Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Face Off (Prosopagnosia)

By Mason I. Bilderberg,

One of the most intriguing mental disorders i’ve ever come across is called “Prosopagnosia,” a disorder that impairs a person from distinguishing one face from another.

From Wikipedia:

Prosopagnosia – also called face blindness, is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while other aspects of visual processing (e.g., object discrimination) and intellectual functioning (e.g., decision making) remain intact.

This disorder becomes a little bit scary when you combine it with the mind of a conspiracist. For example, did you know Adolf Hitler and Walt Disney were the same person?

Hitler Disney_600px

This is why some conspiracists believe the people associated with tragedies like Sandy Hook are actually staged events using professional actors. They watch the video footage of a tragedy or a political event and they see what they think are familiar faces from the world of hollywood or the mainstream media playing a role. This mis-perception only reinforces the conspiracists’ belief that nothing is real, that we’re living inside a matrix where everything is being orchestrated by “them” to fool us and control us.

Another example: Did you know George Zimmerman‘s lawyer was played by Roger Daltrey, lead singer of English rock band the Who?

Actor Kevin Bacon has been VERY busy the last several years playing Press Secretary Jay Carney:

Press Secretary Jay Carney is played by actor Kevin Bacon.

Press Secretary Jay Carney is played by actor Kevin Bacon.

As a fan of all things brain related, i find this extremely interesting and i thought maybe you would too. It certainly explains some of the more bizarre assertions made by conspiracists following a national tragedy.

If you want to get a bit creeped out by how the conspiratorial mind interprets our world through the lens of prosopagnosia, i suggest visiting wellaware1.com. That’s one of the two sites i perused in preparation for this post – MetaBunk is the other.

Mason I. Bilderber (MIB)

What Is The Birthday Paradox?

Note from Mason I. Bilderberg

How many people must be in a group for the odds of two people in the group having the same birthday reaches a statistical likelihood better than 50%?

The number is so surprisingly few that some people attribute a birthday match in such a small group to something akin to a sign from the heavens. They ask, “What are the odds?”

But did you know, in a group of 50 people, there is a 97% statistical chance of two people having the same birthday? Psychics use these types of statistical illusions to give audiences the impression that such occurrences are “a sign from above!”

I’d love to be in a group of 50 people when it is discovered that two people have the same birthday and the psychic asks in a mysterious tone, “What ARE the odds?” . . . just so i can yell back “97% you freakin’ charlatan!”

Wikipedia explains all the math, as does the video below.

:)


Via BrainStuff

Empty Force (EFO) FAIL

From Wikipedia:

Empty force is a term used in martial arts to denote the expression of force without making physical contact.

People who believe in the empty force claim … the ‘Empty Force,’ is the highest martial arts skill in China. This technique claims to harness the power of qi, the “body’s vital energy“, enabling masters of the art to defend themselves against opponents without making physical contact.”

Via Skepticool on YouTube or Facebook

5 Thing’s I’ve noticed about… 12/21/2012

by via The Soap Box

2012_failIt’s been almost a year since 12/21/2012, the day that the world was suppose to end… or change (depends on who you asked).

Now there was a lot that didn’t happen that day that was suppose to, and there were certain things that day that did happen, just not what some people were expecting.

I’ve looked back upon what did happen that day, and I’ve come up with the five different things that I’ve noticed about that day and the whole doomsday prediction itself.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about 12/21/2012:

5. Nothing really important happen that day.

cat nap_250pxWell… not necessarily nothing per say, but in terms of the world shattering event that was suppose to occur (at least according to some people who mistook the ending of the Mayan calendar as being a Mayan prophecy foretelling the end of the world) nothing happened that day that was even worth bothering to remember.

The only thing that I really remember from that day is that me and several fellow skeptics laughed at all of those people who seriously thought the world was going to end that day, and the History Channel showing a bunch of programs about doomsday (because that is what the History Channel does).

Basically that’s all that happened that day. Skeptics had a good laugh, the History Channel showed a bunch of BS (well a little bit more BS than usual) and that’s it… well, that and fact that…

4. Millions of Doomers realized how stupid they were.

embarrassed 924The amount of people who thought the world was going to end that day (or atleast something big was going to happen that day) was probably in the millions, most of which I’m pretty sure were relived that nothing happen (although I’m sure a few were disappointed, especially those who thought it would bring about some kind of human “transformation”).

