Tag Archives: skeptic

The Ultimate Conspiracy Debunker

Via YouTube

Most Conspiracy Theories are stupid. By the power of the internet they spread like wildfire and often poison discussions. But there is hope – we developed a way to debunk conspiracies in just a few seconds…

Conspiracy Theories – Who Believes Them, and Why?

How Can You Determine if They are True or False?

conspiracy box secret package_250pxVia Skeptic.com

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one? For the answers, download this free booklet, created by Michael Shermer and Pat Linse, the founders of Skeptic magazine and your Skeptics Society.

download PDF

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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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

why-people-see-ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts (and gods, angels, demons, and aliens and why they float, fly, and travel out of their bodies)

via Skeptic.com

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience like the examples that we list in this FREE PDF booklet? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society.

While science has made considerable progress in discovering how the brain is hard-wired to produce these illusions, the public is largely unaware of much of this research. This is where your Skeptics Society comes in—we provide the scientific explanation.

DOWNLOAD the free PDF

Derren Brown – Messiah

Intro by Mason I. Bilderberg

Derren Brown_300_250pxI’m not one to sit and watch lengthy videos on my laptop. So when i suggest you watch a 49 minute video, you can trust me – it’s worth watching.

Have you ever heard of Derren Brown? I’ve been following Derren Brown for over a decade, i’ve read many of his books and i think i’ve seen all of his performances. I’m never disappointed.

Here is how WikiPedia describes him:

Derren Brown (born 27 February 1971)[3] is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions, and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Since the first broadcast of his show Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000, Brown has become increasingly well known for his mind-reading act. He has written books for magicians as well as the general public.

Though his performances of mind-reading and other feats of mentalism may appear to be the result of psychic or paranormal practices, he claims no such abilities and frequently denounces those who do.

From Derren Brown’s webpage (2012):

Dubbed a ‘psychological illusionist’ by the Press, Derren Brown is a performer who combines magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behaviour, as well as performing mind-bending feats of mentalism.

In a nutshell, while repeatedly reminding us he doesn’t have any kind of magical abilities, Derren Brown mimics with perfection all those who DO claim to have magical abilities.

In this video, Derren takes on the following roles:

  • A psychic that can see what you’re drawing when you’re in a different room,
  • The ability to convert people to Christianity with just a touch,
  • A new age entrepreneur with a machine that can record and play back your dreams,
  • An alien abductee who was left with the ability to sense your medical history and
  • A psychic medium that communicates with the dead.

He is so convincing in these roles that he gets endorsements for his “special powers” from the “experts” who witnessed his performances.

I believe he will convince you too!

Enjoy!🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

More:

derren brown books_600px

About those 97% of climate scientists . . .

menu choice 04By Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB) – June 23, 2014

As you know, i am a global warming skeptic. If you wish to catch up on what i believe and why, i recommend looking to the menu at the top of each page where it says “Global Warming.”

Very briefly, this how i split the issue:

I have always had issues with the question, “Do you believe in global warming?”, because it’s really two questions:

  1. Has the earth warmed (over some time frame)?
  2. Are humans responsible?

Because simply answering “yes” to the above question can be misunderstood to mean you agree warming has occurred AND that humans are primarily responsible, i always split the issue:

  1. I do agree there has been some warming over the last 100 years, BUT
  2. I’m not convinced humans are the main cause. I’m inclined to think our climate is primarily driven by the same natural forces that have driven our climate since the earth was created 4.5 billion years ago – and humans are a small part of that natural cycle.

Today i want to revisit an aspect of the global warming theory that i covered in my article “Global Warming: I Have Questions.”

Specifically, i want to add an addendum to my previous challenges of the much touted “97% of scientists agree global warming is real” meme.

For some background, this 97% figure comes from a study conducted by climate scientist John Cook of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute and it is quoted ad nauseam by global warming reality deniers as proof that “97% of climate scientists agree global warming is real and humans are the cause.”

global warming weather_500px
To date, i had been unable to track down a copy of this 2013 study. I thought maybe i had just been looking in all the wrong places, then i come to find out “the University of Queensland in Australia is taking legal action to block the release of data used by one of its scientists (John Cook) to come up with the oft-quoted statistic that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that mankind is causing global warming.[1]

More on the University of Queensland threatening lawsuits over the use of Cook’s ’97% consensus’ data for a scientific rebuttal can be found here, here and here.

global-warming-Gore 02_225pxInteresting, eh? 97% of scientists agree but nobody can use the data in a rebuttal. Gotta love it.

But alas, i finally found a PDF copy of this elusive study and i’ve had a chance to read through it for myself (PDF copy here) and below is my rebuttal.

This rebuttal of the study doesn’t get into the questionable methodology used by John Cook and his fellow authors. I’ll leave that for another day and another time. Why? Because i don’t want to muddy the waters. I don’t need to. Taken at face value, the study does NOT say “97% of scientists agree global warming is real.”

Let’s start on page 3 of the study where they explain how the total number of papers examined was determined:

method

The results and their findings are then depicted on page 4 of the study, in this table. The colors are not in the original table; I added these colors to make it easier to follow along with my breakdown that follows.

table 3 02

These colors will help you follow along with my breakdown, below.

Interpretation of this data is as easy as 1, 2, 3 …

  1. 11,944 papers were analyzed.
  2. 3,896 of these papers expressed a position endorsing anthropogenic global warming (agw).
  3. 3,896 is 32.6% of the 11,944 papers.

CONCLUSION: 32.6% of the papers agree global warming is real.

That’s it. I’ve done nothing to adjust or interpret these numbers. What you see is what you get: 32.6% of the papers agree global warming is real.

The 97% figure could only be obtained by completely ignoring 7,930 out of 11,944 papers.

The 97% figure could only be obtained by completely ignoring 7,930 out of 11,944 papers.

What? What am i missing here? How does Cook et al twist 32.6% into the oft-quoted 97%?

I’ll tell you what’s missing – and it explains why the University of Queensland is threatening lawsuits over the use of this data for any scientific rebuttals:

They simply ignore the 7,930 papers not expressing a position.

That’s right, they simply ignored the 7,930 papers  not expressing a position and qualified their 97% findings by saying the “percent of papers with a position on anthropogenic global warming (AGW)“.

The bottom line is, without any interpretation, taken at face value, without any qualifying language, this study says:

32.6% of scientists agree global warming is real!

That is the plain language of this study. Period.

Now remember i said i wasn’t going to get into the methodology of this study? Well, i’m not. But somebody far more qualified than myself has, and this 32.6% gets horribly worse for the authors of this study.

Find out why there is only a 0.3% climate consensus!

🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


Also See:

10 Lies Anti-vaccers tell

The Lockeby The Locke via The Soap Box

The anti-vaccination has caused alot of harm over the years with their fear mongering and lies. These lies have caused parents to become to afraid to vaccinate their children, and themselves as well, despite the danger in not doing so.

The following is a list of ten lies the anti-vaccination movement has told, and why they are just bogus:

10. Studies indicate that vaccines cause autism.

autism einstein 02_250pxWhile there are “studies” that claim that vaccines cause autism, only one of these so called studies have been published in a well respected, peer reviewed scientific and medical journal. That study, the Wakefield study (which was published in The Lancet in 1998) was retracted in 2010 after it had been discovered that the main author of the study, Andrew Wakefield, had committed fraud. On top of that the findings in the study itself had been long since discredited and disproved before the formal retraction.

The studies that followed since the Wakefield study that claim that vaccines cause autism have never been published in any credible medical or scientific journals. The only places that these studies have ever been published are either in non-credible pay-for-publish journals, or websites that promote alternative medicine and/or conspiracy theories.

9. Signs of autism show up in children only after they have been vaccinated.

As the old skeptics’ saying goes “correlation does not equal causation”.

Just because a child starts to show obvious signs of autism after they have had their vaccinations, it’s far more likely that they were showing signs of autism before they received their vaccinations and that no one noticed simply because the child was to young to show any noticeable signs of autism to anyone but trained professionals.

8. Adverse reactions to vaccines are common, often severe, and can cause death.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

Actually only about one out of every 300 people will have adverse reactions to vaccines. Most of the time these adverse reaction are mirror, short lived, and are more annoying than debilitating.

Occasionally a person will have a severe adverse reaction to a vaccine, some of which can be fatal, but these types of adverse reactions are very rare, only about one to two out of every million people. You have better odds dying in a car wreck to get a vaccination than you from the vaccination.

7. Vaccines have never been shown to be effective against reducing the spread of disease, and has even been shown to increase the spread.

I’m sure smallpox and polio would disagree. Actually alot of diseases would disagree because it’s been proven time and time again that anytime vaccines were in wide spread use the rate of infections of a disease that the vaccines are meant to protect against will go down dramatically, sometimes even eliminating a disease in an area.

6. Natural immunity is superior to immunity via vaccination.

Life before vaccinations

Life before vaccinations

If you try to get natural immunity from a disease (i.e. getting infected and sick from said disease) there is a pretty good possibility that the disease that you hope to make yourself or your child immune from will actually kill you or your child, or atleast cause a permanent disability. Also in many cases it takes several weeks for this form of immunity to happen, during which time you will be sick as heck.

On the other hand immunity via vaccination is much faster, doesn’t leave you sick, and is far, FAR less likely to kill you than getting immunity from a disease by getting infected by that disease.

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Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case

I am a global warming climate change climate disruption skeptic. I catch a lot of heat (pun intended) for my skepticism.

global-warming-Gore 02_225pxBut i have my reasons and this video does a very level-headed job of explaining where skeptics are coming from in the global warming climate change climate disruption debate.

If you’re a global warming climate change climate disruption believer and you wish to understand the skeptic’s perspective, i ask you to watch just the first 2 minutes.

The first 2 minutes of this video does an excellent job of spelling out the very thin line between believers and skeptics. So close, yet so far.

This video appears to be based on an article written by Dr. David M.W. Evans called The Skeptic’s Case. As such, you might find the video easier to understand if you read along with the original text (The Skeptic’s Case) or download the PDF here.

Actually, the PDF text version is worth downloading as a standalone resource for those times when people ask why you’re a global warming climate change climate disruption skeptic.

Enjoy🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg


By Dr. David M.W. Evans via YouTube

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Mike Adams

by via The Soap Box

Mike Adams, the creator of the website Natural News, and one of the biggest promoters of alternative medicine there is, also known as non-science and non-evidence based medicine.

Now many things have been said about him and the way he acts, and I myself have noticed a few things about him as well.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about Mike Adams:

5. He’s a conspiracy theorist.

mike adams straight-jacket 02Mike Adams, despite the fact that his website, Natural News, constantly writes about stuff related to medicine (by that I mean bad mouthing science and evidence based medicine and promoting alternative medicine, no matter how ridiculous or dangerous it is) is neither a doctor, nor a scientist. He is a conspiracy theorist who promotes just about every conspiracy theory there is, although he mainly promotes “big pharma” conspiracy theories.

Even if he was an actual doctor or scientist with a legitimate degree in either science or medicine it still wouldn’t matter, because what he’s promoting is non-science based medicine, as well as other types of conspiracy theories besides just the big pharma ones, and he’s using fear mongering and paranoia inorder to promote these things, as well as bash science and evidence based medicine.

Pretty much his only “connection” with the health industry is his self appointed title of “The Health Ranger”, and that his website is used as an example by those in the health care industry and those who promote science based medicine as what a bad science website looks like.

4. He’s against all forms of science based medicine.

Mike Adams isn’t just someone whom believes that there are a few types of science based medicines and medical techniques that are bad for you. Nope, he’s against them all, Natural News's Facebook page.no matter how much scientific evidence there is showing that something works, like chemotherapy, or vaccines, or drugs that help fight HIV (which he thinks doesn’t exist in the first place).

It almost seems like anything that’s accepted and promoted by a valid and respected medical organization is automatically viewed by Adams as dangerous and part of a conspiracy. I bet he would even tell people who come to his website not to use homeopathy, acupuncture, or chiropractic “medicine” if several legitimate medical associations were to come out and say that this stuff works and works well. Infact I bet he would claim that people in homeopathy, acupuncture, or chiropractic “medicine” were hiding the fact that their stuff doesn’t work, and that they were sending out shills, or just using brain washed idiots to spread disinformation and make threats to try to scare off people who questions them, and even go so far as to sue people who criticize them…

Hopefully you see the irony in the that last sentence there.

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PBS’ Conversation with global warming skeptic Anthony Watts

Climate Change Skeptic Says Global Warming Crowd Oversells Its Message

September 14, 2012

Intro by via Watts Up With That?:

Here’s the story/transcript from Spencer Michels, along with video that follows. I have not seen the piece that will be airing nationally yet, and I don’t know how much of me they use, but this just appeared on the PBS website.

One note: when they talk about “heat sync” they really meant to say heat sink. – Anthony

Intro by PBS:

It was about 105 degrees in Chico, Calif., about three hours north of Sacramento, when we arrived at the offices of one of the nation’s most read climate skeptics. Actually, Anthony Watts calls himself a pragmatic skeptic when it comes to global warming. Watts is a former television meteorologist, who has been studying climate change for years. He doesn’t claim to be a scientist; he attended Purdue. He’s the author of a blog, Watts Up with That?, which he calls the world’s most viewed site on global warming. For a story I was working on for the PBS NewsHour, Watts was recommended by the Heartland Institute, a conservative, Chicago-based non-profit that is one of the leading groups that doubt that climate change — if it exists — is attributable to human activities.

Watts doesn’t come across as a true believer or a fanatic. For one thing, he has built a business that caters to television stations and individuals who want accurate weather information and need displays to show their viewers. He has developed an array of high tech devices to disseminate weather data and put it on screens. He has several TV stations around the country as clients.

But Watts’ reputation doesn’t come from his business — IntelliWeather — but rather from his outspoken views on climate change. He says he’s been gathering data for years, and he’s analyzed it along with some academics. He used to think somewhat along the same lines as Richard Muller, the University of California physicist who recently declared he was no longer a skeptic on climate change. Muller had analyzed two centuries worth of temperature data and decided his former skepticism was misplaced: yes, the earth has been warming, and the reason is that humans are producing carbon dioxide that is hastening the warming the planet.

Watts doesn’t buy Muller’s analysis, since, he believes, it is based on faulty data. The big problem, as Watts sees it, is that the stations where temperatures are gathered are too close to urban developments where heat is soaked up and distorts the readings. So it looks like the earth is warming though it may not be, he says.

MORE:

How perception is used for deception in promoting pseudoscience and conspiracy theories

By via The Soap Box

Perception is one of the most commonly used tools of advertisers. If done correctly it can be used to sell a person a product or an idea, even if it’s something they do not want or need. All you need is an image combined with some information (factual or not) that catches a person’s eye and makes them interested in whatever is being sold which ultimately leads them to buying whatever it is that is being sold.

Promoters of pseudoscience and conspiracy theories know this as well, and will often times create pictures on the internet of images coupled with text in an attempt to get you to “buy” whatever claims that they are making.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

1_1532292575_n

Looks nice, doesn’t it? The pretty, smiling young woman that catches your eye and causes you to read whatever it is that the picture says and perhaps even gets you to try or believe whatever it is that the text is saying, which in this case is an advertisement to get people to try out Earthing.This is an example of using positive images inorder to fool people into believing that something that isn’t true. In this case it the original creator wants you to believe that Earthing works.

Now lets take a look at this next picture, courtesy of Illuminutti.com:

0_2049410157_n

Not as nice looking as the previous picture, is it? Except for the photo in the bottom left side of the page, everything else about this picture is exactly the same as the one above this one.

Most people probably would  .  .  .

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Can You Solve This?

I found this to be a great lesson in critical thinking. Check it out🙂

MIB


Via Can You Solve This? – YouTube

How do you investigate hypotheses? Do you seek to confirm your theory – looking for white swans? Or do you try to find black swans? I was startled at how hard it was for people to investigate number sets that didn’t follow their hypotheses, even when their method wasn’t getting them anywhere.

This video was inspired by The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and filmed by my mum. Thanks mum!

Should we call Conspiracy Theorists “Conspiracy Theorists”?

By via The Soap Box

conspiracies02Of all the things that I have observed about conspiracy theorists one of the things that has always stood out about them to me is that they hate the terms “conspiracy theorist” and “conspiracy theory”. This is for two different reasons:

The primary reason is because they consider the terms to be insulting. This is actually understandable because skeptics and debunkers have used these terms in insulting tones and in an insulting way.

The secondary reason is because they claim that both terms to be “shill” words that were created by the CIA to discourage people from believing in a conspiracy theory (the terms actually first came into use in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and pre-dates the CIA, it only came to be used in a derogatory way in the mid 1960’s, but there is no evidence to suggest that the CIA had anything to do with that). Some even claim that only “shills” use the terms conspiracy theory and conspiracy theorist. Whether they actually believe this or are just claiming this in order to get people to stop using these terms and/or to scare a skeptic off is another question entirely.

Regardless of the reasons why, the fact is that conspiracy theorists do not like the terms conspiracy theorist and conspiracy theory, and to be all honest I don’t really like those terms either. The reason for this is that simply put a theory is based off of facts and evidence. Conspiracy theories are rarely made up of facts and evidence, and even the ones that do have some facts and evidence behind them are often mangled by conspiracy theorists and is manipulated into something that it is infact not…

To put it bluntly in my personal opinion using the word “theory” in conspiracy theory (and by extension conspiracy theorist) is actually inaccurate and inappropriate.

So what would be an accurate and appropriate term to replace conspiracy theory and theorist with?

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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]

Obama ordered $1 billion worth of disposable coffins for use in FEMA camps? More BS fear mongering.

By via The Soap Box

Reblogged from Is that a FEMA Camp?

Recently the old FEMA camp myth has once again reared it’s ugly head around internet, this time making it appear that President Obama has ordered $1,000,000,000 worth of “disposable coffins”, as you can clearly see from this screen shot below:

FEMA coffin

And from this article here.

When I was reading the article one of the first things that clued me in that this was just a bunch of BS and anti-government fear mongering were the pictures.

All of these pictures have been spreading around the internet for years now in various conspiracy theorist websites and forums.

Despite what the website wants you to believe, these pictures are actually pretty old. Infact they’ve been around since the George W. Bush administration, as have these claims.

The pictures were also taken at a storage facility for Vantage, a company that manufactures plastic coffin liners, not some government storage facility.

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This is Not a Conspiracy Theory (Part 1) – YouTube

I’m curious to know what everybody thinks of this new series being released on the web. I’ve watched this first part and i’m not sure i’m clear on where it’s going.

If it looks worthwhile i will pay for future installments just to post them here on iLLumiNuTTi.com for all of us to watch.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment🙂

Mason (MIB)


This is Not a Conspiracy Theory (Part 1) – YouTube.

On The Web: This is Not a Conspiracy Theory

Anti-Vaccination Critics shutdown: How Facebook should prevent and punish Anti-Vaccination supporters (or anyone) who wrongfully get their critics banned from Facebook?

UnableToConnect_600pxby via The Soap Box

facebook trash_250pxOver the past couple of weeks it’s been revealed that Anti-Vaccination groups and their supporters on Facebook have been launching false flag attacks (and I don’t mean types that Alex Jones thinks happens every time a shooting or a bombing or a natural disaster occurs in this country) against groups that are pro-vaccination and/or critical of anti-vaccination groups and their supporters and propaganda. These false flaggings have unfortunately resulted in the temporary (yet still wrongful) banning of multiple people and groups from Facebook who are critics of the Anti-Vaccination movement. This needs to stop. In fact, not only does this need to stop, but the people who are making these false flag reports need to be punished.

