This is the third in a series of pieces debunking the scaremongering and hysteria regarding the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. I believe the anxiety about the meltdown and its aftermath comes from a mix of negativity toward nuclear power, hostility toward plant operators TEPCO (which is well-deserved in most cases), a lack of knowledge about basic science, distrust of experts (who are seen as dishonest shills) and the common habit of sharing social content that’s driven by strong negative emotions – often without understanding it, and sometimes without even reading it.
Using links to good science and some basic concepts in logic, I’ve demolished two of the most prominent lies about Fukushima already, one that Pacific Ocean fish is unsafe to eat and the other that the West Coast is being “absolutely fried” by radiation from the disaster. This time, I’m not going to debunk one single post, but address a grab bag of myths, exaggerations and scaremongering racing around social media. Some of it you’ve probably seen many times, and some of it might be brand new, but all of it needs to be dealt with.
CLAIM: The ocean is broken. This is the title of an October article from Australia’s Newcastle Herald, chronicling the journey of Ivan Macfadyen, a yachtsman who retraced a voyage between Melbourne and Osaka, and ten years later found the Pacific Ocean virtually devoid of life but teaming with floating trash. With its attention-grabbing title and compelling content, it went viral, with over half a million views in three days. People connected the dots and linked the dead, garbage-filled ocean that Macfadyen encountered on his trip to Fukushima, and the piece has been used as part of the exaggerated story since then.
But the link between the two doesn’t appear to exist. As the ocean conservation blog Upwell points out, the story in the Newcastle Herald isn’t a hard science piece, and has no citations or links to relevant research. It’s not meant to. It’s a human interest story, the relaying of a personal anecdote, and rooted in emotion. It’s full of phrases like “nauseous horror” and “astounding volumes” – compelling writing, but not science.
The story is also not at all about the nuclear plant, but the damage done from overfishing and plastic pollution. It doesn’t even mention Fukushima by name. As such, it’s worth reading, but not useful for any discussion about the meltdown.
CLAIM: David Suzuki’s Dire Warning. The removal of the spent fuel rods from Fukushima could have apocalyptic consequences if done incorrectly, warn activists around the world. Chief among them is David Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist, scientist and author, well known in his native country, but not elsewhere. A post containing video of him discussing the fuel rod removal, called “David Suzuki’s Fukushima Warning is Dire and Scary” went up on Huffington Post and was a viral hit. So what is his warning, and is it accurate?
- More Fukushima Scaremongering Debunked (illuminutti.com)
- Typhoons spreading Fukushima fallout (abc.net.au)
- Radioactive debris spread through Fukushima after typhoons (nuclear-news.net)
- Typhoons Keep Spreading Radioactive Material From Fukushima Around Japan (businessinsider.com)
I take back all my mean jokes ridiculing you and your belief in cell phone towers of death.
I found this 100% legitimate photo, my mind has been changed, i was wrong.
Mason I. Bilderberg
- Letter to Industry Minister James Moore: Local mother’s urgent plea for help (stopthebelldragotower.wordpress.com)
- Cedar Rapids school board kills proposal for Johnson Elementary cell tower (thegazette.com)
By Michael Shermer via latimes.com
With the passing of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy last week, and the accompanying fusillade of documentaries purporting to prove there was a conspiracy behind it, we might expect (and hope) that cabalistic conjecturing will wane until the next big anniversary.
Don’t count on it. A poll this month found that 61% of Americans who responded still believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy, despite the fact that the preponderance of evidence points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin.
Why do so many people refuse to accept this simple and obvious conclusion? The answer: psychology.
There are three psychological effects at work here, starting with “cognitive dissonance,” or the discomfort felt when holding two ideas that are not in harmony. We attempt to reduce the dissonance by altering one of the ideas to be in accord with the other. In this case, the two discordant ideas are 1) JFK as one of the most powerful people on Earth who was 2) killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone loser, a nobody. Camelot brought down by a curmudgeon.
That doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side: the CIA, the FBI, the KGB, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson and, in Oliver Stone’s telling in his film “JFK,” the military-industrial complex.
Cognitive dissonance was at work shortly after Princess Diana‘s death, which was the result of drunk driving, speeding and no seat belt. But princesses are not supposed to die the way thousands of regular people die each year, so the British royal family, the British intelligence services and others had to be fingered as co-conspirators.
By contrast, there is no cognitive dissonance for the Holocaust — one of the worst crimes in history committed by one of the most criminal regimes in history.
A second psychological effect is the “monological belief system,” or “a unitary, closed-off worldview in which beliefs come together in a mutually supportive network,” in the words of University of Kent researchers Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas and Robbie M. Sutton in a 2012 paper titled “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.” A conspiracy theory, they wrote, is “a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal.” Once you believe that “one massive, sinister conspiracy could be successfully executed in near-perfect secrecy [it] suggests that many such plots are possible.”
With this cabalistic paradigm in place, conspiracies can become “the default explanation for any given event.” For example . . .
7 Action News gets the truth behind the white trails in the sky
You see them in the sky while you’re driving. Trails, left behind by aircraft.
The white streaks have many convinced there’s some sort of government cover-up.
7 Action News has gone all the way to the Pentagon to get answers about the theory that’s taking over the internet.
We’re asking the questions:
- What’s really causing those contrails?
- Are they harmful to your health?
- Is the government really keeping a secret from us?
We’re taking on the popular conspiracy theory and revealing the truth behind the trails.
[END] Via WXYZ.com
There is a small, elite group of skeptics who know their Bigfootery. That’s right, the Bigfoot skeptics.
Scoff if you will, but skeptical advocacy through talking about Bigfoot and other cryptozoological creatures is an important job. Those who joke about Bigfoot and how we are wasting our time researching and discussing it must have missed the Internet and popular TV shows lately. Bigfoot is booming.
Thanks to pop culture making this a hot topic, the public finds it more acceptable—people are talking about it, it has its own TV shows, there must be something to it.
Bigfoot is arguably one of the more plausible cryptids out there. While he tends to behave a bit supernaturally at times (can’t catch the bugger in real life or even on camera), a hairy hominoid is not an impossibility—just REALLY unlikely.
I thought it was time to update what has happened in the Bigfoot drum circles in the past year since Melba Ketchum released her astoundingly disappointing and inept study of Bigfoot DNA. You can read the chronology here. It’s quite a story, interesting for reason far beyond that of genetics and a new species (a claim which is not justified based on this one highly questionable set of tests).
Ketchum’s credibility faded fast upon the reveal, even though she kept promoting more and more ridiculous events, like the “Matilda, the Sleeping Bigfoot” press conference. If the Ketchum team had sought assistance and advice from knowledgeable scientists, they would have been told in no uncertain terms this is the absolute worst way to appear trustworthy. Science should not be done by press conference, especially if your Bigfoot looks an awful lot like a Wookie (from Star Wars).
I have digressed. Back to the science of Bigfoot. Yes, there is some, it can be done.
All eyes and hopes in the Bigfoot world turned to Dr. Bryan Sykes of Oxford University in the U.K. who was well underway with the Oxford Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project. Sykes accepted samples of what was suspected to be an unknown hominid from around the world. Using his special technique to remove contamination and analyze the inner core of a single hair, he has reached results that have garnered far more weight that the Ketchum results.
Why? Because he had credibility to begin with. Sykes is genuinely interested in the answer, not hung up on a pre-existing conclusion. He has not been deceptive, or continually feeding us a whiney train of gripes about how the world is out to get him. There were no conspiracies mongered in this case. There were tests and there were results. It was objective science.
- The Bigfoot Files and Melba’s big idea (doubtfulnews.com)
To believe that the US government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you’d have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you’d have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught.
To insist that the truth remains hidden, you’d have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them – the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organisations, peer-reviewed journals, news organisations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states – was incompetent, deceived or part of the cover-up.
And yet, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 per cent of US adults agreed that the attacks “caught US intelligence and military forces off guard”. More than 30 per cent chose a different conclusion: that “certain elements in the US government knew the attacks were coming but consciously let them proceed for various political, military, and economic motives”, or that these government elements “actively planned or assisted some aspects of the attacks”.
How can this be? How can so many people, in the name of scepticism, promote so many absurdities?
The answer is that people who suspect conspiracies aren’t really sceptics. Like the rest of us, they’re selective doubters. They favour a world view, which they uncritically defend. But their worldview isn’t about God, values, freedom, or equality. It’s about the omnipotence of elites.
Conspiracy chatter was once dismissed as mental illness. But the prevalence of such belief, documented in surveys, has forced scholars to take it more seriously. Conspiracy theory psychology is becoming an empirical field with a broader mission: to understand why so many people embrace this way of interpreting history. As you’d expect, distrust turns out to be an important factor. But it’s not the kind of distrust that cultivates critical thinking.
In 1999, a research team headed by Marina Abalakina-Paap, a psychologist at New Mexico State University, published a study of US college students. The students were asked . . .
- Inside the minds of the JFK conspiracy theorists (newscientist.com)
- Conspiracy theory psychology: People who claim to know the truth about JFK, UFOs, and 9/11. (illuminutti.com)
- Conspiracy Theorists Aren’t Really Skeptics (slate.com)
- The Fascinating Psychology of People Who Know the Real Truth About JFK, UFOs, and 9/11 (disinfo.com)
Recently I forced myself to read an article about certain claims by made by one Dr. Ellis Silver, an ecologist, about how humans came from another planet (read the article here). Now most people would think that any proof that we do not come from this planet would be in our DNA (and I’ll get to that later) but the article doesn’t even mention that. In fact, it claims because of certain aliments that humans tend to have that there is only one logical conclusion as to why we have them: We came from another world.
One of the first claims made by Dr. Silver is that a lot of us have bad backs, and because of this he believes that humans must have evolve in a lower gravity environment then that of Earth’s.
Even if this was true that we did evolve in a lower gravity environment than that of Earth’s it wouldn’t be the cause of our bad backs. Eventually our bodies would adapt over a few generations to Earth’s gravity, and this guy is suggesting that we have been here for tens of thousands of years (actually between 60,000 to 200,000). This is more than enough time for our bodies to have adapted to Earth’s gravity.
Now the real reason for our bad backs isn’t because of the gravity, it’s actually a number of different things. It can be from placing to much stress on our backs (which other species do not do unless we make them) or injury, or sitting in a chair wrong for to long of a period of time, or being overweight, or a lack of exercise, or lifting up heavy objects in an improper manner. I’m not sure if Dr. Silver ignored these facts or not, but the sheer fact that some humans have back issues is not evidence that humans are from another world.
The second claim made for why humans are from another planet is because it can be difficult for women to give birth due to the size of a baby’s head, and that it can result in fatalities for both the mother and infant. He also claims that no other species on this planet has that problem.
