Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Conscious Continuity: Ourselves, Others and Oddities

by via Mysterious Universe

Have you ever seen someone you thought you knew, maybe from a short distance, and you thought for certain that you were seeing a friend? The hair, the height, the way they walked, and even the clothes they wore… all these things seemed to match the person you thought you were seeing… until that is, you get close enough to realize that it was actually somebody else who merely looked like the friend or acquaintance y0u thought you’d seen.

This kind of phenomenon has lent itself to a variety of interpretations of what might be called doppleganger phenomenon, as well as philosophical notions of what exactly consciousness is, and how we use it to relate to others around us. Often, it seems that there is something fundamentally deeper about the nature of the human experience, and that rather than just being physical bodies moving around and interacting with one another on a day-to-day basis, there indeed might be more to the proverbial pie than just the aroma we’re able to catch from time to time… especially when it comes to strange phenomena.

For instance, from a rather personal perspective, I’ve often likened various past loves that have come and gone to being repeated manifestations of a single sort of greater feminine archetype I’ve encountered, rather than merely being individuals I’ve known over the years. Sometimes, I’ve even encountered strange sorts of synchronicity and other manifestations of a curious nature in this regard: one girl I had known, for instance, took to calling me by a nickname which a previous girlfriend had used for me, with no prior knowledge of that nickname being appended to me in the past. Granted, I’m not literally suggesting that every girl I’ve dated over the years has been the same woman in some surreal, cosmic sense. However, I think that in terms of Jungian psychology, there are from time to time various “manifestations” of things that are familiar to us, shades of which might occasionally pour through the fabric of physical existence between people we know, revealing themselves in startling ways.

I bring up Carl Jung here since it was he who first supposed that all people might be interconnected by a greater “collective subconsciousness”, as he called it.

Keep Reading: Conscious Continuity: Ourselves, Others and Oddities | Mysterious Universe.

Looking Back at TWA Flight 800

by Steven Novella via Skepticblog

On July 17, 1996 TWA flight 800 took off from JFK airport on its way to Paris. Fifteen minutes into its flight, shortly after climbing to about 13,000 feet, the jet exploded in mid air. The nose of the jet fell off into the Atlantic while the rest continued to fly, erratically while on fire and spewing smoke, until 42 seconds later when there was a second explosion. The right wing and the rest of the fuselage separated and descended as two separate streams of burning debris until they hit the surface of the water 7 seconds later. All 230 people aboard lost their lives.

Sixteen years later there are still those who believe that TWA flight 800 was shot down by a missile. This is despite the fact that the largest and most expensive investigation in history into the crash of a commercial airliner came to a very different conclusion. I had the opportunity this past week to speak to six different eyewitnesses of this tragedy, some of whom firmly believe a missile took down the jet, while others are unsure. The incident remains a classic historical case demonstrating the fallibility of perception and eyewitness accounts.

Read More: Skepticblog » Looking Back at TWA Flight 800.

Roswell? No. Close? Maybe…

by via Mysterious Universe

Is this a real UFO?

Whenever anyone wants to talk about a reported UFO crash outside of the United States, it always seems to be touted as the “British Roswell,” the “Canadian Roswell,” the “Australian Roswell,” the…well, you get it, right? Yes, I know that whatever happened outside of Roswell, New Mexico in the summer of 1947, it was an event of deep significance. I know! I really do! But, can we please stop with the Roswell comparisons just once in a while when discussing other alleged UFO crash cases?

I hope so, since I have one to tell you about that very few will have any awareness of. Yes, it’s intriguing and notable. Yes, it caught the attention of the U.S. military. But let’s not get over-excited and loudly proclaim it as the next Roswell, just because that’s what is usually expected. And with that said, here’s the story…

A multi-page document, prepared by the 468th Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) detachment of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), describes an intriguing event that occurred in the River Lagarfljot, Iceland in August 1954. The paperwork in question, declassified under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and available for scrutiny at the National Archives, tells a notable story.

Not real. Held up by a string.

According to the Air Force’s files, shortly before 9.00 p.m. on the night of August 24, 1954, a fast-moving, low-flying, dark-gray colored and cylindrical-shaped UFO was seen in the vicinity of Egilsstadir by an individual at Hjardabol, a farm located near the junction of the Lagarfljot and Jokula Rivers, in North-eastern Iceland. The event would probably have been dismissed, for lack of evidence, particularly since it took the witness a full week to summon up the courage to tell the authorities, were it not for one startling aspect of the story.

Read more: Roswell? No. Close? Maybe… | Mysterious Universe.

Is psychic Sally Morgan deluded but essentially harmless?

By via guardian.co.uk

It’s often said in their defence that psychics such as Sally Morgan do little harm, even if their powers are illusory

Earphone claims: Sally is seen removing a microphone from her right ear, and what appears to be an earpiece from her left ear.

It has been a difficult, but financially very rewarding 12 months for Sally Morgan, otherwise known as Psychic Sally. Although most nights she is giving demonstrations of mediumship on stage to an audience of more than a thousand people (each paying £25), there have been concerns about whether she has genuine psychicpowers and whether she obtains information about audience members in advance.

In Dublin in 2011, two audience members said they overheard a voice at the back of the theatre, which they felt was feeding Sally information via an earpiece. In Edinburgh in 2012, there was another odd incident, this time involving a large glass bowl always placed in the theatre foyer by Sally so that audience members could write notes about the departed. One audience member wrote a fictional name on a slip of paper and placed it in the bowl, only to receive a message during the show apparently from that fictional person (Toby Wren, played by Robert Powell in the BBC Doomwatch drama in 1970).

I should stress at this point that Psychic Sally strenuously denies any allegation of being fed information via an earpiece or peeking at the contents of the glass bowl, and she continues to believe that she can speak to the dead. Actually, talking to the dead is not particularly impressive, but Sally also believes that the dead talk to her. That is the spooky bit.

Read More: Is psychic Sally Morgan deluded but essentially harmless? | Simon Singh | Science | guardian.co.uk.

Mark Edward – Psychic Blues – on Coast to Coast

Mark EdwardAbout Mark Edward via Skepticblog

Mark Edward is a professional mentalist specializing in magic of the mind. His amazing mind reading techniques make a statement about our limited powers of observation and our refusal to believe manipulation can easily happen to the best of us. He has performed as a psychic entertainer at the Hollywood hot spot Magic Castle as well as world-class venues, nightclubs and corporate events. His television appearances include A&E’s Houdini the Great Escape, NBC’s The other Side, two episodes of TLC’s Exploring the Unknown, Emmy nominated, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Talking to the Dead, and most recently he was the guest Medium on the season finale of Last Comic Standing.


Coast to Coasting by Mark Edward via Skepticblog

Against my better intuitive judgement, I went on the highly popular “Coast to Coast AM” radio show to talk aboutPsychic Blues last night. It was an eye opening experience for everyone, not the least of which was me. I knew I was trending head first into the lion’s den by going this route, but without taking some chances, life can become quickly predictable – in a common sense way that is.

My book has been doing well for only being officially in print a month, and in an attempt to boost sales and let people know there is another side to all the paranormal rubbish out there, I arranged a two hour spot with host George Noory. George was much more accommodating than I had anticipated, cooly agreeing with most of my points and making it a special issue to let everyone know that he had “bounced” Sylvia Browne from his show for her egregious Sago Mine readings she did on his show.

[… snip …]

Several times I had to do my best to direct the show back on track toPsychic Blues whenever George would settle into his well- worn groove and begin spinning  off into random bits about death, his experiences with magic tricks and other awkward moments. Later, the call-ins were clueless and the usual C2C people with wild anecdotal tales which I was of course expected to explain; one person had premonitions about where to go to find his lost cat. I basically told the listening audience there was nothing paranormal about such things and calmly explained what confirmation bias was and how plenty of people go out looking for their lost cats and don’t find them. George even trotted out that oldest of chestnuts about, “… you are thinking about someone and the next minute they call on the phone!” I thought that went out with pyramid power and bell bottom pants, but I guess it’s always news to someone out there. I did my best to explain that one too. A woman  called in and said she saw “lights” around things. I told her to seek an optician. That sort of thing. Probably not the best showcase for my book, but what the hell…

Read More: Skepticblog » Coast to Coasting.

