Monthly Archives: July, 2012

10 Tests For Guilt at the Salem Witch Trials

by Ryan Thomas

Rhetoric is only as potent as its source material – this is why any allusion to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 is so effective. What comes immediately to mind is the hideous and completely unfound legal proceedings – based mostly on superstition, irrational paranoia, Puritanism-fueled mass hysteria, and deception–which resulted in 19 wrongful executions, each one hanged, burned, or drowned for some ill-fated finger-pointing. The imagery evoked is just as barbaric and painful as the means by which these accused “witches” were tried and ultimately “proven” guilty. (In actuality, most of the “afflicted” were just suffering from some mental illness medical science hadn’t quite caught up to at the time, “evil” being amongst the worst know epidemics.) Here are ten ways their verdict was ascertained:

Keep Reading: 10 Tests For Guilt at the Salem Witch Trials.

Astrology: More like Religion Than Science

By Sharon Hill
July 25, 2012

I’ve discussed here and here how practitioners of paranormal piffle wish to look scientific. They fail under actual scientific scrutiny but, we have to admit, they are pretty effective at bamboozling the public with a sciencey show.

I came across a news story in Business Insider about an astrologer who was doing mighty well for herself. In times of uncertainty, society tends to turn to anything that will give them a sense of control. Astrologic and psychic advisors seem to fill that role for some people, even professional businesspeople. This astrologer, who thinks quite highly of her craft, had these things to say:

“What I do is scientific. Astrology involves careful methods learned over years and years of training and experience.”

“There are so many things we don’t understand in the world. What if 200 years ago someone had said that these metal barrels in the sky would get us around the world in a few hours? Or that we’d inject ourselves with mold to treat illnesses? People are so skeptical.”

And then I laughed.

Few examples of pseudoscience are more perfect than astrology, which has been studied A LOT, and whose practitioners still cannot demonstrate a root in reality.

Keep Reading: CSI | Astrology: More like Religion Than Science.

Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking: inattentional blindness

Inattentional blindness is an inability to perceive something that is within one’s direct perceptual field because one is attending to something else. The term was coined by psychologists Arien Mack and Irvin Rock, who identified the phenomenon while studying the relationship of attention to perception. They were able to show that, under a number of different conditions, if subjects were not attending to a visual stimulus but were attending to something else in the visual field, a significant percentage of the subjects were “blind” to something that was right before their eyes.

Because this inability to perceive, this sighted blindness, seemed to be caused by the fact that subjects were not attending to the stimulus but instead were attending to something else … we labeled this phenomenon inattentional blindness (IB).*

Mack and Rock go on to argue that, in their view, “there is no conscious perception without attention.” We might add that visual perception does not work like a video or any other kind of recorder. Objects or movements may occur in the visual field that are not attended to and may not be consciously or unconsciously perceived. Things can change in the visual field without our being aware of the changes. Perception, like memory, is a constructive process, and it seems that the brain builds its representations from a few salient details, often determined by our purposes or desires. Thus, two people may witness the same events but see and remember quite different things, even if both are good observers paying close attention to what is going on.

Read More: Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking: inattentional blindness.

‘Chasing UFOs’ Stars Blast Their Own Show [EXCLUSIVE]

It’s been said there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but when the stars of your own show give it a thumbs-down, that might be the exception.

The National Geographic Channel premiered “Chasing UFOs,” an eight-episode reality TV show last month, focusing on a trio of investigators traversing America in search of the truth of unexplained UFO reports, alleged alien abductions and reported military cover-ups.

On the heels of less-than-positive reviews and viewer comments, two of the show’s stars — James Fox and Ben McGee — revealed their own dissatisfaction with “Chasing UFOs,” complaining that the show had placed more emphasis on entertainment value than a serious look at the UFO subject.

Keep Reading: ‘Chasing UFOs’ Stars Blast Their Own Show [EXCLUSIVE].

Vaccine hysteria – RationalWiki

Vaccine hysteria is a trend of mistrust of vaccination that is almost as old as the technique itself. “Anti-vaxxers”, “vaccine deniers”, or “anti-vaccinationists” blame vaccines, or their ingredients, for a range of maladies whose mechanisms are rejected or have not been explained by current scientific research. Some of these maladies can often be childhood illnesses in order to increase the emotive factor of the argument. The ubiquity of vaccination often makes it an easy target for blame.

Vaccine-preventable diseases have been a major cause of illness, death, and disability throughout human history. The advent of the modern vaccine era has changed this significantly; most North Americans and Europeans have little memory of a pre-vaccine era where diseases such as mumps and measles – to say nothing of smallpox or polio — were common and often deadly.

Keep Reading: Vaccine hysteria – RationalWiki.

