Tag Archives: Forbes

BUSTED: FREE water from AIR device

Skyscraper that hangs from asteroid -BUSTED!

Nikola Tesla Wasn’t God And Thomas Edison Wasn’t The Devil

Alex KnappBy Alex Knapp via Forbes

“It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.” – Mark Twain
Image: theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

Image Courtesy: theoatmeal.com

The Oatmeal is a fantastic comic that I recommend that you make a habit of reading. However, even the greatest can go astray, and I’m pained to admit that The Oatmeal has done so regarding someone I regard very highly, and that’s Nikola Tesla. Alas, The Oatmeal has fallen prey to Tesla idolatry, confusing his genius for godhood and of course, setting up the now all-too-common ‘Edison as Tesla’s arch-villain’ narrative.
There are quite a few errors and misconceptions about both Tesla and Edison in this comic. But they’re errors that I’ve seen before and they are often repeated, so it’s worth the time, I think, to address some of the big ones.

Tesla Didn’t Invent Alternating Current And He Wasn’t A Major Power In The War Of The Currents

Let’s start with the first thing the comic says: “In a time when the majority of the world was still lit by candle power, an electrical system known as alternating current and to this day is what powers every home on the planet. Who do we have to thank for this invention that ushered humanity into a second industrial revolution? Nikola Tesla.”
This is just wrong. Alternating current was developed in principle by Michael Faraday and in practice by Hippolyte Pixii in the early 19th century. Practical devices employing AC in the medical world were developed before Tesla was even born. Contemporaries of Tesla working for George Westinghouse developed practical methods of distributing AC power from power plants before Tesla came to work for Westinghouse. Tesla himself actually studied the use of AC in college – he had an electrical engineering degree.

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The Colossal Hoax Of Organic Agriculture

By Henry I. Miller and Drew L. Kershen via Forbes

Consumers of organic foods are getting both more and less than they bargained for. On both counts, it’s not good.
orhanic cost moreMany people who pay the huge premium—often more than a hundred percent–for organic foods do so because they’re afraid of pesticides.  If that’s their rationale, they misunderstand the nuances of organic agriculture. Although it’s true that synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, there is a lengthy list of exceptions listed in the Organic Foods Production Act, while most “natural” ones are permitted. However, “organic” pesticides can be toxic.  As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a 2012 Scientific American article (“Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.”): “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones.”
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 13: A label stating ‘Produce of USA’ is wrapped around a bunch of organic carrots at a farmers market on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 13: A label stating ‘Produce of USA’ is wrapped around a bunch of organic carrots at a farmers market on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Another poorly recognized aspect of this issue is that the vast majority of pesticidal substances that we consume are in our diets “naturally and are present in organic foods as well as non-organic ones. In a classic study, UC Berkeley biochemist Bruce Ames and his colleagues found that “99.99 percent (by weight) of the pesticidesorganic_150px in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves.” Moreover, “natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests.” Thus, consumers who buy organic to avoid pesticide exposure are focusing their attention on just one-hundredth of one percent of the pesticides they consume.
Some consumers think that the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) requires certified organic products to be free of ingredients from “GMOs,” organisms crafted with molecular techniques of genetic engineering. Wrong again. USDA does not require organic products to be GMO-free. (In any case, the methods used to create so-called GMOs are an extension, or refinement, of older techniques for genetic modification that have been used for a century or more.) As USDA officials have said repeatedly:

Organic certification is process-based. That is, certifying agents attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production standards and practices which meet the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the [National Organic Program] regulations . . . If all aspects of the organic production or handling process were followed correctly, then the presence of detectable residue from a genetically modified organism alone does not constitute a violation of this regulation. [emphasis added]

Putting it another way, so long as an organic farmer abides by his organic system (production) plan–a plan that an organic certifying agent must approve before granting the farmer organic status–the unintentional presence of GMOs (or, for that matter, prohibited synthetic pesticides) in any amount does not affect the organic status of the farmer’s products or farm.

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Conspiracy Rumors Follow Apparent Suicide of ‘Anti-Vaccine’ And Alt-Med Autism Doctor Bradstreet

Emily WillinghamBy Emily Willingham via Forbes

“... some of Bradstreet’s supporters were speculating that his death wasn’t a suicide, but a conspiracy.”