Travis Walton’s Alien Abduction Lie Detection Test

by Michael Shermer, Aug 14 2012, via Skepticblog

Fire in the Sky (book cover)On July 31, 2008, I appeared on The Moment of Truth (watch Part 1 on YouTube. I appear at about 7 min. 35 secs. in Part 2.) The contestant was Travis Walton, arguably the most famous alien abductee in Earth history. I agreed to appear only if there were no sexual allusions (alien probes aside). My question for Mr. Walton: “Do you have any evidence to support your claim of being abducted?” Of course he answered in the affirmative, because for three decades Travis Walton has been telling people that on the evening of November 5, 1975, he was “zapped” into a UFO while working as a logger in an Arizona National Forest. His evidence? His co-workers said they saw it happen. Five days later Walton called from a nearby payphone to report that the aliens had let him go.

[…]

… Walton was once again in the polygraph hot seat. His affirmative answer to my question passed the truth test, because of course Walton believes he has evidence in the form of his friends’ corroborative story. The next question, for $100,000, was refreshingly straight-forward: “Were you abducted by a UFO on November 5, 1975.” Without hesitation he barked “Yes.” The voice in the sky once again boomed: “That answer is…”

False.” I couldn’t believe it. Neither could Walton, whose jaw dropped faster than a crashed flying saucer. At last, after a bestselling book and popular film about his abduction, Fire in the Sky, after countless UFO conferences and media appearances, it took a Fox reality television show to bring the case to a head. What does this mean? To be fair and balanced (!), possibly nothing, because the polygraph test is unreliable. In fact, I even thoroughly debunked it myself in a two-part special for the Fox Family channel (watch Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube).

Given the shortcomings of both reality television and the polygraph, I wrote to Travis and asked him for his account of his experience on Moment of Truth. I had met Walton once before at my office in Altadena, California, where we filmed a segment for a television special on UFOs. I found him to be an exceptionally likeable man, a nice guy, and I found his account of this television show to be most illuminating. As he wrote me on August 21, 2009:

Keep Reading: Skepticblog » Travis Walton’s Alien Abduction Lie Detection Test.
Followup: What Really Happened on Fox’s TV show Moment of Truth:
Travis Walton responds to Michael Shermer

Disinformation: How It Works

Submitted by Brandon Smith from Alt-Market via ZeroHedge

Disinformation: How It Works

There was a time, not too long ago (relatively speaking), that governments and the groups of elites that controlled them did not find it necessary to conscript themselves into wars of disinformation.

Propaganda was relatively straightforward. The lies were much simpler. The control of information flow was easily directed. Rules were enforced with the threat of property confiscation and execution for anyone who strayed from the rigid socio-political structure. Those who had theological, metaphysical or scientific information outside of the conventional and scripted collective world view were tortured and slaughtered. The elites kept the information to themselves, and removed its remnants from mainstream recognition, sometimes for centuries before it was rediscovered.

With the advent of anti-feudalism, and most importantly the success of the American Revolution, elitists were no longer able to dominate information with the edge of a blade or the barrel of a gun. The establishment of Republics, with their philosophy of open government and rule by the people, compelled Aristocratic minorities to plot more subtle ways of obstructing the truth and thus maintaining their hold over the world without exposing themselves to retribution from the masses. Thus, the complex art of disinformation was born.

The technique, the “magic” of the lie, was refined and perfected. The mechanics of the human mind and the human soul became an endless obsession for the establishment.

The goal was malicious, but socially radical; instead of expending the impossible energy needed to dictate the very form and existence of the truth, they would allow it to drift, obscured in a fog of contrived data. They would wrap the truth in a Gordian Knot of misdirection and fabrication so elaborate that they felt certain the majority of people would surrender, giving up long before they ever finished unraveling the deceit. The goal was not to destroy the truth, but to hide it in plain sight.

In modern times, and with carefully engineered methods, this goal has for the most part been accomplished. However, these methods also have inherent weaknesses. Lies are fragile. They require constant attentiveness to keep them alive. The exposure of a single truth can rip through an ocean of lies, evaporating it instantly.

In this article, we will examine the methods used to fertilize and promote the growth of disinformation, as well as how to identify the roots of disinformation and effectively cut them, starving out the entire system of fallacies once and for all.

Media Disinformation Methods

The mainstream media, once tasked with the job of investigating government corruption and keeping elitists in line, has now become nothing more than a public relations firm for corrupt officials and their Globalist handlers. The days of the legitimate “investigative reporter” are long gone (if they ever existed at all), and journalism itself has deteriorated into a rancid pool of so called “TV Editorialists” who treat their own baseless opinions as supported fact.

The elitist co-opting of news has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the printing press. However, the first methods of media disinformation truly came to fruition under the supervision of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who believed the truth was “subjective” and open to his personal interpretation.

Some of the main tactics used by the mainstream media to mislead the masses are as follows:

Lie Big, Retract Quietly: Mainstream media sources (especially newspapers) are notorious for reporting flagrantly dishonest and unsupported news stories on the front page, then quietly retracting those stories on the very back page when they are caught. In this case, the point is to railroad the lie into the collective consciousness. Once the lie is finally exposed, it is already too late, and a large portion of the population will not notice or care when the truth comes out.

Keep Reading: Disinformation: How It Works | ZeroHedge.

What if the Earth were Hollow?

What if there were a tunnel through the middle of the earth and you jumped in?

What if the Earth were Hollow? – YouTube.

Aliens or Ancient Humanoids?

by via Mysterious Universe

Of the many and varied, multifaceted theories that have been advanced to try and explain what lies at the heart of the UFO puzzle, one of the most controversial suggests that rather than representing bug-eyed intruders from far-away star-systems, the assumed aliens are really nothing of the sort. So, what, then, might they be, if not extraterrestrials?

Well, according to some researchers of the UFO phenomenon, our elusive visitors may be the last, possibly even the waning, vestiges of a very ancient, but very terrestrial, race of advanced entities that originated right here on Earth in our distant past. They have chosen – or have been forced – to live outside of human society, and within huge, cavernous underworlds far below the surface of our planet. Yes, it does sound just like wild fantasy. But, incredibly, maybe it is not.

Right up until the point of his tragic passing in October 2009, at the age of thirty-four, author Mac Tonnies was hot on the trail of these ancient, underground humanoids, which he chose to call the Cryptoterrestrials. Tonnies told me, only a couple of months before his death:

“After devouring countless books on the UFO controversy and the paranormal, I began to acknowledge that the extraterrestrial hypothesis suffered [from] some tantalizing flaws. In short, the ‘aliens’ seemed more like surreal caricatures of ourselves than beings possessing the god-like technology one might plausibly expect from interstellar visitors. I came to the realization that the extraterrestrial hypothesis isn’t strange enough to encompass the entirety of occupant cases.”

So, if E.T. wasn’t weird enough for Tonnies, then what was? The under-dwellers – that is what: “If we’re dealing with humanoid beings that evolved here on Earth, some of the problems vanish. I envision the Cryptoterrestrials engaged in a process of subterfuge, bending our belief systems to their own ends. And I suggest that this has been occurring, in one form or another, for an extraordinarily long time. I think there’s a good deal of folkloric and mythological evidence pointing in this direction, and I find it most interesting that so many descriptions of ostensible ‘aliens’ seem to reflect staged events designed to misdirect witnesses and muddle their perceptions.”

Read more: Aliens or Ancient Humanoids? | Mysterious Universe.

Priceline.com: Will You Prove Your Spokesperson Worthy for a Million Dollars?

D.J. GrotheBy
President, James Randi Educational Foundation, via huffingtonpost.com

In my line of work, I hear horror stories every day. Some involve ghosts and goblins or psychics with premonitions, but not in the way you might expect. The James Randi Educational Foundation exists to bring light to claims of the paranormal, and often to the ways people fake paranormal abilities to take advantage of others: from false hope to reconnect grieving families with dead relatives to offering hollow promises of miraculous cures. So when I heard that priceline.com was featuring “Long Island medium” Theresa Caputo in their commercials, I knew I had to fire off a letter to Priceline’s CEO and ask them to prove that Ms. Caputo is what she claims to be. And I even put a million dollars on the line.

Read our letter for yourself, and consider giving priceline.com your own thoughts on the Long Island Medium here.

To: Jeff Boyd, Chief Executive Officer, Priceline.com

Dear Mr. Boyd,

On behalf of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and the countless Americans who have been exploited by fake psychics and mediums, I am writing to address your recently debuted commercial campaign featuring “medium” Theresa Caputo, performing her usual gimmick of claiming to communicate with dead people, and to make you an offer of one million dollars if she can prove her talents are real. As you know, in your ad, she speaks to the fictional “Priceline Negotiator” from beyond the grave, but sadly, she claims to speak to the dead in real life as well, and the results are not so funny.