This claim is just weird and flawed on several levels. First we are not the only species that has big heads when we are born. Infact many species of primates have big heads when they are born, as do many other species, and do experience complications from childbirth which can result in the deaths of both the mother and child.
Also, if it is true that having a big head when we are born which makes it difficult for a woman to give birth meant that we didn’t come from this planet, then why would we have evolved this trait on another planet also? We shouldn’t have, and therefore we shouldn’t even exist…
Just because we are born with big heads does not mean we did not come from this planet.
The third claim made for the believed reason why humans cannot have come from this planet is because we cannot stay in the sun for long periods of time, unlike lizards.
Well, we’re not lizards, which are cold blooded and actually need the heat from the sun inorder to function. We’re warm blooded, as are all other mammals, and do not require as much exposure to sun as a lizard does. Infact many mammal species are even less tolerant of the sun than we are, and either spend a lot of time in shaded areas, or are nocturnal and live underground, or in trees and bushes until night time.
Dr. Silver is also suggesting that because we can be harmed by the sun (i.e. get sunburned) that we must have come from another planet.
Actually the reason why we get sunburned isn’t because we evolved on another planet, it’s because we have a lot of exposed skin. Most other mammals have thick hair (i.e. fur) that protects their skin from direct exposure from the sunlight. Infact we’re not the only mammals that have a problem with getting sunburn. Pigs for example are very well known for getting sunburned, which is why they tend to roll around in mud. It’s not because they like it, it’s so they don’t get sunburned.
Now the forth claim that is made is that we have a strong dislike of naturally occurring foods, and for this reason we’re probably not from this planet.
This is completely bogus. A lot of people love . . .
- Humans do NOT come from Earth – and sunburn, bad backs and pain during labor prove it, expert claims (illuminutti.com)
- Humans do NOT come from Earth – and sunburn, bad backs and pain during labour prove it, expert claims (sott.net)
- Humans Are NOT From Earth – Dr Claims Our Bodies Are Evidence (humansarefree.com)
- Humans Came From Another Planet, New Book Claims (disinfo.com)
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience like the examples that we list in this FREE PDF booklet? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society.
While science has made considerable progress in discovering how the brain is hard-wired to produce these illusions, the public is largely unaware of much of this research. This is where your Skeptics Society comes in—we provide the scientific explanation.
- Ask the skeptic: Why do people believe what they do? (thetimesnews.com)
- Author and professor Michael Shermer speaks at Elon University about skepticism and skeptics role in science (ccavanaugh2.wordpress.com)
- Michael Shermer is Latest to Be Demonized (atheistrev.com)
- Chopra Shoots at Skepticism and Misses (illuminutti.com)
- The Stuff of Nightmares (illuminutti.com)
- Chopra Skepticism Fail Part 2 (theness.com)
- The Best Photograph of a Ghost in New Hampshire, is me! (yankeeskeptic.com)
- Ghost Hunters Investigate Old Buchanan County House (kcrg.com)
James Van Praagh and the Afterlife
by Ingrid Hansen Smythe via skeptic.com
There are a number of different methods of exposing an individual as a liar and a charlatan. One way is to engage the person directly in their self-professed area of expertise and then judge their performance. You might employ an alleged brain surgeon, for example, and pay that person to perform brain surgery on you—and if the surgeon uses a cork screw and salad tongs, and the operation turns into something akin to an autopsy or a dinner party at the Todd’s (Sweeney, that is), you’ve got fairly good evidence against the so-called expert. Alternatively, you could spare yourself the agony of direct engagement and read the published papers of the brain surgeon in question. If the papers are full of contradictions, wild inaccuracies and obvious fictions—if the surgeon believes that the hippocampus is an actual college, for example, or that olfactory bulbs are planted in the spring, or the ventral horn is a member of the brass section—again you have solid evidence that the brain surgeon hasn’t a clue and is not actually all that interested in the contents of your skull but, rather, in the contents of your wallet.
In his brilliant exposé of James Van Praagh, author Miklos Jako uses the first method and actually pays the renowned medium $700 for a reading. (Watch the reading with Jako’s editorial.) In tallying up the hits (12) and misses (64), Jako calculates a success rate of 16 percent. This is remarkably low, even for a cold reading, and Jako might have gotten a higher success rate had he engaged Bubbles the chimp. Worse yet, Jako actually feeds Van Praagh a lie about his father being involved in a drunk driving accident, and Van Praagh falls for it hook, line, and sinker. “He keeps going on about how he was very sorry it hurt you,” says Van Praagh. “He knows he embarrassed you on several occasions. He’s ashamed of that. He’s ashamed. He’s sorry, he’s ashamed of that. And please don’t think of him that way.” Jako’s outrage is palpable at this point, and it’s tough for him to remain composed. “My father never embarrassed me,” he says firmly. “Never.” Based on the evidence, Jako goes on to add his dead-on-the-mark assessment of the great psychic. “James Van Praagh,” he says, “you’re full of shit.” This sums things up nicely, I think.
You’d imagine that this masterful unveiling would settle the matter once and for all—but no. The critic can always assert that the old brain tumour was acting up again and that Van Praagh was simply “off” on that particular day, or that he was subconsciously stifled by Jako’s Kryptonite-like skepticism, or that an alleged error was just a silly misunderstanding, or that the spirits were being deliberately impish and uncooperative. None of this is Van Praagh’s fault. Thus, even when a medium is wrong more often than right, support continues or even increases.1
Unlike Miklos Jako then, my approach is to use the second method, examining the writings of Mr. Van Praagh in detail to see if I can detect anything that confirms Jako’s assessment. I’ll be analyzing his book Growing Up in Heaven, Van Praagh’s singular study of the afterlife as it relates, specifically, to the deaths of children. In it, Van Praagh shares his actual conversations with dead children, his interactions with the grieving parents, his philosophical intuitions, and his revealed insights into the afterlife for those of us dying to know what really goes on behind the veil.2
Before proceeding with the specifics, allow me to briefly sum up Van Praagh’s metaphysical position. Each of us is an eternal soul that reincarnates on the earth, and on other planets and in other dimensions, in order to learn all the lessons a soul’s got to know. These lessons are, predictably, things like patience and humility, and not things like how to make napalm or take the temperature of a cat. The ultimate lesson is that “we are all love created by Love,”3 and once we’ve figured out what the hell that could possibly mean, we achieve enlightenment.
- You Too Can Be A Mindreader (randi.org)
Another day brings another science-free but hysteria-packed screed of terror about how radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant incident will bathe all of us in torrents of cesium-soaked death. A few months ago, I took on one of these rambles, Gary Stamper’s not at all melodramatic “At the very least, your days of eating Pacific Ocean fish are over” and determined that nothing of the sort is even close to true, with the evidence behind it either willfully misinterpreted or simply incorrect.
Now it’s time to get the knives out for a newer piece of Fukushima scaremongering, published just over a week ago on “Activist Post.” While it’s just as wrong and hysterical as Stamper’s piece, it’s also just as popular, with 28,000 shares on Facebook already. It’s sad that far more people are drawn in by crap than in the debunking of said crap, but that doesn’t mean we stop spreading the correct message: that the radiation released by Fukushima, while serious enough to be cleaned up and monitored, is having a negligible effect on everyone but the unfortunate people living in that area.
28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima
And we’re off to the races: specifically, the Gish Gallop, a fallacious debating technique that involves overwhelming your opponent with information, without any regard for its accuracy. Also, I’d like to know what “absolutely fried” means. Is it measurable? Is there a unit that denotes “absolutely fried” as opposed to “mostly fried” or “somewhat fried?” How many AF’s (absolutely frieds) does the radiation from Fukushima contain? And what’s a survivable dose of AF’s? I have many questions about the science underlying this clearly scientific measuring tool.
According to his blurb on Activist Post, Michael Snyder is a former Washington D.C. attorney who now publishes The Truth. His new thriller entitled “The Beginning Of The End” is now available on Amazon.com.
Snyder’s site appears to be some kind of Christian doomsday prepper clearinghouse, and his novel is about (surprise) the economic collapse of America. So if you’re looking for a way to incorporate hoarding precious metals into your fellowshipping, Snyder is your man. None of this is a knock against him, but he does seem to have a vested interest in trying to convince you the world is about to end. Spoiler alert: it’s not.
The map below comes from the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center. It shows that radiation levels at radiation monitoring stations all over the country are elevated. As you will notice, this is particularly true along the west coast of the United States.
The name “Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center” sounds a lot like a government regulatory body. It’s so incredibly the opposite of that. The website is a slapped together map of the supposed radiation levels at nuclear sites around the world. It’s got no indication where it’s getting its information or what it means, but it does have a fee based service that will alert you to radiation spikes anywhere in the world. And Bible quotes.
Every single day, 300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima enters the Pacific Ocean. That means that the total amount of radioactive material released from Fukushima is constantly increasing, and it is steadily building up in our food chain.
I already covered this in the Stamper piece, and why it seems much worse than it actually is. The short of it is that 300 tons of radioactive water is literally a drop in the bucket compared to the 187 quintillion gallons that make up the Pacific Ocean. Whatever radioactivity is in that water will be diluted to the point of harmlessness.
We are talking about a nuclear disaster that is absolutely unprecedented, and it is constantly getting worse.
It’s not unprecedented. Chernobyl remains the worst nuclear disaster in human history, much worse in virtually every measurable way than Fukushima.
The following are 28 signs that the west coast of North America is being absolutely fried with nuclear radiation from Fukushima…
Bring it, list. Bring it.
1. Polar bears, seals and walruses along the Alaska coastline are suffering from fur loss and open sores…
Stamper referenced the same article that Snyder does. And if I may be so bold as to quote myself: “The article Stamper links to specifically says ‘Reuters noted that preliminary studies do not support a theory that the disease is due to contamination from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.‘”
Citing an article that specifically refutes the point you’re trying to make is not the way to make that point.
2. There is an epidemic of sea lion deaths along the California coastline…
There is an epidemic of sea lion deaths along the west coast, happening for as-yet unknown reasons. But it’s sea lion PUPS dying, not sea lions as a whole. Radiation does not distinguish whether an animal is young or old, so it’s highly unlikely, if not impossible, that Fukushima has anything to do with this.
3. Along the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaska coastline, the population of sockeye salmon is at a historic low. Many are blaming Fukushima.
Sockeye salmon numbers have been in decline for decades.[/caption]And they would be wrong. Sockeye salmon stocks are low in Canada’s Fraser Basin, with experts in the field researching a number of causes for it. But it’s a decline that began in 1992, long before Fukushima was scaring the crap out of people.
