Monthly Archives: March, 2014

Sorry conspiracy theory nuts – sometimes a crash is just a crash

By Ian O’Doherty via

08_250pxWell, that’s a bit of a bummer, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah, so the families of the 239 people who went down on Flight MH370 will finally find some much-needed closure. And sure, when you’re feeling all grown up and mature about things, you are prepared to accept that the 300 pieces of wreckage they found in the ocean yesterday provides incontrovertible proof that the airliner crashed. But still, aren’t you just a little bit disappointed? Isn’t the truth so banal and uninteresting?

In fact, such were the similarities between this case and Lost that people are now looking at the mundane facts of the crash with as much disappointment as they felt when they watched the last ever episode of that infuriating show.

Obviously, any time a plane crashes, it’s news. The bigger the plane the bigger the story, and they don’t get much bigger than the Boeing 777 which, until now, had an enviable flying record. But what we’ve witnessed over the last two weeks quickly waved goodbye to mere ‘news’; and became a febrile asylum of claims, accusations and conspiracies, the madder the better.

mh370 black hole_250px_250pxBut, as fascinating as any plane crash is, and understandable though it may have been for people to fill their gaps in information with deranged theories, one simple fact remained – planes crash, bad things happen and people die all the time. The simple truth is that sometimes we would do well to remember the words of that wise sage Homer Simpson who reminds us that life is just a bunch of stuff that happens.

It became depressingly obvious just how far the once respectable trade of journalism has slipped when CNN anchor Don Lemon devoted an entire section of his show to possible ‘supernatural’ explanations, which saw him actually ask his guests: “Is it preposterous to consider a black hole as a possibility?”

Well, the simple answer to that question is… um, yes, it is extremely preposterous. And dumb. And scientifically absurd. Having dealt with the black hole theory – the guests declared they thought it an unlikely explanation – the Bermuda Triangle was then discussed as a possible culprit. Now, I’m no expert, but I would have thought the Bermuda Triangle was located somewhere around, um, Bermuda, rather than the Indian Ocean.

mh370aliensCNN’s sister network, HLN, even featured a psychic, Lisa Williams, who reckoned the plane had landed near water or trees and boasted that: “Naturally, I don’t have hard, concrete evidence. I think any psychic who has hard, concrete evidence can’t do their job correctly, because they get misinformed.”

You have to hand it to her, and the producers who booked her on the programme, because it takes a remarkably hard neck to take pride in eschewing evidence and thinking that hard facts can ‘misinform’ you. Just as nature hates a vacuum, it’s human nature to fill gaps in our knowledge with conjecture. But the possible explanations simply became ever more outlandish, and we saw everybody from Pakistan and Iran to North Korea and the Americans blamed for stealing it, all with the now customary scant evidence.

So now that the mystery seems to have been solved, have people finally regained their senses and started to accept that sometimes a crash is just a crash? Well, not exactly.

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mh 370 moon

The book Scientology tried to ban

Story H/T: by @ Skeptic Wars

By Tony Ortega via New York Post

To Scientologists, founder L. Ron Hubbard is a larger-than-life figure — a war hero, philosopher and humanitarian.

But the real man was a dissembling, emotional wreck who made up most of his legendary exploits out of whole cloth, writes British journalist Russell Miller.

Miller’s account of Hubbard’s life was so devastating that Scientology tried to have his book banned. “Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard,” finished the year after Hubbard’s 1986 death, was successfully printed everywhere but in the US, where, after two years of litigation, Miller’s American publisher threw in the towel.

The biography was heavily cited by later Scientology books, including Lawrence Wright’s bestselling “Going Clear.” But few Americans have had a chance to read it.

Until now. Twenty-seven years after its original release, “Bare-Faced Messiah” is getting new life with a new publisher, Silvertail Books.

Miller has rewritten some of the introductory material, but otherwise the book is unchanged — and it still holds up. “Bare-Faced Messiah” is a gripping read that tears the fabric of the Hubbard myth into tatters.

Doctor, Physicist, Liar

This is Xenu. According to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Xenu was the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who 75 million years ago brought billions of his people to Teegeeack (aka “Earth”) in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the essences of these many people remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm. (WikiPedia)

For example, the legend promoted by Scientology said that L. Ron Hubbard had grown up breaking wild horses as a child on his grandfather’s Montana ranch, which took up fully a fourth of the entire state. Miller showed instead that Ron’s grandfather was “a small-time veterinarian who supplemented his income renting out horses and buggies from a livery barn.” The family actually led an itinerant existence, moving repeatedly after Ron’s Nebraska birth in 1911 until they ended up in the Pacific Northwest.

The legend said Hubbard had made extensive travels to Asia, where the budding teenaged philosopher communed with holy men and mystics who had great respect for the young American’s precocity.

Miller found instead that Hubbard had made two trips to Asia while his father was stationed in Guam and made observations that were pretty typical for a teenager. In Beijing in 1928, Hubbard noted that the Chinese could make millions if they turned the Great Wall into a roller coaster. But ultimately, he was unimpressed with the country, writing in his journal, “The trouble with China is, there are too many chinks here.”

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Xenu's SPace Plane (artist's interpretation)

Xenu’s Space Plane
(artist’s interpretation)

Mystery of glowing Virgin Mary statue visited by hundreds in Belgium is solved

Story H/T: by @ Skeptic Wars

… after scientists discover it was covered in luminous paint

By Belinda Robinson via Mail Online

madonna figure

Mystery solved: Scientists found that the statue was covered in paint containing zinc sulphide which made it glow

The mystery of the Madonna figure which glowed in the dark, attracting thousands of pilgrims to a sleepy Belgian village, has been solved – and it’s not a miracle.

A team of scientists from the science faculty at Liege university discovered the Madonna was glowing in the dark because it had been covered with paint containing zinc sulphide on an unknown date.

Dr Rudi Cloots, who led the university team said: ‘This chemical has a luminous effect and is the reason for the strange light. It’s no miracle.’

But he could not explain why it took 15 years before the glow appeared.

After the statue was discovered in mid-January, police had to control crowds in the village of Jalhay, near Liege who were eager to touch the figure which suddenly began to glow in the kitchen of an elderly couple’s home.

Over 500 people visited the house in one day, eager to pay homage to it.

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Apollo Robbins: The art of misdirection

I’m always fascinated by how the mind works. Check out Apollo Robbins, he’s incredible.



Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.

On YouTube

IPCC admission from new report: ‘no evidence climate change has led to even a single species becoming extinct’

Watts Up With That?

In 2007, the IPCC predicted that rising global temperatures would kill off many species. But in its new report, part of which will be presented next Monday, the UN climate change body backtracks. There is a shortage of evidence, a draft version claims.

Global warming is said to be threatening thousands of animal and plant species with extinction. That, at least, is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been predicting for years.

But the UN climate body now says it is no longer so certain. The second part of the IPCC’s new assessment report is due to be presented next Monday in Yokohama, Japan. On the one hand, a classified draft of the report notes that a further “increased extinction risk for a substantial number of species during and beyond the 21st century” is to be expected. On the other hand, the IPCC admits that there…

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Quantum Jumping, or Bullshit Overload

Story H/T: @ Skeptic Wars

Via Enduring Beta

I stumbled upon the website Quantum Jumping from an ad for wooey pseudoscience that just seemed… too out there. But oh how I underestimate scammers! I was struck by the techniques used to trick readers into buying into the product and story, and then felt like tearing down some of the nonsense I was reading. Come join me for a hearty laugh, a face palm, and a clenched fist.

Here’s an opening quote from the site to get an idea of what they’re saying:

I would like to share with you a technique that has completely changed who I am. It has brought me everything I could have ever asked for in life – success, talent, wealth, wellbeing, happiness – you name it.

It stems from the aforementioned idea of ‘another you’ living in ‘another reality’. Whether or not this is possible will be debated for some time, and the answer may never be known, but it creates the mindset of what’s called…

The Most Advanced Creative Visualization Technique Ever Created

Now just imagine for a moment you could find a way to ‘jump’ into these alternate universes. That you could meet an infinite number of alternate versions of ‘you’…

Imagine that you could examine their ways and learn their methods, draw upon their skills, experience and wisdom, find out how they become so happy, talented or successful.


This quantum disclaimer is from the customer reviews page.

Emphasis mine. This is a hallmark of pseudoscience to rope people in with a sensational claim like the title “Quantum Jumping” and buttress against criticism with a nod to the fact that it’s “still debated”. Or, in other words, “We’ll sell you on the idea without regard for if it’s real at all.” Legitimate self-help techniques and medicine should wait for the justification through evidence before making claims like this site does!

Burt Goldman says he developed the skills of painting, photography, writing, and business through, effectively, simply visualizing himself with those skills over time. I won’t deny that this mental technique might help with motivation, perseverance, clarity, and focus. But if you don’t have the skills to paint in your head and hands already, they’re not going to be revealed to you just by meditating. There are limits that the tone and language of this site refuse to address.

What’s further agonizing about this site is the dancing they do around whether or not they claim to Actually Contact Other Universes. For example:

[A]t its core, Quantum Jumping is simply an advanced visualization exercise. You’re tapping into your subconscious mind, where are infinite number of realities and possibilities are waiting to be discovered. Anything that can be, is.

“If a universe can be imagined, it exists.” Professor M. R. Franks

“There are vibrations of many different universes right here, right now. We’re just not in tune with them. There are probably other parallel universes in our living room–this is modern physics. This is the modern interpretation of quantum theory, that many worlds represents reality.” Dr. Michio Kaku

They tap Michio Kaku, Einstein, Planck, and more for fake science credibility. The site has moments of near-honesty, but they are sandwiched by the same vague language that can be interpreted in different ways and hollow appeals to unrelated experts and testimony:

Now I hate having to burst anyone’s bubble of having adventures through space – and Quantum Jumping was made to be an out of this world experience – but no, you wont actually leave this planet.

