by Stephanie Pappas via Live Science
Continue Reading: Mars Hoaxes: Why We Believe
by Stephanie Pappas via Live Science
Continue Reading: Mars Hoaxes: Why We Believe
When I was an intern doing a rotation in the emergency department, on one particularly busy shift a nurse commented (to no one in particular) that it must be a full moon. I habitually look at the moon and generally know what phase it is in (right now it is a waxing gibbous, almost full), and so I knew at the time that in fact there was a crescent moon in the sky. I informed her of this. She gave a disappointed look and then went on with her work without any apparent further thought on the matter.
The episode struck me at the time. It seemed to me that I just witnessed a clear example of confirmation bias – what if it had been near a full moon? That would have confirmed her prior belief in a lunar effect, while this negative correlation was brushed aside and likely did not have any negative effect on her belief. (Although, my interpretation and memory of this event can itself be an example of confirmation bias regarding confirmation bias.)
Belief in the so-called lunar effect, that the phases of the moon exert an influence on human behavior with the most common element being a full-moon inducing extreme behavior, is very common. In my experience it is one of the most common pseudoscientific beliefs I encounter in the general public. One survey indicates that 43% of adults believe in the lunar effect, especially mental health professionals, including nurses.
When someone expresses such a belief to me I often use it as an opening to discuss skeptical principles. While belief in the lunar effect is widespread, it is usually not part of any emotionally held religious or ideological belief. It is therefore an excellent teaching opportunity. One question I like to ask is, “how do you think that works?” The most common answer I receive is probably the least plausible – that the tidal effects of the moon influence the brain because the brain is sitting in water (spinal fluid).
The tidal effect answer is incredibly implausible for a number of reasons.
UFOlogists have proposed that the moon, believed to be a natural satellite of Earth, is, in fact, a huge spaceship, a gigantic UFO, parked in orbit around the Earth by an advanced technological civilization.
The proposal that the moon is an artificial satellite of Earth, specifically an alien spaceship, a massive UFO, parked in orbit around the Earth, is known as the Spaceship Moon Theory, Artificial Moon Theory, or Alien Moon Theory.
According to proponents of the Spaceship Moon Theory in the UFO community, there is evidence to suggest that the moon was built by an alien civilization with science and technology much more developed than ours.
The Spaceship Moon Theory claims that the moon, as an alien UFO parked in orbit around the Earth, has a hollow inside. In other words, the moon is a hollowed-out artificial structure containing an underground base serving also as the interior of a gigantic UFO spaceship.
The startling hypothesis was first proposed in 1970 by two Russian scientists, members of the Soviet Academy of Science, Michael Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov, in an article, “Is the Moon the Creation of Alien Intelligence?”
Vasin and Shcherbakov suggested that the moon was a natural space body converted into an artificial structure by alien engineers who melted the original solid core, deposited the molten lava on the lunar surface, and created an inner lunar space protected by an artificial shell below the outer shell we know as the lunar surface.
The alien race then placed their gigantic UFO in orbit around the Earth for reasons we can only speculate about.
By Debra Kelly via Listverse
Science is something of . . . well . . . an inexact science. Throughout history, there have been countless explanations of natural phenomena that we’ve considered true, only to discover decades later that we were really off the mark. There are some scientists, though, whose theories seem so far out in left field that they’re not even playing the same game.
Born in 1897, Wilhelm Reich was a psychiatrist enamored of the works of Sigmund Freud. He briefly worked with Freud and later started his own practice in 1922. By 1940, he had moved to the United States and fully developed his theories.
According to Reich, he had scientifically proven the existence of a compound that he described as a form of energy in the body that was the physical manifestation of the libido, building up in the body until it was successfully discharged through an orgasm. Reich built a machine that would allow him to study this energy, crossing the threshold between not only psychology and biology, but also between Eastern ideas and Western methods. He named the energy “orgone,” as he had first discovered it while researching the mechanics of the orgasm, but he soon was looking at orgone in areas outside of human biology. It formed a crucial part in his theories about everything from gravity to the weather.
Reich and his supporters have done a massive amount of research and experimentation on the properties of orgone. In 1947, he wrote a book called The Cancer Biopathy based on his experiments injecting cancerous cells in mice with what he called “bions,” or the most basic element of the energy of life. According to Reich’s theories, cancer was largely the result of the breakdown of these elements, and he claimed to have been able to extend the lives of his mice by weeks—and even longer when he used the energy collected from his orgone accumulator.
Today, there are still organizations (like the American College of Orgonomy) that formally study Reich’s work and offer Medical Orgone Therapy as an option for the treatment of disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
According to astronomer Frederic Petit, Earth has a second moon. Working in 1846 from an observatory in Toulouse, France, Petit claimed that the presence of the second moon explained away all the astronomical irregularities that other astronomers were having difficulty with. He claimed this second moon had an orbital time of only 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 59 seconds. At its farthest point from Earth, Petit’s second moon was about 3,570 kilometers (2,218 mi) away.
