Subjective validation is the process of validating words, initials, statements, or signs as accurate because one is able to find them personally meaningful and significant. Subjective validation explains why many people are seduced by the apparent accuracy of pseudoscientific personality profiles. Subjective validation deludes everyone from the housewife who thinks her happiness depends on her blood type or horoscope, to the FBI agent who thinks criminal profiles are spot on, to the therapist who thinks her Rorschach readings are penetrating portraits of psychological disorders.
Subjective validation is an essential element of any successful cold reading done by astrologers, palm readers, tarot readers, mediums, and the like. The sitter in such readings must cooperate. Fortunately for the medium, most sitters are usually eager for the reader to succeed and are willing to work hard to find personal meaning in whatever the reader throws out. In a successful cold reading, the sitter will be convinced that the accuracy of the reading was not due to her ability and willingness to cooperate but rather to the powers of astrology, palmistry, tarot, or mediumship.
Sitters are often very compliant. A medium will say he senses a father figure trying to contact him from the spirit world and the sitter has only to find someone to fit the bill. It need not be the sitter’s father. So, when the sitter identifies this father figure as her deceased husband, the medium is validated by the subject. The medium is validated by the subject when the medium says she is getting the message “I do not walk alone” and the sitter makes sense out of this by seeing it as a communication from a departed soul who was in a wheelchair before she died. There may be thousands of ways to make sense out of an ambiguous stimulus like the name ‘Michael’ or the expression ‘broken wheel’ but all it takes is for the sitter to find one and the medium is validated.
Selective memory is also involved in subjective validation because it is very unlikely that any sitter will be able to find meaning in every utterance the medium makes. Fortunately for the reader, the sitter will usually forget the misses and remember only the hits. That is, the sitter will remember what she was able to make sense out of and forget the stuff that made no sense to her. Also, it rarely occurs that anyone makes an independent check of the accuracy of the sitter’s rating of the reader.* So, if a sitter is satisfied that a reading is very accurate that is usually taken as sufficient evidence by the medium – and by experimenters who test mediums such as Gary Schwartz – as proof of the accuracy of the reading.
The stronger the desire to make contact, the harder the sitter will work to find meaning and connections in the medium’s items. This fact should impact the design of experiments that are supposed to test a medium’s ability to get messages from spirits. Experimenters should always checks factual claims made by sitters. But even though the concern with factual accuracy is important in verifying the success of the medium, one should not lose sight of the importance of the studies that have been done on how the human mind works when it comes to making sense out of and giving significance to disparate data presented to it. The overall effect of subjective validation should show up in the way sitters rate the accuracy of the mediums’ claims.
On July 12, 2016, the FBI finally closed the files on one of its most famous unsolved cases. They called it the NORJAK case — short for Northwest Hijacking — but you probably know it by the name given to the hijacker,
D. B. Cooper. Most people are familiar with the basic facts: that in 1971, a man hijacked an airliner, demanded and received cash and a parachute, and jumped out the plane’s back door over the Pacific Northwest and was never caught or identified. Whether he got away clean, or was killed in the attempt, could never be determined. Even though the D. B. Cooper case continues to capture the public’s imagination, there is a lot of fact and fiction unknown to many fans.
On the afternoon of November 24, 1971, a man who looked mid-40ish, wearing a business suit, walked up to the counter of Northwest Airlines in Portland, Oregon. Using the name Dan Cooper, he bought a $20 one-way ticket to Seattle, Washington. He was the second-to-last person to board the plane, and while waiting for takeoff, he ordered and drank a bourbon and soda — unfortunately spilling half of it. Once airborne, he handed flight attendant Florence Schaffner a note, which said something to the effect of “I have a bomb which I will use if necessary, this is a hijacking, please sit next to me.” She showed it to fellow flight attendant Tina Mucklow and to the pilots. Cooper then asked for the note back, which is why its exact wording is not known.
Schaffner took the empty seat next to him as ordered and he opened a briefcase, and showed her what she described as red sticks with a battery and wires. He then dictated to her the following demands:
Take this down. I want $200,000 by 5:00 PM in cash. Put it in a knapsack. I want two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land, I want a fuel truck ready to refuel. No funny stuff, or I’ll do the job.
Schaffner conveyed this information to the pilot. Almost nobody on the plane knew anything unusual was happening; the whole episode was handled discreetly. Cooper added that if these instructions were followed, he would safely release everyone on the plane, except for the flight crew.