4. Something is causing fish all along the west coast of Canada to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.
Just as “many” does not equal “people who understand this stuff,” “something” does not equal “Fukushima.” The link Snyder sites doesn’t even talk about “fish all along the west coast of Canada.” It mentions one school of herring found to be mysteriously bleeding. The cause of this is unknown right now, but even the biologist who discovered the herring isn’t blaming Fukushima – and she discovered them before the plume of radiation would have reached Canada.
5. A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima that is approximately the size of California has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast.
I don’t know where the “size of California” bit comes from, and I can’t find any reputable source to back it up. There is a large field of debris from the post-earthquake tsunami that will hit the west coast, but interestingly, the link Snyder cites has another link to a BBC article that says it won’t happen until March, 2014. And the debris is not likely to have anything more than traces of radioactivity.
6. It is being projected that the radioactivity of coastal waters off the U.S. west coast could double over the next five to six years.
True, and nothing to be concerned about, given how low the current radioactivity level of the west coast is. To quote Dr. Claus Boning from the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany: “The levels of radiation that hit the US coast will be small relative to the levels released by Fukushima. […] But we cannot estimate accurately what those levels will be because we do not know for certain what was released by Fukushima.”
7. Experts have found very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast.
This is entirely expected and in keeping with a radioactive leak. The amount of radioactivity in the plankton will continue to decay as it moves up the food chain, staying well within Japan’s newly-raised acceptable levels of becquerels per kilogram of foodstuffs.
8. One test in California found that 15 out of 15 bluefin tuna were contaminated with radiation from Fukushima.
Yet another link Snyder cited without actually reading. It references a CNN article that states: “Tissue samples taken from 15 bluefin caught in August, five months after the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, all contained reactor byproducts cesium-134 and cesium-137 at levels that produced radiation about 3% higher than natural background sources.” (Emphasis mine)
A 3% increase in radiation is negligible. It’s around the same amount of additional exposure you get flying in a plane, or sleeping next to someone. If that worries you, then it’s time for separate bedrooms.
It’s true: The KGB really did have deep cover spies in the United States – and they weren’t the only ones. So how does infiltrating a government work? Who’s done it, and why?
- Keith Thomson: Oh, By the Way, Germany Spies on Us (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Logic behind Mass Spying: Empire and Cyber Imperialism (nsnbc.me)
- Why America spies on its allies (and probably should) (washingtonpost.com)
I am a HUGE fan of magic, especially slight of hand. This is one of the best card tricks i’ve seen in a long while.
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Bill Malone’s signature trick. One of the most entertaining card tricks of all time!
- Sam the bell hop (oyiabrown.com)
- David Blaine Destroyed the Minds of Your Favorite Famous People on Real or Magic (grantland.com)
- David Blaine’s Card Trick Thoroughly Freaks Out Harrison Ford (businessinsider.com)
- Breaking Bad-gic: David Blaine pulls a card trick on Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul – VIDEO (popwatch.ew.com)
- VIDEO: Harrison Ford’s reaction to this insane card trick by David Blaine is absolutely priceless (deadstate.org)
via Business Insider
Magician David Blaine‘s latest TV special on ABC, “David Blaine: Real or Magic,” had the illusionist hopping from celeb to celeb, dazzling stars like Ricky Gervais, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kanye with card tricks and other crazy stunts.
But one of the best on-camera reactions came from Harrison Ford.
Ford was speechless when Blaine mysteriously pulled the 71-year-old actor’s card from an orange. He jokingly told Blaine, “Get the f— out of my house!” It’s wonderful.
[END] via Business Insider
- David Blaine’s Card Trick Thoroughly Freaks Out Harrison Ford (businessinsider.com)
- David Blaine is neither real nor magic (popwatch.ew.com)
- David Blaine Destroyed the Minds of Your Favorite Famous People on Real or Magic (grantland.com)
- David Blaine terrifies celebs with horrifying ice pick trick (lfpress.com)
- David Blaine Does Magic, Celebrities React in Shock (thehollywoodgossip.com)
Humans do NOT come from Earth – and sunburn, bad backs and pain during labor prove it, expert claims
Another shining example of crazy from the “Almost Too Stupid To Post” file.
Grab the popcorn and enjoy!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Dr Ellis Silver points to a number of physiological features to make his case for why humans did not evolve alongside other life on Earth, in his new book.
They range from humans suffering from bad backs – which he suggests is because we evolved in a world with lower gravity – to getting too easily sunburned and having difficulty giving birth.
Dr Ellis says that while the planet meets humans’ needs for the most part, it does not perhaps serve the species’ interests as well as the aliens who dropped us off imagined. In his book, HUMANS ARE NOT FROM EARTH: A SCIENTIFIC EVALUATION OF THE EVIDENCE, the ecologist writes the human race has defects that mark it of being ‘not of this world’.
‘Mankind is supposedly the most highly developed species on the planet, yet is surprisingly unsuited and ill-equipped for Earth’s environment: harmed by sunlight, a strong dislike for naturally occurring foods, ridiculously high rates of chronic disease, and more,’ he told Yahoo.
Dr Ellis says that humans might suffer from bad backs because they evolved on a world with lower gravity. He also says that it is strange that babies’ heads are so large and make it difficult for women to give birth, which can result in fatalities of the mother and infant.
Dr Ellis says that humans might suffer from bad backs (illustrated) because they evolved on a world with lower gravity. He also says that it is strange that babies’ heads are so large and make it difficult for women to give birth, which resulted in fatalities in earlier times.
No other native species on this planet has this problem, he says. He also believes humans are not designed to be as exposed to the sun as they are on Earth, as they cannot sunbathe for more than a week or two – unlike a lizard – and cannot be exposed to the sun every day without problems. Dr Ellis also claims humans are always ill and this might be because our body clocks have evolved to expects a 25 hour day, as proven by sleep researchers.
‘This is not a modern condition; the same factors can be traced all the way back through mankind’s history on Earth,’ he says.
He suggests that Neanderthals such as homo erectus were crossbred with another species, perhaps from Alpha Centauri, which is the closest star system to our solar system, some 4.37 light years away from the sun.
- November 22nd, 1963: The day the FBI failed. (theobamacrat.com)
- Newspapers from November 22, 1963 (joshsternberg.com)
- The Kennedy Assassination (November 22, 1963) 50 Years Later (unreportedtoday.com)
Yesterday one of the world’s most famous fake psychics (I know, that’s redundant) died.
Now being a skeptic and someone whom believes that all psychics are frauds (apart form those that are mentally ill and really do believe that they have psychic powers) many people might assume that I am rejoicing, and perhaps even celebrating her death (especially those who believe that people can have psychic powers, or just people who don’t like skeptics).
To be quiet honest I’m not sure how I should feel about her death, because there are just so many feelings I have about it that I can’t seem to focus on one to just go with.
On the one hand I am sort of glad that she’s gone because now she can no longer hurt people and mess with their emotions with her stage magician like “readings” while at the same time exploiting those people for fame and money.
On the other hand I’m also a bit angry, not only because of her exploitation that she basically got away with up until she died, but also because she would never would come clean about being a fake, despite the numerous failed readings and predictions she has had. Now that she’s dead, she never will.
Yet on the other hand I also feel a tad bit sad for her . . .
- Sylvia Browne’s Death (illuminutti.com)
- ‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne is Dead (patheos.com)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne has died, son tells @TMZ; she was 77 (tmz.com)
- Author, TV psychic Sylvia Browne dies at 77 (globalnews.ca)
- Sylvia Browne, World Famous Psychic, Dies At 77 (hollywoodlife.com)
- Sylvia Browne dead: World famous psychic dead at 77 (myfox8.com)
- “Psychic” Sylvia Browne Dead at 77 (disinfo.com)
- Sylvia Browne “Psychic” Dies at age 77 (guardianlv.com)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne Dead (4umf.com)
- Sylvia Browne Blows Another Psychic Prediction (sandwalk.blogspot.com)
14 new Sylvia Browne failures exposed
By Mason I. Bilderberg
According to the Sylvia Browne webpage, Sylvia Browne passed away at 7:10am on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.
Now i’m not a heartless person, i don’t wish ill on anybody and i certainly don’t take any pleasure in Miss Browne’s passing.
But i can’t go blind to Browne’s record of past failures (The stories of Shawn Hornbeck and Amanda Berry come to mind.) simply because she is no longer alive and i certainly can’t go blind now when her passing has exposed 14 new Sylvia Browne failures:
Come to think of it, did ANY psychics ANYWHERE predict Browne’s death? I thought not.
MORE – – – Sylvia Browne (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Psychic told parents that son was dead (Anderson Cooper Blog)
- AC360: Sylvia Browne’s Best Evidence? (stopsylvia.com)
- Dead Wrong, . . . Again (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Girl Recovered After 10 Years Claimed Dead by Psychic (livescience.com)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne told Amanda Berry’s mother she was dead (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- Psychic on The Montel Williams Show said Amanda Berry was dead. She wasn’t. (macleans.ca)
- I See Dead People. Oh, Also Profits. (moralcompassblog.com)
- Cleveland abductions: fans lash out at ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne over false prediction (guardian.co.uk)
- Amanda Berry psychic was wrong — and they usually are (mnn.com)
- Case stirs memories of Hornbeck finding (stltoday.com)
- When Psychics Fail: The Sylvia Browne and Amanda Berry Fiasco (skepticalteacher.wordpress.com)
- Amanda Berry is alive and well … and proves Sylvia Browne’s to be a total fraud (skeptical-science.com)
- Dead Wrong, …Again (skepticblog.org)
- Shame on you, Sylvia Browne, for telling Amanda Berry’s mother her daughter was dead. (badscience.net)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne slammed for declaring Amanda Berry dead (twitchy.com)
- Fans lash out at ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne for false Ohio abduction prediction (rawstory.com)
- Sylvia Browne dead: World famous psychic dead at 77 (myfox8.com)
- ‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne is Dead (patheos.com)
- Sylvia Browne: Dead Psychic’s Legacy Riddled With Failed Predictions, Fraud – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
From seeing shapes in clouds to hearing Bing Crosby in a blizzard of static, we’re all prone to finding things that aren’t there. And there’s a name for it: apophenia
The Latvian psychologist Konstanins Raudive spent the summer of 1965 trying to contact the dead. Every day, with careful precision, he would take a new reel of recording tape from its box, thread the tape through the rollers of the recorder and set up the microphone next to a mistuned radio. The static hush was saved on to the recorder and he would spend hours reviewing the audio, listening for the quiet whisper of the deceased.
But the dead were frustratingly shy. Despite his technical skills and linguistic abilities he heard nothing except the fuzz and pop of the radio for months on end. But slowly, with time and attention, words began to form. “It takes at least three months for the ear to adjust itself,” Raudive wrote later. “To begin with, though [the ear] may hear speech-like noises, it cannot differentiate the words, let alone understand what they mean.”