A Spiritualist Ghostbuster’s Crystal Skull

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.

Confessions of a Disinformation Agent, Chapter II: From 9/11 to MySpace.

This is the next installment in series of articles being written by a fellow blogger. His name is Muertos and he’s one of the best thinkers in the blogging world.

Mason I. Bilderberg


This is the second installment in a series of articles entitled “Confessions of a Disinformation Agent.” For the introduction and Chapter I, go here.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I got up very early, five o’clock. I was working on a novel, and, as I was usually too tired to write when I got home, I started doing it in the early mornings before going to work. At this time I lived alone in apartment in the central city. I got up, showered, and spent about a half hour writing. At 6:45 AM—Pacific time—as I was making breakfast my phone rang. Instantly I knew it was bad news. No one ever calls at 6:45 AM with good news. I picked up. It was a friend of mine. (Not the same one who almost caught TWA 800). “Have you seen the news?” he said. I said no. He replied, “Someone tried to kill the President!” That was how it was reported to me. Oh, and there was the small detail of the World Trade Centers on fire after planes having been crashed into them.

I switched on the TV. This was about 9:45 AM, after both towers had been struck, but just before the first of them collapsed. Like almost everyone else in America, I watched in rapt horror. I’ll never forget seeing the first of the towers collapse into a cloud of dust. I also remember seeing the little black specks of people jumping from the towers before they fell. That’s one of the most horrifying sights I’ve ever seen—even on TV—and one that will stick with me forever. Mind you, I watched the 1986 Challenger explosion live, and I also witnessed the infamous Bud Dwyer suicide as it happened. Neither of those horrible events could touch September 11.

Continue Reading: Confessions of a Disinformation Agent, Chapter II: From 9/11 to MySpace. | Muertos’s Blog.

UFO Over Olympics Opening Ceremony: A Classic Flying Saucer [VIDEO]?

Talk about an uninvited guest at the Olympics.

Friday night’s spectacular pyrotechnics display of the most watched opening ceremony in summer Olympics history attracted more than the eyes of over 40 million people. A clearly seen unidentified flying object was videotaped making its way over London’s Olympic stadium, reports Examiner.com.

Watch as the UFO approaches London’s Olympic stadium.

Read More: UFO Over Olympics Opening Ceremony: A Classic Flying Saucer [VIDEO].

Updated: 07/31/2012: Olympics UFO Was Definitely Our Blimp: Goodyear (PHOTOS)

Firewalk Mishap

by Steven Novella, Jul 23 2012

According to reports, 21 people had to be treated for burns from walking over hot coals at a Tony Robbins inspirational event.

Robbins is a successful self-help guru with a schtick that depends upon the scientific illiteracy of his audience. After a session of telling people how to “unleash the power within” he demonstrates their new-found power by inviting them to walk barefoot over hot burning coals while thinking about cool moss. This is meant to demonstrate the power of mind over matter. This is, of course, nonsense.

The Hot Coal Deception

Many physicists have used the hot coal demonstration to teach a bit of elementary physics, as there is a very simple explanation for how people can walk over hot coals in their bare feet.

Keep Reading: Skepticblog » Firewalk Mishap.

The Other Rolling Stones

Beyond any shadow of doubt, the most famous of all the many mysteries of Death Valley, in California’s Mojave Desert, are its rolling stones – and, no, I’m not talking here about Mick and Keith. For decades, astounded visitors to the valley – and particularly so in the vicinity of an 850-feet high hillside of dolomite on the southern side of its Racetrack Playa – have come across large stones and rocks that appear to have moved across the desert floor of their own free will and under some perceived, but poorly understood, magical power.

Such scenarios and beliefs have gained a great deal of weight by the fact that, behind the same stones and rocks, grooves and tracks are always found – sometimes extending for hundreds of feet, and occasionally even displaying evidence of the rocks having actually flipped over during the course of their curious travels across the harsh lands of Death Valley.

Not everyone who has studied the phenomenon is so sure there is a need to bring matters of a paranormal nature into the equation, however.

Keep Reading: The Other Rolling Stones | Mysterious Universe.

5 Conspiracies made against Conspiracy Theorists

It is not to uncommon for conspiracy theorists themselves to be accused of being involved in a conspiracy of some sort. While accusations of being involved in a conspiracy are usually are usually made by other conspiracy theorists, they sometimes actually made by skeptics as well.

Here is a list of five conspiracies that conspiracy theorists are sometimes accused of:

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: 5 Conspiracies made against Conspiracy Theorists.

Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking: illusion of understanding

The illusion of understanding occurs frequently due to selection bias and confirmation bias. By selecting only data that support one’s position and ignoring relevant data that would falsify or compromise one’s position, one can produce a convincing but misleading argument. By seeking only examples that confirm one’s belief and by ignoring examples that disconfirm it or reveal the insignificance of the data you’ve put forth, one can easily create the illusion of understanding. The illusion of understanding is particularly prominent in the field of economic forecasting.

[…]

Think about it. If stock analysts could really beat the market consistently, wouldn’t they be stinking rich? Do you really think they are a clan of benevolent elves whose only goal is to help people like you get rich from their technical advice? Their cousins appear in infomercials all the time, telling stories about unfathomable riches that await you if you invest in their program. That’s how they make their money: not by using their program, but by selling it to others!

Keep Reading: Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking: illusion of understanding.

‘Invisible UFOs’ Fill the Skies | Night Vision UFO Sightings

“Why are all the good UFOs invisible?” one Gather.com user asked in response to the latest “invisible UFO” report posted to the site.

You might have thought a defining characteristic of a UFO would be visibility. But thanks to zealous alien hunters doggedly scanning the sky with night-vision cameras, a new class of flying objects that only emit infrared light has emerged from the darkness. Are they spies from the great beyond?

“Some people claim to see actual battles between UFOs up in the sky …”

Keep Reading (and Video): ‘Invisible UFOs’ Fill the Skies | Night Vision UFO Sightings | LifesLittleMysteries.com.

Mind your step (optical illusion)

Mind your step is a street illusion in Stockholm at Sergels torg created by Erik Johansson.

Mind your step – day 1 – YouTube
For more info http://www.alltelleringet.com/generation7

Geoengineering “Chemtrails” Over the Pacific?

The picture below is a satellite view of the west coast of the United States. The question is, what are those white trails in the pacific ocean? Some would say those are contrails while the conspiracists among us are insisting those are … (wait for it) … CHEMTRAILS!!!!!!!!

But they are not contrails and they can’t be chemtrails (chemtrails don’t exist), so what are they? Click the link below the image to find out (hint: they are not created by anything airborn).

Geoengineering “Chemtrails” Over the Pacific?.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Drones were what really hit the WTC towers and the Pentagon on 9/11

One of the many conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks is that the jets that flew into the World Trade Center towers, and the Pentagon, were not manned at all, but were actually un-manned drones.

One of the theories is that the planes had all been shot down somewhere in the Atlantic ocean and quickly replaced with the un-manned drones, or that they had been secretly landed somewhere, and that the crews and passengers had simply been made to “disappear”.

The biggest problem with both of these theories are that not only would they require thousands of people who work for the NTSB and various airport air traffic control unions to be in on the conspiracy, it would also have to get perhaps thousands of other people within the military and the government to never talk about it to anybody. This is so improbable and illogical, that many people considered both theories to be theoretical impossible.

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Drones were what really hit the WTC towers and the Pentagon on 9/11.
NOTE: The image above is a fake. Click the image for more information.

Michigan UFO was a military training exercise

UFO sighting websites lit up this week after several residents in northern lower Michigan phoned 9-1-1 to report suspicious, unexplained lights in the night sky.

But the conspiracy theory didn’t live long.

A military official confirmed today that the lights likely were decoy flares used in a large-scale training exercise that they promoted via press release the morning of the 9-1-1 calls.

Teff explained that flare decoys, which were used to mimic air-to-ground missiles, are easily visible from the ground. “This is a training practice environment,” he said. “There’s no real missiles out there, but we have to practice like they’re really fighting.”

Keep Reading: Michigan UFO was a military training exercise | Doubtful Newsblog.

Batman on the Couch: Psychologist Analyzes Comic Book Character

He wears a caped bat costume in public and funds an alter ego out of his personal fortune. As a child he witnessed his parents’ murders; as an adult, he puts his own life on the line, practicing a personal brand of vigilante justice.

He may be a comic book character, but Batman provides fertile ground for a psychologist, and California clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg has taken up the challenge.

Keep Reading: Batman on the Couch: Psychologist Analyzes Comic Book Character | LiveScience.

Top 10 Unknowable Things

There are lots of things we don’t know. But there is a difference between things we don’t know and things that can’t be known. For example, no-one knows when Shakespeare was born (although we do know when he was baptized). However, it’s not impossible that in the future we could find out – a long lost document might be found that mentions his birth, so Shakespeare’s true date of birth is not unknowable, just unknown. This list contains 10 things that are unknowable in principle. Not only are they unknown now, they can never be known.

Keep Reading: Top 10 Unknowable Things.

Watch The Skies! Study Finds Increase In UFO Sightings In Canada

VANCOUVER, Canada (CBS Seattle) – Although illegal aliens are an issue on our southern border, our neighbor to the north might have its own problem with aliens — from another world.