The airline agreed and contacted the FBI for assistance making the exchange safely. The FBI collected the money from the Seattle First National Bank. Some FBI records say they used a Recordak high-speed microfilm machine to image the serial numbers of all the bills; other records say the bank had the money on hand with its serial numbers already recorded. The airline got on the phone and collected the four parachutes from local contacts. Two hours later, the exchange had been successful, and the plane taxied for takeoff, fully refueled.
Cooper instructed that the plane was to fly a specific route, from Seattle to Portland, to Medford, to Red Bluff, and then to Reno, all while staying below 10,000 feet and keeping the flaps and landing gear down. The plane was a Boeing 727, featuring the nifty “Airstair” rear access stairway under the tail. Cooper had released two of the flight attendants along with the passengers, but had kept Mucklow on board so she could show him how to operate the Airstair.
Frustrated that the money had not been delivered in a knapsack as he’d requested, Cooper began cannibalizing one of the parachute’s cords to do what Mucklow thought was tying the bundles of money to himself. About a half hour after takeoff, Cooper ordered Mucklow up to the cockpit with the pilots and closed the door, ordering them not to open it. At 8:13pm, over southern Washington, the pilots got a number of warning lights. The Airstair had been lowered, cabin pressure had dropped, and the cabin temperature fell sharply — it was -7ºF outside. Not knowing whether Cooper had jumped or not, they continued on to Reno as ordered and landed, causing a nice display of sparks (but no damage) as the Airstair briefly scraped the runway. After receiving no response from Cooper over the intercom, they chanced to open the door, and found him gone; all that remained were his clip-on tie, and a ton of cigarette butts. Nobody would ever see him again.
More than a decade after the terrorist attacks that shook the nation, questions still surround what happened during 9/11.
From the collapse of the twin towers, to whether the White House had inside knowledge, AllTime 10s brings you, the 10 most shocking conspiracies about 9/11.
During Sylvia Browne’s decades-long career offering psychic readings and doing television appearances, she made numerous claims about working with law enforcement to solve crimes. In an age before the Internet, fact-checking by television and newspapers was more labor intensive. It was difficult to find sources to support or deny many of her claims. While several articles in the Skeptical Inquirer have cast doubt on her psychic abilities, Browne defended herself by citing her “work” on cases and giving the media endorsements from seemingly respectable law enforcement members, such as former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Ted Gunderson. Recently obtained FBI files shatter her insinuation that she had a relationship with federal law enforcement and show that the only interest the agency had in Browne was investigating her for fraud.
Records about a person in possession of an investigating government agency, such as the FBI, are available with the person’s permission or if they are deceased. In all likelihood, Browne would not have consented to the release of her FBI file given her refusal to allow Robert Lancaster, of StopSylvia.com, to post a transcript online that her own office sent him in 2007 (Lancaster 2007a). In her haste to refute claims from an ex-husband about an alleged lack of higher education credits, Browne’s office sent Lancaster her St. Teresa’s College (now Avila University) transcripts. The transcripts, according to Lancaster, did show Browne’s ex-husband was incorrect about how long she attended college. Yet unfortunately for Browne, that transcript also demonstrated that she did not complete college and proved her often-made claim about having a higher education degree was false. Given Browne’s reluctance to make records her office sent to a critic publicly available, she probably would not have been willing to allow the release of her law enforcement records. Following her 2013 death, anyone can now obtain the government files concerning Browne.
I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI asking for documents about Browne, using her date of birth under her previous legal last name of “Brown” and her later addition of “e” to the name.
In terms of moral and ethical boundaries Mike Adams is well known for crossing the line often with his promotion of dangerous pseudoscience and disgusting conspiracy theories, as well as calling anyone that promotes real science, debunks his claims, or criticizes him a shill. He also says some other pretty horrible things about his critics (most of the time this is ignored because none of his critics really cares what he says about them, they’re just more concerned over what he promotes and how he influences people), and in the case of Jon Entine, threatens to sue them.
A few days ago he crossed another line, and this one may just get him thrown in prison.
On his main website, Natural News, Adams wrote an article that can be best described as endorsing and encouraging the murder of anyone that supports Monsanto and the biotech industry in general (read his article here).
To quote his article:
“Monsanto collaborators who have signed on to accelerate heinous crimes being committed against humanity under the false promise of ‘feeding the world’ with toxic GMOs.”
