Originally posted April 10, 2014:
Okay, this is just fun stuff.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could generate meaningless new age drivel at the click of a mouse?
Think of how impressed all your higher consciousness, woo friends will be when you speak to them from several different dimensions – simultaneously!!!
Well, now you can! Click any of the images below to visit New-Age Bullshit Generator and you can create all the New Age horse crap your heart chakra desires!!
To infinity… and beyond!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
An examination of energy, as new agers use the term.
I’m feeling a little low today, so let’s tap into a source of energy from a neighboring dimension as a quick upper.
Faith in pseudoscience is rampant. Everywhere you turn, intelligent people fully accept the existence of anything from psychic phenomena, to angels, to new age healing techniques, to ancient health schemes based on mysterious energy fields not understood by science. Most of these paranormal phenomena rely on “energy,” and when the performers are asked to explain, they’ll gladly lecture about the body’s energy fields, the universe’s energy fields, Chi, Prana, Orgone, negative energy, positive energy, and just about anything else that needs a familiar sounding word to explain and justify it. Clearly, there are too many loose interpretations of the word energy, to the point where most people probably have no idea exactly what energy really is.
I believe that if more people had a clear understanding of energy — and it’s not complicated — there would be less susceptibility to pseudoscience, and more attention paid to actual technologies and methods that are truly constructive and useful.
A friend told me of her ability to perform minor healings, and her best explanation was that she drew energy from another dimension. She had recently rented What the Bleep Do We Know, so she was well prepared to explain that alternate dimensions and realities should be taken for granted, since science doesn’t really know anything, and thus those things cannot be disproven. That’s fine, I’ll concede that she can make contact with another dimension: after all, the latest M theories posit that there are probably ten or eleven of them floating around, and I’ll just hope that my friend’s is not one of those that are collapsed into impossibly small spaces. What I was really interested in was the nature of this vaguely defined energy that she could contact.
I asked what type of energy is it, and how is it stored? Is it heat? Is it a spinning flywheel? Is it an explosive compound? Is it food? These are examples of actual ways that energy can be stored.
In popular New Age culture, “energy” has somehow become a noun unto itself. “Energy” is considered to be literally like a glowing, hovering, shimmering cloud, from which adepts can draw power, and feel rejuvenated. Imagine a vaporous creature from the original Star Trek series, and you’ll have a good idea of what New Agers think energy is.
In fact, energy is not really a noun at all. Energy is a measurement of something’s ability to perform work. Given this context, when spiritualists talk about your body’s energy fields, they’re really saying nothing that’s even remotely meaningful. Yet this kind of talk has become so pervasive in our society that the vast majority of Americans accept that energy exists as a self-contained force, floating around in glowing clouds, and can be commanded by spiritualist adepts to do just about anything.
Breatharianism is a New Age Movement belief that asserts that people don’t need food inorder to live, and only need clean air and sun light.
Now there are a lot of things I have noticed about this belief (mainly the body count) but I have narrowed it down to five main things.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about Breatharianism:
5. It’s a typical New Age Movement belief.
Breatharianism is a belief that is apart of, or at least viewed to be apart of the New Age Movement, and like most beliefs in the New Age Movement it’s mess-mass of several different beliefs all rolled into one.
Practitioners of Breatharianism believe it is possible to live off of prana (which is according to Hindu beliefs is a vital life force energy) and that the best source of this prana is from light and air, and with enough skill and knowledge they can somehow manipulate this prana to the point where they can live off of it forever and never need any food or water.
Another part about Breatharianism is the attainment of spiritual enlightenment, which apparently involves not eating. This sounds an awful lot like fasting, which is something that Abrahamic religions tend to do.
Basically Breatharianism is a combination of certain beliefs from Eastern and Western religions.
Also, like with many other New Age beliefs…
4. It’s Pseudoscience.
While Breatharianism is primarily based from Eastern and Western religious beliefs, everything about it is pseudoscience.
Like all pseudosciences it’s based off of a tiny scientific fact, and that fact is that we do need air and light inorder to live (well, not so much light, but we do need air) and that there is energy all around us… it’s just not prana. This energy is either in the form photonic energy from light sources, or radio waves, or electromagnetic fields from electrical sources, or kinetic energy from air movement and the movement of the Earth.
Yes, there are many forms of energy that surrounds us. Prana is not one of them, and even if it was, it’s very probable that we couldn’t manipulate it with our minds.
The main claim about Breatharianism, as I stated before (and the one that doctors and scientists and people with common sense have a problem with) is that humans can live off of this prana and don’t need to ever eat or drink again, which is impossible.
I suppose with these beliefs it seems that…
3. They make it sound like humans are actually plants.
Now I’m sure that no person alive that claims to practice Breatharianism will actually say that humans are pretty much like plants, but it does sound an awful lot like that’s what they’re trying to get at with their insistence that people only need air and sun light to live, which is something that plants need inorder to live.
Many years ago I was asked to give a talk to incoming university students on the nature of psychology. As a social psychology professor, I had a lot of interesting material that I was sure students would find fascinating, from blind obedience to authority to the everyday persuasion techniques of salespeople. Yet to my surprise, at the end of my presentation, I had but two questions from the students: “Does The Secret really work?” and, “Can psychics really read minds?” For those unfamiliar with The Secret, it is a bestselling book and film that promotes the idea that we can have whatever we want merely by thinking about it, all couched in New Age terms and a gross misrepresentation of quantum physics. And as for psychics, there has yet to be any solid experimental evidence of extrasensory ability, even though there is $1 million on the line (more on that later). I initially thought that students asked these questions because they did not have much formal training in science at this point in their academic career, though I soon came to realize otherwise.
