Monthly Archives: July, 2014

Ryan Buell rips off fans

Celebrity “ghost-hunter” Ryan Buell cancels appearances and fans say they aren’t getting refunds.

diane wilsonBy via Ryan Buell fans want refunds (Part 1)

RALEIGH (WTVD) — The I-Team Troubleshooter reports the story of a celebrity ghost-hunter who has cancelled appearances and fans say they aren’t getting refunds.

Paranormal expert Ryan Buell appeared on the cable TV series “Paranormal State” looking for ghosts or trying to prove that life after death is real.

Paranormal-State-Ryan-Buell-Book-Cover

Maybe the devil made him do this (?)

Buell claims to be based here in the Triangle; however the ghost hunter has a pretty big following nationwide.

Teresa Harrell paid over $400 to get special VIP tickets for her and her husband and drove six hours to Chicago to see Buell’s “Conversations with the Dead Tour.”

“I watched all of Ryan Buell’s movies that were on the TV and I also read his book,” Teresa said.

However, just days before the show, she got the bad news it was postponed.

“They rescheduled the event for like three weeks later and didn’t tell anybody what was going on,” Teresa explained.

According to Buell’s Facebook page, there were scheduling conflicts with venues. Teresa didn’t buy it.

“What I did was call the venue directly and I spoke with the manager and he told me that they had not spoken with him since they had rescheduled the event. He had no deposits or anything and couldn’t get a hold of them,” she said.

The rescheduled shows never happened. Instead, the entire tour was cancelled and fans wanted their money back.

PART 1 CONTINUED – – –

PageBreak

A follow up investigation of celebrity ghost hunter Ryan Buell, whose long-time friend is speaking out about fans’ missing money.

diane wilsonBy via Ryan Buell’s long-time friend speaks out (Part 2)

RALEIGH (WTVD) — The I-Team Troubleshooter follows up on the investigation of a celebrity ghost hunter, whose long-time friend is speaking out about fans’ missing money.

We heard from a lot of former fans of Ryan Buell who were angry that they paid a lot of money for his lecture tour and never got refunds when it was canceled. One even traveled all the way from Denmark.

Why didn't psychic Chip Coffey predict this mess?

Why didn’t psychic Chip Coffey predict this mess?

One of the headliner’s for Buell’s tour, a long-time friend, said thousands of dollars are at stake.

Chip Coffey is a well-known psychic and medium who was once part of the cable TV series “Paranormal State” with Buell.

Coffey was scheduled to team up with the ghost hunter again for his “Conversations With The Dead Tour.”

He says Buell and his team, the Paranormal Research Society, based here in the Triangle organized the tour and were in charge of all the details.

“Venues weren’t booked. Airline tickets weren’t booked,” Coffey said.

He says it was so unorganized, he had to bail on the U.S. tour in April, just days before it was supposed to start.

Additionally, he says while he has no access to the ticket sales, he knows a lot were sold.

Coffey said, “I know that the last accounting I had, with regards to ticket sales for the ‘Conversations with the Dead Tour,’ it was in excess of $80,000.”

That doesn’t even include the tickets that were sold for the seven shows in Canada that were all canceled.

Now that Buell canceled the U.S. and Canadian tours, Coffey says he doesn’t understand why ticket holders aren’t getting refunds.

PART 2 CONTINUED – – –

“What should we think about death?”

By British Humanist Association via YouTube narrated by Stephen Fry

A short Humanist animation about death, afterlife, and living in the here and now.

Albino Facts and Fiction

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

The past decade has brought news of an atrocity, mainly from Africa: the slaughter of albino humans for their body parts for use in ritual magic. Bodies are usually found headless and missing one or more limbs, but sometimes are completely torn apart, missing even internal organs. The reason is, of course, pure unadulterated pseudoscience; we can confidently state that there is no magical benefit to the use of albino body parts, and that’s to say nothing of the abhorrence of murder for any purpose. Clearly there are some fictional beliefs out there concerning the nature of people with albinism, and today we’re going to look at some more of these beliefs that might be held even by those of us who are not into black magic.

A young man with albinism in Africa Photo: Wikimedia

A young man with albinism in Africa
Photo: Wikimedia

But the use of their body parts in ritual magic is the elephant in the room. Arms and legs are the witch doctors’ preferred bits. They are used as charms and talismans, and other body parts also have magical value, such as hair being sewn into fishing nets to bring good luck. About five albinos per year are reported to be killed in Africa for their body parts, but the total is probably larger. Perhaps even more frightening is that about the same number of people survive similar attacks, suddenly accosted by men with machetes who hack off the valuable limbs and abscond, with little care for the still-living victim they leave behind. It’s quick cash; in Tanzania, a single limb can be worth up to four times the average annual income. A complete albino body, chopped apart and sold bit by bit, can be worth more five times what the average Tanzanian can expect to earn in a lifetime; a figure often given in the press is $75,000. Fortunately, over the past few years, witch doctors and attackers have been prosecuted and some have been executed, leading to a reduction in these attacks.

But another problem faced by African albinos is that they are nearly always from broken homes. When some African fathers see their child born white, they assume their wives must have been having affairs with white men. The Albino Association of Kenya says that 90% of albinos in that country are raised by single mothers as a result.

There are four basic types of albinism, some of which have subtypes, corresponding to different genetic defects  .  .  .

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Stop Using Quantum Mechanics as Evidence for Magic

Esther Inglis-Arkell_90pxBy Esther Inglis-Arkell via io9

Quantum mechanics is a beautiful and still-controversial idea. It is rightly popular. What’s not right is the way people use it to justify any reality-bending idea in their novels, their TV shows, or their personal philosophies. “Quantum” does not mean anything you want.

USS Enterprise_300px“Captain? I’m afraid we’re getting quantum disruptions in the quantum energy field. Should I ready the quantum torpedoes and relay a quantum message to the quantum base?”

I’m not a savvy dissector of movies. All the physics mistakes in Gravity flew right past me, but when you see something done a certain amount of times, it works even the most unresponsive of nerves. The word “quantum” is regularly dropped into science fiction in a way that basically amounts to the storyteller thinking, “I bet this is the way smart people in the future talk.” It might be the way smart people talk, but as we see in the next section, it’s also the way people talk when they’re being really stupid. What’s more, it won’t be the way the educated people of the future talk about anything.

Science can move forward in sweeping generalities, or it can move forward by becoming more and more specific. Either way, you probably shouldn’t use “quantum” to describe future science. If you’ve got a universe where starships can move at above light speed, or people can teleport, or the brain can be uploaded into a computer, the term “quantum” may be as antiquated as the term “natural philosophy.”

weeping angels doctor who_250pxIf the term “quantum” is still around, it won’t be applicable in any specific situation. Let’s put it this way, there are five different major types of light scattering – Rayleigh Scattering, Mie Scattering, Tyndall Scattering, Brillouin Scattering, and Raman Scattering. If you’re an expert and working with scattered light in any meaningful way, saying, “light is being scattered,” isn’t specific enough to get anything done. You have to know what kind of scattering you’re dealing with. Having characters in a space craft worry about a “quantum energy field” near them makes about as much sense as having characters in a war say that the enemy is shooting “matter” at them. They’ll need to use specifics to make any progress.

A fun note: the types of light scattering are all named after scientists. Instead of saying “a quantum energy field,” have your characters run into “a Bass-Van-der-Woodsen field,” because in your universe the team of Bass and Van der Woodsen made the discovery, and an educated expert would name the field instead of just saying “it’s quantum.”