I say again that while I am pretty sure that most people who believed that the world would end that day were relived that it didn’t happen, I’m also pretty sure that a lot of those people felt stupid for trusting some non-prophesy that a few people who were allegedly smarter than them completely mis-interpreted and got it into the public mindset in such a way that it ended up taking off like wildfire…

Ofcourse what probably made a lot of people feel stupid for believing in the 12/21/2012 end of the world prediction is the realization that…

3. It’s not the first time a major doomsday prediction has fail.

Apocalypse_by_DearJuneThe 12/21/2012 was not the first major doomsday prediction to fail, nor was it the first major one to create a kind of mass hysteria that caused people to waste their time and money on to prepare for, as well as possibly ruin relationships with the people in their lives. The 12/21/2012 prediction wasn’t even the first major doomsday prediction of the century that failed. Infact it was the third major doomsday prediction of the 21st century that failed (the first one was the Y2K prediction, and the second one was Harold Camping‘s Rapture prediction of 2011).

Now I went to the Wikipedia page listing doomsday predictions (and these are just some of the more famous ones) and there were huge amount of them, and obviously they’ve all failed to come true. Infact I actually counted the number of doomsday predictions between the time I was born and the 12/21/2012 prediction, and according to the list the world should have ended atleast 47 times since my birth…

Now in my opinion the whole 12/21/2012 should never have been taken seriously in the first place. This is not only due to the sheer fact that doomsday predictions always fail, it’s also due to the fact that…

MORE . . .

Emergency Handbook: What to Do When a Friend Loves Woo

How you can help a friend or loved one with a potentially harmful pseudoscientific belief

Brian DunningBY Brian Dunning via Skeptoid: Critical Analysis Podcast. Read podcast transcript below or listen here.

It’s the #1 most common question I get: My wife, my friend, my mom, my boss, is investing their health or their money in some magical or fraudulent product/scheme/belief. What can I do about it?

StephnMedShow_250pxThis is a tough situation to be in. Whether it’s a loved one who’s ill and is being taken advantage of by a charlatan selling a magical cure with no hope of treating the illness, or a friend who’s out of work and is going into deeper debt to buy into a hopeless multilevel marketing plan, it’s really hard to watch. The hardest is when they have a real problem and are expending their limited resources trying to solve it with a medieval, magic-based system that you know can’t possibly help. But all too often, they think it’s helping. Cognitive biases, anecdotal thinking, placebo effects and cognitive dissonance combine to build a powerful illusion that our brains are hardwired to believe in. At some point, it falls to a caring friend to try and rescue them with a candle of reason.

You’re up against a foe who’s far more formidable than you might think. This isn’t like settling a bet with a friend where you can look up the answer on Wikipedia, see who’s right, then buy each other a beer. You’re going after someone’s religion. You’re setting out to talk someone out of believing something that they know to be true, for a fact, from their personal experience. That right there makes your task nearly impossible, but it’s worse. Their belief has spiritual underpinnings that make it deeply moral and virtuous. Imagine if someone came to you and flashed a magazine article that said it’s best to turn your children out into the street and never talk to them again. It’s not only unconvincing, it’s laughable. Your effort to talk someone out of their belief in their sacred cow is likely to be just as laughable.

pick your battles_200pxSo what should you do, give up? You may be surprised to hear it from me, but I advise you to do just that, in many cases. Know which battles to fight. Weigh the risks. Consider the context of your friend’s belief: Is he in imminent danger of harming himself or others? Probably not; and if not, this may not be the time to take what might be your only shot. So I want to make this a rule: Before you decide what to do, consider the risks and the context. How terrible are the consequences of your friend’s belief? Think that through comprehensively. Make sure you have a good understanding of the risks to your friend if you do nothing, and the risks to your relationship if you attack their beliefs and (in all probability) fail to convince them. It may well be that this first strategy I’m going to present is the safest.

Strategy #1: Do Nothing

acceptingDoing nothing now doesn’t mean giving up. When you choose not to confront your friend’s current weird belief, there’s still an effective strategy for helping him out that you can follow. By accepting and tolerating your friend’s weird belief, you’re actually setting yourself up to be in a position of great influence the next time something weird comes down the line. Your friend likely knows that you’re a skeptical person, and eventually he’ll recognize that you’ve been putting up with his weird belief and saying nothing. In fact he may someday ask you, “Hey, you know I believe in this weird thing, how come Mr. Cynical Skeptic has never tried to talk me out of it?”

Ask “Is it important to you?”

“Yes.”

“You’re important to me.”