No one took his findings seriously when he made them public, but he continued to release new findings about his moon and its effects on the real Moon and the Earth for 15 years after his initial discovery. Petit’s theory might have gone completely unnoticed by the scientific community if it hadn’t been picked up by Jules Verne in From the Earth to the Moon.
The reference is a brief one, but Verne comments about this second moon and names Petit as the man who discovered it. Instead of fading into scientific obscurity, amateur astronomers started searching the skies for evidence of this second moon, which has caused many other discoveries about the celestial bodies in the Earth’s orbit. In 1989, a man named Georg Waltemath claimed to have discovered that the planet was orbited by not only a couple of moons, but a whole network of mini moons. Some of these moons illuminated the sky with the same strength as the Sun, he claimed. Waltemath also released a series of dates and times at which people would supposedly be able to see these mini moons passing in front of the Sun. A lot of people spent several days in February 1898 staring at the Sun, but no one saw anything out of the ordinary.
Yesterday, July 20th, was the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first and second humans to walk on the surface of another world. This is, to be sure, one of the greatest achievements of the human species.
There are those, however, who claim that we never sent astronauts to the moon, that the entire thing was an elaborate hoax by the US, meant to intimidate our rivals with our spacefaring prowess. As is typical of most grand conspiracy theories, they have no actual evidence to support their claim. None of the many people who would have to have been involved have come forward to confess their involvement. No government documents have come to light, no secret studios have been revealed. There is no footage accidentally revealing stage equipment.
What the moon hoax theorists have is anomaly hunting. This is the process of looking for something – anything – that does not seem to fit or that defies easy explanation, and then declaring it evidence that the standard story if false. Conspiracy theorists then slip in their preferred conspiracy narrative to take its place. Sometimes they are more coy, claiming to be “just asking questions” (also known as jaqing off), but their agenda is clear.
Genuine anomalies are of significant interest to science and any investigation, no question. For an apparent anomaly to be useful, however, mundane explanations need to be vigorously ruled out (conspiracy theorists tend to skip that part). Only when genuine attempts to explain apparent anomalies have failed to provide any plausible explanation should it be considered a true anomaly deserving of attention.
At that point the answer to the anomaly is, “we currently don’t know,” not “it’s a conspiracy.”
The reason that anomalies, in and of themselves, are not very predictive that something unusual is going on, is that they represent one method of mining vast amounts of data looking for desired patterns. Conspiracy theorists, in essence, make the argument (or simply implication) that where there is smoke there is fire, and then offer apparent anomalies as the smoke. This is a false premise, however. If apparent anomalies count as smoke, then there is smoke everywhere, even without fires.
In other words, any historical event is going to have countless moving parts, curious details, apparent coincidences, and complex chains of contingency. Further, people themselves often have complex motivations contingent upon the quirky details of their lives. All of this is raw material for apparent anomalies. It would be remarkable if you couldn’t find apparent anomalies when combing through the details of an historical event.
Here are some of the alleged anomalies that moon hoax conspiracy theorists have pointed out over the years.
In legal parlance, a conspiracy is when two or more people form a plan together to engage in criminal behavior, but in modern days, a “conspiracy theory” has come to mean an alternative explanation for the accepted consensus of a controversial or unusual event or belief. Most proponents of these often easily debunked plots are eccentric and harmless, but a few go beyond the boundaries of free speech. The behavior of these dangerously obsessed few ranges from the merely criminal to the outright deadly.
Whatever truly went down at 12:30 PM CST on Friday, November 22, 1963, the movie JFK made a hash of it. One thing it didn’t get wrong, though, was its portrayal of Jim Garrison as an obsessive, increasingly paranoid demagogue who bullied witnesses, harassed “suspects,” and conducted a full-on witch hunt in the city of New Orleans.
Garrison’s list of transgressions is too long to fully detail, but the worst of his behavior was the way he almost destroyed the life of Clay Shaw, a respected New Orleans businessman. Garrison publicly outed him as gay (which could have had serious consequences in the 60’s), accused him of CIA connections, and of course, accused him of one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, all on the flimsiest of evidence.
Many accounts of the trial have downplayed the homosexual element, but there is plenty of evidence that Garrison actually believed in some kind of rainbow-colored plot, attributing the assassination to a gay club thrill kill. He named a total of six people whom he believed were “in on it” as homosexuals, including Jack Ruby and even Lee Harvey Oswald himself. In an interview with James Phelan, Garrison called Oswald a “switch-hitter who couldn’t satisfy his wife.”
It took almost two years for Garrison’s case against Shaw to go to trial and another three weeks of testimony and arguments before a jury acquitted Clay Shaw of all charges after less than an hour of deliberation. Shaw himself ably deconstructed the JFK “conspiracy” in a 1967 interview.
Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, is almost certainly the AIDS denier who has done the most direct harm in the world. In a 2008 study, a team of Harvard researchers estimated that as many as 330,000 people died needlessly because of Mbeki’s policies.
Mbeki didn’t start out as a denier. His views hardened after a complex series of political and economic negotiations. They were further solidified by the bogus claims of an African university about having discovered a cure, prompting hope for an African solution to the problem, and the discovery that the apartheid government had conducted germ warfare tests that included searching for killer bugs that targeted specific ethnic populations and the state-sponsored spread of AIDS via black prostitutes. Negotiations to bring AIDS medications into South Africa at prices the poor could afford were marred by suspicions of conspiracy between Western governments and drug manufacturers.
By the mid-1990s, Mbeki had fallen under the influence of prominent AIDS denier Peter Duesberg. He even invited Duesberg to be part of a conference on the AIDS problem held in 2000, much to the outrage of the rest of the conference. Later that year, he publicly denied the scientific consensus that AIDS was caused by a virus. Instead, he claimed the disease was the result of a combination of general bad health, lack of nourishment, and poverty. Thanks to international pressure and the work of AIDS activists and NGOs, the situation did improve, but Mbeki’s delays caused many unnecessary deaths and condemned many children to live shortened lives.
In 2002, Bart Sibrel lured former astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, to a Beverly Hills hotel for an “interview.” When Aldrin arrived on the scene with his stepdaughter, Sibrel revealed his true colors. He was a proponent of a long-standing conspiracy theory that claims the Apollo 11 Moon landings were faked. Proponents of the theory claim that the landings were produced in a Hollywood studio to fool the Russians into believing that the US had won the space race. This is one of the most laughable and easily debunked conspiracy theories out there, but Sibrel was working on a documentary that he believed would prove his case and wanted to include a confrontation with Aldrin in the film.
What happened next is as infuriating as its conclusion is satisfying, and it was all caught on film. When Aldrin realized the real reason he was brought to the interview, he got up to walk out on Sibrel, who then became aggressive, taunting the national hero who took time out of his busy schedule to see him. He followed Aldrin, calling him a “thief, liar, and coward,” thrusting a Bible into Aldrin’s face with demands that he swear upon it.
Finally, after every one of Aldrin’s attempts to leave peacefully had failed, Sibrel started poking him and his stepdaughter aggressively with his Bible. That’s when Aldrin lost his patience and punched Sibriel right in the jaw. Aldrin never faced any criminal charges, and if he had, no jury in the world would have convicted him.
Right now, the best candidates we have for finding alien life are some sort of fossilized bacteria on Mars. If we’re lucky, there might be microbes on Europa, though it won’t be easy to get to them.
In centuries past, people knew a lot less about space, so they came up with significantly more elaborate possibilities about the aliens we might find there.
French astronomer Camille Flammarion supported Percival Lowell’s theories about canals on Mars. When some scientists did an experiment suggesting Lowell was seeing an optical illusion, Flammarion repeated the experiment to try and prove them wrong.
He believed Martians would be superior humans, due to how low a bar we’d set through our habit of war and how “we cannot even agree on a universal calendar.” He suggested creatures on the red planet may have tried to communicate with us when we were still hunting mammoths, but they got no response and gave up. He concluded, “I would like to go to Mars, it must be an interesting place.”
He believed the Moon was likely inhabited. He speculated about aliens in light of Darwin’s groundbreaking theories and came up with the idea of a race of sentient plants that combine digestion and respiration into one process. A mystic, he believed that after death, the soul would travel from one planet to another in pursuit of perfection. That belief had started in the Enlightenment, and Flammarion kept it alive into the 20th century.
This belief is reflected in a piece of fiction he wrote, in which he describes a dead man named Lumen finding himself on a far world. Lumen arrives at a mountain, covered with palaces woven from trees, from which he can see the Sun and planets as distant stars. At the summit of the mountain town, 20 or 30 old men stand staring into the sky, criticizing the terrible human violence their magical eyes can see going on in Paris.
Many tales relate to Mormon beliefs of life on other worlds, some more reliable than others. The most common, often put forward by critics of the church, is that Joseph Smith claimed that the Moon was inhabited. These Moon-men dressed like Quakers and lived for 1,000 years. The story was first told by a Mormon named Oliver Huntington, who’d written it in his journal in 1881.
It’s not a reliable record of what Smith believed, but it’s not implausible. Sermons from Joseph Smith’s brother Hyum in 1843 said: “Sun and Moon is inhabited.” Brigham Young, the church’s second president, preached in 1870 that there was “no question” that the Sun was made to give light to its own inhabitants, as well as to those on Earth and elsewhere.
British scientist William Herschel is one of the most important astronomers in history. Among his discoveries were Uranus, several of Saturn’s moons, infrared radiation, and binary star systems. He was also obsessed with the idea of extraterrestrial life, particularly on the Moon.
