Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why People Believe Weird Things

Michael Shermer is an intelligent and experienced writer when it comes to all things science.  He is not only a writer, but also a science historian, but most of all, a skeptic. Skeptics are defined as ones who question, or have a questioning attitude toward, knowledge facts, or any opinion stated as fact.  Science skeptics are just that: skeptics of things related to science.  Michael Shermer is the chief editor of Skeptic magazine, a publication focusing on refuting pseudoscience and uncovering the truths behind fakers, quacks, and illusionists, or those who just don't have their facts straight.  He is also the founder of the Skeptics Society.  He has also been writing for Scientific American, with his own "skeptic" column.

Why People Believe Weird Things is a great read.  In the beginning of the book, Shermer talks about his own beliefs.  He was raised as a Fundamentalist Christian Baptist, but began questioning his own beliefs in college.  He first converted to Deism, which focuses on straying away from organized religion.  Deists believe that you only need to focus on nature and the natural world to determine that a higher creator made our universe.  He then became interested in New Age Mysticism.  The New Age movement focused on joining Eastern and Western spiritualities, combined with psychology, parapsychology, physics, and holistic health/healing.  

In the second part of the book, Shermer focuses on thinking on a paranormal level.  He talks of the stereotypical person who believes paranormal facts, and other pseudoscientific knowledge.  He points out that they are quick to believe facts that promote their own opinions and expectations, yet, refute or choose not research any information that goes against what they believe in, concerning specific pseudoscientific information.  He goes into talking about why people believe things without hard evidence, which we talked about in lecture.  

Part three of the book didn't really hold my interest too well, and I didn't think it pertained to the class as much as the first two parts.  He mostly talked about creationist theories and claims; 25 to be exact.  He listed each one consecutively, and tried to refute the claims with his own evidence and research.  In part four, Shermer talks of Holocaust deniers and how, like pseudo/paranormal believers, they reject proven fact.  This is the main problem as to why paranormal and pseudoscientific myths still exist.  It can even happen with more serious events, which are actual true and factual, because of the same principles regarding things that are fake.

In part five, Shermer closes with some hard-hitting information.  He claims that intelligent people are most susceptible to believing things that aren't true.  He states that smart persons deceive themselves because their ego is as large as their intelligence.  He explores people of this description, claiming that many scholars and respected scientists and dignitaries ruin their careers by changing their research concentration from a mainstream science, and focus on something paranormal or something of the pseudosciences, and completely destroy lifetimes of work, and also lose their respect from the scientific community. Most ruin their own lives.

Aside from the third chapter, though I didn't hate it completely, I really enjoyed the book.  Why People Believe Weird Things insightful as it was interesting.  Shermer made a lot of valid points, and I really appreciate what he does for the scientific community.  Not many people want to even acknowledge some of the claims that these whack-jobs try to pass off as real information.  I feel that someone needs to do so, so we can get back to real science.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


At the dawn of the computer age during the 1960's, it was common practice for companies to abbreviate the dates, that were inputed into their computer's hard drives to be stored, by using only the digits that fall at the end of each year as it is written.  For example, December 5,1982 would be entered into the computer as "12-5-82" or "5-12-82." Not only did this save valuable time and money for companies who used computers, and even the government's computer systems as well, but it also saved a lot of space; literally. Here is a picture of a computer hard drive in the 1960's:

At the time, this was a brilliant plan.  It saved lots of money and space. The size of these machines, as well as the cost of the disks themselves, had businesses concerned.  So, a simple solution would almost triple the capacity of their hard disk drives.  In the 1980's, certain people began mentioning that it could be a problem.  At that time even, computers ruled the world.  Credit card machines, Airports, Military technology, and many more things located in the United States of America, and other thriving countries, were run by computer technology for the most part.  Scientists and Theorists began to wonder and speculate about whether or not computers would be confused and/or bugs would occur and ruin hard drives and deactivate computer systems across the globe when the new millennium changed in the year 2000.  It wasn't a serious issue at the time, around 1986, when articles pertaining to this nature began sprouting up in journals, magazines, and newspapers.  Articles were few and far between.