College and university students, from freshmen to seniors, have asked me similar questions, along with queries about aliens, ghosts, and a wide variety of New Age and alternative health and psychological treatments. Through countless questions on these topics, I’ve realized the need to teach scientific skepticism, and that using examples of pseudoscience — claims that appear to be scientific but are not — can be an invaluable resource for helping students become discerning consumers of real-world claims.
This New Age alternative health fad claims to be based on ayurveda… but is it?
So it’s the 21st century, and our collective knowledge in fields such as medicine and hygiene is better than at any other time in our past. If you have some medical problem, chances are we’ve developed a pretty good treatment for it that’s better than it was 25 years ago, and 25 years before that. Just about everything anyone can think of has been tried and tested as a treatment for that condition. Why then do some Westerners shun the results of what we’ve been able to learn, and instead seek out folk remedies notable only for their roots in pre-scientific knowledge? Nowhere is this trend more aptly illustrated than in the latest fad, oil pulling.
Oil pulling is an alternative therapy that involves putting vegetable oil in your mouth, swishing it around for a few minutes, then spitting it out. There are many different variations. Some say you should do it for about 3 minutes; some say you should do it for a full 20 minutes. Some say you should gargle it; some say you should swish it around; some say you should fill your entire mouth cavity completely and just hold it. The types of oil to be used also do not seem to adhere to any particular standard: some say that any store-bought oil is equally useful; some specify that coconut oil should be used; some say sesame oil, sunflower oil, or even the oil produced by separating butter, called ghee in India.
For all the many variations of how oil pulling is to be done, there are just as many conflicting beliefs about what it is supposed to do for you. Most often found is the claim that it cleans and protects your teeth from plaque and bacteria, but just as common is the idea that it “pulls” toxins out of your body (thus the name oil pulling). Like all alternative detoxification claims, there is no accepted description of what these alleged “toxins” are. An article on Food Matters, an anti-pharmaceutical activism web site based on the 2008 film of the same name, lists the following as other “possible benefits of oil pulling for overall health”:
- Migraine headache relief
- Correcting hormone imbalances
- Reducing inflammation of arthritis
- May help with gastro-enteritis
- Aids in the reduction of eczema
- May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
- Helps support normal kidney function
- May help reduce sinus congestion
- Some people report improved vision
- Helps reduce insomnia
- Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
- Aids in reducing pain
- Reduces the symptoms of allergies
- Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms
Oilpulling.com says that:
Oilpulling heals totally “head-aches, bronchitis, tooth pain, thrombosis, eczema, ulcers and diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, lungs and women’s diseases. It heals diseases of nerves, paralysis, and encephalitis. It prevents the growth of malignant tumors, cuts and heals them. Chronic sleeplessness is cured.”
Taken by itself, any one of these is likely to raise your eyebrows: How, the 21st century mind might ask, could swishing a non-specific type of oil in your mouth using non-specific technique address any or all of these conditions? Is human biology really so simple and its health really so easily manipulated? How could someone be convinced by such a claim?
The answer to that question should come as no surprise to regular Skeptoid listeners. We turn to our list of logical fallacies, and look up the Appeal to Antiquity: the invalid logic which states that an idea is old, therefore it’s valid. The antiquity in this case, as presented by nearly every book and web site that promotes oil pulling, is ayurveda, traditional medicine from India.
Okay, this is just fun stuff.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could generate meaningless new age drivel at the click of a mouse?
Think of how impressed all your higher consciousness, woo friends will be when you speak to them from several different dimensions – simultaneously!!!
Well, now you can! Click any of the images below to visit New-Age Bullshit Generator and you can create all the New Age horse crap your heart chakra desires!!
To infinity… and beyond!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
The essences of certain flowers and herbs produce a pleasing smell, but is it also medicinal?
The popularity of essences of aromatic plants appears to have skyrocketed in recent years. Normally they’re used as simple fragrances, in perfumes, incense, soaps and candles, or even potpourri. But their recent rise may be due in part to stinkier practices: a lot of people are now turning to essential oils for medical purposes. Some believe they promote general wellness, some believe they boost the immune system, and some depend on specific aromatherapies to treat very specific diseases. Are they right to do so?
Let’s look exactly at what an essential oil is. First of all, the word “essential” means that the oil contains the “essence” of whatever plant it’s from; it does not mean that it’s essential (as in necessary for health). Leaves, stems, flowers, or whatever part of the desired plant is placed in a distillation vessel with steam. The heat releases the volatile organic compounds from the plant matter (volatile means they exist as a vapor at room temperature). Volatile organic compounds are what goes into your nose when you smell a flower. These compounds are then distilled into a liquid, which we colloquially call the “essence” of the plant. Finally, to make a nicely packageable product of desired consistency and concentration, the essence is usually mixed with an odorless carrier oil. Then, voilà: we have what’s called an essential oil, strong with the smell of the plant it’s made from.