“that it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.”
That pretty much says it all. He is saying that people that support GMO foods and the biotech industry should be killed, and that it is justifiable to do so.
“For the record, in no way do I condone vigilante violence against anyone, and I believe every condemned criminal deserves a fair trial and a punishment that fits the crime. Do not misinterpret this article as any sort of call for violence, as I wholly disavow any such actions. I am a person who demands due process under the law for all those accused of crimes.”
Yet those two lines, plus the title, Biotech genocide, Monsanto collaborators and the Nazi legacy of ‘science’ as justification for murder, clearly shows he means otherwise.
Skeptoid listeners are always asking for conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. Here’s the best I could come up with.
Ever since the earliest days of Skeptoid, listeners have been asking me for two things: Do an episode on paranormal claims that turned out to be true, and do an episode on conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. For both types of requests, I’ve always answered “Great, just find some for me.” Nothing. Ever. Crickets chirping. So when I went on the Joe Rogan podcast, which has an enormous conspiracy theory following, I asked straight out: Please send me examples of conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. I was buried in email… to the degree that such a thing is possible.
Judging conspiracy theories can be a tricky business. For one thing, they’re often uselessly vague. I can say “The government does things we don’t know about,” and then virtually anything can come out in the news and I can claim to have been right. For another thing, the world is full of real criminal conspiracies, and I can always point to any one of them and claim “Hey, this is a conspiracy theory that was proven true.” So I have a simple pair of requirements that a conspiracy theory must adhere to in order to be considered the type of conspiracy theory that we’re actually talking about when we use the term.
- First, it must be specific enough to be falsifiable. This is the fundamental requirement that every scientific theory must comply with to be considered valid. By way of example, compare a vague version of the chemtrails conspiracy theory to a specific disprovable claim. You can’t just say “Some airplanes spray some unknown chemical.” That’s so vague that you could claim you were proven correct the next time a crop duster sprays a field. But if you say “United Airlines tail number NC13327 is equipped to spray VX nerve gas, and that one right there is spraying it right now,” then that’s a claim that can be disproven with a single inspection. You make a claim that specific, you’re proven right, I’ll stand behind you 100%.
- Second, it must be known to the conspiracy theorist before it’s discovered by the media or law enforcement. Simply repeating what someone else’s proper investigation has led them to does not constitute developing a theory. Woodward and Bernstein did an intense investigation and put together evidence bit by bit until they had the whole story of the Watergate scandal; at no point did they sit back in their chairs, propose an elaborate conspiracy, then watch as every detail unfolded exactly as they predicted. If you want to impress me with your conspiracy theory, you have to discover it (in detail) before other investigators piece together the proof and make it public for you. Otherwise you’re just claiming credit for reading the newspaper.
So now let’s look at the most common “conspiracy theories proven true” that I was sent:
1. The Gulf of Tonkin
This was overwhelmingly the most common story sent to me from listeners of the Rogan podcast. It was the American excuse to enter the Vietnam War. A small naval battle took place between US forces and North Vietnamese torpedo boats, after which Congress gave President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to order military action in support of certain Southeast Asian countries who were threatened by Communist forces. Basically, a thinly-veiled authorization for Johnson to go to war with North Vietnam.
The conspiracy part comes from the claim that the naval battle never actually took place, or that it was a fake “false flag” attack by American conspirators trying to give Congress the excuse they wanted. There’s probably a grain of truth to this. There was indeed one real engagement on August 2, 1964, in which planes and ships were damaged on both sides and the North Vietnamese suffered a number of casualties. There’s no doubt there. But it was the second attack two days later on August 4 that was fishy. American forces fired heavily on radar targets only, and nobody ever reported any visual sightings of North Vietnamese forces.
Throughout the day on August 4, as the action was unfolding, Captain Herrick of the destroyer USS Maddox cabled Washington a number of times, and reported in no uncertain terms that he believed there were no enemy forces. This information was public from the beginning. Even as Johnson was drafting his resolution, Senator Wayne Morse was holding public press conferences to reveal that the second attack was without evidence.
Provoking attacks may seem pretty unethical to most of us, but the fact is it’s been a common military tactic since the Romans and the Carthaginians. At no point were the details of the Gulf of Tonkin incident unknown, so it never existed as a conspiracy theory.
