Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Ouija board

Ouija 900 02
Via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

In a nutshell: A Ouija board is used in a game where people ask questions and hope a ghost will move their hands to find the answer.

A Ouija board is a game board with letters, numbers, and the words “yes,” “no,” and “goodbye” printed on it. A 3-legged device with a hole in the middle or a pointer of some sort (called a planchette) is placed on the board. Players put their fingers on the pointer and ask questions that have yes or no answers, or that can be answered with numbers or words spelled out by letters.

There are several weird things about this game. The players don’t ask each other questions. They ask ghosts to join them and answer their questions. The pointer moves under their fingers. The players feel sure they are not moving it.

Try it. It works!

ouija_board_200pxHow does it work? Do ghosts really join in board games? Are ghosts moving the pointer? It might seem so, but when players are blindfolded and the board is turned so the top faces the bottom (without the players knowing it), something weird happens. The pointer moves and stops where “yes” and “no” would be if the board was top side up. Without being able to see the words, letters, and numbers on the board, the players move the pointer to places that make no sense. This seems to tell us that the players are moving the pointer to where they think “yes” and “no” (or letters and numbers) are.

Is it possible to move something and not know you’re moving it? Yes. Many scientific experiments have shown that people are unaware of slight movements they make. (Scientists call this the ideomotor effect. See the entries on dowsing and Clever Hans for other examples of moving without being aware of it.)

But what about the answers? Where do they come from? Do ghosts move the fingers of the players? Maybe, but it seems more likely that the answers are coming from the players themselves. Again, if the answers were coming from ghosts, you’d think that it wouldn’t matter whether the players were blindfolded. But it does. When blindfolded, Ouija players’ answers don’t make any sense.

Is it possible for the players to be coming up with answers to their own questions without their being aware of it? Yes. Again, many scientific studies have shown that much of our thinking goes on without our being aware of it. The unconscious (or subconscious) is what scientists call that part of the mind that thinks without our being aware of it.

ouija 854_200pxEven though the Ouija board is a game, many people take it very seriously. Sometimes players give answers that are scary and frighten them. They don’t want to believe that scary answers are coming from their own unconscious thoughts. They might think evil spirits are lurking about the room. One person I know was playing with a Ouija board with her teenage friends many years ago. She asked how old she would be when she died. She and her friends moved the pointer to a 6 and then a 2. She took this to mean that she would die at age 62. “How will I die?” she asked. The fingers moved the pointer to the letter “B.” She took this to mean she’d die of a bee sting. She’s 66 now, but she’s still afraid of bees.

The Ouija board can be fun, if you know what’s really going on. If you think ghosts are listening to your questions, you would probably be better off playing something like Monopoly.

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Mysteries and Science: Exploring Aliens, Ghosts, Monsters, the end of the world, and other weird things.

Guest Post: Why I’m Through with Organic Farming

Random Rationality

Following on from my last guest post, The Insanity of Biotech by biochemist Paul Little, Mike Bendzela is the author of this guest post. These guest posts have been tangentially exploring similar subjects I have in my book, but in different directions; and this post explores organic farming. In S3: Science, Statistics and Skepticism, I lightheartedly tackle the naturalistic fallacy and use some bad (and funny) statistics that purposefully confuse correlation with causation, intending to teach a lesson. As I was writing the book, Mike Bendzela reached out to me with his organic story that sprouts off from that Correlation chapter, and it is a supremely informative read. (A bit long, well worth it, and you’re used to long articles from me anyway.)


Why I’m Through with Organic Farming

by Mike Bendzela of Dow Farm Enterprise

It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you;

you are defiled by…

View original post 3,319 more words

Agenda 21: Death by Sustainability?

Mike Rothschildby Mike Rothschild via Skeptoid

UN NWO_250pxIt’s a Friday night in 2021, and you’ve had a long, hard day. Your job of stamping codes on malaria pills bound for developing countries is unsatisfying, but until a position in another section becomes open (and assuming you pass the myriad Fairness Tests for it), it’s where you are. Right now, all you want is to be in your Home Unit, off the clock and enjoying Dinner Paste #7 (real meat flavoring is a weekend treat, after all.) The electric bus drops you off at Building 844 in Downtown Zone G12. You walk in and notice it right away. The light in the bathroom. You left it on. Panic grips you as you run to turn it off. Maybe they didn’t notice. Maybe they don’t know.

Then you hear the knock on the door. They know. Four blue-helmets stand there, armed to the teeth. One of them hands you a slip of onion-skin reading “CITATION 36-H53.1: LEFT BATHROOM LIGHT ON DURING WORK SHIFT.” And without a word, you go with them. There’s no need to pack and no point in protesting. By nightfall, you’ll be farming wind at a Work Camp 100 miles outside of the city, and nobody will say a word about the new code-stamper at the factory on Monday. Because they don’t want to be next. And in the North American Continental Sphere, anyone can be next.

Secret, yet freely available

Secret, yet freely available

This horrifying vision of an Orwellian nightmare future is what some fringe authors, conspiracy theorists and an increasing number of political extremists in the United States think awaits us if Agenda 21, the United Nations’ nefarious plan for world domination though social engineering at the local level, is fully implemented. Under its myriad laws, penalties and dictates, the entire American way of life will be subverted and destroyed, replaced by urban serfdom and “smart growth.” Citizens will be crammed into city-wide “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” towers located in urban human habitation zones, with public transportation required, suburban growth banned, personal choice abolished, freedom to travel restricted, family planning mandated and environmental impact put before human happiness. Countries will be abolished and freedom will be a relic.

The end result will be a great depopulation of the planet with the survivors turned into little more than slaves of an environmentally-obsessed world government, with the UN at the head of the snake. And all of it was crammed down our throats without any oversight or ratification by Congress. Or so they say.

While its opponents look at Agenda 21 as a road-map to death by sustainability, the truth is much less nightmarish. Let’s take a look at what Agenda 21 is, what it represents, and most importantly, what it’s not.

MORE . . .

Can Humans Really Feel Temperature? (Geek Alert!)

The answer is obvious, right? Not so quick you little geek!!! Enjoy🙂

Can Humans Really Feel Temperature? – YouTube.

How Belief in Magic Spreads HIV in Africa

by Benjamin Radford via Discovery News

42-25074860In many countries throughout the world belief in witches is common, and black magic is considered part of everyday life. A 2010 poll of 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that over half of the population believe in magic. Witch doctors are consulted not only for healing diseases, but also for placing, or removing, curses or bringing luck.

One human rights activist in the small African country of Malawi, Seodi White, has been fighting for years to stem many traditional beliefs that help spread HIV, especially among poor and underprivileged women.

According to a CNN story, widows in some parts of southern Africa are expected to engage in unprotected sex in order to “cleanse” them. The belief is that the husband’s spirit will return otherwise, cursing the family.

“It’s a mindset issue,” White told CNN. “Even the widows, they’ve told me, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want a curse to come to my husband.’ They cry to be cleansed.”

Because this spiritual cleansing involves unprotected sex — just as sex with the deceased husband was assumed to have been — the widows are placed at increased risk of contracting HIV, which is endemic on the continent. There are even professional “cleansers” who charge high prices for their services, which the widows are often eager to pay to avoid a curse on their families.

MORE . . .

How many people really believe the government committed the 9/11 attacks?

via The Soap Box

Do people believe the 9/11 conspiracies or do they just SAY they believe the 9/11 conspiracies?

How many people REALLY believe the 9/11 conspiracies versus those who just SAY they believe the 9/11 conspiracies? And why?

How many people actually believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks, or at least allowed the attacks to happen? This is a question that I sometimes wonder about.

What I mean by people who actually believe the government committed or allow the 9/11 attacks to happen, I don’t mean … people who [simply] say they believe the government committed … 9/11, I mean people who actually … believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks.

Now there are multiple surveys that have been conducted over the past decade that have asked people whether or not they believe the government was involve in the 9/11 attacks, but there are a couple of problems I have with these surveys:

One, they are often vary in percentages of how many people actually believe the government was involved in the 9/11 attacks. This can be because of where the surveys were taken, when they were taken, and how the questions were actually worded.

And two, there is no realistic way to filter out the people who just say they believe from the true believers.

Now many of you are probably asking “why would someone claim they believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks but not really mean it?”

Well, one reason might be for political purposes.

It’s very well known that conspiracy theories are often time used for political and propaganda purposes, and the conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks are no exception.

A person could be claiming this because they have anti-government beliefs, or anti-American beliefs, or anti-Israeli beliefs (for those that are antisemitic), or they could be a person who hated President Bush so much that they say they believe the government committed the 9/11 to (in their minds) further delegitimize his presidency.

Of course they could also be saying that the government committed the 9/11 attacks not because they have a anti-something beliefs, but because they wish to further their own political agendas, and they’re just using and exploiting the 9/11 Truth movement to do it.

Of course, political reasons are not the only reasons why some people claim to believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks and not really mean it. It could be . . .

MORE . . .

Cryptids: Mermaids – Tales and Legends

In the modern age, tales of mermaids fall under the same category as stories of minotaurs or dragons. Sure, they seem like neat ideas, but no one actually believes such creatures could exist. If that’s the case, then why have sailors across centuries reported seeing humanoid, aquatic creatures on the waves? Is there any grain of truth within the claims? Tune in to learn more about alleged mermaid sightings, the problem of evidence (or lack thereof) and more.

via Cryptids: Mermaids – Tales and Legends – STDWYTK – YouTube.

Jedi Mind Trick?

Brain Thinks It Inhabits Virtual Body

By Tanya Lewis via LiveScience

In virtual reality, a virtual arm can feel like a real one.
CREDIT: © Mel Slater

The brain’s perception of the body may seem set in stone, but a new study shows the mind can be tricked into taking an entire virtual body for its own.

In 1998, neuroscientists Matthew Botvinick and Jonathan Cohen performed an experiment where they showed people a rubber hand being stroked with a paintbrush, while applying the same strokes to each person’s own, hidden hand. This gave people the feeling that the dummy hand was their own.

Scientists have since demonstrated the so-called rubber hand illusion for other body parts — and even whole bodies. Often this is done by putting people in virtual reality settings.

“It seems the brain, under certain conditions, quite easily accepts the idea that [a virtual body] is your body,” said study author Mel Slater, a computer scientist at the University of Barcelona. [Eye Tricks: Gallery of Visual Illusions]

In the new study, Slater and his colleagues investigated whether taking ownership of a full virtual body resulted in neglect of the real body.

Out-of-body experience

Head-mounted display

Head-mounted display

Study participants wore head-mounted displays in which they saw a virtual body when they looked down at their real body. Half of the participants experienced a realistic body illusion, where the virtual body’s posture and movements matched those of their real body, while the other half experienced an unrealistic one, where the posture and movements didn’t match their own.

The researchers had the participants place their hand on a cooling device, and measured participants’ sensitivity to small changes in temperature as they experienced a realistic virtual body illusion or an unrealistic one.

During the rubber hand illusion, the real hand has been shown to cool down, suggesting the brain pays more attention to the rubber hand. The researchers suspected that if people were neglecting their real body in favor of the virtual one, sensitivity to temperature changes on their real hand would diminish.