But what does one make of the first block? Are they claiming it or not? The real answer, of course, it that they are being intentionally vague to let the reader come to the most charitable conclusion. They are mentioning science related only in “theme” to give the quick reader, the casual glancer, the illusion of . . .

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Conspiracy Theories: Slippery Paranoid Slope?

Toni Matthews-ElBy via WebProNews

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person. For me they’re often fascinating takes on unsolved mysteries. Or even solved mysteries.

Unfortunately some individuals take conspiracy theories to a disturbingly excessive extreme.

conspiracist 1200Ever been accused of being a government plant or paid off by “The Man”? Then you’ve never run into a hardcore conspiracy theorist. Be grateful, because such encounters are often as baffling as they are annoying.

That statement may ruffle the feathers of those who view such a comment as an attempt to make conspiracy theorists look “bonkers” (a favorite accusation of the more paranoid conspiracy theorists…).

However, at some point people need to be able to back up their arguments with facts and not the assertion that a total stranger is being paid to spread misinformation.

There is a big difference between indulging in the belief that things are being purposely hidden by individuals with nefarious purposes and the need to accuse everyone who doesn’t think like you of being on the inside of some master scheme.

It’s important to remember that unethical government and business practices are actually readily acknowledged by the average person as these events are often front page news.

paranoia 737_201px[ . . . ]

So when do conspiracy theories go off the rails?

1.) When they are developed based on unsubstantiated fear and bigotry rather than supporting evidence. At the heart of the more bizarre conspiracies is often the belief that the theorist is in danger.

Really, if what you knew was so dangerous, it’s logical to believe that you’d already be dead instead of living to blab all over Facebook and Reddit from a computer that’s more traceable than you think.

There’s actually no reason to be afraid because…

2.) You’re just not that special. Some people seek to uncover the truth in order to bring a very real wrong to the attention of the world. Others spend all day discussing their opinion on the internet because of a need to convince the world of how much smarter they are than everyone else.

It’s easy to guess which group is useful and proactive and which group is full of ridiculously entitled windbags.

At the end of the day, conspiracy theories are suppose to be centered around a mysterious event. When each discussion is brought around to you and your ego…you’ve lost the plot.

3.) You are not entitled to know everything. Imagine that you knew everything there is to know about the universe and all events from the beginning to the end of time.

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Updated list of things caused by global warming

Quixotes Last Stand

The original list was obtained from this site, but I’m going to keep adding to it, as every day, I get another Google alert about the next thing that’s going to be catastrophically affected.  My question is, “Why is there never anything positive listed as a result of global warming?”

AIDSAfghan poppies destroyedAfrican holocaustaged deathspoppies more potentAfrica devastated,  Africa in conflict, African aid threatened,  aggressive weedsAir France crashair pocketsair pressure changes,  airport farewells virtualairport malariaAgulhas currentAlaskan towns slowly destroyedAl Qaeda and Taliban Being Helpedallergy increaseallergy season longeralligators in the ThamesAlps meltingAmazon a desertAmerican dream end,  amphibians breeding earlier (or not)anaphylactic reactions to bee stings,  ancient…

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Just a coincidence?

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Homeopathic Products Recalled for Containing Actual Drugs

Story H/T: @ Skeptic Wars

steven_novellaBy via NeuroLogica Blog

Homeopathy is bunk. It is 100% pure unadulterated pseudoscience. That is – unless it is adulterated with actual working medicine.

The FDA recently put out a safety alert warning the public that certain homeopathic products may contain measurable amount of penicillin, enough to cause an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive:

pleo-fortTerra-Medica, Inc. is voluntarily recalling 56 lots of Pleo-FORT, Pleo-QUENT, Pleo-NOT, Pleo-STOLO, Pleo-NOTA-QUENT, and Pleo-EX homeopathic drug products in liquid, tablet, capsule, ointment, and suppository forms to the consumer level. FDA has determined that these products have the potential to contain penicillin or derivatives of penicillin, which may be produced during the fermentation process. In patients who are allergic to beta-lactam antibiotics, even at low levels, exposure to penicillin can result in a range of allergic reactions from mild rashes to severe and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. See the press release for a complete listing of products affected by this recall.

One has to wonder if the company was aware that their product contained penicillin.  That’s a pretty good scam. In the US homeopathic products do not require testing or any FDA approval process. They are essentially pre-approved by law. homeopathy 803_250pxWhile this is a shameful scam, at least homeopathic remedies are completely inactive – nothing but water placed on sugar pills. However, some specific products have been found to have functional levels of active ingredients, so they are not truly homeopathic. For example, some Zicam products were found to contain active levels of zinc, and was linked to anosmia (a loss of smell) in some cases.

In this way a company can market a drug that has actual pharmacological activity, but market it as a homeopathic product that requires no testing and is automatically approved.

This is obviously a dangerous situation. Drugs need to be carefully regulated because they can cause allergic reactions, they are not safe to use in certain condtions, and they can interact with other drugs. In this case there is also the issue of overuse of antibiotics resulting in increased bacterial resistance.

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Can Thieves Rob People Using Hypnosis?

Benjamin RadfordBy Benjamin Radford via Discovery News

A woman in Germany claims she was hypnotized outside of a supermarket, put into a trance, and later woke up at home having been robbed.

A news story explains, “A pair of hypnotists are being hunted by police after a victim claimed she was put in a trance before being robbed. Police in Germany are investigating a spate of crimes involving two Russian women who tell their victims they will read their fortune. mindcontrol 858_200pxIn one incident 66 year-old Sarah Alexeyeva told detectives she was spoken to outside an Aldi supermarket in Elmshorn, Schleswig-Holstein. But the next thing she knew she snapped out of a trance and was sat in her armchair at home. All her jewellery and valuables had disappeared, police said.”

Though such claims are unusual, they are not unheard of. According to a 2008 BBC News story, “Police in Italy have issued footage of a man who is suspected of hypnotizing supermarket checkout staff to hand over money from their cash registers. In every case, the last thing staff reportedly remember is the thief leaning over and saying: ‘Look into my eyes’, before finding the till empty.”

There’s a certain creepy Gothic allure to the idea that a mesmerizing stranger can ask you to stare deeply into his eyes, or ask you to follow a pocketwatch swaying seductively to and fro and listen to him count backwards into a hypnotic trance. But it’s pure fiction.

Misunderstood Hypnosis

HypnotizeAnimatedHypnosis is a widely misunderstood psychological phenomenon, due largely to its depictions in popular culture and film. Many people believe that hypnosis is a way to access memories of traumatic events that have somehow been hidden or forgotten. In the book “Human Memory: An Introduction to Research, Data, and Theory,” Dr. Ian Neath of Purdue University notes, “The majority of studies do not find that hypnosis allows recollection of information that could not otherwise be recalled.”

In fact there is a significant danger that any information or memories that may be recalled under hypnosis may be false, created accidentally by the power of suggestion. False memories elicited using hypnosis played a role in . . .

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10 Insane Conspiracy Theories About The New World Order

By Andrew Handley via Listverse

The New World Order, or NWO, is one of the most well-known conspiracy theories in modern history, right up there with the faked moon landings. In fact, there are those who believe that the NWO orchestrated the fake landings to reinforce their control over the population. Like a handful of cookie crumbs, the NWO has a way of slipping into the cracks behind every other far-fetched theory, and like entropy, the theories about them only get bigger with time. Just keep in mind that as plausible as these theories sound, they are, unfortunately, absolutely insane.

10 • The Ten Kings Prophecy

revelations_of_jesus_christ_xlarge_250pxConspiracy theories that begin with the Bible are nothing new, but according to some people, the New World Order was very specifically predicted in the Book of Revelation. The Ten Kings Prophecy is the theory that 10 nations will rise to power and create a new government. The “prophecy” usually quoted for this comes from Revelation 17:12, which reads “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.”

The idea of a small group of people ruling the world is entirely what the NWO is about, so it’s no wonder that this is seen as a direct prediction of a new world order. And if you study a prediction enough, you’ll start to see it everywhere. The problem, of course, is that nobody can actually agree on where it’s happening.

There are those who think that the Club of Rome is the seat of the NWO, because they published a paper in 1973 that recommended splitting the world into 10 regions. If you crawl even deeper into the fog, you find others touting the G8 as the group of 10 kings from Revelation. Put that calculator away—there are only eight world leaders in the G8, but proponents of the theory predict that it will one day expand to include 10 core nations, signaling the start of Armageddon and, probably, the end of life as we know it.

9 • Population Control

NWO population controlIn order to maintain its iron grip over the world, the NWO would have to trim off some of the excess population. According to conspiracy theorists, that means killing most of the planet and leaving about two billion people to continue the human race. These survivors would obviously be the best of the best—scientists, engineers, writers, and politicians—and they would live underground in cities connected by maglev trains. Alternatively, they’ll use alien technology to build bases on the Moon.

Exactly how the New World Order will trim down the population is a point of contention among theorists. Some people believe that a virus bioengineered by the NWO will wipe out the majority of the population, while others hold firm that Obamacare is slowly poisoning people with vaccines. Other purported methods range from devastating drone strikes to educating people about abortion.

8 • Silent Sound Spread Spectrum

Obey_250pxOne big theory about the NWO is that they use mind control on the general population. While that’s a constant in almost every conspiracy theory, NWO believers think that, when the time comes, the world leaders will flip a switch and instantly force the population into submission. If such a technology were that important to achieving their totalitarian goals, they would obviously try to test it first.