While many of you have some ideas on what should be done in order to curb false flag reporting (which I would love to hear from you in the comments section) I have a few suggestions of my own:

The first thing that needs to happen is that Facebook needs to make it easier to challenge a complaint and a ban. While you can do this even now, it’s not an easy process. Plus a person should be given a chance to defend themselves before a ban is about to occur. No more automatic bans unless a certain amount of time has gone by after a complaint was sent (I say a minimum of six hours).

thumb DOWN facebook 2_200pxNow the second thing that should happen to help curb false flagging abuse on Facebook is that those that do abuse the reporting system need to have their ability to report posts and groups and individuals that they don’t believe should be on Facebook more difficult. Granted I’m not saying they should be left unable to report someone or some group that really does contain offensive or illegal content (unless they continue to abuse the system even after restrictions have been placed on them, then their ability to report groups and people should be taken away, and they should be banned temporarily) but the process should be made more difficult for those that abuse the system, and probably should include a screen shot of any content that is being reported upon, as well as include more details about why something is being reported.

Going along side with the second suggestion that I believe Facebook needs to do inorder to curb false flagging abuse, after a person has already had restrictions put against for false flag abuse, if they do report someone or some group for their content and Facebook determines that it doesn’t violate their policies, the person or group should be informed that someone sent a complaint against them that was struct down, and the person or group should be told whom that person is, and given the option of whether or not they want to block that individual.

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A Magical Journey through the Land of Reasoning Errors

Four common types of analytical errors in reasoning that we all need to beware of.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or Listen here.

Today we’re going to cover a bit of new ground in the basics of critical thinking and critical reasoning. There are several defined types of common analytical errors to which we’re all prone; some, perhaps, more so than others. Reasoning errors can be made accidentally, and some can even be made deliberately as a way to influence the acceptance of ideas. We’re going to take a close look at the Type I false positive error, the Type II false negative error, the Type III error of answering the wrong question, and finally the dreaded Type IV error of asking the wrong question.

By way of example we’ll apply these errors to three hypothetical situations, all of which should be familiar to fans of scientific skepticism:
critical-thinking1_250px

  1. From the realm of the paranormal, a house is reported to be haunted. The null hypothesis is that there is no ghost, until we find evidence that there is.
  2. The conspiracy theory that the government is building prison camps in which to orderly dispose of millions of law-abiding citizens. The null hypothesis is that there are no such camps, until we find evidence of them.
  3. And from alternative medicine, the claim that vitamins can cure cancer. The null hypothesis is that they don’t, unless it can be proven through controlled testing.

So let’s begin with:

Type I Error: False Positive

type I errorA false positive is failing to believe the truth, or more formally, the rejection of a true null hypothesis — it turns out there’s nothing there, but you conclude that there is. In cases where the null hypothesis does turn out to be true, a Type I error incorrectly rejects it in favor of a conclusion that the new claim is true. A Type I error occurs only when the conclusion that’s made is faulty, based on either bad evidence, misinterpreted evidence, an error in analysis, or any number of factors.

In the haunted house, Type I errors are those that occur when the house is not, in fact, haunted; but the investigators erroneously find that it is. They may record an unexplained sound and wrongly consider that to be proof of a ghost, or they may collect eyewitness anecdotes and wrongly consider them to be evidence, or they may have a strange feeling and wrongly reject all other possible causes for it.

The conspiracy theorist commits a Type I error when the government is not, in fact, building prison camps to exterminate citizens, but he comes across something that makes him reject that null hypothesis and conclude that it’s happening after all. Perhaps he sees unmarked cars parked outside a fenced lot that has no other apparent purpose, and wrongly considers that to be unambiguous proof, or perhaps he watches enough YouTube videos and decides that so many other conspiracy theorists can’t be all wrong. Perhaps he simply hates the government, so he automatically accepts any suggestion of their evildoing.

Finally, the alternative medicine hopeful commits a Type I error when he concludes that vitamins successfully treat a cancer that they actually don’t. Perhaps he hears enough anecdotes or testimonials, perhaps he is mistrustful of medical science and erroneously concludes that alternative medicine must therefore work, or whatever his thought process is; but an honest conclusion that the null hypothesis has been proven false is a classic Type I error.

Type II Error: False Negative

type II errorCynics are those who are most often guilty of the Type II error, the acceptance of the null hypothesis when it turns out to actually be false — it turns out that something is there, but you conclude that there isn’t. If you actually do have psychic powers but I am satisfied that you do not, I commit a Type II error. The villagers of the boy who cried “Wolf!” commit a Type II error when they ignore his warning, thinking it false, and lose their sheep to the wolf. The protohuman who hears a rustling in the grass and assumes it’s just the wind commits a Type II error when the panther springs out and eats him.

Perhaps somewhere there is a house that actually is haunted, and maybe the TV ghost hunters find it. If I laugh at their silly program and dismiss the ghost, I commit a Type II error. If it were to transpire that the government actually is implementing plans to exterminate millions of citizens in prison camps, then everyone who has not been particularly concerned about this (myself included) has made a Type II error. The invalid dismissal of vitamin megadosing would also be a Type II error if it turned out to indeed cure cancer, or whatever the hypothesis was.

Type I and II errors are not limited to whether we believe in some pseudoscience; they’re even more applicable in daily life, in business decisions and research. If I have a bunch of Skeptoid T-shirts printed to sell at a conference, I make a Type I error by assuming that people are going to buy, and it turns out that nobody does. The salesman makes a Type II error when he decides that no customers are likely to buy today, so he goes home early, when in fact it turns out that one guy had his checkbook in hand.

Both Type I and II errors can be subtle and complex, but in practice, the Type I error can be thought of as excess idealism, accepting too many new ideas; and the Type II error as excess cynicism, rejecting too many new ideas.

Before talking about Type III and IV errors, it should be noted that these are not universally accepted. Types I and II have been standard for nearly a century, but various people have extended the series in various directions since then; so there is no real convention for what Types III and IV are. However the definitions I’m going to give are probably the most common, and they work very well for the purpose of skeptical analysis.

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Global Warming: I Have Questions

By Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

"A conspiratard? Fascinating."

“A conspiratard? Fascinating.”

Question: What happens when a skeptic like myself questions the global warming theory in a facebook group that considers themselves skeptics?

Answer: I get labeled a conspiracist, conspiratard, sheeptard, right-winger, troll, denialist and all kinds of other interesting things. It was also suggested that i do certain things to myself and go away.

As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating, Jim.”

I have always had  issues with the question, “Do you believe in global warming?“, because it’s really two questions:

  1. Has the earth warmed (over some time frame)?
  2. Are humans responsible?

Because simply answering “yes” to the above question can be misunderstood to mean you agree warming has occurred AND that humans are primarily responsible, i always split the issue:

  1. I do agree there has been some warming over the last 100 years, BUT
  2. I’m not convinced humans are the main cause. I’m inclined to think our climate is primarily driven by the same natural forces that have driven our climate since the earth was created 4.5 billion years ago – and humans are a small part of that natural cycle.

It’s this position that gets people all worked up. But why do feel this way? Because i have questions.

What period of time are global warming believers referring to when they use phrases like, “the warmest ‘on record'”,  “since records have been kept” orsince measurements began”?

Al Gore is notorious for using these kinds of references to a mystery time frame. When he says “this is the hottest year ‘since measurements began'”, am i the only one wondering when “the measurements began”? After all, if the measurements began at 5 o’clock this morning, then by noon it really would be the warmest since measurements began, wouldn’t it?

Here is Al Gore from 1997 using these types of vague references to a mysterious period of time:

The IPCC[1] (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) used similar language in their 1990 Scientific Assessment report when they wrote, “the five warmest years on record have been in the 1980s.[2]

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It almost sounds like they’re saying, “the five warmest years since the beginning of time have been in the 1980s,” or “the five warmest years EVER have been in the 1980s,” doesn’t it?

The truth is, when the IPCC, Al Gore and the other global warming theorists compare temperatures to “the record” (i.e. “The warmest on record“) they are actually referring to the last 150 years of temperature data. Allow me to explain. Here are the temperatures from the last 1,000 years:

1000 Years_0600px

With current temperatures located on the far right of the graph and the dotted line representing temperature conditions near the beginning of the twentieth century[3], you should notice something right off the bat.

Beginning about 950 AD and continuing for about 400 years until almost 1350 AD there is a period of time when the temperatures were warmer than they are today. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – 1990), this warmer period is referred to as the “Medieval Warm Period.”

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was warmer than any temperatures seen today, so global warming theorists must use a period of time after the Medieval Warm Period to make claims of record breaking temperatures.

Here is that period of time referred to as “the record”[4] by global warming theorists when they say “… on ‘the record'”:

The Record_600px

The above graph is “the record” as depicted in the 1990 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Scientific Assessment Report. It only goes back approximately 150 years to the year 1860.

From the same IPCC report: “The instrumental record of surface temperature is fragmentary until the mid-nineteenth century, after which it slowly improves[5] . . . ” and it “shows current estimates of … surface temperature over land and ocean since 1860.[6] [7]” [all emphasis mine]

So when the IPCC[8] and other global warming theorists say, “the warmest temperatures on record,” what they’re really saying is, “the warmest temperatures since 1860!”

Now look again at the 1,000 year temperature graph, this time with “the record” put in perspective:

Click image for larger view

Click image for larger view

It becomes clear why global warming theorists say “the warmest temperatures on record” -­ because if they were honest and said “the warmest temperatures since 1860,”­ the deception would become as painfully obvious as it is here.

What else do you notice?  Notice where “the record” begins on the 1,000 year timeline. It begins at the end of a period in history called the “Little Ice Age.”  The Little Ice Age (LIA) is a 500 year period of cooling that occurred from about 1350 to approximately 1850[9].

I’m sure it’s just pure happenstance that the purveyors of global warming use the end of an ice age as their temperature comparison starting point. Sort of like wanting to convince your friends you’re a gambling guru by bragging about how you won $3,000 on your last day in Las Vegas while conveniently forgetting to mention how you lost $5,000 on your first day in Vegas. You’re the man (until your friends learn the inconvenient truth)!

