Avast, We Scurvy Dogs!

This essay contains medical information that might be construed as advice. It is not, but rather just long-winded opinion. Read it at your own risk.

Zombies on the Brain

In this piece I will proffer a novel thesis. And like every argument, I start from certain premises—things that one accepts without trying to prove.

I hold this truth to be self-evident: that the most awesome of all movie monsters ever are sword-wielding skeletons. I will drop anything to watch the scene from the 1963 classic Jason and the Argonauts in which the Claymation Dynamation skeletons rise from the soil to attack Jason and his men. I also stipulate to the nearly equal awesomeness of CGI skeletons. [Edit: see comments below]

The other cinematic monsters leave me cold. Vampires? They suck. Werewolves? What’s the big hairy deal? Mummies? There’s more wick than wickedness about them. Godzilla and Rodan? Hardly rad to me. You can keep your demon-possessed dolls, your poltergeists, and your ghosts. The Terminator is alright, but just because under the ugly Arnold-skin is a bitchin’ metallic skeleton. Continue reading “Avast, We Scurvy Dogs!”

Our Dam Obesity Problem

The following does not constitute medical advice. It is opinion. Before you make any changes to your medications, diet, or lifestyle, be sure that the person in charge of overseeing your health care is fully informed. By the way—that person is you and you alone.

If You’ve Got the Tide®, We’ve Got the Cheer®

Ever heard of pica? Not the font size—the eating disorder. Pica is the habit of ingesting things that are not food: dirt, drywall, chalk, clay, and so on. Some people see a box of laundry detergent, and their mouths start watering.

Pica has many causes, but a chief one is mineral deficiency. People who are low on iron, for example, often chew on ice; those low on zinc may dab a moist finger into the laundry soap for a nibble. Their taste for Tide® comes from their body’s unconscious craving for something it is not getting enough of. The non-food items rarely satisfy nutritional needs, but at least the pica-sufferer is not trying the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Continue reading “Our Dam Obesity Problem”

Too Many People? On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs

We’ve all heard it: “That can’t possibly be true—too many people would have to be involved. Somebody would have spilled the beans by now.” In fact, that is usually the first reaction I hear from people I’ve tried to enlighten about topics such as 9/11. It’s almost like a knee-jerk reflex, and it’s apparently enough to stop them from even considering any conspiracy theory further.

This objection has become all the more relevant in light of some of the recent discoveries made on this blog. For example, if so many celebrities are indeed twins, how is it possible that we haven’t heard about it? Wouldn’t hundreds or thousands of people working in the entertainment industry know about this? And what about all the paparazzi?  So how come nobody has come forward?

The “too many people” objection got a major boost in January with the publication of a paper by physicist David Grimes, entitled, “On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs.Massive media coverage followed, touting his magic formula that “proved” once and for all that conspiracies were bound to fail. (To get a sense of this coverage, just type the following search terms into google: large-scale conspiracies reveal.) “Ah, those conspiracy theorists! Can’t they see it’s impossible? This was written by a physicist at Oxford University and published in a peer-reviewed journal. What more proof do you need?”

I’m here to show you that the paper actually proves the exact opposite of what we are told. That’s right, I’m telling you that the paper actually supports the viability of large-scale conspiracies. I also want to offer a few more words about the “too many people” response. But first, a bit about the author of the paper and the journal it was published in. Continue reading “Too Many People? On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs”

Critical thinking skills and conspiracies (Part 3)

See Part One
See Part Two

In the JFK assassination, skeptics noticed a high death rate among witnesses due to unnatural causes such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, suicides. Death by accident is a rare occurrence, so let’s say that the chances that any one of us will die today in a car accident is one in 500. That’s actually very low. The odds of death by car accident are much higher, but I do not know what they are. Insurance actuaries make such calculations.

But when two, three, or a dozen important witnesses are CONNECTED to a single event, such as the JFK murder, then we have commonality and can multiply probabilities. Say that only three witnesses died in unusual circumstances (it is many, many more): 500 x 500 x 500 = one in 125,000,000. Yes – one chance in one hundred and twenty-five million that those three deaths would happen under normal circumstances.

This does not mean that such coincidences are impossible. Other factors, such as longevity, time frame and personal habits (drinking and drug use) must be considered. We have not PROVED anything. It is merely analytical EVIDENCE. But people who are skilled in critical thinking realize that three witnesses to one event all dying in unusual circumstances is highly suspicious, is in fact an ANOMALY. Further investigation and higher suspicion is warranted. That is simply how investigators reason. It is their logical backdrop.

People who rely on coincidence theory to explain away related phenomenon sometimes use a gymnastic trick to twist statistical probability on its head. What are the odds, they ask, that a golf ball hit from a tee will land on a particular blade of grass on the golf course?

The answer is both astronomical and meaningless. The odds that it will hit some blade of grass (assuming it does not land in a sand trap) is nearly 100%. But one event by itself is not meaningful. It is only RELATED events that matter. So the golf example is better asked as follows: What are the odds that two golf balls struck from the tee hit the same blade of grass?

The answer is, bear with me: (One divided by (one divided by / the number of grass blades on a green)) squared. Astronomical, many many billions to one.

The example, meant to “debunk” conspiracy theorists, is nonsense.