Silent sound spread spectrum (SSSS) is the term most commonly used, although it’s also called “voice to skull” (V2K) technology. It’s almost a cliche these days when a person complains that the government is putting voices in their heads, but they’re still popping up all over the place. One example that’s always repeated on conspiracy theory websites is that the US military used SSSS on Iraqi soldiers, causing them to surrender immediately.

The idea of setting up a system to send microwave signals into the mind of every American—not to mention the rest of the world—is ludicrous at best, but this theory is a cornerstone of the New World Order curriculum.

7 • Blueprints In Literature

160689778-e1395523200839_250px_250pxIn 1928, H.G. Wells published a book called The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution. In the book, he lays out a recipe for establishing a new world order that will last for generations, all of which will be run by the “Atlantic” elite. In 1940, he followed it up with the aptly named The New World Order.

Most people are familiar with H.G. Wells from books like The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, but his guidelines for the New World Order were anything but fiction. As an outspoken socialist, he believed that a world government was inevitable and that widespread eugenics was the proper course for humanity.

True to form, conspiracy theorists are quick to assume that his NWO literature is “required reading” for the world elite. They see it not necessarily as a prediction but as the impetus that brought the “current” New World Order into existence in the first place.

6 • Majestic 12

conspiracy box secret package_300pxThe conspiracy theory of the Majestic 12 goes something like this: In the 1940s, President Truman commissioned a secret committee of scientists and government employees to keep track of the UFOs that were plaguing America’s skies. The organization, Majestic 12, was kept top secret, but over the years, various documents have surfaced that seem to “prove” their existence.

That’s not what this is about.

According to conspiracy theorists, the government created the entire thing as a hoax in order to keep the public’s attention away from the real threat: aliens in the government. The NWO isn’t headed by the elite of humanity, per se—it’s being planned by aliens who already have humanity’s elite under their control. Majestic 12 is a convoluted mess of a conspiracy within a conspiracy, and while we’re all concerned about it, the aliens have been propelling human look-alikes to powerful government positions and giving us AIDS.

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Don’t believe the hype – 10 persistent cancer myths debunked

Via Cancer Research UK – Science blog

cancer-myths_300pxGoogle ‘cancer’ and you’ll be faced with millions of web pages. And the number of YouTube videos you find if you look up ‘cancer cure’ is similarly vast.

The problem is that much of the information out there is at best inaccurate, or at worst dangerously misleading. There are plenty of evidence-based, easy to understand pages about cancer, but there are just as many, if not more, pages spreading myths.

And it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction, as much of the inaccurate information looks and sounds perfectly plausible. But if you scratch the surface and look at the evidence, many continually perpetuated ‘truths’ become unstuck.

In this post, we want to set the record straight on 10 cancer myths we regularly encounter. Driven by the evidence, not by rhetoric or anecdote, we describe what the reality of research actually shows to be true.

[ … ]

Myth 1: Cancer is a man-made, modern disease

Pyramids_250pxIt might be more prominent in the public consciousness now than in times gone by, but cancer isn’t just a ‘modern’, man-made disease of Western society. Cancer has existed as long as humans have. It was described thousands of years ago by Egyptian and Greek physicians, and researchers have discovered tell-tale signs of cancer in a 3,000-year-old skeleton.

While it’s certainly true that global lifestyle-related diseases like cancer are on the rise, the biggest risk factor for cancer is age.

The simple fact is that more people are living long enough to develop cancer because of our success in tackling infectious diseases and other historical causes of death such as malnutrition. It’s perfectly normal for DNA damage in our cells to build up as we age, and such damage can lead to cancer developing.

We’re also now able to diagnose cancers more accurately, thanks to advances in screening, imaging and pathology.

Yes, lifestyle, diet and other things like air pollution collectively have a huge impact on our risk of cancer – smoking for instance is behind a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK – but that’s not the same as saying it’s a modern, man-made disease. There are plenty of natural causes of cancer – for example, one in six worldwide cancers is caused by viruses and bacteria.

Myth 2: Superfoods prevent cancer

Blueberries_250pxBlueberries, beetroot, broccoli, garlic, green tea… the list goes on. Despite thousands of websites claiming otherwise, there’s no such thing as a ‘superfood’. It’s a marketing term used to sell products and has no scientific basis.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t think about what you eat. Some foods are clearly healthier than others. The odd blueberry or mug of green tea certainly could be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Stocking up on fruits and veg is a great idea, and eating a range of different veg is helpful too, but the specific vegetables you choose doesn’t really matter.

Our bodies are complex and cancer is too, so it’s gross oversimplification to say that any one food, on its own, could have a major influence over your chance of developing cancer.

The steady accumulation of evidence over several decades points to a simple, but not very newsworthy fact that the best way to reduce your risk of cancer is by a series of long-term healthy behaviours such as not smoking, keeping active, keeping a healthy body weight and cutting back on alcohol.

Myth 3: ‘Acidic’ diets cause cancer

Lemon_250pxSome myths about cancer are surprisingly persistent, despite flying in the face of basic biology. One such idea is that overly ‘acidic’ diets cause your blood to become ‘too acidic’, which can increase your risk of cancer. The proposed answer: increase your intake of healthier ‘alkaline’ foods like green vegetables and fruits (including, paradoxically, lemons).

This is biological nonsense. True, cancer cells can’t live in an overly alkaline environment, but neither can any of the other cells in your body.

Blood is usually slightly alkaline. This is tightly regulated by the kidneys within a very narrow and perfectly healthy range. It can’t be changed for any meaningful amount of time by what you eat. And while eating green veg is certainly healthy, that’s not because of any effect on how acid or alkaline your body is.

There is something called acidosis. This is a physiological condition that happens when your kidneys and lungs can’t keep your body’s pH (a measure of acidity) in balance. It is often the result of serious illness or poisoning. It can be life-threatening and needs urgent medical attention, but it’s not down to overly acidic diets.

We know that the immediate environment around cancer cells (the microenvironment) can become acidic. This is due to differences in the way that tumours create energy and use oxygen compared with healthy tissue. Researchers are working hard to understand how this happens, in order to develop more effective cancer treatments.

But there’s no good evidence to prove that diet can manipulate whole body pH, or that it has an impact on cancer.

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PBS’ Conversation with global warming skeptic Anthony Watts

Climate Change Skeptic Says Global Warming Crowd Oversells Its Message

September 14, 2012

Intro by via Watts Up With That?:

Here’s the story/transcript from Spencer Michels, along with video that follows. I have not seen the piece that will be airing nationally yet, and I don’t know how much of me they use, but this just appeared on the PBS website.

One note: when they talk about “heat sync” they really meant to say heat sink. – Anthony

Intro by PBS:

It was about 105 degrees in Chico, Calif., about three hours north of Sacramento, when we arrived at the offices of one of the nation’s most read climate skeptics. Actually, Anthony Watts calls himself a pragmatic skeptic when it comes to global warming. Watts is a former television meteorologist, who has been studying climate change for years. He doesn’t claim to be a scientist; he attended Purdue. He’s the author of a blog, Watts Up with That?, which he calls the world’s most viewed site on global warming. For a story I was working on for the PBS NewsHour, Watts was recommended by the Heartland Institute, a conservative, Chicago-based non-profit that is one of the leading groups that doubt that climate change — if it exists — is attributable to human activities.

Watts doesn’t come across as a true believer or a fanatic. For one thing, he has built a business that caters to television stations and individuals who want accurate weather information and need displays to show their viewers. He has developed an array of high tech devices to disseminate weather data and put it on screens. He has several TV stations around the country as clients.

But Watts’ reputation doesn’t come from his business — IntelliWeather — but rather from his outspoken views on climate change. He says he’s been gathering data for years, and he’s analyzed it along with some academics. He used to think somewhat along the same lines as Richard Muller, the University of California physicist who recently declared he was no longer a skeptic on climate change. Muller had analyzed two centuries worth of temperature data and decided his former skepticism was misplaced: yes, the earth has been warming, and the reason is that humans are producing carbon dioxide that is hastening the warming the planet.

Watts doesn’t buy Muller’s analysis, since, he believes, it is based on faulty data. The big problem, as Watts sees it, is that the stations where temperatures are gathered are too close to urban developments where heat is soaked up and distorts the readings. So it looks like the earth is warming though it may not be, he says.


The Worlds Top 15 Conspiracy Theories of All Time

By Derik Bradshaw via Guardian Liberty Voice

Conspiracy theories have floated around for generations with new ones popping up all the time. Here is a list counting down the World’s 15 biggest conspiracy theories of all time.

15. Life on Mars and the Annunaki:

nibiru-and-arriving-anunnaki-lg_250pxEver since photo’s of Mars were taken from the Viking orbiter in 1976, the answer to the question of if there was life on Mars seems to be yes. Photos depicting an enormous face staring up from the surface proved to be eerie. The pictures also include a sphinx and a 5-sided pyramid. When Zecharia Sitchin released findings of tablets in what used to be Sumeria, Sitchin describes the writings telling of the Anunnaki, a superior alien race that came down and taught the Sumerians new technology.  Many speculate that the formations on Mars surface were built by the Anunnaki which also opened up the idea that the great pyramids were built by aliens using humans as slave workers.

14. Who really wrote the plays of Shakespeare?:

Since there is very little historical information about Shakespeare, conspiracy theorists believe that the actor could not have possibly written the plays but rather was used as the author to cover up the real identity of the brilliant poet. Many believe that Shakespeare himself could not of had the education to write such profound works. That the most plausible author could be either Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, Francis Bacon or Sir Walter Raleigh.