Ufology Research reports that there were about three UFO sightings per day in Canada, with 986 sightings total last year. The record for UFO sightings was in 2008 when a surprising 1,004 sightings were reported.

The report entitled “The 2011 Canadian UFO Survey” states that “the lion’s share of cases being Nocturnal Lights,” however a number of them were said to be shaped like boomerangs, spheres, and mysterious light sources.

The traditional “flying saucer” style UFO was only sighted about 3 to 4 percent.

However, most of the sightings were explained. Eight out of the 986 sightings are considered “high-quality Unknowns,” or cases with no obvious answer. This is much lower than the 3 to 4 percent of high-quality unknowns from previous years.

Although the public believes that most UFO sightings are made by cranks, the study states that many of the reports of UFOs were “pilots, police and other individuals with reasonably good observing capabilities and good judgment.”

The report admits that the increase in sightings does not have a simple explanation but it offers up a few explanations that are more down to earth.

http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2012/07/26/watch-the-skies-study-finds-increase-in-ufo-sightings-in-canada/

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Water Fluoridation

Ever since the 1970’s the United States, along with several other countries, has been putting fluoride in the public water supplies in an effort to reduce tooth decay, and ever since there has been controversy. While some of the controversy concerns some legitimate reasons, such as cost, and effectiveness, and some safety concerns. Others concerns tend to be just outright conspiracy theories.

The two main conspiracy theories concerning water fluoridation is that the fluoride in the water is causing peoples’ intelligence to lower, and that it’s causing people to become infertile. The reason why conspiracy theorists believe this is because fluoride is a poison, and that any amount of fluoride, no matter how small the amount, is dangerous to humans.

First, if water fluoridation did cause infertility, then why hasn’t the birth rate and population gone down? Also, the fact is, is that poisons don’t infertility. Genetics, disease, radiation, and injuries to reproductive organs causes infertility.

via The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Water Fluoridation.


Added 7/26/12:

Anatomy of a propaganda press release: Fluoride and IQ

When we find an utter piece of crap evidence, we must call it out for what it is – an deceptive, biased piece of garbage that you should NOT believe.

Here’s why. Let me run down the red flags:

This is a press release by an advocacy group. I do not approve of the practice of newspapers running PRs without context or commentary. This is not journalism but the public finds it very difficult to tell the difference. Reuters (and others) are irresponsible to do this.

The advocacy group, NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc. (NYSCOF), is opposed to fluoride supplements in water. They have cherry picked out of this Harvard report only what they wanted and misrepresented it.

Keep Reading: Anatomy of a propaganda press release: Fluoride and IQ | Doubtful Newsblog.

Where’s the science in the search for Sasquatch?

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency recently issued a statement indicating it knew of no evidence of the existence of “aquatic humanoids.”

This remarkable statement was prompted by calls from viewers of Animal Planet’s “Mermaids: the Body Found,” which claimed such creatures exist. A swarm of television programs, listed as “scientific” and “reality based,” perpetuate similar pseudoscientific ideas that are gobbled up by viewers, especially kids.

This incident illustrates a dangerous trend: Viewers’ acceptance of claims made by untrained laypeople as authoritative, and their simultaneous rejection of work done by experts in science, history and politics. This idea argues that egg-headed specialists — with a lifetime of focused academic work, peer-reviewed scholarship and study — are hiding the “truth” from us so that the only way to get answers is from down-home folks with little schooling but good sense. In other words, formal education is bad.

Keep Reading: Where’s the science in the search for Sasquatch? | NJ.com.

How to Debunk Chemtrails

The chemtrail conspiracy theory seems to frequently misidentify ordinary contrails as “chemtrails” – some kind of secret spraying program. This theory comes in many flavors, and there’s a large number of things people bring up as “evidence” to support this theory. I’ve tried to gather all the debunks of this evidence in one place here, for easy reference. This is a work in progress, and will remain on the front page here as I expand and refine it.

While the title of this post is “How to Debunk Chemtrails”, the actual debunking depends on what version of the theory needs debunking. There’s a variety of common claims, and variations on those themes. The best approach is to debunk the individual claim (such as: contrails only last a few seconds), rather than trying to debunk the entire theory.

I’ve tried to arrange each section in the order of most useful links first.

Keep Reading: How to Debunk Chemtrails – Contrail Science » Contrail Science.

5 Famous UFO/ET Hoaxes that some people still think are real

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, New Jersey Edited version of Image:PurportedUFO NewJersey 1952 07 31.gif. By Bach01. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since the UFO phenomenon began back in the 1950s, there has been a huge amount of reported sightings of UFOs, along with photos and videos of these so called UFOs, and even contact with aliens.