“… some of Bradstreet’s supporters were speculating that his death wasn’t a suicide, but a conspiracy.”

Jeff Bradstreet, who has been described as a “controversial autism researcher,” has now become the center of conspiracy rumors after reports of his apparent suicide. His death is said to have followed on the heels of a raid by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of his Bradstreet Wellness Center in Buford, Georgia (update 27JUN2015: the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency is reported to have aided in the raid). A fisherman found Bradstreet’s body in a North Carolina river on Friday, June 19. Authorities in Rutherford County, North Carolina, state that he had a gunshot wound to the chest, “which appears to be self-inflicted,” according to the local newspaper, the Gwinnett Daily Post. The Post also reports that

“By Wednesday night, some of Bradstreet’s supporters were speculating that his death wasn’t a suicide, but a conspiracy.”

That speculation has spread like a virus through the community of people who are mourning the loss of a man whom they viewed as a courageous crusader against mainstream medicine and who believe, as Bradstreet argued, that the mercury in vaccines causes autism (the evidence emphatically indicates otherwise). According to his website, Bradstreet, whose own son is autistic, embraced a number of unproven or untested interventions for autism, including using stem cells in an overseas study he chronicles, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which the FDA cracked down on in 2013. He was known for his use of chelation therapy.

Continue Reading …

True Fact: The Lack of Pirates Is Causing Global Warming

By Erika Andersen via Forbes

It’s true.  This extremely scientific graph proves it:

pirates

You can see that as the number of pirates in the world has decreased over the past 130 years, global warming has gotten steadily worse. In fact, this makes it entirely clear that if you truly want to stop global warming, the most impactful thing to do is — become a pirate.

Hope you’re laughing.  My husband told me this wonderful premise a few months ago, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you, for a very specific reason. I’m fascinated by why it’s so funny. I believe it’s because it’s an only slightly more extreme version of the fake logic we hear every day — the conclusions that pass for critical thinking in these days of completely unleashed 24-7 communication. For example:

  • Someone who has cancer drinks gallons of lemon water and their cancer goes into remission: they create a website to talk about how lemon water cures cancer.
  • A business is doing badly and they move to a new building and things start to pick up: the CEO writes a book about how changing your environment is the key to success.
  • Statistics show that people who leave their jobs after less than a year are more likely to smoke: someone starts a campaign to reduce smoking by encouraging people to stay at their jobs longer.

My older sister, a very wise and smart woman who is a political scientist at Syracuse University, teaches a statistics class to freshmen, where she endeavors to teach them critical thinking.  She talks about this as being the most common error in logic: confusing simultaneity with causality.  In other words, assuming that because two things are happening at the same time, they exist in a cause and effect relationship with each other.

Because anyone can say anything anywhere these days (pretty much), there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking floating around that seems more legitimate than it would have in former times because it’s in print. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge proponent of free speech.  I just feel we all have to be more discriminating than ever before about what we believe.  Not cynical or negative: discriminating.

So, when someone proposes a cause and effect relationship between two things – reduction in pirates causing global warming; Obama creating the global economic crisis; young people ruining American business – ask for the data that shows they’re related, rather than simply that they’re happening at the same time.

But if you’re dead set on becoming a pirate, I’m not going to stop you.


[END]

Fukushima Fear, Vol. 4: More Nonsense Than You Can Shake a Giant Squid At

H/T: The Locke @ Skeptic Wars

Mike RothschildBy Mike Rothschild via Skeptoid

Like an out of control flood of death and destruction, silly rumors and scares about the aftermath of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster continue to emanate from a toxic slagheap and pour into the world, causing fear and panic buying of worthless detox junk. Scientists and skeptics, armed with virtual mallets, slam these demonic hedgehogs of lies back into their dark holes; only for more to pop out of the ground, clutching new rumors and scares in their foaming maws.

fukushima bread 02_200pxBut major media outlets and scientists haven’t been silent. There are solid, scientifically-sound pieces all over the internet from the likes of Time, the LA Times, the New York Times, Forbes, Daily Kos, Popular Mechanics, Slate and others. There is also excellent debunking by experts of all stripes, from physicists to marine biologists to nuclear engineers, at places like Deep Sea News and Southern Fried Science. Finally, there are my humble attempts to bring some sanity to the madness.