For more perspective let’s go back some more. Here is 8,000 years of temperatures:

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Resources:

[1] http://www.ipcc.ch/
[2] 1990 IPCC Scientific Assessment, page xxix.
[3] 1990 IPCC Scientific Assessment, Page 202.
[4] 1990 IPCC Scientific Assessment, page xxix.
[5] 1990 IPCC Scientific Assessment, page xxviii.
[6] 1990 IPCC Scientific Assessment, page xxviii.
[7] Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record
[8] http://www.ipcc.ch/
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

Penn & Teller: Bulls**t: Hypnosis

By Penn&TellerBullshit via YouTube

Penn & Teller examines the various promises made by professional hypnosis, and seeks to refute the idea of “mind over body”.

What’s the deal with homeopathy?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

Skeptics dismiss homeopathic medicine as pseudoscience and claim the industry bilks the gullible and desperate. However, advocates of homeopathic medicine believe the conspiracy lies within the pharmaceutical companies and western medicine.

10 reasons why the Anti-GMO and the Anti-vaccination movement are a lot alike.

by via The Soap Box

What-are-GMOs-and-How-Safe-Are-They-_250pxThe Anti-GMO movements and Anti-vaccination movements are probably two of the biggest and most well known pseudoscience movements out there, with millions of people that adhere to their claims.

Besides the fact that both groups do have millions of proponents world wide and promote pseudoscience, both groups are a lot alike in other ways as well. Infact I’ve come up with about ten different reasons why they are so much alike, starting with the fact that…

• Proponents of both get very emotional when you criticize and/or debunk them.

Ever get into an online discussion with someone whom either promotes Anti-vaccination or Anti-GMO nonsense, and you start to tell them what they claim is BS, and tell them why what they are claiming is BS? If you’ve answered yes then you know what usually ends up happening, and that is that they tend to go off the deep end and use all of these made up “facts” and logical fallacies and conspiracy theories, and in the end threats and accusations of being a shill are often made.

• A proponent of one tends to be a proponent of the other.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

Guess which child was vaccinated.

It shouldn’t be to surprising, but usually if someone is an Anti-GMO proponent, they usually tend to be an Anti-vaccination proponent as well, and vice-verse.

While this isn’t necessarily true many websites that promote Anti-vaccination nonsense also tend to promote Anti-GMO nonsense as well. Infact some websites that claim to be “natural health” websites promote both equally instead of one overshadowing the other. Also, another thing about proponents of both are…

• They tend to promote alternative medicine.

It shouldn’t be to surprising that people in the Anti-vaccination movement are big proponents of alternative medicine, but it shouldn’t also be to surprising that people in the Anti-GMO movement are also big proponents of alternative medicine as well.

Infact many people in the Anti-GMO movement will, besides just promote the usual alternative medicine nonsense, claim that organic foods can heal you of just about anything and everything as well (including stuff that doesn’t even exist).

• The only papers they’ve ever had published in creditable scientific journals have been debunked and retracted.

vaccines retractedThere are lots of studies that have been published over the years about the “dangers” of vaccines and GMO foods, and while the number of papers published may look impressive to some the reality is that it isn’t, especially when you consider the fact almost all of these papers are published in “scientific journals” that a person pays to be published in.

Infact the only Anti-vaccination and Anti-GMO papers that I know of that have ever been published in credible scientific journals are the Wakefield study (published in the Lancet) and the Séralini study (published in Food and Chemical Toxicology) both of which have been formally retracted by the respective journals that they were published in after it was found that both studies data was founded off of both unethical experiments and fraudulent data, and they were only retracted long after both studies had been thoroughly debunked.

• They both claim the same things about the products in terms of health effects.

Both the Anti-GMO and Anti-vaccination movements not only claim that both GMO foods and vaccines are bad for you and cause a large amount of health problems (all of which have been proven to be untrue), but they also claim that they cause the same health problems!

Both most notably are claimed to cause autism, but both are also claimed to cause the spreading of diseases, and increases in infant mortality, and sterility, and cancer, and who knows what else. It almost seems like Anti-GMO and Anti-vaccination movements are claiming that GMO foods and vaccines causes something new every week.

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Fukushima “Death Cloud” Kills hundreds on US Warship

H/T: (Skeptic Wars)

Video via Thunderf00t – YouTube.

Recently it has been widely covered in the media that ~70 members of the US 7th fleet are suing TEPCO (the company responsible for the Fukushima for THREE BILLION DOLLARS.

On paper they claim all sorts of cancer, however I can find no interview of anyone with cancer. Further the lawsuit doesn’t say what the claims are for. What I do find is interview after interview of people describing non-quantifiable symptoms that are wholly inconsistent with radiation poisoning.

The thing that bugs me the most here is radiation is being sold as the ‘invisible boogey man’ that causes all the ills that you cannot otherwise explain.

Sure radiation can cause some serious problems, but then again so can asbestos. But this does not mean you can blame any unaccounted for maladies on asbestos or radiation!

In Africa when anything goes wrong (crop failures etc), there are those only too happy to blame witches. The only thing different here is the boogey man is radiation.

Delysid’s Guide to Thinking and Debating Like a (bad) Conspiracy Theorist

matrix_has_u_600px
by Delysid via dailypaul.com

conspiracist 1200Step 1: Start with the premise that any tragic incident is a massive, intricate government conspiracy.

Step 2: Denounce any information presented by a mainstream, non-conspiracy source that directly counters the predetermined conspiracy narrative as corrupt and part of the conspiracy.

Step 3: Monitor these same mainstream sources for information that supports the predetermined conspiracy narrative, even if only remotely. Mainstream media reporting mistakes that support your conspiracy (or any conspiracy really) must be treated as rare moments of truth, glimpses inside the Matrix. Any mainstream media reports in favor of the conspiracy should be treated like the word of God. Spam that information everywhere.

Step 4: Imagination is the same thing as undeniable fact. There is nothing wrong with manipulating Youtube videos and using Photoshop to edit information to make it more obvious for the stupid sheeple to understand.

Step 5: Reject the skeptics to the conspiracy theories aggressively. Call them out for being sheep, shills, Cointelpro, paid agents, et cetera. Do not ever doubt yourself, because if you think they are any of these nouns, then it is undeniably true. After all, the conspiracy theory you are trying to wake the world up to is a fact. Only a sheep would think otherwise.

conspiracist clicktivism_300pxStep 6: Bring up the founding of the Federal Reserve, the Bay of Pigs, The Gulf of Tonkin, and other well known deceptive schemes by the government often (every conversation if need be.) These actions were confessed by government, therefore every other conspiracy theory is true!

Step 7: Cite declassified documents often, as they are invaluable. If the government reports that a secret program was started and ended 60 years ago- DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. The secret programs for sure are still occurring and are now more massive, sinister, and successful than before.

Step 8: Remember that most of witnesses and victims involved in conspiracy event are actors. Medical examiners, emergency responders, the police, reporters, they are almost all in on it. The innocent people caught up in the conspiracy were either killed or have been threatened by the conspirators and are too afraid to come forward (or they possibly never existed to begin with.)

Step 9: Blitz the world with the truth until everyone deletes you on Facebook or you are banned from your favorite web sites. Lay low for a period, regroup at your favorite alternative web sites, get encouragement and reinforcement from the other awakened truth seekers, and start the process all over again with a new conspiracy.


[END]
matrix-sucker_600px

Was an alien spotted near where I live?

FBI Alien Ufos
by via The Soap Box

alien-contact_250px_200pxThe other day I was searching through Youtube looking for “alien caught on camera” videos (I actually do look for that stuff when I’m bored) one thing lead to another and I eventually came across this article about an alleged alien encounter that occurred not only in my home town… but also about only a mile or so from my home (although it happened over two years ago and nothing like this has occurred near here ever since).

Suffice to say that if I believed that this close encounter of the third kind actually did occurred (read about it here) I might be scared out of my mind. Of course I don’t believe it. I believe it to be a hoax, and I’ll explain why:

First, lets examine the description of the “alien” by the eye witness:

  • There was a grey figure, about 6’5″ with very long fingers, no eyes, mouth or nose that I could see. The grey color of it was lighter on the bottom, and faded into a darker shade towards it’s chest. And it’s fingers were at least 10″ long.

aliens1_933_824_150pxNow that’s a very detailed description of this creature. What detail that was not given was how far away this person was from the creature, or where exactly this creature was (I’m well aware of the area and how it looks like having lived here all my life and driven past this place hundreds of times, so I can tell you after reading the report that the person gave is that either the person is a local as well, or has passed through that section of road enough times to remember what it looks like)? Was the creature on the hill in the wooded area, or in the middle of the road, or across the street at the little pond next to the apartments that are at that intersection, or on the side of the road?

Also it was at 2:00 PM in the summer time, and according to the report given, it states that:

  • Traffic was at a stand still as there were at least 7 cars stopped as we watched it walk up a hill into the forest on the side of the road. Eventually a couple of Roanoke county police came, and one went into the woods, only to come out pale and shaking.

ufo 835_200pxSo there are at least nine other eye witnesses to this incident, and probably a lot more than that, yet this is the only report about this alleged incident that I can find, and no one there (including the person whom made this report) had enough sense to take a picture of this creature? In fact why hasn’t more people come forward and said that they saw something? I can understand maybe a few people not wanting to have anything to do with this incident, but certainly there must have been atleast more that one person willing to come forward and tell what they saw?

Now there is actually one alleged picture of this creature, and it was taken at night via a trail camera . . .

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5 Things I’ve noticed about … The Illuminati

illuminati handby via The Soap Box

The Illuminati. That secretive group conspiracy theorists believe have a great amount of power and want to take over the world.

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.

man_by_lake_02_300pxThe 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.

Illuminati-dollar_tower1_150pxAccording 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).

puppet_175pxOf 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 . . .

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Anti-Vaccination pics should come with a disclaimer…

By via The Soap Box

This morning while I was going through my Facebook page and looking around at some of the skeptics groups that I belong to I came across this anti-vaccination photo. It was posted to mock and criticize the anti-vaccination movement for their blatant hypocrisy:

1526414_1439639966263802_1429201584_n

Now of course anyone who is either a skeptic or a medical professional can clearly see why this picture is being mocked and criticized, but for those who don’t I’ll explain why:

facepalm 822It’s mocked because of the irony that people in the anti-vaccination movement actually believe that getting “information” off of a website that promotes pseudoscience and alternative medicine rather than a legitimate science and/or medical website or journal apparently makes you well educated, and that those who are in the anti-vaccination movement actually believe that they are well educated about vaccines.