In the year 1999, after the topic lay mostly dormant for 15 years or so, concern of an even larger capacity began to form amongst the general public.  After all, 15 years in the computer business is a long time.  Technology moves fast in silicon valley.  By 1999, computers were so efficient, that everyone used them, even in their own homes.  Computers were even found in 2nd world countries.  I wouldn't say people were worried.  I knew I wasn't.  I had much more faith in mankind.  I didn't think we were about to let something we created and built destroy us that easily.  Rumors of planes and space satellites were doomed to come crashing to the Earth's surface.  Trains would run rampant off of their tracks at incredible speeds.  Traffic lights all over the world would cease to work any longer.

Naturally, mankind won.  New operating systems and software made it a simple task to convert files to a 4-digit date format.  Time and money were saved, as well as our lives, hypothetically.  Many companies waited until after January 1, 2000 to change over the formats on their hard drives, which were now much smaller, and could store unimaginable amounts of data compared to their 1960's counterparts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mass Hysteria: when people wont think for themselves

To this day people have always taken toward the mob mentality whenever some supposedly disastrous moment occurs which then leads towards mass confusion since everyone believes those around are using their better judgement; which never happens but still people remain far too hopeful for their own good. Given any circumstance where a person is to think for themselves alone, they will. However, there is also the case where this same person will be fooled into believing the terror to be real given the right stimulus towards making this belief a personal reality; which again is a clever ruse used to confuse a normally rational person, if they were rational to begin with.

Lets look at the witch hunts for a more or less good example. Sure the peasants weren't the most educated of people, granted the only ones who were educated were the ones using the ruse to misdirect from the real problems of the colonies and point the blame at seemly harmless victims. This is done of course by spreading the lie of these victims being in some kind of acquaintance of a so called devil, and as these were dumb, religious ignorant buffoons so it was more of a case of the liars guiding the blind.  But regardless, Mass hysteria such as this is just the result of a lot of people refusing to make a good thought of their own while being regarded in a group.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alien Abduction:

Alien abductions are, for the most part, a series of more or less unexplained but still possible events sparked by certain persons who believe to some extent they have been abducted by so called extraterrestrials and had things done to them. Do such things happen: maybe but this could also be a series of hallucinations brought upon by the human mind subjecting itself to its fears that something not of the world could just pop down and do things to them with no reprisal for doing so. While there is currently no way to disprove the reality of these claims, if any are even remotely true, there is also no way to prove them either. There could be people seeking fame or recognition for these first hand experience and use false evidence, made thanks to the hands of pseudoscience, to try and prove these claims.

When, if ever, there is a time we could prove these claims it is more than likely that a vast majority present today are fake. It is thanks to the masses of people who wish to find life beyond our sphere of influence seeking an answer that such deviants exist to take advantage of a simple hope, no matter how odd and misguided it could be. No one knows for sure if life doesn't exist outside our particular solar system but if there was life out there it could be doubted that they would make contact with just random persons through out the world, no way of proving this either but still this is outside the realm of probability.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ritalin Nation ?

     Ritalin Nation perfectly explains the non-existing ADHD epidemic and how its’ attention has grown over the past few decades.  It is written by someone who holds a Ph.D. so it can be assumed that all the information in the book is well researched. The first three chapters explain how culture has hurried our society into a frenzy. With the rapidly growing rate of technology, everyone expects things to be faster including life itself. Cars, computers, and on-demand television all can perform faster than in the past. You could say that the advancement of technology has spoiled us a little bit. We now expect everything to be at our fingertips as soon as we want it. Most people can’t sit in a lecture without wishing they had a remote to fast forward through the boring parts. This hurried way of life has made us all impatient, but that doesn’t mean that we all have developed ADHD or ADD. The next two chapters talked about how unnecessarily quick everyone is to diagnose themselves with a problem. Many people who had been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) have had reactions to placebos. That makes the illness more of a psychological one than a physiological one. ADD is not an illness by itself. It is actually just a name for a collection of symptoms that describe inattention. If a person has maybe 3 symptoms out of the list they are very quick to assume the diagnosis of ADD. Once seeing the other symptoms, they are also quick to start interpreting most of their actions as portraying ADD even if they didn’t notice a problem before. Since it is considered a psychological illness it is very hard to correctly diagnose and efficiently treat it. 