He amplified and re-recorded his samples to help him find meaningful sounds and gradually the spirits seemed more present. When Raudive summoned an old girlfriend from Scotland who had since passed away, she seemed to reply: “All sait dein, Aileen” using a single word from English, French and German to say: “Your Aileen knows all” (except, it would seem, the consistent use of grammar). Even stranger was that the spirits often spoke in languages they had never known in life. Raudive’s mother, a firmly Latvian woman by all accounts, seemed to speak in mixed Spanish, Italian, Swedish, German, standard Latvian and her own dialect.
Although baffling to many of his scientific peers, Raudive eventually published his discoveries in a book that appeared in English as Breakthrough. It was a massive success and the media lined up to listen to the “electronic voice phenomena“. The results were somewhat mixed. When the BBC science programme Tomorrow’s World turned up to film Raudive in action, only the odd indistinct word could be made out. They left, unimpressed.
A Cambridge parapsychologist, David Ellis, studied Raudive’s attempts to contact the dead but all the evidence pointed to the impressions having been formed by the listeners. Later, psychologist Imants Barušs attempted to listen for ghostly words using Raudive’s methods under laboratory conditions but few could be found and, when they were, every listener seemed to hear something different.
Rather than discovering a form of communication with the dead, Raudive had inadvertently rediscovered the remarkable human talent for perceiving meaning where there is none. Known as apophenia or pareidolia, it is something we all experience to some degree. We see faces in the clouds and animals in rock formations. We mishear our name being called in crowds and think our mobile phones are vibrating when it turns out to be nothing but the normal sensations of our own movement.
- 10 Astounding Examples of Pareidolia In Outer Space (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- 31 Inanimate Objects With Secret Inner Lives – Pareidolia (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- 50 Things That Look Like Faces – Pareidolia (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Pareidolia: Seeing Faces in Unusual Places (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Ghost Box: Pareidolia Through White Noise (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- ‘Mars Rat’ Takes Internet by Storm (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- The Face on Mars (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- The Lurking Pornographer: Why Your Brain Turns Bubbles Into Nude Bodies (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Apophenia (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Neurologist Examines The “Ghost Box” (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Why we can ‘see’ the house that looks like Hitler (theguardian.com)
- Why we see things (southofheaven.typepad.com)
- Study claims EVPs Persist, Even in Controlled Environments (mysteriousuniverse.org)
- Listening for the voices of the dead (mindhacks.com)
- Supernatural skeptics don’t know what they’re missing (washingtonpost.com)
Modern conspiracy movements come and go so quickly that it can be hard to keep up with the new threats and concepts that get tossed around social media and the water cooler. So here’s a quick and easy list of some of the basic ideas you’ll often see related to conspiracy theories and popular pseudoscience. And because everyone likes pedantic, grade-school learning tropes, I did it in the form of the alphabet.
A is for Agenda 21, a non-binding and unenforceable United Nations policy paper written over two decades ago, devoted to promoting sustainability and smart growth. Some conspiracy theorists, at the prompting of Glenn Beck, have decided that Agenda 21 is actually a plot to depopulate rural areas, enact a green genocide and cram the survivors into Soviet-style urban clusters. It’s really not, and you can read the “sinister plan” for yourself online.
B is for Bankster, a portmanteau of “banker” and “gangster.” This term has caught on as a reference to the wealthy financiers and global elites who are supposedly controlling every element of society and government, enslaving the rest of us through their octopus tentacles of Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Government. Often, the term is modified as “foreign bankster,” which usually just means “Jews.”
C is for Chemtrail, a spray of noxious chemicals, biological agents meant to control the population, weather modification material or unspecified “toxins” left behind by airplanes acting under the control of the global elite. No compelling evidence of chemtrails exists, and almost everything used as proof of them is either fake or out of context. In reality, “chemtrails” are either contrails left by aircraft when the heat of their exhausts meets cold air, or simply unusual looking clouds.
D is for Denialism. No matter what beliefs are held by the mainstream and supported by solid evidence, you can always find someone who thinks we’re being lied to about them. Everything from the existence of AIDS to the moon landings to vaccine safety has an accompanying movement that says “everything we know is wrong” about these subjects, usually with nothing to prove it. Most of these movements are tied together, because if you’re going to be contrarian, you might as well be really contrarian.
E is for Energy. Many conspiracy theorists believe there is a massive plot by the government and oil companies to suppress free energy machines, which would break the oil industry’s grip on us and deliver unlimited power. As evidenced by the free availability of patents and myriad videos showing the non-existent miracles worked by these machines, this is not true. The laws of physics dictate that free energy can not exist, so there is no need to suppress it.
F is for False Flag. In political terms, a false flag is an action fabricated as a pretext for war. False flags are real things that have happened, but conspiracy believers see them in virtually every terrorist attack and shooting of the last century, all done as a pretext for Bankster-controlled politicians to make money and take away our rights. One false flag consistently cited by conspiracy theorists is Operation Northwoods, a US plan to gin up a war with Cuba. It was pooh-poohed by President Kennedy and never implemented.
G is for Geoengineering. Like false flags, geoengineering is a real thing that has been turned into something else by conspiracy theorists. They see geoengineering as a way the global elite will reshape the planet to enslave us and keep us sick, using chemtrails, “weather warfare” and man-made natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes. In reality, geoengineering is being studied as a way to reverse the effects of climate change (see Denialism.)
H is for HAARP, short for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. This was a research station in Alaska that used high frequency antennae to bounce radio signals off the ionosphere. Some see HAARP as a powerful weapon capable of weather modification, earthquakes, massive storms and electromagnetic blasts. HAARP has no such actual powers and ionospheric research has no relation to earthquakes or hurricanes. In addition, HAARP closed in March 2013, due to funding issues.
I is for Illuminati, a catch-all term for almost anyone wealthy, powerful or wealthy and powerful. Historically, the Bavarian Illuminati was a secret society founded in 1776 to oppose religious influence over secular life. It lasted less than a decade before being banned. The pop culture version of the Illuminati was remade from a combination of antisemitism, anti-Communism and fear of One World Government. No evidence exists that this Illuminati is real, despite virtually every celebrity, executive and politician posited to be a member.
J is for Jones, Alex. The popular radio host, film producer and founder of conspiracy clearing house Infowars.com is seen as the “face” of the conspiracy theory movement. Jones helped mainstream the view that a cadre of governments and businesses serve as a global elite, running the planet for their own benefit. His media platforms are a haven for those looking to “wake up” the rest of us to what’s “really going on,” despite being wrong pretty much all the time about pretty much everything. He’s also really entertaining to watch be interviewed.
K is for Kennedy, John, the center of a 50 year conspiracy theory regarding his assassination. Dozens of ideas have been put forth as to who “really” killed JFK, from the CIA to the Corsican Mafia to a nebulous group of businessmen to a Secret Service agent to Jackie Kennedy. Despite the weight of research on the subject (as many as 2,000 different books alone) and the staggering percentage of Americans who reject the “official story,” no theory has emerged with enough compelling evidence to displace Kennedy being shot by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.
L is for Logical Fallacies, the poor arguments used in an attempt to make points lacking supporting evidence. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the many fallacies used against skepticism, such as the Gish Gallop (238234 Reasons Vaccines Are Evil, And You Can’t Possibly Respond to Them All), the argument from authority (we should listen to Dr. Oz about nuclear power because he’s a doctor) and post hoc rationalization (I caught the flu after I got the flu shot, therefore the flu shot did it). Good lists of fallacies can be found here and here.
- HAARP Scripted Doom: We Are Being Exterminated (thecontroversialfiles.net)
- Chemtrails? ‘Mysterious Fibers’ Fall from the Sky in France (thedailysheeple.com)
- Can HAARP, Chemtrails or Cecily Tynan Explain Those Giant Streaks in Philly Sky? (phillymag.com)
- NASA Scientist Admits Chemtrails! (VIDEO) (thesleuthjournal.com)
Remember the Bible Code? You don’t hear as much about it now, but it used to be kind of a big deal for some Christians. It was sort of the TAG argument of the 1990s — the magical, undeniable proof that Christianity was true. The only thing it actually proves is that some people will believe anything.
If you want to search for “codes” like the Bible Code on your own, there’s a program called Code Read Inspiration that allows you to search any .txt document. It’s the program I used to find my name “encoded” in the text of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason 91 times. Download it at:
The other day I came across this very strange “news” story on an blog that’s been going around the internet about a Danish anthropologist by the name of Kalena Søndergaard, whom had apparently been abducted and held for seven years in Iceland.
That’s right, I said elves.
Obviously I’m skeptical of the story, and for good reason (mostly being that it is ridiculous as hell, and that the story itself written by a horror fiction writer).
Besides the obvious fact that the story was written by a horror fiction writer, and that it just sounds fake, the story itself has no links or references what so ever to show to show that this woman had ever been listed as missing, a major red flag telling that it was fake.
Infact when I did a Google search on her the only thing I could find out about Kalena were just copied and pasted portions of the story (or the whole story in itself) written by C. Michael Forsyth.
The second red flag that shot up for me was the fact that in the story there was information in there about the Homo floresiensis, a diminutive hominid that was very closely related to modern humans, and according to the story was a major part of the woman’s doctoral thesis… about elves and how they might exist.
While I found the information to be interesting, the fact is that it had nothing to do with the story, and seemed to have been added in to attempt to prove that elves exist, or atleast give the possibility that elves exist more credibility.
The third red flag that shot up for me was the photos.
- If “Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves” sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is (doubtfulnews.com)
- Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves For 7 Years (gnostalgia.wordpress.com)
- Elf kidnapping (skeptophilia.blogspot.com)
- The Elves, Twitter and the Anthropologist. (huntersoddworld.wordpress.com)
- Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves For 7 Years (youviewed.com)
- Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves For 7 Years (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Hoaxes & Disinfo – Re: Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves For 7 Years (disclose.tv)
- Elves in Iceland?…Fairies and hidden people? Elf school? (thecosmicpilgrim.wordpress.com)
- Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves For 7 Years (awombatsweb.wordpress.com)
- Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves For 7 Years (dpatlarge.wordpress.com)
Here is your assignment for the day . . . be sure to read and sign the linked petition below to help increase the use of chemtrail spraying.
Excerpt from the petition:
Gentlemen and Lizard People,
We concerned citizens have noticed an increase in anti-chemtrail protests online and in the streets. Clearly your mind control is not working to its full potential, many of the sheeple have awakened. Therefore we request that you step up chemtrail spraying efforts at once, to bring them back into line. We know you will take this request seriously, because secret unaccountable governments are always highly swayed by online petitions.