Also, it’s criticized because it gives the impression that people who advise against vaccination are themselves well educated, which is often not the truth and that in reality they are actually to dumb to realize that they don’t know anything about vaccines other than what they’ve been told (or scared into) by the anti-vaccination movement. Even those that really are well educated have either just been fooled by the claims of the anti-vaccination movement into believing that vaccines are dangerous, or are just lying about their beliefs for reasons that are their own (usually because they don’t want to admit that they are wrong).

If pictures like this were truly honest they would . . .

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Skeptic Presents: Get Your Guru Going

Via Skeptic Magazine

In this video — the fifth in our series of videos that promote science and critical thinking through the use of humor, wit, and satire — we present a Con Academy mini course in the techniques of New Age Spiritual Gurutry.

If you missed our first four videos, check them out:

Is that a FEMA Truck?

By via Is that a FEMA Camp?

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:

FB FEMA truck

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:

FEMA 03_flat_600px

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…

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5 Thing’s I’ve noticed about… 12/21/2012

by via The Soap Box

2012_failIt’s been almost a year since 12/21/2012, the day that the world was suppose to end… or change (depends on who you asked).

Now there was a lot that didn’t happen that day that was suppose to, and there were certain things that day that did happen, just not what some people were expecting.

I’ve looked back upon what did happen that day, and I’ve come up with the five different things that I’ve noticed about that day and the whole doomsday prediction itself.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about 12/21/2012:

5. Nothing really important happen that day.

cat nap_250pxWell… not necessarily nothing per say, but in terms of the world shattering event that was suppose to occur (at least according to some people who mistook the ending of the Mayan calendar as being a Mayan prophecy foretelling the end of the world) nothing happened that day that was even worth bothering to remember.

The only thing that I really remember from that day is that me and several fellow skeptics laughed at all of those people who seriously thought the world was going to end that day, and the History Channel showing a bunch of programs about doomsday (because that is what the History Channel does).

Basically that’s all that happened that day. Skeptics had a good laugh, the History Channel showed a bunch of BS (well a little bit more BS than usual) and that’s it… well, that and fact that…

4. Millions of Doomers realized how stupid they were.

embarrassed 924The amount of people who thought the world was going to end that day (or atleast something big was going to happen that day) was probably in the millions, most of which I’m pretty sure were relived that nothing happen (although I’m sure a few were disappointed, especially those who thought it would bring about some kind of human “transformation”).

I say again that while I am pretty sure that most people who believed that the world would end that day were relived that it didn’t happen, I’m also pretty sure that a lot of those people felt stupid for trusting some non-prophesy that a few people who were allegedly smarter than them completely mis-interpreted and got it into the public mindset in such a way that it ended up taking off like wildfire…

Ofcourse what probably made a lot of people feel stupid for believing in the 12/21/2012 end of the world prediction is the realization that…

3. It’s not the first time a major doomsday prediction has fail.

Apocalypse_by_DearJuneThe 12/21/2012 was not the first major doomsday prediction to fail, nor was it the first major one to create a kind of mass hysteria that caused people to waste their time and money on to prepare for, as well as possibly ruin relationships with the people in their lives. The 12/21/2012 prediction wasn’t even the first major doomsday prediction of the century that failed. Infact it was the third major doomsday prediction of the 21st century that failed (the first one was the Y2K prediction, and the second one was Harold Camping‘s Rapture prediction of 2011).

Now I went to the Wikipedia page listing doomsday predictions (and these are just some of the more famous ones) and there were huge amount of them, and obviously they’ve all failed to come true. Infact I actually counted the number of doomsday predictions between the time I was born and the 12/21/2012 prediction, and according to the list the world should have ended atleast 47 times since my birth…

Now in my opinion the whole 12/21/2012 should never have been taken seriously in the first place. This is not only due to the sheer fact that doomsday predictions always fail, it’s also due to the fact that…

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Could the pyramids be 28 million years old?

Answer: No.

by via The Soap Box

ancientaliens03a_300pxRecently I read an article on a website that promotes Ancient Aliens and trying to rewrite history in the strangest way possible about how the Pyramids in Egypt are 28 million years old (read the article here).

Now the article tries to link a comet that allegedly exploded over the region 28 million years with the creation of the pyramids, but really when I tried to read it, it just sounded like a bunch of nonsense. Infact most of it made no sense what so ever and was actually hard to read at points.

At the end of the article it makes it sound like aliens might have built the pyramids due to the sheer fact that humans were not around 28 million years ago (atleast they got the fact that humans weren’t around 28 millions years ago right).

So, are the pyramids 28 million years ago?

Not a chance.

First, if these structures were 28 million years old, then the only parts that would be left of them would be the foundations, and what ever was underneath the pyramids. Everything above would have eroded away by now.

Infact many of these pyramids are in various states of erosion due to where they are located and are almost gone. Some of them don’t even look like human made structures anymore, and look more like hills or small mountains out in the middle of the desert.

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Pyramid of Amenemhat III (Dahshur)

Pyramid of Amenemhat III (Dahshur)

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

why-people-see-ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts (and gods, angels, demons, and aliens and why they float, fly, and travel out of their bodies)

via Skeptic.com

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience like the examples that we list in this FREE PDF booklet? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society.

While science has made considerable progress in discovering how the brain is hard-wired to produce these illusions, the public is largely unaware of much of this research. This is where your Skeptics Society comes in—we provide the scientific explanation.

DOWNLOAD the free PDF

The Stuff of Nightmares

James Van Praagh and the Afterlife

by Ingrid Hansen Smythe via skeptic.com

There are a number of different methods of exposing an individual as a liar and a charlatan. One way is to engage the person directly in their self-professed area of expertise and then judge their performance. You might employ an alleged brain surgeon, for example, and pay that person to perform brain surgery on you—and if the surgeon uses a cork screw and salad tongs, and the operation turns into something akin to an autopsy or a dinner party at the Todd’s (Sweeney, that is), you’ve got fairly good evidence against the so-called expert. Alternatively, you could spare yourself the agony of direct engagement and read the published papers of the brain surgeon in question. If the papers are full of contradictions, wild inaccuracies and obvious fictions—if the surgeon believes that the hippocampus is an actual college, for example, or that olfactory bulbs are planted in the spring, or the ventral horn is a member of the brass section—again you have solid evidence that the brain surgeon hasn’t a clue and is not actually all that interested in the contents of your skull but, rather, in the contents of your wallet.

In his brilliant exposé of James Van Praagh, author Miklos Jako uses the first method and actually pays the renowned medium $700 for a reading. (Watch the reading with Jako’s editorial.) In tallying up the hits (12) and misses (64), Jako calculates a success rate of 16 percent. This is remarkably low, even for a cold reading, and Jako might have gotten a higher success rate had he engaged Bubbles the chimp. Worse yet, Jako actually feeds Van Praagh a lie about his father being involved in a drunk driving accident, and Van Praagh falls for it hook, line, and sinker. “He keeps going on about how he was very sorry it hurt you,” says Van Praagh. “He knows he embarrassed you on several occasions. He’s ashamed of that. He’s ashamed. He’s sorry, he’s ashamed of that. And please don’t think of him that way.” Jako’s outrage is palpable at this point, and it’s tough for him to remain composed. “My father never embarrassed me,” he says firmly. “Never.” Based on the evidence, Jako goes on to add his dead-on-the-mark assessment of the great psychic. “James Van Praagh,” he says, “you’re full of shit.” This sums things up nicely, I think.

You’d imagine that this masterful unveiling would settle the matter once and for all—but no. The critic can always assert that the old brain tumour was acting up again and that Van Praagh was simply “off” on that particular day, or that he was subconsciously stifled by Jako’s Kryptonite-like skepticism, or that an alleged error was just a silly misunderstanding, or that the spirits were being deliberately impish and uncooperative. None of this is Van Praagh’s fault. Thus, even when a medium is wrong more often than right, support continues or even increases.1

Unlike Miklos Jako then, my approach is to use the second method, examining the writings of Mr. Van Praagh in detail to see if I can detect anything that confirms Jako’s assessment. I’ll be analyzing his book Growing Up in Heaven, Van Praagh’s singular study of the afterlife as it relates, specifically, to the deaths of children. In it, Van Praagh shares his actual conversations with dead children, his interactions with the grieving parents, his philosophical intuitions, and his revealed insights into the afterlife for those of us dying to know what really goes on behind the veil.2

Before proceeding with the specifics, allow me to briefly sum up Van Praagh’s metaphysical position. Each of us is an eternal soul that reincarnates on the earth, and on other planets and in other dimensions, in order to learn all the lessons a soul’s got to know. These lessons are, predictably, things like patience and humility, and not things like how to make napalm or take the temperature of a cat. The ultimate lesson is that “we are all love created by Love,”3 and once we’ve figured out what the hell that could possibly mean, we achieve enlightenment.

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The Death of Sylvia Browne

by via The Soap Box

sylviamontel_250pxYesterday one of the world’s most famous fake psychics (I know, that’s redundant) died.

Sylvia Browne, who had made many appearances on TV (most notably The Montel Williams Show and Larry King Live) died yesterday at the age of 77 (she had predicted should would die at age 88).

Now being a skeptic and someone whom believes that all psychics are frauds (apart form those that are mentally ill and really do believe that they have psychic powers) many people might assume that I am rejoicing, and perhaps even celebrating her death (especially those who believe that people can have psychic powers, or just people who don’t like skeptics).

To be quiet honest I’m not sure how I should feel about her death, because there are just so many feelings I have about it that I can’t seem to focus on one to just go with.

On the one hand I am sort of glad that she’s gone because now she can no longer hurt people and mess with their emotions with her stage magician like “readings” while at the same time exploiting those people for fame and money.

