Monday, March 31, 2014

The "Wow" Signal

The Signal

In 1977, Jerry Ehman a volunteer for SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) may have been the first person to receive an intentional message from an alien world.  He was scanning radio waves from deep space to hopefully receive a signal that might have been sent from intelligent aliens. He was shocked when he saw his measurements spike.  The signal lasted for 72 seconds, “the longest period of time it could possibly be measured by the array that Ehman was using.”  Ehman said, “It was loud and appeared to have been transmitted from a place no human has gone before.”  The signal came from a star called Tau Sagittarii, 120 light-years away.

The signal is called the “Wow Signal” because Ehman wrote Wow on the printout of the signal when it arrived since he was so surprised at what he had just saw.  He made more attempts to locate the signal again but they all failed.  This led to much controversy and mystery about its origins and its meaning. 

I do think the radio signal was sent from extraterrestrial life.  The Hubble Telescope  took a picture of whats called "deep space" the picture shows hundreds of huge galaxies which astronomers thought would be nothing, showing how many galaxies are really out there.  The "deep space" picture is about the size of a grain of rice pointed in a random position of the universe. 

Bad Luck

                Bad luck superstitions have been around for many years. Many people believe that certain characteristics or actions can cause bad luck. There are actions such as walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, breaking a mirror, singing or sleeping at a table and more are known to cause bad luck, some for a few years. These superstitions are rooted in the human trait that believes in monsters and ghosts. When our brain can’t believe in something, we tend to make things up. Sometimes it could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy because people believe in them so much.
                Walking under a ladder almost makes sense. I mean, no one wants to knock someone over who is a ladder. In addition, it could arise from Christian beliefs in the holy trinity where there is a ladder leaning against a wall and breaking the trinity would be sacrilegious. The mirror breaking superstition stems from the belief that mirrors are a window to the soul. The seven years of bad luck comes from the fact that it was believed that the body or soul is reborn every seven years. Furthermore, when opening an umbrella inside, it was rooted in tale where people opened umbrellas indoors and some catastrophe happens like sudden death or a house collapse. It’s almost as if you’re asking bad luck to “rain on you”.
                Though there are some remedies known to ward off bad luck. For instance, spilling salt is known to be bad luck but it is thought that throwing some over your left shoulder would cancel it out. This is because in the ancient times, salt was valuable and almost looked at as a salary of sort so throwing some away after you accidently wasting it is a way to acknowledge is value and their remorse for wasting it. In addition, it is sometimes thought that you can break a bad luck spell by turning seven times in a clockwise circle.
                There are also some strange origins to some good luck charms. A horse shoe for instance is known to be good luck because there are often seven little holes in it and seven is considered a lucky number. Also, they are made of iron as a way to ward off evil spirits. In addition, a four leaf clover is always known to be good luck, and it’s not just because they are so hard to find. The stories state that when you find one, you must either eat one or put it in your shoe to activate the lucky powers. It also causes the next person you come in contact with will be your future mate.  But these charms won’t help you if a black cat crosses you path, especially on Friday the 13th.


The shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, aka the Foot-o-scope was an X-ray fluoroscope machine used to determine shoe fit from the 1920s until the 1970s. The devices were made of metal and covered in wood and would have an opening where a child would place their feet while standing in shoes that they were trying on and their parent and the sales person would look through viewing ports at an x-ray view of the feet. They were able to observe the child's toes being wiggled to show how much room for the toes there was inside the shoe. The bones of the feet were clearly visible, as was the outline of the shoe, including the stitching around the edges. Several sales pitches were used depending on the market during the period they were in shoe stores, the most famous one was that it would allow for the better fitting of shoes and it made shoe shopping fun for kids. At the time of the great depression, one pitch was that these devices ensured the best possible fit, which in turn would make shoes last longer. These devices couldn’t have really worked because the fit of a shoe not only depends on the bones but the flesh surrounding them which would not be easily made out on an x-ray. What these devices were really doing was exposing children to ionizing radiation, which they are twice more susceptible to than adults. While there isn’t much data on those affected by these machines, it can be said that the salesmen who had chronic exposure to these radiation sources could have been negatively impacted. The shoe-fitting fluoroscope was just another example of radiation quackery which probably did more harm than good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle
            The Bermuda Triangle is located in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Several aircrafts and surface vessels have disappeared in this area which is unexplainable. In 1945, five torpedo bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale Naval Base. Neither the planes nor the bodies could be found and that is one reason why the legend lives on. The theories to explain the disappearances are based on assumptions. A popular theory is that the missing individuals were abducted by extraterrestrials. Another widely known theory is that the Bermuda Triangle is being affected by supernatural forces and that is why nothing has been recovered. There is no evidence to support that there is extraterrestrial life or supernatural forces, but people enjoy believing in such topics. In actuality, the disappearance may instead be explained by human error, weather conditions, exaggerated stories, miscalculations and so on. The region of the Bermuda Triangle is known for experiencing severe hurricanes, for example, and that is a logical solution.
            I chose the Bermuda Triangle because it shows how when something is hard to explain people tend to rely on pseudoscience beliefs to find a solution to the unexplainable occurrences. This relates directly to the course because it demonstrates how pseudoscience relies heavily on assumptions instead of fact. The beliefs make the stories more interesting but do not actually prove anything.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Past life regression

Past life regression is the use of hypnosis to unlock the memories of your past lives.  This practice is rooted in the belief of reincarnation since we would have to have come back at least once in order to have a past life.  It is mostly used in a spiritual or therapeutic way.  It can be used to explain our fears (for instance, fear of fire means your died in a fire in a past life) or our relationships (you may have known the past lives of people around you, like your best friend now could have been your brother in a past life).  It is also available to those that are curious.  The recipient of the past life regression is put into a deep hypnosis then is asked questions that are supposed to give a time and place of the past life and the kind of person they were (past lives can have a different gender and race than the current life).
Past life regression is so widely believed because a lot of the advocates for it are people with fairly legitimate credentials (a lot of them have doctorates) but the "research" into past life regression is no empirically tested or peer reviewed like legitimate scientific matters.  The practicioner uses suggestive questioning while the recipient is under hypnosis in order to get a certain response, much like how entertainment hypnosis is done. Much of the "past life memories" are attributed to cryptomnesia, which when a forgotten memory is remembered but not recognized by the person (for instance, if you are intently listening to a movie or focusing a lot on writing a paper and someone around you says to someone else their idea for a pickle vending machine, later on you may come up with the idea for a pickle vending machine and you will think it was soley your idea and not remember the other person suggesting it).
People believe in this most likely because authoritative sources advocate it, it seems to be a good explanation for our "unexplained fears" (when in relatiy, you are probably afraid of fire because it hurts a lot and you've read reports of people dying in fires), and it gives us a feeling of immortality which is very comforting to most people.
My family is not religious at all and I never went to church, but my mom is a big believer in past life regression.  She would read a lot of the works of Brian M. Weiss and even attempted past life regression on herself.  She believes that her dreams hold secrets to her past lives.  In high school I believed this also since she was my mother and had me read the books also and since the information was coming from people with doctorates it seemed highly believable.  I believed my dreams were insights into my pst lives and I tried to take meaning from them when looking back they were just random dreams.

3 ways to remember past lives
"Scientific proof"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Illuminati

The Illuminati Conspiracy theory claims a secret society that has been controlling governments, finance, business, science, entertainment, etc, all for one motive, that is world domination and a "new world order."

The Illuminati society was started in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria. It was based off of the Freemasons. The group fought the freemasons for control. Conspiracy theorists claim that the Illuminati started the French revolution.

Over the years the Illuminati have become popular in the media. There are many symbols that have been incorporated as part of the Illuminati, such as the dollar bill. The dollar bill has many symbols that correlate it with the themes and motifs of this society.