It Doesn’t Mean That We Are Psychic

Okay, here’s the big one. Quantum mechanics shows that the world works in unintuitive ways, and, yes, experiments done in quantum mechanics provide results that can be interpreted in ways that lead us to odd conclusions. What quantum mechanics doesn’t do is provide evidence for whatever whack-a-doodle theory any crackpot has at the moment. These theories come in several different flavors.

quantum-entanglement_600px
First there’s quantum entanglement. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for quantum entanglement. Entanglement involves two particles having opposite spins. As long as the spins aren’t measured, they’re undetermined. This doesn’t mean that we don’t know the spins. This means that they are literally  .  .  .

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The Bermuda Triangle

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

Decades of strange accidents and alleged disappearances have given the Bermuda triangle a terrible reputation — but how much of this is deserved?

Al Gore’s Global Warming and Climate Change Game!

Click for larger view.

Click for larger view.

Cleansing Diets

It seems nearly all your friends are doing special cleansing diets. Should you do one too?

By inFact via YouTube

Transcript via inFact:

Cleansing diets are a food fad that’s been around for decades, from the Hollywood 48-Hour Miracle Diet, to lemon & maple syrup concoctions, to today’s absurdly overpriced high-sugar fruit smoothie drinks that you buy an in impressively multi-colored, day-specific pack.

Notice that accredited healthcare providers like medical doctors and dietitians never recommend that you buy these cleansing products — they recommend the most basic (and free) health advice of all: eat right and get some exercise. It’s only the unaccredited, unlicensed tradespeople like nutritionists and yoga teachers who will advise you to buy cleansing products — and not surprisingly, will often sell them to you themselves.

Why don’t doctors advise cleansing for general health? Because there is no such thing in medical or dietetic science. The idea that toxic substances from a normal diet build up in your body and cause health problems is a fantasy invented by marketers. Proof: Humans and animals all exist fine, and have for millions of years, without these products. We have perfectly functioning systems already built in: kidneys and livers. The technical medical terms for detoxification are “poop” and “pee”.

Continue Reading Transcript – – –

Remember that claim from NSIDC and Walt Meier that the Antarctic ice expansion was due to a ‘processing error’? …never mind

Watts Up With That?

NASA scientist says that error has long since been corrected and the increase in sea ice in Antarctica is real.

As readers know, we announced this paper (which was under embargo): Claim: Antartica record high sea ice partially an artifact of an algorithm

Cato’s Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger said the whole thing was not an ice mountain, but a molehill: Of mountains, molehills, and noisy bumps  in the sea-ice record writing:

“If the reason that the shift was undetected is because the data is so noisy, how important can it be?”

View original post 328 more words

The Santa Barbara Simoom of 1859

Santa Barbara 600px
Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

Today we’re going to go back more than a century and a half to a hot summer day on the central coast of California, to the town of Santa Barbara. June 17, 1859 began as a summer day much like any other, clear with plenty of warm sunshine, plus a cool breeze to make it just perfect. But according to legend, something happened that wrought sudden death and destruction: from out of nowhere, a wind with temperatures usually reserved for baking ovens blasted down from the hills, killing animals and injuring people. It immediately set the country’s highest recorded temperature. They named it the simoom, after the hot Sahara wind of the same name. But it turns out that data is hard to come by. Was the Santa Barbara simoom a true freak of nature, or perhaps merely a tall tale told to visitors?

Here is a snippet about the 1859 simoom from the Insider’s Guide to Santa Barbara:

Until 1934, Santa Barbara had a record high temperature on the U.S. Weather Bureau’s books. On June 17, 1859, a simoom (scorching wind) swept down from the northwest, and the mercury soared to 133° Fahrenheit (about 56° Celsius). Cattle dropped dead, and birds fell from the sky. The record was topped when the mercury hit 134° Fahrenheit (about 57° Celsius) in Death Valley in 1934.

It sounds a bit like a tall tale, a perfect subject for our skeptical eye.

fire_300px

Was the Santa Barbara simoom a true freak of nature, or perhaps merely a tall tale told to visitors?

Sudden, hot winds are absolutely a reality on the California coasts. They’re called the Santa Ana winds, and are the main contributors to the wildfires that can so often be so destructive to coastal communities. Dry air from the Mojave Desert and even the Great Basin further inland forms a high pressure region which cools, sending it spilling downhill toward the coast. The wind is very dry and gusts can reach hurricane forces at their strongest. The wind is usually hot, but not because it came from the desert; it gets heated on the way by adiabatic forces; basically, compression. Santa Ana winds can happen at any time of year, but are most common in the late autumn and early winter.

Although Santa Barbara is a ways up the coast from the Santa Ana winds, it is indirectly affected by them. The high pressure systems that create the Santa Anas are usually moving east, so a few days before they collapse into Santa Anas, they often cause a similar phenomenon in Santa Barbara that locals call the Sundowner. When the Sundowner winds spill over the Santa Ynez mountains and rush to the sea, they can wreak some havoc; but because their path is much shorter, adiabatic compression forces don’t have as much opportunity to heat the Sundowners as much as their more southerly cousins.

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Mike Adams crossed the line, and in a way that can’t be ignored.

The LockeBy via The Soap Box

In terms of moral and ethical boundaries Mike Adams is well known for crossing the line often with his promotion of dangerous pseudoscience and disgusting conspiracy theories, mike adams straight-jacket_125pxas well as calling anyone that promotes real science, debunks his claims, or criticizes him a shill. He also says some other pretty horrible things about his critics (most of the time this is ignored because none of his critics really cares what he says about them, they’re just more concerned over what he promotes and how he influences people), and in the case of Jon Entine, threatens to sue them.

A few days ago he crossed another line, and this one may just get him thrown in prison.

On his main website, Natural News, Adams wrote an article that can be best described as endorsing and encouraging the murder of anyone that supports Monsanto and the biotech industry in general (read his article here).

To quote his article:

“Monsanto collaborators who have signed on to accelerate heinous crimes being committed against humanity under the false promise of ‘feeding the world’ with toxic GMOs.”

and…

“that it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.”

That pretty much says it all. He is saying that people that support GMO foods and the biotech industry should be killed, and that it is justifiable to do so.

Image source: naturalnews.com

Images source: naturalnews.com

He later went on to say that:

“For the record, in no way do I condone vigilante violence against anyone, and I believe every condemned criminal deserves a fair trial and a punishment that fits the crime. Do not misinterpret this article as any sort of call for violence, as I wholly disavow any such actions. I am a person who demands due process under the law for all those accused of crimes.”

Yet those two lines, plus the title, Biotech genocide, Monsanto collaborators and the Nazi legacy of ‘science’ as justification for murder, clearly shows he means otherwise.

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Sleep and False Memory

steven_novellaby via NeuroLogica Blog

When someone looks at me and earnestly says, “I know what I saw,” I am fond of replying, “No you don’t.” You have a distorted and constructed memory of a distorted and constructed perception, both of which are subservient to whatever narrative your brain is operating under.

memory falseOne of the more dramatic aspects of memory distortion is false memories. These can be completely fabricated memories that are indistinguishable from genuine memories. False memories can involve small details, or entire scenarios. One way to fabricate false memories is with suggestion – just suggesting to someone a detail of an experience they had may cause them to incorporate that detail into their memory of the experience.

The apparent reason for this is that our brains appear to favor consistency over accuracy. Memories are updated to bring them into line with our current knowledge. If we are told that the person was wearing a blue jacket, then our memory might change so that it is consistent with what we now believe to be true.

Psychologists have a number of ways of generating false memories in the lab. One method is to show subjects a video of an event. Then allow them to read a written description of the same event, containing or even just suggesting details that differ from the video. A certain percentage of subjects will incorporate the suggested but incorrect details into their memory. When asked they will “remember” those details in the video.

A new study combines false memory research with the effects of sleep deprivation. It is becoming increasingly clear that sleep plays a major role in memory formation and consolidation. Steven J. Frenda of the University of California, Irvine and his colleagues asked a simple question – would sleep deprivation increase the formation of false memories?

They had subjects view photos of a crime, then  .  .  .