13. Vaccination and autism:

needle_175pxCelebrity Jenny McCarthy has fought this fight for years and even Robert Kennedy Jr. voiced his opinion saying the politician believes there is a conspiracy between scientists and the vaccine industry to hide the truth about the ingredients in vaccine shots. McCarthy has said that mother’s from all over the world who have children with autism have said for years that, “We vaccinated our baby and something happened.”

12. Digital television and subliminal advertising:

Many conspiracy theorists believe that cameras and microphones have been secretly built into televisions so that the government could spy on people. Another theory along with this one is that subliminal messages are being broadcast to influence the viewers with what the government and big industries want people to believe.

11. Global Warming:

Global warming has been a hot topic ever since Al Gore brought it to the world’s stage but many theorists believe this to be a ruse in order to control the populations way of life, raise taxes and intended to lead to more controlling, tyrannical government.

10. The Holocaust:

Holocaust_250pxBelieve it or not there are many theorists out there who believe that the Holocaust is a hoax. Conspiracy theories claim that the Nazis never murdered over 6 million Jews during World War II but claims of the Holocaust was conspired by the Jews to advance their own interests and to justify the creation of Israel. The deniers claim that any deaths which occurred in concentration camps were from starvation or disease and not because of Nazi policy to exterminate the Jews. The Diary of Anne Frank the conspiracy theorists believe is a forgery.

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Project ARTICHOKE: The Manchurian Candidate

By Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know via YouTube

Could drugs and psychological torture turn an average person into an unwilling assassin? It sounds like the stuff of sci-fi — so why do some people believe the CIA tried to do it in real life? Tune in to learn more about Project ARTICHOKE.

“They” control us using fear!!


alexjones_animated_3 AlexJonesLunatic

IPCC Admits The Scientific Consensus Was Wrong in a Stunning Reversal on Biofuels

Watts Up With That?

It just goes to show you that sometimes, consensus in science amounts to a “whole lot of nothing” as this story from Robert Mendick in The Sunday Telegraph tells us.

Growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices, IPCC admits in dramatic U-turn

The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices, The Telegraph can disclose.

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Can ‘Oil Pulling’ Improve Your Health?

Benjamin RadfordBy Benjamin Radford via Discovery News

The latest health fad making the rounds is something called “oil pulling,” an ancient Indian practice in which people cleanse their mouths (and bodies) of toxins by swishing a vegetable oil (such as olive, coconut, or sunflower) in the mouth for 20 minutes and then spitting it out.

oil-pulling_250pxIt’s ridiculously simple, and, it is claimed, amazingly effective. According to science writer Mike Rothschild’s blog for the Skeptoid podcast, “Oil pulling is said to treat chronic pain, insomnia, cavities, allergies, thrombosis, diabetes, asthma, bad breath, gingivitis, digestive issues, meningitis, low energy, heart disease, kidney disease, ‘toxic bodily waste,’ PMS, leukemia and even AIDS. Oil pulling, it would seem, is truly a life-changing medical miracle.”

Okay, so maybe swishing a few teaspoons of olive oil isn’t a “life-changing medical miracle.” Other claims are more down-to-earth; according to one proponent, “Oil pulling is an age-old remedy that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria. The basic idea is that oil is swished in the mouth for a short time each day and that this action helps improve oral health… The practice of oil pulling started in India thousands of years ago.”

oil pulling 02
The fact that oil pulling has been used for thousand of years (if indeed it has) is asserted as proof of its efficacy but in fact means nothing. This is an example of a logical fallacy called the “appeal to tradition.” Just because a practice has endured for hundreds or thousands of years does not mean it is valid. For nearly 2,000 years, for example, physicians practiced bloodletting, believing that balancing non-existent bodily humors would restore health to sick patients.

The fact that the premise was completely false and absurd made no difference: the patients who died were assumed to have been too sick (and not killed by the bogus medical treatment), and the ones who recovered (despite, not because of, the bloodletting) were convinced the treatment was a miracle cure. It’s the same reason that people believe superstitions  .  .  .

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TRUE or FALSE: Swishing plant oils in your mouth has been proved to ameliorate a variety of medical ailments? Click here for the answer.

TRUE or FALSE: Swishing plant oils in your mouth has been proved to ameliorate a variety of medical ailments?
Click here for the answer.

The World’s Underground Bases

By Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know via YouTube

How many underground bases exist today? Is there any way to figure out what’s stored in the world’s various secret bunkers? Learn more in today’s video.

Scare the crap out of a conspiracist

Show them this:

Check it for yourself. Cut and paste this address into your browser and hit "enter."

Check it out for yourself.
Copy and paste this address into your browser and hit “enter”: 

Then read this.

Ghost hunters to investigate Gilford store surveillance video

I certainly don’t believe in ghosts, but this is one of the better ghost videos/stories i’ve seen in a while. I’ve gone through the video frame by frame to try and discover how this happened, but the video quality is just too poor to analyze.

Leave any thoughts in the comments section.


Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

By via WMUR TV.

Surveillance video from a store in Gilford has many people spooked.

The video from Ellacoya Country Store in Gilford depicts what looks a glass object flying off a counter and breaking with no one around.

A store employee is then seen rushing back into the room to see what happened.

The video was shared on the Ellacoya Barn & Grille Facebook page, with the simple description, “Haunted much?”

So, was it a ghost or something paranormal? The store commented on the Facebook post, saying ghost hunters will investigate the place soon.


On FaceBook

EDITORIAL: The dubious apocalypse of global warming

The climate isn’t changing, but doomsday rhetoric is rising

Via The Washington Times

The world isn’t warming. The Climate Depot website obtained the latest satellite measurements and found the Earth’s thermostat hasn’t budged since September 1996.

That’s 210 straight months without any trend of the planet growing hotter, or colder, by even a tenth of a degree. This ought to be good news for buyers of a Toyota Prius or carbon-dioxide offsets. They could imagine themselves as having saved the world. But they’re more depressed than ever.

Matthew Ranson, an economist, describes in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management the chaos that he thinks awaits. “Between 2010 and 2099,” he writes in the peer-reviewed journal, “climate change will cause an additional 22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft in the United States.” No estimates of mopery or pillaging.

global-warming-Gore_200pxMr. Ranson said he examined the effect that temperature has on crime rates, based on FBI records. The numbers recognize the obvious criminal preference to rob and pillage in balmy conditions; a blizzard is bad for everybody’s business.

He speculates that a great crime wave would follow the heat wave predicted by computer models of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The U.N. panel is raising its rhetoric, too. London’s daily Independent reports that the panel predicts crop yields will fall by 2 percent every decade, leading to malnutrition and starvation. There will be floods, fires, civil war, hay fever, heat waves, boils, various itches, pestilence and plagues on mankind.

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Is Leftist Science-Denial The Most Dangerous Kind?

Science Denial Is Not Exclusive To Right Wing Fundamentalists

By David Jerale via The Libertarian Republic

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer
“The Liberals’ War on Science.”
(click to download PDF)

In a column for Scientific American January of last year, Michael Shermer, the founder of The Skeptics Society, exposed what he calls “The Liberals’ War on Science.” Shermer observes that, while it is true that Republicans are more overwhelmingly opposed to well-established scientific consensus like anthropogenic climate change theory and evolution, the problem of science denial also reaches epidemic proportions on the left.

“Try having a conversation with a liberal progressive about GMOs—genetically modified organisms—,” Shermer writes, “in which the words “Monsanto” and “profit” are not dropped like syllogistic bombs.”

Taken only at face value, this seems fairly innocuous– and critics like Chris Mooney were quick to point out, correctly, that science denial is predominantly right-wing.

Fair enough, but I offer this riposte: Rick Santorum and his ilk don’t teach science.

What-are-GMOs-and-How-Safe-Are-They-_250pxDiscovery News, on the other hand, does– and in June, they posted a YouTube video by Laci Green, a popular online social justice advocate, feminist and peer sex educator, about genetically modified organisms.  In this video, Laci doesn’t explicitly state her own opinion with regard to whether or not genetically modified foods are safe, choosing instead to present arguments for and against, with a heavy bias against, ending by asking viewers to post their thoughts on the matter in the comments section below the video.

This is a clear example of “false balance,” a tendency for media to overstate controversy in scientific matters.  Fox News has been criticized for this because their coverage of climate science greatly over-represents those who disagree with anthropogenic global warming theory while there is a strong consensus among climate scientists that the theory is correct.  As it happens, there is a similarly strong scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified foods, but Laci conveniently ignores it for the sake of manufactured controversy– and she’s not alone.

SciShow, hosted by Hank Green, is a YouTube channel with over 1.5 million subscribers devoted to discussing scientific topics.  Last year, Hank posted a video wherein he discusses genetically modified organisms– what they are, why they exist, how they’re made, etcetera– which included some cherry-picked information and outright fabrications about the supposed dangers of genetic modification, in spite of the existing scientific consensus to the contrary.  It was later removed, and re-uploaded by another YouTube user– in the comments section there, Hank explains “We dropped it because we cited studies that have since been discredited.”

 Bill Nye “The Science Guy” - perhaps the most well-known science popularizer alive - supports the global warming theory while trying to scare people into thinking GMOs are harmful.

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” – perhaps the most well-known science popularizer alive – supports the global warming theory while trying to scare people into thinking GMOs are harmful.
Science education programming being used to spread pseudoscience?

But Hank and Laci Green are just a couple of online personalities– No real harm, right?

Enter Bill NyeThe Science Guy.”  Bill has been, for the most part, strongly against science denial– he has spoken against teaching creationism to children as well as climate change denial, but oddly, he breaks form when the topic is genetically modified organisms.

Let that sink in for a moment– perhaps the most well-known science popularizer alive, Bill Nye, trying to scare people into thinking GMOs are harmful.

That’s a far cry from some preacher doing the same thing because it conflicts with his religious dogma.  It’s science education programming being used to spread pseudoscience, and the consequences could be devastating.