It can be a massage oil; it can be the scent added to incense; it can be added to bath water, to soaps, or to candles; you can put some in your tea; or you can dab some on your skin for the fragrance. Many such aromas are delightful, even pleasurable. For a thousand years, people have been willing to pay a fair price for essential oils. But in recent years, prices have skyrocketed, especially among allegedly “premium” oils. Why might this be? The plants have not become any more scarce, and the production methods have only become more efficient and cheaper (particularly with our global economy providing the best access ever to bargain-basement oils produced in developing countries).
The answer is a resurgence of aromatherapy in the New Age and alternative medicine communities. But before we talk about its resurgence, let’s see how it first became a thing at all.
The principal anecdote cited by virtually all credulous articles on essential oils comes from the perfume industry.
Many people believe that a grid of earth energies circles the globe, connecting important and sacred sites such as Stonehenge, the Egyptian Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China.
If you plot these and other sites on a map, a curious thing becomes apparent: Many of them can be connected by straight lines. Were these monuments and sacred sites specifically built at those locations by ancient people with lost knowledge of unknown earth energies especially strong along these “ley lines”?
History of ley lines
People have often found special significance in the unusual landmarks and geological features surrounding them. High mountain peaks and majestic valleys may be viewed as sacred, for example, while deep, dark caves have often been considered the domain of the underworld. The same is true for roads; in 1800s on the British Isles many people believed in mysterious “fairy paths,” trails connecting certain hilltops in the countryside. It was considered dangerous (or, at the very least, unwise) to walk on those paths during certain days because the wayward traveler might come upon a parade of fairies who would not take kindly to the human interruption.
Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate describe the origin of ley lines in their “Book of English Magic”: “Alfred Watkins, a landscape photographer in Herefordshire, noticed that ancient sites seemed to be aligned with others nearby. His idea was that our ancestors built and used prominent features in the landscape as navigation points. These features included prehistoric standing stones and stone circles, barrows and mounds, hill forts and earthworks, ancient moats, old pre-Reformation churches, old crossroads and fords, prominent hilltops and fragments of old, straight tracks. Watkins went on to suggest that that the lines connecting these ancient sites represented old trackways or routes that were followed in prehistoric times for the purposes of trade or religious rites, and in 1921 he coined the term ‘ley lines’ to describe these alignments.”
Watkins himself did not believe that there was any magical or mystical significance to ley lines. However, the authors note, “The idea that there is a hidden network of energy lines across the earth … fired the imagination of the burgeoning New Age movement, and dowsers in particular became keen on detecting leys with dowsing.”
Because of this New Age interest, ley lines rose from mundane origins to an entire field of study, spawning books, seminars, and groups of ley line enthusiasts who gather to discuss, research, and walk the lines. Ley lines have also been incorporated into a variety of otherwise unrelated paranormal subjects, including dowsing, UFOs, Atlantis, crop circles and numerology.
Science and pseudoscience
You won’t find ley lines discussed in geography or geology textbooks because they aren’t real, actual, measurable things. Though scientists can find no evidence of these ley lines — they cannot be detected by magnetometers or any other scientific device — New Agers, psychics and others claim to be able to sense or feel their energy.
Watkins’s original idea of ley lines is quite valid and rather intuitive; archaeologists have long known that, on a local and regional scale, roads tend to be built in more or less straight lines, geography allowing, and since a line is the shortest distance between two points it makes sense that important sites in a given culture would often be aligned, not randomly placed.
Ley line experts cannot agree on which “sacred sites” should be included as data points. Some internationally known ancient sites are obvious choices, such as England’s Stonehenge, Egypt’s Great Pyramids, Peru’s Machu Picchu ruins, and Australia’s Ayers Rock. But on a regional and local level, it’s anyone’s game: How big a hill counts as an important hill? Which wells are old enough or important enough? By selectively choosing which data points to include or omit, a person can come up with any pattern he or she wishes to find.
With literally tens of thousands of potential data points around the globe, it is little wonder that ley lines . . .
Cassandra Vanzant calls herself an “extraterrestrial communicator,” among other things. I appeared with her on CBS’s Anderson, hosted by journalist Anderson Cooper. (The show aired on April 24, 2012.) Vanzant claims to be in communication with alien intelligences whose messages she allegedly receives telepathically and then “translates.” She informed Anderson that he, too, had a star family, the “Lamarians” living in “the fourth dimension.” (See Nickell 2012.)
New Age Contactee
Vanzant’s claims are legion. At one time or another (sometimes under the pseudonym “Cheryl Hill”) she has acted as a tarot-card reader and instructor, ghost hunter, spiritualist medium, angel communicant, ordained minister (nondenominational), professional psychic (although she failed to foresee a serious car accident in which she was a passenger), and of course, telepathic “Master Alien Communicator” (“About the author” 2012; “About me” 2012; Vanzant 2012a).
When an amused Anderson Cooper asked his TV audience how many believed Vanzant’s claimed ability to communicate with aliens, a single person raised her hand. The audience was right to be skeptical. Ms. Vanzant is only the most recent embodiment of the contactee, a person who purports to be in repeated communication with extraterrestrials.
Contactees emerged in the early 1950s, following an influx of flying saucer reports. The Space Brothers were supposedly making themselves known to a select group of chosen persons (who thus function rather like the prophets in religions of yore) to spread their supposedly advanced wisdom to mere Earthlings. The contactees tended to be mystical folk of a type we would today call New Agers, embracing Eastern “mystery” religions, notably Hinduism, as well as Western Messianic traditions (Story 2001, 134). Today, contactees have been largely supplanted by abductees who themselves now also frequently serve as alleged cosmic messengers (Nickell 2007, 255–56).