But the opposite was true: People remained sensitive to temperature changes when they experienced a strong illusion that the virtual body belonged to them, and became less sensitive when the illusion was unrealistic. In other words, the better the illusion, the more aware people were of temperature changes in their real hand.

MORE . . .

The Randi Show – ADE 651

ade651The ADE 651 is a fake bomb detector[1] produced by ATSC (UK), which claimed that the device could effectively and accurately, from long range, detect the presence and location of various types of explosives, drugs, ivory, and other substances. The device has been sold to 20 countries in the Middle East and Far East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, for as much as $60,000 per unit. The Iraqi government is said to have spent £52 million ($85 million) on the devices.[2]

Investigations by the BBC and other organisations found that the device is little more than a “glorified dowsing rod” with no ability to perform its claimed functions.

[ . . . ]

In October 2008, James Randi offered a reward of one million dollars to anyone who could prove that the ADE 651 was effective. Randi issued a statement calling the ADE 651 “a useless quack device which cannot perform any other function than separating naive persons from their money. It’s a fake, a scam, a swindle, and a blatant fraud. Prove me wrong and take the million dollars.”

Source:  Wikipedia

Randi gives us an update on the trial of James McCormick, the now-convicted con man who scammed governments all over the world into buying his “ADE 651”, a supposed bomb detection device that is nothing more than a dowsing rod.

via The Randi Show – ADE 651 – YouTube.

5 Things I’ve noticed about… the Anti-Vaccination Movement

whooping cough_200pxvia The Soap Box

The anti-vaccination movement is a large group of like minded people whom believe that vaccines cause autism (along with some other stuff, but mostly autism). While there are a lot of things I’ve noticed about this movement, I’ve managed to narrow it down to five.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about the anti-vaccination movement:

5. There’s no need for it to exist.

If you are part of the anti-vaccination movement, then you are in a movement that does not need to exist, and in fact shouldn’t exist.

Every claim made about vaccines being harmful and causing debilitating neurological conditions (most commonly autism) has been proven to be false, and vaccines have been proven to be not only the cheapest method of disease control and prevention, but also the best, and the safest.

Complications from vaccines are rare (around maybe 1 and 1000) and mostly minor. Serious complications are extremely rare (around 1 to 2 per million), and deaths are even rarer than that.

4. It’s biggest supporters are a bunch of cranks.

The biggest supporters (and leaders) of the anti-vaccination are not only people who should not be giving out medical advice, most of them aren’t even doctors (and the ones that are tend to have some questionable credentials).

Jenny McCarthy, one of the top supporters, is not a doctor. In fact she left nursing school in order to become a model. She promotes therapies that are harmful, and she’s also a liar too

Andrew Wakefield, the ex-doctor whom’s 1998 research paper that was published in the Lancet that claimed to show a connection between vaccines and autism, was stuck off of the British General Medical Council register (the British equivalent of having your medical license revoked) after the Lancet retracted his paper after it was proven his research was based off of fraud. He still claims his research was not fraudulent, and that there was a conspiracy against him to destroy his research (despite the fact that it took over ten years from the time his paper was published for his paper to be retracted, and for the GMC to strike off his name).

Then there is Alex Jones, who thinks that vaccines are being used to create genetically modified people and causes diseases, not prevent them.

3. The movement is based off of lies.

The whole bases for the anti-vaccine movement is based off of the proven fraudulent 1998 research paper by Andrew Wakefield that claims there is a connection between the MMR vaccines and austim. The paper was highly controversial even when it came out, and the claims made in it had been dis-proven years before it was formally retracted for fraud.

Other lies made by the movement are that vaccines have been made more dangerous over the years (in fact they have been made safer) and that and the rates of autism in children who are un-vaccinated is far lower then those that have been vaccinated, which is false. In fact the rates are the same.

MORE . . .

Also see: The final nail in the coffin for the antivaccine rallying cry “Too many too soon”?


Here is an infographic that shows the rate of incidence of a disease appearing with and without a vaccine. Here is the source of the data.

VACCINES

HAARP Debunked and Explained

As i travel the dark corridors of the conspiratorial world i have found HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) to be one of the most often cited causes of everything not understood. Was there an earthquake? Blame HAARP! What about that hurricane? Blame HAARP! Is your neighbor acting weird? HAARP is controlling his mind!!!

quick noteFrom the Alaska Dispatch (September 20, 2011):

Earthquakes

Could HAARP antennas be generating earthquakes? Eric Dubay, a conspiracy blogger and American ex-pat that lives in Thailand, is part of the crowd that believes the U.S. used HAARP to cause the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked northern Japan in March 2011, leading to the devastating Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear meltdown.

The gist of the argument from Dubay and others is that waves generated by HAARP antennas are focused on a specific part of the ionosphere with enough force to make the entire thing buckle into space; the ionosphere snaps back toward the ground with enough precision to cause a massive earthquake that devastates a strategic target that furthers American economic and defense interests.

Others claim the U.S., for bizarre reasons mostly unsubstantiated, caused the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The best guess anyone has come up with is that Haiti was the perfect place for a test run of sorts, which is among 13 reasons included in a post on Godlike Productions that argues the U.S. should be suspected for causing the quake in Port au Prince. A column by another conspiracy theorist on UFO-Blogger.com goes a step further in trying to predict what will be hit next: “Most likely the next target will be the New Madrid fault line in the South- Midwestern United States.”

Kansans can rest easy, though: Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani nuclear physicist, tears the earthquake theory to shreds in response to an Islamist group that blamed HAARP for devastating floods in Punjab.

Hurricanes

There’s a storied tradition of blaming devastating hurricanes on HAARP. That trend hit a fever pitch in 2005: first it was Katrina, then Rita, then Wilma.

[ . . . ]

“This is absolute hogwash,” Stanford professor Umran Inan told Popular Science. “There’s absolutely nothing we can do to disturb the earth’s [weather] systems. Even though the power HAARP radiates is very large, it’s miniscule compared with the power of a lightning flash — and there are 50 to 100 lightning flashes every second. HAARP’s intensity is very small.”

Mind Control

Of all the conspiracies floating around about HAARP, this is perhaps the most entertaining, and scientifically farfetched.

The government is using the shortwave radio communication generated in Gakona, so the story goes, to control the minds of unsuspecting Americans.

More from the Alaska Dispatch . . .

So before i forget, let me point you to a great resource for debunking all the HAARP myths. Go to one of my favorite discussion forums and read – you needn’t join, sign up or participate.

Here is the link: HAARP Debunked and Explained.

metabunk_LOGO

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

Also See: HAARP Home Page

The government's mind control machine called HAARP! If you don't believe this is

If you don’t believe HAARP can control your mind that’s because the government is using
HAARP to control your mind – so you won’t believe HAARP can control your mind.

Constitutional Conspiracies 101

The Constitution is one of the most important documents in the history of United States, and it’s also the subject of numerous fringe theories, allegations, rumors and dirty secrets. But what are they, exactly? Tune in for a look at some of the theories surrounding the Constitution.

via Constitutional Conspiracies 101 – STDWYTK – YouTube.

The 9/11 conspiracy theorist who changed his mind

(H/T: Thomas J. Proffit)

Charlie Veitch was once one of Britain’s leading conspiracy theorists, a friend of David Icke and Alex Jones and a 9/11 ‘truther’. But when he had a change of heart, the threats began. He talks to Will Storr.


‘The poster boy for a mad movement’: Charlie Veitch (Photo: Will Storr)

By Will Storr via Telegraph (UK)

On a June afternoon in the middle of New York’s Times Square, Charlie Veitch took out his phone, turned on the camera and began recording a statement about the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.

“I was a real firm believer in the conspiracy that it was a controlled demolition,” he started. “That it was not in any way as the official story explained. But, this universe is truly one of smoke screens, illusions and wrong paths. If you are presented with new evidence, take it on, even if it contradicts what you or your group want to believe. You have to give the truth the greatest respect, and I do.”

To most people, it doesn’t sound like a particularly outrageous statement to make. In fact, the rest of the video was almost banal in its observations; that the destruction of the towers may actually have been caused by the two 767 passenger jets that flew into them. But to those who subscribed to Veitch’s YouTube channel, a channel he set up to promulgate conspiracy theories like the one he was now rejecting, it was tantamount to heresy.

“You sell out piece of s—. Rot in hell, Veitch,” ran one comment beneath the video.

Charlie Veitch, before his change of heart, protesting in New York's Times Square

Charlie Veitch, before his change of heart, protesting in New York’s Times Square

“This man is a pawn,” said another. “Your [sic] a f—ing pathetic slave,” shrilled a third. “What got ya? Money?” So runs what passes for debate on the internet. Veitch had expected a few spiteful comments from the so-called “Truth Movement”. What he had not expected was the size or the sheer force of the attack.

In the days after he uploaded his video, entitled No Emotional Attachment to 9/11 Theories, Veitch was disowned by his friends, issued with death threats and falsely accused of child abuse in an email sent to 15,000 of his followers. “I went from being Jesus to the devil,” he says now. “Or maybe Judas. I thought the term ‘Truth Movement’ meant that there’d be some search for truth. I was wrong. I was the new Stalin. The poster boy for a mad movement.”

[ . . . ]

His friend showed him the online documentary Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terror, made by the American radio host Alex Jones. It parsed a new version of history, in which governments secretly organised terror attacks to spread fear and extend their matrices of control. From the Reichstag fire to the Gulf of Tonkin up to the present day, it writhed with apparently unassailable facts and sources.

US radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

US radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

Jones is a brilliantly effective propagandist who recently made headlines for his hostile showdown on US television with Piers Morgan, over gun control. His YouTube channel has had over 250 million views while his masterpiece, Terrorstorm, has been watched more than 7  million times.

Shortly after watching it, Veitch was made redundant and, instead of looking for a new job, he used some of his £4,000 payout to buy a camcorder and a megaphone and began uploading short videos to YouTube. As the founder of what he called the Love Police, he was filmed performing quasi situationist stunts, such as standing outside McDonald’s with his megaphone berating customers (“Excuse me, sir. Next time I’d advise you to buy some real food for your son”). In more meditative moments, he’d explore his own spiritual, philosophical and conspiratorial notions. Veitch soon gathered subscribers by the tens of thousands.And the bigger Love Police grew, the more radical Veitch became. He occupied Fortnum & Mason during the anti-capitalism rally and Millbank Tower during the student fees demonstrations. He was a witness to the death of Ian Tomlinson during the 2009 G20 summit, called for “chaos” in London, was arrested in Toronto, Edinburgh and London and invited to festivals around the world. “People were throwing money at me. I did a donation appeal and overnight I had £3,500 in my account,” he says.

Icke - Remember what you are_250pxThen, there were the women. “I could have anyone. And there’s a lot of cute activist girls in Holland and Denmark.” Thrillingly, he was courted by his heroes, Jones and David Icke, the former television sports presenter who believes humanity is being controlled by alien lizards.

“It was like being a struggling actor and Tom Cruise phones you,” he says. Jones invited him on to his internet show Prison Planet and praised his “great work”. Veitch interviewed Icke outside parliament just after the 2010 general election, and in return was sent a birthday present of a T-shirt and a book, signed, “To Charles, a great man doing great things. Love David”. Veitch was now a well-known figure in the conspiracy community. But, while some believers could be dismissed as harmless crackpots, there was a malevolent undercurrent to many of the theories.