     My favorite part was the topic of time that parents spend with their children. Some parents choose quality time over quantity of time or vice versa. It says “hurried, unstructured lives children are living in today connect to the rise of sensory addictions.” The parents choosing quality time may not be choosing the best choice for their children. A loss of family structure such as a routine or attention from parents results in the child developing a loss of self-control or self-organization. Without attention from families, children resort to being entertained by things like television, video games, and other speedy activities. They are no longer able to appreciate slower moving activities such as reading. They easily lose their concentration and self-control. A school teacher said that she used to be able to start teaching right away, but now when children come in the morning she has to spend a transition period to grab their attention. Parenting style ultimately affects the response of a child’s sensory. 

     I would like to make an association with children’s attention problems and the effort to connect learning styles to each child. Learning styles have developed as a method to make sure each child absorbs the most information they can in the most efficient way. It’s very unpractical while teaching a group of children with all different styles. It has also been proven useless. I think some teachers and parents still attempt to determine and use learning styles because they are left with no other avenue. Their children have severe depletion of attention. Some people are born with more patience than others, but mostly everyone has the same attention span capabilities. I believe that it is a result of the upbringing and environment children are living in that hinder their learning abilities. Learning styles are just an excuse like ADD is an excuse.
      One of the reasons ADHD seems to be such a popular conclusion for short attention spans is that there are things available to people that will easily make anyone seem like they have it. Here are some questions to a ADHD quiz I found online (1=not at all 5=all the time):
1. At home, work, or school, I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult.
2. I find it difficult to read written material unless it is very interesting or very easy.
4. I have a quick temper... a short fuse.
5. I am irritable, and get upset by minor annoyances.
6. I say things without thinking, and later regret having said them.
9. My moods have highs and lows.
11. I easily become upset.

Who doesn’t have these experiences all the time? It’s a normal occurrence in everyone. It doesn’t produce a diagnosis for ADHD.  The quiz is not a scientific method of determining ADHD and it advises that if you have a significant score than you should visit a mental health professional. If you would like to take the quiz here is the link: However, if you don’t have enough attention span for the entire quiz, here is the link to a six question one: I do suggest, that if you don’t even have enough patience for a short quiz and need it shortened even more, than you might as well go see a professional right now.

      Reading this book makes me realize that paying attention to children and preserving their appreciation for the relaxing slowness of time is very important. I will make sure my quality time spent with my children is more than just enjoying a movie. ADD in small forms could easily be preventable with a little patience. I also learned to not jump to conclusions. A few symptoms don’t mean a diagnosis or even a physical problem. Some things are made in your mind and can be changed the same way it was created. Bordem isn’t a disease, and were certainly not in a recession of entertainment. Everyday something new is created and we have a world full of things to enjoy. We just need to have the self-control to be able to find something, be patient with it, and enjoy it.

The Demon Haunted World

The Demon Haunted World is possibly one of the most insightful books I've read regarding the concept of Pseudoscience and paranormal beliefs. It's context is broken down into several essays and stories, with a brief analysis of each one. The depiction of different concepts, such as the Face on Mars, Ghost Stories, Faith healing and even UFOs provides the reader with a healthy dose of skepticism as these popular concepts are debunked and even discredited. UFOs, for example, were presented as a phenomena that individuals placed faith in without considering the historical and scientific evidence that could easily discredit their existence. His debunking, which included an in depth description of military procedures that implemented the use of technology which used objects that could be misconstrued as UFOs, offered insight into a more directly logical view of this paranormal idea.

Personally, I think that anyone with a strong belief in the paranormal should read this book. I agree with the idea that many individuals fall into a pattern of ignorant belief if they "think" there is no evidence which could contradict the belief. It is human nature to seek out patterns and take comfort in their existence but flagrant disregard for logic, as many individuals portray when they insist that The Face on Mars was put there by a supernatural force, comes across as silly. I believe that this novel provides insight into topics that would make firm believers reconsider their stance on certain ideas and my belief is that I would rather find ways to prove the existence of these phenomena than justify them through the belief of miracles or unprovable supernatural forces.