On the other hand I’m also a bit angry, not only because of her exploitation that she basically got away with up until she died, but also because she would never would come clean about being a fake, despite the numerous failed readings and predictions she has had. Now that she’s dead, she never will.

Yet on the other hand I also feel a tad bit sad for her . . .

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Of Elves, Abductions, and fake News Stories

By via The Soap Box

The other day I came across this very strange “news” story on an blog that’s been going around the internet about a Danish anthropologist by the name of Kalena Søndergaard, whom had apparently been abducted and held for seven years in Iceland.

Now normally this would be a tragic and horrible story, except the strange fact that (at least according to author of the story, C. Michael Forsyth) her abductors were elves (read the story here).

That’s right, I said elves.

ELUSIVE, small humanoids live beneath Iceland, a majority of citizens believe. And now scientists believe they may be right!

“ELUSIVE, small humanoids live beneath Iceland, a majority of citizens believe. And now scientists believe they may be right!”
(Source: C. Michael Forsyth)

Obviously I’m skeptical of the story, and for good reason (mostly being that it is ridiculous as hell, and that the story itself written by a horror fiction writer).

Besides the obvious fact that the story was written by a horror fiction writer, and that it just sounds fake, the story itself has no links or references what so ever to show to show that this woman had ever been listed as missing, a major red flag telling that it was fake.

Infact when I did a Google search on her the only thing I could find out about Kalena were just copied and pasted portions of the story (or the whole story in itself) written by C. Michael Forsyth.

The second red flag that shot up for me was the fact that in the story there was information in there about the Homo floresiensis, a diminutive hominid that was very closely related to modern humans, and according to the story was a major part of the woman’s doctoral thesis… about elves and how they might exist.

While I found the information to be interesting, the fact is that it had nothing to do with the story, and seemed to have been added in to attempt to prove that elves exist, or atleast give the possibility that elves exist more credibility.

The third red flag that shot up for me was the photos.

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Karen Stollznow – What an Excellent Day for a Talk about Exorcism! – TAM 2013 – YouTube

This video is about 34 minutes long. I was hesitant to post it because it’s not the most captivating video. But the information is very good. Judge for yourself.

MIB🙂


Via JamesRandiFoundation – YouTube.

Karen Stollznow is a linguist, author of God Bless America and the Bad Language columnist for Skeptic magazine, and author of the forthcoming books Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic, and Red, White and (True) Blue. She is a long-term investigator of paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs and practices, a co-host of Monster Talk, and is a Research Fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation.

“You Know You Are a Conspiracy Theorist If…”

A deceptive test to make people believe they are a conspiracy theorist.

by via The Soap Box

A few months ago I came across the You Know You Are a Conspiracy Theorist If… test (which I found to be laughable when I saw it) to help a person tell if they are a conspiracy theorist or not (view the test here).

I have some things to say about this “test” and some comments about “questions” that were asked (well, they’re not really questions) as well as a few questions of my own:

critical-thinking1_250px• You are capable of critical thinking.

This is a paradox. If a conspiracy theorist was capable of critical thinking, then they wouldn’t be a conspiracy theorist because people who are capable of critical thinking would figure out that a conspiracy theory was BS.

• You distrust mainstream media.

So do most skeptics, although for entirely different reasons than conspiracy theorists do.

• You like nature.

Lots of people do. What does this have to do with being a conspiracy theorist?

• You think it’s a good idea to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving with your family rather than camping outside Best Buy to get a cheap plasma television made in China.

That doesn’t make you a conspiracy theorist. That makes you someone who is smart enough not to waste their time in the cold waiting for some store to open in the hope of finding bargains.

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 8.58.15 PM• You think it’s a little strange that WTC building 7 came down at free fall speed on 9/11 yet it was never hit by a plane.

This might make you a conspiracy theorist, as well as someone who has conveniently forgotten that WTC7 was hit by something… a skyscraper.

• You think that drones in America might not be for Al Qaeda.

This might also make you a conspiracy theorist… or it might make you someone who knows drones that fly over America are also used for multiple benign purposes.

• You would like to be able to get on a plane without having to engage in a mandatory radiation bath and digital strip search.

As do many Americans, especially those who have gone through that process.

• You have read a book in the past year.

What does reading a book have to do with being a conspiracy theorist?

thefirstamendment_250px• You think you have the right to protest.

According to the first Amendment I don’t think I have the right, I have the right, period!

• You think the War on Terror is a scam.

That depends on what your definition of “scam” is.

• You think the War on Drugs is a scam.

Again, that depends on what your definition of “scam” is. Does your definition mean completely bogus and fraudulent, or wasteful and unnecessary?

• You think the anger directed at America from the Middle East could possibly be related to our foreign policy rather than hating how amazingly free we are.

This just means you’ve done more than five minutes worth of research about the Middle East.

• You think the Republicans and Democrats are exactly the same on the important issues affecting our country.

This could mean you’re a conspiracy theorist… it could also mean that you’re a Libertarian, or you’re just ticked off at both political parties.

• You think believing in The Constitution does not constitute a terrorist act.

Who the Hell believes that believing in the constitution is a terrorist act? The only people who believe that are idiots!

bill-of-rights_250px• You have heard of the Bill of Rights and can even name what some of them are.

As most Americans have and can…

• You question whether the government loves you.

The government is not a living entity. It neither loves nor hates, therefore it is pointless to ask if it loves you or not.

• You think the right to bear arms is not for hunting, rather so citizens can fight back should the government become a bunch of tyrannical thugs.

Yeah, this could mean that you’re a conspiracy theorist… it could also mean that you just don’t like the government, or you’re afraid that the United States “could” become a tyrannical dictatorship.

• You don’t own a television, and if you do, all you watch is RT, especially the Keiser Report and Capital Account.

(Reading that alone makes me wonder if this is satire) If all you watch on television is RT (Russia Today) then there is no need to finish this test. You are a conspiracy theorist.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Conspiracy Theorists on Youtube

by via The Soap Box

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 8.46.56 PM_250pxIf you’re someone that makes a hobby of investigating conspiracy theories, you will eventually be lead to one place: Youtube.

Youtube seems to the gathering center conspiracy theorists on the internet due to the huge amount a conspiracy theory videos on that website (and I mean huge).

Now there are a lot of things that I have noticed about conspiracy theorists on Youtube that I could talk about, but I have narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things that I’ve noticed about conspiracy theorists on Youtube:

5. They can come up with some pretty bizarre conspiracy theories.

If you want to find a really bizarre conspiracy theory, then there is no better place to look than Youtube, because the conspiracy theorists on that website can come up with some very bizarre conspiracy theories. In fact some of the weirdest conspiracy theories that I have ever heard of are from videos on Youtube.

These conspiracy theories on Youtube can get so strange, and combined with a person’s own behavior either in a video, or in the comments section, that it makes one wonder if that person is either a poe, or a fraud that is looking for attention (or to scam people), or severely mentally ill. In fact some conspiracy theorist on Youtube have been proven to be either mentally ill or frauds.

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 8.48.33 PM_200pxSome of these videos are so bizarre that I’ve had to stop watching them at times because I felt that it was driving me crazy (mostly rage) and making me want to destroy my computer in frustration over not only how some one could come up with some thing that crazy and stupid, but also in frustration over why Youtube would allow such a video to stay on the website.

If such videos make me nearly go crazy then I can’t imagine what they do to people who take these videos seriously.

4. Their videos can be extremely long.

Sometimes a conspiracy theorist’s video on Youtube can be short, sometimes they can be half an hour long, and sometimes they can go on for hours and hours.

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 8.50.48 PMSome of the longest videos that I have ever seen on Youtube have been from conspiracy theorists, and I’m not talking about an hour or two long. Some of these videos can be three to four to six hours long. In fact I think the longest one I have ever seen (I didn’t actually watch it, I just noted the time) was forty hours long!

The only way someone could watch such videos is if they were unemployed and/or had no life what so ever. They would have to spend all of their time infront of a computer watching these poorly made and researched Youtube videos which would become essentially their only source of information about the world…

Besides just making abnormally long videos, conspiracy theorists on Youtube also tend to do this:

3. They create videos of an event quickly after an event happens.

Thanks mostly due to cheap (many times free), widely available, and easy to use video capturing and editing software, conspiracy theorist can now create videos at astonishingly amazing speeds after some event happens, sometimes even within hours of an event happening.

Usually these videos are . . .

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6 Conspiracy Theories that have no reason to exist

by via The Soap Box

There are a lot conspiracy theories out there, most of which have no evidence to support the claims made, either because whatever evidence that has been put forth has been debunked, or no evidence has ever been put forth in the first place.

In fact there are some conspiracy theories that have no reason to continue to exist, or have no reason to exist in the first place, such as:

Moon Landing Hoax

nasa-moon-hoaxPerhaps one of the older conspiracy theories out there, there are a lot of people who do not believe we went to the Moon, and that all of the videos (the hundreds of hours worth) and photos (the many thousands of them) taken from the Moon were all done on a sound stage.

The reasoning behind this is that it is believed by people who claim we did not go to the Moon that we did not have the technology to go to the Moon.

The problem with this argument is that we actually did have the technology to get to the Moon. Also, as surprising as this may sound, we actually didn’t have the technology to fake going to the Moon.

There is also a ton of other evidence that says we did in fact go to the Moon, such as several tons worth of rocks and dirt that were brought back, the fact that not one of the hundreds of thousands of people who worked on the Moon landing project has ever said we didn’t go to the Moon, or that the Soviets never said that we didn’t get there, or the fact that the landing sites have been photographed by satellites orbiting the Moon.

9/11 conspiracy theories

airplane_500pxEver since that tragic day over 12 years ago there have been multiple conspiracy theories put forth concerning what happened that day, and while all of them tend to be different (from both who did it to how it was done) they all have one thing in common: They have all been debunked.

I know, a lot of people in the 9/11 “Truth” movement will say otherwise, and will claim that they have “evidence” that backs up their claims, the facts are is that when this so called evidence has been examined it’s been shown to be either incorrect, or completely false, and it is now seriously considered by skeptics and debunkers that the only reason why anyone would continue to make these 9/11 conspiracy theory claims is that they are either self deluded, or mentally ill, or they are lying.