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false memory dilbert

Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless

Definition via Wikipedia:

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.[1][2][3] These preferences were extrapolated by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers from the typological theories proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, and first published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English edition, 1923[4]). Jung theorized that there are four principal psychological functions by which we experience the world: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking.[5] One of these four functions is dominant most of the time.

Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless

by via Vox

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably the most widely used personality test in the world.

Myers-Briggs_300pxAn estimated 2 million people take it annually, at the behest of corporate HR departments, colleges, and even government agencies. The company that makes and markets the test makes somewhere around $20 million each year.

The only problem? The test is completely meaningless.

“There’s just no evidence behind it,” says Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who’s written about the shortcomings of the Myers-Briggs previously. “The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation, how you’ll perform at your job, or how happy you’ll be in your marriage.”

The test claims that, based on 93 questions, it can group all the people of the world into 16 different discrete “types” — and in doing so, serve as “a powerful framework for building better relationships, driving positive change, harnessing innovation, and achieving excellence.” Most of the faithful think of it primarily as a tool for telling you your proper career choice.

Carl Jung in 1960. Douglas Glass/Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Carl Jung in 1960.
Douglas Glass/Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

But the test was developed in the 1940s based off the untested theories of an outdated analytical psychologist named Carl Jung, and is now thoroughly disregarded by the psychology community. Even Jung warned that his personality “types” were just rough tendencies he’d observed, rather than strict classifications. Several analyses have shown the test is totally ineffective at predicting people’s success in various jobs, and that about half of the people who take it twice get different results each time.

Yet you’ve probably heard people telling you that they’re an ENFJ (extraverted intuitive feeling judging), an INTP (introverted intuitive thinking perceiving), or another one of the 16 types drawn from his work, and you may have even been given this test in a professional setting. Here’s an explanation of why these labels are so meaningless — and why no organization in the 21st century should rely on the test for anything.

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Banned books of the Bible

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

How did we get to the modern Bible — and what was left out? Check out this collaboration with Alltime Conspiracies!

Mike Adams is a Dangerous Loon

Image source: naturalnews.com

Image source: naturalnews.com

steven_novellaBy via NeuroLogica Blog

Where do I even begin? Mike Adams, the self-proclaimed “healthranger” who runs the crank alt-med site naturalnews, has sunk to a new low, even though he was already scraping bottom.

Image Source: naturalnews.com

Image source: naturalnews.com

Adams combines the worst CAM propaganda with a blend of conspiracy theories from across the spectrum, while selling supplements and other nonsense. He portrays himself as someone who is engaged in a righteous battle against the forces of evil – so hardly someone who is engaged in rational discourse.

In a recent rant, however, he has become a parody even of himself. This time he is raving about Monsanto and GMOs, writing:

Monsanto is widely recognize (sic) as the most hated and most evil corporation on the planet. Even so, several internet-based media websites are now marching to Monsanto’s orders, promoting GMOs and pursuing defamatory character assassination tactics against anyone who opposes GMOs, hoping to silence their important voices.

He doesn’t stop there, he goes full Godwin – right for the Nazi analogies, which he repeats throughout his article, complete with pictures of the Holocaust. He goes on:

Anyone who resisted the Nazi regime was condemned as “anti-science” in precisely the same way that anyone who now questions the wisdom of unleashing genetically modified seeds into the open environment is also called “anti-science.”

Thus, GMOs aren’t based in science at all. They are the domain of a radical cult where questions are not allowed and critical thinking is condemned and censored.

Image source: naturalnews.com

Image source: naturalnews.com

According to Adams’ logic, anyone accusing anyone else of being anti-science is just like the Nazis, because they did that too. But here is the money quote:

This official ceremony sends a message to the world, and that official message from the nation of Germany to the rest of the world is that “it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.” (UPDATE: Those are the paraphrased words of the German government, not my statement.)

The emphasis is Adams’. As you can also see, Adams added an update trying to distance himself from this statement. He has been feverishly adding such updates to this article, which I will get to. Perhaps some small part of him realized he has stepped over the line.

He also writes:

Today, Monsanto collaborators — publishers, journalists and scientists — have signed on to the Nazi genocide machine of our day: the biotechnology industry and its evil desire to dominate the world’s food supply and blanket the planet with deadly chemicals that have been scientifically shown to cause horrific cancer tumors. They use many of the same tactics as the Nazi regime, too: intimidation, character assassination, threats and fabricated disinformation. Hitler’s Ministry of Propaganda, it turns out, is alive and well today in America. Its headquarters is not in Berlin but St. Louis.

and…

I’m hoping someone will create a website listing all the publishers, scientists and journalists who are now Monsanto propaganda collaborators. I have no doubt such a website would be wildly popular and receive a huge influx of visitors, and it would help preserve the historical record of exactly which people contributed to the mass starvation and death which will inevitably be unleashed by GMO agriculture (which is already causing mass suicides in India and crop failures worldwide).

mike adams straight-jacket_125pxLet me summarize Adams’ points here: Monsanto is equivalent to modern day Nazis committing their own genocide and bid for domination. Anyone who defends GMOs (or just doesn’t buy into anti-GMO nonsense) is a “Monsanto collaborator” and are just as bad as Nazi collaborators. He says directly, “These attacks all have one thing in common: they are orchestrated by paid biotech muckrakers — people I call ‘Monsanto collaborators.’”

These people should be named, their addresses and photos made public. And by the way, it is your moral right, even responsibility, to kill them.

He then tries to insulate himself from the unavoidable implications of his article by saying he does not condone violence and is not calling for vigilante justice. This is small comfort, however – the kinds of people who would respond to his obvious call to action are likely not to be dissuaded that he says it is not a call to action (wink, wink).

I also have to point out that Adams’ article is incredibly free of any facts or documentation. He states as a matter of fact that people are being paid by Monsanto to  .  .  .

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Image source: naturalnews.com

Image source: naturalnews.com

Pope John Paul I

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

Pope John Paul I was one of the shortest-reigning popes in Church history, and his untimely death led to numerous conspiracy theories. But could any of them be true? Why do some people believe this pope was murdered?

New Climate Model Introduced, now with knobs!

Watts Up With That?

Due to the cutbacks in funding for climate science, a new climate model has been introduced to help politicians justify unnecessary laws that regulate carbon dioxide emissions…

View original post 63 more words

Five Stupid Things About Faith Healing

By Steve Shives via YouTube

It’s the slimiest, most predatory and irresponsible part of televangelism. It’s faith healing! And it’s stupid, and a few other things, too.

Something Fishy About Omega-3 Supplements

Fish_Oil_Capsules_600px
Stephen PropatierBy Stephen Propatier via Skeptoid

The Huffington Post recently published an article by Dr. Neal Barnard, MD. It is titled “New Study explodes the Eskimo Myth” and it makes some very salient points about the development of the supplement fish oil, its historical roots, and subsequent evaluations of its benefits. This was a pleasure to read—a rare science-based examination by the Huffington Post. Dr. Barnard points out that the original conclusions from investigating fish oil appear to be tainted by researcher error. The seminal 1976 survey  had demonstrated abnormally low rates of heart disease among Inuit despite a high fat diet. But further research has shown that the original study was in fact poorly done and did not properly evaluate the true health history of the Inuit. A recent study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology reviewed the original 1976 research and outlined its major flaws. In  2003 and 2009  follow-up studies demonstrated higher levels of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit peoples, essentially invalidating the hypotheses. If Inuit diets are not cardio-protective what does that say about diets high in Omega-3 fatty acids overall? What does this mean to fish oil supplementation?