Since 2011, Ms. Caputo has starred in her own reality series, Long Island Medium on TLC, wherein she purports to speak to her often grieving clients’ dead relatives. I have seen the show myself, and as a magician and a skeptic, I couldn’t help but notice that her “readings” looked suspiciously like a well-known manipulative collection of psychological techniques by which self-proclaimed psychics and mediums make it seem like they are receiving otherwise-impossible messages from the deceased. It is difficult to watch the show and not feel heartbroken for those who are desperate to hear from the departed… and even more so if they are being manipulated by a charlatan.

I respectfully invite you to have your new representative, Ms. Caputo, apply for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge. Since 1996, the JREF has offered a prize of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal ability under mutually agreed-upon scientific conditions and without cheating. So far, no one has claimed the prize. Should Ms. Caputo win, we would be happy to award the prize to the charity of your and her choosing. Perhaps the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, of which your company is fond?

If Ms. Caputo can do what she claims to do, she ought to be thrilled to have the opportunity to prove to the world that her talents are real, and to give the prize money to a worthy cause (or to keep the million dollars for herself). If she is unwilling to take the challenge, I suspect her talents may be as manipulative as her motivations are selfish. In fact, the JREF recently awarded Ms. Caputo this year’s tongue-in-cheek Pigasus Award for paranormal performers, to highlight the harm of her untested claims. Please consider salvaging priceline.com‘s good name by putting your new spokesperson to the test. After all, you wouldn’t hire a doctor to represent your company without asking for her credentials, would you? Let’s make certain that this medium’s astounding claims are legitimate, as opposed to greedy manipulations of those who are mourning.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

D.J. Grothe, President

James Randi Educational Foundation

via D.J. Grothe: Priceline.com: Will You Prove Your Spokesperson Worthy for a Million Dollars?.

UFOs: A Mixed Bag Of Theories

by via Mysterious Universe

For most people, any mention of UFOs inevitably conjures up imagery of spaceships from other worlds, and alien abductions. However, the theory that UFOs originate in far-away galaxies is simply that – a theory. In reality, numerous suggestions have been made to explain the UFO presence that has, for decades, fascinated generations of saucer-seekers everywhere. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that, like it or not, we’re still very much in the dark when it comes to understanding the true nature of what it is that is amongst us, and which, for so long, has interacted with us. Let’s take a look at those theories…

One of the most thought-provoking theories offered in an attempt to provide an explanation for aspects of the UFO presence on our world suggests that the aliens are, actually, a very ancient and advanced body of people, closely related to the Human Race, who have lived alongside us in secret – possibly deep underground – for countless millennia. Granted, it’s a highly controversial theory, but it’s one I delved into deeply just a few days ago right here. Moving on…

Keep Reading: UFOs: A Mixed Bag Of Theories | Mysterious Universe.

Bigfoot Sighting in Washington State

Video and narrative courtesy ledouxtube:

While visiting my family in Washington state, my brother and I were taking turns riding my parent’s quad. He came back claiming he saw bigfoot. I thought he was making it up until we played back the video. I don’t know if someone was in the woods messing with us or something, but whatever it is freaks me out!

via Bigfoot Sighting in Washington State – YouTube.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Radical Conspiracy Theorist = Dis-information Agent

via The Soap Box

One of the most common claims by conspiracy theorists is that there are dis-information agents all over the place. Normally these accusations of being a dis-information agent are made against skeptics and debunkers, since skeptics and debunkers are the people who show just how faulty conspiracy theories really are. But sometimes, claims of being a dis-information agent are made by conspiracy theorists, against other conspiracy theorists.

In fact, it’s actually quite common for some conspiracy theorists to accuse other conspiracy theorists of being dis-information agents, especially if those who are being accused, promote conspiracy theories that are either so radical, or so strange, that other conspiracy theorists actually debunk them. Sometime it doesn’t even have to be really weird, just very different from what another conspiracy theorist believes.

Because of this, and other actions, such as spamming the comments section on conspiracy theorists web sites, blogs,  message boards, and skeptics and debunker web sites and blogs, with their extremely strange conspiracy theories, many “mainstream” conspiracy theorists have “concluded” that these people who promote these extremely strange conspiracy theories must be dis-information agents because… who else would promote such insane conspiracy theories.

Read More: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Radical Conspiracy Theorist = Dis-information Agent.
See also: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Debunker Bloggers = Dis-information Agent.

Magic, Spells, and Sorcery: High Strangeness, or Hocus-Pocus?

by via Mysterious Universe

It has been an art employed by some of the greatest minds and practitioners of the sciences over the centuries, as well as many of the more nefarious names in history as well. From scholars like Pythagoras in Ancient Greece, to medieval wizards like John Dee and, much later on, the controversial occultist Aleister Crowley, magic has been heralded as a force by which man can connect with the parts of reality beyond which most mortal men could otherwise reach.

By the standards of most today, what we call “magic” involves archaic processes of trying to utilize spells and sorcery–in addition to belief that such things can prove effective–in an effort to change or bend the forces of nature. Due to the perception that such things are indeed remnants of what are now outmoded ways of thought and belief, the idea of using magic for practical purposes today has lost much of its appeal. And yet, there are still many that do act as proponents of the use of ritual magic for bettering their lives, and changing the world around them. Is their belief in such ancient arts completely in vein, or are there elements to the mystery of the modern magi that do make their esoteric practices worthwhile?

Webster’s Dictionary defines magic as “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” Even while looking up this definition, I began to notice my own preconceptions and biases toward the word all unto itself; immediately, I envision either a corny series of silly images involving spellcasters and sorcerers, or conversely, I’m reminded of the darker perceptions attributed to “black magic” and the dark arts.

Read More: Magic, Spells, and Sorcery: High Strangeness, or Hocus-Pocus? | Mysterious Universe.

Stonehenge: Facts & Theories About Mysterious Monument

via LiveScience

Stonehenge is an enigmatic prehistoric monument located on a chalky plain north of the modern day city of Salisbury, England. It was started 5,000 years ago and modified by ancient Britons over a period of 1,000 years.  Its purpose continues to be a mystery.

The biggest of its stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons (22.6 metric tons) on average. It is widely believed that they were brought from Marlborough Downs, a distance of 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the north. Smaller stones, referred to as “bluestones” (they have a bluish tinge when wet or freshly broken), weigh up to 4 tons and most of them appear to have come from the Preseli Hills in western Wales, a distance of 156 miles (250 km). It’s unknown how people in antiquity moved them that far; water transport was probably used for part of the journey. Recently, scientists have raised the possibility that during the last ice age glaciers carried these bluestones closer to the Stonehenge area and the monument’s makers didn’t have to move them all the way from Wales.

Before Stonehenge

Although construction of Stonehenge began about 5,000 years ago, the area appears to have been of symbolic importance for a much longer period of time.

As early as 10,500 years ago three large pine posts, which were totem poles of sorts, were erected at the site. Then around 5,500 years ago …

Keep Reading:: Stonehenge: Facts & Theories About Mysterious Monument | LiveScience.

Architects Shy From Trutherism

Architects didn’t show up for a 9/11-architecture-conspiracy documentary screening—and the AIA doesn’t want its name associated with Trutherism.

By Jeremy Stahl via Architect Magazine

The boardroom at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the American Institute of Architects is an impressive place: Beautiful concentric wooden desks, with microphones in front of every seat, encircle a small central dais, offering the impression that important discussions are had here. “It feels like the United Nations,” a guest recently commented.

This room recently served as a peculiar venue for the 23rd stop on the 30-city “world premiere tour” of AIA member Richard Gage’s new film 9/11: Explosive Evidence—Experts Speak Out: Final Edition.

Since 2006, Gage has been traveling all over the world under the banner of his organization, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth—an organization that has no affiliation with the AIA, express or otherwise—to preach the theory that the Twin Towers and 7 World Trade Center were actually brought down by explosives on September 11, 2001, and not the impact of two hijacked jetliners and the resulting fires and debris.

What was even more surreal than the late June screening location for his latest presentation of this argument, though, was hearing the types of speeches that accompany such an absurd event be given in such an austere room.

“I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into believing that our government and the Israeli government, the Israeli Mossad, could be responsible for the Twin Towers demolition,” one member of the DC chapter of 911truth.org declared from the AIA-emblazoned podium.

“At least three firefighters in New York at Ground Zero who came upon a large store of gold at the Twin Towers were executed by FBI… every official story turns out to be a lie,” another local activist said to applause.

Gage feigned to distance his organization, the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, from these remarks, calling the gold story “related” to his work but less “helpful” to its mission than his “irrefutable scientific evidence” that the skyscrapers were brought down by explosives.