I will refer back to this post as I move forward with various conspiracies and theories. The purpose is to demonstrate that conspiracy theorists are solidly grounded in statistical analysis, while people who rely on faith in our government and other institutions are not. Further, conspiracy theorists are more skilled at basic problem solving, and rely on evidence more than faith, and are not afraid to think bad thoughts about events, leaders, and the implications if we have some bad people in power. Such things are common throughout history.

End, Part 3

Critical thinking skills and conspiracies (Part 2)

See Part One

The most common example used to demonstrate the principles of critical analysis of evidence is the coin toss. It is easy to follow. Statistics is a branch of mathematics, and deals with probability. Nothing is impossible in statistical analyses, and probability only measures likelihood that some event will or will not happen.

A single coin toss yields the following possibilities: Heads (50%), tails (50%). That never changes. However, it is a little more complicated when we measure the probability of more than one coin toss. What are the chances that if we flip a coin twice, that it will come up heads BOTH times?

The answer is 25%, or one chance in four. We get this answer by multiplying the chance of heads (50%) for each coin toss. 50% X 50% = 25%. The odds of three heads in a row? 50% x 50% x 50% = 12.5%, or one chance in eight.

When phenomena are RELATED, we can MULTIPLY probabilities of their occurrence together. Two coin tosses are RELATED phenomena.

So, what are the odds of tossing a coin and getting heads ten times in a row? The answer is 50% raised to the tenth power, or 50% x 50% … ten times, or the decimal .0009765625. That works out to one chance in 1,024. It is not impossible. It is merely highly unlikely.

So what if you have already rolled heads ten times in a row? What are the odds of rolling heads an eleventh time? (50%. Any single coin toss is always a 50-50 chance.)

We are often told that conspiracy theorists discount the possibility of coincidence. We do not. We are simply critical thinkers with a grasp of statistical probability. The odds, for instance, of one hijacking being pulled off by a small group of men armed only with box cutters is slim, say one in 25. So many things could have gone wrong. The odds of that happening four times in one day is one in 25 to the fourth power, 1/390,625. Of course, 25 is just a number I grabbed, but the point is that the chances of success were not 100%, and the chances of four successes that day were simply astronomical.

Couple that unlikelihood with other events of the day, such as the complete failure of the United States air defense system, and you might begin to understand why high skepticism about the official story is in order.

End, part 2
See part 3
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PS: Suppose that the probability of success of an airline hijacking using only box cutters was higher – suppose that each of the four supposed hijackings on 9/11/2001 had a 50% chance of success. Even then, the chances of four successes would be only one in sixteen (50% raised to the fourth power).

Critical thinking skills and conspiracies

Note to reader: This post originally appeared on Monday, 3/16, and the first reactions I got were that it was too long. I therefore decided to re-post it in three parts, the second and their to appear tomorrow and the day after. Comments that appear before 8:42 were in response to the entire post.
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The post below was meant to establish that religion is an important part of human existence. Most people are religious, and it is a positive force in their lives. I note, however, that in matters of religious belief, by definition, there is no use for critical thinking. It is based on FAITH, which by definition requires no proof.

As noted in the post, religion exists and is a powerful force because people

  • need authority figures;
  • are suggestible;
  • and want simple answers

That is the human condition. I too am human. I have these same impulses.

It is my contention that most Americans who believe the official stories about the great crimes of our times do so based in a kind of religious faith. Critical thinking about say 9/11 or Boston or other crimes does not support the official stories. I called this faith “Americanism.”

Dr. Judy Wood, who examined the evidence around the events in the World Trade Center and destruction of the seven buildings there, came away with a completely different take on the matter, suggesting that the evidence points to use of directed energy in some form. Normal physical laws of matter and motion were not evident in the events that occurred that day. For example, buildings did not “collapse” but rather turned to dust before our eyes, and plasma (usually called “fire”) occurred without heat. It can be explained, but not in our normal frame of reference.

But beyond the physical evidence, she too speculated on why Americans are so quick to believe the official story, and postulated three reasons:

  • 1: Poor problem solving skills;
  • 2: Groupthink; and
  • 3: Fear of the implications if the official story is a lie.

This post is intended to offer some basic mathematical principles, not to school anyone, but rather to use as a backdrop when examining evidence in future posts. My writing for the near future will be about evidence, and I will rely on a skill set known as “critical thinking,” often easily forgotten in our busy lives. So this is merely review.

TO BE CONTINUED
Part 2
Part 3

Holy crap! EU lands space ship on fricking comet!

imageThe Rosetta landing was an inspirational feat, and may tell us if we are alone in this universe (so very highly unlikely!) But more than that, on seeing what they pulled off there I realized that the impetus for space exploration has exited the United States (if it was ever here to begin with).

The most important missions in American space history were done under the names Voyager and Galileo. Those missions, wholly publicly funded, were stunning successes. The moon landings, if they happened at all, were an impressive feat. But why, pray tell, did we never go back, advance the technology, expand our horizons beyond the moon? Why did we retreat from 248,000 miles to 200? Huh? Huh?

Far more likely, Apollo was a stalking horse for development of ICBM technology and placement of weapons in space.

But we did it American way – with lies, fakery, deceit, all mixed up with excessive patriotism.

Anyway, just as the beacon of democracy has left the United States, now residing in Russia and China, so has the impulse to move forward in space exploration. Rosetta is an impressive technological achievement, and may yield the answer to the question long sought in so many other ways: Are we alone?