MORE . . .

Also see: Former Conspiracy Theorist: When They Say ‘Illuminati’ or ‘Reptiles’ They Mean Jews (Algemeiner.com)

Debunking the Anti-Monsanto/Anti-GMO claims

via The Soap Box

conspiracy-theory-alertOn May 25, a local group held a protest near where I live to protest Monsanto and GMO foods.

The protest itself, while larger than what I actually expected, wasn’t as large as what it could have been, with maybe only about 50 to 60 people attending.

Now about a week before this protest occurred someone was going the area and putting up some posters on lamp post and electric post not only advertising the protest, but also making several claims against both Monsanto and GMO foods.

I’ve looked into these claims that were made, and this is what I have found:

1. Monsanto fights labeling laws.

This is true [read here] but only to a certain extent, and there are a lot of other companies and groups (including scientists) that oppose these laws because many of them consider them to be unfair, and/or leaves to many loop holes, and many opponents also claim that these laws are really attempts to out right ban GMO foods.

Also, when the people of California were given a chance to vote into law Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of GMO foods, the voters rejected it, so really you can’t actually blame Monsanto about that, because when given the chance, the people rejected such laws.

2. Monsanto’s propriety and legal actions harm small farmers.

Monsanto has, since the mid-1990’s, filled 145 suits against individual US farmers for patent infringement and/or breach of contract in connection with its genetically engineered seed, and while this may sound like a lot, this is actually a very small number in comparison to thousands of individual, independent farmers in the US.

Also, only 11 of these suits actually went to trial, all of which Monsanto won.

3. Scientists’ studies show severe damage to GMO-feed animals.

There was a study in 2012 by Gilles-Eric Seralini that claimed to show that rats feed GMO corn increased cancer rates in these rats compared to rats that were not feed GMO corn. This study has been highly criticized for certain unscientific methods (such as the failure to record the amounts of food the rats were feed and their growth rates) and has pretty much been debunked. [read here, here, and here]

4. Monsanto’s Agent Orange and DDT contaminate food crops and villagers abroad.

Agent Orange was only used between 1965 to 1970 by the US military in Vietnam (before then they used a herbicide called Agent Blue). Even though this was true, you really can’t blame Monsanto because they are not the ones who actually used it. It was various governments around the world who used it. Monsanto (along with Dow Chemical) just made the stuff.

As for DDT, most countries have been banning the stuff since the 1960’s for agricultural use, and again, Monsanto is not the only company that made DDT, and it doesn’t even make it anymore because of the 1972 US ban.

5. Monsanto falsely advertised it’s Roundup as “biodegradable.”

In 2007 Monsanto was convicted in France for false advertisement of it’s product Roundup as being biodegradable. France is of course the only country that has done this, and some people might even claim that this is the result of France’s environmental laws, rather than reality as Glyphosate (the technical name for Roundup) does not bioaccumulate and breaks down rapidly in the environment.

Whether or Roundup should be considered biodegradable or not seems to be more of a matter of opinion then fact.

6. Monsanto blocks regulations. It’s CEOs are in a revolving door from Monsanto to FDA (ex: Micheal Taylor, current Food Safety Czar).

This is completely false. Micheal Taylor (whomever he is) was never the Food Safety Czar. There has only been one Food Safety Czar, and that was Dr. David Acheson, and he only had that position from 2007 to 2008.

Monsanto can not actually block regulations, all it can do is lobby against laws and regulations that could affect it’s business, and there is no “revolving door”, so to speak, between Monsanto and the FDA.

MORE . . .


Also see:


Penn and Teller discuss Genetically Engineered foods and organic foods.
WARNING: ADULT LANGUAGE

Unidentified Faux Objects: News Station Fooled by UFO Phone App

Via Who Forted? Magazine

dupedguy_250pxCalifornia news station WMFD NewsWatch had a mild embarrassment on their hands this week, after they were informed that their story on an apparent UFO photograph was nothing more than the product of a readily available cell phone app.

The photo, which was taken by a resident of Mansfield named Tom Young, showed what appeared to be a disk-shaped craft floating above a small field, and it was so convincing that it caught the eye of news reporters. From there, the story spread like wild fire. Luckily OpenMedia.com recognized the silver spaceship immediately and called hoax.

The picture was created using the Camera360 smartphone app, and as WMFD discovered, it turns out Tom Young has that very same app on the cell phone he used to take his “unexplained” photo. When reporters contacted Young about the hoax, he remained firm that his photograph is of a bona fide UFO, but said he would check the photo again to make sure he didn’t “accidentally” use the app.

You have to at least applaud the guy’s audacity though, don’t you?

MORE . . .

The Declassification Engine: Your One-Stop Shop for Government Secrets


Click the image to visit The Declassification Engine

By Cade Metz via Wired.com

The CIA offers an electronic search engine that lets you mine about 11 million agency documents that have been declassified over the years. It’s called CREST, short for CIA Records Search Tool. But this represents only a portion the CIA’s declassified materials, and if you want unfettered access to the search engine, you’ll have to physically visit the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, historians and researchers have urged the CIA to provide them with their own copy of the CREST electronic database, so that they can seek greater insight into U.S. history and even build up additional checks and balances against the government’s approach to official secrecy. But the agency won’t do it. “Basically, the CIA is saying that the database of declassified documents is itself classified,” explains Steve Aftergood, a senior research analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, who oversees the federation’s government secrecy project.

It’s an irony that represents a much larger problem in the world of declassified government documents. According to Aftergood — a researcher some have called the “the Yoda of Official Secrecy” — most government agencies haven’t even gone as far as the CIA in providing online access to declassified documents, and as it stands, there’s no good way of electronically searching declassified documents from across disparate agencies.

“The state of the declassified archives is really stuck in the middle of the 20th Century,” says Aftergood. He calls it a “fairly dismal picture,” but he also says there’s an enormous opportunity to improve the way we research declassified materials — and improve it very quickly — through the use of modern technology.

That’s the aim of a new project launched by a team of historians, mathematicians, and computer scientists at Columbia University in New York City. Led by Matthew Connelly — a Columbia professor trained in diplomatic history — the project is known as The Declassification Engine, and it seeks to provide a single online database for declassified documents from across the federal government, including the CIA, the State Department, and potentially any other agency.

The project is still in the early stages, but the team has already assembled a database of documents that stretches back to the 1940s, and it has begun building new tools for analyzing these materials. In aggregating all documents into a single database, the researchers hope to not only provide quicker access to declassified materials, but to glean far more information from these documents than we otherwise could.

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declass bot

It’s Not a UFO!

The Solar Impulse lands in Phoenix on the first leg of its "Across America 2013" tour.

The Solar Impulse lands in Phoenix on the first leg of its “Across America 2013” tour.

A Strange Solar-Powered Plane Is Crossing the U.S.

via Businessweek

Shortly after midnight in early May, a strange aircraft approached Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. It had the wingspan of a jumbo jet but flew at only about 40 miles per hour; 16 bright, bluish-white lights shone along the leading edge of its spindly wings. Concerned Phoenicians called the police to report an alien landing.

Sky Harbor’s air traffic control explained to Phoenix police that the ostensible UFO was really a solar-powered airplane: the Solar Impulse, an experimental aircraft completing the first, 19-hour leg of a flight across the United States. Then the police asked how it could fly at night if it’s solar-powered. (Batteries.)

[ … ]

The part of the UFO story that most pleases Dr. Bernard Piccard, the Swiss explorer who flew the Solar Impulse into Phoenix is that so many people noticed the lights, which are made from energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Together, all 16 lights consume just 150 watts, Piccard says.

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Info-Spats: Even Conspiracy Theorists Are Sick of Alex Jones

via Who Forted? Magazine

Hath Frankenstein’s monster begun killing its creator?

ALEXJONESFOIL_250pxAlex Jones, the boisterous voice of a cult of conspiracy that questions, quite literally, everything from the legitimacy of terrorist attacks to the use of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, might have started getting just a tad too paranoid for the community that he’s had such a huge part in building.

Whether he’s ranting incoherently about gun control on Piers Morgan or arguing that the bombing at the Boston Marathon was a government orchestrated “false flag” attack complete with actors, more and more conspiracy theorists are doing their best to distance themselves from Jones.

The latest, and one of the most public, efforts to push back against Jones’ particular brand of government distrust comes from Films for Action, a popular hub for the promotion of alternative, independent films and media.

After being questioned numerous times at their failure to include any Infowars or Prison Planet documentaries, Films for Action took the opportunity to release a statement about why their decision to steer away from Alex Jones was a conscious decision from the get-go.

Here’s a sizeable chunk from their lengthy statement:

Unfortunately, we feel it would be irresponsible to promote Alex Jones, his websites, or any of his films. His films were always overly sensational and hyperbolic, but over the years the assertions he makes in his films and on his radio show have gotten increasingly outlandish and unsubstantiated. There are nuggets of truth and important perspectives hidden in the films, but they are buried under so many wild claims, tabloid style rhetoric, fear-mongering, and misleading conclusions that sifting the valid points from the misinformation would take more time than most folks have the patience for. See thisthisthis,this, and this, for a handful of examples.

Most skeptical people will have written off his ideas (and anything associated with it, including, likely, this site) long before the film finishes.

We believe the goal of the alternative media is to eventually become the mainstream media – a media for and by the people, rather than a media for and by corporate interests. The alternative media that we imagine is one that has the potential to be welcomed into the homes of virtually everyone. We want to demonstrate the best of what the alternative media is and could be.

This means presenting information in a credible fashion, and not promoting misinformation or misleading meta-narratives about our world. It means following diligently the ethical principles and standards of the best journalists.

Infowars appeals to a certain niche conspiracy audience, but beyond this niche, it is not of much use for reaching people ‘beyond the choir’ – in fact the presentation and substance of Infowars is quite alienating and off-putting to most people. Right now on Infowars minded sites and Facebook pages, they are focusing their attention on occult messages being placed in the movies The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games that allude to the latest two gun massacres being pre-planned events staged by the New World Order. Stuff like this has become conspiracy porn for a growing audience, which we find quite troubling, as focusing on these types of dead ends keep people distracted from doing anything that could effectively end the systems of power these websites claim to decry.

We must regretfully conclude that Alex Jones does more harm to the movement than good.

That last line seems to pretty well sum up a growing opinion for conspiracy theorists, an opinion that when it comes to spreading the “truth” – their truth, however suppressed, uncomfortable, or bizarre that “truth” may be, Alex Jones is no longer the right man for the job.

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Streetlamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery

By Louis Proud via Mysterious Universe

redlight1Let’s say there’s a row of street lamps you pass every day while going to and from work. They are, being typical, modern street lamps, of the low-pressure sodium-vapor variety, emitting a red glow at start up and, once they’re operating fully, a steady monochrome yellow. The lamps automatically switch on at sundown, via the activation of a light-sensitive cell, or photocell. The cell is triggered again when sunlight returns at dawn, switching the lamps off. Generally, rather than each lamp having its own photocell, a single photocell is used to control a whole group of street lamps.

