Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

Category Archives: Crank Claims about Physics

Astral Parasites, Chakra Balancing and Other “Occult” Nonsense

Astral bullshit

New Age woo is a convoluted mixture of eastern mysticism and pseudoscientific abuse of modern scientific research, primarily medicine and physics. This includes misunderstandings of crucial concepts such as energy, vibration, frequency as well as the flawed claim that diseases are caused by negative attitudes that attract bad things in life. This post will survey some contemporary discussions among New Age and “occult” circles on the Internet by looking at some of the topics discussed on the r/occult subreddit.

These range from being laughably absurd to being potentially hazardous for your health. It might be entertaining to read about New Age speculations about he next step in evolution, whether this or that spirit can make you more witty or people who think they are being followed by the number 13. However, it is very troubling to read about astral parasite delusions that causes self-harming, tarot cards against suicidal depression, or people wanting to find ways to protect themselves against astral rape or the negative psychic energy by the people around them.

Being infected with astral parasites?

One poster described a very disturbing situation where he or she had been dealing with several malicious astral parasites that had led to several hospitalizations and even to almost convince him or her to cut off a finger:

I have been dealing with at least 4 very intelligent, very cunning, and very manipulative astral parasites for about 2 years now. They’ve tricked me time and again into having me think they are actually here to help me and not harm me. Finally, after all this time I do realize their true nature, but I have no idea how to get rid of them at this point. I can go into much more detail about all this, but my first question is has anyone had full success in ridding themselves of these things? They’ve put me in the mental ward 4 times now, and the last episode they almost convinced me to cut off my pinky finger. You could say things are getting pretty serious. And the nightmares they give me are just absolutely horrendous. I made the mistake of trying to befriend them, to appeal to some consciousness they apparently don’t have. I’m also constantly fatigued just about every day now. Thanks for reading. All advice and any questions are very much welcome and needed.

Although it is hard to speculate and one should generally avoid making judgement of a psychiatric nature on the Internet, this may indicate some form of psychiatric condition involving delusions, such as schizophrenia. The delusions seem durable and fixed and this has been going on for multiple years with several stays at a mental ward. On the balance of the evidence, this is much more likely to be a psychiatric problem than anything involving supernatural “astral parasites”. Some comments with more information from the original poster explained that he or she was also suffering from nightmares and night-time paralysis.

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Church Council Spent 4600 USD on Tinfoil Hat for EMF Hypersensitivity

Tinfoil Hat Church

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF), is a collection of non-specific and vague symptoms that some people attribute to electromagnetic fields.

In reality, individuals who claim to be severely effected by e. g. cellphones or Wi-Fi cannot accurately determine when they are exposed to EM fields in provocation studies and symptoms appear to get better when treated with psychotherapy. IEI-EMF is not a scientifically or medically recognized diagnosis.

Although their proposed explanation is not true, their experienced symptoms are real. This can in some cases lead to severe functional impairment, including extreme isolation and other psychological consequences. Individuals with IEI-EMF sometimes demand that others, such as neighbors, stores and even local government make radical changes to accommodate them. This can include considerable changes to homes and workplaces in the form of “electric sanitization” or petitioning the municipality to have cell phone antennas re-directed creating a local blackout over a neighborhood.

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The Scientific Ignorance of Stasia Bliss – Part IX: Ageing and Death

Note: This is the ninth and penultimate installment in an article series debunking the massive amount of pseudoscientific claims made by Stasia Bliss. This post will examine the flawed statements Bliss makes about ageing and death. For more posts in this series, see the introduction post here.

Bliss on ageing and death

As we move closer to the final installment in this series, the list of scientifically flawed assertions made by Stasia Bliss is getting longer and longer. She thinks that individuals with cystic fibrosis have themselves to blame because of acidic diet and negative thinking. She promotes colon cleansing and hydrochloric acid supplements against HIV/AIDS. She believes that staring into the sun for an extended period of time gives you the power of astral projection and unaided human flight. She asserts that human DNA has twelve strands and accepts the existence of a vital life force. She also misunderstands a number of other scientific topics, such as genetically modified foods, stating that eating GM foods makes you less human. Her notions that dark matter is a figment of our minds and her promotion of quantum woo are equally flawed.

In her post about ageing and death, Bliss claims that death is just a flawed belief resulting from psychological conditioning (despite the fact that organisms without a brain also die), misunderstands the nature and history of science, misconstrues epigenetics by claiming that ageing is the result of cells inheriting “flawed beliefs and feelings”, dismissing criticism by claiming to just ask questions, misunderstand the cognitive principle, quantum mechanics and the placebo effect. She appeals to religious and mysterian traditions as if they were valid and assert that death is an illusion because of “silent giggles” from people who have passed away and now exist in “hidden places” (in reality, post-bereavement hallucinations are very common and normal). She portrays the discovery that neutrinos can change flavor as if this meant that humans could shape-shift and thereby avoid death. Finally, she promotes the notion of human immortality although cautiously adds that it may be “woo-woo talk to some of you”. Indeed, complete woo-woo talk. Read more of this post

Howard Bloom and Entropy

Note: The following treatment of the second law of thermodynamics makes a number of simplifications for clarity. In reality, entropy is not completely equivalent to “disorder” (in certain situations, such as liquid crystals in e. g. computer screens, entropy is relatively high but the “disorder” is relatively low) and the second law of thermodynamics is a statistical description of how particles behave.

Howard Bloom and Entropy

Howard Bloom is a well-known publicist, having worked for Michael Jackson, Kiss, Lionel Richie, Bette Midler and many others. He is also an author and has written several books, including The Lucifer Principle and The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates and has had articles published in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and the Washington post.

Since the middle of 2010, Bloom has been featured on the Youtube channel of The Amazing Atheist, such as episodes of Howard The Humongous. He has also created his own Youtube channel. Recently, Bloom was featured in a video entitled “Entropy is Wrong” explaining his views on entropy, stating that he rejects the second law of thermodynamics as applied to the big picture of the universe. Needless to say, this was a very controversial stance, leading to a lot of backlash. Read more of this post

The Scientific Ignorance of Stasia Bliss – Part VI: Quantum Mechanics

Note: This is the sixth installment in an article series debunking the massive amount of pseudoscientific claims made by Stasia Bliss. This post will examine her claims about quantum mechanics and human relationships. For more posts in this series, see the introduction post here.

Bliss ignorance about quantum mechanics

Throughout the previous five posts, we have seen some despicable claims made by Stasia Bliss. She has asserted that people with cystic fibrosis caused their own disease by eating acidic foods and being too negative (and therefore have themselves to blame). She recommended that people stare into the sun without protection (very dangerous and harmful to the eyes) and that this would give them telepathic power, the ability to perform astral projection and unaided human flight. Many of her statements are also blatant pseudoscience, such as the notion that the DNA double helix has twelve strands, that eating genetically modified foods makes you less human and brainwashed by evil corporations and that dark matter is just something the brain invented and does not exist out in the real world.

In this installment, we will discuss some of her claims about quantum mechanics and human relationships. It will turn out that quantum mechanics does not mean that the mind creates reality, that the correspondence principles assures that the predictions of quantum mechanics correspond to the predictions of Newtonian mechanics on larger scales, quantum mechanics is not relevant for brain processes on a larger scale, quantum mechanics does not claim that anything can happen, causes still precede effects in quantum mechanics and quantum mechanics are not relevant for human relationships. In fact, her post about quantum mechanics and human relationships is so incoherent and rambling that it is difficult to pin-point her errors. Most of those errors, such as the flawed notion that the brain creates reality, continues to be repeated over and over again, ad nauseum. Read more of this post

The Scientific Ignorance of Stasia Bliss – Part V: Dark Matter

Note: This is the fifth installment in an article series debunking the massive amount of pseudoscientific claims made by Stasia Bliss. This time, her crank beliefs about dark matter are debunked. For more posts in this series, see the introduction post here.

Bliss on Dark Matter

As this article series reaches the halfway mark, it is worth highlighting the most egregious errors made by Stasia Bliss. Previously, she has made a number of claims that are demonstrably false: the absurd claim that individuals with cystic fibrosis caused their own genetic condition because of their eating habits and negative thoughts, that eating genetically modified foods made you less human, that staring into the sun is not harmful and that the activity gives you the power to use astral projection and that the DNA double helix contains twelve strands. It is extremely important to emphasize that her beliefs are not just unsupported by the evidence. Many of them are actually directly harmful for people, such as her encouragement to stare into the sun or her insistent victim-blaming when it comes to cystic fibrosis. According to Alexa, Guardian Express (unrelated to the Guardian Newspaper) has over 50000 unique daily visitors and over 3 million monthly page views. With such an audience, Stasia Bliss has the potential to be a very dangerous person.

In this installment, we will continue to dissect the pseudoscientific claims made by self-described “master alchemist” and the “High Priestess of Qi Vesta” Stasia Bliss. This time, we turn to the her writings on the topic of dark matter. Despite her assertions to the contrary, dark matter is not something our consciousness invented to prevent us from observing parts of reality we are not ready for yet, the existence of unsolved questions does not diminish our current knowledge, the notion that the earth was flat was not a widespread belief, 100% of non-coding DNA is not functional, new age cranks have not been communicating with aliens for thousands of years, DNA and humans originated on earth and not in space, the sun is not a star gate and quantum mechanics does not state that we create our own reality. Read more of this post

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