The AIA itself, however, is firm about its relationship with Gage. “We don’t have any relationship with his organization whatsoever,” Scott Frank, head of media relations for the AIA, told me.

The former employee of the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based architectural firm Akol & Yoshii is a full-time 9/11 conspiracy theorist, but Gage tries to maintain a façade of being a scientist asking scientific questions. He does his best to avoid the murkier political questions of who could have orchestrated a conspiracy theory and cover-up of the size and scope that the 9/11 conspiracy movement alleges, but his technical views are actually quite mainstream within the Truth movement.

The accusations of Gage’s organization are the typical hodgepodge of pseudo-scientific claims. Along with other esoteric and debunked technical arguments, he says that melted steel was visible at the Ground Zero site proving that the fires burned too hot to have been caused by jet fuel; that because the buildings collapsed at “near free fall speed” there must have been a controlled demolition; and that traces of a thermitereaction found in the World Trade Center debris proves that explosives were used.

All of Gage’s so-called evidence has been rebutted in peer-reviewed papers, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, by the American Society of Civil Engineers, by the 9/11 Commission Report, and, perhaps most memorably, by the 110-year-old engineering journal Popular Mechanics.

What is more interesting than these bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories is the way that Gage places his AIA membership front and center in his presentations. He seems to be attempting to cloak his organization in the officialdom of the venerable 155-year-old professional institution, even as AIA wants nothing to do with his organization. At the start of his latest film, he explains that he is “a licensed architect of over 20 years and member of the American Institute of Architects.”

Gage often seems to wield his AIA status in promoting his conspiracy theories. In making his case, he also regularly cites that more than 100 AIA members and at least six AIA Fellows have signed his petition calling for a new investigation. In total, Gage says that more than 1,700 of the petition’s roughly 16,000 signatures are from architects and engineers.

During the screening, Gage was at the very least intimating that his organization had been invited to AIA officially.

“I can’t tell you how grateful we were to have been accepted to be here in the boardroom at the national headquarters,” Gage said. “We hope this is the beginning of a very productive relationship.”

Aside from Gage, though, there was not a single other architect in the room, much less an official from AIA, or even another member. The 80-strong crowd was made up largely of members of the local 9/11 Truth movement and other political activists.

Gage was once warned by AIA not to … (keep reading) … Architects Shy From Trutherism – Architect Magazine.


Will The World End In 2012?

A NASA Scientist Answers the Top 20 Questions About 2012

PUBLIC CONCERN ABOUT DOOMSDAY IN December 2012 has blossomed into a major new presence on the Internet. This fear has begun to invade cable TV and Hollywood, and it is rapidly spreading internationally. The hoax originally concerned a return of the fictitious planet Nibiru in 2012, but it received a big boost when conspiracy theory websites began to link it to the end of the Mayan calendar long count at the winter solstice (December 21) of 2012. Over the past year, many unrelated groups have joined the doomsday chorus, including Nostradamus advocates, a wide variety of eschatological Christian, Native American, and spiritualist sects, and those who fear comet and asteroid impacts or violent solar storms. At the time of this writing there are more than 175 books listed on Amazon.com dealing with the 2012 doomsday. The most popular topics are the Mayan calendar and spiritual predictions that the disaster in 2012 will usher in a new age of happiness and spiritual growth. Quite a few authors are cashing in with manuals on how to survive 2012.

As this hoax spreads, many more doomsday scenarios are being suggested, mostly unrelated to Nibiru. These include a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, severe solar storms associated with the 11-year solar cycle (which may peak in 2012), a reversal of Earth’s rotation axis, a 90- degree flip of the rotation axis, bombardment by large comets or asteroids, bombardment by gamma rays, or various unspecified lethal rays coming from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy or the “dark rift” seen in a nearby galactic spiral arm. A major theme has become celestial alignments: supposedly the Sun will align with the galactic center (or maybe with the Milky Way Dark Rift) on December 21, 2012, subjecting us to mysterious and potentially deadly forces.

Unlike most pseudoscience stories, there seems to be no factual core on which the Nibiru- 2012 hoax has been constructed. This is different from, for example, the claims of aliens and a crashed UFO at Roswell, New Mexico. The alien stories are a fabrication, but the core fact is that an instrumented balloon did crash in Roswell on July 7, 1947. There is no similar factual core to Nibiru—just dubious “predictions” from psychics, or the Mayans, or Nostradamus. The rest is pure fiction.

I answer questions from the public submitted online to a NASA website, and over the past two years the Nibiru-2012 doomsday has become the dominant topic people ask about. Many are curious about things they have seen on the Internet or TV, but many are also angry about supposed government cover-ups. As one wrote “Why are you lying about Nibiru? Everyone knows it is coming.” Others are genuinely frightened that the world will end just three years from now. My frustration in answering questions piecemeal motivates this “Twenty Questions” format to organize the facts and shine a skeptical light on this accumulation of myths and hoaxes.

1. What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in December 2012?

The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. Zecharia Sitchin, who writes fiction about the ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer, claimed in several books (e.g., The Twelfth Planet, published in 1976) that he has found and translated Sumerian documents that identify the planet Nibiru, orbiting the Sun every 3600 years. These Sumerian fables include stories of “ancient astronauts” visiting Earth from a civilization of aliens called the Anunnaki.

Keep Reading: Skeptic » Reading Room » 2012 and Counting.

Martian Sighting? Strange Pics From Mars Rover Explained

Via TheBlaze.com.

Over the last couple days, UFO enthusiasts have rallied behind pictures of four orbs that were taken by NASA’s rover “Curiosity” on Mars. But as many of these UFO stories often come to pass, a reasonable explanation has been cited and it could be one that has even caused problems for photographers here on Earth. It’s called “dead pixels.”

The Washington Post reported the group Alien Disclosure Group believed that photos beamed back from Curiosity earlier this week could possibly have captured four flying saucers. They put together this video with all the image and it enhanced with different filters:

Gizmodo describes out what is being seen here …

Keep Reading:: ‘UFOs’ in Curiosity Picture Caused by ‘Dead Pixels’ According to Experts | Video | TheBlaze.com.

Controversial Psychic Ability Claim Doesn’t Hold up in New Experiments

By Stephanie Pappas via LiveScience

Bad news for Miss Cleo and other alleged clairvoyants: A new study has failed to find evidence that psychic ability is real.

Skeptics may scoff at the finding as obvious, but the research is important because it refutes a study published in a psychological journal last year that claimed to find evidence of extrasensory perception. That research, conducted by Daryl Bem of Cornell University, triggered outrage in the psychological community when the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology announced in 2010 that the paper had been accepted for publication. Psychologists immediately leapt on Bem’s statistics and methods, finding reasons how he may have come up with the unbelievable results.

But the real key to a strong scientific finding is reproducibility. If no other researchers can replicate a particular result, it’s not likely that the result is real. So University of Edinburgh psychologist Stuart Ritchie and colleagues decided to mimic one of Bem’s experiments almost exactly to see if they would also find evidence of psychic powers.

Read More: Controversial Psychic Ability Claim Doesn’t Hold up in New Experiments | LiveScience.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: No Planes hit the World Trade Center

via The Soap Box

There are probably more then a dozen or so conspiracy theories involving the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and I admit, I think every one of those theories are ridiculous and false. But, there is one conspiracy theory that is so ridiculous that most 9/11 conspiracy theorists don’t talk about.

This is the theory that no planes hit the World Trade Center towers.

It is considered the craziest of all the 9/11 conspiracy theories, and talk about it has been banned from many conspiracy theorist websites. Some people who advocate these theories are even accused of being dis-information agent, and have even been threaten with violence.

There are actually two different versions this theory.

The first one is that what we all saw on TV were not planes, but computer generated images, and that every video that showed the planes hitting the towers are fakes.

Besides the fact that this claim sounds insane, it would also have to mean that every eye witness to the attack, including people who were standing in the street, and people who were actually in the buildings themselves and watched the planes hit, are lying…

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: No Planes hit the World Trade Center.

Extrasensory Arts: Do Musical and Artistic Abilities Increase Psychic Potential?

by via Mysterious Universe

What is it about the artistic mind that seems to allow the more remote and esoteric aspects of existence to shimmer through the cracks in our reality? Far more often than not, it seems that individuals who are gifted in the arts claim to be more spiritual and—to put it bluntly—psychically attuned.