You’re returning home from work on what has so far been a completely typical evening, the street lamps illuminating your way as you stroll down the footpath. No one else is around. Oddly, the street lamp nearest you suddenly blinks out, turning on again as soon as you’ve passed it. A level-headed person, you attribute the event to coincidence and think no more of it. Three evenings later, however, while passing the same row of lamps, the phenomenon occurs again. On this occasion, three successive lamps are affected, each one blinking out as you approach, only to suddenly blink on again the moment you step away.

What on earth just happened? Did you influence the lamps with the power of your mind? Or is there a mundane explanation for these events?

Known as street lamp Interference (SLI), experiences of this nature are common, with people in many different parts of the world claiming “that they involuntarily, and usually spontaneously, cause street lamps to go out. Generally the effect is intermittent, infrequent and without an immediately discernable sequence of cause and effect.”

redlight2These are the words of the British paranormal scholar Hilary Evans, who, prior to his death in 2011, was the foremost authority on SLI. (“SLIder” is the term he coined to refer to someone who reports a SLI experience.) In addition to being a pictorial archivist and author of numerous books on the Fortean, he helped found, in 1981, the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP). After receiving numerous reports from people claiming that street lamps respond to their presence in an inexplicable fashion, Evans decided to take on the mystery, collecting hundreds of accounts of SLI through his Street Lamp Interference Data Exchange (SLIDE). The culmination of this research – what turned out to be his final book – is the brief yet highly impressive SLIDERS: The Enigma of Street Light Interference (2010). “SLI… can reasonably be regarded as a phenomenon in its own right,” he argued.

Frankly, when I first heard of SLI I considered it largely insignificant and boring, regardless of whether or not the phenomenon had a paranormal basis. I hastily concluded that most, if not all, SLI experiences could be accounted for as a result of people perceiving connections that have no basis in reality. For, as everybody knows, street lamps can and do malfunction from time to time, and people are bound to walk past them at the moment these malfunctions occur. After taking a deeper look at the phenomenon, however, I came to the unavoidable conclusion that we’re dealing with a genuine mystery – and, what’s more, an important and fascinating one. I agree with Evans when he says: “If true… claims [of SLI] carry profound and exciting implications for science and for our knowledge of human potential.”

It’s time we examined some of those claims.

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Incompetent People Too Ignorant to Know It

Via LiveScience

empty-headA growing body of psychology research shows that incompetence deprives people of the ability to recognize their own incompetence. To put it bluntly, dumb people are too dumb to know it. Similarly, unfunny people don’t have a good enough sense of humor to tell.

This disconnect may be responsible for many of society’s problems.

With more than a decade’s worth of research, David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, has demonstrated that humans find it “intrinsically difficult to get a sense of what we don’t know.” Whether an individual lacks competence in logical reasoning, emotional intelligence, humor or even chess abilities, the person still tends to rate his or her skills in that area as being above average.

Dunning and his colleague, Justin Kruger, formerly of Cornell and now at New York University, “have done a number of studies where we will give people a test of some area of knowledge like logical reasoning, knowledge about STDs and how to avoid them, emotional intelligence, etcetera. Then we determine their scores, and basically just ask them how well they think they’ve done,” Dunning said. “We ask, ‘what percentile will your performance fall in?'”

The results are uniform across all the knowledge domains: People who actually did well on the test tend to feel more confident about their performance than people who didn’t do well, but only slightly. Almost everyone thinks they did better than average. “For people at the bottom who are really doing badly — those in the bottom 10th or 15th percentile — they think their work falls in the 60th or 55th percentile, so, above average,” Dunning told Life’s Little Mysteries. The same pattern emerges in tests of people’s ability to rate the funniness of jokes, the correctness of grammar, or even their own performance in a game of chess. “People at the bottom still think they’re outperforming other people.”

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What is Homeopathy?

Via LiveScience

just-waterHomeopathy is an alternative medical practice in which extremely dilute amounts of certain natural substances are used to treat various ailments.

Although homeopathic medicines are sold in health food stores and at high-end groceries, homeopathy is largely considered quackery. No scientific evidence supports its use; the theory of how homeopathy could work is beyond the realm of known physics; and governments worldwide are increasingly denying insurance payments to cover homeopathic treatment.

[…]

How homeopathy works

Homeopathy is based on rigorous dilutions and mixing, called successions. The dilution level is printed on the bottle of medicine. A typical homeopathic dilution is 30X, where the X represents 10. So, one part toxin (such as the aforementioned poison ivy) is mixed with 10 parts water or alcohol. The mix is shaken; one part of this mix is added to 10 parts of water or alcohol again; and the whole process is repeated 30 times.

The final dilution is one molecule of medicine in 10 to the 30th power (1030) of molecules of solution — or 1 in a million trillion trillion. At this dilution level you’d need to drink 8,000 gallons of water to get one molecule of the medicine — physically possible but implausible.

Other homeopathic solutions are 30C, which represents 100 to the 30th power (10030).  There’s not enough water in the solar system to accommodate this dilution.

Hahnemann didn’t realize this because he developed his theory before the concept in chemistry of the mole and Avogadro constant, which defines the number of particles in any given amount of a substance. So, Hahnemann and his followers could do the mechanical actions of dilution, but unbeknownst to them, they were diluting the medicine right out of the solution.

Does homeopathy work?

warning-homeopathy-not-medicineHomeopathic practitioners today understand the concept of Avogadro constant. They attribute homeopathy’s healing powers to “water memory” — the concept that water has the ability to remember of shape of the medicine it once contained.  There are, however, at least three problems with this stance.

First, this concept of water memory is beyond the realm of known physics. Water is not known to maintain an ordered alignment of molecules for much longer than a picosecond.

Second, if water can remember the shape of what’s in it, then all water has the potential to be homeopathic. Tap water, with its traces of natural substances sloshing about in pipes known to cause cancer and other diseases, would be therapeutic against these diseases.

Third, explanations of how it could work aside, there are no high-quality scientific studies to show that homeopathy is any more effective than a placebo. In testing homeopathy, two trends have emerged: Homeopathy is best at “curing” things that would soon pass anyway, such as colds, but would be dangerous for the treatment of serious ailments, such as diabetes; and the larger and more thorough the scientific study, the more homeopathy resembles a placebo.

Dangers of homeopathy

Don’t assume homeopathy, unregulated by the FDA, is safe. In some cases, the homeopathic medicine does contain traceable amounts of . . .

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The Escherian Stairwell

Does the Escherian stairwell really exist?

Source: The Escherian Stairwell (Original video) (YouTube)

Also see:

Where does the ball come from?

Brilliant illusion! Check it out.

Richard Wiseman

I have just made a new Quirkology video….

It took many a take, but hope that you enjoy it!

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Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories

matrix-red-pill-or-blue-pill_600px
By MAGGIE KOERTH-BAKER via NYTimes.com

conspiracies02In the days following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, speculation online regarding the identity and motive of the unknown perpetrator or perpetrators was rampant. And once the Tsarnaev brothers were identified and the manhunt came to a close, the speculation didn’t cease. It took a new form. A sampling: Maybe the brothers Tsarnaev were just patsies, fall guys set up to take the heat for a mysterious Saudi with high-level connections; or maybe they were innocent, but instead of the Saudis, the actual bomber had acted on behalf of a rogue branch of our own government; or what if the Tsarnaevs were behind the attacks, but were secretly working for a larger organization?

Crazy as these theories are, those propagating them are not — they’re quite normal, in fact. But recent scientific research tells us this much: if you think one of the theories above is plausible, you probably feel the same way about the others, even though they contradict one another. And it’s very likely that this isn’t the only news story that makes you feel as if shadowy forces are behind major world events.

“The best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is belief in other conspiracy theories,” says Viren Swami, a psychology professor who studies conspiracy belief at the University of Westminster in England. Psychologists say that’s because a conspiracy theory isn’t so much a response to a single event as it is an expression of an overarching worldview.

As Richard Hofstadter wrote in his seminal 1965 book, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” conspiracy theories, especially those involving meddlesome foreigners, are a favorite pastime in this nation. paranoid illuminati_250pxAmericans have always had the sneaking suspicion that somebody was out to get us — be it Freemasons, Catholics or communists. But in recent years, it seems as if every tragedy comes with a round of yarn-spinning, as the Web fills with stories about “false flag” attacks and “crisis actors” — not mere theorizing but arguments for the existence of a completely alternate version of reality.

Since Hofstadter’s book was published, our access to information has vastly improved, which you would think would have helped minimize such wild speculation. But according to recent scientific research on the matter, it most likely only serves to make theories more convincing to the public. What’s even more surprising is that this sort of theorizing isn’t limited to those on the margins. Perfectly sane minds possess an incredible capacity for developing narratives, and even some of the wildest conspiracy theories can be grounded in rational thinking, which makes them that much more pernicious. Consider this: 63 percent of registered American voters believe in at least one political conspiracy theory, according to a recent poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

While psychologists can’t know exactly what goes on inside our heads, they have, through surveys and laboratory studies, come up with a set of traits that correlate well with conspiracy belief.

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What do conspiracy theories, religious beliefs and detoxifying proteins have in common?

By Ashutosh Jogalekar via Scientific American Blog Network

People who believe in conspiracy theories display the classic symptoms of patternicity and agenticity.

People who believe in conspiracy theories display the classic symptoms of patternicity and agenticity.

Why do people believe in God, ghosts, goblins, spirits, the afterlife and conspiracy theories? Two common threads running through these belief systems are what skeptic Michael Shermer in his insightful book “The Believing Brain” calls “patternicity” and “agenticity”. As the names indicate, patternicity refers to seeing meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. Agenticity refers to seeing mysterious but palpable causal ‘agents’, puppet masters who pull the strings and bring about unexplained phenomena. God is probably the perfect example of an agent.

Patternicity and agenticity can both be seen as primitive evolutionary features of our brain that have been molded into instinctive behaviors. They were important in a paleolithic environment where decisions often had to be made quickly and based on instinct. In a simple example cited by Shermer, consider an early hominid sauntering along somewhere in the African Savannah. He hears a rustle in the grass. Is it a predator or is it just the wind? If he assumes the former and it turns out to be the latter, no harm is done. But if he assumes it’s just the wind and lets down his guard and it turns out to be a predator, that’s it; he’s lunch and just got weeded out of the gene pool. The first mistake is what’s called a ‘Type 1’ or false-positive error; the second one is a ‘Type 2’ or a false-negative error. Humans seem more prone to committing false positive errors because the cost of (literally) living with those errors is often less than the cost of (literally) dying from the false negatives. Agenticity is in some sense subsumed by patternicity; in the case of the hominid, he might end up ascribing the noise in the grass to a predator (an ‘agent’) even if none exists. The important thing to realize is that we are largely the descendants of humans who made false-positive errors; natural selection ensured this perpetuation.

Before we move on it’s worth noting that assuring yourself a place in the genetic pool by committing a false positive error is not as failsafe as it sounds. Sometimes people can actually cause harm by erring on the side of caution; this is the kind of behavior that is enshrined in the Law of Unintended Consequences. For instance after 9/11, about a thousand people died because they thought it safer to drive across the country rather than fly. 9/11 did almost nothing to tarnish the safety record of flying, but those who feared airplane terrorism (the ‘pattern’) reacted with their gut and ended up doing their competitors’ gene pools a favor.

