Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Shaquille O’Neal Claims The Earth is Flat

Shaq claims the Earth is flat

Flat Earth was never a belief that was wildly accepted by scholars or experts. Even the ancient Greeks knew that the Earth was more like a sphere from multiple, independent lines of evidence. They even made a decent estimate of the circumference of the entire planet using basic mathematics and observations of shadows. It is a common myth that people in the Middle Ages thought that the Earth was flat and that Columbus risked travelling over the edge. The real reason people did not believe that the Columbus voyage would be successful was because they believe that it would be too long.

However, minor pockets of flat Earth activists has existed for a long time and continues to do so today. Initially dismissed as mere parody, many well-known celebrities, musicians, artists, and athlete have revealed that they believe the earth is flat, including Tila Tequila, B. o. B and Kyrie Irving. Now it looks like Shaq might be joining that crew.

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Why There Is Nothing Mysterious About π in Nature

Spooky Pi

The mathematical constant π (≈ 3.1415…) is defined as the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. In mathematical terms, this becomes C = 2πr, where C is the circumference and r is the radius of the circle (the diameter is twice the radius). Most people are probably aware of this basic relationship for a circle from school math. Fewer people, however, might be aware that the mathematical constant π shows up in a large range of different areas of science and places out in nature, from the brightness of supernovas and music to electrical engineering and rainbows. It even occurs in probability problems involving needle dropping and statistical distributions. For the naive observer, these seem to have very little to do with circles.

Many proponents of new age woo think this means that there is something deeply mysterious and supernatural going on that signals the mystical nature of reality. They shiver at the thought of these occurrences of π being well-understood from a scientific and mathematical standpoint. This mirrors the complains made by the poet Keats against Newton when the latter explained how the rainbow worked (an honor that actually goes to Theodoric of Freiberg).

Keats thought Newton robbed people of the awe and wonder of nature. In reality, science is the poetry of reality, and knowing the scientific facts about how rainbows work adds to the awe and wonder of nature. It does not, and cannot, subtract.

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The Apache Attack Helicopter Gambit Declined

Apache Attack Helicopter

There is a famous quote from several hundred years ago that suggests that misinformation can travel across the globe before truth has gotten its running boots on. If we have learnt anything from the modern Internet era, it is that this is a very apt description for how things work. Claims that are surprising, engaging, sensationalist or emotionally manipulative receive many orders of magnitude more likes and shares compared with detailed fact-checking or other forms of skeptical content.

One such persistent set of claims is involved in the Apache attack helicopter gambit. It involves comparing LGBT people and other gender and sexual minorities to someone who thinks that they are an attack helicopter. The gambit wrongly puts a heavy focus on self-identification compared with biological and psychological realities, insinuates that many of these categories are based on things that are not physically possible or delusional, conflates extreme surgical procedures for aesthetic purposes with therapeutic surgery and that a request for basic human rights for trans people is akin to demanding to have the right to murder people arbitrarily. All of these claims are extremely misleading and wrong.

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Google Confirms: “Natural News” Removed For Using “Sneaky Mobile Redirects”

mikeadams

“Natural News” is one of the largest websites in the world who push quackery and pseudoscience with several millions of unique visitors every single month. It has push HIV/AIDS denialism, germ theory denial, vitriolic attacks on medical doctors, conspiracy theories about the Zika virus or that Sandy Hook school shooting was a false flag operation. They even think vaccines and GMOs are incredibly dangerous.

Basically, if you can come up with a pseudoscience related to some medical condition or medical treatment, chances are that they have written nonsense about it. They also sell a wide range of fake treatments for a variety of medical conditions. Their standard method is to fearmonger about some real treatment to a medical condition and then sell unsuspecting people their own fake treatments to profit from the fear. Ironically, these fake treatments include substances they themselves claim are dangerous and harmful for humans.

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“Collective Evolution” Gets Banned From Reddit

CE Reddit ban

“Collective Evolution” is a woo website that promotes many conspiracy theories, particularly about aliens, alien technology and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A brief glance at their website reveal posts talking about how Churchill supposedly believed in aliens and covered up UFO information, conspiracy theories about the United States government and financial system, crop circles in the Amazon, reptilian creatures in ancient civilizations, misinformation about nuclear power, secret governments, crank claims about quantum mechanics, the Illuminati, eastern mysticism about meridians, auras and the lost continent of Atlantis.