Autism – MMR vaccine connection

Life before vaccinations

Life before vaccinations

Ever since 1998 when Andrew Wakefield wrote and published a “research” paper in The Lancet that concluded that there was a “connection” between the MMR vaccine and autism (research of which has since proven to be both unethical and fraudulent and resulted in both the research paper being formerly retracted and Mr. Wakefield’s name being removed from the General Medical Council, which is the British equivalency of having one’s medical license revoked) there has been a conspiracy theory going around concerning the alleged connection and vaccine manufactures trying to suppress such information.

Besides the fact that none of this “information” has ever been suppressed, it has been proven by multiple scientific and medical research institutions that there is no connection what so ever between any vaccines and autism, and that all of the claims made by the anti-vaccination movement are wrong and false (and dangerous).

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If the Government is shut down, then who is paying the shills?

by via The Soap Box

government-shutdown-hero_200pxIt’s been a week now since the part of the federal government shut down due to lack of funding because Congress can not agree on a budget.

Since much of the government has been shut down due to funding there is a question I have for conspiracy theorists: Who is paying the shills?

Now according to many conspiracy theorists shills are apparently anyone who goes around the internet spreads what they consider to be “dis-information” to discredit their conspiracy theories (which for some reason is often times backed up with facts and logic).

Basically, skeptics and debunkers (those people claim to be volunteering their time to debunk conspiracy theories on the internet, but according to many conspiracy theorists, are being paid by the government to spread dis-information, and who’s only “evidence” they have to prove that they are shills is simply that they disagree with the conspiracy theorist).

So if the government is shut down, then why do shills like myself (according to conspiracy theorists) still have their sites up, and are still posting blog articles debunking conspiracy theories?

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Be skeptical of what you see on the Internet

by at The Soap Box

skeptical_dog1-180hprn_250pxRecently on my Facebook page a couple of people posted a very disturbing photo showing a heavily tattooed white male in what appears to be in his 20’s apparently forcing a cute little puppy to drink a bottle of vodka. I was even asked by one of the people whom posted the image on their page to post the photo on this blog in hopes of actually finding the person and getting the person arrested, because allegedly that person had not been arrested yet.

I decided not to post the photo for two main reasons:

First, I considered the photo to be just too disturbing and graphic and might not just turn people away, but could result in people sending complaints to Blogger.com over the contents of the post, which could result in this blog having restrictions placed against it, or have the post pulled and removed.

And second, I don’t know story behind that photo.

For one thing the person might have been making a very distasteful joke and only made it look like he was pouring vodka down the puppy’s throat when in reality the bottle was already empty or sealed (it didn’t look like there was any liquid in the bottle, or at least that any liquid was leaving the bottle), or, he could have been taking the bottle away from the puppy after it got a hold of it (and if you’ve ever puppy, you know they will get a hold of anything they can).

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened [read here]. The person in the photo wasn’t trying to hurt the puppy, he was trying to prevent the puppy from accidentally hurting itself.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Bizarre Conspiracy Theories

down_the_rabbit_hole_600px

by via The Soap Box

eye all seeing_250pxWhen you dive into the world of conspiracy theories (either as a skeptic, or a conspiracy theorist, or just a curious onlooker) you will ultimately come across some conspiracy theories that sound really, really bizarre…

In fact ever since I started doing serious skepticism and debunking and investigating conspiracy theories I have found conspiracy theories so strange that I could never have possibly have thought of them (which is probably a good thing).

Now while there are a lot of things I have noticed about bizarre conspiracy theories, I have narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about bizarre conspiracy theories:

5. They’re indicators of mental illness.

schizophrenia 932_250px_250pxFirst I want to say that anyone who believes that the world is controlled by shape-shifting aliens, or that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by lasers, or that the government is using radio signals to attack peoples minds, or believes in crisis actors, or believes that chemtrails are real is not necessarily mentally ill… I’m just saying it’s a pretty strong indicator of mental illness, especially when you consider the fact that others who also believe in such conspiracy theories have engaged in behavior that strongly indicates that they are mentally ill (such as making long and incoherent rants, or harassing people, or making threats), or actually has been found out or proven to be mentally ill.

It’s not just the people who believe in them either. Many of the people whom have created the most bizarre conspiracy theories out there are they themselves believed to be mentally ill. Even the ones who are very intelligent and hold college degrees, but come up with these weird conspiracy theories, are automatically assumed to be mentally ill because it’s really the most logical explanation for many skeptics concerning a person whom is very smart but believes in really weird stuff.

4. There is no deep end to them.

tunnel tumble_200pxHave you ever heard or read about a conspiracy theory that made you think, “there is no way that there can be something stranger than this…” Well, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but trust me when I say this, there is a conspiracy theory out there that is more bizarre than what you have just heard or read about. And if there isn’t one, one will be invented soon enough.

Now I don’t blame anyone for believing that whenever they hear about a crazy conspiracy theory that they believe that it is the craziest conspiracy theory out there, I use to believe that myself when I came across a really bizarre conspiracy, but then I would be proven wrong again and again whenever I kept coming across one even more bizarre than the next one, it kind of destroyed my ability to believe that there is a bottom to conspiracy theory craziness.

In fact some are so bizarre that…

3. They are confused for satire.

what-hi_200pxIt really should not surprise anyone that there are some conspiracy theories out there that are either so weird, or so bizarre, that some people don’t believe that it is a real conspiracy theory (well, as real as one can be) and that it was made up as a parody of other conspiracy theories, or some type of satire, or, as some conspiracy theorists may claim, dis-information.

This is something that even I have assumed at times whenever I see a bizarre conspiracy theory, either in the hope that no one can seriously be so crazy that they could come up with such a thing, or that it just looks like satire.

In fact some have actually turned out to be satire (or a hoax) but because some conspiracy theorists can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is fake, some of them assume that it is real.

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How “The Matrix” inspired Conspiracy Theorists (and Vice-Verse)

matrix_has_u_600px

by via The Soap Box

In 1999 one of the best (and perhaps strangest) science fiction films premiered in theaters. That film of course is The Matrix.

matrix alternate reality_300pxThe film itself was visually stunning, it’s fight screens were so awesome that other films have duplicated the same style in their fight scenes, and it had that was really unique story line… and made anyone who watched the film not sleep for a few days.

The film itself also had multiple concepts in it that many conspiracy theorists tend to use in their beliefs.

In fact many concepts from the film have either inspired conspiracy theorists in their and terminology and their beliefs, or were inspired by conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists, such as:

The world as we know it is a lie.

The first concept in “The Matrix” that many conspiracy theorists hold near and dear to them is that the world as we know it is just one giant lie, and that everything we know is fake and intentionally constructed in order to fool the masses.

matrix eye_250pxIn the movie Neo is told that the world is a lie, and is eventually shown that the whole world that he knew is a computer generated simulation. While most conspiracy theorist don’t go as far to say that our world is a computer generated simulation (although some do) many do think that everything we know is just one well constructed lie, and that all of our history has been guided and constructed by some force that we don’t know about.

Only people who “wake up” can know the “truth”.

In the movie Neo is told that in order to know the truth about the world that he would basically have to “wake up”, which is something that conspiracy theorists tell people all the time that they need to do (especially when they express doubt in the conspiracy theorist’s claims).

Whether the concept of “waking up” came from the movie or not, anytime one argues with a conspiracy theorist (especially on the internet) often the conspiracy theorist will tell the person to WAKE UP to the “truth” (whatever that may be for the conspiracy theorist).

People must choose if they are to “wake up” or not.

matrix-red-pill-or-blue-pill_600px

Half way through the movie Neo is given a choice about whether he wants to find out what the Matrix is in the infamous “blue pill, red pill” screen. In the screen Neo is given the choice of taking a blue pill and continuing life as he knows it, or taking the red pill and finding out the truth about the world.

This screen is so infamous that many conspiracy theorists now commonly reference to the blue pill and red pill when trying to convince someone that the conspiracy theory that they are promoting is real, and that the only way that the average person can learn about what is really going on in the world (at least from the conspiracy theorist perspective) is that they must “choose” to “take the red pill”, or that they must choose to “wake up”.

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10 More Lies Truthers Tell

by via The Soap Box

top10_conspiracy_911A few months I wrote an article about ten of the most common lies that people in the 9/11 Truth Movement (whether it be intentional or not) tend to tell.

While I did touch upon ten of what I considered to be biggest lies, I still felt there were more lies that people in the 9/11 Truth Movement promoted that still needed to be addressed.

So, I have put together another list of ten more lies that Truther tells:

10. Nothing hit World Trade Center 7.

Actually something did hit World Trade Center 7… a skyscraper.

To be more precise falling debris from World Trade Center 1 hit World Trade Center 7 and caused huge amounts of damage to the lower floors of the building. The combination of that, and the fact that the building had been on fire for hours caused the building to collapse.

9. Only two buildings were hit, but three were destroyed.

911-world-trade-center-conspiracy_350This is not true. In fact more than three building were destroyed that day. World Trade Center 3, 4, 5, and 6 were heavily damaged that day and what was left of them had to be torn down because they could not be repaired.

Also, many other buildings around the World Trade Center were damaged as well.

8. A nuclear bomb brought down the towers.

If this was true then this would be the easiest one to prove, as all you would have to do is go down to the World Trade Center site with a Geiger counter and one would easily find large amounts of radiation there.

Also, lower Manhattan would be uninhabitable right now due to that radiation, plus the destruction caused would have been far greater, and a lot more people would have died, either from the initial blast from the weapon, or from the radiation and radioactive fall out.

Plus, there would have been an obvious flash some what similar to the Sun when the device went, and there would have been no way to hide that.

7. The towers were reduced to dust and gravel.

911outside-jobPrimarily promoted by followers of Judy Wood and those that believe in her theory that the towers were brought down high energy lasers, their claims are that the towers were reduced to dust and gravel by these alleged lasers.

While the collapse of the towers did create a lot of dust and gravel, it also left large chunks of concrete, long pieces of steel beams, and even places where pieces of the outer wall several stories high still stood.

