Life Energy?

July 24, 2010

If things like Tia Chi give any benefit to your life energy or whatever, you have to explain what that benefit is. If there is a benefit, it must manifest in some physical way, or how else would we know there is a benefit. There MUST be some effect. If must be detectable in some way.

If there is an effect, you also need to explain how that effect is different than normal exercise, or getting a massage. Doesn’t jogging everyday help my body as much as Tia Chi, does stretching and getting a massage relive stress the same.

If there is no difference, then why do we need the concept of life energy. If jogging is the same Tia Chi, then isn’t it more likely that Tia Chi is just exercise, not that it invokes some magical wellness.

If there is a difference, you also need to make sure that difference isn’t just the placebo effect. Like, people think they feel better after Tia Chi because they think spiritual exercise must be better than regular exercise.

If it isn’t placebo, then there must be some measured effect. Again, this effect should manifest itself in some way. This way must be detectable. Meaning we should be able to stimulate the life energy, and get results.

Despite being around for thousands of years, no one actually seems to be able to say what the life energy is or does. We don’t know if it actually exists.

Ask yourself this: How would you know the difference between life energy existing, and you just wanting it to exist?

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21st century’s longest eclipse

July 21, 2009

kevinThe longest solar eclipse since 1991 covered part of the Asian continent today.   There were several parts of the story that I found amusing:

Millions gathered in the open to watch the spectacle, but millions more shuttered themselves inside their houses, gripped by fearful myths.

One Hindu fable says eclipses are caused by a dragon-demon that swallows the sun…

Some myths and superstitions, no matter how ridiculuous, are to be expected on events such as a solar eclipse.  But this myth confused me:

Even in regions where the eclipse was not visible, pregnant women were advised to stay indoors in curtained rooms, due to a belief that the sun’s invisible rays would harm the fetus and the baby would be born with disfigurations, birthmarks or a congenital defect.

The sun’s invisible rays would cause harm?  Isn’t a solar eclipse caused by the moon blocking out sun rays?  So how is a lack of sun rays going to cause harmful invisible sun rays?  People were advised to stay indoors even in regions where the eclipse couldn’t be seen?  So maybe a lack of sun rays in one region means more are being introduced into regions where people can’t see the eclipse… and those rays.. are harmful somehow… and they bounce back into regions of the eclipse… and babies are the most susceptible… oh forget it.  This is too confusing.  I’m staying indoors the next time a solar eclipse rolls around just to be safe… especially if I’m pregnant.


Two quick Stories

July 21, 2009

I was hanging out with a group a friends on the fourth of July, drinking of course.  Later in the night one of my buddies who I don’t see very much started talking about his experiences at the airport.  I don’t remember all the details, but he says he gets stopped and searched every time he goes to the airport, he says this has been happening for around fifteen years.  This alone isn’t super strange.  Lots of people fly every day, and lots of people get randomly searched, I am sure that some  people in America get searched more than others by just chance alone.

He says that isn’t it though.  He believes that “They” are watching him.  My friend has been a big fan of the fourth of July since before I knew him.  We used to make sparkler bombs and blow up gas cans and stuff for movies we would make, or for home made fireworks.  Some times he would look up how to make bombs online so we could have bigger cooler explosions.  He believes this is the reason he gets searched every time at the airport.  I told him if he was under suspicion for fifteen years, the govenment wouldn’t just search him at the airport.  Surly they would have tracked him to his house, and found out that he was just an ordinary dude.  Regular people like us are not hard to find, and upon inspection they would see that we are just ordinary.

So what I did was use my cell phone to call up my buddies and talked about bombs and blowing stuff up.  I then texted them about bombs over the weekend.  Then, again, using my I phone I searched up things like “bombs for blowing up buildings” and “how to smuggle bombs through US customs”.

My friend was very eager to see what would happen, because the very next weekend, my friends and I were going to fly to Las Vegas.  He was pretty sure I was flagged now, so I would definitely be stopped.  You know what though, nothing happened.  I didn’t get stopped going to Vegas, and I didn’t get stopped coming home.  Nobody cared, because no one was listening.  I don’t know why my friend gets searched every time he goes to the airport.  I don’t even know if it really happens “every” time, or if he is just using confirmation bias.  It could be as simple as him looking nervous because he thinks he will be searched, and that makes him suspicious.

This story doesn’t really prove anything, it wasn’t scientific at all.  It is just one anecdote to fight an anecdote.

The second story happened just a few days ago.  A different friend was looking outside the other night and noticed a really bright light way up in the sky.  He said it moved across the sky slowly for about three minutes, then disappeared.  He was sure it wan’t a plane and had no other explinations to offer.

I think he told me about it because I’m skeptical of things like this, and he was curious what I would say.  I didn’t have a direct answer.  A strange light in the sky could be many things.  I am not an astronomer, and I have heard stories like this about strange lights that ended up being reflections, or it could have been a hallucination.  However, the shuttle had just launched and I suggested that it could have been that.  I don’t know what a shuttle looks like from way down here on earth.  My friend was pretty sure that it wasn’t the shuttle.

However, the next day, he said he looked it up, and the shuttle was visible around the time he saw the light.  Again, this doesn’t prove that it was the shuttle, but it is way more likley than aliens.  Pretty much everything is more likley than aliens.  The point is just because you see something in the sky that you can’t explain, doesn’t automatically make it aliens.


Pyramid schemes continued

July 15, 2009

kevin

Within 12 hours of my previous post about pyramid schemes, I received a comment from an organizer of one.  I’m reluctant to post the comment because it has a link to his product, however I will share verbatim what he said:

There are people out there that just do not know how to build a viable business. For me I first want customers that use my product. I have a product that people do need and I just want them to receive the benefit of the product first. My best team members are my best customers in building this business. If you are so anxious to reach the top of a Network Marketing business you first need to realize why these products are not on the grocers shelf. It is very simple math. The Manufacturer who goes the retail store route first needs to spend millions of dollars to advertise the product just to get the product on the public’s radar. The Network Marketing Manufacturer spends a lot less by going the word of mouth route. The Retail Manufacturer must produce thousands of products before the sale. The Network Manufacturer makes the product on existing orders and has no losses. This is a very simple explanation.
NOW IF, you are serious and want to see exactly how you could receive the product that has many benefits that fits the majority of people’s needs at either a very low cost if not free plus receive an income besides then you should go to a web address that will explain everything to you.

This seems to be a compelling argument.  Maybe I came down a little harsh on people who STILL get involved in pyramid schemes, even though it is 2009.  However, there are many problems with what the commenter said and I will go into them below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


“I need to get to the top of one of those pyramid schemes”

July 14, 2009

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I got back early yesterday from TAM7 and it was awesome.  Way better than anything I expected.  However, on the EARLY trip back to the airport, I was confronted by ignorance.  Almost immediately, our taxi driver launched into an attempt to sell MonaVie.  Really?!  It’s 2009.  People are still falling for this?  I guess people have believed in God for thousands of years.  There are probably many things one can do in order to recognize a pyramid scheme, but I figured I would  list one major alarm:

You have to buy into the idea. Why do people who are already involved always try to sell you the idea instead of the product?  You could argue that it’s less work and more money to sell in bulk (get rich quick).  But why don’t they sell it in bulk to retailers?  Why can’t I find it in stores?  And why, if I go to their website, can’t I purchase the product there?  It only allows me to enroll in their sells program.

This is exactly what happened with our taxi driver.  Instead of asking if we wanted to buy some of his product, he launched into a speech (probably memorized) about how we could be making tons of money.  In fact, it was his “ticket out of taxi driving.”  Good luck buddy.

Coming from THE skeptical conference of the year, you might be expecting a fierce debate ensued.  But the facts are: I was coming off heavy binge drinking, as well as a record lack of sleep, and I had never heard of MonaVie; and I wasn’t about to humor him by asking.  I just wanted to get to the airport and for him to shut up.


That Faker Was Cheated

July 14, 2009

We haven’t talked about it yet, but the Northwest Skeptics were at TAM 7, and we had a really sweet time.  I espeically enjoyed Sundays Million Dollar Challenge.  For those of you who don’t know.  The James Randi Educational Foundation has a million dollars that they are willing to give away to anyone who can prove the existance of the paranormal.  On Sunday of TAM, we got to witness a live testing.  The woman who was being tested was Connie Sonne, who is a self proclaimed dowser.  She says if cards are arranged in front of her face down, she can tell which card is which.

If someone accepts this challege, they work with the JREF to figure out an acceptible protocal they can all agree on.  The first part of her test was to callibrate her powers by dowsing some cards face up.  She did this and clearly felt that her powers were working fine.  Next she had to dowse some cards sealed in small envolopes and then sealed in larger envolopes.  I don’t want to go into all the details of the test here, because it was rigorus and you can find it online, but in order to prove that she had powers she needed to get three out of three tests right.  Her odds of doing this were 1/1000.  She got zero.   This wasn’t really a shock.  It would have been cool, if she had got some or all right, because it would have raised some awesome questions about things like this.  However, dowsing has been tested before many times and failed many times, so I am not shocked that it failed once more.

There are some funny things about what happened after the test.

A poster on the JREF forums  said this.

She said before she took the test how she would interpret failure – that the mysterious entities responsible for her abilities had decided that the world was not ready for them to be revealed after all.

I don’t know if she really said this or not, but it is interesting.

She did post this on the forums though.

Hi out there…now I know why Banacheck was “the card handler”. I have been cheated. I did find the right cards. And there is one more thing. At the stage, Banacheck said to me BEFORE he even looked in the envelope I had cut…and here is spade ace, the one you looked for!!!! I first hit me now about that ….but maybe you can see it yourself if someone get the video. I don`t care about the money, that wasn`t the reason why I came. So no matter what you think out there……I was CHEATED!!!!!

Connie

This doesn’t really surprise me either though.  Of coarse she was cheated.  People at the JREF were probably tricking her all along.  Even though she agreed to have Banacheck oversee the  test, as well as all the protocals.  I wonder what she will do since she was cheated.  She should probably sue the JREF for fruad since she has proof.

Wait, instead this is what she said.

I can and will demonstrate everything. I can and will ensure you, that Ì have been cheated. I allready have the evidences. Check my name out in first in september. I will get a website where I will put it ALL, also in english. AND all the evidences about Maddie. So you can THEN decide if I´m deluded or not!! I can only say now….most of you people out there are wrong, very wrong. My last words here on this site.

Connie

So what we have  here is another person who failed the MDC and can’t believe it, so they rationalize.  She failed a test that was more riguroius than anything she has tried on her self.  She does know the protocal, all she really has to do is do the same test again using someone else as a mediator.


A good trend

June 12, 2009

 

On may 30, Newsweek printed  this article ripping into Oprah for her constant support of “Alternative Medicine” and pseudoscience.  It was nice to see mainstream media holding her responsible, or at least calling her out for the crap that she promotes.   I understand that it is her show, and she can do what ever she wants, I was just glad to see that someone called bullshit on her.  Perhaps she will slowly get more critical of what she talks about.

 

The other article was from the Associated Press on June 10, which discusses the 2.5 billion dollars spent over the last decade on researching “Alternative Medicine”, and found that none of them are shown to work.  

 

I am excited to see these things in the news.  I don’t think these articles will change any ones mind, but they both emphasize science and critical thinking, as well as call out bogus stuff.