As it turns out, many of these sighting, and photos and videos, are actually mis-identified natural phenomenon, or mis-identified man made objects. Of course, it also turns out that some of these UFO sighting, and photos and videos, are not as simple something that has been mis-identified, but are actually man made hoaxes, many of which are still believed by some people to be real.

Here are what I consider to be the top five most famous UFO/ET hoaxes that some people still believe are real: The Soap Box: 5 Famous UFO/ET Hoaxes that some people still think are real.

Top 10 Psychic Debunkings

James Randi is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. In this list we see 10 of his best psychic debunking (and have a bonus clip of a lecture of his). These are all extremely damning to the practitioners of these magic arts and Randi makes no apologies for his tough approach; in fact he is offering a reward of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. As of this time, no one has claimed this prize.

Watch the Top 10 Psychic Debunkings.

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?.

UFO X-Files Released By U.K. Reveal Desire To Weaponize Alien Technology

Newly released X-Files from the United Kingdom’s National Archives reveal the role of that country’s Ministry of Defense UFO Desk officers, what they actually thought about possible alien visits to Earth and their ideas on harnessing alien technology as a weapon.

There are 25 files, comprising more than 6,700 pages, that include UFO policy, parliamentary questions, media issues, public correspondence and, of course, UFO sighting reports. Overall, more than 10,000 UFO reports came through the special Ministry of Defense unit from 1950 to 2009.

“These are probably the most fascinating and bizarre government files ever made available to the public,” said Nick Pope, who was the UFO Desk officer from 1991 to 1994.

Read More: UFO X-Files Released By U.K. Reveal Desire To Weaponize Alien Technology.

25 Greatest Scientific Hoaxes In History

Although we like to think of scientific inquiry as being completely objective, unfortunately there have been times in the past that it has been biased by our human desires. Whether it is for fame, fortune, or simply to mislead, some people will occasionally go to great lengths to deceive the world. You’ll probably notice, however, that not all of these are malicious cases of deception. Some are in fact quite amusing and meant to be little more than practical jokes. Either way though, these are the 25 greatest scientific hoaxes in history.

25 Greatest Scientific Hoaxes In History – YouTube.

Hollywood ghosts – Ghosts of Hollywood Legends

APPARENTLY, SOME MOVIE STARS didn’t get enough attention from press and fans while they were alive. Their ghosts keep showing up, perhaps for one last performance. Hollywood is full of glamour, ambition, craziness, sordid tales – even talent. And while ghosts and other tales of the paranormal have always been great movie material, Tinseltown also has its own real-life ghost stories. The envelope please… Hollywood ghosts – Ghosts of Hollywood Legends.

Debunked: KMIR6 Geoengineering the Skies (chemtrails)

Related Links:

via Debunked: KMIR6 Geoengineering the Skies (chemtrails) – YouTube.

Noted Canadian Skeptic Show Examines Thrive—And Tells the Truth.

Thrive Debunked

A podcast called “Life, The Universe and Everything Else,” a program put on by the Winnipeg Skeptics association, has turned its sights on Thrive. I spent the morning listening to the podcast, and I recommend it very highly. You can play it from your computer here. The host of the show is Gem Newman (founder of Winnipeg Skeptics, computer science expert), and the guests include Gary Barbon, Mark Forkheim, Robert Shindler, Richelle McCullough and Greg Christiansen. You can see information on who these people are, and what their backgrounds are, here.

The Winnipeg Skeptics are a group of skeptics and critical thinkers who apply fact, logic and critical thinking to wild claims made on the Internet. Just as this blog has done since the beginning, the Skeptics have exhaustively examined Thrive and their review is, needless to say, highly negative. While they find some things to praise in…

View original post 206 more words

2012 apocalypse

The 2012 apocalypse is the belief that civilization as we know it will come to an end in 2012. This bizarre idea was inspired by the Mayan calendar,[1] which completes a cycle on the day corresponding to our Gregorian calendar date of December 21st 2012 CE. Some authors try to tie this all in with Christian, Jewish and Muslim end times beliefs. But it is not going to happen so we don’t have to worry about it.

Emotional breakdown and even suicide among people who take all this seriously is feared. [2]

The belief that this is a prediction of the world ending is something akin to believing the world is going to end on December 31st 1999 because the year 2000 starts with a 2 instead of a 1. An even more apt description is that it is the equivalent of believing the world will end on December 31 because you have to throw away this year’s calendar, and go out and buy a new one for next year.

A number of pop culture books and websites have tried to give this idea some scientific support,[3] but as per normal with pseudoscience, only the evidence that fits the belief is cited.

Keep Reading: 2012 apocalypse – RationalWiki.