They call themselves an “alternative news” website, but just like “alternative facts” are actually falsehoods, “Collective Evolution” is a website with new age woo and alien conspiracy theories with very little actual news value. Their social media pages routinely post vague inspirational messages and have been parodied and mocked across the Internet.

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“Natural News” Mysteriously Disappears From Google Search Results

Natural News and Mike Adams

“Natural News” is one of the largest pseudoscientific and anti-medicine websites on the Internet. Over the years, they have published materials denying that HIV causes AIDS, rejected the germ theory of diseases, promoted conspiracy theories about Zika virus, medical doctors or the Sandy Hook school shooting. The website opposes climate science, vaccines and GMOs and has pushed hundreds of fake cures for serious diseases (even selling some of these substances themselves), from homeopathy and turmeric to amygdalin and bleach.

They are also heavily into fearmongering about various chemical substances, ranting about “dangerous toxins” in common household products. Ironically, some of the products they sell in their store contain the very same substances that they claim are incredibly harmful on their website.

In sum, “Natural News” is one of the strongest fortresses of dangerous nonsense in the world. It has millions of unique visitors every month, year after year. The person behind “Natural News” is Mike Adams and he has multiple other websites that deal with similar topics, but Natural News is by far the largest website.

Why did “Natural News” mysteriously disappear from Google search results?

If one visits Google and performs a search for “Natural News” or the title of any individual story featured on the “Natural News” website, the website (naturalnews.com) does not appear at all (and searching using the “cache:” syntax produces a 404 error message). Before, search results from “Natural News” would be at the very top.

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Fighting Against Dark Willow

Dark Willow

Can the acclaimed television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer teach us something about scientific skepticism when the stakes are high?

Willow Rosenberg was a core character of the show and appeared in all episodes from the very first to the very last one. Starting off as a shy and nerdy girl with poor self-esteem, she made a massive transformation as the show progressed.

Willow became a complicated and multifaceted character that combined high-level analytic ability, a struggle with balancing great magical powers to fight evil with the ever-present risk of letting it go out of hand and turning evil herself. Throughout the show she met and fell in love with Tara and they became one of the first female couples on American television.

Who is Dark Willow?

Tara was truly the light in Willow’s life, but their relationship was cut short when Tara was killed by a stray bullet fired from season six villain Warren Mears. With the death of her loved one, Willow let go of all inhibitions, allowed herself to become filled with fury and rage and completely gave into her dark magic addiction. She went to the magic shop and absorbed all of the dark magical knowledge from the books there, turning her hair jet black and the. She sought out Warren and two others who she felt was responsible for the death of her girlfriend. After managing to flay Warren alive, Buffy and her friends tries to protect the two remaining, fearing that Willow has gone fully batshit.

From a skeptical context, Dark Willow might be taken to symbolize a family or friend who has fallen to the dark side of quackery and pseudoscience. Someone who has been through difficult trauma and was vulnerable enough to be exploited by unscrupulous charlatans such as alleged psychics, astrologers or alt med proponents. She is not truly evil like some other villains of the show and sometimes you need to stand up to a friend and save them from a horrible fate.

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DDT Apologists Promote Anti-Environmentalist Pseudoscience

Stockholm Convention

DDT was a pesticide that was indiscriminately used in agriculture before researchers understood that it had negative effects on the environment and human health. After the publication of the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, more and more people became aware of the problems with excessive use of pesticides and it was banned in the United States in 1972. It could still be used for the prevention of human diseases that were transmitted with the help of mosquitos and this acceptable use is still respected among global agreements on pesticides. These bans and agreements were primarily against indiscriminate use in the environment.

However, DDT apologists falsely claim that the ban against DDT led to the deaths of tens of millions of people in malaria and that environmentalism is therefore a dangerous ideology with blood on its hands. This article shows that Carson did not want to ban DDT in Silent Spring, that the EPA ban was only for the U. S. and had an exemption for public health issues, that the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants also allows DDT for malaria prevention and that even the WHO recognizes and encourages this. The anti-environmentalist myth about Rachel Carson and DDT is dangerous misinformation and toxic pseudoscience.

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