Revealingly, like many other claimed extraterrestrial communicants (Nickell 2007, 251–58), Ms. Vanzant has several of the traits associated with a fantasy-prone personality. Such a person is sane and normal but with an unusual ability to fantasize, according to a pioneering study by Wilson and Barber (1983).
For example, Vanzant has ostensible imaginary friends (“Artoli” and “Madascrat”), claims to receive special messages from higher beings (not only extraterrestrials but also angels and spirit guides), purports to have psychic powers and fortunetelling abilities, reports having had an out-of-body/near-death experience (NDE), and so on, as well as appearing to generally have a rich fantasy life (Vanzant 2012a; see also her website, http://www.starfamilymessages.com).
Describing her near-death experience Vanzant (2012a) recalls floating up to the hospital roof and onward, “toward the stars.” She soon entered a “green tunnel,” then found herself “surrounded by angels, extraterrestrials, and spirit guides,” each of whom gave her a message. The experience, she says, “started my quest.” (The NDE—although only a hallucination produced by an altered brain state—is often life-transforming for the experiencer [Blackmore 1996].)
- Likenesses between spirit channeler mediums and alien contactees/experiencers (examiner.com)
- Bombshell Report Reveals Activities and Motivations of ET Races Interacting With Humanity (projectanunnaki.wordpress.com)
- Aliens & UFOs – Re: Contact, Disclosure, and Deception (disclose.tv)
- Russia Says Its Space Troops Are “Not Ready To Fight Extraterrestrials” (disinfo.com)
“In the course of a successful reading, the psychic may provide most of the words, but it is the client that provides most of the meaning and all of the significance.” —Ian Rowland (2000: 60)
Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject. Cold reading goes beyond the usual tools of manipulation: suggestion and flattery. In cold reading, salespersons, hypnotists, advertising pros, faith healers, con men, and some therapists bank on their subject’s inclination to find more meaning in a situation than there actually is. The desire to make sense out of experience can lead us to many wonderful discoveries, but it can also lead us to many follies. The manipulator knows that his mark will be inclined to try to make sense out of whatever he is told, no matter how farfetched or improbable. He knows, too, that people are generally self-centered, that we tend to have unrealistic views of ourselves, and that we will generally accept claims about ourselves that reflect not how we are or even how we really think we are but how we wish we were or think we should be. He also knows that for every several claims he makes about you that you reject as being inaccurate, he will make one that meets with your approval; and he knows that you are likely to remember the hits he makes and forget the misses.
Thus, a good manipulator can provide a reading of a total stranger, which will make the stranger feel that the manipulator possesses some special power. For example, Bertram Forer has never met you, yet he offers the following cold reading of you:
Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary and reserved. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. You pride yourself on being an independent thinker and do not accept others’ opinions without satisfactory proof. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety, and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. Disciplined and controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.
Your sexual adjustment has presented some problems for you. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a strong need for other people to like you and for them to admire you.
Here’s another reading that you might find fairly accurate about you:
People close to you have been taking advantage of you. Your basic honesty has been getting in your way. Many opportunities that you have had offered to you in the past have had to be surrendered because you refuse to take advantage of others. You like to read books and articles to improve your mind. In fact, if you’re not already in some sort of personal service business, you should be. You have an infinite capacity for understanding people’s problems and you can sympathize with them. But you are firm when confronted with obstinacy or outright stupidity. Law enforcement would be another field you understand. Your sense of justice is quite strong.
The last one was from astrologer Sidney Omarr. He’s never even met you and yet he knows so much about you (Randi 1982: 61). The first one was taken by Forer from a newsstand astrology book.
The selectivity of the human mind is always at work. We pick and choose what data we will remember and what we will give significance to. In part, we do so because of what we already believe or want to believe. In part, we do so in order to make sense out of what we are experiencing. We are not manipulated simply because we are gullible or suggestible, or just because the signs and symbols of the manipulator are vague or ambiguous. Even when the signs are clear and we are skeptical, we can still be manipulated. In fact, it may even be the case that particularly bright persons are more likely to be manipulated when the language is clear and they are thinking logically. To make the connections that the manipulator wants you to make, you must be thinking logically.
Not all cold readings are done by malicious manipulators. Some readings are done by astrologers, graphologists, tarot readers, New Age healers, and people who genuinely believe they have paranormal powers.
- How did the psychic know that? (illuminutti.com)
- Graphology (illuminutti.com)
- Cold Reading: Sylvia Browne, Amanda Berry and Recruiters (thecynicalgirl.com)
- Psychic reading: Tips on what to look for or those readings leave me cold. (areyouanempath.com)
- Live demonstration of Psychic Powers (skeptical-science.com)
- Sylvia Browne exposed as a fake. Again (skepulation.wordpress.com)
- Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them (theinternettimessupplement.wordpress.com)
- Cold reading (sethgodin.typepad.com)
The Great Psychic Con
These and millions more like them represent the kinds of statements we get from people who say they’re skeptical, but who’ve been to a psychic and have come away as believers in the paranormal. Many times I’ve been asked to try to explain the “paranormal” experiences of people who tell me they’re skeptics, but who can’t think of any other explanation for something than that it was paranormal. I call it the “Explain That!” game. I’ve posted responses to some of these requests, but I can’t say I’ve been able to persuade any of the believers to consider alternative explanations, even though they ask me to provide them with one. [Some of my explanations for various psychic readings are here, here, here, and here.]