Beastly Madness

For those who believe in the existence of literal werewolves, the image of the hairy shape-shifting beast that is part-human and part-wolf, and that embarks on a marauding killing spree at the sight of a full moon, is no joke.

But if such creatures really exist, are they true werewolves of the type that have been so successfully portrayed on-screen time and again by Hollywood movie-moguls? Could they be deranged souls, afflicted by a variety of mental illnesses and delusions? Or might they have distinctly paranormal origins? Paradoxically, the answer to all three of those questions might very well be: “Yes.”

… I fully believe in the existence of a phenomenon that is responsible for reports of werewolves. But, I do not for one minute believe that people are morphing into savage animals by the light of a full moon.

Keep Reading: Beastly Madness | Mysterious Universe.

Curses! 4 Tales of Sinister Forces

Whether they are supernatural or not, curses can have powerful, devastating effects

ARE CURSES REAL? Or are they just the stuff of superstition? You might have heard stories and legends of Gypsy curses and witches’ curses (you’ll find more of those below), but do they have real supernatural power?

A curse is an expression of or wish for misfortune, harm, evil, or doom by a person for another. Curses are not taken seriously by most educated people in the western world, yet they might retain their power and influence over those who believe in them. Belief could be the key to a curse’s power. If a person believes – even on a subconscious or psychological level – that he or she has been cursed, then its effects can be just as powerful as if it is supernatural in nature.

Consider the following reports of curses and their sometimes devastating effects, and judge for yourself whether they are produced by dark, sinister, external forces, or are brought about from the minds of those who have been cursed.

Keep reading: Curses! 4 Tales of Sinister Forces.

UFO files | Newly released UFO files from the UK government

Calling FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully!!!

Britian’s National Archives has just release 25 more UFO files from the years 1965 to 2008.

If you find anything interesting leave a comment.

Check’em out: UFO files | Newly released files from The National Archives.

Peruse previously released UFO files from the UK’s National Archives.

5 Reasons why People keep Believing in Debunked Conspiracy Theories

I’ve wondered why do people still believe in certain conspiracy theories, even after they have been totally debunked, or proven to be logically improbable.

From my observations of conspiracy theorists, I believe that there are five main reasons why some people still believe in conspiracy theories, even after they have been debunked.

Here are those five reasons:

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: 5 Reasons why People keep Believing in Debunked Conspiracy Theories.

Notion That Liars Glance to the Right Debunked

Conventional wisdom has it that when people talk, the direction of their eye movements reveals whether or not they’re lying. A glance up and to the left supposedly means a person is telling the truth, whereas a glance to the upper right signals deceit. However, new research thoroughly debunks these notions. As it turns out, you can’t smell a liar by where he looks.

Researchers in the United Kingdom investigated the alleged correlation between eye direction and lying after realizing it was being taught in behavioral training courses, seminars and on the Web without the support of a shred of scientific evidence. The idea has its roots in a largely discredited 1970s theory called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a set of techniques intended to help people master social interactions.

Keep Reading: Notion That Liars Glance to the Right Debunked | LifesLittleMysteries.com.
Related: The eyes don’t have it: New research into lying and eye movements.

Psychic Defective: Sylvia Browne’s History of Failure

The most extensive study of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne’s predictions about missing persons and murder cases reveals a strange discrepancy: despite her repeated claim to be more than 85 percent correct, it seems that Browne has not even been mostly correct about a single case.

via CSI | Psychic Defective: Sylvia Browne’s History of Failure.

Adolescent Angst: 5 Facts About the Teen Brain

They are dramatic, irrational and scream for seemingly no reason. And they have a deep need for both greater independence and tender loving care.

There is a reason this description could be used for either teens or toddlers: After infancy, the brain’s most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence.

Continue Reading: Adolescent Angst: 5 Facts About the Teen Brain | LiveScience.

13 Strange Things That Happened on Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is synonymous with bad luck and superstitions — so much so that some people flat-out refuse to fly, make business deals or get married on this fateful day.

As many as 21 million people in the United States are fearful of Friday the 13th, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which estimates that $800 million to $900 million is lost in business every Friday the 13th because of fears of the doomed day. [Top 10 Phobias]

But is there really a reason to be so apprehensive of a day that’s technically just like any other? Of course not, scientists say. You can pick out any date on the calendar or any day in history and find some weird stuff that’s happened. For fun, we’ve rounded up 13 events — some tragic, some just plain strange — that happened on a Friday the 13th: 13 Strange Things That Happened on Friday the 13th | LifesLittleMysteries.com.

Is Friday the 13th Really Unlucky? • Friday the 13th and Bad Luck

The number 13 is synonymous with bad luck. It’s considered unlucky to have 13 guests at a dinner party, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor and most people avoid getting married or buying a house on a day marked by this dreaded number. Particularly superstitious folks even avoid driving on Friday the 13th.