Think what a powerful message that sends. It may sound corny, but it’s a statement that your friend will always remember. You’ve just communicated that your friendship is more important than your “evil debunking hobby”. You’ve made it clear, unequivocably, that you don’t want such differences to come between you.

And now look at the position you’re in. You’re trusted. You’re an ally at the most important and fundamental level. This is exactly where you need to be if you want to be influential on someone. You can now begin to introduce critical thinking using topics that are more about exploration than confrontation, and this is a journey you should take together. critical-thinking1_250pxNext time you’re in the car together, play a few Skeptoid episodes. Play episodes like The Baigong Pipes, Is He Real or Is He Fictional, The Missing Cosmonauts, and When People Talk Backwards. Topics such as these do not attack or challenge anyone, they instill an appreciation and a passion for the value of critical thinking. Once introduced, I find that most people want more.

Gather every bit of skeptical material you can find that you know will interest your friend, and that does not attack or challenge his belief. So long as you remain a trustworthy friend and not an irrational adversary, you’re in a position to introduce him to the fundamentals of critical thinking, and to the value and tangible rewards of reality. Don’t underestimate the value of seeds that are well planted in a good environment. If your friend comes around on his own, his growth is far more complete than any that’s forced upon him.

Always remember the story of the little boy who couldn’t get his pet turtle to come out of his shell. He tried to pull on its head, he shook it, he squirted water, he did everything he could think of. But the turtle wouldn’t come out. Then his grandfather took the turtle and placed it on the warm hearth, and within a minute the turtle was out of his shell. The little boy never forgot that lesson.

Strategy #2: The Intervention

Sometimes the situation is urgent and you don’t have time to do things the easy way. There might be a medical crisis, an emotional crisis, or a financial crisis, and an immediate intervention is needed. Sometimes a friend’s situation is dire enough that helping him is worth the loss of the personal relationship. In these cases, and probably only in these cases, would I suggest a confrontational approach. And to do this effectively, draw on the established principals of the counseling intervention.

interventionFirst you want to gather a group of friends or family, and you need to meet with them separately. Try to get a group, but even if there are only two of you, it’s worlds better than just you by yourself. Your next task is to present your evidence to the group that the magical system your friend is relying on is pseudoscientific and cannot help him. Do not expect them to accept what you say at face value, and do expect that some of them might buy into the magical system as well. Be prepared. Show your work. Print out pages from the web. Use the Science Based Medicine blog, use Skeptoid, use Quackwatch, use Swift. Search the best sources and have all your ducks in a row. The most important thing you need to do at this stage is to be certain that everyone in the group is united in their understanding of the useless, pseudoscientific nature of the magical sacred cow.

MORE – – –


On a related note . . .

Susan Blackmore – Fighting the Fakers (and Failing) – TAM 2013:

Susan Blackmore is a psychologist and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She is the is author of a number of books, including The Meme Machine and Zen and the Art of Consciousness.


James Randi – Secrets of the Psychics (Full)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Secrets of the Psychics was a PBS NOVA episode following James Randi‘s work.[1] Also appearing in stock footage are Peter Popoff, Uri Geller, and many others.

In the program, “Randi argues that successful psychics depend on the willingness of their audiences to believe that what they see is the result of psychic powers.”[2]

This program is not to be confused with a later UK documentary Secrets of the Psychics, which was transmitted under this title as well as Secrets of the Super Psychics.


psychic-john-edward-2012-events_02

The Trouble with Pseudoscience—It Can Be a Catastrophe

Sharon_hill_80pxBy Sharon Hill via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – CSI

Pseudoscience is what one might call a two-dollar word. Skeptics often throw it around because of its weightiness and the values it transmits. We need to talk about this word, where it came from, and why we should be cautious about using it.

Pseudoscience is a pejorative term that is bestowed upon a set of ideas, not used by choice by the holder of those ideas. It’s “false” science, fake science, an imitation missing a vital part, the knockoff, the wannabe, the cheap imitation… OK, you get what I mean.

telekinesis_fullpic_1149_300pxContrary to what we think we can say constitutes pseudoscience, there are no set criteria to identify it. It’s not a simple thing but a sticky wicket. It’s whatever scientists say doesn’t belong to legitimate science – a problematic definition. We often must use examples to explain what we mean. Wikipedia has a list of topics that have been characterized as pseudoscience by someone, sometime. Common examples include: astrology, cryptozoology, paranormal investigation, ufology, parapsychology, psychoanalysis, alternative medicine, homeopathy, and creationism.

