VSauce does it again. Fascinating stuff.
VSauce (Michael Stevens) blows our minds . . . again.
The Science is not Settled
By David Siegel via www.ClimateCurious.com
What is your position on the climate-change debate? What would it take to change your mind?
If the answer is It would take a ton of evidence to change my mind, because my understanding is that the science is settled, and we need to get going on this important issue, that’s what I thought, too. This is my story.
More than thirty years ago, I became vegan because I believed it was healthier (it’s not), and I’ve stayed vegan because I believe it’s better for the environment (it is). I haven’t owned a car in ten years. I love animals; I’ll gladly fly halfway around the world to take photos of them in their natural habitats. I’m a Democrat: I think governments play a key role in helping preserve our environment for the future in the most cost-effective way possible. Over the years, I built a set of assumptions: that Al Gore was right about global warming, that he was the David going up against the industrial Goliath. In 1993, I even wrote a book about it.
Recently, a friend challenged those assumptions. At first, I was annoyed, because I thought the science really was settled. As I started to look at the data and read about climate science, I was surprised, then shocked. As I learned more, I changed my mind. I now think there probably is no climate crisis and that the focus on CO2 takes funding and attention from critical environmental problems. I’ll start by making ten short statements that should challenge your assumptions and then back them up with an essay.
1 • Weather is not climate. There are no studies showing a conclusive link between global warming and increased frequency or intensity of storms, droughts, floods, cold or heat waves.
2 • Natural variation in weather and climate is tremendous. Most of what people call “global warming” is natural, not man-made. The earth is warming, but not quickly, not much, and not lately.
3 • There is tremendous uncertainty as to how the climate really works. Climate models are not yet skillful; predictions are unresolved.
4 • New research shows fluctuations in energy from the sun correlate very strongly with changes in earth’s temperature, better than CO2 levels.
5 • CO2 has very little to do with it. All the decarbonization we can do isn’t going to change the climate much.
6 • There is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon dioxide is coming out of your nose right now; it is not a poisonous gas. CO2 concentrations in previous eras have been many times higher than they are today.
7 • Sea level will probably continue to rise — not quickly, and not much. Researchers have found no link between CO2 and sea level.
9 • No one has shown any damage to reef or marine systems. Additional man-made CO2 will not likely harm oceans, reef systems, or marine life. Fish are mostly threatened by people, who eat them.
10 • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others are pursuing a political agenda and a PR campaign, not scientific inquiry. There’s a tremendous amount of trickery going on under the surface*.
Also See: How a liberal vegan environmentalist made the switch from climate proponent to climate skeptic (wattsupwiththat)
Are certain, specific sonic frequencies the key to love, intuition, and spiritual order? Do the sounds we hear have a real physiological effect?
First, their claims. The idea is that certain notes found in ancient music have special uses. Pitches, or notes, are described in Hertz (abbreviated Hz), which is their frequency in cycles per second.
For example, one of the special Solfeggio frequencies is said to be 396 Hz. It sounds like this. [396 Hz] Named UT, it is supposed to be good for “liberating guilt and fear”.
Next is the one called RE, at 417 Hz. [417 Hz] This is good for “undoing situations and facilitating change”.
Impressed? Wait until you hear MI, at 528 Hz. It does “transformation and miracles”, including DNA repair. [528 Hz]
FA, at 629 Hz, is for “connecting and relationships”. [629 Hz]
SOL, at 741 Hz is for “awakening intuition”. [741 Hz]
And LA, at 852 Hz, is for “returning to spiritual order”. [852 Hz]
Now, you may have noticed a couple of patterns. One is that, just like most other woo-y, New Age modalities, the claims are all very breezy and unspecific. If they remind you a little of Deepak Chopra that’s not exactly an accident. Some of the web pages promoting Solfeggio Frequencies use his confused misinterpretations of quantum physics for support.
You may recall from Skeptoid #431 how acupuncture proponents can’t even decide how many meridians exist, nor where they are. Similarly, when we dig into Solfeggio Frequencies there are disagreements. One proponent says that the key frequency is not 417, [417 Hz] but 432 Hz. [432 Hz] Further, he claims that this “purest” of sounds is the same frequency to which both the great pyramids of Giza and the Sun itself are tuned.
Yet another proponent says 528 Hz [528 Hz] is the “love frequency” that not only repairs DNA but can “raise the vibration in our chakra system”. There’s no evidence for a chakra system, and this odd use of the word “vibration” resonates more with woo than science.
In fact, if I play the Solfeggio Frequencies as specified on most of the web sites, the scale sounds a little out of tune. [Solfeggio Mystic Hexachord]
As is typical of woo, proponents make an appeal to antiquity. What makes these notes special, you see, is that they come from a medieval Gregorian chant to John the Baptist. It’s one of those things the ancients “just understood.” But, in modern times, our music was retuned to 440 Hz  and the secret was lost. Or hidden on purpose, depending on who you read. Some even blame the change, darkly, on a Nazi plot.
by Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia
At what point does a publication become so filled with dangerous misinformation that the powers-that-be should step in and shut it down?
I’m all for freedom of speech, and everything, and definitely in favor of people educating themselves sufficiently that they won’t fall for ridiculous bullshit. But still: the media has a responsibility to police themselves, and failing that, to have the rug pulled out from under them.
If such a line does exist — and I am no expert in jurisprudence who could state the legality of such a move — then the site Natural News has surely crossed it. They have become the prime source of bogus “health news,” promoting every form of medically-related lunacy, from detox to homeopathy to herbal cures for everything from cancer to depression.
Take a look at their latest salvo, entitled, “What They Won’t Tell You: The Sun Is a Full-Spectrum Medicine That Can Heal Cancer.” In it, author Paul Fassa tells us that contrary to conventional wisdom, you are not putting yourself at risk by exposing your skin to the sun; you are giving yourself “healing medicine.” “Truth is,” Fassa writes, “we’ve been systematically lied to about the sun and skin cancer for years… How many know that there is no definitive proof that the sun alone causes skin cancer?”
Other than, of course, this exhaustive report from the National Cancer Institute.
He quotes a “naturopathic doctor,” David Mihalovic, as support: “Those that have attempted to convince the world that the Sun, the Earth’s primary source of energy and life causes cancer, have done so with malicious intent to deceive the masses into retreating from the one thing that can prevent disease.” Righty-o. So let me respond with a quote of my own, from the Wikipedia page on “naturopathy:” “Naturopathic medicine is replete with pseudoscientific, ineffective, unethical, and possibly dangerous practices… Naturopathy lacks an adequate scientific basis, and it is rejected by the medical community… The scope of practice varies widely between jurisdictions, and naturopaths in some unregulated jurisdictions may use the Naturopathic Doctor designation or other titles regardless of level of education.”
Which might seem like an ad hominem, but I don’t really care.
Also See: The makers of Harmonized Water (a.k.a. drinkable sunscreen) do a “clinical trial.” Hilarity ensues (Respectful Insolence)
Breatharianism is a New Age Movement belief that asserts that people don’t need food inorder to live, and only need clean air and sun light.
Now there are a lot of things I have noticed about this belief (mainly the body count) but I have narrowed it down to five main things.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about Breatharianism:
5. It’s a typical New Age Movement belief.
Breatharianism is a belief that is apart of, or at least viewed to be apart of the New Age Movement, and like most beliefs in the New Age Movement it’s mess-mass of several different beliefs all rolled into one.
Practitioners of Breatharianism believe it is possible to live off of prana (which is according to Hindu beliefs is a vital life force energy) and that the best source of this prana is from light and air, and with enough skill and knowledge they can somehow manipulate this prana to the point where they can live off of it forever and never need any food or water.
Another part about Breatharianism is the attainment of spiritual enlightenment, which apparently involves not eating. This sounds an awful lot like fasting, which is something that Abrahamic religions tend to do.
Basically Breatharianism is a combination of certain beliefs from Eastern and Western religions.
Also, like with many other New Age beliefs…
4. It’s Pseudoscience.
While Breatharianism is primarily based from Eastern and Western religious beliefs, everything about it is pseudoscience.
Like all pseudosciences it’s based off of a tiny scientific fact, and that fact is that we do need air and light inorder to live (well, not so much light, but we do need air) and that there is energy all around us… it’s just not prana. This energy is either in the form photonic energy from light sources, or radio waves, or electromagnetic fields from electrical sources, or kinetic energy from air movement and the movement of the Earth.
Yes, there are many forms of energy that surrounds us. Prana is not one of them, and even if it was, it’s very probable that we couldn’t manipulate it with our minds.
The main claim about Breatharianism, as I stated before (and the one that doctors and scientists and people with common sense have a problem with) is that humans can live off of this prana and don’t need to ever eat or drink again, which is impossible.
I suppose with these beliefs it seems that…
3. They make it sound like humans are actually plants.
Now I’m sure that no person alive that claims to practice Breatharianism will actually say that humans are pretty much like plants, but it does sound an awful lot like that’s what they’re trying to get at with their insistence that people only need air and sun light to live, which is something that plants need inorder to live.
Watershed! BBC Now Sees Sun Developing Into A Potent 21st Century Climate Factor As A Real Possibility!
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, but surely, the once diehard the-science-is-settled mainstream media are conceding that the climate debate isn’t over after all – and likely not by a long shot. And if you pay attention, you can see them quietly opening that back door for the quick exit.
The cracking started long ago, and now chips and pieces of the global warming science are starting to fall on the floor around us.
Earlier today the BBC featured a short report “Has the Sun gone to sleep?”
This report looks at the implications of a protracted quiet solar period, potentially lasting decades. Global cooling is turning out to be a real possibility, now even at the BBC!
Today we know a huge body of historical observations shows there is a pronounced relationship between cold winters in Europe and low solar activity. Moreover there’s a huge body of persuasive evidence, comprising mainly proxy datasets, that show the phenomenon is not regional, but global. As much as the BBC tries to play that down, the video holds a couple of big surprises.
Mirrors the Maunder Minimum!