The People for More Chemtrails
Remember, it’s of the utmost importance that we, the iLLumiNuTTi, maintain control of the world. The best way to do this is to promote and maintain a docile, compliant populace using the airborne spraying of mind numbing, chemical agents.
In furtherance of our agenda … Please read and sign this petition!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
P.S. If you’re new to our organization and would like more information before signing this petition, please watch the Illumicorp Video Training Course.
Tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know…
In the 1999 sci-fi film classic The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, is stunned to see people defying the laws of physics, running up walls and vanishing suddenly. These superhuman violations of the rules of the universe are possible because, unbeknownst to him, Neo’s consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality simulation created by sentient machines.
The action really begins when Neo is given a fateful choice: Take the blue pill and return to his oblivious, virtual existence, or take the red pill to learn the truth about the Matrix and find out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Physicists can now offer us the same choice, the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space. As fanciful as it sounds, some philosophers have long argued that we’re actually more likely to be artificial intelligences trapped in a fake universe than we are organic minds in the “real” one.
But if that were true, the very laws of physics that allow us to devise such reality-checking technology may have little to do with the fundamental rules that govern the meta-universe inhabited by our simulators. To us, these programmers would be gods, able to twist reality on a whim.
So should we say yes to the offer to take the red pill and learn the truth — or are the implications too disturbing?
Worlds in Our Grasp
The first serious attempt to find the truth about our universe came in 2001, when an effort to calculate the resources needed for a universe-size simulation made the prospect seem impossible.
Seth Lloyd, a quantum-mechanical engineer at MIT, estimated the number of “computer operations” our universe has performed since the Big Bang — basically, every event that has ever happened. To repeat them, and generate a perfect facsimile of reality down to the last atom, would take more energy than the universe has.
“The computer would have to be bigger than the universe, and time would tick more slowly in the program than in reality,” says Lloyd. “So why even bother building it?”
But others soon realized that making an imperfect copy of the universe that’s just good enough to fool its inhabitants would take far less computational power. In such a makeshift cosmos, the fine details of the microscopic world and the farthest stars might only be filled in by the programmers on the rare occasions that people study them with scientific equipment. As soon as no one was looking, they’d simply vanish.
In theory, we’d never detect these disappearing features, however, because each time the simulators noticed we were observing them again, they’d sketch them back in.
That realization makes creating virtual universes eerily possible, even for us.
- Do We Live in the Matrix? (discovermagazine.com)
- Is there an afterlife? Scientists offer Matrix-style theory of reality to answer life’s biggest question (mirror.co.uk)
A Skeptic’s take on souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens and other invisible powers that be
Souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens, intelligent designers, government conspirators, and all manner of invisible agents with power and intention are believed to haunt our world and control our lives. Why?
The answer has two parts, starting with the concept of “patternicity,” which I defined in my December 2008 column as the human tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. Consider the face on Mars, the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, satanic messages in rock music. Of course, some patterns are real. Finding predictive patterns in changing weather, fruiting trees, migrating prey animals and hungry predators was central to the survival of Paleolithic hominids.
The problem is that we did not evolve a baloney-detection device in our brains to discriminate between true and false patterns. So we make two types of errors: a type I error, or false positive, is believing a pattern is real when it is not; a type II error, or false negative, is not believing a pattern is real when it is. If you believe that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is just the wind (a type I error), you are more likely to survive than if you believe that the rustle in the grass is just the wind when it is a dangerous predator (a type II error). Because the cost of making a type I error is less than the cost of making a type II error and because there is no time for careful deliberation between patternicities in the split-second world of predator-prey interactions, natural selection would have favored those animals most likely to assume that all patterns are real.
But we do something other animals do not do. As large-brained hominids with a developed cortex and a theory of mind—the capacity to be aware of such mental states as desires and intentions in both ourselves and others—we infer agency behind the patterns we observe in a practice I call “agenticity”: the tendency to believe that the world is controlled by invisible intentional agents. We believe that these intentional agents control the world, sometimes invisibly from the top down (as opposed to bottom-up causal randomness). Together patternicity and agenticity form the cognitive basis of shamanism, paganism, animism, polytheism, monotheism, and all modes of Old and New Age spiritualisms.
Agenticity carries us far beyond the spirit world. The Intelligent Designer is said to be an invisible agent who created life from the top down. Aliens are often portrayed as powerful beings coming down from on high to warn us of our impending self-destruction. Conspiracy theories predictably include hidden agents at work behind the scenes, puppet masters pulling political and economic strings as we dance to the tune of the Bilderbergers, the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers or the Illuminati. Even the belief that government can impose top-down measures to rescue the economy is a form of agenticity, with President Barack Obama being touted as “the one” with almost messianic powers who will save us.
There is now substantial evidence from cognitive neuroscience that humans readily find patterns and impart agency to them . . .
- Apocalypse Thinking: All Too Human Pattern Seeking (ritholtz.com)
Some believe that wind turbines are sickening people. Might there be anything to this?
Today we’re going to take a look into the high-powered world of wind generated electricity, and of one of its alleged side-effects: Wind Turbine Syndrome. For the past few years, a growing number of activists have charged that proximity to a wind turbine causes detrimental medical effects in humans. It’s called Wind Turbine Syndrome, and depending on who you ask, it causes everything from fatigue to cancer. Is it possible that such a relatively simple and common machine could be sickening people?
For a long time, these giant modern windmills, usually clustered in wind farms, were known only to be ugly and annoying, as well as visually distracting. Other than being audible, mainly from the industrial roar of an air conditioning unit attached to the larger ones, they are not known to have any other environmental effects.
I wanted to hear what they sound like, so I went out to some nearby, some really huge 3-bladed ones that are pretty typical. I found that the air conditioners, which appear to be the same size and type as my own at my house, were the only audible noise. However, when you stand almost directly under the blades, you can hear a faint whoosh as each blade goes by. Here is a recording I made by pointing my phone up at the blades:
Note that it’s really hard to hear anything other than the hum from the air conditioners. Here’s another I found online:
And here’s one more, said to be from a smaller wind turbine on a really windy day, note how you can hear the blades better:
Things changed in 2009, when a New York pediatrician, Dr. Nina Pierpont, self-published a pamphlet she called Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment. Her “natural experiment” was to speak on the telephone with 23 people who answered her advertisement asking if they lived near a wind turbine and if they ever felt sick. 15 of them of them said they had family members who would probably agree. Based on these 38 personal assessments, Pierpont claimed science proved her belief that wind turbines cause a vast array of maladies.
A number of activists, including a handful of other doctors, have joined her crusade, convinced that wind turbines are causing a huge number of physical ailments that we all previously took for granted. Unfortunately, she has failed to win any significant support from the science or medicine communities. Let’s now look at six reasons why that’s the case:
Problem #1: There is no consensus on what it does or who it affects.
The first thing you’ll notice if you do any independent research on Wind Turbine Syndrome is how non-specific it is. Do pay attention to the fact that every article lists different causes and different effects. Is it sound, light, radio frequency, electromagnetism? Does it cause headaches, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, dizziness, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis?
Just about everyone who’s written about Wind Turbine Syndrome has a different idea about what it is and what it does. This fact doesn’t prove anything, but it should serve as a radiantly waving red flag to warn you that the subject might be something upon which there’s little agreement. And, on matters of sound science, there’s generally at least a standard model of some kind. So while this doesn’t prove anything, it should give any responsible researcher cause to reconsider.
Problem #2: The symptoms attributed to Wind Turbine Syndrome do not require any cause.
The complaints boil down to a few basic symptoms that are most often reported: fatigue, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, irritability. These are among what we call “symptoms of life” — things that happen to everyone very often, none of which require a specific cause. We all feel fatigued sometimes, we all get headaches, everyone’s got anxiety about something, and we all sometimes have trouble sleeping. In other words, the symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome are indistinguishable from normal, healthy responses to life.
I searched and searched, and have found exactly zero blinded studies done to see if the proximity of active wind turbines produces a physiological reaction that deviates from the norm. So at this point, there is no reliable evidence that the problem exists at all. There are any number of personal stories — Nina Pierpont relates dozens on her web site — but without any controlled study, her reports of those people’s personal beliefs tell us nothing.
Problem #3: The timing of complaints is too unlikely.
If wind turbines did cause medical problems, we would expect to find a relationship between when they are installed and when people begin experiencing symptoms. But we don’t.
Nina Pierpont’s Wind Turbine Syndrome web site tells us that symptoms come on as early as ten minutes after getting close to a turbine. The first complaints, though, began not within minutes or days, but more than ten years after people began to be exposed.
- Skeptoid #388: 6 Problems with Wind Turbine Syndrome (skeptoid.com)
- Bill would promote bogus wind-turbine syndrome lawsuits in Wisconsin (grist.org)
- CapeCod turbines causing Wind Turbine Syndrome? (saveourskylineohio.com)
- Wind Turbine Syndrome is Bullshit – DownUnder (climatecrocks.com)
- Wind Turbine Syndrome Hits Cape Cod Massachusetts (consciouslifenews.com)
- Wind turbines making people sick with mysterious illnesses. (zedie.wordpress.com)
In December 1966, the body of 92-year-old Dr. J. Irving Bentley was discovered in his Pennsylvania home by a meter reader. Actually, only part of Dr. Bentley’s leg and slippered foot were found. The rest of his body had been burned to ashes. A hole in the bathroom floor was the only evidence of the fire that had killed him; the rest of the house remained perfectly intact.
How could a man catch fire — with no apparent source of a spark or flame — and then burn so completely without igniting anything around him? Dr. Bentley’s case and several hundred others like it have been labeled “spontaneous human combustion” (SHC). Although he and other victims of the phenomenon burned almost completely, their surroundings, and even sometimes their clothes, remained virtually untouched.
Can humans spontaneously burst into flames? A lot of people think spontaneous human combustion is a real occurrence, but most scientists aren’t convinced.
In this article, we will look at the strange phenomenon of spontaneous human combustion, see what believers have to say about it and try to separate the scientific truth from the myths.
What is Spontaneous Human Combustion?
The first known account of spontaneous human combustion came from the Danish anatomist Thomas Bartholin in 1663, who described how a woman in Paris “went up in ashes and smoke” while she was sleeping. The straw mattress on which she slept was unmarred by the fire. In 1673, a Frenchman named Jonas Dupont published a collection of spontaneous combustion cases in his work “De Incendiis Corporis Humani Spontaneis.”
The hundreds of spontaneous human combustion accounts since that time have followed a similar pattern: The victim is almost completely consumed, usually inside his or her home. Coroners at the scene have sometimes noted a sweet, smoky smell in the room where the incident occurred.
What makes the charred bodies in the photos of spontaneous human combustion so peculiar is that the extremities often remain intact. Although the torso and head are charred beyond recognition, the hands, feet, and/or part of the legs may be unburned. Also, the room around the person shows little or no signs of a fire, aside from a greasy residue that is sometimes left on furniture and walls. In rare cases, the internal organs of a victim remain untouched while the outside of the body is charred.
Not all spontaneous human combustion victims simply burst into flames. Some develop strange burns on their body which have no obvious source, or emanate smoke from their body when no fire is present. And not every person who has caught fire has died — a small percentage of people have actually survived what has been called their spontaneous combustion.
- Can Humans Spontaneously Combust? ‘Unexplained Files’ Investigates (illuminutti.com)
- Crashed and Burned: King Tut’s Spontaneous Combustion (livescience.com)
- Can humans spontaneously combust? ‘Unexplained Files’ investigates (sott.net)
- Top 10 Unsolved Cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion (toptenz.net)
Despite all the we know about HIV and AIDS from the many years of research into it in hopes of one day finding a cure for it, there are still people out there who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS, or that it even exists.
There are a lot of things I have noticed about AIDS Denialism (and none of them are are positive, pun not intended) but I have narrowed it down to five different things.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about AIDS Denialism:
5. It’s a very dangerous and deadly form of Pseudoscience/Alternative medicine.
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is a very deadly disease, and if left untreated it can kill someone within a few years of being infected (this does vary from person to person), and will kill 100% of the time.
AIDS denialists deny that AIDS even exists, or that at least HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and encourage people not to take any medication after they’ve been diagnosed with HIV.
This is why AIDS denialism is considered to be so deadly. Because they are denying that HIV is dangerous, and that AIDS doesn’t even exist, AIDS denialists are basically encouraging those who have been infected to shorten their lives.
In fact many people consider AIDS denialism to be the second most dangerous form of alternative medicine and pseudoscience there is. Only the anti-vaccination movement is considered to be more dangerous, and that’s only because a lot of the diseases that vaccines are meant to prevent are a lot easier to get than HIV (although many of the diseases that are prevented via vaccines are usually not as deadly as HIV is).
4. It denies over three decades worth of research into HIV.
We know a lot about HIV and AIDS. We know how it’s transmitted from one person to another. We know how easy it is to prevent getting it. We know the average life expectancy of a person after they have contracted HIV, and we have known all of this for almost 30 years now.
Also, through the decades of scientific and medical research, we have developed medicines that can drastically extend the life expectancy of a person who has HIV by years, even decades, and even reduce the chance of a pregnant woman with HIV transmitting the virus to her unborn child to almost 0%. There are people who are alive today who were diagnosed with HIV back in the 1990’s who wouldn’t be alive today without all of this research (which has gone into the billions of dollars worth).
AIDS denialist just look at all of the research and all that we know about HIV and AIDS and says nope, it’s all fake…
3. It’s self destructive.
It shouldn’t be surprising to to many people but many AIDS denialists have also been diagnosed with HIV, and also not surprising many of them have died as a result of complications due to AIDS. A recent example of this would be . . .
- Science and Reality and AIDS Denialism (thepoxesblog.wordpress.com)
- Tommy Morrison AIDS death: HIV denialism victims in South Africa and the U.S. (ripley8.newsvine.com)
- Deadly Disbelief (slate.com)
- Slate’s bogus AIDS scam hit piece (fauxcapitalist.com)
- I’m just asking questions here (thepoxesblog.wordpress.com)
Whenever there is a disaster or notable tragedy in the world, the conspiracy theorists come crawling out of their darkened dens to offer up incredibly implausible explanations. The worst one, of late, was in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. There was a theory going around, and widespread it was too, that the whole thing had been staged and all the folk who lost limbs were amputee actors. Really? Really? And the lone gunmen is almost always a CIA mind-controlled drone, activated by some remote control… and so on and so forth. We’ve all heard that it was George W. Bush who was behind the World Trade Centre holocaust.
I started snooping about the internet for others because although I’m often appalled at the incredulous nonsense, I am also fascinated by them. I’m fascinated to read fanatical rants that are so ‘out there’ that they become almost entertaining.
Here are a few doozies…
1. J Edgar Hoover organised a hit squad made up entirely of homosexuals to assassinate JFK. The rationale was that in the wake of the hit, police would disregard the flamboyantly dressed gay people because they would not be considered capable of committing such a violent act…I actually do think that the official story is a bit bogus but I’m not buying the Rainbow Army theory.
3. Sony Bono was murdered on the ski slope because he was going to run for president. Unlikely. He was probably just not looking where he was going.
4. Man did not walk on the moon. Man walked into a Hollywood studio for a photo shoot. I like to think we did walk on the moon. It looked like fun. I would like to move to Mars so walking on the moon seems like a good precursor for that. Also, if it was just a Hollywood stunt I would have thought they’d get ET in there. It was a bit too dull for a beat-up.
5. There is a New World Order running a global bank which aims to eliminate paper and coin currency in favour of digital banking and then one day in the not too distant future, they will shut down the system forcing citizens into slavery. It’s all about the Illuminati (isn’t it always?). This one is interesting. I like paper money. Particularly hundred dollar bills. I love the smell of money and I keep forgetting my online password. I will keep my money in shoe-boxes just in case. I have vivid nightmares about the Illuminati. They all have red hair!
6. According to Christine Fitzgerald, a former confidante of Princess Diana, the late Queen of Hearts told her quite seriously that the royal family are actually shape-shifting, reptilian aliens from a galaxy far, far away. Now that is gold.
- Five Kennedy Conspiracy Theories Debunked by JFK: The Smoking Gun (illuminutti.com)
- 10 things you might not know about conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
- 8 clues your friend is becoming a crazy conspiracy theorist (illuminutti.com)
- Who killed JFK? 50 years of conspiracy theories explained (theweek.co.uk)
- As Anniversary of JFK Death Nears, a Look at Conspiracy Theories (online.wsj.com)
By Tanya Lewis via LiveScience
SAN DIEGO — The human mind effortlessly constructs the feeling of inhabiting a body, and now scientists are figuring out how the brain produces that experience.
Recent studies have shown that the brain incorporates information from multiple senses and the first-person visual perspective to create a sense of body ownership. But it’s still unclear how the brain perceives the body’s location in space.
In the study, which has not yet been published in a scientific journal, participants lay inside an MRI scanner while wearing a head-mounted display that showed a first-person camera view of another person’s body lying in a corner of the scanner room, with their head either parallel to a wall or perpendicular to it. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden repeatedly touched each participant with an object while simultaneously touching the body shown in the camera view. This gave participants the illusion that the body in the camera view belonged to them.
To heighten the illusion, the researchers used . . .
- How the Brain Creates Out-of-Body Experiences (livescience.com)
- ESO107 – Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), Dreams and Outer Body Experiences (OBE) (ancienteducation.wordpress.com)
- My out of body experience. (jakperk.wordpress.com)
- Out of body experiences or if they exist, why can’t we prove it? (areyouanempath.com)
So i was having a written exchange with a couple of conspiracists. They were posting links ranting on and on about FEMA camps, martial law, something about foreign troops being trained to disarm Americans . . . yada, yada, yada.
You know, the same old crap.
This whole conspiracy thing seems cyclical. A new generation of conspiracy theorists stumble upon the same old, worn out, decades old conspiracy theories for the first time in their paranoid lives and they think they’ve discovered something completely new, true and worth preaching. And so they begin their new mission – running around trying to wake up the “sheeple” to their new found “truth.”
These newly stamped conspiracists then go on to spend many years spinning their wheels in the same conspiratorial muck that their conspiratorial predecessors did all those decades before.
Some of these newbies will remain in the Lost Forest for many years – beyond the reach of reason. Then there are the newbies that wise up to the con(spiracy) money game being played on them by those reaping huge profits regurgitating the same old tales of paranoia – Alex Jones comes to mind.
Every conspiracy being preached today has been preached before in some shape or form. This is the point i try to make in my exchanges with my conspiratorial friends:
- How urgent can your message be today if it’s the same “urgent” message that has been screamed for (at least) the last 15 years?
- Can you continuously scream “FIRE!” for decades and be taken seriously when the fire has never materialized?
As an example of what i’m talking about i have posted some screenshots below that came from the InfoWars website, October 1999. Note the similarities to today’s InfoWar headlines. Same sh**, different year.
I’ll give Alex Jones credit for one thing – he has an amazing ability to sell and resell the same crap over and over again.
Mason I. Bilderberg
- 10 things you might not know about conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
- The Conspiracy Theory All-Star Team (businesshandshakes.wordpress.com)
- Believe it: Conspiracy theories live on (politico.com)
- The Great Psychological Conspiracy Theory Conspiracy (geoffchambers.wordpress.com)
- Why so many Americans believe Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories (washingtonpost.com)
One of the tactics of the GMO (genetically modified organisms, usually crops–some people use the term GM instead) refusers is that “there’s no proof that GMO’s are safe.” Typically, in a debate, the side making the assertion (those that say GMO’s are unsafe) are responsible for the evidence that supports their contention. But, the anti-GMO gang relies upon the Argument from Ignorance, trying to force the argument to “if you can’t prove that they’re safe, they must be unsafe.”
Even though I don’t necessarily like arguing with logical fallacies, I did provide an exhaustive list of high-quality peer-reviewed articles that clearly stated that genetically modified crops are safe. But that’s never enough.
Updated 12 November 2013.
In the world of scientific research, the absolute highest quality evidence are meta reviews, which are methods to contrast and combine results from a wide swath of peer-reviewed studies which may be useful in identifying patterns, sources of disagreement and other relationships. Since meta reviews combine the results from a larger number of studies, they can be more statistically significant. So, if there only was a high quality, peer-reviewed meta review about the safety of GMO foods!?!?
Well, there is one. In a meta-review recently published in a peer-reviewed, high impact factor journal, Critical Review of Biotechnology, where the authors collected and evaluated 1,783 research papers, reviews, relevant opinions, and reports published between 2002 and 2012, a comprehensive process that took over 12 months to complete. The review covered all aspects of GM crop safety, from how the crops interact with the environment to how they could potentially affect the humans and animals who consume them.
And their conclusion?
The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops.
According to an interview with the lead author, Alessandro Nicolia, an applied biologist at the University of Perugia in Italy, ”Our goal was to create a single document where interested people of all levels of expertise can get an overview on what has been done by scientists regarding GE crop safety. We tried to give a balanced view informing about what has been debated, the conclusions reached so far, and emerging issues.”
The article provided other important results:
- Massive Review Reveals Consensus on GMO Safety (realclearscience.com)
. .. never mind that there is no evidence for these gaussy guys and gals, what would the world be like if people really did generate a noticeable or even intense magnetic field?
