I make it a point to make sure not to wall myself off from people who believe differently than I do. I don't want to only listen to fall into the trap of listening only within the bounds of an echo chamber of opinions. I've gotten several invitations to participate in online discussions with believers in the Ancient Aliens theory, and I've taken some part in those, though I've gotten busy and haven't been able to devote as much time to the endeavour as I'd like to.
In any case, I thought it would be interesting to share some of my conversations here. Most recently, I was emailed by an individual who was commenting about my article on mercury vortex engines. Regarding the alleged TR-3B machine (which, as I've said, is really cool), he had this to say:
I Have recently been fascinated by articles
about the Mercury plasma accelerator or Magnetic field disruptor in the
Air Force's black ops air ship dubbed the TR-3B Astra. I definitely
think there is a cover up in progress! "ALL" of the The video of the Air
ship that WAS available has mysteriously been deleted from the web.
Including one particular clip that showed the craft emit the tell-tale
orb of light that emanates from a particle accelerator, completely
engulf the craft and then suddenly disappears in blinding flash. The
distinct green mercury plasma spectrum color was present during the
video as well.......HMMmmm!?!?
Basically, he's alleging that there was such a video available, but it's mysteriously disappeared without a trace from the Internet. This is certainly a remarkable claim indeed... but I can't make anything of it without even any evidence that such a video ever existed. I wrote back to him:
One of the questions discussed was that of whether magic tricks should be revealed in order to show people how they can be fooled. They didn't really resolve the issue, and the panel wasn't set up to really have a good argument about that. But some interesting points were raised and it's been going through my mind.
James Randi is a known proponent of showing people the trick but not telling them how it's done. He believes that this is the best way to convince people that they can be fooled. He believes that telling people the trick will leave them overconfident in cases where con men use a different method.
This is a valid concern. In the panel they used the term "half smart" in order to describe the phenomenon. If we're trying to spread critical thinking, we don't want to leave people only half smart, overconfident and unprepared for different methods than the one they've been told about. But I think there's more to this issue that needs to be considered.
It amazes me that this show isn't known more widely in the skeptical community. Mystery Hunters is a Canadian young viewers show dealing with the paranormal, but with an actual focus on proper investigation and looking for alternative answers.
I'd say that this is exactly the type of programming that we need to be encouraging!
This is a segment from a Canadian science news show from back in February of 2009 regarding Obama's first visit to Canada as president.
I wanted to talk about this because it seems to me like a case where somebody builds himself up as an expert on something when there's really not a whole lot verifiable to what he's saying.
Perhaps there's something to the suggestion that Obama's body language indicates a take-charge type of personality. I can see that. The extra directional gestures he makes do kind of look as though he's trying to be in complete control of the situation.
But what about him jogging down the stairs? Is that really a statement about Canada's relationship with the U.S.? That seems to be really reaching to me. Those were a lot of stairs, and Obama's a busy man!
And what about how they walked between those columns? Was Harper's being off center really a statement about the balance of power? I kind of doubt it. The stairs they walked up were off center with the columns, and they just had to adjust to that a little bit awkwardly.
If you ask me, this guy's just spitballing and coming up with what we expect to hear based on what he already knows of the political situation.
This is a great illustration of how simple techniques can be used to manipulate remarkably heavy stones. In my last blog entry I discussed how it was possible to move incredibly heavy blocks around if you have enough manpower, and it's certainly the case that ancient people made use of vast manpower in order to move large stones.
But here's a man moving incredibly heavy blocks all by himself - and for a finale he raises a close to 9 ton block by himself using nothing but simple tools. I'd like to see those who say that building the pyramids was impossible without alien help respond to this:
This video is particularly funny when you remember the quote by stone sculptor Roger Hopkins:
This stone came off of a
project in Palm Springs, where they had one of the largest excavators
they could rent. They had trouble loading it into the
truck. It's well in excess of five tons, ten thousand
pounds. Small in megalithic terms, but basically what we can
handle with modern
Hopkins, your big powerful excavator just got it's ass handed to it by a guy with some rocks and sticks!
My thanks to Narpak from Reddit for calling attention to this remarkable video.
My investigations of the claims of aspartame fear mongering started with this analysis of a video provided to me by my friend Jeff, which detailed the outlandish claims of one Mr. Ron Dodge. The next video that Jeff provided me isn't quite as outlandish, but this one may have a greater impact since it's a news story that reaches far more people.
Courtesy of YouTube, here's a video, including some commentary at the beginning, of a Fox News report on the alleged dangers of Aspartame:
It sounds scary, right? All those people saying that aspartame is bad for you.... I would have to be a dumbass to argue against the weight of this evidence!
In an earlier post, I mentioned my disagreement with my friend Jeff regarding Aspartame. It's one of those very in-depth topic where proponents of Aspartame as poison deluge you with tons of data. I plan on tackling a good chunk of that data in this blog, but it's going to have to be broken up into multiple posts.
In this post, I want to analyze a video that Jeff sent me in order to convince me of the dangers of Aspartame. This is an interview with a man by the name of Ron Dodge, who believes that Aspartame caused the cancer that killed his wife:
I want to say right up front that my heart goes out to Mr. Dodge. I don't believe that you can watch this video without feeling for this man's pain. He lost somebody very important to him, and he's having trouble accepting that it could be due to something as random and meaningless as just the luck of the draw.
But that doesn't change the fact that he's wrong. I'm going to tackle each of Mr. Dodge's claims head on, and I will even ridicule some of them. But I will not ridicule this man's pain, nor will I have anything negative to say about the dedication he feels towards his wife's memory. I don't wish his anguish on anybody.
With that important note out of the way, let's analyze Mr. Dodge's claims that were made during the course of this video:
As a Canadian, I'm sorely disappointed in this clip that I recorded from the Weather Network a few weeks ago:
For a news network that has put out many segments relating to bona fide useful health tips (click here for videos), a piece like this can definitely give people the wrong impression. I realize that they couched their language in such a way as to avoid giving this woman's views an outright endorsement, but that's not going to cut it. Just making this piece at all is completely inappropriate, and will give people the impression that the weather network is okay with this kind of thing.
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