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An article and study from 1974 suggests global cooling would cause more extreme weather

Watts Up With That?

Steve Goddard tips me to this article in the Canberra Times on May 16th, 1974:


It has some interesting claims in it that sound much like climate change claims made today. Apparently they detected large albedo changes via satellite, with a 12% increase in snow and ice in the Northern Hemisphere that started in 1971, and continued through 1974 when this article was published:

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Medical Conspiracies

steven_novellaconspiracy medical health_100pxBy via Science-Based Medicine

Anyone publicly writing about issues of science and medicine from a pro-science perspective likely gets many e-mails similar to the ones I see every week. Here’s just one recent example:

Im sorry the medical community has become decadent and lazy as most that follow your stance could care less to study the real truth. I have also seen it much more deviant as many professionals know the risks and harm vaccination cause but continue to push it through there practices because of pure greed. Many are also scared of loosing there practices for not following the corrupt industry. Im sorry but the medical industry has become drug pushing decadent slobs that only care about there bottom line.

The e-mailer clearly has a particular narrative that he is following (in addition to the amusingly common poor grammar and spelling). He even writes at one point in our exchange, ProfessorHugoStrange“the details really don’t matter at this point what matters is what the bigger picture…” He is certain of his big picture conspiracy narrative. The details are unimportant.

Being on the receiving end of an almost constant barrage of such medical conspiracy theories it might seem that such beliefs are extremely common. Of course, such e-mails are self-selective and therefore not representative of the general population. I was therefore interested to see a published survey polling the general population about such beliefs. The survey is published in JAMA Internal Medicine, authored by Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood.

Here are the six survey questions and the percentage who agree or disagree (the rest indicating that they do not know).

The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies. (37% agree, 32% disagree)

needle_175pxHealth officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won’t let them. (20% agree, 40% disagree)

The CIA deliberately infected large numbers of African Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program. (12% agree, 51% disagree)

The global dissemination of genetically modified foods by Monsanto Inc is part of a secret program, called Agenda 21, launched by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations to shrink the world’s population. (12% agree, 42% disagree)

Doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders. (20% agree, 44% disagree)

Public water fluoridation is really just a secret way for chemical companies to dump the dangerous byproducts of phosphate mines into the environment. (12% agree, 46% disagree)

The numbers are not surprising, in fact I would have guessed they were a bit higher, but again that perception is likely distorted by my e-mail inbox. They found that 49% of Americans agreed with at least one conspiracy, and 18% agreed with three or more. This is in line with the level of belief in non-medical conspiracies. They did not publish, but I would be interested, in the percentage of people who said they disagreed with all of the conspiracies. Many of the respondents indicated that they did not know if a particular conspiracy were true, likely because they had not heard of it before, but were unwilling to disagree on plausibility grounds alone.

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Mystery plume radar image near Nuclear Test Site – solved

Watts Up With That?

Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation is most likely

People ask me to look into weird things all the time. Since I operate a weather business that specifically offers weather radar analysis and tracking software, I got asked to look at this image from a Daily Mail article which claimed: Weather experts baffled by mystery plume on New Mexico radar near 1945 nuclear bomb test site


An animation of the plume follows: 

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Ignorance sucks

By Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

I bet you think you know what science is for.

"I must conspire against humankind!"

“I must conspire against humankind!”

I bet you subscribe to such ideas as “science is a means for understanding the universe” or “science provides a method for the betterment of humankind.”  And I bet that you think that, by and large, scientists are working to elucidate the actual mechanisms by which nature works, and telling us the truth about what they find.

Ha.  A lot you know.

Yesterday I found out that scientists are actually all in cahoots to pull the wool over our eyes, and are actively lying to us about what they find out.  They work to stamp out the findings of any dissenters (and, if that doesn’t work, the dissenters themselves), and to buoy up a worldview that is factually incorrect.

Why would they do this, you may ask?

I… um.  Let’s see.  That’s a good question.

Well, because they’re that evil, that’s why.  And you know, that’s how conspiracies work.  They just cover stuff up, sometimes for the sheer fun of doing it.  Even the scientists gotta get their jollies somehow, right?  I mean, at the end of the day, rubbing your hands together and cackling maniacally only gets you so far.

A Dark Sucker

A Dark Sucker

I came to this rather alarming realization due to a website I ran into called, “Is Gravity a Pulling or a Pushing Force?” wherein we find out that what we learned in high school physics, to wit, that gravity is attractive, is actually backwards.  Gravity isn’t pulling us toward the center of mass of the Earth, like your physics teacher told you.  It’s more that… space is pushing you down.

It’s a little like my wife’s theory that light bulbs don’t illuminate a room by emitting light, they do it by sucking up dark.  She has been known to say, “Gordon, when you get a chance, can you replace the Dark Sucker in the downstairs bathroom?”  Presumably when the filaments in the bulb become saturated with dark, they become incapable of doing their job any more and need to be replaced.

But unlike my wife, the people on this website are serious.  Here is one representative section from the website  .  .  .

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Are world governments preparing us for disclosure?

By Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know via YouTube

Conspiracy theories about hidden knowledge of extraterrestrials have been around for decades, but one of these theories has an interesting twist: What if the world’s governments are using pop culture to prepare humanity for the arrival of aliens?

CNN entertains theory missing airliner swallowed by black hole; Cosmic mockery ensues [video]

Half Of Americans Believe in Medical Conspiracy Theories

By Rachael Rettner via LiveScience

"Do you see what vaccines have done to me?"

“Do you see what vaccines have done to me?”

About half of Americans agree with at least one medical conspiracy theory, a new study suggests.

The study surveyed more than 1,300 Americans to see whether they agreed with six popular medical conspiracy theories — such as the discredited link between vaccines and autism, or the belief that water fluoridation is a cover-up to allow companies to dump dangerous chemicals into the environment.

Nearly half, or 49 percent, of those surveyed agreed with at least one medical conspiracy theory, and 18 percent agreed with three or more theories.

The most commonly endorsed theory was the belief that the Food and Drug Administration is “deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies.” More than a third of Americans, or 37 percent, agreed with this statement.

Twenty percent agreed with the statement: “Health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won’t let them.” The vaccine-autism link was supported by 20 percent of participants.

Study researcher Eric Oliver, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, said he was not surprised by the findings. Studies of American’s belief in political conspiracy theories have yielded similar results.

“We see that Americans have conspiracy theories about a lot of things, not just about politics, but also about health and medicine as well,” Oliver said.

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Ryan Hamilton files two new suits against Scientology’s drug rehab network — in California

Story H/T: @ Skeptic Wars

Via The Underground Bunker

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton is branching out.

We’ve reported previously about the two federal fraud lawsuits the Las Vegas attorney has filed against Scientology’s drug rehab facility in Nevada. Now he’s filed two more — against a Scientology facility in San Diego County, California.

Angelo Amato of Illinois is suing the Narconon Fresh Start of Warner Springs after he went there for an addiction to Vicodin. He’s a mixed martial artist who became addicted to the pain pills and in December 2013 he searched the Internet for a rehab center. He found a site that had an 800 number and he called. The site claimed to be an “independent consultant.”

When he called, he spoke to Narconon’s Dan Carmichael.

1968 - American science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard uses his Hubbard Electrometer to determine whether tomatoes experience pain, 1968. His work led him to the conclusion that tomatoes "scream when sliced."

American science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard uses his Hubbard Electrometer to determine whether tomatoes experience pain, 1968. His work led him to the conclusion that tomatoes “scream when sliced.”

Carmichael told him the usual thing we’re used to hearing about Narconon’s come-ons, that there would be medical staff on hand, that Amato would get drug counseling, that Narconon staff are trained in addiction treatment, and that the facility had a 76-percent success rate.

As in his previous lawsuits, Hamilton points out that the Narconon contract conceals Narconon’s connection to the Church of Scientology by, in part, altering the title of a book by L. Ron Hubbard.

Amato paid $31,000 up front and began a detox period, and found that he was being monitored not by doctors or nurses, but by a 19-year-old staff worker.

Told he would get his own room, when Amato got to Narconon he found he was asked to stay in a small room with three other men.

Amato then learned what everyone else does in the Narconon program — that it’s not drug counseling but instead the same courses that beginning Scientologists go through in the church, including making clay models to illustrate ideas, and also exercises that has students yelling at ashtrays.

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The Disappearance of Glenn Miller

What happened to American band leader Glenn Miller when he disappeared in WWII?

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller

In 1944, Alton Glenn Miller, born 1904, was on top of the world. He was the world’s most popular band leader, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra was the best selling recording group on Earth. His influence on big band swing music was rivaled only by the great Benny Goodman. A patriot, Miller convinced the United States Army to let him tour the theaters of World War II entertaining the troops. As a major serving in the United States Army Air Force, Glenn Miller boarded a small plane for a quick hop across the English Channel to give a concert in Paris. But the only destination that little single-engine plane and the three men on board ever reached was the file of history’s unsolved mysteries. No trace was ever found, and Miller remains listed to this day as missing in action. He was only 40 years old.

As we so often see with celebrity deaths or any mysterious disappearances, rumors and alternative theories tend to pop up like daisies. What happened to Glenn Miller? Did he die in a plane crash at sea and was never found, or was he perhaps secreted away in some intelligence related spy story? What’s known for sure is that he got on a plane. Glenn Miller’s last flight was from RAF Twinwood Farm, a base for night fighters in Bedfordshire, operated by the US 8th Air Force. The plane was a UC-64 Norseman, a rugged little single-engine plane with seating for up to ten, used for transport and miscellaneous duties, and designed for operating on rough, unimproved surfaces. This particular Norseman had a short career, having been delivered only five months earlier from New Jersey. At the controls was Flight Officer John Morgan, and his passengers were Major Glenn Miller and Lt. Col. Norman Baesell, something of a wheeler-dealer who knew all the right people and would set up gigs for Miller. It was drizzling, the temperature was just above freezing, and the trio took off under heavy overcast at 13:53. The date was December 15, 1944. They never reached Paris.

The first theory, which is really just the default assumption, is that the plane  .  .  .

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Perceiving is Believing – Crash Course Psychology #7

If it has to do with the brain and its inner workings, then count me IN! I love anything brain related.

I suggest watching full screen.



By CrashCourse via YouTube

Debunked: MH370. Airport security photos photoshopped?

By Mason I. Bilderberg

One of the latest rumors floating around the internet regarding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is the following picture:

This is how the above image was captioned by Mulder’s World here and here:

It does seem a bit strange, doesn’t it? What could possibly explain the bottom portion of each photo being identical? It must be the illuminati or even aliens, right!

Well . . . not quite.

Thanks to the good people over at MetaBunk it turns out the culprit is a real yawner. As Mick West at MetaBunk explained, “It was actually a photocopier mishap. The two photos are obviously crops of a larger video frame, and are different sizes. One was on top of the other when the copies were made.”


photoshop_300px… there were claims that the photographs issued by the police of the two men, taken from the airport’s CCTV, had been doctored.

From the waist down both men had the same legs.

Police then had to explain what had gone on — an honest clerical error where a police staff member had placed one on top of the other during photocopying.

“It was not done with malice or to mislead,’’ police spokeswoman Asst Commissioner Asmawati Ahmad said.

So there you have it – nothing nefarious, just an old fashioned photocopying mistake. Pass this around.


Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


Arctic blast coming to Eastern US – likely to be the coldest opening to calendar spring in at least 50 years

Watts Up With That?

Another massive cold wave headed for Eastern US next week to put temperature 20 degrees below normal

Senior WeatherBell Meteorologist Joe Bastardi commented:

I am 58.. never seen anything close to this for late March.


[The] pattern next week has as much extreme potential for the time of the year as I can find. Coldest opening to calender spring in 50 yrs at least.

Weather forecast models such as the ECMWF and NCEP, both of which have had good track records this year in identifying polar vortex outbreaks in advance, are now forecasting a massive cold blast for the beginning of spring. See maps:

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Rumors of an asteroid impact in March 2014 are false.

no asteroid

No, Asteroid 2003 QQ47 Is NOT Going to Hit the Earth Next Week

By via

asteroid_250pxWell, it took three months, but we have our first notpocalypse of 2014!

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are spreading a story that a large asteroid named 2003 QQ47 might impact the Earth next week, specifically on March 21, 2014.

Let me be very clear right away: Nope. It won’t. This story is totally wrong! Well, the asteroid does exist, but it won’t hit us next week, and in fact can’t hit the Earth for at least a century. The truth is the asteroid will safely pass us on March 26 of this year, never getting closer than 19 million kilometers (nearly 12 million miles)—about 50 times farther away than the Moon!


I’m pretty sure what’s happening here is that a very old story has been recycled and is getting spread around without anyone doing any fact-checking. It’s all over Twitter and got picked up credulously by some bigger venues like the Daily Mail, which posted it with the typically understated title of “Asteroid hurtles toward Earth.” What follows after that is a breathless and almost entirely incorrect article about 2003 QQ47 that seems to simply rehash information from more than a decade ago. Seriously.*

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.08.13 PM_600px

For example, the Mail article says the asteroid is “newly discovered,” but in fact was first detected in 2003, 11 years ago! Hence its name, 2003 QQ47. It was found to be a near-Earth asteroid, or NEA, one that does sometimes get close to us. For a while after it was discovered it was thought to have a small chance of hitting Earth, with an impact probability in August 2014 of about 1 in 250,000. But by September 2003 new observations allowed a better trajectory to be calculated, and an impact in 2014 was ruled out. This happens quite often, where a new asteroid will have only a rough orbit calculated, and an impact has long but non-zero odds of hitting us. As more observations come in the chances of impact can actually increase briefly before dropping to zero.

This is what happened with QQ47 back in 2003. Got that? An impact in 2014, this year, was shown to be out of the question more than a decade ago and was even taken off JPL’s Sentry Risk page at that time, when it was found to have no potential Earth impacts for at least 100 years. We’re quite safe from this particular asteroid.

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Moving Illusions

As many of you know, i LOVE optical illusions. Not just because of their visual impact, but also because of the insights it can give us into the workings of our brain, another favorite topic of mine.

This is one of my favorite YouTube channels because they always post something interesting.

Check it out.🙂


Via ▶ Moving Illusions – YouTube

The Tube of Mystery – YouTube

Richard Wiseman always has something very interesting to offer. Check this out🙂

▶ The Tube of Mystery – YouTube.

Are UFO experts being murdered? New book to investigate ‘pattern’ of deaths

Rex Features - A crop circle researcher found floating in the sea and the rapid decline of a UFO expert who believed he had found an alien skull, are the latest in what some claim is a ‘pattern’ of suspicious deaths of UFO experts.

Rex Features – A crop circle researcher found floating in the sea and the rapid decline of a UFO expert who believed he had found an alien skull, are the latest in what some claim is a ‘pattern’ of suspicious deaths of UFO experts.

By Rob Waugh via Yahoo News UK

Are UFO experts being murdered? New book to investigate ‘pattern’ of deaths

ufo1 1114_250pxA crop circle researcher found floating in the sea and the rapid decline of a UFO expert who believed he had found an alien skull, are the latest in what some claim is a ‘pattern’ of suspicious deaths of UFO experts.

A crop circle researcher found floating off the coast of Portsmouth and the rapid decline of a UFO expert who believed he had found an alien skull, are the latest in what some UFO researchers claim is a ‘pattern’ of suspicious deaths of researchers into extraterrestrial sightings, stretching back to as early as 1947.

A plane supposedly shot down by the U.S. military is believed to have been carrying fragments of a flying saucer, while the death of first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, is believed to be UFO related. Some believe that victims number in their dozens.

The pattern of suspicious deaths hit the headlines again this year as activist Steve Bassett spoke on the subject on national radio show C2C in America. A new book, Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind by Nick Redfern, is due out this summer.

crop circle_250px“Recent cases include, 44-year-old Paul Vigay, who was a leading crop circle researcher who had worked on Mel Gibson’s film Signs. He was found floating off the coast of Portsmouth, Hants., in February 2009,” says Nigel Watson, author of The Haynes UFO Investigations Manual.

Watson says that while many UFO researchers believe the killings to be the work of government agents, some believe that the killings may be the work of aliens themselves, to cover up their presence on our planet.

“Many of these cases could be coincidences or people trying to make something out of nothing – but there are certainly some strange incidents,” Watson says. “UFO researcher Philip Schneider’s became increasingly fearful for his personal safety; ‘government vans’ followed him and several attempts were made to run his car off the road. Eventually, his worst fears were confirmed in January 1996. A friend broke into his apartment in Willsonville, Oregon, where his dead body had been rotting for several days. At first, it was thought he had died from a stroke, and then an autopsy found that rubber tubing had been wrapped and knotted around his neck.”

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Malaysia Airlines Expands Investigation To Include General Scope Of Space, Time

Assuming the actuality of wavefunction collapse, Malaysia Airlines officials say flight MH370 could currently be located in any possible alternate future.

Assuming the actuality of wavefunction collapse, Malaysia Airlines officials say flight MH370 could currently be located in any possible alternate future.

Via The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

‘Why Are We Even Here?’ Officials Probe

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA—Following a host of conflicting reports in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last Saturday, representatives from the Kuala Lumpur–based carrier acknowledged they had widened their investigation into the vanished Boeing 777 aircraft today to encompass not only the possibilities of mechanical failure, pilot error, terrorist activity, or a botched hijacking, but also the overarching scope of space, time, and humankind’s place in the universe.

The airline, now in its fifth day of searching for the passenger jet carrying 239 passengers and crew, has come under fire for its perceived mishandling of the investigation, whose confusing and contradictory reports have failed to provide definitive answers on everything from how long the missing plane remained aloft after losing contact with air traffic controllers, to whether the flight made a radical alteration in its heading, to the very dimensions of space-time and the nature of reality, and what exactly it is that brought us into existence and imbued us with this thing we call life.

Additionally, the airline confirmed it had expanded its active search area to include a several-hundred-square-mile zone in the Indian Ocean as well as each of the seven or 22 additional spatial dimensions posited by string theory.

“We continue to do everything in our power and explore every possible lead—both Cartesian and phenomenological—to locate the aircraft as quickly as possible,” said Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who went on to say that authorities were still actively seeking tips from anyone claiming knowledge related either to the flight, or to the mechanisms by which consciousness arises, or to the question of why anything physical and finite exists instead of nothing at all. “At this stage, we can’t rule anything out: not crew interference with the transponders, not a catastrophic electrical failure, not the emergence of a complex topological feature of space-time such as an Einstein-Rosen bridge that could have deposited the flight at any location in the universe or a different time period altogether, nothing.”

“Could a parallel universe have immediately swelled up from random cosmological fluctuation according to the multiverse theory and swallowed the flight into its folds, or could ice have built up on an airspeed sensor? Those are both options we are currently considering,” Rahman added. “Everything’s on the table. That is, insofar as anything exists at all, which we’re also looking into.”

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Aromatherapy: Sniffing Essential Oils

The essences of certain flowers and herbs produce a pleasing smell, but is it also medicinal?