So in the spirit of good science and healthy snark, here’s Volume 4 of my Fukushima series.

The previous volumes answered the pressing questions:

And now, meet the new crap. Same as the old crap.

CLAIM: OMG! A giant squid beached itself in Santa Monica! Fukushima!

Giant squid, giant fake. (Snopes.com)

Giant squid, giant fake. (Snopes.com)

This one is actually a decent litmus test for whether a person is serious about the impact of Fukushima. If they take this obvious hoax to be reality, they probably aren’t that bright and shouldn’t be listened to. For the record, Snopes demolished this the same day it hit the web, finding the two pictures Photoshopped together to create the hoax, and driving down to Santa Monica to ensure that, no, Squidzilla had not washed up on Muscle Beach. We’re dealing with moderately humorous satire, and that’s it.

CLAIM: Two underground nuclear explosions rocked the Fukushima site on New Year’s Eve, forcing Russia’s Ministry of Defense to go on high alert – and causing TEPCO to quietly admit that Reactor 3 was melting down. GAME OVER!!!

None of this happened, other than Reactor 3 melting down, which took place right after the tsunami. The original “report” about the “explosions” came from whatdoesitmean.com, one of the least reliable “news” websites on the internet, with a reputation for making up wild conspiracies and insane stories, then tossing them out there for other conspiracy sites to disseminate. Which is exactly what happened here. There were no underground explosions and no high alert.

Not only were there no nuclear explosions, there couldn’t have been. A nuclear bomb and a nuclear reactor are not at all the same thing. They’re designed differently to do very different things. Without some kind of detonator and weapons grade nuclear material, which Fukushima doesn’t have, a nuclear explosion literally could not have happened. This is basic nuclear physics, and if you don’t know this, you shouldn’t be sharing anything about Fukushima.

CLAIM: Radioactive steam was seen pouring off Reactor 3, meaning it’s in the middle of a meltdown.

Steam coming off Reactor 3. Because it’s cold outside.

Steam coming off Reactor 3. Because it’s cold outside.

Alternative media sites went crazy right before New Year’s with claims that the west coast was about to be hit by an onslaught of radiation from Reactor 3 in the form of nuclear steam. Putting aside the ludicrousness of “radioactive steam” in Japan killing people on the west coast, the steam, which is real, has a simple explanation, rooted in kindergarten physics.

  1. The reactor is physically hot, because of the decay of nuclear fuel. Of course, this is dangerous, but that’s beside the point.
  2. It’s winter in Japan.
  3. When cold water from rain or snow hits something hot (like a reactor), it turns into steam. Just like your breath.

The steam has been coming off Reactor 3 for almost three years. Panicking about it now makes no sense.

CLAIM: A dude with a Geiger counter went to a California beach and found radiation levels off the charts! Evacuate the west coast at once!

This one has been pretty well covered here at Skeptoid and at other places, so I won’t go into the whole explanation again, except to say that there are any number of reasons why the Geiger counter in the video reads the way it does. Background radiation is everywhere, and in everything (so much for the “no safe dose” meme.) This is especially true of the ocean, which is rich in uranium. That particular area, Pacifica State Beach, is especially radioactive, owing to natural substances in the granite and sand there.

The video is not a source of anything other than a guy with a Geiger counter. California officials dismissed it as scaremongering, and they were right. Your granite countertops will absolutely fry you long before a day at the beach does.

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RELATED: David Suzuki ‘regrets’ claim that another Fukushima disaster would require mass evacuations in North America | National Post

The Price Of The Autism-Measles Panic, 15 Years Later

By Emily Willingham via Forbes

Guess which child was vaccinated.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

Several news outlets today are reviewing the measles outbreak in Wales, citing public health experts who lay the blame for the burst in cases squarely at the feet of Andrew Wakefield’s bogus MMR vaccine scare in 1998 and the subsequent media coverage. The Wall Street Journal has a particularly in-depth story [hits paywall if you click the link here, but clicking from Google News seems to give full access], “Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts,” that digs into the roles of both in the Wales outbreak, that left 1219 people infected with measles and one in ten hospitalized. Most were hospitalized with pneumonia or dehydration, and most fell into the age range of children who should have been vaccinated around the time of the Wakefield scare.

