Whole Foods is like Vegas. You go there to feel good but you leave broke, disoriented, and with the newfound knowledge that you have a vaginal disease.
Unlike Vegas, Whole Foods’ clientele are all about mindfulness and compassion… until they get to the parking lot. Then it’s war. As I pull up this morning, I see a pregnant lady on the crosswalk holding a baby and groceries. This driver swerves around her and honks. As he speeds off I catch his bumper sticker, which says ‘NAMASTE’. Poor lady didn’t even hear him approaching because he was driving a Prius. He crept up on her like a panther.
As the great, sliding glass doors part I am immediately smacked in the face by a wall of cool, moist air that smells of strawberries and orchids. I leave behind the concrete jungle and enter a cornucopia of organic bliss; the land of hemp milk and honey. Seriously, think about Heaven and then think about Whole Foods; they’re basically the same.
The first thing I see is the great wall of kombucha — 42 different kinds of rotten tea. Fun fact: the word kombucha is Japanese for ‘I gizzed in your tea.’ Anyone who’s ever swallowed the glob of mucus at the end of the bottle knows exactly what I’m talking about. I believe this thing is called “The Mother,” which makes it that much creepier.
Next I see the gluten-free section filled with crackers and bread made from various wheat-substitutes such as cardboard and sawdust. I skip this aisle because I’m not rich enough to have dietary restrictions. Ever notice that you don’t meet poor people with special diet needs? A gluten intolerant house cleaner? A cab driver with Candida? Candida is what I call a rich, white person problem. You know you’ve really made it in this world when you get Candida. My personal theory is that Candida is something you get from too much hot yoga. All I’m saying is if I were a yeast, I would want to live in your yoga pants.
Next I approach the beauty aisle. There is a scary looking machine there that you put your face inside of and it tells you exactly how ugly you are.
This is the third in a series of pieces debunking the scaremongering and hysteria regarding the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. I believe the anxiety about the meltdown and its aftermath comes from a mix of negativity toward nuclear power, hostility toward plant operators TEPCO (which is well-deserved in most cases), a lack of knowledge about basic science, distrust of experts (who are seen as dishonest shills) and the common habit of sharing social content that’s driven by strong negative emotions – often without understanding it, and sometimes without even reading it.
Using links to good science and some basic concepts in logic, I’ve demolished two of the most prominent lies about Fukushima already, one that Pacific Ocean fish is unsafe to eat and the other that the West Coast is being “absolutely fried” by radiation from the disaster. This time, I’m not going to debunk one single post, but address a grab bag of myths, exaggerations and scaremongering racing around social media. Some of it you’ve probably seen many times, and some of it might be brand new, but all of it needs to be dealt with.
CLAIM: The ocean is broken. This is the title of an October article from Australia’s Newcastle Herald, chronicling the journey of Ivan Macfadyen, a yachtsman who retraced a voyage between Melbourne and Osaka, and ten years later found the Pacific Ocean virtually devoid of life but teaming with floating trash. With its attention-grabbing title and compelling content, it went viral, with over half a million views in three days. People connected the dots and linked the dead, garbage-filled ocean that Macfadyen encountered on his trip to Fukushima, and the piece has been used as part of the exaggerated story since then.
But the link between the two doesn’t appear to exist. As the ocean conservation blog Upwell points out, the story in the Newcastle Herald isn’t a hard science piece, and has no citations or links to relevant research. It’s not meant to. It’s a human interest story, the relaying of a personal anecdote, and rooted in emotion. It’s full of phrases like “nauseous horror” and “astounding volumes” – compelling writing, but not science.
The story is also not at all about the nuclear plant, but the damage done from overfishing and plastic pollution. It doesn’t even mention Fukushima by name. As such, it’s worth reading, but not useful for any discussion about the meltdown.
CLAIM: David Suzuki’s Dire Warning. The removal of the spent fuel rods from Fukushima could have apocalyptic consequences if done incorrectly, warn activists around the world. Chief among them is David Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist, scientist and author, well known in his native country, but not elsewhere. A post containing video of him discussing the fuel rod removal, called “David Suzuki’s Fukushima Warning is Dire and Scary” went up on Huffington Post and was a viral hit. So what is his warning, and is it accurate?