But is there any statistical proof to support the notion that Friday the 13th — or even just the number 13 itself — is unlucky?

“No data exists, and will never exist, to confirm that the number 13 is an unlucky number,” said Igor Radun of the Human Factors and Safety Behavior Group at the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Behavioural Sciences in Finland. “There is no reason to believe that any number would be lucky or unlucky.”

Keep Reading: Statistically Speaking, Is Friday the 13th Really Unlucky? | Friday the 13th and Bad Luck | Superstitions | LifesLittleMysteries.com.

Spooky Pics: Five Common Sense Ways to Spot a Fake Ghost Picture

In all the time I spend searching for real ghost pictures to post on our site, I have seen more fake ghost pictures than I care to remember. The thing that gets to me though is how blatantly fake most of these fake ghost pictures look.

For example, there are an increasingly large number of ghost pictures from primarily Asia featuring a female “ghost” who looks shamelessly like the ghost in “Ringu”, or “The Ring” for my fellow Americans. Now, maybe the makers of those films know something about the paranormal that I don’t, but I’m pretty sure every spirit from that region isn’t taking the same form.

Inspired by these, and the other laughable fake ghost pictures I’ve come across, as well as the poor gullible people I see falling for them, I’ve compiled a list of common sense checks I use when looking for real ghost pictures for our site. I’m not an expert on photography, and I’m not saying passing any of these benchmarks proves an image to be paranormal. However, hopefully they help you dismiss blatant frauds, giving you more time to spend on possibly real ghost pictures.

Keep Reading: Spooky Pics: Five Common Sense Ways to Spot a Fake Ghost Picture.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Ancient Aliens Cover-up

Ever since the History Channel show “Ancient Aliens” premiered, many of the people who are interviewed on the show (mind you they tend to be the same people) assert that not only were we visited by extraterrestrials in the past, but that historians and archaeologist, along with the government, are covering up the evidence.

The belief is, is that the leadership within historian and archaeologist community, along with the government, is hiding this knowledge of ancient extraterrestrial visitation in order to keep the status quo, and to prevent chaos from what might happen if it was revealed that certain histories in many peoples’ religions were in fact false.

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Ancient Aliens Cover-up.

‘Chasing UFOs,’ New National Geographic Show, Reexamines Famous Flying Saucer Sightings

This show is a real doozy – and i don’t mean that in a positive way. Here, i’ll let the Huffington Post give you their review, then i’ll post a YouTube review below from one of my favorite skeptics, V00D00SIXXX.

«For most people, looking for UFOs is more of a hobby than an actual occupation. Not so for Erin Ryder, James Fox and Ben McGee, members of a dynamic team starring in the new television series, “Chasing UFOs,” that premieres Friday on the National Geographic Channel.

One can imagine the theme music of the old “X-Files” series playing in the heads of Ryder, Fox and McGee as they travel the country looking for the truth behind reported unexplained UFO encounters, alien abduction and military cover-ups.

The three investigators bring different points of view as they chase UFOs.»

Keep Reading: ‘Chasing UFOs,’ New National Geographic Show, Reexamines Famous Flying Saucer Sightings (VIDEO).


YouTube Review: Chasing UFOs (or not finding flying saucers)
This video is 32 minutes long, i enjoyed it, i hope you do too.

Saucers of Manipulation

A look back at many of the early books, periodicals and fanzines on the Flying Saucers of yesteryear will show they were filled with encounters between astonished humans and aliens “taking soil samples.” “Radar-visual” encounters were all over the place. People were always in the right place – or, depending on your perspective, the wrong place! – to see the surprised and rumbled ETs hastily scoop up their little tools and race back to the safety of their craft. And they would always be sure to take to the skies in view of the witness.

If, however, we critically analyze events of this type, it becomes obvious that a trend is at work. These were not matters of an accidental or stumbled upon nature – at all. The entities were seen because they clearly wished to be seen. The reason: almost certainly to encourage the spreading of a belief in aliens amongst us – and in definitive meme-like style. And it has undeniably worked.  After all, barely 65-years after the Kenneth Arnold encounter at Washington State in June 1947, the UFO phenomenon – and what it potentially implies, whether you’re a believer or not – is, today, known of just about here, there and everywhere.

Keep Reading: Saucers of Manipulation Pt. 1 | Mysterious Universe.

