

Vaccine Denial Pseudoscience

steven_novellaby Steven Novella via Skepticblog

I was recently asked about this article, Bedrock of vaccination theory crumbles as science reveals antibodies not necessary to fight viruses, which is a year old, but is making the rounds recently on social media. I was asked if there is any validity to the article. It’s from NaturalNews (not to be confused with NatureNews), which means, in my experience, it is almost certainly complete nonsense.

For the average consumer my advice is to completely ignore NaturalNews and Mike Adams. He is, among other things, an anti-vaccine crank. This article is written by staff writer Ethan Huff.  Let’s take a close look  and see if it lives up to the site’s reputation.

He writes:

While the medical, pharmaceutical, and vaccine industries are busy pushing new vaccines for practically every condition under the sun, a new study published in the journal Immunity completely deconstructs the entire vaccination theory. It turns out that the body’s natural immune systems, comprised of both innate and adaptive components, work together to ward off disease without the need for antibody-producing vaccines.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

He opens with a bit of hyperbole – medical science is developing vaccines for infectious diseases that respond to vaccines, not “practically every condition under the sun.” Further, his word choice marks his piece as propaganda, referring to the medical “industry” rather than medical “science.”

He takes a nose dive, however, in his next sentence – he claims that one study (already a dubious claim) deconstructs the entire vaccine theory, which is built upon thousands of studies over decades of research. The study in question: B cell maintenance of subcapsular sinus macrophages protects against a fatal viral infection independent of adaptive immunity, is not even a study of vaccines.

He claims that the study shows . . .

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Star Wars Elevator Prank (USING THE FORCE FOR REAL) – YouTube

Via Star Wars Elevator Prank (USING THE FORCE FOR REAL) – YouTube

Having fun with the lovely students at King’s College London (KCL) with the force.

UK – Whitby councillor claims to have fathered alien child

By Stuart Minting via The Northern Echo (UK)

Simon Parkes who will star in a documentary about his alien encounters

Simon Parkes who will star in a documentary about his alien encounters

A LABOUR politician has defended his beliefs in extra-terrestrial life – after claiming to have fathered a child with an alien.

Married father-of-three Simon Parkes, who represents Stakesby on Whitby Town Council, said his wife had rowed with him after revealing he had a child called Zarka with an alien he refers to as the Cat Queen.

The 53-year-old driving instructor said he has sexual relations with the alien about four times a year.

“What will happen is that we will hold hands and I will say ‘I’m ready’ and then the technology I don’t understand will take us up to a craft orbiting the earth,” he explained.

alien“My wife found out about it and was very unhappy, clearly. That caused a few problems, but it is not on a human level, so I don’t see it as wrong.

Councillor Parkes, who also claims his “real mother” is a 9ft green alien with eight fingers, said people only claim he is mad because they have not shared his experiences and that the encounters don’t affect his work on behalf of Whitby residents.

“I can understand how you would say that because you have not seen anything yourself and that’s your immediate fallback position, but you come and spend some time with me and follow me around for a day and you will actually walk away shaking your head because you will think actually he’s not mad.

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10 Interesting Attempts To Communicate With Aliens

By S. Grant via Listverse

alien-contact_125pxFor hundreds—if not thousands—of years, people have had a fascination with trying to make contact with extra terrestrials. So far, all the messages we’ve sent into the universe have gone unanswered—and judging by the confusing, random, and downright weird transmissions you’ll find in this list, it might be a good thing if our communications continue to go unnoticed. If any intelligent life does intercept these varied signals, it’s difficult to know what kind of impression they’ll have of humanity—but it’s a fair bet they’ll think we’re pretty strange.

10 • Crop Triangles and Burning Canals

crop circle_250pxWhile people often associate crop circles with communication from aliens, some of the earliest forms of crop circles were actually made by people trying to contact extraterrestrials. For instance, in the 1820s, German mathematician Carl Friedrich concluded that the best way to converse with aliens would be to make a message they could see from above. Naturally, he ventured into the Siberian forest and systematically cut down trees to make a massive triangular shape, and inside the triangle he planted wheat. He also transmitted multiple “sky telegraphs,” which involved using a heliotrope (his own invention) to reflect sunlight towards other planets.