6. Israel did it.

Besides the fact that there is no evidence what so ever that Israel did this, the fact is that Israel had no reason to do something like this.

The United States is Israel’s biggest supporter, and President George W. Bush was one of Israel’s strongest supporters at that.

To simply put, the people in charge of Israel would have had to have lost their minds to have done something like that. Not only would they have been risking losing support from the United States, but also risked going war with the United States in order to get more support from the United States.

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(Psychic) Staring Effect

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

In a nutshell: The psychic staring effect is the idea that people can tell by ESP when somebody is staring at them.

Can anyone really tell when someone else is staring at them? Sure, especially if the one doing the staring is standing right in front of you. But what about someone staring at you from behind? looking-back-over-my-shoulder_300pxNine out of ten people say they can “sense” when they are being stared at even when they can’t see the person who is doing the staring. What does science have to say about this ability to sense being stared at?

There have been several scientific studies on staring and all but one of them has found that people are fooling themselves if they think they can tell when they’re being stared at. The one scientist who found that some people can tell when someone else is staring at them is Rupert Sheldrake, the same scientist who found that a parrot and a dog can read the minds of people. If you think about it, you would have to be psychic to be able to “feel” somebody staring at you rather than see them with your own two eyes. That’s why this ability to tell when you’re being stared at is called psychic staring effect (PSE).

The first scientific studies of PSE were done in 1898 by Edward B. Titchener. He wanted to prove once and for all that PSE was a superstition. He did prove PSE is a superstition, but most people didn’t believe him anyway.

After Sheldrake did some tests that showed PSE is real, several other scientists tried to duplicate his work. No one else could find evidence for PSE. It looks like Sheldrake made a mistake or two. Right now it does not look like there is any logical reason to believe that some people can psychically tell when someone else is staring at them.

For more information on the study of psychic powers see A Short History of Psi Research by Robert T. Carroll (psi is what parapsychologists call perceiving or moving things with the mind only).


[END] The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Near-Death Experience (NDE)

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

One study found that 8 to 12 percent of 344 patients resuscitated after suffering cardiac arrest had NDEs and about 18% remembered some part of what happened when they were clinically dead (Lancet, December 15, 2001).*

near-death-tunnel_300pxThe term ‘near-death experience’, or NDE, refers to a wide array of experiences reported by some people who have nearly died or who have thought they were going to die. There is no single shared experience reported by those who have had NDEs. Even the experiences of most interest to parapsychologists–such as the “mystical experience,” the “light at the end of the tunnel” experience, the “life review” experience, and the out-of-body experience (OBE)–rarely occur together in near-death experiences. However, the term NDE is most often used to refer to an OBE occurring while near death. Both types of experience have been cited to support belief in disembodied spirits and continued existence after death.

[ . . . ]

Raymond Moody

Raymond Moody

Raymond Moody (1944-), an M.D. and psychology Ph.D., is considered by many to be the father of the modern NDE movement. He coined the expression ‘near-death experience’ and has written several books on the subject of life after life. He is well known for his compilation of a list of features that he considers to be typical of the near-death experience. According to Moody, the typical NDE includes a buzzing or ringing noise, a sense of blissful peace, a feeling of floating out of one’s body and observing it from above, moving through a tunnel into a bright light, meeting dead people (saints, Jesus, angels, Muhammad); seeing one’s life pass before one’s eyes; and finding it all so wonderful that one doesn’t want to return to one’s body. (The typical experience he describes does not, however, include trips to the body repair shop or sexual encounters with spirits.) This composite experience is based on interpretations of testimonials and anecdotes from doctors, nurses, and patients. Characteristic of Moody’s work is the glaring omission of cases that don’t fit his hypothesis. If Moody is to be believed, no one near death has had a horrifying experience. Yet, “according to some estimates as many as 15 percent of NDEs are hellish” (Blackmore 2004: 362). Reports of Christians meeting Muhammad or Muslims meeting Jesus or Jews meeting Guru Nanak, if they exist, have not been publicized.

depths-of-hell-cartoon_250pxThere are numerous reports of bad NDE trips involving tortures by elves, giants, demons, etc. Some parapsychologists take these good and bad NDE trips as evidence of the mythical afterlife places of various religions. They believe that some souls leave their bodies and go to the other world for a time before returning to their bodies. If so, then what is one to conclude from the fact that most people near death do not experience either the heavenly or the diabolical? Is that fact good evidence that there is no afterlife or that most people end up as non-existing or in some sort of limbo? Such reasoning is on par with supposing that dreams in which one appears to oneself to be outside of one’s bed are to be taken as evidence of the soul or mind actually leaving the body during sleep, as some New Age Gnostics believe.

What little research there has been in this field indicates that the experiences Moody lists as typical of the NDE may be due to brain states triggered by cardiac arrest and anesthesia (Blackmore 1993). Furthermore, many people who have not been near death have had experiences that seem identical to NDEs, e.g., fighter pilots experiencing rapid acceleration. Other mimicking experiences may be the result of psychosis (due to severe neurochemical imbalance) or drug usage, such as hashish, LSD, or DMT.

MORE . . .

What is a Sheeple?

The Conspiracy Theorist definition, and the reality based definition.

by via The Soap Box

Recently on Facebook came across a picture on my feed that, considering the group it was posted in (it was a comedy page) I thought was very… unusual, to say the least.

This is the picture that was posted in said group:

1098135_619311268113419_1059776665_n

I found this picture a tad bit disturbing, not only because it was posted in a group meant for comedy, but because it clearly showed what at least some conspiracy theorists thinks about people who disagree with them or out right do not believe (and most of the time, for good reason).

In fact this description would be far more accurate if the word “Sheeple” was replaced with “Conspiracy Theorist”, as many skeptics would agree that this would more accurately describe many conspiracy theorists (or at least the far more psychotic ones).

Now, a far more accurate definition for the word “Sheeple” would probably be this:

Sheeple – A derogatory word that combines the words “sheep” and “people“, and is typically used by conspiracy theorists to try to describe a person whom does not believe in their conspiracy theories (see Skeptic).

Typically the word “Sheeple” is used in arguments over the internet as a blatant insult directed at a skeptic, and is also used as an attempt to intimidate a skeptic into backing down or backing away from an argument concerning a conspiracy theory, and/or even bully them into agreeing with the conspiracy theorist.

This is not to be confused with the word “Shill” which is typically directed towards people who not only do not believe in a conspiracy theory that a conspiracy theorist is presenting, but also presents evidence and/or logical reasoning to show why they don’t believe in a conspiracy theory.

Both “Shill” and “Sheeple” are also used by conspiracy theorists as an attempt to end an argument over the internet while trying to save face when it becomes obvious to them that they can not win and are just making themselves appear as someone of either low intelligence and/or questionable sanity.

SHEEPLE 04_300pxThat would be a far more accurate description for the word “Sheeple”. Basically speaking, it is just a typical insult that conspiracy theorists use to try to scare away a skeptic.

The best thing to do if someone calls you a sheeple is to ask them why they think you are a sheeple, and then explain to them why you are not one (this also works if they call you a shill). If this does not work either ignore the accusations, ignore the person completely, or (if you feel like just making them mad) tell them that they are actually conceding defeat in that they actually have nothing left to counter argue, and that they are actually trying to end the argument while at the same time attempting to make it appear as if they have actually won the argument.

Regardless of how you decide to actually handle someone who calls you a a sheeple or a shill, you just have to remember that this is typical conspiracy theorist speak, and that they’re only saying it because they’re mad that you don’t believe them.


[END] The Soap Box
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Therapeutic Touch

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

In a nutshell: Therapeutic touch is a kind of energy medicine. Those who do therapeutic touch wave their hands over a patient’s body to fix their subtle energy. The science says there is no such subtle energy.

energyhealingTherapeutic touch is a kind of energy healing. Some people believe that health and sickness are caused by some sort of magical energy being blocked or out of whack in some way. There is no scientific support for this magical energy. It can’t be measured by any of our very high tech machines. Yet, many people swear it exists and that they can move it around or transfer some of their energy into another person.

Energy healers say they can “feel” the energy going through or around a person’s body. This is odd because the human hand is not a very sensitive instrument compared to some of the million-dollar machines we have these days to measure very small particles or packets of energy.

Therapeutic touch healers wave their hands over the body of a sick person. The healer thinks she is moving energy around and that this somehow helps the healing.

patlinsedrawingNine-year-old Emily Rosa tested twenty-one therapeutic touch healers to see if they could feel the energy in one of her hands when they could not see if a hand was actually placed under theirs. She placed a screen with a hole in it for the healer’s arm to go through. Emily sat on the other side of the screen and placed her hand or didn’t place her hand under the healers hand for each test. The healers had a 50% chance of being right in each test, yet they correctly located Emily’s hand only 123 times in 280 tests. Wild guessing would have got about 140 correct answers. The test was very simple and seems to clearly indicate that the subjects could not feel the energy of Emily’s hands when placed near theirs. If they can’t feel the energy, how can they move or transfer it? What are they feeling? Most likely they are feeling what has been suggested to them by those who taught them this practice. Their feelings of energy appear to be created in their own minds.

How does energy healing work?

MORE . . .

The Con Academy (Vol.1)

This is volume 1 of The Con Academy videos—another resource in the Skeptics Society‘s arsenal of Skepticism 101 for teaching critical thinking and promoting science through the use of humor, wit, and satire. In this faux commercial for The Con Academy you’ll see how psychics count on the confirmation bias to convince people that their powers are real when, in fact, they are just remembering the hits and forgetting the misses. We also demonstrate how psychic “organizations” con people by taking their money for services that are not real.

MORE: Skeptic Presents: The Con Academy (Vol.1) – YouTube.

psychic-john-edward-2012-events_02

Cornered and Someone Wants to Tell Me Their Paranormal Story

Sharon_hill_80pxBy Sharon Hill via Huffington Post

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.

GhostGirl_250pxHow 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.

anecdote_200pxAnecdotes 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.

[end]

via Huffington Post

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