“There’s no way he could have known my grandmother’s name?” “How do you explain his predicting the lights would go off at the shop?” “How did he know my uncle’s name?” “There’s no way he could have known my father died of a heart attack.” “How could he possibly know that my brother collects cuckoo clocks?“
How do psychics know so much about me? I’ve heard or read many times variants of that question asked by people who are intelligent and educated, but naive. For example, a local sports writer visited a psychic to get a story about her predictions for the local high school athletic teams. He ended up writing two stories. I didn’t read the second one, but the first revealed how amazed he was at how much she knew about him and how accurate she was. It made him think, he wrote, that maybe there’s something to this psychic business. There is, but it’s not what he thinks. In my letter to the editor of the local paper where the sports writer plies his trade I said:
Bruce Gallaudet is an experienced journalist, but he seems to know nothing about cold reading and subjective validation, the two tarot cards up the sleeve of a working psychic. He’s dazzled within 60 seconds and befuddled when she tells the old man that she’s sorry he had to cancel a trip. Did she ask about your knee injury? Or about the outdated calendar you keep at home, along with the box of newspaper clippings? Did she mention your business venture setback (but you’ll do well in new endeavors) or the health problems a loved one is having?
Stick to local sports, Bruce. You were in way over your head with Ms. Mertino, the Davis Psychic.
The fact is, psychics may know certain things about you in the same way that many people know many things about others by knowing their age, sex, occupation, education, where they live, how they dress, what kind of jewelry they’re wearing, or their religion. Does anyone have perfect knowledge of others based on what are sometimes called warm reading techniques? Of course not. We’re dealing with probabilities, not absolute certainties here, but it doesn’t matter. The psychic is not obligated to stop the reading when she makes a mistake. If she misinterprets your wearing black as a sign of grieving for someone who has died, she doesn’t have to say “oops, wrong again.” No, she just slithers on to the next question or statement, ignoring her “miss” and counting on you to ignore it as well. Eventually, she’ll hit something that resonates with you, that you can validate. The key to a psychic reading is not the psychic’s ability to tap into a world you are not directly privy to. The key to a psychic reading is your willingness to find meaning or significance in some of the statements she makes or questions she asks. If mentioning the death of a loved one evokes no response from you, the psychic will move on to another statement, another question.
It is also possible that the psychic you are dealing with is a very sleazy professional fraud who investigates her clients before she does the reading. Doing a hot reading, however, is not likely if you are a drop-in. Although, even drop-ins can be conned by distracting the client and looking through her purse or wallet. Some psychics who work fairs, for example, have a colleague who walks by those in line trying to pick up information about various clients who are in conversations. The colleague passes on the info to the “psychic” via a wireless device. Most people who visit psychics on a whim are probably not going to be a victim of someone using hot reading, however. Why? Because it’s really unnecessary. Cold reading works just as well. (For a special case of using hot readings by sharing information in order to con wealthy clients who go from psychic to psychic, see Lamar M. Keene. The Psychic Mafia. Prometheus, 1997).
- More Psychic News (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Medium (illuminutti.com)
- 50 Things That Look Like Faces – Pareidolia (illuminutti.com)
- Hutchison hoax (illuminutti.com)
- Cattle Mutilation (illuminutti.com)
- Electro-sensitives (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Psychics (illuminutti.com)
- Online Psychic Service Warns Public to Avoid Psychic Scams (seriously) (illuminutti.com)
About two years ago during a conversation, a friend of mine mentioned a movie she thought I’d really like. In fact it was a documentary, and as a fan of docs, I was eager to hear more about it. “You’d find it interesting,” she said. “It’s kind of about stuff you investigate. It’s called What the Bleep Do We Know!? Have you heard of it?”
I had indeed heard of the film, a New Agey jumble of pseudoscience and mysticism about supposed links between consciousness and quantum physics, produced by followers of J.Z. Knight, a woman who claims to dispense information from a 35,000-year-old ghost. In fact, I had done my best to keep it from misinforming the public when it was first released, writing a few short skeptical pieces about it.
Not wanting to get into an argument with my friend, I just let the conversation trail off. But before I did, she made an interesting comment: “To be honest I didn’t really understand a lot of it. . . . But you’re really smart—you would get it.”
She assumed that the reason she didn’t understand the film’s information was because she had no background in science. I, on the other hand, did not understand the film precisely because I do have a strong background in science. When people don’t understand something they are told, there are three possibilities or root causes.
Most commonly, the person assumes, as my friend did, that the problem lies with the listener. Her (quite reasonable) assumption was that the film was comprehensible and that if she didn’t understand it, it was due to her limitations or lack of knowledge. This was a mainstream, feature-length documentary film with some famous people in it—including physicists. Surely these people would not appear on camera discussing self-evidently nonsensical ideas such as that thoughts can control reality.
Less often, the problem lies with the speaker’s inability to effectively communicate—perhaps he or she does not share the same native language as the listener, is disorganized, or has a speech impediment for example. In this case the information and message may be correct and clear, but communication does not occur because of a problem with the source.
