Monthly Archives: February, 2015

Ghost Photography

The history of ghost photography and its many problems as evidence.

skeptoid eyeBy Blake Smith via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

In books promising you a glimpse of the beyond you find page after page of chilling photographic evidence that spirits of the dead walk the earth! A ghostly baby sits on a grave. A translucent figure descends a staircase. A childs face emerges from the flames of a devastating fire. Do these photographs offer real glimpses of ghosts? Or is there a more rational explanation for ghost photography? Let’s expose these mysterious images to the light of science and see what develops.

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Yony O’Rahilly of Wem, England took this photo on 11/19/1995 as Wem Town Hall burned to the ground.
Image: BBC

The history of ghost photography is closely tied to the history of photography itself. Early photography was much like all new technology in that enthusiasts had to become skilled with the various equipment and chemicals required for producing images. Before the invention of photographic film the photographers worked with chemically treated glass plates which could be cleaned and re-used to make new images. Early photographers were often running small businesses, using their photography to make portraits for 19th century families. Because of the bulk of their equipment, most worked in small studios rather than moving their equipment about. Sittings were arranged and paid for. The expensive glass plates were often cleaned and re-used, but if not cleaned properly the remnants of the old image could be seen in subsequent photos. This method of producing multiple exposures was certainly widely known within the field by the photographers, but was not well understood by the general public.

Before we dive into the story of the early spirit photographers, it is important to talk about the cultural stage upon which they performed. The spread of photography was happening simultaneous to the rise of a new religion or belief system called “Spiritualism.” The main ideas of spiritualism centered around the belief that the dead continue to exist as spirits and maintain their consciousness here on earth after they’ve died. Interaction with these spirits was said to be possible through the use of psychics or mediums. Spiritualism began in the 1840s and grew through the early 20th century, attracting millions of followers and adherents. In the wake of this growing movement, ideas such as parlor seances grew very popular and it was quite easy to find people who openly believed in spirits as a scientific reality.

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One of Mumler’s most famous photographs apparently shows Mary Todd Lincoln with the “ghost” of her husband, Abraham Lincoln.
Source: Wikipedia

A large population of people seeking proof of life after death made it possible for a robust network of mediums to set up shop in the north east of the United States. It was in this environment that Boston photographer William Mumler introduced spirit photography to a community eager for more proof of life after death.

Mumler had been a jewelry engraver before he began his new career as a spirit photographer with a single photo which he alleged showed the image of one of his deceased relatives who had died several years before his self portrait was taken. In a time when photography was already an expensive proposition for a family looking for a portrait, Mumler was able to fetch several times the normal cost of a traditional photograph for one of his special portraits which would show a ghostly image of some alleged dead loved one along with the mundane image of the living subject.

How would he accomplish this? How did he fool people with his blurry but easy to reproduce multiple exposure photographs? It was a success for him because  .  .  .

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Verifying digital photo authenticity with izitru

Skeptical Software Tools

izitru logoThe popular photo manipulation software Photoshop celebrated its 25th birthday this week. Photoshop and other tools like it have made it incredibly easy to manipulate digital photos. That in turn makes it easier to create photographic hoaxes – including ghosts, cryptids, UFOs and other targets of skeptical investigations.

It is not surprising that photo hoaxes are quite common these days and are constantly passed around on social media. Thus skeptics need good tools for debunking them.

One such tool is izitru.

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10 Mind Bending Theories About Time Travel

By Alltime10s via YouTube

Bill and Ted, Marty McFly, those guys in the hot tub; time travel seems to belong in the world of fiction, but here are some ideas that might make it a reality in 10 mind-bending theories about time travel.

Russian Ghost Car DEBUNK

By CaptainDisillusion via YouTube

Captain Disillusion deconstructs the viral dashboard camera video showing a “ghost car” appear on the streets of Russia.

GMO Facts and Fiction

gmo-07_400px
See if you know how many of these GMO “facts” are right.

Brian Dunningby Brian Dunning via skeptoid

No matter how many articles are published detailing how and why genetically engineered crops are safe, misinformation always seems to reign. Anti-biotech activists persist in charging GMO crops (Genetically Modified Organisms) with just about every crime against humanity, ethics, and science. Although Monsanto is the company drawing nearly 100% of the flak from anti-biotech activists and is probably the only genetic engineering company known to most people,gmo-labeling_2_150px it’s actually only one of the six biggest companies that develop GMO crops. The others are DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, and Bayer Cropscience. Beyond the big six, about 20 other smaller companies located all around the world are also in the business. But don’t expect to go down to the local nursery and find seeds branded with these names: like most manufacturers, they all sell under a variety of more customer-friendly brands. Monsanto, the market leader among the big six, sells 15 different brands, each tailored to specific products or regions. What happens to all these brands of seeds that get bought, sown, and reaped? See if you can guess all of these “fact or fiction” choices right, starting with:

Supermarkets are full of GMO foods.