In the 1770s, he wrote in his journal that he’d seen forests and pastures on the lunar surface. He later believed he’d seen canals and patches of vegetation. Yet it was craters that most caught Herschel’s imagination. He built the largest telescope in history to that point, and he saw perfectly round structures unlike anything anyone had seen before. He called them “circuses” and pondered “perhaps, then on the Moon every town is one very large Circus?”
Herschel’s thoughts on Lunarians (as he called them) weren’t known until after his death. Some of his contemporaries were less shy. Franz von Paula Gruituisen published three papers in the mid-1820s detailing the colossal buildings, animal tracks, roads, cities, and temples he’d found. Yet they all paled in comparison to the discoveries attributed to William Herschel’s son John, himself a famed astronomer, who was said to have built a telescope powerful enough to study lunar insects. Sadly, those claims were part of one of history’s most infamous hoaxes.
I thought i’d do my duty and let everybody know the world is going to end tonight or tomorrow night – maybe, kinda, NOT! But you KNOW the loons are out there screaming apocalyse!!!!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
By some counts a surprising number of people believe that the 1969 moon landing was a hoax. These dis-believers point to, among other things, purported inconsistencies in some of the moon landing photos. I’ll describe the application of a new forensic technique that refutes some of these claims.
Shown below is the iconic photo of Buzz Aldrin in which the physical plausibility of the lighting and shadows has been called into question.
I have previously described how cast shadows in an image can be analyzed to determine if they are consistent with a single light source. In order to determine if shadows are authentic, we connect points on a shadow to their corresponding points on the object. These lines should all intersect at a single point (or in the special case, be parallel) — this point is the location of the light source projected into the image. The application of this forensic technique (as shown here) requires a clearly defined shadow to object pairing (e.g., the tip of a cone). Such shadows in the above photo are in short supply thus limiting the application of this forensic technique.
In collaboration with Dr. Eric Kee (Columbia University) and Prof. James O’Brien (UC Berkeley) we recently developed a new forensic technique that can be applied to ambiguously defined shadows . In this analysis, we start at any point on a shadow and draw a wedge-shaped constraint that encompasses all parts of an object to which the shadow may correspond. Shown below is one such constraint. The constraint encompasses the entire sphere because there is no systematic way of reasoning about which part of the sphere is associated with a particular spot on the shadow.
In the above figure, the shaded red region constrains the projected location of the light source. While obviously not as specific as a single line constraint, this approach allows us to analyze all cast shadows in an image.
Because we can now handle ambiguous shadow-object pairings, we can also exploit attached shadows to determine the location of the light source. An attached shadow occurs when an object occludes the light from itself (e.g., a non-full Moon). Shown below, for example, is an attached shadow on the sphere’s surface. The line that is tangent to an attached shadow constrains the projected location of the light source to be on the illuminated side of the object.
Multiple cast and attached shadow constraints can be specified in an image. If the shadows are physically correct, then all of the constraints will share a common intersection (this consistency check is automatically determined using standard linear programming). Any violations of these constraints is evidence of photo tampering.
Shown below is the result of this new shadow analysis applied to the moon landing image. The cast shadow constraints are shown with solid red lines and the attached shadow constraints are shown with dashed lines. All of the constraints are consistent (the triangular region outlined in black denotes a common intersection). Despite some claims to the contrary, the lighting in this spectacular photo is physically consistent.
 Eric Kee, James O’Brien and Hany Farid. Exposing Photo Manipulation with Inconsistent Shadows. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 32(4):28:1-12, 2013.
 Eric Kee’s presentation at SIGGRAPH, 2013.
There are a lot conspiracy theories out there, most of which have no evidence to support the claims made, either because whatever evidence that has been put forth has been debunked, or no evidence has ever been put forth in the first place.
In fact there are some conspiracy theories that have no reason to continue to exist, or have no reason to exist in the first place, such as:
Perhaps one of the older conspiracy theories out there, there are a lot of people who do not believe we went to the Moon, and that all of the videos (the hundreds of hours worth) and photos (the many thousands of them) taken from the Moon were all done on a sound stage.
The reasoning behind this is that it is believed by people who claim we did not go to the Moon that we did not have the technology to go to the Moon.
The problem with this argument is that we actually did have the technology to get to the Moon. Also, as surprising as this may sound, we actually didn’t have the technology to fake going to the Moon.
There is also a ton of other evidence that says we did in fact go to the Moon, such as several tons worth of rocks and dirt that were brought back, the fact that not one of the hundreds of thousands of people who worked on the Moon landing project has ever said we didn’t go to the Moon, or that the Soviets never said that we didn’t get there, or the fact that the landing sites have been photographed by satellites orbiting the Moon.
9/11 conspiracy theories
Ever since that tragic day over 12 years ago there have been multiple conspiracy theories put forth concerning what happened that day, and while all of them tend to be different (from both who did it to how it was done) they all have one thing in common: They have all been debunked.