Because science has authority in our society, it is worthy of imitation. Pseudoscience is science’s shadow, which makes it hard to separate from the real thing. It can’t exist without science. This science imitation was evident to me upon researching paranormal investigation and cryptozoology. I concluded it was useful to have a set of reasonable guidelines one could use to determine if the methodology and the resulting body of knowledge was scientific or lacking in a critical way. The more of these characteristics one can attribute to the field in question, the more likely it is fairly categorized as “pseudoscience.” But since those are fuzzy, subjective criteria, some theories we now regard as legitimate might have qualified as “pseudoscience” at one time, such as Einstein’s special theory of relativity, Mendel’s heredity, meteorites, and Wegener’s continental drift.

There is no continuum between science and pseudoscience. Nor is there a clear boundary or litmus test for what qualifies as science and what lies outside the lines. This is called the “demarcation problem”—a term that Austrian philosopher Karl Popper coined in the late 1920s to describe the issues of marking a solid line between what is scientific and what is nonscientific. It turns out Popper’s solution to the problem was not so hot. He thought it lay in the criterion of testability/falsifiability. But that fails since several theories are not practically falsifiable.

Any series of characteristics commonly attributable to pseudoscience, such as my pet list of criteria, also fails for various reasons. After all this searching for a demarcation criterion without success, philosopher Larry Laudan remarked that we might fairly conclude that “the object of the quest is nonexistent.”

Pseudoscience is just what pseudoscientists do, say the scientists. That is not very helpful for someone who wants to make heads or tails out of a controversial area of research.

MORE . . .

Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams

via Listverse

dreams-max10241_250pxThis afternoon I had a (very rare) nap. During that nap I had a lucid dream (most of which I no longer remember). As I was waking up, I was thinking about my dream and thought that it would be a great idea to write a list about dreams for the site. So, here are the top 10 amazing facts about dreams.

• 10. Blind People Dream

People who become blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion. It is hard for a seeing person to imagine, but the body’s need for sleep is so strong that it is able to handle virtually all physical situations to make it happen.

• 9. You Forget 90% of your Dreams

Within 5 minutes of waking, half of your dream if forgotten. Within 10, 90% is gone. The famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, woke one morning having had a fantastic dream (likely opium induced) – he put pen to paper and began to describe his “vision in a dream” in what has become one of English’s most famous poems: Kubla Khan. dream-mirror-dreams-can-come-true-31082814-900-900_300pxPart way through (54 lines in fact) he was interrupted by a “Person from Porlock“. Coleridge returned to his poem but could not remember the rest of his dream. The poem was never completed.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
[…]

Curiously, Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the story of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde whilst he was dreaming. Wikipedia has more on that here. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also the brainchild of a dream.

• 8. Everybody Dreams

Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder) but men and women have different dreams and different physical reactions. Men tend to dream more about other men, while women tend to dream equally about men and women. In addition, both men and women experience sexually related physical reactions to their dreams regardless of whether the dream is sexual in nature; males experience erections and females experience increased vaginal blood flow.

• 7. Dreams Prevent Psychosis

17paddedcelljune5-tm_250pxIn a recent sleep study, students who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but still allowed their 8 hours of sleep, all experienced difficulty in concentration, irritability, hallucinations, and signs of psychosis after only 3 days. When finally allowed their REM sleep the student’s brains made up for lost time by greatly increasing the percentage of sleep spent in the REM stage. [Source

• 6. We Only Dream of What We Know

Our dreams are frequently full of strangers who play out certain parts – did you know that your mind is not inventing those faces – they are real faces of real people that you have seen during your life but may not know or remember? The evil killer in your latest dream may be the guy who pumped petrol in to your Dad’s car when you were just a little kid. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces through our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

MORE . . .

the_dream_by_P_R_O_600px

Can we at least learn something from this Mayan apocalypse mumbo jumbo?

Fresh Views From Reality

The failed Mayan apocalypse ramblings could be a positive awakening for humanity, but it won’t be. Read on for why I’m not optimistic.

Sorry but I can’t not talk about the supposed Mayan apocalypse hubbub. I just think that we can learn some lessons from this whole thing. I mean, we laughed at Harold Camping for his absurd pronouncements about the end of the world last year (twice as the math was slightly off).

For starters, the Mayans never made such a prophecy. Even if they did — so what!? The obsession with what the Mayans may or may not have said/thought seems in part to be due to the romantic (false) notion that ancient societies were in some sort of wonderful place, in harmony with nature and the cosmos.

My basic premise

Claims such as those made about a mysterious Planet X destroying the Earth or any other…

View original post 723 more words

Cleverbot.com – a clever bot – speak to an AI with some Actual Intelligence?