SnakeOil-250pxFish oil was developed out of the so-called “Eskimo Anomaly”: the observation that Inuit consumed a relatively high-fat diet rich in blubber and fatty fish, yet also appeared to have low rates of heart disease. As with the “French Paradox,” scientists proposed a possible cardiovascular protective benefit from diets high in Omega-3 fatty acids, a proposition that has formed the basis of fish oil supplementation. The idea that fish oil can help prevent heart disease is has now become entrenched conventional wisdom. But if the original study has been invalidated, we must reconsider whether or not fish oil is actually beneficial. Is the discovery of fish oil a lucky accident or is it just snake oil?

It would seem highly improbable that an incorrect guess about the Inuit’s health would lead to an effective cardiovascular treatment, but it’s not impossible. Science is filled with happy accidents. The fact that fish oil was discovered due to an erroneous evaluation actually says nothing about the effectiveness of the treatment. Fish oil is one of the very few supplements in the United States to have been developed into a prescription drug, called Lovaza. Its active ingredient is Omega-3-acid ethyl esters, which are metabolized by the body into Omega-3 fatty acids. This drug is prescribed to lower serum triglycerides. Randomized, controlled research does show that it seems to be of moderate benefit for hypertriglyceridemia, a condition that predisposes people to cardiovascular disease and prancreatitis.

alternative-medicine-for-dummies_150pxUnfortunately, proponents of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) often suggest that fish oil treats a variety of related and unrelated illness. In CAM, the uses for supplements seem to always exceed the evidence; fish oil is no different for them, and has been recommended to treat everything from cancer to headaches. Despite the large amount of research surrounding fish oil, CAM proponents always seem to find areas that haven’t been studied, using what I call the “drug of the gaps argument” and using what we don’t know about supplements to make wild speculation about benefits. In other words, if we haven’t done any studies for fish oil’s effect on stubbed toes, their assumption is that it will probably cure stubbed toes. Fish oil has tons of research, a lot is known about it and it is safe to say that we have a good grasp of what it can and cannot do. I think it is useful to review what is currently known about the supplement, highlighting what it is most commonly purported to treat as well as its problems.

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James Randi: How to Squash a Paranormal Claim

By Big Think via YouTube

The James Randi Educational Foundation has never met a “psychic” it couldn’t discredit—easily. Still, Randi understands why such frauds appeal to people.

psychic-john-edward-2012-events_02

Moon Hoax Anomaly Hunting

steven_novellaBy Steven Novella via NeuroLogica Blog

Yesterday, July 20th, was the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first and second humans to walk on the surface of another world. This is, to be sure, one of the greatest achievements of the human species.

Moon-Landing-Hoax-250pxThere are those, however, who claim that we never sent astronauts to the moon, that the entire thing was an elaborate hoax by the US, meant to intimidate our rivals with our spacefaring prowess. As is typical of most grand conspiracy theories, they have no actual evidence to support their claim. None of the many people who would have to have been involved have come forward to confess their involvement. No government documents have come to light, no secret studios have been revealed. There is no footage accidentally revealing stage equipment.

What the moon hoax theorists have is anomaly hunting. This is the process of looking for something – anything – that does not seem to fit or that defies easy explanation, and then declaring it evidence that the standard story if false. Conspiracy theorists then slip in their preferred conspiracy narrative to take its place. Sometimes they are more coy, claiming to be “just asking questions” (also known as jaqing off), but their agenda is clear.

Genuine anomalies are of significant interest to science and any investigation, no question. For an apparent anomaly to be useful, however, mundane explanations need to be vigorously ruled out (conspiracy theorists tend to skip that part). Only when genuine attempts to explain apparent anomalies have failed to provide any plausible explanation should it be considered a true anomaly deserving of attention.

elmer moon anomalies_300pxAt that point the answer to the anomaly is, “we currently don’t know,” not “it’s a conspiracy.”

The reason that anomalies, in and of themselves, are not very predictive that something unusual is going on, is that they represent one method of mining vast amounts of data looking for desired patterns. Conspiracy theorists, in essence, make the argument (or simply implication) that where there is smoke there is fire, and then offer apparent anomalies as the smoke. This is a false premise, however. If apparent anomalies count as smoke, then there is smoke everywhere, even without fires.

In other words, any historical event is going to have countless moving parts, curious details, apparent coincidences, and complex chains of contingency. Further, people themselves often have complex motivations contingent upon the quirky details of their lives. All of this is raw material for apparent anomalies. It would be remarkable if you couldn’t find apparent anomalies when combing through the details of an historical event.

Here are some of the alleged anomalies that moon hoax conspiracy theorists have pointed out over the years.

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Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked

By Brooke Borel via Popular Science

What-are-GMOs-and-How-Safe-Are-They-_250pxLater this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may approve the Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden, the first genetically modified apples to hit the market. Although it will probably be another two years before the non-browning fruits appears in stores, at least one producer is already scrambling to label its apples GMO-free.

The looming apple campaign is just the latest salvo in the ongoing war over genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—one that’s grown increasingly contentious.

[ . . . ]

But the truth is, GMOs have been studied intensively, and they look a lot more prosaic than the hype contends.

[ . . . ]

So what, exactly, do consumers have to fear? To find out, Popular Science chose 10 of the most common claims about GMOs and interviewed nearly a dozen scientists. Their collective answer: not much at all.

Continue reading: the 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked

Ahnenerbe: The Nazi Quest For Lost Civilizations

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know

It sounds like something out of the Uncharted series, but it’s true: the Nazi party poured millions into a quest to discover lost civilizations.

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Truthers

The LockeBy The Locke via The Soap Box

Truther, a term that came from the 9/11 Truth movement, but has become more than just an ironic and demeaning term for 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

conspiracies05A Truther can be someone believes in conspiracy theories other than the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

With this in mind I’ve taken a look at these people, and while I’ve noticed alot of traits about them, I’ve narrowed it down to about five different things.

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

5. It’s a broad and encompassing term.

For most people when they hear the word “Truther” they think of someone whom is apart of the 9/11 Truth movement, or just someone whom believes the myth that the US government, or Israel, or the Illuminati committed the 9/11 attacks.T2_911_Bridge_300px While this is true, “Truther” has become a more broad term and could include not just a member of the 9/11 Truth movement, but any conspiracy theory.

What a Truther really is is a type of conspiracy theorist that both claims they want to know the truth about a conspiracy theory, and then claims they already know what the truth is, but in reality it’s anything but the truth.

Think of this type of person as someone whom asks you where the nearest large body of water is and you tell them that there is a pond 100 feet behind them, but they don’t believe you and then tell you that nearest large body of water is two miles away, despite the fact that the pond is clearly behind them, and all they would have to do is turn around to see it. Even if they do turn around they’ll just insist that it’s not really a large body of water.

That’s another thing about Truthers…

4. They keep “Moving the Goalposts“.

moving-the-goal-posts_dilbert_9498For anyone who has had a “conversation” with a Truther type of conspiracy theorist you probably already know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t I’ll explain.

Truthers, when confronted with evidence and/or logical arguments that contradicts or disproves their conspiracy theories, will often claim that what is being presented to them is not enough evidence to disprove what they are claiming isn’t true, or that the evidence that you are presenting to them isn’t true, and in either case they will claim to need more.

When a skeptic gets into an argument with a Truther and they start doing this a person like myself will usually determine that either the Truther is too dumb to realize what they are doing, or too deluded to realize what they are doing, or are in serious denial and are trying to hold on to what they believe or want to believe is real, but somewhere in their minds they know they’re wrong.

Besides just “Moving the Goalposts” another tactic that Truthers like to use is…

3. They call everyone that disagrees with them a shill.

Truthers are under the assumption that they are right, and that everyone else who does not agree with is wrong. For those that continue to insist that the Truther is wrong then the Truther just seems to naturally assume the skeptic is either a sheep that has not “woken up” to “the truth” (their truth mind you) or someone who is being paid to say what they are saying.

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What is a homeopathic drug?

Many people believe homeopathy is a natural, herbal supplement like any other. But is it?