Sometimes the problem lies neither with the listener nor with the speaker, but instead in the content. In this case, the reason that the listener doesn’t understand what is being said is that what is being said makes little or no sense by any objective measure. This is insidious and difficult to detect because people do not like to challenge authority on a topic they are presumably trying to become educated about—especially in public. The speaker is not talking gibberish; quite the opposite: he or she may be very eloquent. Furthermore, identifying nonsense often requires some basic understanding of the subject.
MORE . . .
Crystal skulls are among the strangest and most mysterious artifacts in the world. They have been displayed in the finest museums; they have inspired books, films, legends and liquor. According to some they even have supernatural power.
Skulls are, of course, made of minerals; bone is mostly calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate. Skulls are at once both mundane and macabre, symbolic reminders of both healing medicine and death. Of all the materials that a skull might be made of, crystal is perhaps the most intriguing. Crystals are central to New Age beliefs, and New Agers have constructed an intricate belief system around them involving auras, reincarnation, chakras, healing, vibrations, and so on.
There are many skulls in the world carved out of quartz, of varying sizes and designs (New Age shops around the world are well-stocked), though not all of them are steeped in myth and romance. There are only a handful of the largest, life-size skulls in existence, and they have inspired awe for generations. They are said to be hundreds or thousands of years old, and possibly of Mayan, Aztec, or even Atlantean origin. The skulls are indeed a sight to behold. Beyond the artistry of carved crystal, many believe the skulls have special abilities, such as aiding psychic abilities, healing the sick, and even having power over death.
Crystal skulls have captured the imagination of countless New Agers, curiosity seekers, and others; screenwriter George Lucas was so intrigued by crystal skulls he wrote a script about them: the 2008 film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.” A Canadian company called Crystal Head Vodka (co-founded by actor and paranormal buff Dan Aykroyd) launched in 2008, bottling its crystal-filtered libation in novelty glass skulls.
The most famous crystal skull is the so-called Skull of Doom, a human-like skull composed of two pieces and made from clear crystal quartz.
MORE . . .
As you may have noticed, last December was not the last month of life on Earth, nor was there some great transformation or spiritual awakening. We still have politicians, right? So I had my fun pointing this out on the alleged moment the end was supposed to come.
Now it has been nearly a month since the lack-of-doom date, and usually there are excuses for why the end did not happen. So I tried to look around the Internet, especially at the recognized websites that promoted the 2012 Apocalypse, such as December212012, 2012Apocalypse.net, and 2012Apocalypse.info. It looks like there is no updates at all since the winter solstice, at least as of now when I am writing this. My searches on Google also didn’t come up with anything much, though there may be something buried in some forum somewhere.
I’m actually surprised by the lack of reaction…
View original post 360 more words
by Donald Prothero via Skepticblog
Dec 26, 2012
All throughout the long buildup up to last week’s latest failed prediction of an global apocalypse, you would hear people claiming that the earth-shattering catastrophe of Dec. 21 would include “pole shifts” or “changes in the earth’s magnetic field” and all sorts of other sciencey phrases, proclaimed by people with absolutely no idea what they were talking about. The idea of “magnetism” is one of the most popular memes in the lexicon of pseudoscientists and New Agers, since magnets operate “mysteriously” and exert a force at a distance. From the days of Franz Mesmer claiming he had “magnetism” over people, to the trite phrase “animal magnetism,” the concept of magnetism has always been mysterious and misunderstood. Hence the big market for sticking magnets on various parts of your body to “cure” you. All they do is waste money, and possibly demagnetize the magnetic strip on your credit cards. The idea that somehow the earth’s magnetic field will shift abruptly or that the earth’s core will stop rotating (as in the idiotic Hilary Swank movie “The Core”) or even more wildly, that the earth’s rotational pole will change, are all common ideas out there in Wacko-Land.
Among the crazy ideas out there is that somehow the magnetic poles will shift and destroy all electrical devices (this web site), thus destroying civilization. Or this site, which claims that pole shifts will cause earthquakes and hurricanes, and NASA is covering up what’s happening. Or this bizarre post, which freely uses the words “gruesome” and “horror”. Or this site, which cherry-picks items from actual science posts and then completely misinterprets what they mean.
This is just a small sampling of the pseudoscientific garbage all over the internet posted before Dec. 21. Most of us know enough about science and apocalyptic predictions to guess that they are not worth taking seriously, but very few people have bothered to debunk this stuff. Unfortunately, we saw lots of sad consequences of people who did take the ridiculous apocalyptic predictions seriously, often with tragic results.
Among my other specialties, my professional training is in paleomagnetism, and I’ve conducted over 35 years of published research in the field, so I’m pretty familiar with what we do and don’t know about the earth’s magnetic field and how it behaves.
First, some science. The earth’s magnetic field has at least two components, the dipolar field (illustrated above), which makes up about 90% of the magnetism we normally feel, and a non-dipole field, which is normally hard to detect beneath it but makes up at least 10% of the earth’s field. The dipole field is not exactly lined up with the rotational axis of the earth (i.e., there is a small angle between magnetic north and true north), but over geologic spans of time, magnetic north wanders around the vicinity of the rotational pole; this movement known as secular variation. Studies have shown … MORE . . ..
- Magnetic myths (skepticblog.org)
- Rapid changes in the Earth’s core: The magnetic field and gravity from a satellite perspective (spacedaily.com)
- Earth’s Magnetic Field Made Quick Flip-Flop (news.discovery.com)
- Earth’s Magnetic Field Made Quick Flip-Flop (space.com)
By Alexandra Alper via Reuters
IZAMAL, Mexico, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Thousands of mystics, New Age dreamers and fans of pre-Hispanic culture have been drawn to Mexico in hopes of witnessing great things when the day in an old Maya calendar dubbed “the end of the world” dawns on Friday.