Click The Image To Chat With CleverBot

Description (courtesy Wikipedia): Cleverbot is a web application that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to hold conversations with humans.

Since being launched on the web in 1997, the number of conversations has exceeded 65 million. Unlike other chatterbots, Cleverbot’s responses are not programmed into it, but rather selected from phrases entered by humans in previous conversations. Humans type into the box below the Cleverbot logo and the system finds all of the keywords or an exact phrase matching the input and after searching through its saved conversations of previous chats, responds to the input by finding how a human responded to that input in past conversations when posed by Cleverbot,[2][3] although the commercial version of Cleverbot has more than one thousand requests per server, the ones hosted were for 1 or 2 people per server. This allowed more speed and quality of responses hosted by the artificial intelligence system.

I can tell you from experience, chatting with CleverBot can get a bit creepy at times. Some of the responses generated by CleverBot’s computer can seem so human-like.

From the CleverBot website:

PLEASE NOTE  –  Cleverbot learns from real people  –  things it says may seem inappropriate  –  use with discretion, and at YOUR OWN RISK

PARENTAL ADVICE  –  Visitors never talk to a human, however convincing it looks  –  the AI knows many topics  –  use ONLY WITH OVERSIGHT

Try conversing with CleverBot: Cleverbot.com – a clever bot – speak to an AI with some Actual Intelligence?.

The Spinning Dancer Illusion (Updated 2/3/13)

via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Which way is she spinning?
If the foot touching the ground is perceived to be the left foot, the dancer appears to be spinning clockwise (if seen from above); if it is taken to be the right foot, then she appears to be spinning counterclockwise.

The Spinning Dancer, also known as the silhouette illusion, is a kinetic, bistable optical illusion resembling a pirouetting female dancer. The illusion, created in 2003 by web designer Nobuyuki Kayahara,[1][2] involves the apparent direction of motion of the figure. Some observers initially see the figure as spinning clockwise (viewed from above) and some counterclockwise.

The illusion derives from the lack of visual cues for depth. For instance, as the dancer’s arms move from viewer’s left to right, it is possible to view her arms passing between her body and the viewer (that is, in the foreground of the picture, in which case she would be circling counter-clockwise on her right foot) and it is also possible to view her arms as passing behind the dancer’s body (that is, in the background of the picture, in which case she is seen circling clockwise on her left foot).

When she is facing to the left or to the right, her breasts and ponytail clearly define the direction she is facing, although there is ambiguity in which leg is which. However, as she moves away from facing to the left (or from facing to the right), the dancer can be seen (by different viewers, not by a single individual) facing in either of two directions. At first, these two directions are fairly close to each other (both left, say, but one facing slightly forward, the other facing slightly backward) but they become further and further away from each other until we reach a position where her ponytail and breasts are in line with the viewer (so that neither her breasts nor her ponytail are seen so readily). In this position, she could be facing either away from the viewer or towards the viewer, so that the two positions two different viewers could see are 180 degrees apart.

MORE . . .

Update (2/3/13): The Spinning Dancer Illusion Explained

Cleverbot.com – a clever bot – speak to an AI with some Actual Intelligence?

«Cleverbot is a web application that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to hold conversations with humans.»

«Since being launched on the web in 1997, the number of conversations has exceeded 65 million. Unlike other chatterbots, Cleverbot’s responses are not programmed into it, but rather selected from phrases entered by humans in previous conversations. Humans type into the box below the Cleverbot logo and the system finds all of the keywords or an exact phrase matching the input and after searching through its saved conversations of previous chats, responds to the input by finding how a human responded to that input in past conversations when posed by Cleverbot,[2][3] although the commercial version of Cleverbot has more than one thousand requests per server, the ones hosted were for 1 or 2 people per server. This allowed more speed and quality of responses hosted by the artificial intelligence system.» (Description courtesy Wikipedia)

I can tell you from experience, chatting with CleverBot can get a bit creepy at times. Some of the responses generated by CleverBot’s computer can seem so human-like.

From the CleverBot website:

PLEASE NOTE  –  Cleverbot learns from real people  –  things it says may seem inappropriate  –  use with discretion, and at YOUR OWN RISK

PARENTAL ADVICE  –  Visitors never talk to a human, however convincing it looks  –  the AI knows many topics  –  use ONLY WITH OVERSIGHT

Try conversing with CleverBot: Cleverbot.com – a clever bot – speak to an AI with some Actual Intelligence?.

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