One of the most common refrains people repeat in arguing against vaccinating their children is that diseases like measles simply aren’t their problem. That virus, they say, is a “third world” or “developing world” problem, something to worry about in places where water isn’t clean and nutrition is poor. Of course, that kind of insouciance about being a fortunate first-worlder is in itself misplaced; children in developed nations have died from measles. But the Wall Street Journal story makes an important point–one that yes, has been made ad nauseam but bears repeating: In this global society, there are no “first” and “third” worlds. A well-fed child with measles can take that infection anywhere, including to more resource-poor parts of the world where children live unprotected by vaccines. As Jeanne Whalen and Betsy McKay write in their WSJ piece:

The outbreak matters to the rest of the world because measles can quickly cross oceans, setting back progress elsewhere in stopping it. By 2000, the U.S. had effectively eliminated new home-grown cases of measles, though small outbreaks persist as travelers bring the virus into the country. New York City health officials this spring traced a Brooklyn outbreak to someone they believe was infected in London.

Life before vaccination

Life before vaccination

From London to Brooklyn or Wales to … anywhere. Terrible that unwarranted anxiety–flogged into a froth of vaccine resistance by the news media and opportunists looking for a buck–leads some parents to leave their children unvaccinated. Even worse if the result is an outbreak in places where children might not be lucky enough to access hospitals to treat their measles-related pneumonia or where they join the 1 in 1000 who die from measles infection.

As the WSJ article points out and many others have frequently noted, measles is an extremely contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. Most people do recover from it, but it can cause deafness and pneumonia, and it can be fatal.

MORE . . .

Latest TWA 800 Conspiracy Theory: How Likely Is It? Former NTSB Member Responds.

By John Goglia via Forbes

Flight 800 wreckage recovered and reconstructed.

Flight 800 wreckage recovered and reconstructed.
(Wikipedia)

Conspiracy theories abound.  For TWA 800, those theories began almost immediately after the aircraft exploded mid-air and came plunging into the waters off the coast of Long Island on July 17, 1996.  Now a petition to re-open the NTSB investigation has been filed and a new documentary is scheduled for release which raises those conspiracy theories once again.  How do these “new” theories stack up against the NTSB investigation?

I was one of five NTSB Board members that approved the TWA 800 accident report that determined that the probable cause of the accident was an explosion in the Boeing 747’s center fuel tank.   I have read the petition filed by a former NTSB accident investigator and have watched the documentary (made available to the media) that was recently produced to refute the NTSB’s probable cause determination.

The petition and film rely on four main points: 1) radar data  that allegedly shows an explosion next to the aircraft 2) eyewitness accounts  of flashes of light traveling from the ground up that were allegedly discounted; 3) trace amounts of chemical residue that were found; and 4) aircraft wreckage that was inconsistent with a center fuel tank explosion.  In addition, they allege a conspiracy by the NTSB and FBI to destroy and cover-up evidence.

No Evidence in Aircraft Fuselage Wreckage of Explosion Next to Aircraft

I was personally involved on-scene in the accident investigation and spent many, many hours over the course of four years reviewing data and wreckage from the aircraft.  If an explosion had occurred outside the aircraft while it was in flight, aircraft damage inside the aircraft would have shown a pattern of blast fragments coming from outside the aircraft.  Aircraft debris from inside the fuselage did not contain evidence of such an explosion.  Nor did the aircraft skin around the fuselage.  This skin is relatively thin and easy to damage and would have shown evidence of an explosion.

While this latest analysis looks at one very small part of the radar data, it fails to account for the fact that none of the radar data shows any missiles [see below].

Eyewitness Accounts Not Supported by Radar

To reconcile the various eyewitness accounts, the documentary makes the preposterous charge that not one, but three missiles were launched on the night of July 17, 1996 and exploded near the TWA 800 aircraft.  While the film claims to have the radar data from five different locations surrounding the accident site, it has no radar evidence to support any missile launch, let alone two or three.

It’s hard to imagine that three missiles large enough to get to 13,800 feet (the altitude of the aircraft just before it broke up in flight) would not show up on radar.  During the course of the NTSB’s investigation, I reviewed the radar data with NTSB experts and was convinced that no missile traces at all were on the radar.  Not one missile trace was ever found on the radar data and the film makes no claim that missile traces exist on the radar.

In my opinion, the eyewitness accounts are less reliable than the radar data.  Period.

MORE . . .

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