True, but mostly as ingredients in prepared food. About 85% of three major food crops grown in the US — corn, soy, and cotton — are GMO. Most of the produce you buy (corn and soybeans being the only real notable exceptions) are currently not GMO. Another exception is the papaya. Most of the papayas available in the United States come from Hawaii, where the ringspot virus decimated the species in the mid 1990s. But in 1998, a crop scientist found a way to insert a single ringspot gene into the papaya, thus conferring natural immunization; and now the Hawaiian papaya flourish.

But beyond those three examples from the produce aisle, it’s pretty hard to find a prepared food product that contains no corn, soy, or cottonseed products, so the answer is yes. If you live in the Americas, you’ve been eating a lot of GMO food from the supermarket for the past several decades.

GMO leads to monoculture.

False. Supply and demand is what leads to monoculture, and that’s got nothing to do with GMOs. Monoculture is when you plant the same crop over and over again in the same field, without rotating. GMO killer tomato_200pxRotating crops naturally prevents the most common pathogen and pest antagonists to gain a foothold on any particular crop, and keeps the soil as healthy as practical. Farmers have understood the benefits of crop rotation since at least 6000 BCE. If there was an equal demand for corn, soy, and cotton, farmers would be able to rotate perfectly and everything would be hunky dory.

Sadly that’s not the case. In 2011, the United States had 84 million acres of corn; 74 million acres of soybeans, 56 million acres of hay, 46 million acres of wheat, but only 10 million acres of cotton. So many products, both food and industrial, come from these, but the acreage needed from each is so disparate that crop rotation is often problematic. Further complicating it is that each crop grows best in a specific climate zone and soil. It’s really, really hard to find two or more crops that are both in equal demand and that will grow well on any given farm’s ecology.

Three of these top five crops are mostly genetically engineered varieties. But as we can see, this has nothing to do with the problems of monoculture or the farmer’s ability to rotate.

GMO crops contain genes from jellyfish and other animals.

False. There have never been any GMO crops brought to market that contained any animal genes. But it’s not necessarily for lack of trying. In many parts of the world, crops can freeze and get destroyed. So one thing researchers have tried is to give them some genes that confer antifreeze abilities in the winter flounder, a fish that can survive sub-freezing temperature. These genes express a protein (found in many plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria) that binds to small ice crystals, preventing them from becoming larger ice crystals that can damage cells. Although it would be great if we could give fruit and vegetable orchards this same ability, so far it hasn’t worked. This is why genetic engineers are always going to be busy: for every one project that succeeds, a hundred fail.

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Correlation does not imply causation

Great demonstration of why correlation does not imply causation.

By BuzzFeedBlue via YouTube

A Response to Lars Andersen: a New Level of Archery

skepticallypwndBy skepticallypwnd via YouTube

For more information see the video description.

Lars Andersen original vid can be found here: http://youtu.be/BEG-ly9tQGk

Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes but Sells Same

Bad Science Debunked

Despite a very vocal campaign against Kraft over the use of the dyes Blue #1, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 in their products,1,2 Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) sells items containing a form of these same dyes via her shopping page, and has apparently been doing so since December, 2013.

The items sold by Kraft are food products, while those sold by Hari are cosmetics intended for use on the lips.

The only difference in the dyes is the addition of a metallic salt in the cosmetics to prevent the dyes from becoming water soluble.  Unfortunately for Hari, the metal in question is aluminum, which she falsely links to Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.3,14  It must be pointed out that experts in food/product safety strongly disagree with Hari over her claims about the dyes in question–and the aluminum.

Not only did Food Babe miss the presence of…

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Did The Past Really Happen?

By Vsauce via YouTube

Greece is full of wonderful new things and wonderful old things. But when WE become old things, will our ruins also be tourist attractions?

**Sources and extra info!!**

FEMA & the New Madrid Fault

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

Planes clouds and vortices

While this video will freak out chemtrail conspiracists, aviation buffs like myself think this is some awesome stuff!

Via YouTube

The Incredible Candles

Richard Wiseman comes through with another great illusion. 🙂

By Quirkology via YouTube

10 Pseudoscientists And Their Bizarre Theories

By Debra Kelly via Listverse

Science is something of . . . well . . . an inexact science. Throughout history, there have been countless explanations of natural phenomena that we’ve considered true, only to discover decades later that we were really off the mark. There are some scientists, though, whose theories seem so far out in left field that they’re not even playing the same game.

10 • Wilhelm Reich Orgone

orgone-e1422306449763_300pxBorn in 1897, Wilhelm Reich was a psychiatrist enamored of the works of Sigmund Freud. He briefly worked with Freud and later started his own practice in 1922. By 1940, he had moved to the United States and fully developed his theories.

According to Reich, he had scientifically proven the existence of a compound that he described as a form of energy in the body that was the physical manifestation of the libido, building up in the body until it was successfully discharged through an orgasm. Reich built a machine that would allow him to study this energy, crossing the threshold between not only psychology and biology, but also between Eastern ideas and Western methods. He named the energy “orgone,” as he had first discovered it while researching the mechanics of the orgasm, but he soon was looking at orgone in areas outside of human biology. It formed a crucial part in his theories about everything from gravity to the weather.