The FBI’s domestic Counter Intelligence Program was a terrible thing from the beginning. It operated since 1956, and also less formally for nearly 50 years before that. Their purpose was to discredit and harm American groups mainly associated with civil rights, characterizing them as hate groups that threatened national security. The program was blown in 1971 when a group of eight men, calling themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into a small FBI office in a perfectly planned and executed raid. They seized some 1,000 documents detailing COINTELPRO operations and mailed them to newspapers. The FBI was unable to identify any of the burglars before the statute of limitations ran out, so they got away with it clean. As a result, the FBI was forced to terminate this often-illegal program.
There are a lot of accusations leveled against the Illuminati, and out of all of those accusations I’ve noticed many things and traits about the group.
Now out of all of the things and traits that I have noticed about the Illuminati I’ve narrowed it down to five distinct things.
So here are five things that I’ve noticed about the Illuminati:
5 • They are the most patient people in the world.
The Illuminati has to be composed of some of the most patient people in the world. I say this because according to people who “investigate” the Illuminati (i.e. people who spend most of their free time watching or creating Youtube videos about the Illuminati, and listening to Alex Jones) have been doing stuff for years in order to get ready to take over the world, as well as kill 80%-90% of the population, and enslave everyone else.
Now as to how long the Illuminati have been plotting to take over the Earth no one (and by “no one” I mean conspiracy theorists) is really sure because no one is really sure how old the Illuminati is. Most conspiracy theorists say they’re around two and a half centuries old, although others say they’re as old as civilization, or even older, while others say they’re only about a century or so old.
Regardless of how old the Illuminati is, the fact that they have been allegedly at this taking over the world thing for a very long time clearly shows that they are composed of the world’s most patient individuals… or the world’s worst procrastinators.
Now I would think that there would be atleast a few people in the Illuminati who wants to really push forward in taking over the world. I say this because apparently the Illuminati has a huge membership, so I would think that there would be atleast a few ambitious individuals amongst themselves.
Infact when thinking about that huge membership of their’s it almost seems like that…
4 • Everyone is a part of the Illuminati.
According to conspiracy theorists there are a huge amount people (probably in the tens of millions) who are members, or atleast works for, the Illuminati. This alleged list includes actors, musicians (actually any celebrity really), rich people, politicians, high ranking military officers, anyone in the CIA, or FBI, or NSA, whistleblowers, religious leaders, myself and fellow skeptics, and even other conspiracy theorists. Heck, even Alex Jones whom constantly “speaks out” against the Illuminate has himself been accused of being a member of the Illuminati.
Now taking all of this “information” (a.k.a. accusations) into account by my estimates I believe there are only eight people in the world are not apart of the Illuminati…
I admit I might be a little off on my math there, but still that’s an awful lot of people who are apart of this super secret organization (so secret that there is no real proof of it’s existence).
Of course when you also consider how many people who are apart of this alleged secret organization it shouldn’t also be surprising to know that…
3 • They control everything.
According to many conspiracy theorists the Illuminati controls everything from the media, to the military, to the manufacturing industries, the airline industry (because how else are they going to spray chemtrails), the entertainment industry, the UN, the European Union, the Free Masons, the US government, law enforcement, major religions, minor religious, cults, the Democrats, the Republicans, the banks, most other governments, the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry… the list just keeps going on and on.
I’m not sure what is crazier: the fact that . . .
- What Is the Illuminati? (conservativeread.com)
- Does the Kardashian’s Christmas card hide a secret message from the Illuminati? (theviewfromfallingdowns.blogspot.com)
- Of “Chemtrails”, The “Illuminati”, Global Warming, and Trayvon Martin (indybay.org)
- Illuminati (bbwoyflexy.wordpress.com)
- Illuminati All Conspiracy No Theory (disclose.tv)
- The Full List of Illuminati Members in Kenya (msemakweli.com)
Recently on a Facebook skeptics group that I belong to someone posted a very “curious” looking photo, along with the commentary by the person whom posted the photo somewhere else on Facebook:
Now the first thing that came to my mind when I saw that photo was, “Wow… that trailer needs a good wash.”
All joking aside of course what really came to my mind was that the words on the truck looked like it was put on there via digital photo manipulation (i.e. photoshopped) and even if it wasn’t, then so what?
Now my first argument for why it is photoshopped is because of another photo that looks almost exactly like the first one provided to me via Illuminutti.com:
Now clearly the second picture is photoshopped, and to be all honest it’s not even that good of a photoshop job either.