I know, a lot of people in the 9/11 “Truth” movement will say otherwise, and will claim that they have “evidence” that backs up their claims, the facts are is that when this so called evidence has been examined it’s been shown to be either incorrect, or completely false, and it is now seriously considered by skeptics and debunkers that the only reason why anyone would continue to make these 9/11 conspiracy theory claims is that they are either self deluded, or mentally ill, or they are lying.
Autism – MMR vaccine connection
Ever since 1998 when Andrew Wakefield wrote and published a “research” paper in The Lancet that concluded that there was a “connection” between the MMR vaccine and autism (research of which has since proven to be both unethical and fraudulent and resulted in both the research paper being formerly retracted and Mr. Wakefield’s name being removed from the General Medical Council, which is the British equivalency of having one’s medical license revoked) there has been a conspiracy theory going around concerning the alleged connection and vaccine manufactures trying to suppress such information.
Besides the fact that none of this “information” has ever been suppressed, it has been proven by multiple scientific and medical research institutions that there is no connection what so ever between any vaccines and autism, and that all of the claims made by the anti-vaccination movement are wrong and false (and dangerous).
I must issue a mild language warning – PG rating :)
Is there a group of conspiracy theorists more deluded and irritating and offensively irrational than the 9/11 Truthers? I think so. Their name? Well . . . I don’t know all their names, there’s too many of them — collectively, let’s call them the Moon Landing Hoaxers. And they believe some pretty stupid things.
Extensive film and video footage of the Apollo Moon landings is available from NASA at:
Most people have already heard the most popular lunar conspiracy theory — that no one actually landed on the moon — but what about the rest? Tune in to learn more about other moon-based conspiracy theories, including lunar structures and UFO sightings.
MORE . . . Lunar Anomalies – CLASSIC – YouTube.
by Miriam Kramer via Space.com
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.”
I gave a seminar recently to science teachers and the topic of whether or not there is a lunar effect came up. I was not surprised to find that 80% of them believed that emergency rooms and police stations are more busy during a full moon. I was also not surprised, but only because I have been there before, that they were highly resistant to my claim that the scientific evidence shows that there is no such effect.
Several questions emerge from the notion that the phases of the moon affect human behavior: what is the plausibility of such a claim, is there actually such an effect, and if not why do so many people believe that there is?
One of two justifications are commonly given for how the moon might influence human behavior. The moon basically has two physical effects on our environment – gravity and light. Astrological influences are not worth further discussion in this article, and I rarely hear that as a justification from the general public in any case.
Gravity is the far less plausible explanation of the two physical effects of the moon. The reasoning often goes something like this: the moon causes tides, which are powerful gravitational effects on water. Our bodies are mostly water, and in fact our brain are floating in water, therefore the moon’s tidal effect might affect our brain function.
This reasoning fails on many levels. First, the moon has a tidal effect regardless of phase. The only difference with lunar phase is the relationship between the lunar tide and the solar tide (yes, the sun has a tidal effect on the Earth as well). During a full moon the lunar and solar tides are lined up, and therefore the combined effect is additive (which is called a spring tide).
However, the same is true of the new moon, therefore if the full moon effect were due to tidal forces there should be an equal new moon effect.
The bigger problem with the gravity explanation is that tidal forces are dependent upon the difference in the distance of the near and far side of an object from another large object. So the ocean tides are caused by the different gravitational pull of the moon on the near side vs far side of the Earth. The tidal force of the moon between the near side and far side of your head is negligible. This is simply not a viable source of an effect on human behavior.
The more plausible mechanism for an alleged lunar effect is the light from the moon. It is reasonable to hypothesize that people are more willing to be outside and active during a full moon because there is more light. This effect, however, should therefore not be present when the sky is overcast or in large cities where artificial light trumps moonlight.
Is There a Lunar Effect?
This is one question that is very amenable to standard observational studies – is there a correlation between some kind of event and the lunar cycle? There have been hundreds of such studies over the last few decades, involving emergency room visits, births, accidents, crime, crisis center calls – just about any marker of human behavior you can think of. Systematic reviews of this research consistently demonstrate that there is simply no evidence for any such effect.
Many of these studies cover years or decades of data, and thousands or tens of thousands of data points. A recent German study, for example, found no lunar effect for births between 1920 and 1989. A review of studies looking at crisis center calls found:
12 studies are reviewed that have examined the relationships among crisis calls to police stations, poison centers, and crisis intervention centers and the synodic lunar cycle. On the basis of the studies considered it is concluded that no good foundation exists for the belief that lunar phase is related to the frequency of crisis calls. In addition, there is no evidence whatsoever for the contention that calls of a more emotional or “out-of-control” nature occur more often at the full moon.
An often cited 1985 review by Rotton, Kelly and Culver found no lunar effect for a long list of events, including suicide, homicide, crime, sleep walking, alcoholism, and many others. Several later studies of psychiatric hospital admission also found no effect.