Strip club patrons would get quite a show, more so than usual, if people really were magnetic.
Amid the dollar bills and drunk-at-noon businessmen, a magnetic stripper, if she spun fast enough around the poll, would melt it. At the very least she would shock herself before shocking the crowd. When a conductor like metal meets a changing magnetic field, the magic of reality induces an electric current in it. Flip-flop this current around enough, and the metal heats up to the point of melting.
If people really were magnetic, they would be terrible navigators. Taking to their smart phones and computers, their screens would blur out and become unusable. Going back to the old methods, a compass wouldn’t help much either. It would be more likely to find you than Earth’s magnetic north.
Like all interesting human qualities, magnetic people would have a range of field strengths. Perhaps there would even be schools and universities dedicated to harnessing or improving your output. In any case, the strength of the field matters quite a bit. It’s the difference between being a glorified refrigerator magnet and being able to free fall down a metal tube without dying.
Magnetic people with the strength of refrigerator magnets would produce a field 100 times stronger than the Earth’s. But if any fortunate “Magnetos” existed, perhaps with MRI-like output, they would have one million times the field strength of Earth. For the refrigerator-strength people, you wouldn’t have to change much. But a public warning would have to go out whenever those Magnetos were about. Entire houses, entire cities, would have to be shielded; all metal objects not tied down turn into deadly projectiles. In fact, a rogue oxygen tank once proved this danger, killing a patient during an MRI scan after rocketing across the room, drawn by the monstrous amount of teslas. (You can see the incident re-created here.) And at this strength, you better avoid your friend’s stack of old floppy disks and unshielded hard drives, as you could shuffle their bits into blurry oblivion.
But it wouldn’t be all bad. Magnetic craftsmen would find that every part of their body has become a convenient tool and nail holder. Salmon fishermen could experience a huge boom. As salmon navigate their way home according to the Earth’s magnetic fields, a giant magnet in the form of a fisherman could disorient or even attract the fish. Magnetic lifeguards could take to the ocean as shark repellants.
Lovers might find it annoying however, as there is no telling when your poles, so to speak, would line up.
If people really were magnetic, it would eliminate the need for elevators, at least as a way down. A strong enough magnet can . . .
- Sun’s Magnetic Field Poised to Reverse Its Polarity (spacedaily.com)
- SUNS’S MAGNETIC FIELD TO REVERSE: What It Means (michaelaprile.wordpress.com)
- The World’s Most Powerful MRI Takes Shape (spectrum.ieee.org)
- Sun’s Magnetic Field Will Flip Soon (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
H/T: Brittius (brittius.com)
Ancient Aliens Debunked is a 3 hour refutation of the theories proposed on the History Channel series Ancient Aliens. It is essentially a point by point critique of the “ancient astronaut theory” which has been proposed by people like Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin as well as many others.
The film covers topics like:
Ancient building sites: Puma Punku, The Pyramids, Baalbek, Incan sites, And Easter Island. Ancient artifacts: Pacal’s rocket, the Nazca lines, the Tolima “fighter jets”, the Egyptian “light bulb”, Ufo’s in ancient art, and the crystal skulls. Ancient text issues: Ezekiel’s wheel, Ancient nuclear warfare, Vimana’s, the Anunnaki, and the Nephilim.
All the claims are sourced at the website: http://ancientaliensdebunked.com
The RMS Queen Mary, a ship of enormous historical import, has been transformed into a roadside attraction whose owners profit off the allure of “ghosts.” Her glorious factual history has been brushed aside in a bid to pander to eager ghost-hunting tourists who aren’t thinking critically about the claims.
“For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
—Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World
I’ve had a fascination with classic ocean liners for most of my life. In particular, I have had a sincere awe for the RMS Queen Mary (QM) since I first stayed on board in the early 1980s—well after her retirement in 1967 and subsequent conversion into a hotel. She is a thing of beauty—a near-perfect expression of the industrial design aesthetics of the era (conceived in 1929, launched in 1934, maiden voyage in 1936). To say that we don’t make them like we used to is an insulting understatement.
Anytime in the last few years that I have even mentioned the Queen Mary, the immediate reaction from people within earshot is, “Ooh! I’ve heard that she’s really haunted!” My first reaction is a kind of amusement: how could one even tell the difference between something being really haunted as opposed to fakely haunted? My next reaction is usually a sigh of, “Here we go again,” and my final reaction more recently has been a kind of offense taken on behalf of the ship. I suppose that since an entire generation has passed since the Queen Mary was in service, the popular understanding of her has morphed into something a little weird and otherworldly rather than something that was a practical means of (elegant) travel. I write this article to express my own dismay but also to try to piece together why the QM has this persistent aura as the “haunted ship” and to make a plea to emphasize the real history of the ship as part of her future.
What Is a Haunting?
I suppose the first thing to do is to make a concise case for the problem of claiming that anything is “haunted.” No, I do not believe in ghosts, and at the same time a truly skeptical position must concede that this is not an outright rejection of the possibility that ghosts might exist, only that they haven’t been discovered yet. The problem is that there is no agreement among ghost believers as to what they actually are. If I had to aggregate just from popular ghost-hunting stories, I could paint a picture that ghosts are: sound-producing, light-producing, simultaneously corporeal and noncorporeal representations of “energy” (Electric? Chemical? Nuclear? Magnetic?) that can manipulate electronic devices, temperature, and physical bodies—except for when they don’t. There are so many definitions and assumed qualities of ghosts that it is impossible to come up with a working definition. In science, I would call that a “hypothesis.” Once there is a hypothesis or a working model explaining the properties of ghosts, then one could go about controlled experimentation. No one is at that stage though—because, again, ghosts have no known properties. So, no, the things that are claimed as “evidence” of ghosts (orbs in photos, mysterious sounds on a tape, a creaky door) can’t hold up as scientific evidence until a working hypothesis is established.
Furthermore, of course, anecdotes are not evidence. An anecdote is a personal story of a personal experience. It’s not a reliable way to make a judgment about the validity of a claim. Our minds are subject to bias, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and conflation. The more anecdotes that accumulate don’t lead to the credence that the claim is true; it’s simply more “noise.” Personal experience is usually the absolute worst way to make a judgment about the veracity of any claim.
So that’s a little taste of why I don’t buy it when people make the “ghost” claim, but there are far better sources to brush up on your scientific understanding, such as Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things, and 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True by Guy P. Harrison. While you’re at it, check out Brian Dunning’s excellent (and short!) dismantling of ghost claims in “Do Ghosts Exist?” on his blog at www.skepticblog.org/2012/08/30/do-ghosts-exist. There’s much more that can be said here, but I want to get back to the Queen Mary.
The Queen Mary was one of the crowning achievements of the art and industry of shipbuilding. She was created and sailed in an era after the Edwardian opulence of ships like the Titanic and Lusitania and just before the jet age had arrived. She’s a blend of old hand-craftsmanship with the speed and technology of modern industrial achievement. To put it in twenty-first-century terms, she was a marvel of art and design in the way that the space shuttle amazed onlookers thirty years ago or the 787 Dreamliner and Airbus 380 do today. She held the speed record for crossing the Atlantic for nearly two decades and carried more troops at a single time than any other vessel during World War II.
After an exceptional service history (and with the speed and economy of air travel relegating ocean travel to vacation cruising), the QM was set for retirement in Long Beach as a hotel/conference center/tourist attraction. Since 1967, tourists have visited her in dry dock and gotten a small taste of what travel was like when the “Queens” ruled the seas.
Retirement, sadly, would be anything but peaceful. As soon as she pulled into port for the last time, the Queen Mary was subjected to numerous “renovations” and conversions that would forever mar her interior. Entire sections have been gutted, rooms and artifacts lost to history, artwork destroyed, and other blunders of huge proportion. The ship’s operations and ownership have changed hands numerous times in the years since, and she has struggled economically. In many respects, the experience has been “dumbed down” with subpar restaurants (with some notable exceptions), chintzy events, and history taking a backseat to exploitative tours—the most prominent and most egregious of which is the “ghost” tour.
In the early 2000s, the “Ghosts and Legends Tour” was installed. It makes use of some very interesting (and otherwise off limits) spaces of the ship. Fantastical tales of the paranormal are woven into the ship’s actual history and presented with a theatrical flair and some low-rent special effects. Tourists see the magnificent first-class pool area but not in any state resembling its days at sea. This version is fading, cracking and filled with fog. The real-life accident with the Curacao—in which 239 sailors perished—is played out for maudlin drama in a former mail hold that plays the part of the “bow.”
The Problem with the ‘Haunting’
On any night at the Queen Mary, groups of tourists who are interested can also take a guided tour from a “paranormal” expert guide. They bump around waving electronics of dubious utility in the air hoping for some “evidence” of an apparition. They can explore otherwise off limits sections of the ship and really take their time exploring while asking each other, “Did you hear something?”
- The Most Haunted Places in America (nittanypride.wordpress.com)
- Come aboard the Queen Mary for a Halloween fright night (fameandwanderlust.wordpress.com)
- The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor (ktla.com)
- The VERY Haunted HMS Queen Mary Luxury Liner – Long Beach, CA (wheretheghostslive.wordpress.com)
Why do some people continue to use alternative medicine?
Despite all the information there is about alternative medicine and how not only does it not work, but that infact it can even be harmful, people still use it and believe that it really does work.
So why is it that people still use alternative medicine? Well, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve come up with quite a few reasons why:
Science based medicine is an incredible thing and can cure many diseases and fix a lot of things that can go wrong with the human body, but unfortunately it can’t cure every disease, or fix everything that goes wrong with our bodies (not yet atleast). So when science based medicine can’t fix or cure what ever is wrong with us (or atleast not doing so in a way that is fast enough for us) some people, even rational people, might become desperate enough to use alternative medicine.
This sort of situation especially happens when someone has a terminal disease and they are told by their doctor that there is nothing they can do to cure what ever it is that is killing them. Some people will not accept this and will seek out anything that is claimed to be able to cure them (even if all the evidence says otherwise).
They think it’s cheaper
Because alternative medicine isn’t manufactured by the pharmaceutical companies (who are for profit businesses) it is assumed by some people that alternative medicine must be cheaper than science based medicine because they believe that the people who are manufacturing these alternative medical products are not doing it for a profit, plus when a person is told about a product that is suppose to be cheaper and work better than the conventional product, people tend to buy the supposedly cheaper product.
Now if you seriously believe that alternative medicine is cheaper than science based medicine, and that people who make these alternative medical products are not doing so for a profit, then I know a Nigerian prince that wants to give you $15,000,000.
A friend told them it works
Probably the best form of advertising there is is word of mouth. You don’t do have to pay for anything, and people tend to trust the opinion of a friend or family member over a creative ad in a newspaper or a TV commercial. Same thing holds true with alternative medicine.