Of course just because the second photo has clearly been digitally manipulated, I have to admit that it does not mean that the first photo has been digitally manipulated as well. If you look closely at the bottom words “FEMA DISASTER RELIEF” that while the font style used for the letters are similar to the ones on the top, they are infact different.
If the first photo was photoshopped, the second photoshopped photo was probably done by someone else whom used the closest font style that they could find to the original words… unless the person whom created the original photo forgot the original font style that they used.
Now another reason why I think the photo has been digitally manipulated is because of the trailer itself.
Besides just being in need of a good wash, it is clearly a used trailer due to the fact that there is a company logo right next to “FEMA DISASTER RELIEF”, as well as a logo on the truck that is pulling the trailer.
So if this photo was real, what it would tell me isn’t that FEMA is planning on “something” evil, it’s that they’re moving a trailer from one location to another to another, probably for some bureaucratic reasons, or it’s being driven around just to make sure that everything is okay with it and the truck that’s pulling it (and before you point out that the person claims that it’s coming from a FBI building in Virginia I should like to point out that I don’t take such claims seriously unless I have more proof that it really did come from a FBI building in Virginia).
Also, if the photo is real then it tells me is that FEMA is pretty underfunded if the only big rigs they can afford to buy are used and can’t be washed every so often due to funding…
- FEMA going door to door for registration (cinewsnow.com)
- DHS Prepares Your Children for FEMA Camps – Indoctrination in School (humansarefree.com)
- Cities Vote to Make Homelessness a Crime, other Cities Follow – – Jail or FEMA Camp (chasvoice.blogspot.com)
- Obama FEMA Socialist Camps Exposed. (nationalreport.net)
- FEMA Announced the release of the Hurricane Sandy Mitigation Assessment Team Report (disasterlaw.wordpress.com)
- FEMA center established for tornado victims (cinewsnow.com)
The June 18 crash of Michael Hastings took the life of a talented but troubled journalist. As Gene Maddaus’ excellent feature in the latest issue of LA Weekly demonstrates, people around the L.A.-based writer were truly concerned about his state of mind and reported drug use.
The coroner’s report released last week says blunt force trauma from the collision with a tree ultimately did Hastings in, but it notes that he had drugs in his system, which were listed as noncontributing factors. The conclusion that this wasn’t a homicide, however, hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists.
Hastings’ supporters have pointed to his work covering the military, the NSA and other Big Government institutions as reasons to be skeptical. They’re wrong. Here are the five conspiracy theories or assumptions about the case that haven’t panned out:
5. The FBI did it. The FBI doesn’t normally kill civilians because it doesn’t like the journalism they’re working on. Nonetheless, the federal government has been suspect No. 1 in a case without a crime, mainly because the day before the crash Hastings told colleagues he believed he was being investigated by the bureau. The FBI says that’s not true. Hastings also said he had zeroed in on a big story and needed to go off the grid. So far, though, there’s no evidence of a murder here.
4. His last moments were being videotaped on purpose. A freelance news crew happened to be at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland Avenue when its dash cam, which was rolling, captured what appears to be Hastings’ Mercedes-Benz C250 coupe blasting through a red light at high speed en route to his death a few blocks south.
Some folks couldn’t believe that a news crew just happened to have tape rolling at that moment. But it happens. Early morning hours are prime time for random news, and freelance crews are the bred-and-butter of local television’s overnight coverage.
3. He was being followed. In the days and even months before his death Hastings expressed increasing concern about government wiretapping. And, yes, he apparently thought he was being watched. Some conspiracy theorists have shared their belief that Hastings was being followed, or even chased, in the minutes before his crash, thus explaining the estimated speed of 75 miles per hour, perhaps more.
If you check out the dash-cam video above, however, you’ll see that nobody was following Hastings’ car as it sped through the red light. And no witnesses have come forward to report that the Mercedes was being tailed or that any other car might have been involved. Police have released no statements indicating this was anything other than a solo-vehicle crash into a tree.
- Michael Hastings: 5 Conspiracy Theories That Didn’t Pan Out (blogs.laweekly.com)
- Michael Hastings Had Returned To Drug Use At Time Of His Death (huffingtonpost.com)
- Michael Hastings Death: Readers Respond to Our Cover Story (wikileaks-forum.com)