Patternicity: The tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. – Michael Shermer

Yet for all this criticism of pattern detection, it goes without saying that patternicity and agenticity have been immensely useful in human development. In fact the hallmark of science is pattern detection in noise. Patternicity is also key for things like solving crimes and predicting where the economy is going. However scientists, detectives and economists are all well aware of how many times the pattern detection machine in their heads misfires or backfires. When it comes to non-scientific predictions the machine’s even worse. The ugly side of patternicity and agenticity is revealed in people’s belief in conspiracy theories. Those who think there was a giant conspiracy between the CIA, the FBI, the Mob, Castro and the executive branch of the government are confronted with the same facts that others are. Yet they connect the dots differently and elevate certain individuals and groups (‘agents’) to great significance. Patternicity connects the dots, agenticity sows belief. The tendency to connect dots and put certain agents on a pedestal is seen everywhere, from believing that vaccines cause autism to being convinced that climate change is a giant hoax orchestrated by thousands of scientists around the world.

Notwithstanding these all too common pathologies of the pattern detection machine, it’s satisfying to find a common, elegant evolutionary mechanism in our primitive brain that would be consistent with generally favoring false positives over false negatives. What I find interesting is that this behavior even seems to exist at the level of molecules.

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Michael Shermer discusses patternicity and agenticity.

28% of US voters believe in a ‘New World Order’ – Infographic

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

A short post today to bring you a great info-graphic detailing the poll results from the recent Public Policy Polling data. Click to enlarge for the best view!

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Man ‘Controlled By Satellites’ Makes 100 Calls To 911 In A Month, Vows To Continue

Via CBS Sacramento

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A man who called 911 more than 100 times in one month says he’s not going to stop until his concerns are heard by the federal government.

Jimmy Shao keeps a log book of every 911 call he’s made. So many that he boasts he’s probably set a world record.

He doesn’t believe he’s wasting the time of emergency responders because he has an emergency of his own: Shao believes he’s being watched by shadowy government authorities.

He claims to believe his body is controlled by satellites.

“My brain, I can feel it starting. I’m blasted by the signals, every couple of minutes,” he said. “I yell and I scream, ‘Stop it, I don’t need this,’ but they never listen.”

Sacramento Police say he’s ignored warnings to stop calling over and over, so they arrested him for 911 abuse.

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Mystery, Mayhem, and Quantum Physics: The Bermuda Triangle and the Hutchinson Effect

bermudatri
By via Lucid Dreams and Saturn Skies

Well, it was inevitable. Anyone who writes about the weird stuff that happens in this world has to, at some point, tackle two topics: Bigfoot, and the Bermuda Triangle. Not that the two are in anyway related; rather, they’re both arguably the most popular paranormal subjects out there. Usually I try to find more exotic fare for the blog, but when a friend mentioned the Bermuda Triangle in conjunction with something called the Hutchinson Effect, I decided I’d dive in since it was a two-fer.

The Bermuda Triangle is such a facet of pop culture at this point that I won’t spend a ton of time describing it. It is described as a big slice of ocean (between half a million and 1.5 million square miles) that forms, big shock here, a triangle, with the vertices centered in Bermuda, Miami, and San Juan. The Triangle is alleged to be the site of strange phenomena: metallic fogs, strange magnetic disturbances, freak storms, and unexplained lights in the sky. Believers claim that the Triangle swallows ships and planes whole, leaving not a trace for befuddled rescuers to recover.

Believers posit various reasons for the phenomena. Perhaps Atlantis sank beneath the waves under the Triangle, or there’s an alien colony on the sea floor abducting people for nefarious purposes. Since those of us who don’t regularly sport tinfoil hats can easily discount those two, let’s move on to a third, more entertaining option: the Hutchinson Effect.

Known was the H-Effect, it was allegedly discovered by an eccentric inventor named John Hutchinson, who was monkeying around with the various electronic gizmos that he packed his apartment with over the years when, lo and behold,  something (it’s never said what) whacked him in the shoulder! Turns out whatever it was had started levitating due to…something. Something that can also cause unlike materials (metal and wood, for example) to meld together, metals to melt without heat, and other strange phenomena, including metallic fogs similar to those allegedly reported above the Bermuda Triangle.. The best explanation that supporters can come up with for the alleged effect is that scalar waves tap into zero point energy, thus producing the phenomena observed. How exactly that happens, they have no explanation.

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Factual Errors in “Why In The World Are They Spraying”

whyintheworld-tn

Just a quick note.

quick noteI recently got into an online discussion with a conspiracist regarding the ChemTrail movie “Why In The World Are They Spraying.”

I told him the movie is fiction, filled with either unproven assertions or simple, flat-out factual errors. He was stuck neck-deep in the rabbit hole and refused to even discuss the issue. Typical conspiracist. Ask them to to provide evidence supporting their alternate reality and they scamper away screaming “Troll! Trollllll!”

Mission accomplished. Anyway . . .

So i thought to myself, there may be other skeptics out there in need of a great source of information to discuss the bullcrap in “Why In The World Are They Spraying.” Here is a great discussion forum with all the information you’ll need.

You needn’t join or participate. Just reading the discussion is a great education. Unlike conspiracists, the good people at MetaBunk go to great lengths to justify their assertions.

Here is the link: Factual Errors in “Why In The World Are They Spraying”.

metabunk_LOGO

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

Aura Cleanser: Another WTF Item

Via The Soap Box

Aura Cleanser only $3.23 per ounce!!!!! (source: Amazon)

Sometimes you can find some really strange products on the internet. Some of these products honestly make me wonder how these things can even legally be sold, and why the website companies that these products are being sold off of would even allow these items to be sold using their websites in the first place. Recently I came across such a product on Amazon.com called Aura Cleanser, and the only thing I could think of when I saw this is, “why is this allowed on Amazon?”

In the product description of this spray, it first claims to do this:

  • AURA CLEANSER is a highly effective patterned recipe formulated to erase negativity in and around you on many energy levels.

Okay, how exactly can a spray, whom’s contents are unknown, erase “negativity” (as if that’s a real thing rather than just how you perceive the world and how you allow it to affect you) and effect energy levels on any scale?

The second claim goes as this:

  • This Essence was especially created to help neutralize and cleanse areas where it is sprayed.

Again, how is some simple spray going to “cleanse” an area of something that really hasn’t been proven to exist, more or less yet been proven to actually affect a person’s mind?

Now the third claim made says it can do this:

  • This powerful essence encourages energetic responses from multi-levels of consciousness, clearing any negative threat, psychic or otherwise.

There’s no such thing as psychic powers, and thus no such thing as psychic threats, negative or otherwise. Also, what exactly is this so called “energetic responses” that it is said to encourage? In my opinion that is sort of vague.

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Cryptomnesia

Via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

fingerCryptomnesia is, literally, hidden memory. The term was coined by psychology professor Théodore Flournoy (1854-1921) and is used to explain the origin of experiences that people believe to be original but which are actually based on memories of events they’ve forgotten. It seems likely that most so-called past life regressions induced through hypnosis are confabulations fed by cryptomnesia. For example, Virginia Tighe‘s hypnotic recollections of Bridey Murphy of Cork, Ireland (Bridie Murphey Corkell), if not deliberately fraudulent, are most likely recollections of events that happened in this life but which she had forgotten. Likewise, the “past-life” memories of Ann Evans, produced while under hypnosis by Arnall Bloxham, were almost certainly unconsciously produced confabulations.

Cryptomnesia may also explain how the apparent plagiarism of such people as Helen Keller or George Harrison of the Beatles might actually be cases of hidden memory. Harrison didn’t intend to plagiarize the Chiffon’s “He’s So Fine” in “My Sweet Lord.” Nor did Keller intend to plagiarize Margaret Canby’s “The Frost Fairies” when she wrote “The Frost King.” Both may simply be cases of not having a conscious memory of their experiences of the works in question.

The first recorded instance of cryptomnesia occurred in 1874 and involved William Stanton Moses, a medium who, during a séance, claimed to be in contact with the spirits if two brothers who had recently died in India. The deaths were verified, but “further research showed that the obituary ran in a newspaper six days before the séance and all information in the obituary was given in the séance and nothing more was added.”*

See also automatic writing and memory.

Alex Jones Explains How Government “Weather Weapon” Could Have Been Behind Oklahoma Tornado

H/T: Thomas J. Proffit

AlexJonesMoron_240pxMy favorite moron is at it again.

Now Alex Jones says the government could have caused the tornado devastation in Oklahoma. Yes, he’s serious.

But along his journey to Oz, he made reference to a law i just had to fact check.

At 1:27 into the video, dopey says: “See, under United States Code Title 50, chapter 32, subsection 1520a, paragraph b – it allows chemical, biological, radiological or any other testing … even lethal … on citizens unsuspecting. The government claims it is allowed to kill us.”

You got that? The law allows our government to kill us using chemical, biological, radiological or ANY other lethal testing! It’s in the law!!! The law!!! Right???? Wrong.

I looked up the law and, as you might have suspected, the moron got it wrong. Completely wrong. Again.

The law is 50 USC § 1520a(b) (Restrictions on use of human subjects for testing of chemical or biological agents) and can be found at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/1520a or downloaded here in PDF format.

50 USC § 1520a not only mandates congress be given 30 days notice of any plans to conduct any experiment or study involving human subjects, but the law also mandates “consent to the testing [must be] obtained from each human subject in advance of the testing on that subject.

Here is the pertinent language in the law. Click the image to download the PDF copy of the law.

Click Image to download a PDF copy of this law.

Click Image to download a PDF copy of this law.

It’s a one page law and easy to read. It makes me wonder how Jones can get it so wrong. I think he gets it wrong intentionally because it makes him lots of money and his followers are too damn lazy to fact check his lies.

Enjoy🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg

By BEN DIMIERO & OLIVER WILLIS via Media Matters for America

AlexJonesLunaticConspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones explained to his audience today how the government could have been behind the devastating May 20 tornado in Oklahoma.

On the May 21 edition of The Alex Jones Show, a caller asked Jones whether he was planning to cover how government technology may be behind a recent spate of sinkholes. After laying out how insurance companies use weather modification to avoid having to pay ski resorts for lack of snow, Jones said that “of course there’s weather weapon stuff going on — we had floods in Texas like fifteen years ago, killed thirty-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force.”

Following a long tangent, Jones returned to the caller’s subject. While he explained that “natural tornadoes” do exist and that he’s not sure if a government “weather weapon” was involved in the Oklahoma disaster, Jones warned nonetheless that the government “can create and steer groups of tornadoes.”

According to Jones, this possibility hinges on whether people spotted helicopters and small aircraft “in and around the clouds, spraying and doing things.” He added, “if you saw that, you better bet your bottom dollar they did this, but who knows if they did. You know, that’s the thing, we don’t know.”

In April, Jones garnered attention for labeling the Boston Marathon bombings a “false flag” event staged by the U.S. government. Over the years, Jones has endorsed a wide array of paranoid conspiracies, including alleging that the U.S. government carried out or was somehow involved in the 9-11 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and recent mass shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary school and the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

ALEXJONESFOIL_250pxDespite his well-publicized career of pushing conspiracies, Jones is regularly validated by media figures and conservative politicians. Jones’ biggest ally has been Matt Drudge, whose heavily trafficked Drudge Report website has linked to at least 244 different articles at Jones’ Infowars website since April 2011.