Two decades later, astronomer Joseph Von Littrow, who thought the moon was inhabited, came up with the idea of digging huge symbol-shaped trenches in the Sahara Desert, filling them with oil, and lighting them on fire at night. He hoped that the bright flames would alert space beings of our presence on Earth. Both Littrow and Friedrich assumed that geometric shapes were the ideal way to connect with an alien, since it’s believed that mathematical principles are consistent throughout the universe.

9 • Concentrated Light

Concentrated Light_250pxAfter seeing pinpoints of light on Mars and Venus (probably meteorological phenomena), French inventor Charles Cros came to believe he had witnessed lights from distant, other worldly cities. So in 1869, he took Carl Friedrich’s ideas a step further by using parabolic mirrors to direct light from electric lamps towards other planets. Using something like Morse code, Cros flashed his lights on and off in an intentional pattern which he hoped would be recognized by another intelligent being.

He was doubtful that the small mirrors would be effective, but said that if they did happen to work, “It will be a moment of joy and pride. The eternal isolation of the spheres is vanquished.”

Not unexpectedly, Cros didn’t hear back from the Martians. Despite this setback, he repeatedly petitioned the French government to build a massive mirror capable of burning giant shapes into the deserts of Mars and Venus. For more than one reason (mainly because it was impossible, and also because starting a fire on another planet probably isn’t the best way to say “hello”), the French government didn’t honor Cros’ request, and he was never able to fulfill his dream of alien contact.

8 • Pioneer Plaque

Pioneer10-plaque_250pxIn the early 1970s, NASA launched two space probes, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, with the mission of exploring the large gas planets, the asteroid belt, and the outer reaches of the solar system. In addition to outfitting the spacecrafts with an array of scientific instruments, the astronauts also thought it would be a good idea to tack on a message to extraterrestrials—because after all, you never know.

Famed astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake designed the Pioneer Plaque. The plaque is a six inch by nine inch gold anodized tablet, depicting diagrams of the universe (just in case the aliens need a map), a schematic of hydrogen (the most plentiful element in the universe), as well as pictures of a couple of naked people—once again, why not? Identical copies of the plaque were bolted to the frames of each spacecraft.

NASA lost contact with Pioneer 10 in 2003 and then Pioneer 11 in 2005, and while they both provided loads of insight about our solar system, we’ve yet to answer the big question: can aliens understand our bizarre drawings? Some argue that the symbols are too abstract for an alien intelligence to comprehend, while others worry that we’re giving potentially dangerous life forms a direct map to our planet. Indeed, some also fear that the nude images make humans seem a little pervy. And of course, all of the above groups are outnumbered by those who believe that the whole business is a big waste of time and taxpayer money. Until a little green guy shows up, plaque in hand, thanking us for the directions—we’ll never know.

7 • Arecibo Message

arecibo at-6.51.00-PM_250pxAround the same time as the Pioneer launches, astronomers were also toying with the idea of using focused, amplified radio waves to connect with unearthly beings. They knew that radio waves were less affected by cosmic dust than light, and they also figured out how to direct radio waves at targeted points many light years into space. For these reasons, it seemed that radio was the best way to reach out into the depths of the universe and deliver a message.

Once again, Frank Drake and Carl Sagan teamed up to concoct another human-to-alien communication. This time their message consisted of seven parts, including an image of a human, the structure of DNA, atomic numbers of common elements, and the numbers one to ten. They transmitted the communication in binary digits, with all the zeroes and ones represented by two different frequencies. Incidentally, the images ended up looking like something out of an Atari game, so if the aliens ever decode the signal they may simply think we’re big fans of 80s video games, and decide to avoid us.

In 1974, astronomers used the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico to direct the message towards star cluster M13, which is home to an abundance of stars and therefore has a better chance of containing intelligent life. The only downside to M13’s location is that it’s 21,000 light years away—so if an alien ever does send a radio reply, it will take us more than forty thousand years to get it.

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Man Claims Psychic Vision Before Accusing Cop Of High Profile Murder

By Jeff Neumeyer WPTA-TV, WISE-TV, and CW

Michael Wiggins

Michael Wiggins

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) — A North Webster man claims a psychic vision led him to accuse a police officer from his town of a high-profile abduction and murder in Tennessee.

But the accuser is the one sitting in jail, because authorities say he lied about the case to get revenge against the officer.

32-year old Michael Wiggins is being held on $100,000 bond, after authorities say he falsely accused North Webster officer David May of the 2011 abduction and killing of Holly Bobo.