Lets say you’ve been sick for a while and you have been taking some medicine for what ever has been ailing you, but so far it has had little to no affect. You tell a friend or a family member about your health issues and they might recommend that you take some herbs, or to go see this “doctor” that they recommend (who turns out to be an alternative medicine practitioner and not a real doctor) because they claim that it helped them, or it helped someone they know. Because you trust the person whom is recommending this “doctor” or this product, you might be more willing to see this “doctor” or try this product than you would if some stranger had told you.
Science based medicine can be harsh
Science based medicine (or modern medicine, or real medicine as some people like to call it) is a great thing. It has cured a lot of stuff, and has extended our average life expectancy by years, but it can also be pretty harsh at times as well. Because of this some people might either choose to stop using a science based medical treatment because they feel that it has become to harsh on them and that they believe that it might kill them if they continue to use, and so they decided to use alternative medicine instead because they believe it will help them without any side effects, or they might already know (or atleast believe) that the medical treatment that they’ve been recommend that they do could or will be harsh on them, and they decide to forgo it and use alternative medicine instead.
- Prince Charles and homeopathy: crank or revolutionary? (telegraph.co.uk)
- Affordable Care Act Raises Status Of Alternative Medicine; Insurance Companies ‘Shall Not Discriminate’ Against Practitioners (medicaldaily.com)
- Integrative Medicine’s Collateral Damage|Jann Bellamy|Science-Based Medicine (sciencebasedmedicine.org)
- Indian board of alternative medicines fake? Talking about Alternative medicines (altmedworld.wordpress.com)
- Is Indian board of alternative medicines fake? Orthodox Medicine Vs Alternative Medicine (altmedworld.wordpress.com)
- Because the world needs more Mark CrislipTM|Mark Crislip|Science-Based Medicine (sciencebasedmedicine.org)
- Can the IoE Revolutionize Alternative Medicine? (blogs.cisco.com)
- Online USA Doctors is Now Offering Complimentary, Alternative Medicine (prweb.com)
- This Is Actually A Fast Breakdown Of Alternative Medicine (healthmarketpress.wordpress.com)
A great debunking.
- Debunking the Viral ‘Miss Ping’ Video (patheos.com)
- WATCH Captain Disillusion Debunk The Viral Ping Pong Knife Act (huffingtonpost.com)
Earlier this week we did a post on survivorship bias, and how it could trick people into believing in psychic ability. It turns out that the most famous test of psychic ability was made expressly to allow for this kind of bias.
One of the most famous tests of psychic ability was made by J. B. Rhine. He claimed to identify strong psychics by testing a lot of people with Zener Cards. The tests involved two people, the examiner looking at the card, and the person being tested trying to guess the card that the examiner is looking at. Rhine noted that some people, a small minority, got a disproportionate number of cards right. They were “strong psychics.” Skeptics countered that, if you were to test any group on the street, some would do far better than average – just as some would do far worse than average. That’s the point of survivorship bias. You test a large amount of people and hold up the few who do better-than-average as examples of proof rather than coincidence.
One could argue that there shouldn’t be a coincidence at all. What are the chances that if someone looks at a card – a card that could show any picture at all – that another person will be able to guess the picture on it? The chances, it turns out, got a lot better once Zener Cards were invented. Zener Cards were made by Karl Zener, a paranormal investigator.
- Psychic test cards were actually invented to make psychic tests easier (io9.com)
- Witches Are Not Psychic (aulberich89.wordpress.com)
- The Survivorship Bias convinces people that psychics are real (io9.com)
- 10 Signs That You’re Psychic (dangerouslee.biz)
- Secrets of the Psychics (illuminutti.com)
There’s a simple bias that seems to endure. Anyone may accidentally fall into its trap. Once they do, they make it impossible for others to avoid doing the same thing. It’s called the Survivorship Bias, and it can be used to convince people of nearly anything.
Let’s say that I walked up to you in the street and told you I was psychic and I could prove it. The more fleet-footed of you would manage to keep walking, but I think I’d back a few of you into a corner and make you watch my demonstration. It’s a video of me walking into a room with a group of witnesses. One of the witnesses – picked at random – flips a coin. After he flips, but before he shows the coin to anyone, I guess whether it’s heads or tails. He reveals it to the witnesses. I’m right. The demonstration goes on, and each time I’m right.
You’re naturally skeptical, so you start questioning the set-up. I have sworn statements from all the witnesses that they were all pulled off the street. I even have the video of the selection process. I have a video of what I did all that day, showing that I didn’t set up anything that might clue me in on the coin flip results. After a lot of investigating, you determine that there’s no trick. I’m just correctly guessing the coin each time. You’re right. There isn’t a trick.
There’s just hundreds days of set-up. On every one of those days, I have people go out and find witnesses, and people film me going about my business. On every one of those days, I walk into the room and start guessing. And on every one of those days, except for the day that I showed you, I guess wrong. I’ve showed you the one remarkable case, the one day that I guessed right.
To be fair, that’s more survivorship deception. But it does show how coincidence can, when taken out of context, look like something more. It’s been used by psychic researchers in the past. Test enough people and some of them will give answers that are coincidentally accurate. Then pretend that those people are psychics.
It’s also been used in economics. I had an economics teacher who joked that the best way to make millions as an investment adviser was to send out, to thousands of people, two variations of a letter. One would predict one trend in the stock market and the other would predict the opposite trend. Let the market takes its course. Strike the people that got the inaccurate letter from your mailing list. Then send out another set of letters. Repeat the pattern until you’ve got only a few clients, and each one of them is absolutely convinced that you’re infallible.
- The Survivorship Bias convinces people that psychics are real (io9.com)
- Psychic test cards were actually invented to make psychic tests easier (io9.com)
- The great psychic con (illuminutti.com)
- Secrets of the Psychics (illuminutti.com)
It’s happened to all of us. Some friend we had in elementary school or from an old job is all of a sudden making super weird comments on Facebook, or you’re in a bar and some random is trying to talk to you about fluoride for some reason. It’s not always immediately clear. Like, I realized one day that people saying crazy things were always following it up with “Do your own research!” and then finally discovered that it was sort of a “buzzphrase” for conspiracy theorists.
So, I thought I’d compile a list of the ways to know that someone in your life is starting to head down to tin foil hat alley.
1 • Says insane thing (probably about chemtrails), and if you dispute, insists that you “Do your own research!”
This is one of the earliest signs of this type of crazy- and it’s also a major Glenn Beck-ism. I don’t know about you, but when I state a fact, I’m usually able to explain that fact. Especially if it’s something that may be controversial.
For instance, I do not so much believe that Joan Crawford beat her children. This is a thing that most people believe, because of the movie “Mommie Dearest”– however, when asked to explain, I don’t yell “Do your own research!” at people, I explain that all of the other children (save for Christopher) have refuted Christina’s book, as well as Crawford’s actual personal assistant, and Myrna Loy, and pretty much anyone else who was around during that time. I’m not saying I’m 100% definitely correct on this, but I err on the side of “probably not.”
Still, I don’t throw out something weird, get mad at people for not immediately taking me at my word, and then yell at them to do their own research. I mean, if they want to, that’s fine, but I’m usually quite able to support my arguments.
2 • Freaking Flouride
UGH. These people and their fluoride. They love to make up crap about how the government puts fluoride in the water to keep us dumb and rebellion-resistant, like no one has ever seen “Dr. Strangelove” before or something. This is usually what they start with, probably because it sounds slightly more realistic than like, Lizard People.
It is not, however, true. At all. And yes, I’ve “done my research.” But don’t tell that to these people, especially if they are drunk at a bar, because they will, in fact, start screaming at you about it. Fluoride and the “vaccinations cause autism” thing are like the gateway drugs into tin-foil hat land.
3 • Rejecting the tyranny of paragraph breaks
I swear to god, this is a thing. Whenever I see a comment that’s just a giant block of text with no breaks in it, I immediately just go “Welp, this one’s gonna be crazy” and I am pretty much always right. I don’t know why this is a thing, it just is.
4 • When a person who you already kinda know isn’t too swift starts trying to pretend that they are some kind of intellectual who is totally going to school you on “how things are in the world.”
I hate to say this, but it’s true. It’s always the dumb ones. I feel bad, because like, they’re usually just coming across this stuff for the first time and it is totally blowing their minds. Like, I already know that some people think that the Rothschilds control the world and that there are Mason things on the dollar bill and also THE MOON LANDING WAS FAKED or whatever. I’ve known for years, and I’ve already figured out that it’s all bullshit.
The more you read about history, the more you realize that people are so not getting it together to form a whole “New World Order” anytime soon. While there have been “conspiracy” type things throughout history (MKUltra, Tuskeegee, Project Paperclip, the COINTELPRO that actually existed and not the one people pretend still exists), they have been discovered fairly quickly. Because someone always has a big mouth.
5 • They use the term term Big Pharma (or Big Anything) in all seriousness
There are about a 1000 problems with the pharmaceutical industry, for sure. However, when your friend is talking about “Big Pharma” they are not usually talking so much about overpriced cancer medication as they are like, vaccines causing autism and things like that. Also, sane people, when discussing the problems with the pharmaceutical industry just do not say things like “Big Pharma” because they like being taken seriously.
6 • “Wake up, Sheeple!”
Being awake or being asleep is like, tin-foil hat code for being hep to all kinds of nonsense. Which is why on those weird personal ads for Infowars everyone was like “I’ve been awake for 4 months” and things. Sheeple is what they call people who do not go along with them.
See, usually, these people are kind of “new.” Like, they think that the information they are about to rock you with is A) Nothing you have ever heard before or B) Something you are going to buy wholesale, immediately, because their “evidence” is so vastly compelling. If you do not believe them, you are obviously a sheep of a person.
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Conspiracy Theorists on Youtube (illuminutti.com)
- “You Know You Are a Conspiracy Theorist If…” (illuminutti.com)
- Weekend Diversion: Which type of conspiracy theorist are you? (scienceblogs.com)
I’ve deliberately neglected Deepak Chopra for most of my life, as I don’t need the tsouris. But now, after having listened to him more and more, I find out that he’s not only a dreadful purveyor of woo, but also a pretty nasty guy when he’s challenged.
In this ten-minute clip, apparently filmed at Caltech, Shermer and, especially, Sam Harris, simply take Chopra’s woo-peddling to pieces. Chopra comes off looking really bad. And he won’t let other people talk.
In truth, I think any of us could fabricate and peddle the same stuff that Chopra does, and make a million dollars doing so. As Harris says, “This is a game. . . for people who don’t know much about science and how science is done.”
Lots of people seem to vilify Sam for his views, something I don’t fully understand since I think they often distort those views; but…
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