Via inFact with Brian Dunning

What is a homeopathic drug?

“All natural.”

“I would say it’s an herbal supplement that is prescribed by a doctor.”

“Just a little bit of active substance.”

Stop! You’re all wrong. By definition, a homeopathic drug is one that contains no active ingredients at all. None! Not a single molecule. That’s what homeopathic means.

But look at the ingredients. This one shows a 30C amount of Kali Bichromicum Powder. It’s listed, so it should be in there, right? Wrong. The only things actually in this product are the inactive ingredients, lactose, sucrose, or cellulose. Note the amount shown of the supposedly active ingredient: 30C.

What does that mean?

Continue reading the transcript – – –

A Titanic tale

titanic 819
Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

I didn’t realize what a fuss there still was over the sinking of the Titanic.

Okay, I know that it has some cachet as one of the biggest shipping disasters in history.  I know it was made into a movie, with heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.  (What, the movie isn’t named Jack Dawson’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Really Bad Day?)  I know that the theme music, wherein Celine Dion’s heart goes on and on and on and on and on and on, was played an average of 1,389,910 times a day for a year after the movie opened.

But really: what’s the big deal?  [spoiler alert]  The ship sinks.  Lots of people drown.  End of story.

But no, that’s not all there is to it, some folks say — and by “some folks” I mean “people with the IQ of a bar of soap.”  Because we haven’t discussed why the Titanic sank.  And it wasn’t because it ran into a great big hunk of ice.

Oh, no, that would be way too logical.

titanic time travel_300pxYou can forget about all of that.  No iceberg necessary.  According to a new theory, the Titanic sank because a bunch of time travelers from the future went back to witness the Titanic sinking from on board the ship itself, and the extra weight of the passengers is what caused the ship to sink.

Now, wait, you may be saying, at least after you recover from the faceplant you undoubtedly did after reading this novel claim.  “If the time travelers are what caused it to sink, then how did anyone know it had sunk, since the ship had to sink in order for the time travelers to know to come back in time to watch it sink?”

Well, if you asked that question, all I can say is  .  .  .

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Australia: No longer a carbon tax nation

Watts Up With That?

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

The Gore Effect has struck again. Al Baby recently visited Canberra accompanied by his usual blizzard to try to convince the tiny band of eccentrics that held the balance of power in the Senate to vote to keep the “carbon” tax that has been pointlessly crippling the Australian economy.

He failed. The Senate upheld the vote in the House to bring the doomed CO2 tax to a timely end. The Australian Labor Party, which had unwisely introduced the hated tax for the sake of clinging on to office for a few more months with the support of the now-decimated Greens, is belatedly trying to whip up support from a skeptical nation for a repeal of the repeal.

Bob Carter, whose measured, eloquent and authoritative lectures all over Australia putting the minuscule global warming of the 20th century into the calming perspective of geological time…

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This is why you should only drink water with impurities

I found this very interesting.

quick note_150pxThis is the purest water you can find – nothing but pure hydrogen and oxygen atoms – and if you drink it regularly it WILL KILL YOU. This is because pure water will suck the minerals and electrolytes out of your body.

I found this interesting because conspiracists like Alex Jones are always pushing their fellow mad hatters to purify their water. As it turns out, if the water is too pure, it will turn your body room temperature.

🙂

MIB


via YouTube

Description from SPLOID:

It may sound like a good idea to drink the purest water you can find, but as this video explains, that is not actually the case. Ultra pure water has no impurities—so absolutely no taste and who wants that—but also in large quantities it will harm and even kill you because it will leach the minerals from your body.

Investigating the Rhode Island UFO

By Chip Taylor via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – CSI

With a half a century plus of interest in UFOs, astronomy, and science, I’ve despaired that in all that time I’ve never seen a real UFO. (With emphasis on what the “U” stands for of course.) I’ve seen bolides (really bright meteors), nighttime aerial refueling operations by USAF jets, odd contrails, space satellites, balloons, kites, birds, and insects. Some of these were initially unidentified, but only for a brief moment. Thus it was fascinating, weird, puzzling, and astonishing that in September of 2012 I actually got to see a real UFO that didn’t seem to fit any sort of known aerial object.

The mysterious Rhode Island “UFO.”

The mysterious Rhode Island “UFO.”

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon I was participating in a ham radio contest on Block Island, which is about a dozen miles off the Rhode Island mainland. It was one of those casual contests where there is plenty of free time to enjoy the day and watch the views. And there were a lot of things to watch. My friend and I were on an open roof deck of a house on the highest point of the Island on a crystal clear day with visibility to the horizon. ufo rhode-island_250pxBinoculars at hand, I was watching planes come and go at the nearby airport, sailboats off shore, an advertising blimp hovering between Narragansett and Newport, and birds flying about. Not a thing out of the ordinary.

And then, through the binoculars, I suddenly saw it: some kind of craft or “thing“ flying parallel to the distant shore at an estimated speed of perhaps thirty miles per hour. Too far away to see without binoculars, and even with them all I could make out was a parallelogram-shaped craft moving very slowly and into the wind. There was no sign of anything towing it and no sign of wings or motors. That was strange enough, but as it moved along it seemed to change shape: sometimes it was almost square, sometimes almost cigar shaped, but often getting shorter or longer as I watched. camera_225pxThe shoreline was about eight or nine miles away I guessed, and if this object was directly above the beach then it would have to be quite large—dozens of feet long and high.

I watched for several minutes and finally thought to take a photo or two. About a minute afterward it dove steeply down and disappeared behind some low hills that were a short distance behind the beach. That steep dive seemed unusual. What was back there? Where did it go? What was it? Well, I was in the middle of a radio contest (My partner was so engrossed with the radio he didn’t even bother to check out this weird craft), I was quite comfortable that I wasn’t seeing alien visitation or biblical angels, so an investigation would have to wait.

Once back home it was time to see if I could determine just what it was that I saw.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Andrew Wakefield

VACCINE 147 CROPPED
The LockeBy The Locke via The Soap Box

In 1998 then Doctor Andrew Wakefield published a study in the medical journal The Lancet that claimed that the MMR vaccine causes autism, which was later found to be not true but still lead to a worldwide increase of measles cases, and in the end destroyed Wakefield’s career.

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield

There are many things that I’ve noticed about Andrew Wakefield (none of them good) and I’ve come up with about five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about Andrew Wakefield:

5. He committed a terrible fraud.

I’m sure that everybody is aware that his aforementioned “study” was retracted in 2010 by The Lancet after a long investigation by the British Medical Journal and journalist Brian Deer. The investigation showed that not only had he manipulated the data in his study, it also found that he had patented his own measles vaccine a year before publishing his study, and that the study was funded by lawyers who sued vaccine manufactures.

To better understand how Wakefield manipulated the data in his study, please watch this video by Youtube science vlogger C0nc0rdance:

As awful as his fraud was it would not have been as bad as it became if it wasn’t for the fact that so many people took his study seriously and decided not to vaccinate their children because of it. This has directly resulted in the world wide increases of measles and mumps infections and infections from other diseases as well because many people were not vaccinating themselves or their children due to fear of any vaccines, a fear that was brought on by Wakefield’s study, which has also lead to numerous unnecessary deaths.

As for Wakefield himself his fraudulent study lead to his own career being ruined and his name being struck off the UK medical register, making it illegal for him to practice medicine in the United Kingdom.

4. He turned parents into paranoid liars.

One of the direct results of Andrew Wakefield’s study is that many parents have become paranoid of vaccines and have chosen not to vaccinate their children despite being legally obligated to do so in many places before they enter them into school, and the fact that it’s just good common sense to do so.

vaccine 840_250pxInorder to keep their children in school while at the same time keep them un-vaccinated parents will often lie to health officials and school officials about either their religious or philosophical beliefs inorder to get a vaccine exemption for their child.

Other things that some parents will do inorder to fool health and school officials is that they will go to a fake doctor (ex. Naturopath, Homeopath) and get them to write up an exemption from getting vaccinate for their children, or write up they vaccinate the child when really they didn’t.

These types of actions are dangerous not only to the children whose parents did not vaccinate them, but also to anyone that couldn’t get vaccinated for a legitimate medical reason, or those who the vaccine didn’t immunize them for some reason.

3. He’s become the Lord Voldemort of science and medicine.

Much like Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter book series Andrew Wakefield’s name is something you don’t use in a discussion about science and medicine, unless he is used as an example for when bad or fraudulent research is taken to seriously by the public.

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The effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas becomes ever more marginal with greater concentration

Watts Up With That?

Team Sisyphus uniform design - back Team Sisyphus uniform design – back (Photo credit: nicomachus)

The political target of limiting the effect of Man-made global warming to only +2⁰C can never be attained.

Guest essay by Ed Hoskins

According to well understood physical parameters, the effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas diminishes logarithmically with increasing concentration and from the current level of ~390 ppmv, (parts per million by volume). Accordingly only ~5% of the effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas remains beyond the current level.

This inconvenient fact is well understood in the climate science community. It can be accurately modeled using the Modtran program maintained and supported at the University of Chicago.

The logarithmic diminution of the effect of CO2 is probably the reason why there was no runaway greenhouse warming from CO2 in earlier eons when CO2 levels were known to be at levels of several thousands ppmv.

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Comcast customer tries to cancel and records the nightmare conversation

This is not conspiratorial but i am ROFLMAO! This is unbelievable!

Duck Duck Gray Duck

comcast logo

A dissatisfied Comcast subscriber’s attempt to cancel his service led to a hellish nightmare 18-minute-phone conversation last weekend. Ryan Block posted a recording of the last eight minutes of his call to Comcast customer service. The representative’s belligerent tone is just one of the many reasons I am not a customer of this company.

Comcast was recently ranked by the American Customer Service Index as having the second-worst customer service of any internet or subscription television provider in the country. The only company that ranked lower was Time Warner, which Comcast recently bought for $45 billion pending approval from federal regulators. via

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12 Step Programs

Are religious-based twelve step programs better at stopping addiction than other programs?

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

In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was formed by two men struggling for sobriety, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith. Theirs was a new type of program in that it formalized a series of twelve steps that an alcoholic must follow in order to get sober and stay that way. smith wilsonThe original Alcoholics Anonymous was only the first of many such programs set up to address just about every type of addiction and obsessive behavior you can think of: Overeaters Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Underearners Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Clutterers Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and even Online Gamers Anonymous. Today we’re going to look a bit into the history of twelve stepping and also how it compares to mainstream psychological treatment of addiction, but mainly into the most important question: Does it work?

It’s impossible to discuss the history of the twelve steps without acknowledging that it is first a religious practice, and second a recovery method. Seven of the twelve steps invoke God. This is the main thing that separates it from medical or psychological addiction treatments that are primarily targeted at the biochemical and psychological causes of addiction. So let’s get started by reviewing the actual twelve steps, and these are the steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
    2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    6. AA-step-1.12_225pxWere entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Wilson and Smith were both from an evangelical Christian organization called the Oxford Group, and the twelve steps they formalized were reminiscent of practices from the Oxford Group. It had standards it called the Four Absolutes (honesty, purity, unselfishness, love), a set of four spiritual practices, and the “Five Cs” procedures: confidence, confession, conviction, conversion, and continuance. Thus, salvation through evangelical Christianity was deeply interwoven with the concept of twelve stepping. In the words of Bob Wilson:

“…Early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgment of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Group and directly from Rev. Sam Shoemaker, their former religious counsel in America, and from nowhere else.”

Because of this, twelve step programs have been strongly criticized, usually by people who dropped out of the programs for one reason or another, and became disgruntled. Some have written books and devoted whole web sites to the idea that twelve stepping is just a bait-and-switch program; come to stop your addiction, but stay to join our church. It’s the same criticism that’s been leveled at Scientology’s Narcanon; it promises to help you get off drugs, but is in reality just a side door into the Church of Scientology.

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Exclusive “Weird Al” Yankovic Music Video: FOIL Parody of “Royals” by Lorde

Just hang in until the 1:15 minute mark. You WON’T be disappointed. Trust me.

🙂

MIB


via CollegeHumor – YouTube

We partnered with “Weird Al” to create this music video for his new album, “Mandatory Fun.” Also featuring Patton Oswalt, Tom Lennon, and Robert Ben Garant.

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s new album Mandatory Fun out now: http://smarturl.it/MandatoryFun

The Truth About Remote Viewing

project_stargate
The psychic technique of remote viewing is consistent with simple, well known magic tricks.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid (May 11, 2007)
Read transcript below or listen here

Today we’re going to sit in a quiet room and draw sketchy pictures of — well, of anything, really — and claim psychic powers, for we’re demonstrating the amazing psychic ability known as “remote viewing.”

remote viewing psychic_300pxRemote viewing was made popular beginning in the 1970’s, when some in the US intelligence community grew concerned that the Soviets had better psychics than we did. $20 million was appropriated to test the skills of a group of psychics called remote viewers. Supposedly, you could ask them a question about some place, and they’d use psychic abilities to draw you a picture of whatever’s going on there, and it was hoped that this would lead to useful intelligence. Project Stargate, and a few others like it, was canceled by the 1990’s, due to a lack of reliable results. Proponents of Project Stargate say that the US government’s investment in the project proves that it had merit. Critics point out that the funding was stopped, and say that if merit had been found, funding would have at least been continued, if not dramatically increased. We can be reasonably assured that the project did not move underground with renewed funding, since the participants have all long since gone public with full disclosure of what happened. Since none of them have turned up mysteriously disappeared, we can safely assume that the government is not too concerned about this supposedly “classified” information.

The most famous remote viewer to emerge from these projects is a man named Joseph McMoneagle. Today he offers his remote viewing services on a consulting basis, and in 1994 he went on the television show “Put to the Test” to show just what he could do. [This] is a clip from the show … and if you want, … watch it, form your own opinion, then [read] my comments.

remote viewing_250pxWhat you’ll find is that the show’s unabashed endorsement of his abilities contributes largely to the perception of his success, but if you really listen to the statements he makes, and look at the drawings he produces, you’ll find little similarity to what he was supposed to identify. They took him to Houston, Texas and sent a target person to one of four chosen locations. McMoneagle’s task was to draw what she saw, thus determining where she was. They edited the 15 minute session down to just a couple of minutes for the show, so you’ve got to figure that they probably left in only the most significant hits and edited out all of the misses.

The four locations were a life size treehouse in a giant tree, a tall metal waterslide at an amusement park, a dock along the river, and the Water Wall, a huge cement fountain structure. Here is what McMoneagle said:

  1. There’s a river or something riverlike nearby, with manmade improvements. Houston is a famous river town, so this was a pretty good bet. It applies equally well to the waterslide and to the dock.
  2. There are perpendicular lines. I challenge anyone to find any location anywhere without perpendicular lines.
  3. She’s standing on an incline. She was not standing on an incline, and there were no apparent inclines at any of the four locations. Remember, they edited it down to just the most impressive two minutes.
  4. She’s looking up at it. This would apply best to the treehouse, the waterslide, or the Water Wall. There was really nothing to look up at at the dock.
  5. There’s a pedestrian bridge nearby. Sounds like a close match for the treehouse or the walkways on the waterslide.
  6. There is a lot of metallic noise. Probably the big metal waterslide structure is the best match for this.
  7. There’s something big and tall nearby that’s not a building. This applies equally well to all four locations.
  8. There’s a platform with a black stripe. Not a clear match for any of the locations.