Countless numbers of individuals have claimed to be both progenitors of the arts, in addition to being at least mildly “in touch” with spiritual essences that are not immediately made available to the average person. But is this really a gift that many artists seem to have, or is it just the result of the creative aspects underlying the minds of such personalities taking charge, and thus creating the sometimes-convincing impression of being gifted with special abilities?

While there are indeed studies that are well known already linking musical abilities with increased success in various other cognitive activities, a different kind of study was recently brought to my attention by good friend Thomas Cameron, a martial arts instructor and colleague of mine based out of Chicago. Tom had begun a recent correspondence with me by posing similar questions, and then began to posit theories regarding level of artistic or musical ability in relation to extra-sensory gifts. Then he mentioned a study that seemed, at least peripherally, to lend some justification to why, precisely, this might be. The process of the study, according to Cameron, was as follows: …

Keep Reading: Extrasensory Arts: Do Musical and Artistic Abilities Increase Psychic Potential? | Mysterious Universe.

6 Ways to tell if a Conspiracy Theorist posting on the Internet is Mentally Disturbed

If anyone has ever encountered a conspiracy theorist on the internet, then you know that some of them can be quite intense people, even to the point where you might believe that they are mentally disturbed.
So here now is a list of six ways to tell if a conspiracy theorist that you see posting on the internet might be mentally disturbed:

(Author’s note: it should be noted that there is a difference between being mentally ill and mentally disturbed. Mental illness is actually far more common then most people might think. In fact, one-in-four people in the United States has some type of mental illness. You might even know someone who has a mental illness and not even know it. What mental illness is, is something that happens to a person’s mind or brain to cause them to act and think irrationally, and they can usually recognize the negative impact it is having on them and their life. As for someone who is mentally disturbed, they also might think and act irrationally, but their irrationality would be in a much more volatile and disturbing manner, and they might be so far gone that they do not realize this.

Also, just because person’s posts might indicate that they are mentally disturbed, it doesn’t mean that they are in fact mentally disturbed, they could just be a troll, but even a troll can still be mentally disturbed.)

6. Incoherence

Basically speaking, whatever messages they post either barely make any sense, or makes no sense what so ever. This can be a gradual thing, where if you’re having an argument with the conspiracy theorist, over time they can begin making less and less sense as they grow more frustrated and angry because you’re not agreeing with them, or they’re just incoherent out right.

5. Volatile & Vileness

Some conspiracy theorists, especially those who might be mentally disturbed, can become extremely angry in a second, especially when confronted with evidence that the conspiracy theories that they believe in are in fact false. It’s quite common for people who are like this to post messages that are best described as either being threatening, insulting, and at the very least, disturbing. Sometimes they’ll even make threats against public officials and institutions, or just the people they’re arguing with.

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: 6 Ways to tell if a Conspiracy Theorist posting on the Internet is Mentally Disturbed.

Ghost Box Hoax Box

By via NeuroLogica Blog

The subculture of pseudoscientific ghost hunting continues to evolve. Have you heard of a “ghost box?” It seems all you have to do is put the word “ghost” in front of something and it becomes technical jargon for ghost hunters, and also a great example of begging the question. A cold spot in a house is therefore “ghost cold.” An electromagnetic field (EMF) detector becomes a “ghost detector.” And now a radio scanner has been rebranded as a “ghost box.” Of course no one has ever established that any of these phenomena have anything to do with ghosts, so they are putting the cart several miles ahead of the horse.

A more scientific and intellectually honest approach would be to declare such phenomena as anomalous (although I don’t think that they are). Ghost cold would more properly be termed anomalous cold, or a regional cold anomaly, or something like that. One hypothesis for the alleged cold anomaly would be some sort of supernatural entity (call it a ghost) that acts as a heat sink generating cold spots. First, however, researchers should endeavor to find a mundane explanation for the cold. In fact before declaring it an anomaly they should thoroughly rule out any possible explanation. Only when that has been adequately done would they have a tentative anomaly.

It would then be reasonable to generate a hypothesis as to what is causing the anomalous cold, but such hypotheses are only useful if they lead to testable predictions. If the regional cold anomaly phenomenon is the result of “ghosts”, then what might we predict from that and how can we test it?

Read More: NeuroLogica Blog » Ghost Box.

Tricks of the Psychic Trade

Published on January 30, 2012 by Karen Stollznow, Ph.D. via Psychology Today

Psychic mediums perform one-on-one sessions for sitters. Stage mediums typically offer personal readings, but they also perform short psychic readings to an audience. Unless the stage medium performs a hot reading, otherwise known as cheating, the main tool is cold reading. This involves observation, psychology and elicitation to provide the appearance of psychic powers. Let’s look at the typical formula used by stage mediums, and explore some commonly used linguistic and psychological techniques.

Naming is a fundamental part of any psychic medium reading. The medium mentions a common name, in order to find willing subjects for readings. Additional names or initials may be added, to narrow down the contenders to a single subject. I recently witnessed a different technique used by up-and-coming medium Rebecca Rosen at her Denver show. She began her performance by reading a list of names of spirits that had “lined up all day to leave messages for the audience.” This way, the audience was already drawing connections to the names and preparing for a reading. Her list included:

Keep Reading:  Tricks of the Psychic Trade | Psychology Today.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Moon Landing Hoax

Ever since 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon there has been this huge conspiracy theory that neither they, nor anyone else ever went to the Moon.

This belief exists despite the fact that there is plenty of third party evidence that claims that we did indeed land on the Moon, and that none of the 400,000 people who worked on the Apollo project, including the 12 men that actually walked on the Moon it self, have ever said that the Moon landings were faked. This includes Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon, who believes the the US government is covering up the existence of aliens. If anybody in the whole group would have admitted that the Moon landings were faked, it would be him.

Oh and lets not forget the over 900 pounds of rocks, dirt, and dust, collected from the Moon, and the huge amount of money we spent getting there. Also, if you have a powerful enough telescope, you can actually see the landing sites.

So why do people still believe we didn’t land on the Moon?

Read More: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Moon Landing Hoax.

Nazca Lines: Mysterious Geoglyphs in Peru

via LiveScience

The Nazca (also spelled Nasca) Lines are geoglyphs located in an arid coastal area of Peru that cover an estimated 170 square miles (450 square kilometers).

Scratched on the ground, they number in the thousands and depict creatures from both the natural world and the human imagination. They include animals such as the spider, hummingbird, monkey, lizard, pelican and even a killer whale. Also depicted are plants, trees, flowers and oddly shaped fantastic figures. Also illustrated are geometric motifs such as wavy lines, triangles, spirals and rectangles.

How old are they?

The vast majority of the lines date from 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region. The earliest lines, created with piled up stones, date as far back as 500 BC.

Who made them?

Keep Reading: Nazca Lines: Mysterious Geoglyphs in Peru | LiveScience.

Conspiracy Thinking

via NeuroLogica Blog

I remain fascinated with the mindset of the conspiracy theorist. Partly this is because I think we all have a little conspiracy theorist inside us – deep within our evolved psyche. There is something very compelling and satisfying about believing that you have peeked behind the curtain and seen the true machinations at work in the world. Hardcore conspiracy theorists are mostly regular people who have fallen into a psychological trap, or perhaps they simply have a greater tendency towards the kinds of thinking that leads to belief in conspiracies. Theirs, however, is a difference in magnitude, not kind.

I recently received an e-mail with an innocent question from someone who appears to fall into the former group – a regular guy whose conspiracy sense has been tickled. The e-mailer’s brother, who is a conspiracy theorist by his account, pointed him to this Youtube video – a short clip from an interview with John McCain and Barack Obama during the 2008 election. Take a look at the interview before reading further.

McCain is apparently posturing about the debate schedule between him and Obama (typical political fare for a US election), and refers back to the debate planning between Barry Goldwater and JFK before the “Intervention and the tragedy at Dallas.”  The video would probably pass most people by without a thought, or perhaps just the slightest notice of the word choice by McCain. Calling the assassination of JFK an “intervention” at first seems like an odd word choice. Did he say “the intervention and the tragedy at Dallas,” or “the intervention of the tragedy at Dallas,” – meaning that the tragedy intervened in the course of events? It’s probably the latter. It’s also possible that the wrong word came out, or the intended word did not come to mind (although there does not appear to be any delay or stuttering). Either way, this is a non-event.

Yet conspiracy theorists have taken this one odd word and made it into evidence for a JFK assassination conspiracy. Disclose.tv, for example, describes the moment this way: …

Keep Reading: NeuroLogica Blog » Conspiracy Thinking.

Alex Jones Says THEY Murder You, Die, Go In Coffin, Buried Alive

Here again, is my favorite moron!

via Alex Jones Says THEY Murder You, Die, Go In Coffin, Buried Alive – YouTube.