- More Fukushima Scaremongering Debunked (illuminutti.com)
- Typhoons spreading Fukushima fallout (abc.net.au)
- Radioactive debris spread through Fukushima after typhoons (nuclear-news.net)
- Typhoons Keep Spreading Radioactive Material From Fukushima Around Japan (businessinsider.com)
A few weeks ago a security camera video went viral on You Tube that reveals a man shopping in the Whitstable Nutrition Centre, a health food store in southeast England. As he browses, he is oblivious to a box of tea that floats off the shelf behind him and then appears to “levitate” mid-air. A second box flies off the opposite shelf and drops to the ground. The startled man bends over to pick up the box, at which point the box suspended in the air, drops to the floor. The video has some people convinced that this is a case of “paranormal active-tea”, and is the handiwork of a very British ghost who likes a nice cuppa tea.
Shop manager Michelle Newbold discovered the activity when she was reviewing footage from the store’s CCTV. In an interview with the Huffington Post she said, “I was perplexed I suppose. I just couldn’t believe it. I have no idea about how it has happened. It is just a complete mystery. I have never seen anything like it since I’ve been running the shop.” Newbold adds that she doesn’t believe in ghosts. However, the story has been good for business and the video has received over 800,000 hits and counting.
The Huffington Post interview also includes comments from my fellow investigator Bryan Bonner who suspects that the video is a hoax. He observes, “In the opening shot, it looks like there is one other person at the end of the aisle, but it’s actually two and they are in a perfect position to choreograph the tea bags. Also, the security camera is positioned so it focuses halfway down the shelf, not where it normally would be.” Bryan & Baxter and a few of our friends decided to make several recreations of the phenomena in [this] video:
The first recreation was filmed in a restaurant in Arvada, Colorado. Bryan and Baxter are seated at a table discussing the tea ghost video when a box of tea flies off the table. It is picked up and placed back on the table whereupon it occurs again. Behind them, another box of tea slides off the surface of a table and floats for a few seconds before it darts to the ground. This movement was achieved using . . .
- Not My Cup of Tea: The Tea Ghost (randi.org)
- Haunted Health Food Store: Do Tea Bags Float In Michelle Newbold’s Shop? (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Is there a ghost throwing tea bags around a shop in Whitstable? (metro.co.uk)
- The TAM 2013 Interviews Episode 2: Bryan & Baxter, Paranormal Investigators (patheos.com)
- VIDEO: Ghost pushes tea off shelf of British store (nydailynews.com)
- Is there a ghost throwing tea bags around a shop in Whitstable? (livingvividdreams.com)
One of the hazards of being a “skeptic” about paranormal subjects is that those who have had their own personal experiences or investigated a peculiar case like to play “Stump the Skeptic.”
“Oh, you are a Skeptic. Well, I have a story for you,” and then I get an earful.
How do you explain that?” they conclude, with added self-satisfaction of a story well-told.
I can’t. And I’m not going to try to explain it.
Unless it’s a well researched case which has published documentation, I can’t say anything about it. It’s just a story. If I accepted every story I heard at face value every day, I’d be broke and in a mess of trouble. I am not accusing people of lying. I’m saying “I wasn’t there. It was not my experience,” so I’m not going to speculate about what you saw or what may have happened.
There is nothing to go on when cornered with these stories. I can’t fact check or confirm. I can’t pull an explanation out of a hat. I have no place to go with them except to say, “Hmm, interesting.”
Paranormal books are primarily these types of stories. It’s unusual for a case to be well-investigated compared to the thousands of stories that are related from eyewitnesses or referenced from other sources. Too many stories aren’t referenced at all. I was recently reading a book on local monsters and some accounts lacked accurate locations. There was no town of that name or there were no details. Useless. That is such poor quality evidence, it might as well be discarded since it is more likely wrong than helpful.
Anecdotes do not necessarily garner strength in numbers — not for paranormal subjects. A pile of unreliable tales is no better than one unreliable tale. It’s all hollow.
When it comes to local ghost and monster tales, the stories just exist and it is unclear where they originated. Such tales are great as local folklore. A problem arises when these anecdotes are elevated to “evidence.”
There is an over-reliance on anecdotes in the paranormal community — for hauntings, cryptozoology and ufology — as the basis of investigation. A case will start with an observation but if that is ALL that it is, with no physical evidence, no verification and a cold trail left to follow, there is nothing you can do with it but document it.