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

The popularity of essences of aromatic plants appears to have skyrocketed in recent years. Normally they’re used as simple fragrances, in perfumes, incense, soaps and candles, or even potpourri. But their recent rise may be due in part to stinkier practices: a lot of people are now turning to essential oils for medical purposes. Some believe they promote general wellness, some believe they boost the immune system, and some depend on specific aromatherapies to treat very specific diseases. Are they right to do so?

Why don't you remember this headline?

Why don’t you remember this headline?

Let’s look exactly at what an essential oil is. First of all, the word “essential” means that the oil contains the “essence” of whatever plant it’s from; it does not mean that it’s essential (as in necessary for health). Leaves, stems, flowers, or whatever part of the desired plant is placed in a distillation vessel with steam. The heat releases the volatile organic compounds from the plant matter (volatile means they exist as a vapor at room temperature). Volatile organic compounds are what goes into your nose when you smell a flower. These compounds are then distilled into a liquid, which we colloquially call the “essence” of the plant. Finally, to make a nicely packageable product of desired consistency and concentration, the essence is usually mixed with an odorless carrier oil. Then, voilà: we have what’s called an essential oil, strong with the smell of the plant it’s made from.

It can be a massage oil; it can be the scent added to incense; it can be added to bath water, to soaps, or to candles; you can put some in your tea; or you can dab some on your skin for the fragrance. Many such aromas are delightful, even pleasurable. For a thousand years, people have been willing to pay a fair price for essential oils. But in recent years, prices have skyrocketed, especially among allegedly “premium” oils. Why might this be? The plants have not become any more scarce, and the production methods have only become more efficient and cheaper (particularly with our global economy providing the best access ever to bargain-basement oils produced in developing countries).

The answer is a resurgence of aromatherapy in the New Age and alternative medicine communities. But before we talk about its resurgence, let’s see how it first became a thing at all.

The principal anecdote cited by virtually all credulous articles on essential oils comes from the perfume industry.

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A Grain of Truth: Recreating Dr. Emoto’s Rice Experiment

Carrie PoppyBy Carrie Poppy via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – CSI

Are you a human? Do you have access to the internet? Then you may already know about Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese “scientist”[1] who magically turns normal rice into gross rice, simply by yelling at it.

But for the uninitiated, Dr. Emoto gained international fame from the film What the Bleep Do We Know?!, which praised his experiments on the cellular structure of water. Maybe you remember this dramatization, in which a science docent describes Emoto’s experiments, and a creepy guy creeps up on Marlee Matlin to explain everything, just in case she’s a complete buffoon.

During his studies, Emoto separated water into one hundred petri dishes and assigned each dish a fate: good or bad. The good water was blessed or praised for being so wonderful (“Oh look at you wonderful little water droplets! One day you shall be a water slide!” I imagine him saying).

Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese “scientist” who magically turns normal rice into gross rice, simply by yelling at it.

Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese “scientist” who magically turns normal rice into gross rice, simply by yelling at it.

The bad water was scolded (“May you become that gross grey sludge that builds up under a Zamboni,” he maybe said). Each petri dish was frozen, allegedly under similar conditions. Lo and behold, when the frozen water was viewed under a microscope, the water which had been praised and valued had rearranged itself into beautiful crystalline structures. The “bad” water was as ugly as ice crystals can get (which, to be honest, isn’t that ugly), showing a lack of symmetry and more overall jaggedness. Emoto started to get a little giddy with his findings, trying new methods like taping the words “Adolf Hitler” to a glass of water and seeing what happened (allegedly, the water was very ugly).[2]

He even had a team in Tokyo transmit their thoughts to some water across the world, to California, in a double-blinded study. According to the abstract, “crystals from the treated water were given higher scores for aesthetic appeal than those from the control water.”[3] We are all made up largely of water and, as Emoto explained, that is why this study is so important and the findings are so serious.

Except that they aren’t. As Stanford University professor Emeritus William Tiller (also featured in What the Bleep) pointed out after the film’s release,[4] After Prayer copie_200pxit is extremely easy to manipulate the crystalline structure of water, especially by adding contaminants or tinkering with the cooling rate of the water. In Dr. Tiller’s words, “In Dr. Emoto’s experiments, [supercooling] was neither controlled nor measured, a necessary requirement to be fulfilled if one wanted to prove that it was the new factor of specific human intention that was causative.”[5] Apparently, Emoto’s experimental protocols are so lacking as to be unrepeatable, and even the most basic attempts at scientific controls are absent. Regular Skeptical Inquirer contributor Harriet Hall reviewed Emoto’s book about his experiments herself, giving it the honor of “the worst book I have ever read. It is about as scientific as Alice in Wonderland.”[6] In one portion of the book, Emoto recalls watching a priest perform incantations into a lake, causing the lake to become more and more clear. And then things get really weird:

The crystals made with water from before the incantation were distorted, and looked like the face of someone in great pain. But the crystals from water taken after the incantation were complete and grand… A few days after this experiment, an incident was reported in the press. The body of a woman was found in the lake, and when I heard about this I remembered the crystals created from the water before the prayer, and remembered how the crystals had looked like a face in agony. Perhaps through the crystals, the spirit of this woman was trying to tell us something. I would like to think that her suffering was alleviated in part by the incantation.[7]

As What the Bleep faded to memory, Emoto and his water evaporated too.[8] But recently, Emoto has made a comeback in the form of a viral video meme of people carrying out yet another Emoto water experiment, now in their own kitchens. The experiment, seen here in its original form, had Emoto pouring water over cooked rice[9] in three different beakers, then labeling one “Thank You!,” one “You’re An Idiot,” and leaving one unlabeled (the control).

Every day for one month, Emoto spoke whatever was on the bottle to the rice inside (since this is about intentionality, it doesn’t matter whether the other rice “overhear”). i-hate-you-1050x787And after thirty days, what happened? Well, the “Thank You!” rice “began to ferment, giving off a strong, pleasant aroma.” The “You’re An Idiot” rice turned mostly black, and the control rice “began to rot,” turning a disgusting green-blue color. Well, the jig is up when your control rice rots, right? Apparently not. According to Emoto, the “ignored” rice fared the worst because negligence and indifference are the absolute worst things we can do to water, rice…and ourselves. He goes on to explain that “we should converse with children,” a piece of monumental parenting advice that is sure to forever be attributed to this rice experiment. “Indifference,” our narrator tells us, “does the greatest harm.”

Egad! All I’ve ever been doing with my rice is ignoring it! It sits in my pantry, quietly waiting for use, when I should at the very least be calling it an idiot, to stave off some rotting, and at best thanking it for its existence. But did others get the same results?

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How the Global Warming Scare Began

Here is an entertaining and well researched video documentary by John Coleman, creator of The Weather Channel.

Via KUSITV9 @ YouTube

A great scientist named Roger Revelle had Al Gore in his class at Harvard and the Global Warming campaign was born. Revelle tried to calm things down years later, but Gore said Revelle was Senile and refused to debate. John Coleman documents the entire story and shows how our tax dollars are perpetuating the Global Warming alarmist campaign even though temperatures have not risen in years and years.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.52.06 PM

DEBUNKED: Myth: Cancer has become more prevalent in the USA

Via Skeptical Raptor’s Blog

cancer-foods-cause_250pxOne of the enduring zombified tropes of the junk science world is that the rate of cancer in people is higher today than it was in the past. Depending on the one screaming this myth, this rate of cancer increase is a result of A) vaccines, B) GMO crops, C) pasteurized milk, D) non-organic foods, or E) everything.

To be certain, there are a few things that do cause cancer, like smoking, asbestos, and obesity (and there are a lot of causes of obesity, it might be impossible to link the cause of obesity directly with cancer). Here and there, you might run across a study that mentions one thing or another may or may not increase or reduce the risk of cancer. But most of those studies are one-off primary research, usually using small groups, providing little clinical evidence that you may or may not be able to increase or decrease the risk of cancer. Wait until we can find these studies in large systematic reviews, before deciding that this or that may or may not increase or decrease the risk of cancer.

In the meantime, Joe Mercola certainly can make boatloads of money making such nonsense cancer claims.

Let’s go find out what the evidence tells us about the cancer rate. Let’s see if there are any real peer-reviewed articles that do a careful analysis of cancer rates over 100 years in the USA. Without much effort, I found one with the obscure and complex title of, “The decline in US cancer mortality in people born since 1925.” The paper by Kort et al., and published in Cancer Research in late 2009, reviewed data reported by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, was obtained from WHO Statistical Information System (WHOSIS). They examined the incidence (rate) and mortality from various cancers from individuals born in 1925 and after.

What the authors found was that rate of Cancer in each age group is holding roughly constant. However, since society as a whole is aging, overall cancer incidence is increasing slightly.

© Cancer research, 2009. All-site cancer mortality rates at different ages by decade of birth. Mortality rates for 40 to 79 year olds are plotted stratified by age and plotted by year of birth.

© Cancer research, 2009. All-site cancer mortality rates at different ages by decade of birth. Mortality rates for 40 to 79 year olds are plotted stratified by age and plotted by year of birth.

Well, the results are pretty clear. The rates of cancer for each age cohort appears to be flat, slightly increasing, or slightly decreasing. Overall, across all age groups, the cancer incidence is nearly flat (although the numbers are higher because the US population is larger and older than it was 60 years ago).

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The disappearance of Flight 370

Via Skeptophilia

Well, I’m happy to say that The Weekly World News has been supplanted as the world’s first and foremost disseminator of bullshit.  The crown has now officially been passed to Natural News.

Click image for larger view

Click image for larger view

It’s not that the competition wasn’t stiff.  The Weekly World News has had some doozies.  (My all-time favorite TWWN headline: “Santa’s Elves Actually Slaves From The Planet Mars.”)  But Natural News has edged them out, on two bases: (1) they have better writers, so their stories actually sound plausible and therefore sucker more people, and (2) they have mastered the art of distributing bonkers “news” stories via social media.