 There are many signs in the logos of different companies and formed of media that theoretically could seem like Illuminati symbols, but it seems like conspiracy theorists take things too far. Many things are coincidences and it seems like they just want to prove that the Illuminati are controlling the world.

The truth is the Illuminati were wiped out in the 1700s for the most part. Some may exist but have no significance to the world today.

some opinions on why it is not a valid theory

some opinions on why it is real

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bloody Mary

                                                           BLOODY MARY

The Legend of Bloody Mary

I'm sure that everyone has heard of the superstition of "Bloody Mary" aka "Mary Worth" at one point or another in their childhood. Mary Worth apparently was in a terrible accident that left her face completely disfigured whereas she was one beautiful so she was no longer allowed to look in the mirror in fear that she would go crazy from the sight. One night, she went to look in the mirror in her bathroom while her family was asleep. She missed her old reflection so much that she walked into the mirror to find it and she vowed to disfigure anyone who came looking for her in the mirror.
So in order for Mary to come after you, one must turn off the lights in the bathroom and say "Bloody Mary" three times for her to appear and attack you unless you turn on the lights of course.
I don't believe in this superstition at all and it can easily be disproved. It is an Urban Legend that will never be fully put to rest because people like to be scared and need some mystery/ excitement in life. Children mostly like it because they can scare their friends with it and to them there is a possibility that it could still be true. I remember being younger and flipping out because my friends wanted to try it and I was terrified to. I honestly probably still wouldn't try it today, not because I believe in it but because I'd rather leave well enough alone.

Jersey Devil

                                                            THE JERSEY DEVIL

Ever since I was little growing up in central Jersey, I heard the legend of the Jersey Devil. This was largely due to the fact that my father was from  South Jersey and rode dirt bikes all his life so of course he spent a lot of his time in the woods with friends. One night he was with a bunch of his friends partying in the woods around a fire and they heard screaming unlike anything they have ever heard before. They've hunted and been in the woods all their lives and never heard the sound that they heard that night. They described it as inhuman screams, screeching like an animal being killed but not. They then heard something running through the trees and they all jumped in their trucks and sped out of there. It was within 15minutes of the bricks that lay where the Leeds family once lived.
This article in Weird NJ magazine tells the story of a Mother who gave birth to thirteen children and she wished the last one was born a devil. She got her wish and he mutilated her and everyone in his path and he haunts the Pine Barrens still til this day. People in the article described their experiences with the Jersey Devil sightings and they were very similar to the one that my father had which is pretty strange.
I don't know if I necessarily believe in the Jersey Devil but I do believe that something was out there at one point, I nor anybody else just doesn't know exactly what.

Psychic Advisors - Palm Reading/"Palmistry"

Taking this class was a big risk on my part since I am shamelessly obsessed with getting my palm read. Every single time something big happens in my life I go to the psychic. I've been to a few different ones, from Atlantic City to Beachwood.
Palm reading is actually something you can study online - if you google an image for it, it'll actually show you what the lines all mean.

The only thing is every time I try to read myself I end up with no line of health so I guess according to this I'm dead.
I found this website online that tells you pretty much how to read palms and dont worry - they take credit cards. 
This website claims that the "very art of palmistry is a science".
While the "art of palm reading" may be a science how can you tell specific things about the person attached to the palm.. just guesses? 
Well while the lines on your palm can give the reader a slight amount of information about your life, the rest is usually just a generic tale told from your own words. 
Knowing this, I will probably never stop getting my palm read - just being more quiet during the readings. 

