Monthly Archives: September, 2014

Are there secret messages in da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’?

Originally posted March 3, 2013:

via HowStuffWorks

Click image for larger view

(Click image for larger view)
The above image is the composite created by Slavisa Pesci. Some of the features he identified may be visible, such as the knights at both ends of the table.

You’ve likely heard of ­Dan Brown’s best-selling book “The Da Vinci Code” and the subsequent movie adaptation. The ­book has sold tens of millions of copies, w­hile the movie, with more than $757 million in box office revenue, stands as the 22nd highest grossing film of all time as of July 2007 [Source: IMDb]. Brown’s story centers around the theory that Jesus married his follower Mary Magdalene, had a child with her, and that the descendants of that marriage live today.

­The book also invokes two other popular theories, both of which have been discounted by art historians: that Mary Magdalene, rather than the apostle John, sits on Jesus’ right in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting, and that a disembodied hand in the painting holds a knife. For years, amateur theorists and art historians alike have considered whether “The Last Supper” contains hidden imagery. The latest theory du jour has generated so much excitement that several da Vinci-centered Web sites crashed from an overwhelming amount of traffic.

Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist who’s taken up an interest in da Vinci’s iconic painting, created an interesting visual effect by overlaying a semitransparent, mirrored version of the painting on top of the original. The result is that two figures that look like Templar knights appear at both ends of the table, while someone possibly holding an infant stands to Jesus’ left. Pesci also cited the presence of a previously unseen wine goblet in front of Jesus. mona-lisa-louvre-paris2_250pxPesci suggested that it may be a depiction of the first Eucharist, when Jesus gave his disciples bread and wine at the Last Supper to represent his body and blood. Pesci didn’t indicate who he thought the baby might be, but many amateur scholars have said it’s the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

As for the meaning of these ostensibly hidden images, Pesci has no comment, though he believes they may be a product of da Vinci’s noted love of mathematics [Source: AOL News]. Da Vinci was also known to write from left to right and from right to left, a technique called mirror writing.

Pesci’s theory and its possible relationship to da Vinci’s mirror writing, while alluring, present some problems. Chief among them, one da Vinci scholar notes, is that the original painting has deteriorated over time [Source: AP]. The mural is no longer as vivid or crisp as it was when da Vinci first unveiled it. The composite image is distorted and blurry, a problem made worse by the original’s current, faded condition. Still, Pesci’s composite image does seem to show something or someone.

Before we dissect this and other theories about “The Last Supper,” let’s investigate the painting’s history and subject. Leonardo da Vinci completed the work between 1494 and 1498. It’s a wall mural in the Church and Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The painting depicts the famous Biblical scene known as the Last Supper, when, shortly before his death, Jesus predicted that one of his followers would betray him. “The Last Supper” actually shows the moments immediately following Jesus’ pronouncement, explaining why his followers appear engaged in a frenzied conversation. The painting is considered remarkable for, among many celebrated featur­es, its realism and for portraying the apostles as full of emotion and taking part in an intense discussion rather than simply standing quietly behind the table [Source: The Cenacolo].

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The Batman/Sandy Hook Delusion

Originally posted December 26, 2012

By Mason I. Bilderberg

Have you heard the one about the latest Batman movie foretelling the shooting at the Sandy Hook school? The story has been floating around for at least two weeks now and i’ve been addressing the issue on a number of forums, so i thought i would bring the issue here to iLLumiNuTTi.com.

From our favorite morons over at infowars.com:

Bizarre evidence that the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut may have been staged has surfaced in the form of YouTube videos which point out the words “Sandy Hook” were written on a map that appeared in the most recent Dark Knight movie, a startling revelation given the deluge of mysterious coincidences already plaguing the movie.

According to numerous YouTube videos, a scene appears in which Commissioner Gordon points at a Gotham City map and confusingly, directly to the words “Sandy Hook.”

Here is a still shot from the movie The Dark Knight with an explanation below:

TheDarkKnight12

Click image for much larger view.

The top photo is a still shot from the movie showing the map of Gotham City. Allegedly (i’m not motivated enough to personally verify this ridiculousness) at 1:58:41 into the movie Commissioner Gordon sets his hand down on the map of Gotham City (lower left) on a location called Sandy Hook (lower right) and says, “To mark the truck. Get a GPS on it so we can start to figure out how to bring it down.” Also notice the words “strike zone” are written on the map (lower right). Shiver me timbers.

According to conspiracists, this can only mean one thing: It’s obvious the Sandy Hook shootings were foreseen by the filmmakers behind “The Dark Knight Rises“!!!!

Again from InfoWars.com:

“As more of these ‘strange coincidences’ continue to pop up, it would take a fool not to question the motive behind it all: Is this all part of an evil pre-conditioning program?”

“This definitely begins to tread into Satanic and occult territory, the purpose of which is known to only a select few in tight-knit circles at the very top branches of various secret societies.”

Yes, “evil pre-conditioning programming,” “Satanic and occult territories” and “the very top branches of various secret societies.” Are you scared yet? You shouldn’t be.

According to Batman co-creator Bill Finger, Gotham City is based on New York City:

«Writer Bill Finger, uncredited co-creator, with Bob Kane, of the DC Comics character Batman, on the naming of (Gotham) city and the reason for changing Batman’s locale from New York City to a fictional city said, “Originally I was going to call Gotham City ‘Civic City.’ Then I tried ‘Capital City,’ then ‘Coast City.’ Then I flipped through the New York City phone book and spotted the name ‘Gotham Jewelers’ and said, ‘That’s it,’ Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it.”

“Gotham” had long been a well-known nickname for New York City even prior to Batman’s 1939 introduction, which explains why “Gotham Jewelers” and many other businesses in New York City have the word “Gotham” in them. The nickname was popularized in the nineteenth century, having been first attached to New York by Washington Irving in the November 11, 1807 edition of his Salmagundi.»[1][2]

Look at a map of New York, there are A LOT of places in and around NY called Sandy Hook – most notably Sandy Hook Bay (only a stones throw away in NJ) and the 10-plus locations surrounding Sandy Hook Bay with “Sandy Hook” in the name.

Click image for much larger view.

Click image for much larger view.

Gotham City is based on the city of New York. New York is surrounded by many locales with the name Sandy Hook. Why do conspiracists ignore this obvious connection between the map of Gotham and the name Sandy Hook?

Conspiracists engage in confirmation bias to maintain their world of delusions.

Mason I. Bilderberg

Out of Place Artifacts (OOPArts)

Originally posted February 28, 2014:

Some objects found around the world seem to defy rational explanation.

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

Today we’re going outside with pick axe and shovel in hand, dig through some ancient strata, and unearth something that looks like it shouldn’t be there. In fact, upon closer inspection, it definitely shouldn’t be there. Throughout recorded history, diggers — both amateur and professional — have been finding objects that appear to be modern or made of advanced materials, but are located in old rock or other places where they shouldn’t, or couldn’t, be.classic-tape2 Such objects have become known as out of place artifacts, or “OOPArts” for short. An OOPArt, by definition, is one that contradicts our existing understanding of history. Some take this to its apparently logical next step, and believe that OOPArts prove history wrong.

In this episode we’re going to take a quick look at some of the most famous OOPArts and see what’s known about each, and hopefully see if we have enough information to conclude that known history must be wrong. A lot of objects that show up on published lists consist of artworks — sculptures or carvings — that make ambiguous depictions, which some interpret as being out of place. One example is a pictograph from Egypt that some say shows an electric lamp. We’re not going to include these today because they’re most likely misinterpretations. Instead we want hard, physical proof of items that couldn’t and shouldn’t exist, but do.

The Baigong Pipes

The Baigong Pipes

Two of the best known have already been covered in previous Skeptoid episodes. The Baigong Pipes, featured in episode 181, were said to be a network of metal pipes buried in native rock said to be 150,000 years old. Some believed they proved the existence of an ancient culture of aliens; others actually studied the pipes and found that they not only weren’t very pipe-like, they were simply petrified wood and bamboo that had washed into a basin and later solidified.