Just for fun, yesterday was Friday July 13, a day considered to be unlucky; nothing out of the ordinary happen to me. How about you? It may be considered unlucky because Friday is an unlucky day of the week as well as the number thirteen (13) is considered unlucky.  The origins of this superstition cannot truly be determined but it appears to be a modern creation or should I say sociological practice. Perhaps from the numerical perspective the number thirteen (13) is the odd number just past the number twelve (12) which makes it unlucky. What? In the Catholic religion there are the twelve Apostles of Jesus, in other cultures there are twelve gods, each month has twelve days and each box of a dozen donuts has twelve (unless it is an unlucky baker’s dozen), etc, etc.
There are sky scrapers in our major cities that skip the 13th floor. The elevator passes the imaginary 13th floor going from the 12th floor to the 14th floor! Is the 14th floor not really the 13th floor just with a different number assigned to the label? There are airports without the 13th gate. Street sequences and house numbers that go from 12th Street to 13th Street and the 1200 block to the 1400 block, respectively. Get the picture? This is a very silly superstition indeed. In the modern world Friday is considered from a business perspective to be an unlucky day to start a project or to take a journey. It appears that these two ill-fated associations combined together create a super unlucky day for those stricken with bad luck. Why? Did anyone think – media? Please read the human assumptions of how this superstition originated and one would better understand that the very discussions of how it originated are perhaps for the same reasons that the superstition exists in the first place – human imagination and the confirmation bias in which we seek information that confirms our beliefs rather than discredits them. If we believe the day to be unlucky we will seek all events that are perceived as unlucky to confirm our belief and disregard all other events that prove otherwise. Why could I not win the Lottery on Friday the 13th?
In our culture, on Friday the 13th some 17 to 21 million people that are affected with this pseudo-psychological disorder disrupt their lives because they were never taught the truth about superstitions. Can’t their psychologist or psychiatrists tell them the truth – that is for those that seek treatment for their anxiety associated with Friday the 13th? Is it because the truth is really unknown so there is nothing to explain but speculation? People refuse to fly, stay home, and businesses refuse to conduct normal business operations on this ill-fated double whammy of a bad luck day! We perpetuate this silly phenomenon throughout our culture (but not everywhere) for reasons unknown other than the concept of luck or bad luck. What is luck, anyway?
Luck is defined as success or failure brought by chance rather than one’s own actions. So the definition of luck is very similar to the definition of random. Random is defined as made, done or happening without method or conscious decision. By definition are luck and random just about the same thing? Given these definitions we can begin to investigate and attempt to understand that this superstition conceivably developed or was exasperated during the “Enlightenment Period” when humans began grasping true scientific inquiry and methods in favor of religious dogma. It appears that the sharing of scientific method by those practicing it was inadequate for the masses to fully understand science and mathmatics and it still is today. Perhaps, random is the word used by scientists and luck is the term used by the masses.
Those involved in early scientific exploration and development of science failed to teach the very concepts to the masses so that they the masses could comprehend them. The masses attempted to understand and define life on their own regardless of science. Perhaps the masses developed the concept of lucky and unlucky to explain observed daily random events that caused anxiety. From an anthropological perspective religion helps people in all cultures deal with the stress and anxiety of daily living. The association of luck and bad-luck with a day and a number is merely a human psychological method to understand and explain daily stress and anxiety. Of course this is merely speculation on my part and would require much detailed investigation and scientific study. Maybe it is not true at all. But the truth about superstitions should be made available to the public so that they better understand that our lives are governed by a series of random events that constantly seek regression to the mean. Regardless of how we try to control our life events they are going to happen in random fashion.  We will judge these as good, bad or neutral or lucky or unlucky and we will seek the good (lucky) but remember the bad (unlucky) for we are human and that might be how our minds function for our very survival.