That’s it – those were the only statements of Joe’s that they broadcast. Strangely, at no point did they ask McMoneagle to identify the location; they did not even ask him to choose from the four possibilities. Instead, they simply took him to the actual destination where the target person was, which turned out to be the dock, and then set about finding matches to Joe’s statements. Suddenly, nearly all of Joe’s statements made perfect sense! Certainly there’s a river nearby. There was a traffic bridge in the distance: traffic, pedestrians, near, far, no big difference. Metallic noise and something big: there was a ship at the dock, but if you ask me what kind of noise a ship makes, metallic is not the word I’d use. And that platform with a black stripe? Could be a ship.

I argue that the target person could have been  .  .  .

MORE – – –


Project STARGATE: Psychic Soldiers via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

Project STARGATE may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but for years taxpayer cash funded experiments with psychic powers. Tune in to learn more about the Cold War psychics — and why some people believe these programs continue today.

Para.Science – Orbs ARE a Load of Balls

quick note_150pxFor some believers in the paranormal, the site of orbs in a photo is confirmation of a spirit energy. To people like me, orbs are nothing more than something like dust.

For the last word on orbs, head on over to the ParaScience web site. You will never believe in orbs again.

Enjoy🙂

MIB


Identical pictures. Taken at the same instance. Why does an orb appear in the photo on the left but not in the photo on the right?. Read the answer at Para.Science.

Identical pictures. Taken at the same instant.
Why does an orb appear in the photo on the left
but not in the photo on the right?
Read the answer at Para.Science.

BBC Fail on Acupuncture Documentary

steven_novellaby via BBC Fail on Acupuncture Documentary

Alternative Medicine’s best friend, and in my opinion largely responsible for what popularity it has, is a gullible media. I had thought we were turning a corner, and the press were over the gushing maximally clueless approach to CAM, and were starting to at least ask some probing questions (like, you know, does it actually work), but a 2006 BBC documentary inspires a more pessimistic view.

acupucture_chinese_medicine_300pxThe documentary is part of a BBC series hosted by Kathy Sykes: Alternative Medicine, The Evidence. This episode is on acupuncture. The episode is from 2006, but was just posted on YouTube as a “2014 documentary.” Unfortunately, old news frequently has a second life on social media.

First, let me point out that Sykes is a scientist (a fact she quickly points out). She is a physicist, which means that she has the credibility of being able to say she is a scientist but has absolutely no medical training. It’s the worst case scenario – she brings the credibility of being a scientist, and probably thinks that her background prepares her to make her own judgments about the evidence, and yet clearly should have relied more on real experts.
She does interview Edzard Ernst in the documentary, but he mainly just says generic statements about science, rather than a thorough analysis of specific claims. I wonder what gems from him were left on the cutting room floor.

The documentary does get better in the second half, as she starts to mention things like placebo effects, and the problems with the evidence-base for acupuncture. But she follows a disappointing format – setting up a scientific premise, then focusing on the positive evidence. There is a clear narrative throughout, that acupuncture is amazing and surprising.

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Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

quick note_150pxI was in a discussion forum and somebody asked me to explain The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. I started typing when i remembered a video from several years ago that will explain it better than i can write it.

Enjoy, my friend🙂

MIB


Via You Are Not So Smart – YouTube

Also See:

Did the Nazis practice magic?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

After World War II, conspiracy theorists started making increasingly strange claims about the Nazi party: One of the strangest claims concerns magic.

Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception

Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills.

Watch on YouTube …

The London Hammer: An Object Out of Time?

By Mike Weaver via Skeptoid

The London Hammer. Via Wikimedia.An old story regarding a hammer found encased within rock has recently resurfaced. It came to us in a question: is this hammer, the London Hammer, an example of an out of place artifact (OOPart) that calls into question geology, archeology, and the natural history of the Earth? Let’s take a look.

The article that was shared with me is from Epoch Times, written by Tara MacIsaac. From the article:

A hammer was found in London, Texas, in 1934 encased in stone that had formed around it. The rock surrounding the hammer is said to be more than 100 million years old, suggesting the hammer was made well before humans who could have made such an object are thought to have existed.

If this were true, it would be quite interesting. In fairness to Epoch Times and Ms. MacIsaac, the article does do a decent job presenting some of the evidence. I’d ask for a bit more of a scientific inquiry tone to the piece, but there have been far worse examples of reporting than this one.

The London Hammer is well known to those who follow the debates and discussions around OOParts. You may recall that I blogged about OOParts last year. In that piece, I mentioned a good site to explore for bad archeology claims, named, of course, Bad Archaeology. They had a short write up on the London Hammer saying:

MORE – – –

Also See: Out of Place Artifacts (OOPArts) (iLLuMiNuTTi.com)

Hillary Clinton Ad Placement a Conspiracy?

I just happened to be perusing the  latest edition of the National Enquirer (it just happened to be lying around my house) when i came across this story about Hillary Clinton’s “Deadly Health Secrets.”

As i was reading the story i glimpsed the picture of Hillary lying face-down on the floor at the bottom of some stairs and i thought to myself … wait, what? A picture of Hillary lying face-down at the bottom of some stairs?!? I had to do a double take! Even the colors of the shirt and hair are similar!!!! (Sneak a peek at the image below)

After i stopped laughing out loud at the obvious blunder of this ad placement, i thought to myself, “how long before some conspiracist accuses the National Enquirer of using subliminal messaging for some kind of nefarious plot?”

What kind of plot? I don’t have any idea – they’ll create something. But if Hillary EVER slips down some stairs we’ll never hear the end of this coincidence.

Anyway, i thought this was hysterical so i made this image for reposting.

Enjoy your Friday evening🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

Hillary fallen_1000px

Right-click and “save as” to download the image. Then share everywhere.

Using the fear of God to promote an Anti-Vaccine agenda

The LockeBy The Locke via The Soap Box

Yesterday I saw an article making rounds on pro-science and anti-anti-vaccination Facebook pages that was written by a “Christian” blogger who was claiming that God does not support vaccines. (Read the article here)

vaccine small pox 133The author of the article uses several classic anti-vaccination claims to spread her propaganda, although the one that was mostly talked about in that article is the claim that vaccines contain parts from aborted fetuses, which is false.

She combines this along with passages from the bible and her “interpretation” of those passages in an attempt to make it seem like God does not approve of vaccines.

Before I begin I’m very well aware that many of you reading this are atheists, but for the moment just for fun consider the possibly that God exists, and if you are someone that believes that God exists then please and hear what I have to say.

First, God is, according to Judea-Christian beliefs, an all powerful being that created the Universe and everything about it, including what does and does not work.

If God is all powerful and didn’t want people to use vaccines, then couldn’t God just will vaccines not to work?

I asked this question in the comments section, and the author responded to me:

locke image 01

First, before anyone points it out I believe she meant to say (although I could be wrong) that research into vaccines have not been proven to be clinically effective. This is ofcourse not true. Vaccines are very effective, and there are multiple published research papers showing how effective vaccines are. Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 8.32.59 PMDoing a simple Google Scholar search for vaccine effectiveness will bring up thousands of papers concerning vaccine effectiveness.

The second thing the author claims is that no vaccines have a life time immunity. This is completely false.

Certain vaccines (as seen here) only provide immunity for a few years, but for other vaccines they could give a person immunity against a disease for the rest of their life, although for most additional vaccinations are recommend just to be safe, and with certain vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine, getting another vaccination several years after the first one is usually all that it takes for lifetime immunity.

I replied to the author’s reply to my comment pointing these things out to her, and also once again asking her the question if  .  .  .

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The Magical Match

This is a pretty cool trick from Richard Wiseman via YouTube

Lie Detection

Has technology ever been able to reliably discriminate between lies and truths?