Why Do Conspiracists Lie?

If conspiracists truly believe in their cause(s), why is it they must lie about, or distort, the truth?

via hoax-slayer.com

Detailed Analysis

This image depicts a large group of airline pilots marching in full uniform at an unidentified street protest. Each pilot in the picture is holding a placard that features a photograph apparently meant to illustrate “chemtrails” in the sky. The scene depicted in the image implies that the pilots are protesting against these supposed “chemtrails”.

The picture shows a real protest along with real marching pilots. However, they are certainly not protesting “chemtrails” nor in any way endorsing the absurd conspiracy theories surrounding the supposed existence and causes of such chemtrails. In fact, as the following source image illustrates, the pilots were protesting much more down-to-earth issues such as pilot pay and working conditions.

A September 29, 2011 Forbes article about the protest notes:

Hundreds of uniformed pilots, standing in stark contrast to the youthful Occupy Wall Street protesters, staged their own protest outside of Wall Street over the past couple of days, holding signs with the picture of the Hudson river crash asking “What’s a Pilot Worth” and others declaring “Management is Destroying Our Airline.” This comes after pilots at United asked a federal judge to halt the merger with Continental, arguing that the whole thing is proceeding too quickly.

The original picture can be seen in a 28 September 2011 Daily Mail article along with following caption

United: Over 700 Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on Tuesday

The altered picture apparently originated from image website Dees Illustration Studio, which features a Political Satire section that hosts a number of similarly altered images, including other chemtrail pictures. It is unclear how or by who’s hand the image escaped from this original context and began circulating online.

Some readers might be wondering what the supposed “chemtrails” shown on the fake placards actually are. According to various paranoid conspiracy theorists, chemtrails are visible evidence that governments or big companies are secretly and deliberately dumping poisons into the earth’s atmosphere for their own nefarious purposes. Some theorists claim the poisons are dumped to make sure that citizens are chronically ill and therefore more easily controlled by governments or more likely to have need of expensive pharmaceutical products. Other suggest that the chem dumping is a clandestine operation to delay global warming. Several other, equally wacky, conspiracy theories have been suggested as possible causes of the trails.

In reality, the supposed chemtrails are just contrails. Contrails are condensation trails that form behind jet aircraft when they burn fuel in the upper troposphere. An in depth discussion about chemtrail conspiracy theories is available on the Skeptic’s Dictionary website.

Read More: Faux Image – Pilots Protesting Chemtrails


Debunked: ChemTrails and ChemClouds

A very high quality copy of this video and a link to the 1905 book “Cloud Studies” is available at: http://tinyurl.com/7ezxt5n. Feel free to download the video and re-post on video sharing websites.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: The Government Kills Conspiracy Theorists

via The Soap Box

What are four things that Alex Jones, David Icke, and Jesse Venture all have in common?

  1. All three are considered three to be among the top conspiracy theorists in the world.
  2. All three have used the media and the internet to promote conspiracy theories.
  3. All three have made millions from promoting conspiracy theories.
  4. All three are still alive.

For many years conspiracy theorists have been claiming that the government, or some shadowy NWO type of groups, are murdering conspiracy theorists, either to keep them from continuing to promote conspiracy theories, or to prevent them from “revealing” certain information.

It doesn’t matter how the person died. They could have died of natural causes, or they could have committed suicide, but to conspiracy theorists, the fact that another conspiracy theorist is dead, especially a top conspiracy theorist, makes many fellow conspiracy theorists suspicious.

Many conspiracy theorists who have died over years due to natural causes have died because of either …

Continue Reading: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: The Government Kills Conspiracy Theorists.

Mood Photography

by via NeuroLogica Blog

Whenever I see a pretty picture of an astronomical object, like a gas cloud, or even the surface of Mars, I always like to know how much of the color I am seeing is computer enhancement. The same applies for any scientific image. Often it’s obvious, such as the color coding of brain activity or blood flow in a PET scan or fMRI. The color is just a way to visually represent the data. Other times it’s not so obvious, like the color of the sky on Mars.

At the very least, however, the source of the image needs to be transparent – what exactly are we seeing.

Several people have recently pointed me toward a form of photography that is being sold as aura photography, but actually isn’t. There is, of course, no such thing as aura photography because there is no such thing as an aura.

Believers claim that every person has an aura – a shroud of color resulting from their energy field. For example, this aura photography site claims:

An AURA is the electromagnetic energy field that surrounds, encompasses and permeates the body as well as all living things. The colors and patterns within this energy field constitute a blueprint (the results of the energy we radiate from our feelings, thoughts, and physical being). Until recently, Aura’s were only seen by the special few who had a gift to see the rainbow of colors.

This is utter nonsense. People do radiate electromagnetic energy, but this is mostly infrared and is a function of our body temperature, not our thoughts and feelings. People do not give off visible light, however. Those who belief they can see an aura around other people are largely self deluded (it is thought that some may have a visual or sensory disorder, but this is speculative). There is also no instrument that can detect what “aura readers” claim to be seeing – because it has no basis in physical reality.

Keep Reading: NeuroLogica Blog » Mood Photography.

A Slew of Suspects

Suspicion is a useful, even necessary, trait—up to a point. Even though we live in times that breed distrust, there is a line, however fine, between the healthy and the clinical.

By Stephanie Booth via Psychology Today
Published on November 01, 2011 – last reviewed on January 02, 2012

You walk into the conference room just as your coworkers halt their conversation: Were they talking about you? Or maybe you can’t help but notice that the same car has been behind you on the highway for the past few miles. Are you being followed?

At one time or another, everyone experiences the kind of insecurity that can give rise to suspicious thoughts. But when thoughts consistently veer toward the perception of threats, you’re not just being cautious—you may actually be paranoid.

Paranoia is a cognitive distortion, a consistent, unfounded view that others want to hurt us in some way. It’s marked by a tendency to interpret neutral situations with a negative slant and then—even in the face of information to the contrary—to treat those fears as fact. It’s a hallmark of severe mental illness, most notably schizophrenia.

But paranoia isn’t limited to those with severe psycho-pathology; it exists on a spectrum, affecting plenty of otherwise healthy individuals. In fact, a mild—but still maladaptive—shade of this cognitive distortion, known as nonclinical or “everyday” paranoia, affects about a third of the population, research shows. For people with everyday paranoia, believing that friends, acquaintances, or strangers are hostile or critically focused on them is a daily occurrence.

What sets apart clinical from nonclinical paranoia is how strongly the ideas are held, how distressing they are, and how much they interfere with daily functioning. As with most other mental health problems, there is no clear cutoff between clinical and nonclinical paranoia; it’s a judgment call reflecting how much distress and disability the problem causes.

Not only is everyday paranoia common, some experts believe it’s on the rise. Our current media environment, with its endless repetition of scary news, has the effect of magnifying threats, which gives rise to paranoia in the susceptible. Now more than ever, the stage is set for suspicious thinking.

Keep Reading: A Slew of Suspects | Psychology Today.

Latest Mars Hoax: Photo of Martian Double Sunset

via LifesLittleMysteries.com

The Martian dust has barely had time to settle after the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover, and already the robotic vehicle has inadvertently generated multiple conspiracy theories and hoaxes. The latest is a fabricated photo of two suns setting on Mars.

As a member of the same solar system as Earth, Mars, of course, orbits a single sun. Nonetheless, the double sunset image, which was supposedly captured in the past few days by the Curiosity rover, has spread around the Web and is causing confusion about just what it could be showing.

If the two suns look oddly familiar, you might be a “Star Wars” fan. Turns out, the image is a photo of an actual Martian sunset taken by NASA’s Spirit rover in 2005 overlain with the double sunset that appears on the planet Tatooine in the film “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (LucasFilm, 1977).

Keep Reading: Latest Mars Hoax: Photo of Martian Double Sunset | LifesLittleMysteries.com.

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: 9/11 Controlled Demolition

via The Soap Box

One of the most prominent conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks is that many conspiracy theorists believe that the World Trade Center towers came down as a result of explosives that were place in the building months in advanced. They base this belief on the comments and advocacy of a few engineers and demolition experts who believe that the buildings collapsed in a controlled demolition.