At first, it was just health stuff (and their site is still sub-headed, “Natural Health News and Scientific Discoveries”).  And as such, they confined themselves for some time to articles telling you about how Big Pharma is trying to kill us all, how you can cure cancer with lemon juice, how putting onions in your socks draws out toxins, and how you won’t get heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or old age if you eat Indian gooseberries.  (You thought I was going to say I made those up, didn’t you?  Well, ha.  Those are real article topics from Natural News.  Teach you to make assumptions.)

But now, they’ve branched out.  And because of this, we have a monumentally screwy piece of journalism, to wit: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared because it… disappeared.

Yup.  Disappeared.  “Poof.”  Or “zap,” or whatever noise you prefer your teleportation device to make.  And admit it: it’s not really that surprising.  Given that we’re talking about the loss of a huge passenger jet, it was only a matter of time until the conspiracy theories started flying around.

Author Mike Adams does it right, I have to give him that.  First, it’s hammered into our brains how MYSTERIOUS and BAFFLING it is that the plane vanished (words to that effect appear dozens of times), and then we’re offered a possible explanation:

This is what is currently giving rise to all sorts of bizarre-sounding theories across the ‘net, including discussions of possible secret military weapons tests, Bermuda Triangle-like ripples in the fabric of spacetime, and even conjecture that non-terrestrial (alien) technology may have teleported the plane away.

But no, Adams says, that would be ridiculous.  We couldn’t believe that without evidence.  Instead, he asks us to believe the following:

The frightening part about all this is not that we will find the debris of Flight 370; but rather that we won’t. If we never find the debris, it means some entirely new, mysterious and powerful force is at work on our planet which can pluck airplanes out of the sky without leaving behind even a shred of evidence.

If there does exist a weapon with such capabilities, whoever control it already has the ability to dominate all of Earth’s nations with a fearsome military weapon of unimaginable power. That thought is a lot more scary than the idea of an aircraft suffering a fatal mechanical failure.

Righty-o.  Because planes have never disappeared before, or anything.  It’s not as if there’s a list of 122 airplane disappearances that have never been resolved, right there on Wikipedia — 36 of them since 1966, when black boxes were required on commercial aircraft.  It’s not as if there is precedent for it taking a long while to locate wreckage — such as the remains of Air France Flight 447 in 2009, which took three years to recover.  (The black box was finally found under 13,000 feet of water in the South Atlantic.)

Marginally more plausible theories have been trotted out, mostly centering on some kind of Chinese-led terrorist attack designed to get rid of one or more people who were on the plane.  To that, I can only respond:

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Can Thinking Change Reality

Story H/T: @ Skeptic Wars

steven_novellaby via NeuroLogica Blog

I love the documentary series, The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke. It’s a follow up to his equally good, Connections (I know, they have their criticisms, but overall they are very good). The former title is a metaphor – when our collective model of reality changes, for us the universe does change. When we believed the earth was motionless at the center of the universe, that was our reality.

James Burke The Day the Universe Changed

James Burke
The Day the Universe Changed

But Burke was not arguing that the nature of the universe actually changed, just our conception of it. Thinking alone cannot directly change external reality. That is magical thinking.

Such thinking, however, lies at the center of much new age spiritual claims. The secret of The Secret is that you can change your world by wishing. Proponents of such ideas are desperate for scientific validation of their basic premise. Such evidence does not exist. In fact over a century of such research shows rather conclusively that there is no such effect in operation in our world to any significant degree.

A recent article claiming that there is such evidence has been making the social media rounds – 10 Scientific Studies That Prove Consciousness Can Alter Our Physical Material World. After some flowery Eastern mysticism, and rather gratuitously abusing the memory of Nikola Tesla, the author gives a quick summary of what they believe to be ten lines of evidence supporting the notion that consciousness can alter physical reality. It would take a full-length post to debunk each of these ten claims adequately. I am only going to give an equally quick summary here, but will link to longer articles when possible.

1 – Quantum Double Slit Experiment

Double-slit experiment, artworkYou knew this had to be on the list. The claim is that the classic double slit experiments prove that consciousness affects reality at a fundamental level. Light (or other elementary particles, and even small atoms) traveling through one slit will shine as a blob on the other side, as if the particles of light were all piling up after the slit. If two adjacent thin slits are open, however, then we don’t see two blobs but rather an interference pattern, as if the light were traveling like water waves and interfering with each other as they traveled through the slits. This is the core experiment that demonstrates the wave-particle duality of light – it travels like a wave but then interacts like a particle.

These experiments are often distorted into the claim that the experimenter has to be watching, that their consciousness affects the outcome. This is simply not true, however. All that is required is a detector, which physically interacts with the particles. “Detecting” forces the wave function to collapse into a particle. I discuss this further here.

2. Government Sponsored Psychokinesis Experiments

The claim is that government experiments demonstrated the ability to bend spoons and forks with the mind. The links provided as references, however, do not establish such claims. This, of course, is a theme of the article, providing links that give the appearance of evidence, even though they do not establish the claims being referenced.

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ALSO SEE: NeuroLogica Blog » Can Thinking Change Reality Part II.

Dowsing (a.k.a. water witching)

Via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

dowsing1Dowsing is the action of a person–called the dowser–using a rod, stick or other device–called a dowsing rod, dowsing stick, doodlebug (when used to locate oil), or divining rod–to locate such things as underground water, hidden metal, buried treasure, oil, lost persons or golf balls, etc. Since dowsing is not based upon any known scientific or empirical laws or forces of nature, it should be considered a type of divination and an example of magical thinking. The dowser tries to locate objects by occult means.

Map dowsers use a dowsing device, usually a pendulum, over maps to locate oil, minerals, persons, water, etc. However, the prototype of a dowser is the field dowser who walks around an area using a forked stick to locate underground water. When above water, the rod points downward. (Some dowsers use two rods. The rods cross when above water.) Various theories have been given as to what causes the rods to move: electromagnetic or other subtle geological forces, suggestion from others or from geophysical observations, ESP and other paranormal explanations, etc. Most skeptics accept the explanation of William Carpenter (1852). The rod moves due to involuntary motor behavior, which Carpenter dubbed ideomotor action.

In the 16th century, Agricola described mining dowsers using a forked twig to find metals (De re metallica). He didn’t think much of the practice. A miner, he wrote:

should not make us of an enchanted twig, because if he is prudent and skilled in the natural signs, he understands that a forked stick is of no use to him, for … there are natural indications of the veins which he can see for himself without the help of twigs. (Quoted in Zusne and Jones 1989: 106)

Despite this sage advice, dowsers continue to dowse, claiming that they have a special power and that what they are dowsing for emanates energy, rays, radiations, vibrations, and the like.

Does dowsing work?

Some people are less interested in why the rods move than in whether dowsing works. Obviously, many people believe it does. Dowsing and other forms of divination have been around for thousands of years. There are large societies of dowsers in America and Europe and dowsers practice their art every day in all parts of the world. There have even been scientists in recent years who have offered proof that dowsing works. There must be something to it, then, or so it seems.

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Cosmos (2014) Episode 1: Best and Worst


by Alison Edwards via Skeptoid

After my recent run as a cut-rate media critic with the 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist taking on another television show. Fortunately, the highly anticipated Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey has premiered only a few weeks later. Time to cut my media-writing chops on some higher quality fare.

I want to do something different with these than a simple recap. A review would be fun, but every media outlet on the Internet seems to have a review of the new Cosmos series already, so adding one more seemed like a wasted effort. Instead, I’ve decided to take bit of a skeptical eye to the proceedings, watching each episode and identifying the high points and the low points — the Best of and Worst of the new Cosmos, if you will. So without further ado …

Episode 1: “Standing Up in the Milky Way”


Cosmos-Neil-deGrasse-Tyson_300pxFirst off, the host. I’ve liked Neil deGrasse Tyson ever since the days when he hosted NOVA ScienceNow, and I listen regularly to his Star Talk radio podcast; so I knew going in that he would probably slip nicely into Carl Sagan’s role as narrator of the series. He did not disappoint. While he’s not quite the noble poet of science that Sagan was, he has an affable way of making scientific ideas accessible and entertaining to the lay person, which is exactly what this series needed in 2014 on FOX. This isn’t Tyson as the fierce science advocate, though; instead, this is Tyson playing the straight man to the wonders of the universe.

Second, I’m really fond of the visual narrative motif built into the Spaceship of the Imagination. I think most people can agree that the Spaceship is one of the cornier moments of the original Cosmos; so if it had to come back for this sequel, why not make it a more functional part of the narration? The visual cue of Beneath/Past, In Front/Present, Above/Future is a elegantly simple way to help cue viewers in a series that is so often going to be jumping back and forth. Not paying close attention to every word Tyson says? Well the shot is moving “Below,” so whatever they’re about to talk about must be science history. Subtle but effective.

Finally, some of the FX visualizations during the “Cosmic Address” segment were pretty cool. The Spaceship flying past the Mars Rover; the visualization of the inside of Saturn’s rings; the dark, icy rogue planet — honestly, I just enjoyed the whole tour of the universe. Opening with the whole concept of scope — and how being tiny doesn’t mean we have to be insignificant — set a fine tone for things to come.


I think the weak point of the first episode was definitely the animated Giordano Bruno story. The whole sequence fell flat for a number of reasons.

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3 Criminals Who Got Away With It

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know


Although law enforcement professionals around the world do their best to prevent killers, thieves and other criminals from walking free, they don’t always succeed. Tune in and learn about 3 notorious criminals who got away with everything from cannibalism to mass murder – and learn what happened to them next.

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