In the midst of the controversy over Jones’ comments about the Boston bombings, Drudge announced that he had “privately told friends” that 2013 would be the “year of Alex Jones.”

By BEN DIMIERO & OLIVER WILLIS via Media Matters for America

Is that a FEMA Camp? – May 11, 2013 Edition

Is that a FEMA Camp? is a blog dedicated to investigating claims of FEMA camp locations.
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Below is some of their findings. Enjoy🙂
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May 11, 2013 Edition

Tule Lake, California

The claim: area of “wildlife refuge”, accessible by unpaved road, just inside Modoc County.

What it really is: It is a National Wildlife Refuge that is surrounded by farm land.

Norton AFB, California

San-Bernardino-Airport-1_250pxThe claim: (closed base) now staffed with UN according to some sources.

What it really is: The base was closed in 1994, and is now the San Bernardino International Airport.

Vandenburg AFB, California

The claim: Rex 84 facility, located near Lompoc & Santa Maria. Internment facility is located near the oceanside, close to Space Launch Complex #6, also called “Slick Six”. The launch site has had “a flawless failure record” and is rarely used.

What it really is: First, Space Launch Complex 6 has not had a flawless launch record. Second, while the launch complex hasn’t been used as much as others, it is still used (the last launch from there was in 2012).

As for the oceanside internment facility, this probably doesn’t exist due to the fact that Vandenburg AFB is located two to three miles away from the coast.

everglades_250pxPensacola, Florida

The claim: Federal Prison Camp Everglades – It is believed that a facility may be carved out of the wilds here.

What it really is: First, Pensascola is no where near the Everglades. Second, there is already a prison near the Everglades, it called the Everglades Correctional Institution. It’s run by the state, not the Federal government, and it holds minimum to medium security prisoners.

Eglin AFB, Florida

The claim: This base is over 30 miles long, from Pensacola to Hwy 331 in De Funiak Springs. High capacity facility, presently manned and populated with some prisoners.

What it really is: Eglin is a major Air Force base, it is not however over 30 miles long. It is infact only two miles long.

It once did host a prison camp, but it was minimum security, and it closed in 2006.

Camp Krome, Florida

The claim: DoJ detention/interrogation center, Rex 84 facility

What it really is: It’s an abandoned site. The only thing that’s there are a few decaying building with graffiti on them.

Avon Park, Florida

Click image for larger view.

The claim: Air Force gunnery range, Avon Park has an on-base “correctional facility” which was a former WWII detention camp.

What it really is: The base never hosted a POW detention camp, and portions of the base itself has been declared land surplus over the years and has been sold off.

There is a prison there, but it’s run by the Florida Department of Corrections, not the Federal government.

Click here for the latest findings at “Is that a FEMA Camp?”

10 Places As Mysterious As The Bermuda Triangle

By Michael Alba via Listverse

Everyone has heard of the Bermuda Triangle and the mysteries that surround it. Theories about this area range from reasonable to just plain ridiculous, but whether you believe it’s the site of time warps, alien abductions, or just plain paranoia, it certainly abounds with strangeness. It’s not the only place you can find creepy things happening, however—here are 10 other places on Earth with their fair share of mysteries:

10 • Superstition Mountains

superstition-mountains_3614_990x742_300pxThe Superstition Mountains are a mountain range located east of Phoenix, Arizona. Already it’s off to a great start with the name.

According to legend, sometime in the 1800s a man named Jacob Waltz discovered a huge goldmine within the mountains that has since been dubbed the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (because Waltz was German, and eh, close enough). He kept the location a secret until his deathbed, upon which he may or may not (depending on which version of the story you’re reading) have told a single person the secret. Regardless, the mine has never been found, in spite of many expeditions. Some say the spirits of people who’ve lost their lives in search of the gold still haunt the mountains.

One reportedly Native American legend goes that the treasures of the mountains are guarded by creatures called Tuar-Tums (“Little People”) that live below the mountains in caves and tunnels. Some Apaches believe that the entrance to hell is located in the mountains. This is, of course, ridiculous, as we all know the entrance to hell is in Sunnydale.

9 • South Atlantic Anomaly

200710_saa_300pxDid you ever wonder if there was a Bermuda Triangle in Space? No? Well you’re probably wondering it now, and you’re in luck! Because there totally is, and it’s called the South Atlantic Anomaly. The SAA is the area where the band of radiation known as Earth’s inner Van Allen belt comes closest to the Earth’s surface.

It’s an area centered just a bit off the coast of Brazil, and it’s responsible for numerous problems with satellites and spacecraft, from messing up their programs to actually shutting down their function. The Hubble Telescope is actually turned off from taking observations when passing through the Anomaly, and the International Space Station avoids scheduling spacewalks when passing through it (which happens up to 5 times a day). It’s not just technical problems, either—some astronauts report seeing “shooting stars” in their visual field as they pass through.

The cause of all these problems isn’t fully understood. The main suspect is the high levels of radiation that accumulate at the anomaly, but scientists aren’t sure exactly how or why the effects occur. So let’s just pin this one on aliens.


8 • Lake Anjikuni

Colville-River-Alaska-1901-USGS_300pxNot content with just a few individuals disappearing, Lake Anjikuni decided to take things to the next level and provide the locale for the disappearance of an entire village. It all happened in November 1930, when a trapper named Joe Labelle was looking for shelter for the night. Labelle was familiar with the Inuit village, whose population ranges from 30-2000, depending on who you believe. He made his way there and found quite an eerie scene—the villagers were nowhere to be found. Everything else, including food and rifles, had been left behind.

Labelle telegraphed the RCMP and an investigation began. In the Village Burial Ground it was discovered that at least one (sources vary) grave had been opened, clearly not by animals, and emptied. Furthermore, about 300 feet from the village, the bodies of around 7 sled dogs were found, having starved to death despite open stores of food at the village. Some versions of the story even report strange lights being seen above the lake around the time of the disappearance.

So what really happened? There have been all sorts of claims about the cause for the disappearance, including aliens (of course), ghosts, and even vampires. The RCMP’s own website disregards the story as an urban legend, but with so many versions of it floating around from so many years ago, it’s hard to be certain. Except about the vampires, I think we can be certain it wasn’t vampires.

7 • The Devil’s Sea

u6XdE8YhXv_300pxThe Devil’s Sea (or Dragon’s Triangle, take your pick of which sounds more ominous) is an area of the Pacific Ocean as riddled with strange happenings as its Atlantic counterpart near Bermuda. Located off the coast of Japan, it’s been the site of countless claims of unexplained phenomena including magnetic anomalies, inexplicable lights and objects, and of course, mysterious disappearances. The area is even considered a danger by Japanese fishing authorities.

One story has it that in 1952 the Japanese government sent out a research vessel, the Kaio Maru No. 5, to investigate the mysteries of the Devil’s Sea. Naturally, of course, the Kaio Maru No. 5 and its crew of 31 people were never seen again. Another story tells of Kublai Khan’s disastrous attempts to invade Japan by crossing the Devil’s Sea, losing at least 40 000 men in the process.

The usual theories abound for what’s really going on: from aliens, to gates to parallel universes, even to Atlantis (because why not). Some suggest that high volcanic activity in the region is responsible for some of the disappearances (the Kaio Maru No. 5 may have been caught in an eruption). Our advice? Just stay out of the ocean, period.

6 • Bigelow Ranch

ftduchesne2002-1a_300pxBigelow Ranch (formerly known as Skinwalker Ranch and Sherman Ranch) is a 480-acre property in northwest Utah that is home to countless UFO sightings, animal mutilations, and other strange occurrences. Though mysterious happenings have been documented since the 50’s, some of the most bizarre stories happened to a pair of ranchers named Terry and Gwen Sherman after they bought it in 1994.

The first day they moved on to the property, they saw a large wolf out in the pasture. They even went to pet the wolf as it seemed tame (to the curious reader, yes, this is always a good idea). It was docile with the Shermans, but ended up grabbing a calf by the snout through the bars of its enclosure. When Terry shot at the wolf with a pistol, the bullets had no effect. It finally left after Terry brought out the shotgun, though even that didn’t do any actual damage. The Shermans tried tracking the wolf, but it’s tracks stopped abruptly as if it had vanished.

And that wasn’t the end of things. The Shermans were constantly plagued by such events as UFO sightings, intelligent floating orbs (reputed to have incinerated three of their dogs), inexplicable cryptids, and gruesome cattle mutilations. It got so bad that the Shermans actually sold their ranch to Robert Bigelow in 1996, the founder of the National Institute for Discovery Science, who wanted to study the mysteries surrounding the ranch. Bigelow owns the ranch to this day and NIDS keeps a tight lid on their findings.

MORE . . .

Weird Word Salad: The Terminology of the Unexplained

Sharon_hill_80px via The Huffington Post

Paranormal investigators say they look for evidence of paranormal activity. That phrase always confounded me. I don’t quite get it. What does it mean when someone says they have evidence of “paranormal activity”? And, how do you know it’s not normal activity that you just couldn’t ferret out?

ElmerGhost02_250pxThere is a problem with how the word paranormal is used because it is often utilized in a way that is perhaps not consistent with the original intent.

Language evolves. Let me take a shot at unpacking some of these definitions about unexplained phenomena. See if it makes sense.

“Paranormal” and other terms for strange goings-on have changed over time. The word paranormal was coined around 1920. It means “beside, above or beyond normal.” Therefore, it’s anything that isn’t “normal” — or, more precisely, it is used as a label for any phenomenon that appears to defy scientific understanding. Ok, right there is a tripping point. Whose scientific understanding? The observer who is calling it “paranormal”? If so, that is problematic as a theoretical physicist sees things a lot differently than a dentist or a police officer. So, it appears too subjective to be precise. Each person may have their own idea of what constitutes “paranormal activity”.

The term “paranormal” used to just mean extrasensory perception and psychic power but, since the 1970s in particular — thanks to TV shows and proliferation of the subject in popular culture — the term expanded in scope to include all mysterious phenomena seemingly shunned by standard scientific study. It was a convenient way to bring many similarly peculiar topics under one heading for ease of marketing. So today, it can include everything that sounds mysterious: UFOs, hauntings, monster sightings, strange disappearances, anomalous natural phenomena, coincidences, as well as psychic powers.

images.jpgUFONot everyone agrees that fields of study such as UFOlogy or cryptozoology (Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster and the like) should be considered paranormal but, if we think about the fact that after all this time, we have yet to document what these things actually are, that is beyond normal. Therefore, paranormal (arguably).

What appears as paranormal could essentially one day become normal. This has happened before with meteorites and still mysterious but likely explainable earthquakes lights and ball lightning. Or, we might not have developed the right technology or made the philosophical breakthrough yet to provide an explanation for some seemingly paranormal events. Perhaps we may find an instrument that can measure whatever it is that results in “hauntings” of a particular type. (Notice that I didn’t say an instrument that detects ghosts — an important distinction.)

Contrasted with paranormal is “supernatural.” To say something is supernatural is to conclude that the phenomenon operates outside the existing laws of nature. We would call such phenomena . . .

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10 Bizarre Medical Procedures

Some strange, some twisted, some succesful, find out more in 10 bizarre medical procedures.

via 10 Bizarre Medical Procedures – YouTube.