Out-of-body experience highlights clues to consciousness

You and your family are on holiday, driving round a mountainous part of Greece, when suddenly a tire bursts. You roll over and over down some 100 metres before a large olive tree blocks your fall. Amazingly, you all emerge from the battered heap. Some days later, at work, you recount the tale, struggling to capture for your colleagues one of the odder aspects of the experience. It was, you say, a bit like a dream – or maybe a slow-motion movie, it was like being outside yourself, unreal…

Keep Reading: Short Sharp Science: Out-of-body experience highlights clues to consciousness.

Have You Invited Any Black Eyed Children Into Your Home?

Picture it. You and your better half are on your way home after a night on the town. It’s late, it’s dark, and you pull into the gas station for a pack of smokes. He runs in, you wait in the car.

You’re sitting there, idly waiting for him to return when suddenly you get this inexplicable, overwhelming feeling of terror. You sit up a little straighter and glance toward the driver’s side window, and there, staring in at you, are two children. But not just any children. These are Black Eyed Children. And they want to get in your car with you.

Sounds like something out of one of those Village of the Damned sequels, right? Well, it’s not. This is real life, as real as it gets. And this is just one of thousands of reported sightings. Black Eyed Children are knocking on doors and tapping on windows, asking to be let in, all over the world.

Keep Reading: Have You Invited Any Black Eyed Children Into Your Home? | Who Forted? Magazine.

The Mystery of Ball Lightning

Much of what we call “paranormal” are facets or properties of the natural world that we do not yet understand. And although ball lighting is not usually considered a paranormal phenomenon – and is almost certainly a natural phenomenon – its mysterious nature has puzzled scientists and paranormal researchers alike for centuries.

There currently is no fully satisfactory or generally accepted scientific theory for ball lightning, mainly because it is so rare, and when it does occur it doesn’t stay around long enough to be studied; it generally has a lifetime of less than five seconds. According to one researcher, “ball lightning is the name given to the mobile luminous spheres which have been observed during thunderstorms. Visual sightings are often accompanied by sound, odor, and permanent material damage.” Many scientists still deny its existence, but there are so many eyewitness accounts of the phenomenon that it’s difficult to deny its reality.

Continue Reading: The Mystery of Ball Lightning.
Related: Encounters with Ball Lightning

8 Ways to tell a Conspiracy Theorist is really a Fraud

As I have been observing conspiracy theories, and by extension, conspiracy theorists themselves. From my observations I’ve noticed that some of them may not be entirely truthful in what they believe, and that some of them may be out right frauds.

Here are eight ways to tell if a conspiracy theorist is a fraud:
1. Constant self promoter
It’s one thing for a conspiracy theorist to promote the conspiracy theories they believe in, it’s quite another for a conspiracy theorist to constantly promote their own materials and media concerning conspiracy theories they allegedly believe in.
The fact is, is that some people do make money off of promoting conspiracy theories, and some fraud conspiracy theorists do realize they can make lots of money creating and pedaling books and videos about conspiracy theories.
2. Tells people to ignore facts
While most legit conspiracy theorists will usually ask a person to examine all of the facts before asking you to conclude that they are right, a fraud conspiracy theorist will tell you to ignore any facts other then the “facts” that they present. Some even go so far as to call real facts disinformation. This is done as a way to discourage people from actually examining real facts, and by doing this a person might stop believing a certain conspiracy theory, and thus stop believe the fraud conspiracy theorist.
3. Constantly making up stuff
A fraud conspiracy theorist constantly makes up stuff, and then discards certain “information” when no one believes it any more, or no one really cares about it any more.
One of the main reasons this is done is because it keeps people coming back, wanting “new” information.
4. Claims to be withholding information until a later date
Many fraud conspiracy theorists claim they have “secret information” that they claim they are withholding until a later date. Most of the times this “information” isn’t even revealed at all, or the “information” that is revealed is actually false and made up, and sometimes not even new at all, just reworded.

Continue Reading: The Soap Box: 8 Ways to tell a Conspiracy Theorist is really a Fraud.

Ouija board helps psychologists probe the subconscious

Beloved of spiritualists and bored teenagers on a dare, the Ouija board has long been a source of entertainment, mystery and sometimes downright spookiness. Now it could shine a light on the secrets of the unconscious mind.

The Ouija, also known as a talking board, is a wooden plaque marked with the words, “yes”, “no” and the letters of the alphabet. Typically a group of users place their hands on a movable pointer , or “planchette”, and ask questions out loud. Sometimes the planchette signals an answer, even when no one admits to moving it deliberately.

Believers think the answer comes through from the spirit world. In fact, all the evidence points to the real cause being the ideomotor effect, small muscle movements we generate unconsciously.

That’s why the Ouija board has attracted the attention of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Growing evidence suggests the unconscious plays a role in cognitive functions we usually consider the preserve of the conscious mind.

Keep Reading: Short Sharp Science: Ouija board helps psychologists probe the subconscious.

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