Reich and his supporters have done a massive amount of research and experimentation on the properties of orgone. In 1947, he wrote a book called The Cancer Biopathy based on his experiments injecting cancerous cells in mice with what he called “bions,” or the most basic element of the energy of life. According to Reich’s theories, cancer was largely the result of the breakdown of these elements, and he claimed to have been able to extend the lives of his mice by weeks—and even longer when he used the energy collected from his orgone accumulator.

Today, there are still organizations (like the American College of Orgonomy) that formally study Reich’s work and offer Medical Orgone Therapy as an option for the treatment of disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

9 • Frederic Petit Another Moon

zippy-moon-e1422306458571_300pxAccording to astronomer Frederic Petit, Earth has a second moon. Working in 1846 from an observatory in Toulouse, France, Petit claimed that the presence of the second moon explained away all the astronomical irregularities that other astronomers were having difficulty with. He claimed this second moon had an orbital time of only 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 59 seconds. At its farthest point from Earth, Petit’s second moon was about 3,570 kilometers (2,218 mi) away.

No one took his findings seriously when he made them public, but he continued to release new findings about his moon and its effects on the real Moon and the Earth for 15 years after his initial discovery. Petit’s theory might have gone completely unnoticed by the scientific community if it hadn’t been picked up by Jules Verne in From the Earth to the Moon.

The reference is a brief one, but Verne comments about this second moon and names Petit as the man who discovered it. Instead of fading into scientific obscurity, amateur astronomers started searching the skies for evidence of this second moon, which has caused many other discoveries about the celestial bodies in the Earth’s orbit. In 1989, a man named Georg Waltemath claimed to have discovered that the planet was orbited by not only a couple of moons, but a whole network of mini moons. Some of these moons illuminated the sky with the same strength as the Sun, he claimed. Waltemath also released a series of dates and times at which people would supposedly be able to see these mini moons passing in front of the Sun. A lot of people spent several days in February 1898 staring at the Sun, but no one saw anything out of the ordinary.

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Las Vegas TV station finds no proof of chemtrails: ‘I’m sorry to say, but it’s crazy’

By Travis Gettys via rawstory

A conspiracy theorist convinced a Las Vegas TV station to look into chemtrails for an investigative report, which aired during February sweeps month.

Malcolm Harris showed some photographs he took to KLAS-TV that showed what he believes are chemtrails – manmade formations that some suspect are created by the government to control the weather or population.

chemtrail UFO culprit_250px“You could see the very beginning and the end, and it was very clean and it stood by itself,” Harris said. “There wasn’t anything else around it. I’ve seen clouds being made out here in the desert. All of a sudden you see a cloud being made, and that is not what was going on.”

He said the formation was clearly manmade and unnatural, and aviation writer Bill Sweetman doesn’t disagree.

However, after reviewing the photos, he isn’t convinced they’re chemtrails.

The aviation expert said he spoke to defense industry colleagues and suggested the formations were caused by advanced pyrotechnics – or flares used by fast jets to confuse enemy forces.

George Barnes, producer of the chemtrails film “Look Up,” said various groups are spraying the skies for a variety of reasons.

“The conclusion is, because it is unregulated, anybody could do it,” Barnes said. “So anybody that is interested in experimenting with climate engineering, weather modification, has the right and the authority to test it.”

He claims there is no evidence that grid patterns existed in the sky prior to 2006, but he’s not sure what has changed since then.

However, KLAS reported that the station’s photographers captured checkerboard patterns in the 1990s, and contrails – lingering trails of condensation – are visible in older photos and video footage.

“The reality is . . .

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“To think there could be a global conspiracy … is crazy”

Video via KLAS-TV Las Vegas

A Comparison Diagram Between Wind and Nuclear

Who was Albert Pike?

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

Mystic, Mason and alleged prophet, Albert Pike stands as one of the most unusual and fascinating personalities from the Civil War era. But who was he, exactly? Did he really predict three world wars?


Also See: Freemasons & Satan (Morals and Dogma) (iLLuMiNuTTi.com)

Gwyneth Paltrow says steam your vagina, an OB/GYN says don’t

All aboard the woo-woo train!! 🙂

Dr. Jen Gunter

paltrowOn today’s episode of ask the experts we pit the gynecologic advice of Gwyneth Paltrow, a consciously uncoupled actress and self-professed lifestyle expert who dabbles in vaginal health, against that of yours truly, a board certified OB/GYN who has completed a 5 year OB/GYN residency and a fellowship in infectious diseases and is an expert in vulvovaginal disorders.

Ms. Paltrow, recommends a V-steam. Her words:  “You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in LA, you have to do it.”

My response: Don’t.

Here’s why.

The vagina (and uterus and vulva for that matter) should be viewed as self-cleaning ovens. We know that douching is harmful, heck, even seminal fluid can be harmful (exposure to multiple partners without condoms is…

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