Search Engines vs. Conspiracy Theorists?

The Age of Blasphemy

Via:- Greg Fish

If you’ve ever read anything by Evgeny Morozov, you know that his views of the web tend to be rather mixed. In his best known work, The Net Delusion, he argues against the idea that the web could liberate authoritarian regimes by giving its oppressed subjects information and a means to organize while chastising the heady notions held by techno-utopians about the future role of the web in our lives.

And now, after taking web-based freedom fighters across the world to task for their exuberance, Morozov set his eye on an online phenomenon familiar to any skeptic, asking whether search engines should warn users that conspiracy sites and blogs are in their search results and offering a gentle alternative to stem the growth of the movements spawned by avid readers of sites like Prison Planet and Info Wars, and devoted listeners of Coast to Coast AM.

View original post 575 more words

Using your iPhone to show congress you’re nuts.

Click the image for a larger, annoying view.

Click the image for a larger view.

Are you sick and tired of looking up at the sky and seeing all those ordinary clouds annoying chemclouds and ordinary contrails behind aircraft chemtrails?

Well, this is your lucky day, stinky. There is now a new app for the iPhone called SkyderALERT that allows your aluminum foiled skull to take pictures of ordinary clouds chemclouds and ordinary contrails chemtrails and, with the click of a button, send the visual proof of your insanity to your congressional representative. The really neato thing is, the app uses the GPS inside the phone to automatically figure out the location of your loose screws. This ensures you torture the correct congressional representative for your current location.

If you’re hell-bent on wasting your money and wasting everybody’s time, you can save the world and buy this iPhone memory space-waster at the iTunes Apple Store for $1.99!

If they haven’t done it already, how long do you think it will take for congress people to add a new filter to their email programs to block this crap?

Are chemtrails and chem-clouds real?
The evidence is examined below:

Click here for a very high quality copy of this video and a link to the 1905 book “Cloud Studies”.

RELATED: Kill ChemTrails With Vinegar!!!!!

The Internet: A Superhighway of Paranormal Hoaxes and Fakelore

Sharon_hill_80pxBy Sharon Hill via The Huffington Post

It’s been a hot time for hoaxing thanks to the Internet. With Photoshop, citizen journalism sites, YouTube, and postboards for the latest photo leaks, it is way too easy to send a lie half way around the world before the truth can pull its shoes on.

This iconic image of the Lock Ness monster was hoaxed by Hugh Gray in 1933. (source)

In this post, I wrote about a busy week in paranormal-themed news. In chatting with a correspondent — Jeb Card, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department of Miami University — over a shared interest in the state of the paranormal today or “occulture,” we got to talking about the state of hoaxing.

Make no mistake, hoaxing has always been around. Hoaxers have been trying to fool people by displaying their special skills (scams) or stupendous stories since the beginning of civilization, I think. But there is a particular history of hoaxing in occulture. Lately, it has gotten more frequent (or we sure notice it more), more absurd (to outdo the last one) and more involved (because the payout can be big while the scrutiny greater).

There are many famous hoaxes from this scene. It’s hard to say if it’s more common now than in the past. Some of the hoaxes, notes Jeb, have been very influential in the creation of popular folklore. Big ones have defined UFOlogy: Roswell and the Men in Black. Not everyone would conclude these are deliberate hoaxes — there is a grain of truth to them — but they went way out of control and now there are hoaxed videos, documents and tales based on these events that never happened the way the lore says it did. Stories like that, which have taken on a life of their own as if they were true, are called “fakelore.”

bigfoot-2The Bigfoot field is trampled over with fake footprints, stories, casts, photos and videos. It can’t be denied that the majority of Bigfoot stories are unbelievable, without supporting evidence, or obvious hoaxes. Every new bit of Bigfoot “evidence” these days makes us roll our eyes and say “SERIOUSLY!?” This reputation is damaging to those who truly believe something is out there to be found. The credibility of Bigfoot researchers scrapes the bottom of the barrel. The history of hoaxes colors this topic deeply when we realize that the seminal story of “Bigfoot,” Ray Wallace’s trackway, was revealed to be a hoax.

Actually, the same can be said for the Loch Ness Monster. The iconic Nessie photo — the long-neck arching out of the rippling water — was hoaxed.

A longtime follower of the occulture fields, Jeb says he can’t think of a time when these communities weren’t awash with . . .

MORE . . .

10 Strange Unexplained Events

Disappearances, UFOs, premonitions…some mysteries will never be answered, feed your curiosity by watching 10 strange unexplained events.

via 10 Strange Unexplained Events – YouTube.

5 things I’ve noticed about… FEMA camps

Via The Soap Box

FC_fema-1_300pxI’ve done quite a bit of research into “FEMA camps” (which is a conspiracy theory that claims that the government has constructed these prison camps around the country that are to be run by FEMA to hold American citizens in that disagree with the government) and there are several things that I’ve noticed about these camps.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about FEMA camps:

5. There are apparently a lot of them.

According to many conspiracy theorist websites, there are hundreds of FEMA camps scattered across the United States and Canada.

While the numbers tend vary from website to website, some report as few as 300 “identified” FEMA camps, and perhaps as many as over 900 “identified” FEMA camps.

I find it amazing that so many of these camps have been “identified”, yet the only people they have caught the attention of are conspiracy theorists (particularly those in the Sovereign Citizens/Patriot Movement). Of course these numbers really don’t mean anything, because…

4. They can be anywhere.

Also according to many websites that promote the FEMA camp conspiracy theories, FEMA camps can be just about anywhere, be it a military base, a hospital, a prison, a warehouse, an airport, a rail depot, a seaport, any place with a fence with barbed wire at the top…

Oh, and any place that has an open field and is open to the public. Those places can also apparently be FEMA camps too.

3. Apparently they’ve been around for a while.

ALEXJONESFOIL_250pxFrom the research I’ve done into these FEMA camp claims, I have found that these claims have been around for a long time.

The first time I actually heard someone claim these places were real was back in the mid-1990’s, and I have found out these claims are even older, even going back as far back as the 1970’s.

It’s kind of strange that FEMA camps have apparently been around for so long, and yet the government has yet to use them, or enact this fascist “police state” plan that many conspiracy theorists claim is going to happen when the government starts shipping people to these camps.

MORE . . .

Doctor who promised herbal cancer cure faces jail sentence

Calif. herbal doctor who promised cancer cure to be sentenced; prosecutors seek 27-year term

By Greg Risling, Associated Press via Yahoo! News

Dr. Christine Daniel, operator of Sonrise Medical Clinic in Mission Hills was convicted by a federal jury of peddling a cancer treatments to terminally ill patients. Daniel, 57, of Northridge, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles of 11 counts of mail and wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. She is appealing the the verdict and denies any wrong doing. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Dr. Christine Daniel, operator of Sonrise Medical Clinic in Mission Hills was convicted by a federal jury of peddling a cancer treatments to terminally ill patients. Daniel, 57, of Northridge, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles of 11 counts of mail and wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. She is appealing the the verdict and denies any wrong doing. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — At the age of three, Brianica Kirsch was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Her parents, desperate to find alternative measures for their daughter who had undergone surgeries and chemotherapy, turned to Dr. Christine Daniel, who offered an herbal supplement with a success rate she claimed was between 60 and 80 percent.

Brianica’s parents spent thousands of dollars on the herbal product and their daughter spent much of her time in those last few months before she died in the summer of 2002 being shuttled from her Ventura County home to Daniel’s clinic in the San Fernando Valley.

Daniel, 58, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom where federal prosecutors are asking she be sentenced to 27 years in prison for crimes they deem cruel, despicable and heinous. Daniel’s lawyer is seeking a nearly six-year prison term.

Daniel was convicted in September 2011 of 11 counts, including wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. Authorities said Daniel used her position both as a doctor at the Sonrise Wellness Center and a Pentecostal minister to entice people from across the nation to take her herbal product to remedy cancer, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Federal prosecutors argue that Daniel preyed upon people in their most vulnerable state and gave them false hope.

Daniel “repeatedly demonstrated a merciless and callous indifference to the suffering of her patients and their family members,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns wrote in court documents. “It is unlikely that our federal criminal justice system will see the like of defendant Christine Daniel again.”

Some of her patients, relying on her product, died from complications of cancer within three to six months after taking the supplement. In one case, prosecutors contend a 22-year-old woman who had highly curable form of neck lymphoma died because she relied on Daniel’s recommendation to avoid radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

For Brianica’s parents, they implored Daniel for the stark truth given their daughter’s condition.

MORE . . ..

The Face on Mars

A great example of pareidolia

face-on-mars2

Via Relatively Interesting

Back in 1976, the Viking Orbiter 1 acquired some images of the Cydonia region of Mars as part of the search for a potential landing site for the Viking Lander 2.  One of the images included a shot of a region that looked remarkably similar to a face. The image was released to the public by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as part of their public relations effort.

Here it is:

face-on-mars_250px

Shortly after the images were released, some people (mostly in lay literature) argued that the face was artificially created, and that this was concrete evidence for either past or present intelligence on Mars. The rock formation looked so similar to a face – how could it not have been designed by an intelligent architect?

Some believe the face was created by Martians, others say it is a tomb, or part of an ancient city. Others believe that NASA is involved in a conspiracy to cover up the true nature of the Face – all part of a secret space program (then why would they have released the picture in the first place?).

Mac Tonnies goes so far as to say that the Face is a “genuine scientific enigma”. After NASA released new images of the Face in 1998, he claims that the “experts either don’t understand the workings of their own instruments or else feel somehow threatened by the Face’s enduring mystery.” (you can check out his very centered site here)

“Scientific enigma”, the Face is not.

Introducing…. Pareidolia

Humans – all humans – have an innate ability to detect patterns out of seemingly random noise. This ability is particularly strong when it comes to faces. As David Hume once said, “There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good will to everything, that hurts or pleases us.

This phenomenon – detecting something clear and distinct from an apparently obscure stimulus – is called “pareidolia“. Carl Sagan hypothesized that, as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.

pareidolia-collage_600px

Pareidolia not only applies to the detection of faces, but also to the perception of religious imagery and themes. In 1978, a New Mexican woman found that the burn marks on her tortilla she had made appeared similar to the face of Jesus Christ. Thousands of people came to see the burnt tortilla. Do think that if Son of God wanted to be seen, he would appear on a tortilla? Or the Virgin Mary, on a grilled cheese sandwich? Wouldn’t they pick something a little more majestic?

Revisiting the Face on Mars

But first, let’s revisit the Face on Mars. Back in 1976, the imaging technology was inferior to today’s, and the resolution of the images was significantly lower. Even compared to 1998, the resolution of space images has increased dramatically. Let’s compare the Face from lowest to highest resolution:

MarsFaceComparison

The 1976 version sure does look like a face, and if you strain your eyes, you might still see a face in the 1998 version. But what about the 2001 version?  Not so much.

Let’s look even closer at the 2001 version, just to be sure . . .

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Psychic Victim: ‘How Could I Be So Stupid?’

via CBS Denver

cccc

Adam Marks and 4 On Your Side Investigator Brian Maass (credit: CBS)

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)– A 65-year-old woman who says she lost her retirement savings to a Loveland psychic is now calling the psychic “a complete ripoff” and says she wants others to hear her story and avoid the mistakes she made.