Had your own experience? Cherish it as your own. I just can’t help you and it’s a bit rude to put me on the spot. You had the experience. It’s up to you to provide evidence to support it, not for me to disprove your claim.
via Huffington Post
- Weird Word Salad: The Terminology of the Unexplained (illuminutti.com)
- The Internet: A Superhighway of Paranormal Hoaxes and Fakelore (illuminutti.com)
- How Does the Skeptic View Paranormal Folk? (bigseance.com)
- Paranormal Witness – Someone Wants to Tell Me Their Story … (skeptical-science.com)
- Paranormal Corner: Where is Bigfoot? (nj.com)
In a move no one saw coming, A British TV channel set up to offer dial-up psychic services has been fined for not telling viewers it’s all “for entertainment purposes only.”
Psychic Today, a 24-hour psychic network, was fined the equivalent of $19,079 U.S. for claiming on-air that its psychics could provide “accurate and precise” readings for callers, for offering anecdotal stories of successful predictions, and for making claims that presenters had helped solve crimes for the police, according to the Register.
The fines were laid down by Ofcom, an independent regulator of the British communications industry that has strict rules about how psychics can label their skills.
In one case, a psychic told viewers she was involved in the police investigation regarding the death of teenager named Milly Dowler, while another claimed she once accurately predicted that her friend would become friends with Michael Jackson.
Majestic TV, which holds the license for Psychic Today, told Ofcom that while the claims made in both cases were “factually correct,” the reference to Dowler was “unfortunate,” SkyNews reported.
According to a document the organization released in December 2011, anyone claiming to be in touch with a spirit guide or a dead person must qualify their powers by saying it’s “for entertainment purposes,” a phrase that must also be stated by the presenters and scrolled on screen.
Psychics are also prevented from predicting the future, offering life-changing advice, talking to the dead or even claiming to be accurate, the Register reported.
- Skeptical ‘Zombies’ Attack Alleged Psychic James Van Praagh (VIDEO) (illuminutti.com)
- Telly psychics fail to foresee £12k fine for peddling nonsense (go.theregister.com)
- Storage Wars Star: I’m Psychic & God Told Me What The Ratings Would Be – Listen To Her Bizarre Claims (radaronline.com)
- Beware the Psychic Scam (alternet.org)
- How to PROTECT YOURSELF against PSYCHIC ATTACKS AT ALL TIMES (sacredascensionmerkaba.wordpress.com)
A slightly dated story from October 2011, but still fun. 🙂
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Psychic James Van Praagh has made a fortune by allegedly speaking to the dead, but apparently he has no time for the undead.
That’s what a group of zombies recently discovered when they showed up at one of Van Praagh’s $100-a-head “spirit circles” hoping to pick Van Praagh’s brain about his so-called psychic powers.
For the record, the zombies were actually members of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), an organization that works to expose paranormal and pseudoscientific frauds.
Still, that doesn’t mean they weren’t out for blood, as protest signs reading “Talk to us, we won’t bite,” and “Psychics do not talk to the dead” demonstrated.
According to head zombie D.J. Grothe, who is also the president of the JREF and a Huffington Post blogger, the zombie attack was a fun way to make a point the organization is dead serious about: People who claim to speak to the dead, such as celebrity psychics like Van Praagh, Sylvia Browne and John Edward, are taking advantage of grieving people.
“We’re not rabble rousing,” Grothe told HuffPost Weird News. “This is a guy who is taking advantage of people’s grief. He’s not performing for entertainment, he’s claiming he’s giving messages from dead relatives. He gets people when they are at their lowest and sees them as his target market.”
Grothe says the group decided to dress up as the undead because Van Praagh has, so far, dodged questions about whether he’ll accept the foundation’s million-dollar challenge to prove his claimed psychic medium abilities under scientific conditions.
In the video, Van Praagh’s representatives first promise to get someone to talk with the group, but instead have the group kicked out by security.
- Dead Wrong, . . . Again (illuminutti.com)
- James Van Praagh Opens the Door to the Spirit World (omtimes.com)
- Sylvia Browne and the house of cards (skeptophilia.blogspot.com)
- Sally Morgan’s Just Another “Psychic” Predator. (matthewbuckley.net)
- Long Island Medium – How She Does It (noelanirodriguez.com)
- Dr. Oz, Psychics, and Bad Science (petruchio71.wordpress.com)
- Dead Wrong, …Again (skepticblog.org)