Friday, July 13, 2012

The Demon Haunted World

The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan is a fairly straight forward dissection of several, if not all, of the world's more curious points brought before us by the mired bog known as pseudoscience. Of how the majority of every out of the ordinary thing occurring in the world is simply someone looking to fool the masses into believing something to which there is no proof or way to confirm such an act or subject existed in the first place. Though considering the gullibility of the uninformed masses such a task would not be all that hard thus Carl Sagan wrote this book to enlighten those who believed that a great deal of these fallacies were simply a religious group or power hungry individuals seeking to a certain amount of control over the ideas the grand populace. Particularly chapter six which shares the books namesake does bring forth the idea that all things we recently believe to be "aliens" could have been "demons" back in the "Dark Ages" or that witches were, in fact, just women accused and persecuted by priests, rival, etc. to simply be rid of them for the so called inquisitors personal gain, and none of the "witches" were given the chance to defend their case or present evidence lest the high knowledge of the church be called into question.

The book itself is a valuable tool towards better understanding the course at large. Its entire structure is towards  better realizing the reeking and festering amounts of pseudoscience lingering around even now, seeking the betterment of those who use it to take advantage of ignorant or desperate persons seeking relief when other outlets offer no recourse. Even early on in the book brings to bare the self imposed hallucinations which brought about the idea of UFO abductions by little gray men with giant eyes is just as real as say demonic possession, and I challenge anyone to say there is proof of either without first making sure the proof can be found true at all, though granted how does one even investigate these claims as no real tools exist to prove them outside of pseudoscience which is in no way credible. While there is no way to really stop the flow of pseudoscience, it is still possible to say reading this book can keep yourself out of that particular mess, though most of which is just unproven nonsense or "miracle" garbage with no way to prove by any other source it even works. Thus this book repost has come to a close and apologizes to any who were waiting on it on baited breath.

In Ritalin Nation, Dr. Richard DeGrandpre delves into "America's obsession with performance and quick satisfaction and the country's reliance on Ritalin as a performance-enhancing drug". This book literally explained the common denominator as to why parents feel that their children need to be on this drug and what it does to improve the everyday lives of their children. Ritalin, which is a psychostimulant, helps with the epidemic of attention deficit disorder or ADD. 
Throughout this book, Dr. DeGrandpre expresses how he feels that this obsession may be hurting the kids in this country, by not actually looking into the symptoms of what truly is part of ADD and what people want to believe can be part of it. The book gave great insight and it is truly amazing to think of all the stuff parents will do to get this drug for their children because they feel it will help them throughout their school time and lives. 

Learning Styles

Maria Capelli
Post 3
6.1 Learning Styles

                I’ve been told that I am a visual learner, but do I really learn better by seeing things? There are three styles of learning: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. The first two are self-explanatory, and kinesthetic learning is learning by doing the action you are attempting to learn. Supposedly most people will fall into one of these three groups of learning styles. Since everyone learn things different ways and at different paces it makes sense to think that associating people with their appropriate learning styles will provide positive results. However, all the claims made by learning styles are not proven by scientific science. Here are some claims to the benefits of knowing and using your learning style:

Benefits of Determining Your Learning Type
Some of these benefits of learning which category that you fall under when it comes to learning type include:

  • Being able to learn and absorb information the first time that you hear it and reducing the amount of time and repetition that is required when learning.
  • Reducing the amount of reviewing and study time using methods of learning that are not compatible with your learning ability.
  • Defining your learning type can help you to choose the best study method for you. The majority of people are unsure about which methods that they should use to study and therefore learning which method enables you to learn best can enable you to learn effectively with the least amount of (knowledge.

All these claims seem to be backed up by a bunch of pseudoscience. In chapter 6.1 of our book, research has found that “[The assumption that one can improve instruction by matching materials to children’s modality strengths] appears to lack even minimal empirical support.” Modality refers to vision and hearing sensations. Even teachers who have attended learning styles workshops have said they stopped trying to match children by their learning styles. However, many people still believe that learning styles can improve performance.  The Huntington Learning Center is where children who are behind in school can go to get tutoring. They believe that determining learning styles are very important for the success of children. Here is their description of learning styles and if you click on the link it will bring you to a page where you could determine your child’s learning style.  Although I don’t know how well I feel about sending my child to a tutoring center where they use instructions supported by pseudoscience.