The major problem with this is that conspiracy theorists assume that a jumbo jet, nearly full of jet fuel, couldn’t cause enough damage to cause the buildings to collapse. They reason they believe this is because they believe these 9/11 truth engineers when they say that the steel structures of the building should not have been damaged enough in the crashes to cause them to collapse, and that the heat caused by the burning jet fuel could not have been hot enough. The problem with this theory is that it assumes that the combination of the two should not have been able to bring down the towers because neither one on their own could have brought down the towers, and what tends to not be taken into consideration by many conspiracy theorists is while one of the two might not have been enough to bring down the towers, the combination of both was enough to bring down the towers.

Also, if you watch the videos of the collapses of the towers, it clearly shows that the beginnings of the collapses began at the impact areas. If there were any explosives on those floors, they would have gone off very shortly after the impacts, if not right at the time of impact.

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: 9/11 Controlled Demolition.



[Download a HD version of this video for reposting: http://tinyurl.com/7rjrsjr]

ghost hunters – Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids

via Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids

In a nutshell: Ghost hunters are people who use lots of scientific equipment when they look for ghosts. Scientists don’t think the equipment will do them much good.

Ghost hunters look for ghosts or evil spirits (demons) in haunted houses, graveyards, old hotels, and other places. It’s likely that some of the first stories cavemen and cavewomen told their little cavechildren were stories about ghosts and demons. It seems just about everybody loves a good ghost story or a scary tale about some wicked demon’s nasty tricks.

Are the ghosts and demons real? So far, scientists haven’t found proof of a single ghost or demon. But that fact hasn’t stopped many people from throwing a bunch of equipment into the trunk of a car and heading out to see if they can find proof that at least one ghost or demon exists.

You may have seen some of these ghost hunters on television. They load up with things like flashlights, EMF detectors, Geiger counters, Gaussmeters (more about these later), tape recorders, video recorders, motion detectors, thermometers, and sometimes even things like Ouija boards and dowsing rods.

These ghost hunters bring flashlights because they seem to always work in the dark. We don’t really know what a ghost or demon is, but for some reason people who look for them are pretty sure they only come out at night. One problem with looking for something at night is that it’s harder to see and easier to trick ourselves into thinking we see something that isn’t really there.

Keep Reading: ghost hunters – Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids.

Illusion of skill

by Robert T. Carroll

The illusion of skill refers to the belief that skill, not chance or luck, accounts for the accuracy of predictions of things that are unpredictable, such as the long-term weather forecasts one finds in farmers’ almanacs and the predictions of market gurus about the long-term ups and downs of the stock market. The illusion of skill also accurately describes the apparent accuracy of remote viewers. Given all the guesses remote viewers make about what they claim to see telepathically, chance alone would account for some of those guesses being somewhat accurate. Much of the accuracy ascribed to remote viewers, however, is due to the liberal and generous interpretations given by themselves or “experts” of their vague and ambiguous descriptions of places or things. Also, subjective validation accounts for the illusion of skill of “experts” in such fields as palm reading, mediumship, astrology, and criminal profiling.

Stock gurus–people who predict the rise and fall of the price of stocks and have large numbers of people who act on their predictions–are essentially part of an entire industry “built largely on an illusion of skill” (Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, p. 212). No market guru has gone broke selling advice, however, despite the fact that market newsletters are–in the words of William A. Sherden–“the modern day equivalent of farmers’ almanacs” (The Fortune Sellers, p. 102). In 1994, the Hurlbert Financial Digest found that over a five-year period only one out of 108 market-timing newsletters beat the market. You might think that that one did so because of skill, but you’d be wrong. Chance alone would predict that more than one out of 108 would beat the market.

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

26 Alex Jones LIES Debunked

Here i go again! Presenting my favorite moron, conspiracist and over all bulls**t artist … Alex Jones …


(You may need to pause the video to read some of the text)


26 Alex Jones LIES Debunked – YouTube.

Extraordinary Occurrences: The Time James Randi Said “Yes”

by via Who Forted? Magazine, August 7, 2012

Today (August 7, 2012) marks the 84th birthday of the one and only James Randi, the man loved (some might say worshipped) by skeptics the world round and squarely hated by just about everyone who claims to have a paranormal power of some kind.

Randi, a magician by trade, set up the James Randi Education Foundation in 1996, an organization that offers a whopping one million dollar prize to anyone who can demonstrate their extra-human powers under watchful scientific eyes. This challenge has never been bested and remains the bane of psychics, spoon benders, healers, and even ghost hunters.

Sure, Randi might not be well liked by those claiming superpowers, but his contributions to the field of paranormal research are valuable and necessary, even if those contributions consist of saying “no” more times than we care to tally. In a forest of extraordinary claims, it’s nice to know there’s someone pulling weeds.

It seemed fitting that today, on his birthday, we should look at one of the very few instances that James Randi was presented with an incredible feat.. and instead of shaking his head and uttering that word he’s so familiar with, widened his eyes and said “yes”.

The Man Who Stared at Notes

Dr. Arthur Lintgen, a physician from Pennsylvania, is a man who claims a seemingly extraordinary, if somewhat less than useful, talent. He doesn’t read minds, tell the future, or talk to the dead, but can he can tell you what songs are on a vinyl record just by staring at it, and no, he doesn’t need the label. Lintgen claims he only became aware of his strange ability when challenged at a party in the 70′s, and found, to his surprise, that he could correctly identify records just by looking at the grooves.

Keep Reading: Extraordinary Occurrences: The Time James Randi Said “Yes” | Who Forted? Magazine.

Indian rope trick

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com

This alleged trick, reportedly witnessed by thousands of people, involves an Indian fakir who throws a rope to the sky, but the rope does not fall back to the ground. Instead it mysteriously rises until the top of it disappears into thin air, the darkness, the mist, whatever. Now, that would be trick enough for most people, but this one allegedly goes on. A young boy climbs the unsupported rope, which miraculously supports him until he disappears into thin air, the mist, the darkness, whatever. That, too, would be trick enough for most of us, but this one continues. The fakir then pulls out a knife, sword, scimitar, whatever and climbs the rope until he, too, disappears into thin air, mist, darkness, whatever. Again, this would a great trick even if it stopped here. But, no. It continues.

Body parts fall from the sky onto the ground, into a basket next to the base of the rope, whatever. Now, that’s quite common in some neighborhoods and would not count as much of a trick. But the fakir allegedly then slides down the rope and empties the basket, throws a cloth over the scattered body parts, whatever, and the boy miraculously reappears with all his parts in the right places. That would be a great trick, especially since it must be done in the open without the use of engineers, technicians, electronics, satellite feeds, television cameras, whatever.

Actually, the only thing needed for this trick is human gullibility. According to Peter Lamont, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh and a former president of the Magic Circle in Edinburgh, the Indian rope trick

Read More: Indian rope trick – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com.

10 Explanations for the Bermuda Triangle

by Flamehorse via listverse.com

The classic borders of the Bermuda Triangle are from Bermuda to Miami, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Most of the mysterious disasters have occurred in its southern region from the Florida straits into the Bahamas. Well over a hundred sea and aircraft have vanished or been destroyed in the area, taking with them over a thousand men, women, and children, and no one yet knows why.

#10 – Plain Old Human Error

Because it isn’t exactly a dramatic revelation, human error makes only 10th place (they get more interesting). In terms of probability, those who have no interest in the supernatural — or as yet misunderstood science — will usually stop with all the ships and planes wrecking in the Triangle as a result solely of human error.

Humans make a lot of them. Even the most well trained, seasoned pilot’s concentration can momentarily lapse, and that is sometimes all it takes for disaster.

Keep Reading: 10 Explanations for the Bermuda Triangle.

US Government Says There Is No UFO Conspiracy

by Steven Novella via NeuroLogica Blog

While I welcome the disclosure, the fact that the US government has now officially stated that they are not hiding evidence of alien contact is not likely to change any minds.

The Obama White House has created a website called We the People in which anyone can write a petition for information from the administration. The current rules state that a petition has to achieve 150 signatures within 30 days to appear on the publicly searchable database, and then must reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days in order to trigger a response from the administration. This second threshold was just increased from 5,000. The two UFO petitions combined garnered 17,000 signatures, but I guess it beat the increase to the higher threshold.

UFO conspiracy theorists have been claiming for years that the US government has been hiding extensive knowledge of contact with aliens. The alleged crashed saucer at Roswell New Mexico is just one famous example. The conspiracy claims include the claim that the government maintains …

via NeuroLogica Blog » US Government Says There Is No UFO Conspiracy.

Woman’s missing digits grow back in phantom form

via New Scientist

A woman born missing a finger and a thumb has grown them back – albeit as part of a phantom limb. This extraordinary occurrence shows that our brain contains a fully functional map of our body image, regardless of what our limbs actually look like.