Not all turn out to be misidentifications. The Antikythera Mechanism, featured in episode 184, was a Greek clockwork mechanism found in a shipwreck, and it did indeed represent knowledge that was about a thousand years off from our previous understanding. The find turned out to be really important, and we changed our models of ancient technology as a result. Since it was found, other artifacts have continued to fill in the gaps. This is the model we hope to see for all candidate OOPArts. No misidentification; nothing open to interpretation; just solid physical evidence that changes our understanding. So let’s see if any of the other famous examples fit the bill.

The Coso Artifact

The coso artifact sliced in two

The coso artifact sliced in two

In 1961, three people were out collecting geodes and other interesting rocks for the rock and gem shop they operated in Olancha, CA, little more than a truck stop in the Owens Valley west of Death Valley. When they put their specimens under the diamond blade saw to cut them open, one of them jammed the blade. It had a piece of metal in the center.

It became known as the Coso Artifact, named for the Coso Range of mountains in which it was found. Spark plug collectors all agree that the object inside the rock, as depicted in the one existing X-ray, is a 1920s Champion spark plug. Rocks take a very long time to form, certainly a lot longer than 40 years; so the Coso Artifact has become an icon of OOPArts, and is popularly believed to constitute an insoluble problem.

Unfortunately, the real secret of the Coso Artifact is that . . .

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Alex Jones: What Does He Believe?

Originally posted October 11, 2012

By Mason I. Bilderberg

Well, well, well. Alex Jones may have been caught with his hand in the corporate cookie jar.

Alex Jones has a warning for humanity! The global elites are putting lead, mercury and arsenic in our water! You must take action NOW to protect your health! The solution? Alex tells us to beat the global elites by using ProPur Water FIlters to reduce or remove detectable levels of lead, mercury, arsenic and other demonic poisons from our water. Curse those global elitists!! Thank you Alex!!!

But there’s a problem.

Alex also endorses a nutritional drink called Beyond Tangy Tangerine, manufactured by a company called Global Youngevity that has some very interesting ingredients. Let’s go to the video:

WHAT?!? Beyond Tangy Tangerine lists as part of their ingredients lead, mercury and arsenic?? Alex Jones is pitching a water filtration system to remove the very same chemicals found in the nutritional drink he wants us to ingest?? Yes!

But wait, there’s more!

Here is the list of ingredients for Beyond Tangy Tangerine:

Click the image for a PDF screen shot of the Tangy Tangerine web site showing these ingredients.

Click the image for a more complete list

See the ingredients inside the black boxes above? Those ingredients are on the “contaminants removed or reduced” list (image to the right) for Alex’s water filtration system. Again, Alex Jones is pitching a water filtration system to remove the very chemicals found in the nutritional drink he wants you to ingest!!!

See the ingredients inside the red boxes? These are ingredients Alex has previously warned us to avoid because they are dangerous and evil (All sources are from sites controlled by Alex Jones):


Aluminum Hydroxide

  • “… aluminum hydroxide, the main metal-based adjuvant present in vaccines, as well as a supplemental aid, may be causing an aluminum overdose at the point of vaccine injection(s).”
  • “(A)luminum hydroxide [may be] contributing to the pathogenesis of diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, macrophagic myofasciitis and subcutaneous pseudolymphoma.”

(Source: aluminum_hydroxide (ZIP) (PDF))

Arsenic

  • calls arsenic “a powerful cancer-causing agent” in our water supply.
  • reports (falsely) arsenic falls from man-made clouds and … is “a huge cause in most respiratory breathing problems in america.”

(Source: arsenic (ZIP) (PDF))

Barium

  • reports (falsely) barium falls from the sky and “short term exposure can lead to anything from stomach to chest pains and … long term exposure causes blood pressure problems” and can contribute to weakening the immune system.

(Source: barium (ZIP) (PDF))

Cesium

  • “cesium causes cancer of the liver, kidneys, pancreas and other organs. it is particularly dangerous when it is in the soil and ends up in food.”

(Source: cesium (ZIP) (PDF))

Chlorine

  • “chlorine is pretty bad for people, and has been linked to heart disease.”
  • “(w)hen chlorine is not filtered out of the water and is instead consumed in tap water, it destroys the natural microflora throughout the body. this adversely affects natural immunity and dramatically increases the risk for immune disorders and cancer.”

(Source: chlorine (ZIP) (PDF))

Lithium

  • lithium side effect: “if taken during a woman’s pregnancy can cause her child to develop ebstein’s anomaly (cardiac defect).”
  • “unresolved scientific issues [concerning] the drug’s use.”

(Source: lithium (ZIP) (PDF))

Mercury

  • “mercury and most of its compounds are highly toxic to humans, animals and ecosystems.”
  • “… even relatively low doses (mercury) can seriously affect the nervous system and have been linked with possible harmful effects on the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems.”
  • “there is really nothing new about the dangers of mercury …[.] it’s a highly toxic substance and science has recognized this for some time.”
  • mercury has “been directly linked with autism in children.”

(Source: mercury (ZIP) (PDF))

Sulfur

  • Health Effects:
    • neurological effects and behavioral changes
    • disturbance of blood circulation
    • heart damage
    • effects on eyes and eyesight
    • reproductive failure
    • damage to immune systems
    • stomach and gastrointestinal disorder
    • damage to liver and kidney functions
    • hearing defects
    • disturbance of the hormonal metabolism
    • dermatological effects
    • suffocation and lung embolism
  • “laboratory tests with test animals have indicated that sulfur can cause serious vascular damage in veins of the brains, the heart and the kidneys. these tests have also indicated that certain forms of sulfur can cause foetal damage and congenital effects. mothers can even carry sulfur poisoning over to their children through mother milk. finally, sulfur can damage the internal enzyme systems of animals.”

(Source: sulfur (ZIP) (PDF))

And there you have it – these are some of the chemicals/ingredients Alex Jones says are very bad for us, yet he wants us to buy his favorite nutritional drink which will put these very same ingredients back in our bodies.It seems the only thing Alex Jones believes in, is making money. He has weaved conspiracy theories out both sides of his mouth to collect a paycheck from both sides of the corporate fence.

When will his followers wake up?

A very high quality copy of this video is available at: http://tinyurl.com/8ak5obnPLEASE FEEL FREE TO DOWNLOAD THE HQ COPY AND RE-POST!!

Freemasons & Satan

Originally posted June 12, 2012.

Enjoy 🙂

In 1871, a man named Albert Pike published a book called Morals and Dogma.

Conspiracists call this book a manifesto, a primary doctrine for Masons and, contained within its pages is absolute proof Albert Pike was a Satanist who wrote secret Satan worship into the degrees of the Scottish Rite.

Who is Albert Pike? What is his book about? What was the extent of his influence? Do Freemasons worship Satan?

New-Age Bullshit Generator

Originally posted April 10, 2014:

Okay, this is just fun stuff.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could generate meaningless new age drivel at the click of a mouse?

Think of how impressed all your higher consciousness, woo friends will be when you speak to them from several different dimensions – simultaneously!!!

Well, now you can! Click any of the images below to visit New-Age Bullshit Generator and you can create all the New Age horse crap your heart chakra desires!!

To infinity… and beyond!

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


New Age BS Generator

New Age Bullshit Generator

Do you want to sell a New Age product and/or service? Tired of coming up with meaningless copy for your starry-eyed customers? Want to join the ranks of bestselling self-help authors? New-Age Bullshit Generator can help.

New Age BS Generator

Ancient Aliens Debunked

Vacation Post: By far THE most popular and hotly researched topic here at Illuminutti is the Ancient Aliens section that was originally posted May 2, 2012.