The BBC starts by telling its viewers that the current solar maximum “is eerily quiet“. Solar physicist Professor Richard Harrison says the sun hasn’t been this quiet in 100 years and that the current activity mirrors the activity of the 17th century – the Maunder Minimum, the time of the dreadful Little Ice Age. What we have here is the BBC telling viewers to associate low solar activity with potential cold.
At the 3-minute mark, the BBC reporter asks the key question: “Does a decline in solar activity mean plunging temperatures for decades to come?” For an answer the BBC interviews three scientists.
Could impact the climate – “not fully understood”
Scientist Dr Lucie Green actually thinks that low solar activity could affect the climate, but she isn’t sure “to what extent“, and then even points out that varying amounts of solar radiation impact the globe’s upper atmosphere and that this is something scientists “don’t fully understand“. Therefore, don’t rule anything out.
“Fastest solar decline in 10,000 years”!
At the 4:17 mark, Mike Lockwood says we are witnessing the fastest decline in 10,000 years. He then claims that there’s a close to 20% chance that we may be actually entering a Maunder-like minimum. As one of the scientists who is more than 95% sure that man is now causing the climate change, 20% seems to be a very high figure and so we might suspect Lockwood’s true probability figure to be much higher than 20%.
Note how Lockwood does his best to portray solar impacts on climate as being regional phenomena, affecting the Jet Stream and Europe’s climate, but not the global mean climate. Lockwood here is not being completely forthcoming.
Sun now on par with human activity?
ALSO SEE: Video – Has the Sun gone to sleep?.
For years and years everyone from science fiction writers to scientists have been talking about all of these scenarios and what not about how the world will end (be it by our own hands, or a random act of nature).
While I find many of these scenarios interesting, many of them have a common flaw: they don’t actually end the Earth, just human civilization, and perhaps the human species.
So, how exactly could the Earth REALLY be destroyed (as in cease to exist)?
Well I’ve thought about it, and I’ve come up with about 11 different ways of how it could happen.
So if you don’t mind possibly being scared to death, below are those 11 possible scenarios:
• Planetary impact
We all know the dangers that a direct impact from either a comet or meteor poses to the Earth as it has been the subject of several movies and books, and is a legitimate threat because it has happened before, and it has wiped out entire species and caused major damage to the Earth throughout our planet’s history.
While some people might believe that it would be the end of the world if a large meteor or comet was to hit us today, it wouldn’t be. It might be the end of human civilization, maybe even our species, but the world will still exist… unless something really big, or really heavy was to hit us…
Lets say something nearly the size of the Earth, or bigger, was to hit us, or something very heavy like a neutron star. The fact is that there would be no way for the Earth to survive an impact by something close to, or larger, or heavier than the Earth. Our world would be broken apart and probably turned into an asteroid field by such an impact.
• High speed impact
The amount of damage a object can do not only depends on how large an object is, but also by how fast said object is going.
A one mile wide meteor hitting the Earth would be devastating. If that one mile wide meteor was to hit the Earth while traveling nearly the speed of light, the amount of kinetic energy released from such an impact would rip the Earth apart, and we wouldn’t even know it until it actually happened (assuming we survived long enough) because such an object would most likely be impossible to find, let alone track.
A von Neumann machine is a type of robot first conceived of by John von Neumann (hence the name) that can basically self replicate, and could even manufacture materials on it’s own in order to do so. It would even be possible for it to seek out the resources it needs to manufacture those materials.
While such a machine would be an extraordinary leap forward in terms of robotics and manufacturing, some people fear that one day one of those robots could go haywire (or someone could build one for the purpose of unregulated self replicating) and continue to self replicate without knowing when to shut off, and ultimately end up destroying the Earth a small part at a time until there is nothing left.
While a larger machine might not actually be able to do this before we stopped it, a small machine like a nano-probe might just be able to do this.
• Knocked into the sun
Lets say a very large object (like a star) was to pass through our solar system, what do you think would happen?
The answer is that the Earth would be knocked out of orbit.
After that one of two things would then happen: The Earth would be knocked away from the sun and become a rogue planet (as well as a giant ball of ice), or we would get knocked into the sun and be burnt into nothing.
If you’ve ever seen Star Wars then you probably know what I’m talking about, if you don’t then I’ll explain (although I do still recommend seeing Star Wars).
A laser is a device that creates a focused beam of light that can actually be quiet destructive, and depending on how much energy you put into the laser, it’s destructive power can range from being harmless (unless you look directly into the beam) to being used to take out a vehicle. Taking this in mind it is theoretically possible to build a laser powerful to destroy the Earth.
Fortunately we don’t have to worry about this one right now due to the fact that the total amount of energy produced world wide is no where near enough to power a laser that would be capable of doing so.
- Can Data Flow Help Us Escape the von Neumann Machine? (programming.oreilly.com)
- How Self-Replicating Spacecraft Could Take Over the Galaxy (io9.com)
- Huge Russian meteor was ‘a wake-up call for humanity’ (itv.com)
- Risk of Meteors Smashing Into Earth Bigger Than Thought (sorendreier.com)