Conspiracy theories hit you fast and hard with all sorts of facts and inconsistencies that the theorists believe all point to one inevitable conclusion. When I hear this, I recognize the hallmarks of anomaly hunting.
But what is anomaly hunting? I throw the term out there, but it's one of those concepts that's hard to explain to people in ways that hammers home what it is and why it's a form of poor reasoning.
There's an article that illustrates the concept much better than any technical description that I could give, and it's titled Uncomfortable Questions: Was The Death Star Attack An Inside Job?
It's basically taking the well known story line of Star Wars and doing anomaly hunting on it, finding "connections" to draw their conclusions that the destruction of the Death Star was, in fact, an inside job.
For example, isn't it strange that the Grand Moff Tarkin didn't deploy any of the station's TIE fighters until the "rebels" were in position and it was too late, even though he had plenty of opportunity foil their plans? Isn't it strange that Darth Vader was conveniently outside of the Death Star when it exploded, when there was absolutely no reason for it? Don't you find it odd that the droids who supposedly delivered the information that brought down the Death Star were once owned by Darth Vader himself? And what of these reports that the rebel who blew up the Death Star was actually Darth Vader's son!
And there's plenty more "evidence" that the destruction of the Death Star was, in fact, an inside job. Read the article and see if you don't agree that this is just the type of anomaly hunting that conspiracy theorists do to come to conclusions that don't, in fact, actually represent what really happened.
, ancient alien theory
I just came across this fascinating article when looking up the claim that Alexander The Great encountered a group of UFO's:http://deliyannis.blogspot.com/2009/11/alexander-great-and-ufos.html
The story is that Alexander came across a group of "flying shields" during the siege of Tyre. The story apparently originated with Frank Edwards, who I've run across before when looking for the source of a story about a psychic detective
The guy never bothered to list any of his sources, and I get the feeling that at least half the time he just pulled stuff out of thin air. That certainly seems to be the case here, because there's absolutely no historical account that backs up Edwards' story as he described it.
It still amazes me how many of the stories and claims that I've looked into are based on absolutely nothing. When I first started writing this blog I expected that most such stories would at least have some kernel of verifiable truth that has been taken out of context and exaggerated beyond all recognition.
But contrary to my naive expectations, it seems like a good deal of the time, perhaps even most of the time, there's just nothing there. Somebody pulled the story right out of thin air, and that's all there is too it.
It makes the whole endeavour just a little bit anti-climactic. But I guess that's the way things go.
Today I want to talk to you about being abducted by aliens for fun and profit!
This is a fun, tongue-in-cheek book about the flying saucer phenomenon by Professor Solomon available as a free download
online. Professor Solomon has figured out the reason that aliens are visiting us and can tell you the best way to enjoy your abduction experience.
And he's set up a live webcam on an alien ship to record his abduction adventure. If you're lucky, maybe you'll catch a glimpse of him cavorting with an alien:
I regularly check my hits from Google searches, and through that I found out that I'm in the #2 spot for the search term: "Dr. Algund Eenboom" crazy
- in case you don't remember, Eenboom is one of the talking heads from the Ancient Aliens series that I've been analyzing.
I took a look at the #1 result, which came from a website called Poffy The Cucumber's Movie Mania. The author of the article, Jon Dunmore, happens to actually be a friend of Giorgio Tsoukalos (that guy's a riot!), and does an excellent review of the Ancient Aliens series
. He has really good style, and I love the way he writes:
|ANCIENT ALIENS is - like all von Däniken's Chariots
of the Gods books - speculative fiction masquerading as hard
science. Each of the scores of segments in this 5-part series starts off
promising, knowledge dripping like blond ambrosia off naked Valkyrie
shoulders, and then - oil slicked into a gutter of disinformation with
red herrings, straw man arguments and narrators with scary voices. |
I wish I could write like that.
Take a look, it's worth the read!
I thought I should mention here one of my favourite blogs, Skeptic North
. This is a Canadian blog on science and skepticism. Back in January they accepted one of my articles
as a guest post
As a Canadian, I enjoy having a Canadian source for my skeptical news and analysis. They have a very good staff of regular contributors, and a weekly segment of skeptical fails and wins from the media.
Check them out!
I want to recommend a really good read about the scientific practice of medicine. It's called Testing Treatments by Imogen Evans, Hazel Thornton, and Iain Chalmers. It's available as a free download
online, so if you're interested, there's no excuse not to get it.
Health and medicine is one of those fields where I feel that people could definitely benefit from better science based thinking. I've complained in the past about how fuzzy and woo-ish this subject can get, even within the field of medicine itself.
Good books on the science of medicine are, I believe, something we should endeavour to read so that we can wrap our minds around the issues of medicine and gain a firmer understanding of how our bodies actually work.
I found this blog, Swallowing The Camel
, while doing research on the psychic detective Arthur Price Roberts
. The author of the blog is a fellow Canadian, who describes herself as a "30ish housefrau".
She wasn't able to find out any more about Roberts than I was, but she didn't dwell on it so that probably makes her smarter than me.
Her goal is to examine "hoaxes, scams, controversies, rumours, schemes, bizarre
ideas, bogus products, disinformation, misinformation, impractical
jokes, literary fraud, and anything else that smells bad."
I found some very interesting articles, and spent some time reading them. Check out her list of the world's weirdest conspiracy theories. Good stuff!
I'd like to plug a blog that I've been reading for a little while, Friend Of Reason
by Christian Polson-Brown. He tends to write about scientific issues that interest him, but he also does a bit of debunking and skeptical advocacy.
I found his blog on another forum, while I was specifically looking for other small time blogs to read. I love finding good resources which are not yet one of the popular big names.I noticed that Polson-Brown's experience with blogging had some similarities to mine, and joked with him that he was the Australian version of me.
Surprisingly, he didn't take offense at that.
Anyway, he writes about interesting subjects. He's a student of Conservation Biology, and often writes on related topics. Recommended reading if you share these interests.