May 9th, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations got an email from Wiggins, telling them Officer May drove his police cruiser to Tennessee on April 13th 2011, used horse tranquilizers to kill the woman, and then buried her body on a Kosciusko County farm.

Holly Bobo

Holly Bobo

Bobo disappeared in April 2011, and the missing person case has not yet been solved.

It has been a huge story in Tennessee, and has grabbed national headlines.

Investigators looking into Wiggins’ accusation determined Officer May had worked his regular shift in North Webster on April 13, 2011, and that none of the department’s patrol cars had mileage counts consistent with making a trip to Tennessee during that time period.

Wiggins, however, insisted May was guilty, claiming he knew because he’s psychic.

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Hypnosis showed I was a killer

If you ask me, this looks and sounds like a classic case of false memory or planted memories.

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

Also see “False Memories” at Psychology Today or Wikipedia


Janet ‘forgot she shot rapist’ in 1976
Relieved ... Janet is grateful hypnosis helped her remember

Relieved … Janet is grateful hypnosis helped her remember

By GRAEME CULLIFORD and SASKIA MURPHY The Sun | News

SHOCKED Janet Holt has told how hypnosis revealed she KILLED a farmer who she believes raped her — more than 30 years ago.

Janet, 64, had buried the horrific memories until she went for therapy.

In 1976 Fred Handford, 56 — her business partner on the farm — vanished. Despite a huge police search he was never found.

For more than 30 years Janet, who worked with him on the farm, had no clue what happened to him.

Young farmer ... Janet

Young farmer … Janet

But she had repeated unexplained nightmares about Fred. So she underwent therapy to see if there was something locked deep in her mind.

She was unprepared for the memories that flooded back.

Janet said the recollection was terrifyingly clear — she shot Fred after he twice raped her, then put his body in a wheelbarrow and buried him on their farm.

She said: “There are no words to describe how I felt when I realised. I gave myself in to police.”

Janet was arrested and showed cops where she believed she buried the body. But after extensive searches of the 50-acre site, he was never found and she was released.

Back in 1976, Janet — aged 26 — had been a worker on Ball Beard Farm, Buxton, Derbyshire — where Fred lived — for more than ten years. She felt her relationship with him was like a father and daughter.

But one March day she had a blackout. She woke at her parents’ house and could not remember the previous four days.

Janet said: “I had this urge to go to the farm because I had a feeling something had happened.

“I took my mother with me but Fred was nowhere to be seen. After a while we called police.”

Fred was declared missing. Janet was quizzed but freed. She thought he might have killed himself.

Then Janet heard of a form of psychotherapy called Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) — used to recall memories and eliminate trauma.

She said: “The therapy involved me trying to relive the lost four days and moving my eyes from side to side to stimulate the memories.”

After four hours, Janet believes she recalled everything. She said: “Four days before Fred vanished, he raped me twice. I had clear visions of it.

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ESP

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

In a nutshell: ESP stands for extrasensory perception. If you had ESP, you could see, feel, or hear things without using your eyes, hands, or ears. There are some scientists who say they have proof of ESP, but most scientists think the proof is weak and does not support a belief in ESP.

ESP stands for extrasensory perception.

mindcontrol_640px_200pxSensory perception is seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, or tasting. Extrasensory perception is when you see or hear something that can’t be seen or heard with your eyes and ears. Such experiences happen outside the normal range of the senses and are said to be paranormal or psychic. Most scientists don’t think paranormal events actually happen or that anyone is actually psychic.

If you had ESP, you could see, feel, or hear things without using your eyes, hands, or ears. Somehow your brain would get messages and images from distant places and distant times. If your brain confused you with perceptions from the past and from places far away while you were trying to get dressed, eat breakfast, get on the school bus, pay attention in class, or do your homework, you would have a very hard time making it through the day. As far as we know, this has never happened to anybody.

mind reading or telepathy

Mind reading is a type of ESP where a person “sees” what is in another person’s mind. Mind reading is also called telepathy. The scientific study of telepathy began over one hundred twenty years ago when it was called psychical research. Today, scientists who study ESP are called parapsychologists and their science is called parapsychology. (Psychical comes from the Greek word for spirit. Many parapsychologists say the mind is a spirit.)

rsz_museumesptestThe first scientific test of telepathy was done in England in 1882. Scientists at the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) tested several young girls who said that they could tell what each other was thinking. The scientists put the girls in different rooms and asked those in one room about a card or name of a person that a girl in the other room was thinking of. Many tests were given over a period of six years. The scientists said there was no way the girls could have got as many right answers as they did just by guessing. The scientists also said they were sure the girls weren’t cheating. The scientists agreed that the girls were reading each other’s minds. The scientists were right about one thing. The girls couldn’t have gotten as many right answers as they did just by guessing. But the scientists were wrong about the cheating. The girls—the Creery sisters and their servant Jane Dean—admitted they cheated by using secret signals. This wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last time, that children would fool scientists.

In 1848 two sisters, Kate Fox (age 12) and Margaretta Fox (15), said they heard strange rapping noises in their bedroom. They got people to believe that they were getting messages from spirits. Soon they went on tour with their big sister Leah who was in her mid-30s. They did séances, which became the rage in both the U.S. and Europe. In 1871, the Fox sisters fooled Sir William Crookes (1832-1919), an important scientist who attended a Fox-girls séance in London. Sir William said he tested the girls “in every way that I could devise” and was sure they were not producing the rapping noises “by trickery or mechanical means.” In 1888 the sisters confessed that they made the raps by cracking their toe-joints. They made bumping noises by fastening an apple to a string under their petticoats and bouncing it off the floor.

q461-2From 1979-1983, two teenagers tricked scientist Peter Phillips into thinking they were able to move and bend objects by their thoughts, a power known as psychokinesis. (Psychokinesis comes from two Greek words meaning mind or spirit and movement. Psychokinesis, when it involves moving an object with mental power alone, is called telekinesis, literally distant-movement.) Steve Shaw (18) and Mike Edwards (17) fooled the scientist for four years through more than 160 hours of tests. One of their favorite tricks was to pretend to bend a spoon or fork with thoughts, a trick made popular by Uri Geller. Geller, however, claimed that he had psychokinetic powers. At one time, he claimed he got his powers from the planet “Hoova” in another star system and a UFO called “IS” or “Intelligence in the Sky.”

Skeptics don’t think there is good evidence that anyone has moved even a pencil across a table using only the power of thought. Psychokinesis nearly always involves trickery, though we might occasionally think we caused something to happen when it happens right after we thought about it happening. If you point to the sky during a rain storm and say “let there be lightning” and then a lightning bolt shoots across the sky, you might think you caused it. You’d probably be wrong.

MORE . . .


James Alan Hydrick claimed to be able to perform acts of telekinesis, such as his trademark trick involving the movement of a pencil resting at the edge of a table.

Here he is exposed as a fraud by none other than James Randi:

It was soon after this appearance on That’s My Line Hydrick confessed the fraud to an investigative reporter.


Uri Geller’s Tonight Show failure (courtesy of James Randi):


Also see: Top 10 Psychic Debunkings

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Doomsday Prophecies

Via The Soap Box

doomsday_300pxThere’s been a lot of doomsday predictions and prophecies over the years (and I mean a lot), and fortunately none of them have ever come true. While I have noticed a lot of things about them, there are five things that I have really noticed about them that tends to stick out.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about doomsday prophecies:

5. They have a bad track record.

Every single doomsday prophecy and prediction ever made has always failed to come true, including the big ones that a lot of people believed would happen and were actually preparing for. The most recent example of this is 12/21/2012 ending of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, which many people thought would mark the end of the world, despite the fact that nothing in any Mayan religious texts ever stated this, and even if there was, it wouldn’t have meant that the world was ending anyways…

Thinking about, it’s actually a pretty good thing that these doomsday prophecies and predictions has such a bad track record…

4. They tend to get pushed back.

DOOMSDAY 1021_200pxWhile sometimes when a doomsday prediction fails it will go away, more often then not they just get pushed back to a later date, or will inspire someone else to make a similar prediction for a later date.

One of the most common types of doomsday predictions to this are the New World Order type of predictions. These are predictions that proclaim that the imaginary “New World Order” is going to take over the world and kill lots of people in the process. These types of predictions have failed every single time to come true, and have been pushed back so many times I can’t even count how many times now, and that’s just from Alex Jones alone…

3. They’re pretty vague.

Most of these doomsday predictions and prophecies are quite vague and often times lack many details, if any.

While some of these predictions will at least say what type of disaster is suppose to occur, sometimes they don’t even do that. This causes people to add in their own details about what is suppose to happen, which often times gets very… strange.

MORE . . .

The Liability of a Pattern-Seeking Brain

Not all Conspiracy Theorists are Conspiracy Theorists

Via The Soap Box

Conspiracies 901_250pxThis may odd by what I’m about about to say here, but not all conspiracy theorists are conspiracy theorists.

At least they’re not all true conspiracy theorists per se …

When I think of a conspiracy theorist, I think about a person who not only believes in conspiracy theories, but also refuses to, and out right rejects any evidence that contradicts a conspiracy theory. In time this rejection of the evidence for what they consider “the truth” can lead them down a dark path, one in which causes them to think irrationally and illogically, and become hostile towards those who do not believe them, which can ultimately end up affecting their lives in a negative manner, and causes them to surround themselves with people who think like them.

This is what I typically think of when I think of a conspiracy theorist, due to the result of past encounters with actually conspiracy theorists on the internet. The problem with this is that not all of them are like this.

Not all people who believe in certain conspiracy theories are irrational and hostile people who reject evidence debunking the conspiracy theory they believe in. They might continue to believe in the conspiracy theory regardless of the evidence, but at least they don’t out right reject the evidence without reason. Also, the belief in these conspiracy theories does not effect their lives in a negative manner, and they don’t try to push their theories onto others (which is also something that conspiracy theorists tend to do), and they don’t hang out with other people wo also believe what they believe.

This is why I believe a different term should be used for these people, and not the general term “conspiracy theorist” because, lets all face it, the term “conspiracy theorist” has become a pretty negative term as of late, and I also believe the term is inaccurate for some people as well.

I believe the term that should be used instead for such people should be called “conspiracy believer”.

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10 Mysterious UFO Incidents Confirmed By Radar

By Hestie Barnard Gerber via Listverse

Whether you are a believer or not, it is a fact that Unidentified Objects or Anomalous Aerial Phenomena, are seen and have been seen since ancient times in the earth’s atmosphere. When it comes to sightings of UFO’s, pilots and other aviation professionals are partial to using less stigma-inducing words like “balloon, unknown traffic, unidentified object, traffic, or unknown aircraft” when they are interviewed after having seen something odd during a flight. The most mysterious and thought provoking UFO sightings, are those not only witnessed by several people, but also confirmed by radar. These accounts can never fully be explained and they continue to be real for all the witnesses involved.

10 • 1952 Washington Sightings – USA

dc52flap_300pxFrom 12 to 29 July 1952, a series of sightings took place in Washington. One of the most publicized events took place on the 19th. On that evening, an air traffic controller at Washington National Airport detected seven unidentified objects on his radar screen. His superior immediately verified that the instrumentation wasn’t faulty. Moments later a controller at another facility also confirmed the objects, but he also saw “a bright orange light”, while yet another controller confirmed an orange disc hovering above the airport. At that point the radarscope lit up with even more objects and the controllers phoned Andrews Air Force Base. Tracked by the air force as well as the other radar centers fighter jets was scrambled. Some fighters reported that they saw “white glows” or lights (one even engaged them) while others reported nothing unusual. The Air Force’s “false radar readings caused by a temperature inversion” excuse failed to impress as the objects were also seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses and as such, speculation continues to this day.

9 • Campeche Sighting – Mexico 2004


In March 2004, the crew of a military surveillance plane busy with a routine anti-drug trafficking surveillance flight caught sight of three unidentified objects on their radar. As they couldn’t see anything with the naked eye in the area where the objects were supposed to be, they turned on their infra-red camera to track them. For the next 30 minutes, they recorded 11 unidentified objects moving through the sky at a very high pace. One of the objects also seemed to divide or separate into two different objects. After chasing them, there were a few tense moments when the radar confirmed the objects had surrounded them. In a completely uncharacteristic move, the Mexican government released all the details of the event and they provided the crew, footage and the Head of the Mexican Air Force for examination and questioning by the world’s media.

Also see: UFOs – FOX News – Mexican Air Force – CNN News – OVNIs (YouTube)

8 • Saucer Sam

Saucer sam_300pxIn 1952, Flight Sergeant Roland Hughes was returning to his base from a training mission when a “gleaming silver, metallic disc” started following him. The Sergeant later described the disc to be shiny, highly reflective and about the size of a Lancaster bomber. The disc descended towards him and even traveled alongside him before it sped off at an incredible speed. The object was caught by the RAF radars; the controllers confirmed that the object traveled at speeds impossible for any of the aircraft of the time. Six days later, Hughes was sent to West Germany to give his official account of what happened to senior RAF officers and the aviation Minister. The minister was so convinced, that he briefed civil servants on the matter. After the sighting, Hughes was nicknamed “Saucer Sam” and his colleagues decorated his jet with a painted flying saucer. According to his family, Hughes never spoke about the incident unless he was asked to do so.

7 • The Washington, D.C. Jet Chase – 2002

UFOs DC_300px_300pxIn an incident that is awash with conspiracy theories; NORAD and the Air National Guard picked up an unknown object that entered Washington’s restricted flying zone on 26 July 2002. As the object’s track caused concern, F-16’s were scrambled to intercept the object but the pilots claimed that they saw nothing when they arrived on the scene—the object also disappeared from radar. At the same time in Maryland several witnesses saw a fast-moving bright blue light in the sky; the witnesses also said they saw jets pursuing it at high speed. According to NORAD, that was all that transpired and they view the matter as closed. But, according to the witnesses more than 2 jets were in the air which indicated that the scramble was unique; one dipped its wings on approach as if to communicate with the unknown object and they also claim that the jets trailed the unknown object but the object flew too fast for the jets to keep up. The event featured on FOX news as well as the Washington Post.

Also see: UFO RADAR DETECTED BY NORAD (YouTube)

6 • America West 564 Sighting – 1995

mqdefault_300pxOn the evening of May 25, 1995 America West Flight 564 was flying at an altitude of about 39,000 ft close to Bovina, Texas. While observing lightning outside the plane, the attendant noticed a peculiar set of flickering lights a little bit below the 757. The First Officer was alerted to the phenomena, he immediately saw the lights which he described as eight bright blue strobes. As the rest of the flight crew watched the flashing lights, they could discern the object as being cigar-shaped. The pilots estimated it to be between 300 and 400 ft long. The object could not be seen on the FAA’s radar. The following day the controllers checked with NORAD and discovered that they tracked an unknown object the previous evening that appeared to be stationary, but would accelerate and stop time and time again at high speeds. These quick sprints were estimated between 1,000 and 1,400 mph. The object was also seen by a US Air Force pilot manning an EF 111A. To date, the incident remains unsolved.

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The Life of Death

By Kyle Hill via CSI – Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

ghosts 829_300pxMore humans have died than you will ever meet, see, or learn about. Since our split from the apes, Earth has been littered with the detritus of human demise—nearly 110 billion bodies. If spirits did live on after death, most of the people you meet will have already met their end.

Every single house on Earth would be haunted by default.

If becoming a ghost were the next stage of life after death, our planet would be absolutely packed with ectoplasm. Earth currently harbors over seven billion human beings, all very much alive. We pack them in skyscrapers and in endless suburbs. But adding another 110 billion souls to the population would make everyone a neighbor. If ghosts could interact with matter, they would need space to haunt, and in the United States, we value our space. If the seven billion humans alive today wanted to live like Americans, they would need over four times the landmass currently available on Earth. By extrapolation, all the haunting space required by ghosts would push that number to 185 times all the landmass on Earth. If ghosts existed, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one (or it passing through one). Ghost hunter’s thermal cameras would see a blur of reds and blues wherever they looked.

ghost 820_250pxFamous for being able to pass through matter, ghosts might simply pack together instead of being neighbors to everyone on the planet. Just how much space these phantasmal people would require is impossible to determine. How many ghosts could fit on the head of a pin? How many Ghostbusters’ ecto-containment chambers would you need to hold them all?

A new view of death accompanies real-life ghosts. When the body is just a vessel—a way station for the eternal spirit—life is a race to your best self. If ghosts manifest themselves as a picture of the person at the instant they died, old, grotesque ghosts would evaporate. Like how most animals strive to raise their children to reproductive maturity, all humans would occupy this material plane only until they looked however they wanted to look for eternity. Droves of twenty-somethings would commit suicide, seeking to remain young for all time. Billions of Dorian Grays make their pacts with death. Why live until you are old if you are bound to exist in that form forever? “Live fast, die young” is sound advice in a world where ghosts exist.

Carrying on as a ghost taking the last form of the deceased still would be spooky.

MORE . . .