All parents know that children have unique personalities, likes and dislikes, and of course, strengths and weaknesses. Just as every child is his or her own person, when it comes to learning style, no two children process information exactly the same way. What is a learning style? Put simply, your child's learning style is the manner in which he or she learns best. While there are many definitions of different types of learning styles, a common way to categorize learning preference is through the senses - in particular, visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Here are some helpful questions parents can use to assess their own child's sensory learning styles: 

The Demon-Haunted World

Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" is an extensive exploration into the realities and falsehoods of mankind's greatest paranormal mysteries. Sagan, a Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, is well versed in many fields of science, history, and the paranormal, which leaves him well equipped to tackle such a diverse challenge as debunking some of the biggest wonders of the modern (and ancient) world. While the book itself is considerably dense at 480 pages and does drag at points where the lines between science and Sagan's personal opinion become blurred, Sagan for the most part remains a credible and well-versed source on the book's countless array of topics, which range from aliens, to witches, to psychic healers, to ancient biblical demons, to modern technology, to dragons, ghosts and much more.

Sagan succeeds in making each topic as thought-provoking and enticing as the one before it, always adding in little known facts which serve to shed light on the much bigger picture. For example, while discussing aliens (one of the main areas of focus throughout the book), Sagan notes that the first account of a "flying saucer" being seen was in fact a misinterpretation by the news when interviewing the first apparent witness of a saucer; a civilian pilot who claimed the UFO "flew in a saucer-like fashion," not that it was saucer-like itself. When discussing the concept of demons in older cultures (which Sagan makes a strong case comparing many of the superstitions surrounding ancient demons to how we view and fear aliens today), Sagan retells an insightful story of one of the first Priests in the Catholic church claiming that demons are not a real, physical threat, rather "our own wills become the demons and it is that which attack us." When discussing modern science, he plays an interesting card in claiming that modern science has debunked itself, leaving room for acceptance of pseudoscience, due to the science's underlying political agenda; backing certain politicians, making unbiased claims for the hazards of marijuana, and denying the dangers of Agent Orange. And while looking at society as a whole in regards to their belief of the paranormal, Sagan makes the keen observation that people still fear and have trouble understanding people of different races, therefore it is inevitable we would get lost in the unknown.

 My favorite part of the book stems down to a single quote, located in a particularly interesting chapter which exploring the psychology of such myths, a colleague of Sagan reflects, "the power or intensity with which something is felt is a guide to whether it's true." This I believe is something that stands at the root of all paranormal experience; the high level of emotion displayed in those claiming to have been abducted by aliens or to have been contacted by the dead. In the same chapter, Sagan also discusses something we covered in class; the power therapist's have over their patients in terms of suggestion and inference to make them believe something which hasn't happened to something has. Sagan muses that in the same manner a therapist can inadvertently make a patient believe that said patient was sexually abused when they were not can be used to make someone believe they were abducted by aliens when they actually weren't, a thought which I could write a whole paper on alone.

"The Demon-Haunted World" is not just an evaluation of pseudoscience and the paranormal, but of contemporary culture as well. Sagan brings this point together well in the final chapter of the book, where he notes that there is not a single nation on Earth prepared to deal with the challenges of today, and only through understanding and compassion can our society survive against whatever is out there, even if the greatest threat proves to be ourselves. To extend this thought is the YouTube clip embedded below, where Sagan provides an insightful message to mankind and our aspirations in a time where our greatest challenges are still unknown.

The Flat Earth Society

Charles Johnson: Original Founder of the Flat Earth Society

The Flat Earth Society (also known as the International Flat Earth Society or the International Flat Earth Research Society) is an organization that seeks to further the belief that the Earth is flat instead of an oblate spheroid. The modern organization was founded by Englishman Samuel Shenton in 1956 and was later led by Charles K. Johnson, who based the organization in his home in Lancaster, California. The formal society was inactive after Johnson’s death in 2001 but was resurrected in 2004 by its new president Daniel Shenton.

Members of the Flat Earth Society believe that the shape of the earth is flat as the bible commands it. Johnson's belief was that the Earth was in the shape that the ancients perceived it; circular and flat, not spherical. To them, the earth is shaped like a coin, not a ball. References in the bible to the "four corners of the earth" refer to the cardinal directions, more relevant are references to the "circle of the earth", implying a two dimensional flat plane. While the Flat Earth Society represents an insignificant percentage of the anti-revolution movement, with only two hundred current members; it does represent the most extreme biblical literalist theology: the Earth is flat because the bible dictates, scientific evidence is of secondary importance.