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

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 8.00.43 PMA lot of people, like police officers and gamblers, think they can tell when a person is lying. But what we’ve always longed for is hard data; testable, mechanical proof that a subject is telling the truth or lying. For a long time, the standard has been the polygraph machine. Unfortunately it’s also widely believed to be unreliable and to be inadmissible in a court of law, so today we’re going to look at the hard data to see what polygraphs can and cannot do, and what other lie detection techniques may be on the immediate horizon, and how they fare in comparison. So put out that fire on your pants, and sit back.

Polygraph machines haven’t changed much since the earliest versions were introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century. They combine readings of blood pressure, respiration, pulse rate, and skin conductance, graphing these out with moving needles on a paper scroll. The idea is that these readings will change based on your stress level as you tell a lie. Polygraph_animatedWhile that basic concept is sound, the problem — and it’s a big one — is that any real effect is lost under a sea of other variables. Not only can the subject manipulate all of those readings with simple actions (biting the tongue, poking oneself with a hidden sharp object or fingernail, or even clinching the anal sphincter muscle), but the results are highly dependent upon the interaction between the subject and the polygrapher.

A large part of a polygraph test consists of the presentation. The machine is intended to be intimidating, as are all the wires and sensors attached to the subject’s body; as are actions by the polygrapher such as marking with a pen on the scroll at mysterious intervals. The polygrapher always begins by making you feel that you are very easy to read; for example, by asking you to lie to an innocent question like whether you’re wearing blue jeans, and then looking at the results and reacting as if you are the most comically easiest person to read ever. Polygraph 818_225pxThe whole show is designed to make you anxious about lying; so that if you do lie during the test, your stress will hopefully rise high enough above the noise level to actually give a useful reading. If you go in knowing all of this, knowing that you’re not overmatched and that this is a fair fight, you’ve got a great chance of yielding no useful results, whether you have anything to hide or not.

But more than that, the reading of polygraph results is completely subjective. There was a famous case in 1978 of a man named Floyd “Buzz” Fay, arrested for a murder he had nothing to do with, and who was convicted based on a polygrapher’s analysis of a lie detector test. Fay’s appeal included reports from four other polygraphers who examined the same charts and concluded there was no evidence of any deception. Fay was ultimately released when other investigations found the true killer, and he then became a keystone of the fight against the use of polygraph tests in courts.

Fay was not the only data point. In 1983  .  .  .

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Lying with Statistics: The National Climate Assessment Falsely Hypes Ice Loss in Greenland and Antarctica

Watts Up With That?

by E. Calvin Beisner and J.C. Keister

How fast are Greenland and Antarctica losing ice?

If you trust the National Climate Assessment (NCA), you’ll think, “Very fast!” And that’s intentional. The aim is to provoke fear so the American public will support the Obama administration’s aim to spend $Trillions fighting global warming.

Here’s how the NCA (in Appendix 4, FAQ-L) depicts the rate of loss from the ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica:

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Drones: Target Killing: Parts 1 & 2

Part 1 via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, have fundamentally changed the nature of warfare. But who controls them? What are they doing, and why?


Part 2 via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have changed the nature of war. But where are they flying, and what are they doing? The answers might surprise you.

5 Things I’ve noticed about … Sandy Hook Hoax Conspiracy Theorists

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The LockeBy The Locke via The Soap Box

Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists.

sandy hook elementary_250pxMany skeptics (including myself) consider these people to be the lowest of the low.

There are actually two different types of these conspiracy theorists: those who think that the massacre at the elementary school was a false flag attack, and those that think that it didn’t even happen at all, more commonly called Sandy Hook Hoaxers.

Today I’m going to focus on the lesser human of the two, the Hoaxers.

Now I have noticed a lot of things about these “people”, but I’ve narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about Sandy Hook Hoax conspiracy theorists:

5. They’re psychopaths.

Many Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theorists display behaviors that to some people would be similar to psychopathy.

Most of the believers in this conspiracy theory show no empathy or sadness towards the adults and children that were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, nor do they show any empathy towards the people that lost loved ones that day.

conspiracy-theory-alert_200pxSome conspiracy theorists have even been in an active campaign of harassment against survivors and people who lost loved ones in that massacre, much of which has been very volatile and vial. Even those that don’t engage in any harassment do often give support and encouragement to those that do.

Worst yet many of them, especially the ones that engage in harassment, will try to “justify” their behavior by claiming that the massacre didn’t happen, or that they have every right to do what they’re doing (which they don’t).

Even if they do sincerely believe that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary didn’t happen it doesn’t justify their behavior, because they should be taking into consideration that that the massacre there did happen and that what they are doing is very hurtful, but they’re not doing so.

Many of them also don’t seem to understand or care that they’re behavior could have some severe consequences for them, such as being arrested and going to jail and even prison. And speaking of being arrested and going to jail and prison…

4. They’re criminals.

conspiracies05Many of these Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theorists since the massacre happened have been engaging in a unorganized campaign of internet based harassment against the parents of the children who were murdered, as well as anyone else who was involved with the events of that day.

The harassment in itself is a criminal action, but over the months it has de-evolved into more serious crimes, such as stalking, threats, and even vandalism. There is some speculation that it may be a matter of time before one of these conspiracy theorists finally goes off the deep end and tries to kill one of the parents of the murdered children, or someone whom was involved with the events of that day.

Even those that don’t engage in any criminal actions could be considered criminals by-proxy, either by encouraging and giving support to those that do engage in harassment, or to a lesser extent condoning or just not condemning such behavior.

3. They’re mentally ill.

I know that most skeptics tend to call certain conspiracy theorists crazy as a means of insulting them (whether we realize that or not), but in the case of Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theorists many of them have shown signs of having real and perhaps severe mental health issues.

Many of these conspiracy theorists show definite signs of  .  .  .

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The Illuminati Shuts Down Websites!

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Derren Brown – Messiah

Intro by Mason I. Bilderberg

Derren Brown_300_250pxI’m not one to sit and watch lengthy videos on my laptop. So when i suggest you watch a 49 minute video, you can trust me – it’s worth watching.

Have you ever heard of Derren Brown? I’ve been following Derren Brown for over a decade, i’ve read many of his books and i think i’ve seen all of his performances. I’m never disappointed.

Here is how WikiPedia describes him:

Derren Brown (born 27 February 1971)[3] is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions, and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Since the first broadcast of his show Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000, Brown has become increasingly well known for his mind-reading act. He has written books for magicians as well as the general public.

Though his performances of mind-reading and other feats of mentalism may appear to be the result of psychic or paranormal practices, he claims no such abilities and frequently denounces those who do.

From Derren Brown’s webpage (2012):

Dubbed a ‘psychological illusionist’ by the Press, Derren Brown is a performer who combines magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behaviour, as well as performing mind-bending feats of mentalism.

In a nutshell, while repeatedly reminding us he doesn’t have any kind of magical abilities, Derren Brown mimics with perfection all those who DO claim to have magical abilities.

In this video, Derren takes on the following roles:

  • A psychic that can see what you’re drawing when you’re in a different room,
  • The ability to convert people to Christianity with just a touch,
  • A new age entrepreneur with a machine that can record and play back your dreams,
  • An alien abductee who was left with the ability to sense your medical history and
  • A psychic medium that communicates with the dead.

He is so convincing in these roles that he gets endorsements for his “special powers” from the “experts” who witnessed his performances.

I believe he will convince you too!

Enjoy!🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

More:

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IPCC Method Of Proving The ‘Human Caused Warming’ (AGW) Hypothesis Forced Deliberate Creation of Misinformation

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Dr. Tim Ball

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.” John Adams, Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law, 1765

The 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report included evidence in the form of a hockey stick graph, showing that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. Less prominent, but just as wrong, was erasure of the Little Ice Age (LIA). Proponents of the IPCC hypothesis that human CO2 is causing global warming were mainly connected with…

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