But many of today’s ethnic Maya cannot understand the fuss. Mostly Christian, they have looked on in wonder at the influx of foreign tourists to ancient cities in southern Mexico and Central America whose heyday passed hundreds of years ago.
For students of ancient Mesoamerican time-keeping, Dec. 21, 2012 marks the end of a 5,125-year cycle in the Maya Long Calendar, an event one leading U.S. scholar said in the 1960s could be interpreted as a kind of Armageddon for the Maya.
Academics and astronomers say too much weight was given to the words and have sought to allay fears the end is nigh.
But over the past few decades, fed by popular culture, Friday became seen by some western followers of alternative religions as a day on which momentous change could occur.
“It’s a psychosis, a fad,” said psychologist Vera Rodriguez, 29, a Mexican of Maya descent living in Izamal, Yucatan state, near the center of the 2012 festivities, the site of Chichen Itza. “I think it’s bad for our society and our culture.”
MORE . . .
- Does Anyone Really Believe in the Mayan Apocalypse? (livescience.com)
- The truth about the Maya ‘apocalypse’ (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- 2012 Mayan Doomsday Countdown: 5 Ancient Must-Visit Ruin Sites on Dec 21 to Celebrate Mayan New Year (VIDEOS (sfluxe.com)
- So, 21.12.2012 is the end of the world? (guardian.co.uk)
- Mysticism, Internet fuel Mexico’s Maya “Armageddon” fears (theneteconomy.wordpress.com)
- Mysticism, Internet Fuel ‘Armageddon’ Fears (hawaiireporter.com)
French officials ban access to sacred mountain which believers claim will be refuge from ‘Mayan apocalypse on December 21′
- Rumours say the mountain will burst open on December 21 to reveal an alien spaceship which will save those nearby from the apocalypse
- French police will control access to the mountain and village to stop expected hordes of New Age fanatics, sightseers and journalists
- December 21 is the estimated end of the Mayan long calendar, which some believes marks the end of the world as we know it
Fears the end of the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world this coming December have run rife on the internet in recent years.
Less well known is the rumour that one particular mountain in south-west France will burst open on that day revealing an alien spaceship which will carry nearby humans to safety.
Well, if you were counting on that possibility to save you from the apocalypse, prepare to be disappointed. French officials have banned access to the Pic de Bugarach to avoid a rush of New Age fanatics, sightseers and, above all, journalists.
A hundred police and firefighters will also control approaches to the tiny village of the same name at the foot of the mountain, and if too many people turn up, they will block access there too.
Believers say the world will end on December 21, 2012, the end date of the ancient Mayan calendar, and they see Bugarach as one of a few sacred mountains sheltered from the cataclysm.
MORE . . .
- Doomsday mountain blocked: Apocalyptic Mayan Pic de Bugarach closed (sfluxe.com)
- Doomsday mountain blocked: Apocalyptic Mayan Pic de Bugarach closed (examiner.com)
- Mayan Doomsday Forecast: Really ?! (forbes.com)
- Chinese man blows life savings on ark to escape Apocalypse (PHOTOS) (rt.com)
- Apocalypse survival hope killed by the French (news.com.au)
By Mason I. Bilderberg
Holy crap. Sometimes i come across stuff so … so … um … how shall i say this gently? … so STUPID i have a hard time writing about it because i’m laughing so hard.
Right off the bat you can tell just by the date of the event this is going to be magical: 12/12/12. As woo-woo decrees: if numbers look special they are special. The date 12/12/12 looks very special, doesn’t it? Like when you’re digital clock says 11:11 or 12:34 – again, very special.
The website goes on to say:
«December 2012 is being looked upon as the time of a significant spiritual shift in the collective consciousness of the planet into this new Golden Age. That’s why 12,000 people will be assembling in Wembley Arena on 12.12.12 to experience The Big Om mass sound healing event – an event with the power at a quantum level to shift the vibration of the planet – which will be live-streamed around the world.
«The Big Om is a five hour shamanic journey lead by metaphysical guru and sound healer Barefoot Doctor, starring Basement Jaxx plus introducing some of today’s leading electronic dance music acts/DJ’s plus a variety of gurus talking over the beats, in an Ibiza-Super-Club style setting, all building to The Big Om – 12,000 people chanting the biggest Om in history, miked and fed back through the system, filtered, phased, gated, sub-bass added, electronic pulse beneath, the beat building, lights swirling over the crowd, and creating a sensation the crowd feels in its knickers, leading to a collective sound-light orgasm that makes the earth move.»
Oh boy! A sound-light orgasm that makes the earth move! WOW! Wait. What? What is a sound-light orgasm? Never mind, don’t be a buzz kill … OooooooooM.
Here is their promotional video. I just watched it and i already feel enlightened and special.
What exactly is “sound healing”? According to WorldSoundHealing.org, sound healing “is the intentional use of sound to create an environment which becomes a catalyst for healing in the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual aspects of our being.”
Yeah. Okay. Whatever.
WorldSoundHealing.org continues, “The intentional use of sound adds power to the conduit, whether it is through the use of an instrument or voice. By surrendering to the highest good, we ourselves become that conduit, or instrument, for peace, for healing, change, or growth.”
So what are we Om-ing about at this event? They don’t say explicitly. But given the prominent display of the Mayan calendar apocalypse theory staring back at me from the top of their web page, i can only speculate this colossal waste of Om will be about averting the December 21, 2012 apocalypse.
Lack of specific claims or purpose for events like this is not uncommon – especially in the UK where psychics, mediums, spiritualists, healers and other conjurers face prosecution if they cannot justify their claims. This is why such practitioners are careful to describe their con as “an experiment” or describe themselves as “entertainers” or they come up with lengthy, fine print disclaimers to describe themselves as something – anything – other than what they want you to believe they are.
Though the organizers of this non-event probably want to avoid guarantees and specifics because of legal liabilities, i can predict – with 100%, absolute certainty: One thing WON’T happen and two things WILL happen:
WON’T HAPPEN: The apocalypse.
WILL HAPPEN: Somebody will make a lot of money.
With the average ticket costing $80 (USD) and approximately 12,500 seats in Wembley Arena, somebody is raking in a cool $1,000,000 (USD) … and that doesn’t include what they’ll make on VIP seating packages, sponsorship deals, refreshments and sales of other promotional items before, during and after the event.
WILL HAPPEN: (After the apocalypse doesn’t happen) woo-woo practitioners everywhere will claim success for preventing a cataclysmic event.
It’s a well worn formula used in the new age, hocus pocus world of good vibrations:
1. Perpetuate something doomy and gloomy, like the end of the world. (End of the world prophecies work beautifully.)
2. Promote something new-agey as a solution, pitching your event with sophisticated-sounding, high-end woo-woo talk like this:
“On 12/12/12 at 12:12:12 AM – 12,000 enlightened souls will gather enmasse to attune to, invoke, transform and align with the pure and loving energies of our collective consciousness – and to act as a conduit for peace, healing, change and growth. By attuning ourselves to the inherently transformative powers and energies of the universal “know” we amplify and “anchor” the Earth, and the consciousness of others, by shifting the vibration of the planet at the quantum level and effecting positive changes.” (I made all that up. Pretty good, eh?)
3. When the doom and gloom fails to materialze (as expected) boast of your success!!!!!
See how this scam works? Take money out of the pockets of the gullible who give you credit for promising nothing and doing absolutely nothing.
Think about it, why are the promoters of this woo-woo fest charging people money to attend? If they really believe their own crap, they have exactly 9 days to spend their money before the apocalypse. I ought to attend this thing and ask for a refund on 12/22/12.
Conspiracists are also known for pulling this same stunt. They may predict the government will begin rounding up citizens and placing them in FEMA camps, telling us “this is going to start in the next 90 days!!!” On the 91st day when nothing has changed the conspiracists claim it was because they “got the word out”, “educated the sheeple” or “exposed the ruling elite.”
If i told you the sun won’t rise tomorrow unless you stand on your head in a bowl of chili, and you stand on your head in a bowl of chili, do you credit your head and the chili for allowing the sun to rise?
This is my Saturday rant of the day :)
Mason I. Bilderberg
- The World’s Biggest Ever Mass Sound Healing Event is Happening at Wembley Arena on 12.12.12 (sott.net)
- Sound Healing (figsandgrapes.wordpress.com)
Will Hart of the University of Alabama conducted several experiments to determine how the way a person expresses or retells emotionally charged past events effects the storytellers mood. The four experiments involved asking participants to recall positive, negative and neutral events, reports the Association for Psychological Science.
Results of the study concluded that when a past negative event is described as though it were still happening – or in the present tense – participant’s moods remained negative. When describing the event as though it had already occurred – or in the past tense – the participants felt more positive. The same held true of describing positive events that have occurred in the past, with the present tense preserving the positive feeling.
The study by Will Hart, which will appear in a future issue of Psychological Science, concluded that one way to alleviate negative feelings is to phrase any discussion of negative events in the past tense, while using the present tense to describe positive events.
This appears to confirm the practice of New Age followers of the Law of Attraction that encourages participants to phrase dreams and goals in the present tense, as though they have already been achieved.
A Canadian spiritualist ghostbusting actor walks into a bar wearing New Age crystals and a crystal skull around his neck, goes up to the bartender, and orders a vodka. . . . No, this weird mashup is not the setup to a joke (certainly not a funny one) but instead more or less describes one of the strangest intersections of Hollywood, New Age paranormal belief, ghost hunting, and alcohol.
This story involves crystal skulls. There are many skulls in the world carved out of quartz crystal of varying sizes and designs. I’ve seen them in a lot of places, especially in South and Central America, where they are sold as tourist trinkets. The ones you can buy for a few dollars are rather plain, but the big ones (life-size or so) are steeped in myth and romance. There are only a handful of the life-size skulls in existence, and they have inspired awe for generations. They are said to be hundreds of years old and possibly of Mayan or Aztec origin.
Continue reading: CSI | A Spiritualist Ghostbuster’s Crystal Skull.
The Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator generates a randomly-selected collection of words that eerily mimic the syntactically-sound, but often content-free, thoughts of new-age author Deepak Chopra.
Here are a few examples of random, computer generated gems:
“The world opens karmic chaos”
“Infinity inspires subtle timelessness”
“Evolution differentiates into positive opportunities”
“Freedom experiences a symphony of creativity”
Check it out here: Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator – Wisdom of Chopra.