The Flat Earth Society recruited members by attacking the United States government and all of its agencies, particularly NASA. Much of the society’s literature in its early days focused on interpreting the Bible literally to mean that the Earth is flat, although they did attempt to offer scientific explanations and evidence.

Sources for Entry #3:

The Creation-Evolution Continuum. (2004). Skeptic, 10(4), 50-54.

Planet Nibiru and the 2012 Cataclysm

The influence and imagery of apocalypticism (the social  identification and expression of apocalyptic eschatology)  continue to play a major historical, political, social, and religious  role in the American culture, crossing ideological  boundaries.  From the very beginning of the discovery of the Americas to the current day, apocalyptic tones run throughout our nation’s history

In recent weeks astonishing rumors have been spreading fast in science circles, and soon the wider public will be in the know. According to these rumors, despite all the denial and ridicule, planet Nibiru is real.This rogue object was there all the time. Right under our eyes. Since the days of Galileo we are aware of its existence. Initially it was mistaken for a star, and later for a solar system planet. It's neither. We currently know Nibiru as Neptune, allegedly the ninth planet. It simply isn't. You could call it the 8.5th planet: a massive object disguising itself as a planet in-between the 8th and 9th stable planetary orbits. Astronomers now refer to Neptune as a WIMP, a Wandering Immensely Massive Planetoid. WIMPs are dark objects that appear to be abundant in the universe and make up most of its mass. They wander from planetary system to planetary system, leaving a trail of havoc.  

The breaking news is that our solar WIMP, aka Nibiru, aka Planet-X, aka Neptune, is behaving according to the Mayan and Nostradamian prophecies. It is leaving its unstable orbit and will soon be on its way to Earth. Large-scale computations by a NASA team headed by Dr. Nancy Lieder have revealed that this WIMP weighing in at 17 times Earth, will approach our planet at the end-date of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, December this year.

Given the five months notification, there is plenty of time to hide for the impending global tsunami that is said to be caused by Nibiru. Those who own a sea worthy vessel just need to stock up food and water for several weeks and leave the harbor well in advance of December 21st. Those who don't poses a ship that can roam the oceans can preorder here a Joint Escape Sea Unit System II. These transparent spherical units are designed to survive tsunamis.They allow the user to walk over water out into the open sea, and to walk back to shore when the tsunami is over. Thanks to their unique closed construction and graphene-reinforced materials used, these spheres can withstand water pressures that can be expected to occur when inadvertently the sphere gets too close to shore and temporarily is covered in wall of water. One unit can accommodate a single person of up to 210 lbs. 

Sources for Entry #2

Mappes, D. (2011). An Overview and Analysis of Apocalyptic Views Relating to the Year 2012 as the End of the World. Journal Of Ministry & Theology, 15(1), 129-155.

Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

In Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer gives an insightful study of how people believe the claims of pseudoscience and paranormal activities, such as superstitions, alien abductions, and cults. He explains why these topics are so appealing to audiences around the world. His goal is to inspire people and inform them of the fallacies of irrational beliefs.

The book is an interesting read. The first part of the book, “Science and Skepticism” includes details on skepticism and guides on how to identify suspicious scientific and historical claims. He makes a big distinguishment between a skeptic and a cynic. He explains a skeptic as an individual who questions the validity of a claim by challenging for more evidence, which may prove or disapprove said claim. Therefore, skepticism is an integral element of the scientific method. The rest of the book mostly consists of case studies.

Shermer mostly explains what weird things people believe in, rather than explaining in depth of why people believe in them. As a historian, Shermer is well versed in evidence collection as well as analysis of that evidence. He uses this to debunk paranormal claims with a variety of evidence.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. Reading historical accounts on all collective paranormal claims was interesting. I particularly enjoyed reading about the witch trials. The most alarming thing I found was about Holocaust deniers. It’s unsettling to know that Holocaust deniers exist when all evidence and facts prove that this event took place. In general, reading this book has granted me new insight on how to approach extraordinary claims with a grain of salt and seek out evidence before blindly believing.