The woman, RN, was born with just three fingers on her right hand. Aged 18, RN had the hand amputated after a car accident. She later began to feel that her missing limb was still present, and developed a “phantom” hand.

“But here’s the interesting thing,” says Paul McGeoch at the University of California, San Diego. “Her phantom hand didn’t have three digits, it had five.”

RN was aware of a full complement of fingers, but her phantom thumb and index finger … (continue reading): Woman’s missing digits grow back in phantom form – health – 10 August 2012 – New Scientist.

Anomaly Hunting

by (2009)

There are numerous ways in which thought processes go astray, leading us to false conclusions, even persistent delusions. Skepticism, as an intellectual endeavor, is the study of these mental pitfalls, for a thorough understanding of them is the best way to avoid them.

Science itself is a set of methods for avoiding or minimizing errors in observation, memory, and analysis. Our instincts cannot be trusted, so we need to keep them in check with objective outcome measures, systematic observation, and rigid control of variables. In fact bias has a way of creeping into any observation and exerting powerful if subtle effects, leading to the need to completely blind scientific experiments. Good scientists have learned not to trust even themselves.

One of the most common and insidious bits of cognitive self-deception is the process of anomaly hunting. A true anomaly is something that cannot be explained by our current model of nature – it doesn’t fit into existing theories. Anomalies are therefore very useful to scientific inquiry because they point to new knowledge, the potential to deepen or extend existing theories.

[…]

Pseudoscientists – those pretending to do science (maybe even sincerely believing they are doing science) but who get the process profoundly wrong, use anomalies in a different way. They often engage it what we call anomaly hunting – looking for apparent anomalies. They are not, however, looking for clues to a deeper understanding of reality. They are often hunting for anomalies in service to the overarching pseudoscientific process of reverse engineering scientific conclusions.

What this means is that pseudoscience almost always works backwards – that is its primary malfunction, starting with a desired conclusion and then looking for evidence and twisting logic to support that conclusion.

With regard to anomalies the logic often works like this: … (keep reading) NeuroLogica Blog » Anomaly Hunting.

Hunting for Coincidences

via Psychology Today

Isaac Asimov asserted that advances in science do not start with “Eureka” moments. Rather, someone simply notes, “That’s funny.” Asimov’s observation also highlights the extremes with which people respond to the phenomenon of coincidence.

Our tendency to see patterns everywhere means that sometimes we discover wonderful truths about the world. Just as often, we are drawn into subjective cul-de-sacs. In this month’s cover story, The Unbearable Uncanniness of Being,” Matthew Hutson explores why people—some in particular—glorify anomalous experiences.

Our brains are pattern-seeking missiles that cannot help but notice coincidences; whether we imbue them with meaning is another matter. The tendency to learn a new word or concept only to “suddenly” encounter it everywhere strikes people as somewhere between notable and miraculous, even though it can be explained by our brain’s capacity for selective attention: We home in on novel stimuli while filtering out myriad unrelated data.

There’s an obscure term floating around that describes obscure terms or ideas that feel ubiquitous as soon as they are on our radar: the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Funny, I thought, on first encountering the term. Is the Baader-Meinhof gang now obscure enough to headline a neologism about obscurity? (I lived in Germany as a child, so in my mind this defunct terrorist group was once on the order of Al-Qaeda). This disconnect actually captures a tricky element in coincidence: “Baader-Meinhof” is supercharged to those touched by them; mere trivia to everyone else.

We can pretty much agree on what constitutes coincidence, but not on when it’s meaningful. Two families who visit Disneyland on the same day are data points. When the families contain a boy and a girl who years later meet and marry, the couple in question calls it fate. If it happens to you: “Eureka!” To anyone else: “That’s funny.”

Keep Reading: Hunting for Coincidences | Psychology Today.

Why Do People Believe in UFOs? | SETI & Aliens

Ray Villard, Discovery News

I’m bemused that we are smart enough to land an automobile size payload on another planet, but still live in a culture where a significant percentage of people want to believe in implausible if not impossible things. The reality is that intelligence has nothing to do with believing in “weird things.”

A recent National Geographic Society poll reported that 36 percent of Americans — about 80 million people — believe UFOs exist, only 17 percent do not, and the rest of the people are undecided. The survey did not specifically equate UFOs with flying saucers or little green men, however.

[….]

It’s Fun to Believe in Weird Things

Contrary to conventional wisdom, people of all levels of education like to believe in “weird things,” says Michael Shermer of the Skeptical Inquirer. Shermer wrote that people tend to seek or interpret evidence favorable to existing beliefs and ignore or misinterpret evidence unfavorable to those beliefs.

Keep Reading: Why Do People Believe in UFOs? | SETI & Aliens | LiveScience.

7 Alternative Earth Theories

The Earth is the third planet from the sun. It’s a round sphere that’s filled with magma and molten iron, and is around 4.5 billion years old.

As some of you might also know, this hasn’t always been accepted. In fact, for some people, it still isn’t accepted.

While for many of the following alternative Earth theories, most of you have probably heard of a few, but there might be a few that you haven’t heard of.

So here now are the seven alternative Earth theories:

7. Hollow Earth

One of the oldest and most common alternative Earth theories, this theory is based on the belief that the Earth is hollow, and is actually only about a thousand miles thick (although the thickness varies). Another usual belief within the Hollow Earth theory is that the interior is also full of air and possibly life forms, maybe even intelligent life. It’s also usually believed that at the exact center of the Earth is a small sun which provides both heat and light for the interior, and would explain the heat the scientist find from inside the Earth, and it’s  also believed that interior sun would also provide enough gravity for the surface, or that the mass of the Earth itself would be enough to produce one gee force worth of gravity.

This theory isn’t even close to being possible.

If the Earth actually had a sun inside it, it would kill anything on the surface due to the huge amounts of radiation and heat it would produce, and a few hundred miles of dirt and rock would not be enough to shield the surface from the radiation that a planet would get from a star that’s that close. Of course you wouldn’t have to worry about radiation in the first place, because the gravity a sun can produce, even one small enough to fit inside a planet, would cause a planet to implode if one was inside a world. Even without the inner sun, the mass of the Earth would not be enough to produce the gravity that keeps us on the surface, and the centrifugal forces would throw everything that wasn’t secured to bedrock off the surface.

6. Multi-Sphere Hollow Earth

In 1692, English scientist Edmond Halley proposed the idea that the Earth was not only hollow, but had several hollow spheres inside it as well, with one inside the next. Sometimes at the center is a small, solid planetoid, sometimes it’s a small sun.

The problems with this theory is the same with the hollow Earth theory, but also the spheres would have to be rotating insync with each. If one sphere was either rotating even a little bit slower, or a little bit faster, the spheres would collide with each other, and destroy the planet.

Keep Reading: The Soap Box – 7 Alternative Earth Theories.

Use your left ear to detect lies

A study reported in the journal Laterality (Mar 2005) found that people are significantly better at detecting lies with their left ear than their right ear. The reason is that left-ear information is processed by the brain’s right hemisphere, which apparently is better at detecting deception than the left hemisphere. (For instance, studies have shown that people with right-hemisphere damage have trouble detecting lies.)

In the ear study, 32 participants listened to 112 pre-recorded statements, using either their right or left ear, and then were asked to determine which statements were true or false. The results, from the study:

Read More: Use your left ear to detect lies.

Alex Jones Says THEY Are Going To Hunt You Down With Magic Robotic Drone Bullets

Let’s have a big round of applause for my favorite moron … Alex Jones!

Alex Jones Says THEY Are Going To Hunt You Down With Magic Robotic Drone Bullets – YouTube.

Experimenter Effect

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com

The experimenter effect is a term used to describe any of a number of subtle cues or signals from an experimenter that affect the performance or response of subjects in the experiment. The cues may be unconscious nonverbal cues, such as muscular tension or gestures. They may be vocal cues, such as tone of voice. Research has demonstrated that the expectations and biases of an experimenter can be communicated to experimental subjects in subtle, unintentional ways, and that these cues can significantly affect the outcome of the experiment (Rosenthal 1998).

Robert Rosenthal has found that even slight differences in instructions given to control and experimental groups can affect the outcome of an experiment. Different vocal intonations, subtle gestures, even slight changes in posture, might influence the subjects.

[…]

The experimenter effect may explain why many experiments can be conducted successfully only by one person or one group of persons, while others repeatedly fail in their attempts to replicate the results. Of course, there are other reasons why studies cannot be replicated. The original experimenter may have committed errors in design, controls, or calculations. Or he may have committed fraud.

Keep Reading: experimenter effect – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com.

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