Enjoy 🙂

Ancient Aliens Debunked

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

The information contained in this 8 part series is based on the work at “ART and UFOs? No Thanks, Only Art” by Diego Cuoghi.

If you wish to conduct more investigating into this subject matter i highly recommend visiting ART and UFOs? No Thanks, Only Art. The website is written in Italian, but some pages have been translated into English. The Italian pages are translated using MicroSoft Translator:

David Icke: Methods Of A Madman

Originally posted April 16, 2012

Some people would call David Icke controversial. I would call him a brilliant psychotic.

His ability to speak for hours on an incomprehensible doctrine is stunning. But listen carefully and the methods of his madness become apparent.

He has a brilliant talent for the subtle interweaving of plausible with crazy, and packaging the in-between gray areas as thought-terminating clichés like “secret societies”, “brotherhood”, “free masons” and other slogans and catchphrases popular with modern conspiracy thinking.

The magic is in his ability to dispense seemingly innocuous tidbits of (allegedly true) earth history one moment, then slipping in talk of aliens crossbreeding with humans the next moment. Talk sane, touch on some crazy, go back to the safety of sane. Rinse and repeat until the listener can swallow the crazy with the sane.

This ability to subtlely slide in and out of the realm of plausible is the same potent cocktail used by science fiction writers to blur the lines between the possible and the impossible to keep viewers coming back for more.

This 25 minute video has been distilled from a 217 minute video. I’ve removed the plausible to expose the rest. Enjoy.

Watch on YouTube

Click here for a very high quality version of this video for download and redistribution.

Deepak Chopra tries his hand at a clinical trial. Woo ensues.

Choprawoomed

By Orac via Respectful Insolence

Of all the quacks and cranks and purveyors of woo whom I’ve encountered over the years, Deepak Chopra is, without a doubt, one of the most arrogantly obstinate, if not the most arrogantly obstinate. Sure, a quack like Mike Adams wins on sheer obnoxiousness and for the sheer breadth of crankery to which he ascribes, which includes everything from quackery, to New World Order conspiracy theories, to Scientology-like anti-psychiatry rants, to survivalist and gun nut tendencies, but he’s so obviously unhinged, as well as intermittently entertaining, that he doesn’t quite get under the skin the way Chopra does. CHOPRAThere’s something about that smug, condescending, incredibly arrogant manner of Chopra’s that grates even more in its own way than the clueless arrogance of ignorance of a person like Adams, Vani Hari (a.k.a. the Food Babe), or Joe Mercola (who appears to be far more about the money than actually believing in the quackery he sells). When Chopra tries his hand at science, woo ensues, as we shall soon see.

Perhaps the best recurring example of Chopra’s smarmy condescension coupled with magical thinking comes in his ongoing war with skeptics (most recently illustrated by his hilariously off-base “million dollar” counter-challenge to James Randi) and atheists, in particular Richard Dawkins. Given that this particular war seems to have heated up again, with Chopra having declared that he’s “pissed off by Richard Dawkins’ arrogance and his pretense of being a really good scientist,” it seems the perfect time to bring up a project of Chopra’s in which he pretends to be a scientist. But first, let’s get a flavor of why real scientists like Richard Dawkins (who, regardless of what you think of his ill-advised and offensive Twitter ramblings, is nonetheless a scientist in the way that Chopra will never be):

Boasting is not becoming of a beacon of inner peace, and Chopra knows it. I don’t want to hear him talk trash, and I ask him why he can’t just let Richard Dawkins go.

“With Dawkins, I am just pissed off. I am pissed off by his arrogance and his pretense of being a really good scientist. He is not,” Chopra says. “And he is using his scientific credentials to literally go on a rampage.”

But it’s more than that, I suggest. Chopra sits back and raises his hands, palms upward, smiling.

“I totally agree. It’s my last challenge,” he says. “It may be a very strange psychological issue.”

I don’t think there’s anything particularly strange about it. It’s incredibly obvious. Chopra, who started out as a real physician (an endocrinologist, actually) somehow got into quantum quackery and turned into a pseudoscientist and quack. Dawkins is a prominent real scientist who reminds Chopra that his blather  .  .  .

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How The Ames Room Illusion Works

Did somebody say optical illusion? This is a classic illusion explained. 🙂

By Scientific American via YouTube

In 1934, ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. devised a room that pushes the boundaries of human perception. Visit a virtual version of the now famous Ames room, as Scientific American Mind editor Ingrid Wickelgren explains how it works.

The Death of Rasputin

Legend says that Grigori Rasputin, the “Mad Monk”, was hard to kill. What does the history say?

Alison Hudsonby Alison Hudson via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

The legend started almost as soon as the cold, lifeless body was fished out of the water. Gregory Efimovich Rasputin, a man who claimed powers from God but whom many saw as the Devil himself, did not die easily. Legend says that his assassins first poisoned him , then shot him, then shot him again, then beat him, and then finally dumped him into the Malaya Nevka River where he drowned only after struggling out of his bonds. Is this unlikely story true? Let’s see if the history agrees with the legend.

RasputinRasputin was born in early January, 1869, in the Siberian village of Pokrovskoye. As a young man he developed a strong interest in religious mysticism. He eventually abandoned his family and went to stay at a nearby monastery, where he read theology and debated Scripture with the monks, though he never became a monk himself. In 1890 he claimed to have a vision of the Virgin Mary which marked him as someone chosen by God for a greater purpose. Eventually, he began to claim the powers of a spiritual healer, saying that through prayer he could cure illness.

Rasputin’s reputation as a healer grew, eventually bringing him to St. Petersburg, where he came to the attention of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra, the reigning couple of the Romanov line. You see, they were keeping a dark secret: their only son Alexis had been born with hemophilia. The next Tsar of Russia was fated to bleed to death long before he could take his father’s place. When the boy became very ill in 1907, and no doctor was able to bring him back to health, a desperate Alexandra decided to place the fate of the royal line in Rasputin’s hands. Rasputin visited the palace and prayed for the boy; to the Tsarina’s surprise, Alexis improved.

Over the next decade Rasputin developed an increasingly influential relationship with the royal family and a complex yet undeniable place in Russian high society. Alexandra became convinced that Rasputin had been sent by God to save her son, and he eventually became a close confidant of the Tsarina. Rasputin, in turn, used his new favor to wield both social and political influence. Getting into all of the subplots and side stories of Rasputin’s life amongst the Russian elite would be an episode unto itself. Suffice it to say that Rasputin quickly became a noted, sometimes notorious figure, and in doing so made both political and religious enemies, some of whom eventually decieded to remove the bothersome peasant.

The first attempt on Rasputin’s life came  .  .  .

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A Guide for Those Perplexed About Global Warming

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by IraGlickstein

How should responsible Global Warming Skeptics respond to opinions from intelligent members of the general public who have been perplexed by the Warmists and Alarmists?

We should reply in a strictly fact-based way, using official sources — being careful not to speculate or over-complicate the matter. Here is my shot at it.

At a recent meeting of a local discussion group a well-spoken retired teacher presented a list of important issues that, in his opinion, have received less coverage by the media than they deserve. “Climate Change” was on his list.

He said it was unfortunate that the main proponent of human-caused “Global Warning” was a prominent Democrat (former VP Al Gore), because that led to the issue becoming politicized, with his fellow Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. He speculated that had a leading Republican promoted the same issue, the reaction…

View original post 1,602 more words

10 Best: Conspiracies and legends around the USA

FBI Alien Ufos
By Leif Pettersen via USA TODAY

The items on this varied list may not all warrant heightened vigilance and tin foil hats, but better safe than sorry. So we’re all better prepared for welcoming the Lizard People, when they finally choose to reveal themselves, and assimilating to the New World Order, here are some of the best conspiracy theories and urban legends in the U.S.

10 • Area 51, probably underground, Nev.

area_510_250pxArguably, the country’s most famous conspiracy theory is focused on this remote part of Edwards Air Force Base in Southern Nevada. Also known as Groom Lake, it’s assumed the base is used to test aircraft and weapons systems. The air space overhead is absolutely restricted. Even Air Force pilots aren’t allowed to breach the perimeter. The extraordinary secrecy surrounding the base has fueled several Area 51 conspiracy theories over the years ranging from a lab/prison for studying aliens (both living and dead), a meeting place for Earthlings and aliens working in tandem on various projects, reverse engineering and testing of captured/recovered alien technology, developing a weather control system, time travel and teleportation technology and much more. All that said, nothing can be certain as everything that occurs in Area 51 is classified as “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.” The CIA didn’t publicly acknowledge the existence of the base until July 2013.

9 • Denver Airport, Colo.

A detail of a mural in Denver International Airport, subject of much conspiracy theorist interest. A plea for peace, or a plan for future martial law?

A detail of a mural in Denver International Airport, subject of much conspiracy theorist interest. A plea for peace, or a plan for future martial law?

Another conspiracy theory layer cake spot is Denver International Airport. That it was built while Denver had a perfectly good airport much closer to the city is the jumping off point for these theories. (For the record, experts have pointed out that the runway layout at the old airport was no longer efficient enough for the increased traffic.) It’s believed that building the new airport allowed for the secret construction of an underground headquarters for the Illuminati, or the New World Order, or the Neo-Nazis, or the Lizard People and so on. The vaguely Swastika-shaped runways, the (admittedly) disturbing murals and sculptures, and odd words engraved in the floor also fuel the theories. Furthermore, there is the question of funding. A stone in the terminal says the airport was funded by “The New World Airport Commission,” a nebulous entity, sanely theorized to be a group of local businesses, though many claim it doesn’t exist.

8 • UFO cover-up, Roswell, N.M.

Seth Shostak: The UFO BestiaryThough it’s now mainly fueled by local businesses wanting to cash in on tourist interest, the (alleged!) Roswell UFO incident of 1947 is the most popular (alleged!) UFO cover-up of all time and still merits time and energy among conspiracy theorists and movie/TV writers. Various people claim that a spacecraft with alien occupants crashed on a ranch near Roswell in June or July 1947, which was quietly hauled away for study, possibly by our friends at Area 51. The Air Force reported at the time that the object was a surveillance balloon. The conspiracy chatter didn’t flare up until 1978 when Major Jesse Marcel, who was involved with the recovery of the debris, gave an interview describing a spacecraft crash cover-up by the military. Since then additional witnesses have emerged, describing the cover-up and alien autopsies. These days, even passionate pro-UFO advocates generally dismiss Roswell as a hoax.

7 • Grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas

The grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assasination of US President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas.

The grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assasination of US President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas.

The Warren Commission concluded that there was no conspiracy involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. However, after Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, an event that also brims with conspiracy, the theories that Oswald didn’t act alone or maybe wasn’t involved at all started flying. The situation was exacerbated in 1979 when the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations announced “…a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President.” Furthermore, while he was living in Belarus, it’s said Oswald was such a terrible shot that friends were afraid to go hunting with him. The dazzling list of conspiracy theories put forward at one point or another involve the collusion of one or more parties including the CIA, the FBI and/or FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, Castro himself, then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the KGB.

6 • Kensington Runestone, Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minn.

Kensington Runestone

Kensington Runestone

Evidence that Scandinavian explorers pushed as far as the Midwest of the future United States in the 14th century or a 19th-century hoax? The Kensington Runestone is a 200 lb slab of greywacke inscribed with runes on the face and side. The story goes the stone was found in 1898 in the rural township of Solem, Minnesota (it gets its name from Kensington, a nearby settlement) by Swedish immigrant Olof Olsson Ohman. The Stone appears to describe an expedition of Norwegians and Swedes who camped in the area, then retreated to their boat at “the inland sea” after 10 were slaughtered by unknown assailants. Runologists and linguistic experts overwhelming agree that the language used on the stone is too modern (circa the 19th century, coincidentally) and didn’t match other writing samples from the 1300s. However, the legend persists, being occasionally revived with new evidence and arguments, some as recently the 1990s.

5 • D.B. Cooper airplane hijack, ransom and parachute jump, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest

A 1972 F.B.I. composite drawing of D. B. Cooper (wikipedia)

A 1972 F.B.I. composite drawing of D. B. Cooper (wikipedia)

The only unsolved case of air piracy in U.S. history was perpetrated by an unidentified man who the media came to call “D. B. Cooper.” (The hijacker purchased his ticket using the alias “Dan Cooper.”) On November 24, 1971, Cooper hijacked a passenger plane (a Boeing 727) during a Portland-Seattle flight. Claiming he had a bomb, he made his ransom plans known to the crew. On the ground in Seattle, Cooper released the passengers after officials gave him the requested $200,000 (equivalent to $1,160,000 today) and two parachutes. With only Cooper and the crew aboard, the plane then took off heading for Mexico. When they stopped in Reno to refuel, Cooper was gone, having jumped from the rear stairs while the plane was likely still over Washington State. Cooper was never found and it’s widely believe he couldn’t have possibly survived the fall, over remote mountainous wilderness, at night, wearing a trench coat and loafers, no helmet, into an initial wind chill at the airplane’s altitude of “70∞ F. The FBI investigation into the case remains open to this day.

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Meet the “Crystal Children”

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

Last year I wrote a piece on the phenomenon of people labeling themselves or their kids “Indigo Children.”  An “Indigo Child,” it’s said, is empathetic, sensitive, creative, and tends not to fit in well with regards to other people’s expectations.  They are highly intelligent, and are especially gifted in areas that require thinking outside the box.

Oh, yeah.  They also have “indigo-colored auras.”

indigo 734_250pxSo what we have here is yet another example of people trying to find an explanation and a label for something that really is best classified under the heading “People Are All Different.”  Even, apparently, with respect to the color of their auras.

But “Indigo” is becoming passé, apparently.  As C. S. Lewis observed, “Fashions come and go… but mostly they go.”  “Indigo Children” are now a dime a dozen.  So we have to move on to a new designation, an even more special kind of person.  One that shows up those silly Indigos for the bush-league posers that they are.

Now, we have “Crystal Children.”

I’m not making this up.  In an opening passage that should win some kind of award for New Age Doublespeak, we read that the “empathetic and sensitive” Indigos better just step aside:

After discovering more about Indigo Children and the (often misunderstood) gifts that they possess, the question arose: now what?  The answer came in the form of the Crystal Children.
transparent
crystal children 800_250pxThe Crystal Children are the generation following the Indigo Children. Still thought to be relatively young, they have begun to be born from around 2000, though there is some speculation that they arrived earlier, around 1995.  Similar to their Indigo counterparts, these children are thought to be extremely powerful, with a main purpose to take humanity to the next level in our evolution and reveal to us our inner power and divinity.  Some things that make them unique from Indigo Children are that they function as a group consciousness rather than as individuals, and they live by the law that we are all one.  However, they are still are a powerful force for love and peace on the planet.

Yes, I have to say that when I read about the Indigo Children, my response was to shake my head and say, “Now what?”  But I don’t think I meant it the same way.

And my goodness, those “Crystal Children!”  They’re going to “take humanity to the next level in our evolution and reveal to us our inner power and divinity!”  Who could resist that?

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Damn The Atomic Weight Deniers!!

settled science elements_400px
quick note_150pxBefore i forget . . .

Because i’m a Mann-Made global warming skeptic and i hear the very anti-scientific phrase “settled science” ad nauseum, i see a lot of humor and irony in the following story regarding settled science suddenly being unsettled:

Atomic Weight Changed for 19 Elements (PDF Here)

From the article:

Nineteen elements on the periodic table — including gold, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum — are getting their atomic weights adjusted.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) announced that they’ve approved new weights for the elements thanks to more precise measurements and better calculations of the abundance of certain isotopes (atoms of an element with different numbers of neutrons).

Just when you thought all the science in the periodic chart was settled! Damn you atomic weight deniers!! Damn you!

🙂

MIB

Why reiki masters can’t lose

by Orac via Respectful Insolence

reiki 1225Regular readers of my not-so-super-secret other blog, where I write under my own name, know that last month Steve Novella and I published a rather nice (if I do say so myself) opinion piece in a peer-reviewed journal about what we called “clinical trials of magic.” In it, we argued that certain alternative medicine modalities are so incredibly implausible from a purely basic science viewpoint, on physics and chemistry considerations alone, that it is a waste of time and resources, not to mention unethical, to do clinical trials testing them. Two of the main examples we used were homeopathy (of course!) and reiki.

Reiki, as you recall, is a form of “energy healing” that I’ve discussed many times before. Its basic precept is that reiki healers, known as reiki masters, can, through a series of hand gestures that might or might not involve touching the patient and often involve symbols drawn in the air over the patient, tap into what they call the “universal source” and channel energy into the person being treated to heal them. You can probably see why I generally refer to reiki as faith healing that substitutes Eastern mystical beliefs for Christian beliefs. If you can’t see why, then simply substitute the word “God” or “Jesus” for the term “universal source,” and my meaning becomes obvious. Of course, reiki can get even more bizarre, particularly when it’s used in distant healing, which can only be likened (to me, at least) to intercessory prayer or when reiki masters claim to be able to send reiki energy into the past or the future. Yes, it does get even woo-ier than claiming to be able to channel healing energy.

reiki cat 139_300pxReiki is, without a doubt, far more a mystical belief system akin to religion than it is anything having to do with medicine. That much is obvious. That’s why I couldn’t resist a bit of amusement when I somehow (don’t ask how!) came across an article by someone named Tammy Hatherill, who runs Tammy’s Tarot and Healing entitled When Your Reiki Client Doesn’t Feel the ‘Energy’.

Wow. So reiki doesn’t always work? Who knew? Well, not exactly. Remember, reiki is a mystical magical belief system. Like a religion, it always works, and if it doesn’t it isn’t because the reiki has failed. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. First, savor the frustration of reiki masters who can’t get their clients to “feel it”:

It doesn’t happen to me very often, but on occasion it does. A client will say, “I don’t feel any different.” Or they may say, “In all honesty I didn’t feel the energy at all”.

What!!! How could the client not feel the wonderful and glorious energy that I felt and sensed whilst giving the treatment? How could they not ‘feel’ any different!!!

Please don’t despair, as the Reiki energy will still be working its magic and will still support the client on all the different levels (emotional/psychological/physical and spiritually.) Just because the client didn’t ‘feel’ anything doesn’t mean the Reiki wasn’t working.

reiki-cat 1104_250pxSee what I mean? If the patient doesn’t feel any different after the mystical magical glory that is reiki, it doesn’t mean anything at all. The reiki’s still working. How do you know? Well, you don’t. But if you’re a reiki master you do have a patter ready for your client before and after. Before, you basically tell the client that they will feel “something.” That something could range from tingles, colors, heat, cool, floating, heaviness, sleepiness, or peacefulness, to nothing at all. Convenient, isn’t it? I wonder what it would be like to be able to tell my patients that virtually any sensations they feel mean that the treatment worked—even if they feel nothing at all! Talk about a “can’t lose” setup. You really have to tip your hat to whoever thought of this scam.

Then, of course, there’s the after treatment patter for the mark client  .  .  .

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List of excuses for ‘the pause’ in global warming is now up to 52

global warming evidence 714_400px

Watts Up With That?

Updated list of 52 excuses for the 18-26 year ‘pause’ in global warming (compiled by WUWT and The HockeySchtick)

RSS satellite data showing the 18 year ‘pause’ of global warming

An updated list of at least 293236383941 51 52 excuses for the 18-26 year statistically significant ‘pause’ in global warming, including recent scientific papers, media quotes, blogs, and related debunkings:

1) Low solar activity

2) Oceans ate the global warming [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]

3) Chinese coal use [debunked]

4) Montreal Protocol

5) What ‘pause’? [debunked] [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]

6) Volcanic aerosols [debunked]

7) Stratospheric Water Vapor

8) Faster Pacific trade winds [debunked]

9) Stadium Waves

10) ‘Coincidence!’

11) Pine aerosols

12) It’s “not so unusual” and “no more than natural variability”

13) “Scientists…

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Spooky Coincidences?

I love anything having to do with the brain and how our brains perceive and interpret the world. If you’re like me, I think you’ll love this one.

Enjoy 🙂

MIB


By Vsauce via YouTube

From the YouTube video description:

When People Talk Backwards

Some people believe that your brain encodes its actual meaning in reverse within everything you say.

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

Just when you thought there was nobody in the world crazier than yourself, along come people who believe that we all subconsciously say what we really mean in reverse, through the unconscious but deliberate choosing of careful words which, if played backwards, say what we actually mean. Get it? ear_180pxThe idea is that I think some coffee is really horrible but I still want to be polite, my brain will subconsciously choose words to make my polite compliment that, if played backwards, would say: This coffee stinks.

Proponents of this hypothesis call it Reverse Speech, because they were really creatively inspired on the day they named it. This is a small group of people — I believe there were six of them at last count — who take this completely seriously and believe that a whole world of secret information and opportunities is waiting to be unlocked by analyzing peoples’ speech in reverse. They turn first to world leaders, play their speeches backward, and listen to learn what they believe is the truth underlying the speech.

A leading advocate for reverse speech, also called backward masking, is David John Oates, an Australian. He’s written several books on the subject and even used to have a syndicated radio show promoting his theory. backward masking_250pxJust about any time a reverse speech expert is interviewed on television, it’s David John Oates. His web site is ReverseSpeech.com, and it’s loaded with all the examples you could ever hope to hear, as well as quite a few products and services he’d like to sell you if you believe his claims. He believes strongly that the human brain secretly encodes its actual meaning in reverse into a person’s normal speech. You can use this to your advantage in business, by decoding what the people across the table are actually telling you; and you can even use it in personal development by listening to your own speech backwards and learning more about what you really want. One of the examples from ReverseSpeech.com is of this man giving a talk:

And when you play it backwards, turns out he was trying to comfort you with the message “You’re frightened, lean on me”:

Pretty interesting, but not necessarily convincing to a skeptic. A skeptic is more likely to dismiss these guys as conspiracy nuts and laugh at what paranoid delusionals they are, but it’s actually way cooler and more interesting (and more constructive) to ask if there is any science behind what they’re claiming. backwards masking_300pxI’m not talking about science supporting the claim that people say what they actually mean in reverse; I’m talking about science behind the perception of order from chaos. And, it turns out, there is good science behind it. The journal Science published an article in 1981 by Remez, Rubin, Pisoni, and Carrell called Speech perception without traditional speech cues. By playing what they called a “three-tone sinusoidal replica”, or a complicated sine wave sound, they found that people were able to perceive speech, when in fact there were no traditional speech sounds present in the signal. So rather than laughing at a reverse speech advocate, instead appreciate the fact that there is good science driving their perception of what they’re hearing. They’re not making anything up, they’re just unaware of the natural explanation for their phenomenon.

To better understand what these authors did in their experiment, listen to this brief cue consisting of nothing but sine waves:

It almost does sound like speech, doesn’t it? But it’s not quite clear what it’s saying. Well, suppose someone told you that it says:

Now listen to it again:

This time, it’s almost impossible not to hear the words that you’ve been preconditioned to hear. Let’s play another one, this one is harder . . .

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Does online chatter make us dumber?