Charlie Chaplin Optic Illusion

Via Charlie Chaplin Optic Illusion – YouTube:

Dowsing: The Pseudoscience of Water Witching

By Benjamin Radford via LiveScience

dowsing 730_300pxDowsing is an unexplained process in which people use a forked twig or wire to find missing and hidden objects. Dowsing, also known as divining and doodlebugging, is often used to search for water or missing jewelry, but it is also often employed in other applications including ghost hunting, crop circles and fortunetelling.

The dowsing that most people are familiar with is water dowsing, or water witching or rhabdomancy, in which a person holds a Y-shaped branch (or two L-shaped wire rods) and walks around until they feel a pull on the branch, or the wire rods cross, at which point water is allegedly below. Sometimes a pendulum is used held over a map until it swings (or stops swinging) over a spot where the desired object may be found. Dowsing is said to find anything and everything, including missing persons, buried pipes, oil deposits and even archaeological ruins.

[…]

Dowsing: No better than chance

Skeptic James Randi in his “Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural,” notes that dowsers often cannot agree on even the basics of their profession: “Some instructions tell learners never to try dowsing with rubber footwear, while others insist that it helps immeasurably. Some practitioners say that when divining rods cross, that specifically indicates water; others say that water makes the rods diverge to 180 degrees.”

Though some people swear by dowsing’s effectiveness, dowsers have been subjected to many tests over the years and have performed no better than chance under controlled conditions. It’s not surprising that water can often be found with dowsing rods, since if you dig deep enough you’ll find water just about anywhere. If missing objects (and even missing people) could be reliably and accurately located using dowsing techniques, it would be a great benefit: If you lose your keys or cell phone, you should be able to just pull out your pendulum and find it; if a person goes missing or is abducted, police should be able to locate them with dowsing rods.

Science differs from the New Age and paranormal belief in that it progresses, correcting and building on itself. Technology and medicine are continually advancing and refining. Designs and techniques are improved or abandoned depending on how well they work. By contrast, dowsers have not gotten any more accurate over centuries and millennia of practice.

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Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of six books including Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His Web site is www.BenjaminRadford.com.

Instead of GMO labeling laws, perhaps what we need is…

Via The Soap Box

GMO_rice_250pxThere has been a lot of debate recently over whether or not food companies should legally be required to label their foods as being either GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) or not if they happen to actually be GMOs.

Supporters of these laws claim that this would give consumers the ability to know what they are buying, and whether or not they are actually buying something that is organic or not.

Critics on the other hand claim that such laws are unnecessary and even excessive, since it is well established that most foods are in fact either considered GMOs (technically speaking all foods are actually GMOs in one way or another) or at least would not be considered organic by many people in the organic food community, and that many people who do produce organic foods already label their products as being organic.

While this labeling law debate is sure to not go away any time soon, I do wonder if perhaps the anti-GMO crowd is going about this the wrong way. Perhaps instead of there being GMO labeling laws, there should be  organic food labeling laws instead.

While the GMO food industry is heavily regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (despite what many people in the anti-GMO crowd believes) there is actually very little regulation for the organic food industry.

In the United States there are no laws that says what foods are considered organic, and what foods are not considered organic. In fact anyone can actually claim that the food that they are producing is organic, when in fact what the food that is being produced is not considered organic by anyone’s standards…

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Scientology – The Truth

via Scientology – The Truth – YouTube

Turns out this Scientology thing isn’t just a load of harebrained bulls**t after all.

WARNING: SALTY LANGUAGE

As an added bonues, here is the leaked Scientology video that established Tom Cruise as some kind of loon:

Deciphering Woospeak II

Part 1 in this series is below.

Unknown Reasons

This is post 2 in a series of n.  See the first one here.

When they say:  “It’s mysterious!”

What they mean:  “I can’t explain how it works, but I just know it’s true!”

In the beginning, almost everything was mysterious to humans.  If science doesn’t have an answer we shouldn’t just shoehorn in whatever pet explanation suits us, be it god, aliens, or fairies.  This is known as the appeal to mystery, and it is ultimately a losing position.  As human knowledge progresses, less powers can be attributed to the mysterious forces.  The diversity of life was once a mystery, until Charles Darwin came around.  This is not to say that we have solved all the mysteries of biology, but that is how it works.  The more we learn the more we find out just how complex things are.  Science doesn’t know everything; it knows…

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