The bottom line is this – this question has been asked and answered, there is no lunar effect. A massive amount of data simply shows no connection between lunar phases and human behavior.
Belief in the Lunar Effect
Why, then, does belief in this effect remain high? Surveys show that belief in this effect remains at about 40-45%, even among those highly educated. In fact, mental health workers have a greater belief in the lunar effect. The short answer as to why this is – confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is a bias in human thinking that causes us to notice, accept, and remember information that confirms beliefs we already have, while ignoring, forgetting, or explaining away contradictory data. This is a powerful effect that can lead to the very compelling illusion that an effect is real when it isn’t.
«In a nutshell: Astrology is the idea that the stars, planets, and other objects in the sky shape who you are and what your life will be like. The science doesn’t favor this idea.»
Astrology is a kind of fortune telling based on the positions of stars, planets, and other objects in the deep sky (called celestial objects). Astrologers believe that the position of celestial objects affect what kind of personality you have and also cause such things as forest fires, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
Astrology is sometimes confused with astronomy, which is the scientific study of planets, the Sun, stars, comets, galaxies, and other things outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Astronomers know that celestial objects like the Moon and the Sun affect the ocean tides but have nothing to do with what kind of personality you have. Astronomers also know that the position of celestial objects has nothing to do with such things as forest fires, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
Thousands of years ago in Babylon (now in modern Iraq) astrologers charted out the path that the Sun seems to make around the Earth. They divided the path into twelve equal parts. The stars in some of the twelve parts of the sky looked like the outlines of animals to them. The chart is called a zodiac (Greek for circle of animals). I was born when the Sun was in a part of the sky where the stars looked sort of like the outline of a bull’s head to those who were charting the zodiac. According to Sun sign astrology, I am a Taurus. The bull has a reputation for being stubborn. Sun sign astrologers believe that those born under the sign of the bull will have bull-like qualities. Scientific skeptics think this idea is a bunch of bull. When I’m asked what sign I was born under, I say “St. Joseph’s Hospital.”
In addition to Sun sign astrology, there are several other astrologies, but none of them are scientific. All systems of astrology make unscientific claims about the effects on people or things on Earth by the positions of planets, comets, and other things in the sky.
Some of these systems are very complicated and involve making charts that connect the positions of many different celestial objects. With many charts covering many different possibilities, it is easy to find one that matches something on Earth like a forest fire, an earthquake, or a tragedy in some famous person’s life.
It is also easier than most people think to find evidence in support of a strong belief. We pay attention to what agrees with our beliefs and ignore what goes against them. If you believe that people born under the sign of Taurus are stubborn, you might pay more attention to stubborn behavior by someone born under that sign. You might even call that person stubborn for not doing something, while calling another person firm for not doing the same thing. You might not pay attention to or remember a Taurus when she isn’t stubborn. Psychologists call this natural bias we have to confirm our beliefs confirmation bias.
Astrologers sometimes make accurate predictions that are really nothing more than lucky guesses. Many astrologers believe that comets, the alignment of planets, or an eclipse are omens that something terrible is going to happen on Earth. Since something terrible happens on this planet every day, it is always easy to find something after the fact that the astrologer can say was predicted.
via How Stuff Works
Ever since NASA broadcast its visits to the moon between 1969 and 1972 to millions of people around Earth, conspiracy theorists have debated endlessly over photographs and video of the journey. Judging by the dedication some have to the cause, the subject of whether or not the moon landings were a hoax rivals only the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the presence of Area 51 in popularity. The Fox Network even aired a television special in 2001, nearly 30 years after the last Apollo mission, titled “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?”
Poring over every single detail for inconsistencies and potential government tampering, people who buy the moon landing conspiracy theory strive to prove NASA never went to the moon — instead, they believe the organization filmed a series of fake moon landings in a studio, complete with props, astronaut costumes and intricate lighting setups.
But why would NASA and the U.S. government pull off such a strange stunt? The moon landings took place during the Cold War and a tense point in the nuclear arms race, an era in which the two world superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union (or what is now Russia), competed for technological superiority. Some believe that because sending astronauts into outer space and onto the moon would be incredibly expensive, the U.S. didn’t have enough money to complete the project. According to the conspiracy theorists, faking the moon landings would be much cheaper — if it were convincing enough, it could still send a message to Russia that the United States had the better technology.
What are some of the claims by the moon landing conspiracy theorists? What have they pointed out, and do their arguments have any validity? And what do scientists have to say about these conspiracy theories? To get answers to these questions and more, put on your tin foil hats and read the next page.
The Moon Landing Hoax Evidence
So what sort of evidence have conspiracy theorists gathered that might suggest the whole event was a fake? Nearly 40 years of research has given them some interesting points:
1. There aren’t any stars in the background.
One detail doubters often point to is the background of many of the NASA photos. In pictures of the moon’s landscapes, there aren’t any stars in the sky — it just looks like a big, black void of space. Since the moon has no atmosphere, shouldn’t there be millions of stars dotting the background of these photos? If the landings were faked on a studio stage, did the photographers make a huge mistake and just forget to “turn on” the stars?
Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, the nature of photography strikes down their argument.
«What if the iceberg was just a patsy for a larger, celestial conspiracy?»
via How Stuff Works
It’s a tale as old as crime and as cold as the heart of the sea: One dark and moonless night, an innocent young luxury liner wanders into a dangerous North Atlantic alley — a known haunt of iceberg gangs. Heedless of warnings about this dangerous element, the ship hurries onward, possessed of that sense of invulnerability to which the young are prone.
On any other night, the White Star liner might have made it through unscathed, but tonight — April 14, 1912 — the icebergs are out in force, and the infamous, inevitable rendezvous with destiny occurs. The Titanic succumbs to its wounds within hours, leaving around 1,500 people to die in the icy waters on April 15, 1912.
Case closed — or is it? What if the iceberg was just a patsy for a larger, celestial conspiracy? Who — or what — was ultimately to blame for the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage? Should we blame it on Rio? The rain? The bossa nova? Or was it an act of lunar-cy?
Armchair sleuths and industry experts have reopened the case countless times. Over the past century, researchers, authors and filmmakers have blamed the incident on everyone from White Star management and Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard to Captain E. J. Smith and helmsman Robert Hitchins. But there’s a difference between proximate (close, direct) cause and ultimate cause. The proximate cause of the Titanic sinking? Filling with too much water. The ultimate cause? An iceberg opening holes in its side.
Ultimate causes tend to chain backward to other causes, and still others, inviting more questions along the way. What forces, for example, brought that iceberg to that particular stretch of sea at that fateful moment?
According to one hypothesis advanced by a team of astronomers from Texas State University-San Marcos, the iceberg might have been the button man, but our celestial companion was the one who ordered the hit. More than that, the moon had accomplices.
Granted, our nearest neighbor has an airtight alibi: It was roughly a quarter of a million miles away at the time. In fact, the Titanic sank on a moonless night. Why was the moon concealing its face? What did it have to hide?
It’s time to crack this coldest of cold cases.
Many ghost hunters claim to see the faces and images of the deceased in everything from a smudgy mirror to a swirl of smoke rising from burgers on a barbecue. Religious people claim to see images of holy figures in everything from tree trunks to vines on a telephone pole.
Are these figures really showing themselves or is there something else going on?
«A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.» – Wikipedia
«. . . a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.
«Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception.» – The Skeptic’s Dictionary
In other words, our brains are hardwired to seek out and find faces.
Just HOW hardwired are we to see faces where none exist? Look at the following montage of photos and try to NOT see faces. Prepare to lose control of your mind to the power of pareidolia!!!! Bwahaha!!!!!!
When you look up at the evening sky as the moon begins to rise above the horizon, it seems to swell and then retract as it goes higher in the sky. This effect, where the moon looks bigger along the horizon, is known as the “moon illusion”. It’s not only limited to the moon – it can also be seen as the sun rises as sets. You can dispel the illusion by covering one eye or using a telescope. Humans’ binocular vision is only part of the reason behind the disparity in size. Not convinced? You can also hold a coin or another object up to the moon as it travels through the sky to provide a point of reference to see that the moon remains the same size despite its appearance.
The true cause of the moon illusion is a mystery to scientists, both ancient and modern. The strange thing? The moon is actually roughly 1.5% smaller when it is near the horizon than when it is high in the sky, because it is farther away by up to one Earth radius.
One theory hypothesizes that the illusion occurs because when the moon or sun are along the horizon, your brain has more objects to use as a reference, thus allowing it to compare against size and distance. When you have the skyline with trees, buildings, and other objects, your brain tends to interpret the moon as larger than those objects. However, when the moon is far above the horizon, your brain has fewer objects to use as a reference to compare to the size of the moon. Therefore, when the moon is in the empty sky, it appears smaller.
Part of the reason your brain has such a hard time interpreting the size of the moon in the sky is because the moon’s size does not change as it goes across the sky. Other objects in the world around you (that are not in the sky) appear to be smaller as they move closer to you and gain size as they move farther away. This expectation is physiologically imprinted in your brain. Optical illusions that you may have seen where you compare the size of two lines or circles, such as the Ponzo Illusion, illustrate your brain’s ability to trick itself based on the sizes of objects. Note that in the Ponzo illusion, due to the converging lines, the image that is “further” appears to be larger – even though it is the same size as its foreground version.
MORE . . .
This video is so good, so incredibly brilliant, solid and simple, that you will want to paste it all over your Facebooks and Twitters just to piss off all the IMBECILES who still claim that the Moon landings were faked (those idiots exist, yes). The reason is simple: the technology to fake it didn’t exist.