Amy SipovicBy Amy Sipovic via The Times (mywebtimes)

A recent University of Chicago study found approximately half of all Americans believe in one of six medical conspiracy theories.

youtube graduate_250pxTwo examples include the idea a U.S. spy agency purposefully infected African-Americans with HIV, and the government has dumped large quantities of toxic chemicals into the water supply under the premise of fluoridation.

Another study found 19 percent of Americans believe the 9/11 terrorist attacks were concocted by the U.S. government, and another 11 percent think the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs is an attempt to make people more obedient and easier to subject to mind control.

In some regards, these numbers do not surprise me. I am asked questions from time to time by students who have read something on the Internet that sounds like a conspiracy theory, and they ask if I have heard about it.

conspiracies05While I think there should be a healthy discussion about policy and current events, I worry the Internet and online public comments sections are making everything — including scientifically-proven ideas — up for debate.

Conspiracy theories are different from a critical analysis of information because conspiracy theorists continue to cling to their beliefs, despite facts that continually disprove them. Often, they then say the facts are all a part of the overall conspiracy, and the cycle of ridiculousness continues.

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Has Jack the Ripper Finally Been Solved?

steven_novellaBy via NeuroLogica Blog

Jack the Ripper is perhaps the most iconic serial killer in history. Part of the mystique of this dark figure is the fact that he was never identified, leaving room for endless sleuthing and speculation. Every Ripper fan has their list of favorite suspects, usually filled with famous and powerful people of the time to add even more interest. JACK DESTRIPADOR 2My favorite, of course, is that he was a time-traveling friend of H. G. Wells.

Now a private researcher, Russell Edwards, claims that he has finally solved the case. First I will present his story without comment, and then we can take a skeptical look at it.

Edwards claims he acquired a blood-stained shawl in 2007 that is supposed to be from Catherine Eddowes, one of the five fairly accepted victims of the Ripper. The shawl was apparently recovered from the scene of Eddowes murder, and was covered in her blood. Acting Sergeant Amos Simpson took the shawl home as a gift for his wife. She was, apparently, not impressed and stored the shawl away without cleaning it.

The shawl remained in the possession of his family until they auctioned it off in 2007 and Edwards acquired it.

Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes

Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes

Edwards then solicited the help of Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a Finnish expert in historic DNA. Louhelainen found that the 126 year old shawl contained a great deal of blood, likely all from the victim. However, he also found a semen stain on the shawl. Genomic DNA is unlikely to have survived 126 years sufficiently intact for DNA matching. However, mitochondrial DNA is more hardy and likely did survive.

Sperm, however, contain few mitochondria (almost none). Fortunately, Louhelainen was able to isolate an epithelial cell from the region of the semen stain. Epithelial cells line many tissues, and so it is possible that the cell (which would contain mitochondrial DNA) was from the same source as the semen itself.

Louhelainen was able to extract and amplify the DNA, and then type it, finding that it belonged to  .  .  .

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Also See: How Jack the Ripper Worked (howstuffworks)

New paper: Fraud, Bias & Public Relations – The 97% ‘Consensus’ And Its Critics

Watts Up With That?

Claims of 97% consensus on global warming depend on research described as fraudulent and biased

London, 8 September: A new briefing note published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation examines claims made by a great many commentators across the world, including President Obama and Ed Davey, of an overwhelming consensus on climate change. These depend on research that has been subject to public and entirely unrebutted allegations that it is fraudulent.

Although the authors of the research claim to have shown that most climate change papers accept that mankind is responsible for the majority of recent warming, in fact the underlying study shows no such thing.

One senior climatologist described the paper as ‘poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed’. Another researcher called it ‘completely invalid and untrustworthy’, adding that there was evidence of scientific fraud.

Andrew Montford, the author of the paper, said: “It has now been shown beyond doubt that the claims…

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Acupuncture

Is acupuncture really ancient Chinese medicine? Does it work? Is it safe?

Craig Good Skeptoid 02_90pxby Craig Good via skeptoid
Read podcast transcript below or listen here

This ancient Chinese medical tradition stretches back over 3,000 years, the wisdom of the ancients producing medically valid results even today. As in antiquity, slender needles are inserted at precise meridian points on the body and manipulated by a skilled practitioner. acupucture_chinese_medicine_300pxEach acupuncture point relates to a specific organ or function in the body, and the practice manipulates the body’s energy, or qi to manage pain and treat a host of conditions including allergies, asthma, headaches, sciatica, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, constipation, and even sexual dysfunction. Acupuncture is, in short, a venerable medical miracle.

Or is it? Let’s cast a skeptical eye at one of the most popular “alternative” medical modalities in the modern world.

Exactly how ancient is acupuncture? Not nearly as ancient as you may think. The first clue is right there in the hands of the acupuncturist: Those slender, flexible, stainless steel needles. The technology to make them didn’t even exist until about 400 years ago.

There are even more historical clues. The Chinese have long kept detailed records. When we examine them we do, indeed, find references to a practice called needling, but the earliest dates to about 90 BCE. The needles from that era were large, and the practice of needling refers to bloodletting and the lancing of abscesses, a treatment nothing like today’s acupuncture. Earlier Chinese medical texts, some reaching back to the 3rd century BCE, never even mention it. There’s no evidence at all that acupuncture is anywhere near 3,000 years old.

No matter. At least acupuncture is Chinese, right? Maybe not.

Chinese scholar Paul Unschuld thinks that the practice may have started in ancient Greece, with Hippocrates of Cos, and later spread to China. A fundamental feature of acupuncture, namely the special meridian points where the needles must be placed, can be traced to the medieval Islamic and European ideas of astrology mapped onto the body. This rather obvious link led researcher Ben Kavoussi to call acupuncture “Astrology with needles” He writes:

…for most of China’s long medical history, needling, bloodletting and cautery were largely practiced by itinerant and illiterate folk-healers, and frowned upon by the learned physicians who favored the use of pharmacopoeia.

funny_medical_acupuncture_poster-rd59e5d04896c4a0a8f114cb47de682b6_wvk_8byvr_512_250pxAccounts of Chinese medicine first reach Europe in the 13th century. None of them even mentioned acupuncture. Wilhelm Ten Rhijn, writing in 1680, was the first Westerner to reference acupuncture. But what he described bears little resemblance to the acupuncture of today. There was no mention of qi, which is sometimes translated as chi, or any specific points. He spoke of large gold needles that were implanted deep into the skull or womb and left in place for 30 respirations.

The first American acupuncture trials were in 1826, when it was seen as a possible method of resuscitating drowning victims. As Dr. Harriet Hall describes it, “They couldn’t get it to work and ‘gave up in disgust.’ I imagine sticking needles in soggy dead bodies was pretty disgusting.”

Even through the early part of the 20th century nobody spoke of qi or meridians. Practitioners merely inserted needles near the point of pain. In fact, qi used to refer to the vapor arising from food, and the meridians were called channels or vessels, which is part of acupuncture’s link to medieval astrology and vitalism.

So just when and where did meridians enter the picture, and qi finally become some kind of energy?

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Second Madoff Son Dies: Why Some Blame Karma

Benjamin RadfordBy Benjamin Radford via Discovery News

With the news of convicted Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff losing a second son — the first to suicide, the most recent to cancer – some have speculated that some sort of divine cosmic justice is being meted out to a man whose Ponzi scheme cost about $65 billion in savings.

Andrew Madoff 738A piece on Salon.com noted that the recent deaths of Joan Rivers and Andrew Madoff were attributed to karma on social media:

“2 weeks ago Joan Rivers stated Palestinians deserve to die and they were asking for it,” noted one typical tweeter Thursday evening. “Now she’s dead. #karma.” Another added, “Karma at work there. Without a doubt.” It was a sentiment that had already been expressed elsewhere earlier in the week, when Bernard Madoff’s son Andrew died of mantle cell lymphoma at the age of 48. (Madoff’s other son Mark committed suicide four years ago.) “Bernie Madoff’s last remaining son passed away today,” tweeted one armchair analyst of spiritual payback. “If you have any doubts about Karma catching you for bad deeds, here’s the sad proof.” Another observed, “There’s a mysterious karma that still surrounds Bernie Madoff.”

Karma is a widely-used word and pop culture notion, but is there any validity to the idea that if you put bad stuff out there, it comes back to you? Let’s take a closer look.

Karma Chameleons

Karma 745_300pxWe must first distinguish karma from justice. After all, if a criminal is apprehended, convicted, and sentenced to prison, that’s not karma, that’s just the ordinary course of justice. Karma is also not simply paying the consequences for an act. If you punch someone in the face and get punched in return, that’s just retaliation, not karma.

Instead karma usually refers to delayed and/or extra-judicial moral revenge, something that a person did at one time that they didn’t have to fully answer for — in their critic’s eyes anyway — but paid a higher price for later, in the form of some devastating misfortune.

The word karma comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “fate, work or action.” The concept of karma varies somewhat among Buddists, Hindus, and Jainists, but the popular understanding is that karma assures that good things will happen to good people and bad things to bad people. Karma in Buddhism holds that the fate of the soul is determined by its karma or actions. Every act — whether good or bad, no matter how insignificant — will eventually return to the person who does the act, and with equal force.

karma science-of-karma_250pxHowever many people mistakenly assume that the good or bad will come back in this lifetime, but that’s not what karma says. Those who do good deeds will be rewarded in future lives, and those who do bad deeds will be punished in their future lives (such as by being reborn as a lowly animal).

While many Westerners say they believe in karma, most don’t really understand or believe in the Buddhist or Hindu idea of karma. For one thing, there would no need for prisons or punishment. Cosmic justice will be meted out in another realm. Karma is fundamentally linked to belief in reincarnation. In Western society anyway, the idea of being reborn as a dog or rodent in a future life doesn’t really seem very likely, nor that much of punishment.

There is also a dark, cruel aspect to karma, one that is rarely discussed. The doctrine of karma holds that everything bad that happens to you is  .  .  .

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Climate science in ‘Jeopardy’

Jeopardy Logo 03
Board 05_flat_180pxBy Anthony J. Sadar and JoAnn Truchan via Washington Times

Scientific practice is a bit off these days. It seems as if the promoters of man-made climate change only want one answer for the cause of every climate phenomenon. Among them:

The reason why thermometers are rising so quickly worldwide. The reason worldwide temperatures have leveled off in the past 17 years. The cause of the higher-than-average hurricane season in 2005. The cause of the lower-than-average hurricane season in 2013. The reason there has been so little snowfall in the U.S. and Europe. The reason there has been so much snowfall in the U.S. and Europe.

If climate science were a category on the popular game show “Jeopardy,” where the answer must be in the form of a question, there would be but one response allowed for the cause of all these contradictory events: “What is man-made climate change?”

Not every “unusual” atmospheric condition or event evokes the humans-are-responsible answer, however. Oftentimes, to attract unwary audiences, not-so-unusual but still unfamiliar events are exaggerated by purveyors of pernicious prognostications.

Take the “polar vortex” scare. This natural phenomenon was proffered as something new, something frightening, something produced by people living comfortably as a result of the use of carbon-based fossil fuels. Of course, it is none of that. This is verified by the Glossary of Meteorology, published by the American Meteorological Society in 1959, in which this well-known phenomenon was clearly defined, not hyped.

Celebrity Jeopardy Comes To Radio City Music HallAs the ancient Ecclesiastes writer observed, there really is “nothing new under the sun.”

Certainly, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) practices the sort of science that gives the desired response first, then seeks the appropriate corresponding questions.

The IPCC defines its role as “to assess … the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.” In other words, the IPCC assumes from the get-go the desired answer that anthropogenic climate change is a fact. It is then the game of researchers, enticed with prized government grants, to find the evidence that always lead to that conclusion.

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Microwave phobia

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

In order to avoid falling for whatever absurd nonsense happen to be in the offing, you not only need to have some good critical thinking skills, you also need a basic knowledge of the sciences.

Do-Not-Microwave-Head-230x300This is especially critical given the penchant that pseudoscience hacks have for using scientific-sounding terms in bogus ways.  Given that said hacks are quite good at sounding convincing, and can throw around random vocabulary words with the best of ’em, if you don’t understand the basic laws of science, as well as a few solid definitions, you’re going to fall for whatever tripe they’re offering.

Take, for example, the article from Prevent Disease that I’ve now seen several times on social media, called “12 Facts About Microwaves That Should Forever Terminate Their Use.”

This piece, written by one Marco Torres, is so full of false statements and specious science that it’s hard to know where to start.  Here’s a sample, picked more or less at random:

Microwaves are a source of electromagnetic energy (a form of nonionizing form of radiation) electronically generated. When penetrating the aliments, they trigger an inner rotation of the water molecules inside the food. This rotation triggers a friction between the molecules and the result is a rapid growth in temperature.

Okay, he starts out well.  Microwaves are a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation that is electronically generated.microwave-1960s_250px  But so is the light from a light bulb.  And I don’t know what an “inner rotation of the water molecules” even means — since microwaves are good at making water molecules (and also fat molecules) spin, maybe this was just a slip.  But the water molecules are not experiencing “friction” — they’re simply moving.  Because that’s what an increase in temperature means.  The faster molecules move, the higher the temperature, whether that temperature increase is caused by a microwave, a conventional oven, or just sitting out in the sun.

Then, though, we start hearing about all the bad things this can cause:

Microwaves use super-fast particles to literally radiate the contents of water inside food and bring it to boil. Not only has microwave use been linked to causing infertility in men, but it also denatures many of the essential proteins in the food making them virtually indigestible.

genitals 02“Super-fast” — sure, given that all electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light.  And what’s the alternative to “literally radiating” the food?  Figuratively radiating it?

And there is no connection between using microwaves and infertility, as long as you keep your genitalia outside of the microwave oven.  So guys — if you’re microwaving your lunch while naked, don’t accidentally shut your junk in the door and then turn the oven on.

Then we have this unintentionally funny statement  .  .  .

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Laughable new paper claims 99.999% certainty global warming over past 25 years is man-made

Watts Up With That?

I was tipped off to this paper by a Tweet from SkS Reichfurher John Cook, and I started on writing a rebuttal, but discovered The Hockey Schtick had already done a complete job, so I’ve reposted it here.  -Anthony
The Hockey Schtick writes: A new paper published in a journal called “Climate Risk Management” claims a ridiculous degree of “certainty” of  99.999% that global warming over the past 25 years is man-made. The claim is made based upon climate models already falsified at confidence levels of 98%+.

According to the authors,

“there is less than a one in one hundred thousand chance of observing an unbroken sequence of 304 months [25.3 years] (our analysis extends to June 2010) with mean surface temperature exceeding the 20th century average.”

Fundamental problems with this claim [which is basically the falsified IPCC attribution claim of 95% certainty on steroids] include:

There is no statistical…

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Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The clash between the champions of scientific skepticism and supernaturalism.

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

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was best known as the world’s most famous magician during his lifetime, and also as a tireless debunker of false mediums and dishonest claims of profit-driven supernaturalists. He followed a simple strategy, one that’s the fundamental basis of the scientific method: Work hard to falsify all new hypotheses, and maintain a mind open to all new evidence. houdini_conan_doyle_250pxSadly for Houdini, this meant testing what could have been one of the most important personal relationships to the history of public understanding of science.

Much has been made of the friendship between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur would seem to have been a man of science and rational thought, but he was a lifelong steadfast believer in the supernatural. In fact, it was something that was at the forefront of his attention much of the time. One of the most telling events in Sir Arthur’s career came when he was a member of the Society for Psychical Research, which is often criticized for being composed mainly of true believers in the paranormal, and not all that interested in objective research. In the 1920s, Sir Arthur led a mass resignation of 84 members of the Society, on the grounds that it was too skeptical. The staunchest of the resignees joined the Ghost Club, of which Sir Arthur was a longtime member. The Ghost Club made no apologies for being fully dedicated to the supernatural as an absolute fact. In addition, Sir Arthur’s wife, Lady Doyle, was a medium who often conducted séances appearing to be in communication with the dead, and Sir Arthur was absolutely convinced of the reality of her ability.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spirit photo_200px captionedDespite a radical difference of opinion, Houdini and Sir Arthur managed to keep their friendship alive for some years, each often writing to the other of their mutual respect, their agreement to disagree, and the value of honesty and integrity in one’s own beliefs — neither man ever doubting the other’s sincerity; at least for a while.

In the spring of 1922, Houdini invited Sir Arthur to the home of his friend Bernard Ernst, a lawyer in New York, in an effort to show him that even the most amazing feats of mediums could be accomplished by skilled — albeit earthly — trickery. He had good reason to sway Sir Arthur if he could; Sir Arthur was passionately engaged in promoting the supernatural to his vast worldwide audience, a public disservice if there ever was one, as honestly intentioned as it was. Houdini prepared a magic trick, one that’s familiar to any practitioner of the art. He had Sir Arthur go outside in private and write a simple note that there’s no way Houdini could have seen; and then upon his return to the room, Houdini had a cork ball soaked in white ink magically roll around on a slate and spell out the very note Sir Arthur had written. Sir Arthur was aghast. Houdini wrote him:  .  .  .

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Also See: An Actual Recording Of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Spirit” From A 1934 Séance (io9.com)

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What is the 1001 Club?

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

The World Wide Fund for Nature is a well-known organization, but it’s also home to a smaller group called the 1001 Club. Who are they, exactly, and why do some theorists think this group is out to do more than just save public parks?

Wind Energy: Chalk it Up As a Loss

By Ben Acheson via YouTube

Ben Acheson excoriates industrial wind energy and ponders why the vast roll-out of huge turbines is still taking place.

With the negative impacts on the tourist industry, precious landscapes, communities and businesses, is it time that wind energy was chalked up as a loss?

The film-makers are available for other projects. To contact them, email: production@typique.be

Unbelievably bad science in the movie Seeds of Death

By Myles Power via YouTube

Myles reviews part of Gary Null’s 2012 anti-GMO documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs


The following transcript via mylespower.co.uk

gmo-07_400pxI recently sat down and watched the 2012 anti-GMO documentary “Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs“. The documentary was written, produced and published by Gary Null (an alternative medicine promoter who was once almost killed from one of his own supplements) and claims to expose the dangers of genetically modified foods. It consisted of interviews from apparently “leading” scientists, physicians, professors, attorneys. Most of which, for some unknown reason, are shot in front of a green screen with rather boring backdrops added in post-production.

Like nearly all other anti-GMO documentaries, it’s full of the same scientifically inaccurate statements that we have seen a thousand times before; Roundup ready crops produce Roundup, the bT endotoxins are harmful to humans and GM-food has been shown to produce tumours in rats. All of these ideas can be disproven by a quick Google search or by reading the source material. The documentary also included some familiar faces, like Gilles-Éric Séralini, the lead author of the highly discredited “long term toxicity of Roundup” paper and Mike Adams, a man who believes that the nerve agent sarin is used in water fluorination. However, unlike other anti-GMO documentaries I’ve watched in the past, this one turns up the anti-SCIENCE to eleven.

By far one of the more hilarious, stupid and demonstrably incorrect comments in the documentary came from a Dr Rima Laibow, MD. According to her website she is a graduate from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and for the past 35 years has been promoting drug-free, natural medicine. However, after reading some of the outrageous and potentially dangerous claims on her website (like “nano-sliver will stop HIV), I question if she even has a basic medicine or science qualification. It also seems that she is aware of her own bullshit, as her website comes with a disclaimer saying that none of the advice given is intended to “diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to cure, mitigate or prevent disease conditions”.

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Also See Snopes.

Organic Ghost Detector

Stephen PropatierBy Stephen Propatier via Skeptoid

Organic food labeling is marketing, not science. Organic marketers utilize any bit of data that can be spun to promote a significant difference, producing a constant drone of nonsense. This week an article in Science World Report tops my nonsense list for organic agriculture promotion. The article “New Test May Detect Organic Food Fraud: Is Your Produce Really Organic?” is a subtle but effective promotion of organic foods’ purported benefits. Organic EMF 03_250pxThis article is based on a press release offering the idea that there may be a test to separate falsely labeled organic produce from true organic produce.

Testing foods for organic label fraud sounds plausible on the surface, but is it? The proposed methodology for testing, as described by Science World Report, lacks a major scientific underpinning. Organic agriculture proponents have long suggested that there organic foods have measurable nutritional benefits over conventional agriculture, asserting that organic foods are safer and/or more nutritious than conventionally grown products. Most of this conjecture is based upon small, poorly structured studies. Any measurable benefit, when compared to conventional agriculture, disappears in large well controlled studies. That pattern—poor research yielding positive outcomes, well-structured research producing negative outcomes—is consistent with statistical noise or poorly done research. So what is this proposed test looking for? Is there any testable difference between organic and conventional?

Testing organic food is the agricultural world’s version of the ghost meter, in my opinion. A ghost meter is a electromagnetic field meter used by “Ghost Hunters” to detect the presence of ghosts. Sometimes it’s a charlatan’s prop, but more often the device is used to assure people (typically the user) that ghosts can be detected. gmo-labeling_2_150pxA science-y sounding method and device is demonstrated, just without any science actually involved. The meter finds changes in EM fields around a supposedly haunted site, and ghost hunters assume that ghosts produce or affect EM fields. This also assumes that the fields they detect are different from any regular EM field, which are everywhere, produced by the sun, cellphones, cameras, light bulbs, and other electrical devices.

A test for organic food “authenticity” similarly lacks any scientific basis. Like a ghost meter there are fundamental assumptions being made that thus far have been answered tested out as false. Currently the best information is that there are no  .  .  .

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Undeniable Evidence: UFO Caught On Tape!!!!

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FEMA: Sticker shock

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

New from the “Wow, You People Really Get Upset About Everything, Don’t You?” department, we have a conspiracy theorist who thinks that the Evil Government Agents are marking our mailboxes with color-coded dots for some ominous purpose.

The dots, which are about three inches across, are either bright red, blue, or yellow.  And according to the aforementioned wackmobile, the whole idea is so that they can keep track of who is headed for termination:

More and more people are reporting their mail box or their house has been marked with color stickers or marks. Are these the FEMA death camp markings for foreign troops to gather us when the government declares martial law? In some area, even the local police & utility companies don’t even know why they are there.

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Minister Paul shows us how FEMA is marking his mailbox.

He then follows it up with a couple of videos, showing his mailbox and a neighbor’s mailbox that have stickers.  And lo, one of them was red and one of them was blue, as was foretold by the prophecy.  Worse still, one of the mailboxes had the lock forced.  He talked to a guy at the post office, who said that the blue sticker meant that there was a forwarding order on that address.  The guy who made the video, who calls himself “Master Paul,” draws from this the following breathtaking conclusion:

If blue means “forward,” why is (the neighbor’s) red?  There are a lot of conspiracy theories on YouTube.  This is not a conspiracy theory.  You’re seeing it.  Red and blue!

Yup.  We saw it.  Red and blue.  And therefore FEMA death camps and martial law and public floggings of American citizens, or something.

To hammer home the point, we’re shown the following map, illustrating where stickered mailboxes have been reported to Master Paul et al.:

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So after seeing all of this, I had to  .  .  .

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Also See: FEMA is marking mailboxes with colored dots to indicate the disposition of residents in the New World Order. (Snopes)