“I look back on it now and think, ‘How could I have been so stupid?’” Francine Evers told CBS4.

Evers handed over more than $73,000 to psychic Adams Marks in a six-month time frame.

Marks has been charged with theft, crimes against an at-risk adult and intimidating a witness.

He declined to talk to CBS4 about the pending criminal case promising, “I’ll have my lawyer call you.”

Evers decided to open up about her experiences with Marks in the hopes others might come forward if they have had similar experiences with Marks even though she acknowledges “It’s embarrassing.”

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Sylvia Browne: Wrong Again

The Randi Show –

Randi dives into the most recent of “psychic” Sylvia Browne‘s failed predictions, hoping that this one may be spectacular enough to put her out of business for good.

via The Randi Show – Sylvia Browne: Wrong Again – YouTube.

Deepak, and the Emptiness of Spiritual Gibberish

Via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

CHOPRADeepak Chopra is a master of the vague, cognitively empty but emotively charged expression. Science and spirituality should be friends, says Deepak. Like Dick and Jane, I suppose. The only sensible thing he says in his entire article published in Michael Shermer‘s Skeptic magazine (vol. 16 No. 2, 2011) is “With no data to support the existence of God, there is also no reason for religion and science to close the gap between them.” Of course, he asserts this truism only to deny it.

Deepak gets aligned with reality by proclaiming that “God is inside the consciousness of each person.” (In each of us, I suppose, there is a divinity trying to escape.) Does this mean anything more than that God is a thought? Yes, according to the Master:

The physical building blocks of the universe have gradually vanished; that is, atoms and quarks no longer seem solid at all but are actually clouds of energy, which in turn disappear into the void that seems to be the source of creation. Was mind also born in the same place outside space and time? Is the universe conscious? Do genes depend on quantum interactions? Science aims to understand nature down to its very essence, and now these once radical questions, long dismissed as unscientific, are unavoidable….

It is becoming legitimate to talk of invisible forces that shape creation – not labeling them as God but as the true shapers of reality beyond the space/time continuum. A whole new field known as quantum biology has sprung up, based on a true breakthrough – the idea that the total split between the micro world of the quantum and the macro world of everyday things may be a false split. If so, science will have to account for why the human brain, which lives in the macro world, derives its intelligence from the micro world. Either atoms and molecules are smart, or something makes them smart. That something, I believe, will come down to a conscious universe.

Yes, the universe might be conscious, and Deepak might be giving it a giant headache with his frequent, noisy jabbering about quantum this and that. Deepak ought to . . .

. . . MORE . . .

VeganThink

Dr. John McDougall Tries to Explain the Death of Steve Jobs

By Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel, Ph.D., C.C.N. via Psychology Today

apple jobsSteve Jobs lived more than 30 years after developing pancreatic cancer thanks to his vegan diet.

That’s the preposterous claim made by Dr. John McDougall in a lecture that has been viewed by more than 52,500 people on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81xnvgOlHaY  and widely touted in the vegan community as a scientifically sound example of VeganThink.

McDougall speculates that Jobs first developed cancer in his twenties, which might well be the case given that most cancers develop years before diagnosis.  But by that line of thinking, anyone diagnosed with cancer who has made it to mid life could be living thirty years past the initial cancer cell divide.  Most of those people will have been on Standard American Diets, high in sugar, starch, factory-farmed animal products and all American junk food.  Somehow McDougall holds that animal products caused those cancers but Jobs’s nearly lifelong obsession with veganism could only have prolonged his life!

So why did Jobs develop cancer despite what McDougall himself concedes was a “strict vegan diet” with few lapses over his lifetime?  1108 McDougall’s position — and he’s sticking to it!  —   is vegan diets prevent and cure cancer.   Therefore, it must have been bad luck — the equivalent of “being struck by lightning” or “hit by a car” –  that caused Jobs’s cancer and fueled its progression.  How else to explain the fact that Steve Wozniak (an overweight fast-food junkie), Bill Gates and other computer pioneers are alive despite similar exposure to carcinogenic lead and cadmium from soldering computer parts, long-term bombardment from radiation and EMFs, and other lifestyle risk factors that would have put all of them at increased risk for cancer?   The reason those things caused cancer in Jobs but not the others must have been luck of the draw because Jobs’s vegan diet “could only have helped him.”

None of us, of course, can say for certain what caused the pancreatic cancer that led to Steve Jobs’s death, or what, if anything could have saved him.   Dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors all must have come into play.   But McDougall’s failure to even consider the role that Jobs’s vegan diet –  and frequent fruitarianism — may have played in his death is unhelpful at best and irresponsible at worst.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Televangelists

Via The Soap Box

Ever have a boring Saturday where you can’t find anything worth watching on TV, and eventually come across a preacher (commonly known as a Televangelists) preaching what they claim is the word of God? Well, I have a many of times, and there are certain things that I have noticed about Televangelists and what they tend to do.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about Televangelists:

swaggart5. They’re very entertaining.

I openly admit, I think a lot of Televangelists are very entertaining to watch.

Their charismatic actions often times make them very humorous to watch. My personal favorite (in terms of entertainment value) is Benny Hinn with his “ability” to make people fall down on the floor when ever he touches someones.

Of course that entertainment value gets taken away when you realize the next four things:

4. They’re always asking for money.

Just about every single broadcast a Televangelist makes, they’re always asking for money.

Of course they don’t actually outright ask you to give them money. They call it something else, such as pledging, or a gift, or “sowing a seed”.

They also make it seem like they need that money right away, and they always do that while wearing suits worth $2,000 to $3,000, in studios worth $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.

false-prophets33. They act like they have supernatural powers.

Televangelists often times act like their extra special with God, and that if you send them money, you will be in God’s favor (and usually the more money you send them the better favor). Sometimes they will even pray on camera for the people who sent them money, just for that extra “favor”.

Some of them also act like they can heal people from long distances away, or up close by touching you (and knocking you down in the process).

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greed5

Human Guided Spiritual Defense Waves… Pseudoscience at it’s greatest (and Insanest)

Via The Soap Box

tin-foil-hat03_200pxWhen you explore the world of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience, you often times find out that there is no deep end in the theoretical pool of craziness, and just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, you find out you’re still not at the deep end.

Recently I thought I had found that deep end with the helmet that “stops alien abductions”.
It turns out I was wrong, and that there is something crazier than even that:

Human Guided Spiritual Defense Waves

What this claims is that human beings can use “spiritual energy” to get rid of chemtrails.
In other words, use something that’s imaginary to get rid of something else that’s imaginary.
Not only does the article claim that people can repel these alleged chemicals away, it also claims you can concentrate them and focus them on small area, even house.
In fact, it even says you should do so over the homes of members of Congress (which is a tad bit disturbing). It even tells you to “make them suffer” (which I would consider a threat, if I wasn’t fairly certain this wouldn’t work at all, and that neither of these things not even existing in the first place) and suggest using social networks to help organize groups of people to “focus” their “spiritual energy” in order to do so.

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Dr. Oz: A Hazard To America’s Health

Is Dr. Oz a fraud or a fool? I can’t know for sure, and I don’t care.

red-palm-oil-dr-oz
by Jamy Ian Swiss via randi.org

I do know this: He sure doesn’t seem like much of a scientist to me.

And I am also pretty damned sure that he is a hazard to America’s health. And probably the greatest hazard on network television today. And that’s saying something.

When was the last time that a revolutionary, historic, scientific breakthrough was first demonstrated and announced on an afternoon television talk show?

The correct answer: NEVER.

One of the signature signs of “pathological science” is when scientists operate outside of their areas of special expertise. Another is when they skirt peer review and go directly to the media or the public. One textbook example is the pseudoscientific claims of cold fusion made in 1989 by the chemists Pons and Fleischman, and quickly discarded by the legitimate scientific community, following repeated failures to replicate their claims and results.

These attributes apply to this past Thursday’s episode of “The Dr. Oz Show” – all the more so, in fact, since Dr. Mehmet Oz is not a scientist. He’s a heart surgeon.

Oz seems to be an accomplished surgeon, which means he’s good with scalpels and sutures. But beyond that, I wouldn’t let him near me or any loved one I know. Dr. Mehmet Oz is a truly dangerous man.

LongIslandMedium_250px_200pxOn Thursday’s show (May 9, 2013), Dr. Oz presented Theresa Caputo, the so-called Long Island Medium, in a repeat appearance on his program. He also brought on the best-selling author and psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, who operates the Amen Clinics. Dr. Amen has made a name for himself in books and frequent television appearances, particularly for his promotion of SPECT brain imaging as a supposed tool in psychiatric diagnosis for conditions ranging from ADHD to depression. The scientific evidence for such claims appears to border between questionable and nonexistent. (For a skeptical look at some of Dr. Amen’s claims, see this article by Dr. Harriet Hall: and more here.

Dr. Oz, insisting that the events presented on Thursday’s show were “historic” and “ground-breaking,” then had Dr. Amen hook up Ms. Caputo to a SPECT scanner, and then give a reading to a studio audience member.

According to the Mayo Clinic website:

A single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan lets your doctor analyze the function of some of your internal organs. A SPECT scan is a type of nuclear imaging test, which means it uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to create 3-D pictures.

While imaging tests such as X-rays can show what the structures inside your body look like, a SPECT scan produces images that show how your organs work. For instance, a SPECT scan can show how blood flows to your heart or what areas of your brain are more active or less active.

Notice that last part – it tells you what parts of your brain are “active.” There is no evidence it can tell you if that brain is psychic. Before it could do that, you would need to determine, it seems to me, that such a thing as “psychic” exists. Parapsychology has been working on that for about 150 years. Results to date: zip, zilch, zero.

This SPECT scan of Theresa Caputo’s brain, taken during her psychic reading of a Dr. Oz audience member, clearly shows the area of her brain responsible for spouting bullcrap is very active.

Ms. Caputo, the self-styled psychic, was asked to “remain very still,” but to hold up one finger to indicate when she was receiving the voice “of spirit,” while Dr. Amen observed the brain scan activity.

I’m not a scientist, but it doesn’t take a PhD to notice that this demonstration – regardless of whether a SPECT scan can tell us anything remotely relevant about what is going on in a psychic’s brain – is not only not double-blinded, it’s not even single-blinded. The subject indicates when she claims something is happening, and the observer looks to find a match. This isn’t science. It’s non-science and nonsense.

Not to mention that nagging little question about what a SPECT scan can actually tell you about the brain.

Not to mention that if you want to test a psychic, one should probably start with testing what a psychic claims to be able to do.

Not to mention that the JREF has a million dollars for any psychic who can demonstrate their abilities under test conditions.

BullShit_200pxAs for that, Ms. Caputo – although she seems to have impressed the hell out of Dr. Oz, albeit based on his record this doesn’t seem to take much – didn’t seem to be able to do much of anything. She began her first reading (a demonstration prior to the “experiment”) by looking for something from a “father or a daughter.” She managed to find someone in the audience who had lost their father, but as soon as she asked who the daughter was – who was the “female spirit” – the subject drew a dead blank.

Ms. Caputo had to extend out to the studio audience, fishing for a “hit.” Finally she found one. Sort of.

But she had a bucket of bullshit to cover her tracks . . .

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