It’s a very simple argument. It’s not about showing how ignorant the hoaxers demonstrate to be with their idiotic “proofs”, which actually show they don’t know anything about physics, photography or even perspective. Or the fact that simple there’s tons of physical proof that we were there. Or the fact that the Soviet Union was monitoring it too and accepted the American victory in the Space Race.
No, it’s something even more obvious. This video explains why there was absolutely no way to fake it at the time. Even the cameras needed to fake it didn’t exist back then.
It’s completely convincing and undeniable argument and worth watching from beginning to end. I enjoyed it so much that I was giggling at some points. Especially one of them: we have gone from a world in which we couldn’t possibly fake a landing on the Moon but we went there for real to a world in which we are no longer going to the Moon but we can easily fake it.
OH. YOU. IRONY. [Thanks Karl!]
Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs. For example, if you believe that during a full moon there is an increase in admissions to the emergency room where you work, you will take notice of admissions during a full moon but be inattentive to the moon when admissions occur during other nights of the month. A tendency to do this over time unjustifiably strengthens your belief in the relationship between the full moon and accidents and other lunar effects.
This tendency to give more attention and weight to data that support our beliefs than we do to contrary data is especially pernicious when our beliefs are little more than prejudices. If our beliefs are firmly established on solid evidence and valid confirmatory experiments, the tendency to give more attention and weight to data that fit with our beliefs should not lead us astray as a rule. Of course, if we become blinded to evidence truly refuting a favored hypothesis, we have crossed the line from reasonableness to closed-mindedness.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that people generally give an excessive amount of value to confirmatory information, that is, to positive or supportive data. The “most likely reason for the excessive influence of confirmatory information is that it is easier to deal with cognitively” (Thomas Gilovich, How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life). It is much easier to see how data support a position than it is to see how they might count against the position. Consider a typical ESP experiment or a seemingly clairvoyant dream: Successes are often unambiguous or data are easily massaged to count as successes, while negative instances require intellectual effort to even see them as negative or to consider them as significant. The tendency to give more attention and weight to the positive and the confirmatory has been shown to influence memory. When digging into our memories for data relevant to a position, we are more likely to recall data that confirms the position.
Researchers are sometimes guilty of confirmation bias by setting up experiments or framing their data in ways that will tend to confirm their hypotheses.
This belief exists despite the fact that there is plenty of third party evidence that claims that we did indeed land on the Moon, and that none of the 400,000 people who worked on the Apollo project, including the 12 men that actually walked on the Moon it self, have ever said that the Moon landings were faked. This includes Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon, who believes the the US government is covering up the existence of aliens. If anybody in the whole group would have admitted that the Moon landings were faked, it would be him.
Oh and lets not forget the over 900 pounds of rocks, dirt, and dust, collected from the Moon, and the huge amount of money we spent getting there. Also, if you have a powerful enough telescope, you can actually see the landing sites.
So why do people still believe we didn’t land on the Moon?
- Flags From Apollo Missions Still Standing (abcnews.go.com)
- Apollo Flags on the Moon Still Standing (news.discovery.com)
- Apollo flags still upright on moon (bigpondnews.com)
- Apollo Moon Landing Flags Still Standing, Photos Reveal (space.com)
- Apollo Moon flags still standing, images show (bbc.co.uk)
Originally posted on The Color of Lila:
Okay, all you the-moon landings-were-faked conspiracy nuts: now we have photos taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the flags that the Apollo astronauts left behind on their moon landings.
NASA has a nice web page explaining the science that debunks the conspiracy nuts, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Then again, conspiracy nuts are notoriously committed to their world views and will go through any number of mental contortions to maintain the fantasy. So… perhaps these photos are themselves faked. The LRO is a fake, too. These scientists were bought off, or threatened, or they aren’t really scientists at all, but shadowy agents of the Big Gummint Conspiracy Department. Or we have made contact with alien life forms, and asked them to go put these flags up on the moon so someone here on Earth could “discover” them and boost the credibility of the moon mission.
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The full moon has been linked to crime, mental illness, disasters, accidents, werewolves, and many other things. Does the scientific evidence support any of these links? Not really. Well, the science does favor one link: when the moon is waning (when the part we can see gets smaller), you would be well advised to stay out of the reach of hungry lions in the jungle. In the dark they can see us better than we can see them.
Why do people believe the full moon makes all kinds of things happen? There are several reasons.
Let’s begin with a common belief about the full moon: more people are admitted to hospitals during a full moon than at any other time of month. Is this true? No. Yet, many nurses say it is true because they have seen it happen. But the facts show that there are no more admissions to hospitals during a full moon than at any other time of the month. So why do some nurses believe in the full moon effect? The main reason is that believers rely on memory instead of keeping records.
Memory is tricky. If you believe that more people are admitted to the hospital during a full moon, then you may pay more attention to admissions when the moon is full. You may not pay much attention to the number of admissions on nights when the moon is not full. A scientist doesn’t rely just on memory.
Read More: full moon – Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids.