Saturday, May 29, 2010
Many ships have vanished in the Bermuda Triangle since the early 1800s and many planes since the early 1900s. Whether or not one believes in the "Bermuda Triangle conspiracy", hundreds of reports have been filed about ships and planes disappearing without a trace when passing through the Bermuda Triangle. According the U.S. Navy FAQ page on the Bermuda Triangle, a ship called USS Cyclops was lost including 306 passengers and crew members without a trace on March 3rd 1918. Although there is no justification for the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, many people including the Coast Guard, Physicists and other scientists have created their own theories on the Bermuda Triangle.
Personally, I don't know how or why these air and water vessels have disappeared for centuries, and I don't think anyone will ever know the truth. As with any other occurences in the past, every person believes what they want to believe and it seems that there will never be a true explanation for the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. I do know that one day, though, I would like to pass through the Bermuda Triangle and see if I ever come home!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
In the book they mentioned the website promoting trepanation, www.trepan.com, which I was very eager to look at. Since trepanation was mentioned in the book under examples of pseudoscience we know this is a good illustration, but I want to go a little further into it. The International Trepanation Advocacy Group website stated that the volunteers of a study who received holes in their head were all satisfied with the results, except they noted that “the data that we were able to collect regarding the scientifically verifiable changes produced by making a skull opening was inconclusive. The MRI methods used were not sufficient to show any changes in blood flow and we discontinued the pilot study until such a time that the methods of observing any changes produced could be improved”. This was my first “pseudoscience red flag”. I think that it was convenient that they could mention the patients were satisfied with their trepanation, but the actual scientific results were inconclusive. This is a good example of emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation like mentioned in the book. I also found it very interesting that the websites founder and senior director is Peter Halvorson, whose claim to fame is a successful self-trepanation some thirty odd years ago. This is an instance of overreliance on testimonials and personal experience. Who is to say that for some other reason Peter’s new outlook on life didn’t come from any number of other reasons, or that the mere idea of the surgery, like a placebo, cured his depression? This is why scientific data is very important, why there needs to be control groups and not just patients receiving the treatment. This was another downfall to their attempt at sound evidence, they tested fifteen patients who all received burr holes in their head. They have no one to compare this too, no control group that provides them with proof to say that the holes actually led them to be satisfied.
There certainly is a lot of information out there to lead people to believe that this is the truth, but none of it is actual scientific fact. I also found trepanation to be on Discovery.com’s “Top 10 Cures That Didn’t Work”. Trepanation came in at number three and was beat out by radium water and exorcism, so I definitely think they would be interesting topics to look into further.
Apparently, there are many different events that will or are suppose to take place on this Doomsday. One is that the Great Polar Shift will occur. This is meant to make the Earth's Poles to do a 120 degree flip causing the North Pole to point South and the South Pole to point North. The second event is the very rare alignment of the Earth and Venus, Venus Transit. The third is that the Mayan Calendar that has been proven to be very accurate. Lastly, a dwarf planet, Planet X or Nibiru or Eris, that is threatening to collide with the Earth.
According to NASA this is just another Y2k scare. The Mayans initially predicted a world ending catastrophe to occur in May 2003, but when nothing of the sort happened, they moved the Doomsday date to December 2012. NASA claims that a rotation reversal of the Earth is impossible, and while a magnetic reversal can take place, it is very unlikely to happen in the next few 1000 years. NASA stated, "the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then just as your calendar begins again on January 1, another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar."
So will we live to see the sun rise on December 23, 2012?? NASA seems to lean towards a yes, unless of course it is raining.
We have all heard the legend of a penny being thrown from a high place and landing on someones head can kill them. Every area of the world has their "place" in the US it's thrown off the Empire State building or Sears Tower, in France it's the Eiffel Tower, and so on. Yet we have never heard of someone actually dieing or for that matter ever being hurt by a penny from these places. Are people just too scared to try? Most people believe this myth and when 20/20 investigated and attempted to run an experiment the buildings wouldn't let them in fear of someone getting seriously injured. The truth is when a penny is thrown from a height it is unable to reach terminal velocity because of its weight and shape. Therefore it is more like a sail catching the wind. A penny is more comparable to a leaf falling off a tree than a dangerous piece of metal falling from the sky. Something with a more aerodynamic shape and a little more weight could potentially hurt someone. But not a penny.
This is the 20/20 experiment that clears up the myth in a short explanation
It may take more than diet and exercise to fight belly fat
Discover a natural anti-stress, mood-elevating pill that can positively alter a factor associated with the accumulation of stress-related belly fat.*
On May 21, 2010, Ali Gorman, R.N. of WPVI Channel 6 News “Banishing Belly Fat” discusses such supplements and their effects. Her interview with Dr. Daniel Monti of Jefferson University Hospital's Integrative Medicine revealed that fat burning supplements may contain an ingredient called magnolia bark extract which may cause a “calming effect”, but this ingredient has not been proven to decrease cortisol and lead to weight loss. Why is a calming effect so important, studies have shown that stress can be a leading cause in “belly fat”.
Relacore is one of the leading “fat burning” supplements and are marketing their product as an effective way to burn away the fat produced by stress. Relacore’s website: http://www.relacore.com/ even addresses the “research behind Relacore” but provides no factual data only key phrases as “it stands to reason that a scientifically sound approach to reducing cortisol production in the body is to reduce stress” and “in conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise program, Relacore’s proprietary compounds help reduct the stress…”
Can people actually talk to pets? Sonya Fitzpatrick the self proclaimed pet psychic from the Animal Planet's series "The Pet Psychic" believes that she has the ability to speak to a variety of pets. The series "The Pet Psychic" has a large fan base and many viewers are convinced that Sonya Fitzpatrick can actually speak to animals. A veterinarian who was visited by Sonya Fitzpatrick and was amazed. "I was the biggest skeptic. I thought how do I explain this to my colleagues, but there is something there. I can't explain it. Sonya said things that she wouldn't have known otherwise. We went out of our way." Lee the veterinarian said.
Cam only one person have the ability to discover what an animal or a human being is thinking? Research shows that there is not proven data that a person can read an other's thoughts, let alone the thoughts of animals.
Sonya Fitzpatrick described a cat named Zelda owned by a 18-year-old girl name Cori without supposedly seeing the cat first. Perhaps Fitzpartick guessed the cat's appearance or maybe she snuck a glimpse. Sonya Fitzpatrick visited the Cobridge family's pet lynx and the lynx supposedly told her that it "would not hurt her, but it would swat at her". There can be no evidence that the lynx actually spoke to Sonya Fitzpatrick. It may be a coincidence that the lynx swated at the exact same moment that Fitzpatrick mentioned it would, or maybe it is just magic for the television cameras. Fitzpatrick claims to "become the animal." She also decribes that the reason she can talk to animals as "an energy that flows between her and the animal via the Earth's magnetic field."
If the animals could talk I believe that they would think that Sonya Fitzpatrick's show may just be another gimick.
By Lauren Raddi
The book, Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, holds in chapter 2 a look into "The Mozart Effect." I found this chapter particularly interesting because, through time and repetition, I too became a firm believer in this myth. The Mozart Effect developed when the pseudoscientific industry utilized the positive effect of classical music on spatial reasoning by broadening the effects to include the ability to improve the intelligence of children, unlocking one's creative spirit, and healing one's body.
Steele refutes this theory by referencing a few follow up experiments done after Rauscher and Shaw's initial one. He spoke about an experiment done by Carstens and colleagues in 1995 where they had students listen to the Mozart sonata and then answer 64 multiple choice questions from the Minnesota Paper Form Board Test. Carstens found no difference between the Mozart group and a control group who meditated in silence. He also referenced a second study done by Newman and colleagues where they increased the number of participants to increase the chances of finding a significant effect, yet they still found none. He concludes by talking about his own experiment where he too did not
find a Mozart effect.
I found this chapter interesting because I'm very interested in music and am aware of its ability to influence our moods and behaviors. Personally, there's nothing better than relaxing after a long and stressful day and melting away to the sounds of Bob Dylan. When I first heard of this "Mozart effect" I immediately believed it (Which is strange because I'm normally very skeptical), and thought that when I had children of my own I would start them off with some Mozart and other classical tunes. I found the results of Steele's research very informative. He concluded that people who listened to Mozart did just about the same if not worse than people who meditated in silence and those who listened to other music. Although the Mozart effect turned out to be nonexistent, there was an important lesson learned. This chapter shows how important the scientific method is when dealing with issues in psychology. It was through replication of the experiment that we learned that an effect doesn't exist, and we can confidently throw the Mozart effect theory out the window.
References: Lawson, Timothy J. Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.
Uppersaddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. , 2007. Print.
Many people have heard of Nostradamus and his prophecies of recent horrible events such as the Great Fire of London, the rise of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, and most notably the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Take note of the following excerpt:
At forty-five degrees the sky will burn,
Fire to approach the great new city:
In an instant a great scattered flame will leap up,
When one will want to demand proof of the Normans.
This supposedly describes the 9/11 attacks especially with “Fire to approach the great new city”. It sounds strikingly similar to the terrorist attacks. However, there seems to be many holes in the prediction. As http://www.nostradamus.org writes that “New York is 40 43' degrees north of the equator so that wouldn't match.” 45 degrees could be an angle or temperature and fire to a new city could point to many different events as fire or flame is a negative event. A new city could mean any newly built or rebuilt city or any city that has the word “New” in it in the world. What does the Normans have to do with the 9/11 attacks?
I have to admit that after reading the excerpt from his book it seems strikingly similar, but as our book tells us he uses a writing style of being very vague with his predictions and always focusing on the negative. He wrote 942 four line prophecies down in his book and with all of them negative and vague at least one will point to an event that has happened. War is a very common negative event and is very common in his writings. People tend to seek out answers to events that they do not understand and will find answers in places that may not actually contain them. They want answers so they find them one way or another. Postdiction or retroactive clairvoyance is defined as an effect of hindsight bias that explains claimed predictions of significant events, such as plane crashes and natural disasters. So essentially people interpret things how they want to interpret things especially in times of stress or fear.
Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal
In this day and time, it seems as some scientists put it, to be considered the new frontier of medicine. So all in all, this seems like a topic to keep an eye on in the near future. We know they are there, now how do we use them.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I have to say, I’ve always been fascinated by near death experiences. What makes near death experiences so remarkable to me is the absolute certainty these people have that they have indeed traveled to “the other side”. The experience is often so vivid and clear that they are sure they aren’t dreaming. Although NDEs can vary from person to person, there are a number of similarities. The feeling of leaving or floating above the body, bright lights, tunnels, and indescribable peace are all associated with NDEs. Many people claim near death experiences are proof that life after death exists, but scientists found there are possible explanations for NDE phenomena.
Although the near death experience isn’t fully explainable, it is thought that NDEs are hallucinations that originate from physiological changes in the brain, mainly the lack of oxygen. The feeling of being in a tunnel heading towards light can be attributed to retinal ischemia. Retinal ischemia causes blindness first in the peripheral vision, while the central vision remains intact, creating a tunnel effect. Another explanation for the similarities between NDEs is we all have similar brain biology, therefore all have similar sensations and experiences during NDEs.
Although these scientific explanations offer some answers for what creates near death experiences, they are still widely regarded as unexplainable. I recently saw a documentary on the Discovery Channel called “I Was Dead” that interviewed people who claimed to have had a near death experience. I found a clip of one of the people they interviewed on the Discovery Channel website.
When most people hear the phrase “Friday the 13th,” they think of the horror flick featuring the hockey mask clad serial killer who is out to brutally take the lives of college co-eds. They may become more likely to rent a scary movie or play with a Ouija board embracing the mindset that the day itself will help set a creepy mood. Others, however, may get an eerie chill inside of them. They may refrain from doing normal things in their daily routines in fear of this dreadful day bringing harm. The latter may suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia: The actual fear of Friday the 13th. It is said that approximately 8% of Americans suffer from this phobia. Psychological studies, however, say that people who believe they are unlucky are more likely to believe in bad luck superstitions. If you fear one particular day so much that you believe something terrible will definitely happen, the likelihood is that you will talk yourself into this notion and trouble will follow.
According to many historians, the number 13 has a few different roots. The oldest theory leads back to primitive man and the act of counting. Since he has 10 fingers to count on and 2 feet equaling 12 units, he could count no further, therefore making anything beyond 12 a mystery. Hence, superstition. Another theory dates back to the ancient Romans where witches gathered in groups of 12, the 13th was considered to be the devil. The biblical reference to the unlucky number 13 says that the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper was Judas, who betrayed Jesus. So depending on the historian you ask, there are many explanations for this urban legend. The world will never know if this fateful date truly brings evil or if bad occurrences are coincidence. After reading all about this folklore, I don’t think it makes a difference whether you stay home on this “hellish” day or set your next flight to Europe on the Friday the 13th.
Astrology is one of the oldest, religious ideas and concepts known still used today. For nearly 2000 years, it was believed that your whole life would be planned out for you at birth. Simply by the position of the moon, sun, planets, and Zodiac your entire personality, temper, and even as much of who your mate should be in life is predetermined.
Astrology is still used today. There are many people who believe is using astrology such as reading their horoscope daily. It remains popular despite their controversies. Newspapers still hold a section in their newspapers, restaurant menus,books, Internet search engines such as yahoo, daily apps on IPhone all accept astrology. Clearly if there was not a demand astrology believe would not have lasted as long as it has. There are many people that like the idea that you can somehow make sense or explain why they had the day that they did or if they need encouragement for the next day, some want to believe in the higher power. Psychologically, this may be some of the reasons of why astrology hung around for so long.
Since there are no scientific evidence that astrology does work, it is not a real science but rather in the category of pseudoscience. Experiments would be necessary to make a claim that astrology theories actually are true which would be impossible to perform. Relationships between these claims with people's personalities and traits and temperament, however, there has not been any significant relationships found true.
Regardless of the truth behind astrology, I admit that once in a while I like to read my horoscope and I have felt a little excited when I read that something good is about the come my way. Here is a link to check out your own horoscope...good luck :)
It is safe to say that most people are well aware of the possible pending misfortune when crossing paths with a black cat. When analyzing this Old Wive's Tale, one must ask one's self, why cats? And what difference does it make whether or not they are black? Felines were not alway sthe victims of bad publicity. In ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred animals. When a family's cat passeed away, the furry feline was given a proper Egyptian burial, which included the mummification of the cat's remains. However, by the 17th century, cats were viewed as evil creatures and linked to the practice of witchcraft. During this time period, many people gathered cats along with other animals and burned tem in order to protect their homes from disasters, such as fire. Today, there are many beliefs about possible encounters with black cats, and the horrors that may follow thereafter. Some omens associated with black cats include meeting a black cat early in the morning, having a black cat turn its back on you, shooing a black cat away from one's property, and walking under a ladder after a black cat has already done so.
Bad luck and black cats are linked by an individuals own personal experience. For example, if an individual crosses paths with a black cat, then shortly after crashes their car, they may associate the accident with the cat and as a result, the cat bcomes an omen of bad luck. This belief is an example of an illusory correlatin. Illusory correlations occur when our normal cognitive process searces for correlations or relationships between events. So, what does this mean for the black cat superstition? It means that it is merely a superstition. An encounter with a black cat does not automatically damn a person with misfortune, neither does it grace a person with good luck. The experience following the encounter with a black cat are purely chance and in no way connected to the encounter. The relationship is based solely on one's personal experience and thought process.
Lawson, Timothy J. (2007). Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: Readings for General Psychology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Surely, all of us have worried about lost ions!
I was drawn to the Q-Ray because my mother (who isn’t the brightest crayon in the box) got me a similar sounding copper bracelet for this past Christmas. It came in a little box with a slip of paper that, now thinking about it, sounded suspiciously familiar to the Q-Ray description. The copper bracelet my mom got me was very similar to this one on the Pyramid Collection website: http://www.pyramidcollection.com/itemdy00.asp?ID=1,622&GEN1=Bracelets+%26+Cuffs&T1=P16023&dispRow=269&srccode= . The Pyramid Collection website claims that this copper bracelet can be worn to “alleviate symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism, even tendonitis” (www.pyramidcollection.com.) The bracelet I got also promised to prevent the common cold.
I’m sure you’re begging the question: So does this bracelet work?!
Well! I can tell you, as someone who doesn’t usually get sick that often in the wintery months, I didn’t notice a difference. I don’t have arthritis, rheumatism, or tendonitis, and I wore the bracelet on my right hand (I’m left-handed.) I did notice, however, that the copper (after about 2-3 months) started to turn my wrist green. That’s right people, like those craptastic rings you get in 25 cent vending machines, my entire right wrist was a forest green. I took the bracelet off and surprisingly, I had quite a few colds after. However, I don’t believe the events to be connected. I work with little kids so I’m susceptible to a lot of a germs (I blame them for any and all colds. Not that I don't like them, they're just.. Germy.)
When we were children, our parents used to warn us not to swallow our gum. Why? Because they insisted it would stay in your system for 7 years because gum is indigestible. We all believed this, and tried our best to follow this warning, for fear of swallowing something that could not be digested! It turns out there is actually no medical evidence to back up this famous rumor, and that most people are misinterpreting the meaning of the term “indigestible.”
Although gum can’t technically be digested, that doesn’t mean it cannot pass through the digestive system like everything else a person swallows. Since gum can be made up of any number of natural or synthetic elastomers (rubber-like materials), it is essentially “immune to the digestive process,” and the body is not able to do much with the rubbery substance (except maybe break down some of the sugars). It passes through the body like everything else, but simply stays in the form that it came down in (it’s a little bit gross but it’s the truth)! It may take a little longer than other foods, but eventually the natural digestive process takes care of it.
The origin of the folklore is unknown, even despite extensive research to find its beginning. What is astounding is that although the origin of this rumor is unknown, it is still universally recognized; perhaps most people don’t feel the need to know the sources of such entertaining ideas. It seems to me that it is human nature to embrace ideas that bring a sense of mystery, much like the 7 years theory does. Where does the gum go? Does it get stuck? Can it be a potential health hazard? It becomes a mystery in itself, and I think people are really attracted to that. People have chewed gum for centuries (going all the way back to chewing on the resin of trees!) and the 7 years theory has most definitely survived a long road of speculation.