Superstitious Beliefs

Since yesterday was St. Patrick's day and all about the luck of the Irish, I decided to do a post a superstitions. Superstitions come about due to anxiety. This would explain why athletes are superstitious. They have pre-game anxiety. Studies show that "good luck charms" actually increase confidence, but it's a placebo effect and self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, there was a study with 2 groups of people playing golf. One group of people was told they were playing with a lucky ball. The other group of people were not told the ball was lucky. The people that played with the "lucky" ball outperformed the people who weren't told the ball was lucky. There was another experiment with a memory test. Like the golf experiment, there were 2 groups. One group of participants were allowed to have their lucky charms, while the other group was not. Those who kept their lucky charms outperformed those who didn't. These experiments prove that "luck" is actually confidence in disguise. People don't need luck. They just need confidence. Check out this website for more information:

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Nibiru cataclysm was an idea by Nancy Lieder that was introduced in 1995.  It was first known as Planet X, but then quickly became known as Nibiru.  She claimed that there was an implant in her brain that allowed her to talk to aliens from a different star system.  Her website, ZetaTalk, talked about how she was chosen by the Zeta Reticuli extra-terrestrials to warn earth about a planet, Nibiru, which would collide or come close to colliding with earth.  She predicted that if this planet came that close to earth it would create a pole shift which would displace the crust of the earth, wiping out the majority of the global population.  She said in May 2003 Nibiru would pass by the earth.  She even went on a radio show and urged followers to put down their pets.  With the passing of May, and no global crisis, she said it was a lie to trick the government.  She said she didn’t want to give away the real date because she felt the government would declare martial law.  She then speculated it wouldn’t be till 2012 for this event to take place.
   Nibiru also gave way to another theory that aliens lived on the planet.  When it came within range of earth during its pass, the two worlds would be able to communicate with each other.  A man named Sutchin said that these aliens would become earth’s first gods.  Astronomers and NASA have refuted these claims and have made clear that no such planet exists; for if it did we would already have seen it coming and its changes to the orbits of planets in the system.

   The consequence with this made up theory is it scared a lot of people.  The panic it caused made astronomers have to take time and try to explain that Nibiru did not exist.  Astronomers did this because of the emails and phone calls they received wondering if people should kill their pets and their children to escape the suffering. As scientists went on to disprove this theory, believers said they were trying to trick the public and hide the truth.  The evidence Lieder had to support such a claim simply do not exist.    


(infamous image)

Bigfoots, Sasquatch, when you hear these terms you probably think of the famous video of an extremely tall, two-legged, hairy creature walking in a wooded area for brief seconds.  The debate on if these creatures are real has been ongoing for a very long time.  Many are skeptical of the existence and for good reason.  Besides for glimpses in videos or pictures, or eyewitness accounts there is no documented evidence, which is definitive.  There are a few people who believe with such certainty that there was even a group formed called the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, or the BFRO, which goes to areas which they believe bigfoots exist and talk to the locals.  This group even has a TV show.  While there is a part that wants to believe these creatures are real, you have to wonder if they do exist, why is there no definitive evidence? I personally have seen the TV show and I find it extremely entertaining.  These researchers have stayed overnight in freezing cold areas and filmed in the dead of night, walking with no light, and doing “calls” back and forth to try and tempt a “squatch” into believing they were one of their own to call back.  While this is all entertaining to watch the evidence against certainly is stronger than the evidence for them being true.  This will forever remain a mystery until we get definitive evidence they in fact exist, or do not exist. 

The BFRO website which features various things including expeditions in upcoming areas:

Loch Ness Monster

The Loch Ness Monster, according to the Nessie website, is a large animal with a giraffe like neck, small head, skin like an elephant and two very short legs or flippers. According to the legend, the Loch Ness Monster was first sighted in the  6th century. The first recorded sighting didn’t occur until July 22nd, 1933.  After the first picture of the monster was taken, more and more people came forward with claims of seeing it.   In 1934,  investigations to find “Nessie” started but none have been successful.  People continued to claim that they saw the monster.

 I found a NBC News article ( that said that Nessie may be dead because no sightings of the monster have occurred within the past year. However, there are still people out there who search for the monster and believe it is real.
I thought this related to our class because even though there is no credible evidence that the Loch Ness monster exists, people still are searching for it and still claim they have seen it. 

Here is the link to the Nessie website and the "real evidence" that the monster exists: