7.22.2014

A Roundup of MH17 Conspiracy Theories

Absolutely nobody should be surprised that conspiracy theories and bad reporting regarding the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 tragedy sprang up almost as soon as the plane went down. And with complicated international politics at play, the conspiracies, misinformation and hoaxes came fast and furious.

At this point, the most widely accepted theory is that Russian paramilitary militiamen in occupied eastern Ukraine, irregulars trained and armed by Vladimir Putin’s government, shot down the plane with a Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missile system because they thought it was a Ukrainian transport jet. Intercepted phone calls, eyewitness accounts, investigative journalism and signals intelligence all corroborate this story.

Of course, this is the “official story.” And as all dedicated Skeptoid readers know, the “official story” is not the one everyone believes. So legions of dedicated truthers are out there “doing their research” because they want us sheeple to “think” and “wake up” to what “they” are really doing. Most of their theories have nothing substantial to back them up. A few are just silly. But someone out there believes every single one of them. And so I’ll examine a few of the most interesting ones. / read more…

7.20.2014

Grounding 2: They Are Still Trying To Fool You

[Author's note: I made a couple of edits to clarify a couple of the science points. I want to acknowledge the changes, but I am removing or changing a couple of phrases. I would normally just use strike-through text, but it looks messy in this post so I am just making the edits instead.]

I feel pretty famous today. Apparently, my blog post regarding the pseudoscience of grounding did indeed make it into the documentary film The Grounded 2 (warning: woo found at this site). Steve Kroschel, the filmmaker, did have a conversation with me in the comments section of the blog in which he defended grounding. He did so mostly by moving the goalposts. Each time I refuted one of his claims, he would either change the claim or move on to the next. Eventually, the same claims I refuted would come back, and I would reference my previous comments. We went around for a long time, until Steve stopped commenting after accusing me of lying.

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7.19.2014

Something Fishy About Omega-3 Supplements

Fish oil capsules. Via Wikimedia.

The Huffington Post recently published an article by Dr. Neal Barnard, MD. It is titled “New Study explodes the Eskimo Myth” and it makes some very salient points about the development of the supplement fish oil, its historical roots, and subsequent evaluations of its benefits. This was a pleasure to read—a rare science-based examination by the Huffington Post. Dr. Barnard points out that the original conclusions from investigating fish oil appear to be tainted by researcher error. The seminal 1976 survey  had demonstrated abnormally low rates of heart disease among Inuit despite a high fat diet. But further research has shown that the original study was in fact poorly done and did not properly evaluate the true health history of the Inuit. A recent study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology reviewed the original 1976 research and outlined its major flaws. In  2003 and 2009  follow-up studies demonstrated higher levels of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit peoples, essentially invalidating the hypotheses. If Inuit diets are not cardio-protective what does that say about diets high in Omega-3 fatty acids overall? What does this mean to fish oil supplementation?

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7.14.2014

Abe Recommends: Magnets

My brother Abe sends me a lot of cool videos and articles about science: recent research, new inventions, educational materials, or the work of grad students who are sharing presentations of their findings on YouTube. This week he sent me this great video, explaining why iron is magnetic and how magnetic materials work, which actually has a surprising explanation:

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7.11.2014

Is Science Close-Minded?

I’ve been frequently labelled “close-minded.” Usually the speaker (or writer) isn’t really targeting me. What they seem to mean is that “scientists are closed minded, and so are you people that worship them,” to only slightly paraphrase such sentiments. As you can imagine, this is after I or a friend has said that psychics or acupuncture or homeopathy or bigfoot or ghosts have what you might quantify as a dearth of evidence in support. But science is not close-minded. Far from it.
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7.10.2014

The London Hammer: An Object Out of Time?

The London Hammer

The London Hammer. Via Wikimedia.

An old story regarding a hammer found encased within rock has recently resurfaced. It came to us in a question: is this hammer, the London Hammer, an example of an out of place artifact (OOPart) that calls into question geology, archeology, and the natural history of the Earth? Let’s take a look. / read more…

7.7.2014

Bigfoot of the Gaps

I’m sure that you have all heard about the Royal Society paper dismissing alleged bigfoot and yeti DNA evidence as being from common animals, right? If not, NatGeo has a pretty good write-up about it. Or, you could go read the paper in its entirety here. Or, heck, just look at this nifty chart from the study:

bigfoot chart

Serows and tapirs and bears, oh my! But no bigfoots, no yetis, and no almasties among them. For skeptics, of course, this is both not surprising and a small victory for science over pseudoscience. I suspected, however, that this study would do nothing to silence the faithful.

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7.6.2014

The Face on Mars has a Peruvian Cousin

Some interesting links came in over the Skeptoid transom the other day, and they provide a good opportunity to apply a little healthy skepticism as well as learn about an interesting corner of the world.

A web article published by the Centro de Investigaciones Atómicas (Atomic Research Center) of Lima, Peru, tells of some remarkably huge images apparently carved into the mountains near Caral, Peru. For those who don’t read Spanish, the gist is that a man named Sixtilio Dalmau was surprised to discover several super-sized images in the hills. This, for example, is dubbed “The Sleeping Warrior,” and measures an impressive 300 meters on a side.

guerrerodormidobig / read more…

Independence Day Trivia

In Skeptoid fashion I thought I would celebrate the 4th of July Holiday in the United States with a quick list of some “facts” surrounding the history of the holiday. Some will be true, some are false, but all are widely recognized.

For Skeptoid readers unfamiliar with the holiday (via Wikipedia):

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now officially known as the United Kingdom). Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

The oldest continuously held 4th of July parade in Bristol, RI. Via wikimedia.

Let’s Begin: / read more…

7.3.2014

“Hot Convict” Jeremy Meeks Was Not Arrested for Sex Slave Trafficking

On June 18, 2014, the Stockton, California Police Department posted a photo of Jeremy Meeks on Facebook. Meeks is a local convict who was arrested on five weapons charges and one gang-related charge. The photograph attracted over 50,000 likes within a day, inspiring the twitter hashtag #FelonCrushFriday along with a slew of “hot convict” memes. Meeks gained a $30,000 modelling contract and a successful online drive to raise bail money.

Meeks’s popularity on social media has inspired a backlash that prolonged Meeks Mania, and one auteur in the art of memes added his own charges to Meeks’s rapsheet: trafficking sex slaves and not being Marine Kyle Carpenter.

[Photos of Jeremy Meeks and Kyle Carpenter] “The first scumbag was arrested in Stockton, CA for armed robbery and parole violations, stemming from a string of gang-related activities, including trafficking sex slaves. Hundreds of women are talking about how sexy he is and if you start typing his name in Google, it’s the first one up. The second man is Kyle Carpenter, a Marine recently awarded the Medal of Honor, for jumping on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow Marines. Percisely (sic) zero women are talking about him. You have to get through half of his last name before he shows up on Google.”

Nice try, Kyle, we knew it was you all along. Photo from EliteDaily.com.

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