Anti-electric universe

December 29, 2018

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidlpf @ 6:56 am



A few things first before the review of the book. I have listened to all episodes of the podcast that is over 700 episodes which is over 1000 hours of listening. Also I am least Facebook friends with a couple of the members of the SGU, Evan and Jay, I mostly just send happy birthday messages and are you alright messages if something is going on. I would like to meet them in person someday that is probably unlikely. Also For Perry DeAngelis the late Rogue, “Monkeys rule, birds drool.” Also in this review I will add my own personal experiences.



Steve lied to me, he said on the podcast that this was going to a graphic novel with pop-ups, just kidding. Steve’s point was that in the past he believed authority figures and what they said as fact but a lot of it was wrong. This an example of argument from authority which people use a title or position as a reason why people should take what they say as fact. Or people just take what some people say as the truth. This is wrong you should verify what they say and just not take their word for it. I have experienced this in my life either as a child when someone who was spreading rumours and gossip about me by saying they knew me better than I knew myself, this happened in college as well. Another time was when I was discussing evolution with a creationist, who happened to have gone to an university in a bigger city and thus he thought he knew better.



The book is divided up into different sections. The first section is about the tools needed to be skeptic. The second section is about the adventures members of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe had over the years. The third section is about problems with the media presenting science and skeptical issues. The fourth section is how some of the issues dealt with by skeptics can be fatal. And the final section is advice on how to deal with people in real life.



The first section starts with how the brain can fool you. Such as how people think that memory is a perfect replay of what happen in the past. Most of the time it is full of mistakes or omits details or loses details over time. There have been times when people tried to make think that the memories I had doing certain activities like walking home from school I made up or got it from the TV. The thing is I had many eye witnesses who say me walk home including one of the teachers at the school who was also my neighbour. Pareidolia or seeing patterns that are not there. Hypnagogia this is when you are half asleep and the brain is acceptable to seeing or experiencing things that are not there. An example is when people see aliens in their bedroom or in an alien spaceship. When I was small I thought Santa moved me from one room in my house to another, I probably did it myself while half awake on Christmas Eve.



There are three other subsections to this section. The second section is on some of faulty lines of thinking that people use to defend their ideas. These include motivated reasoning, logical fallacies,anomaly hunting and other a few others. One example from my own life is the first year at one college I was doing fairly well in the quizzes for the course but the night before the midterm my roommate bugged me to go out partying and the next morning I did poorly on it. The next year I tried to explain this to some people but one really didn’t think it was the case mostly because he liked drinking and partying. He was motivated to reason this way because if partying and bugging people was linked to bad grades, they would probably mean some changes.



The third subsection of this section deals with where does the line between science and pseudoscience lay and how pseudoscientists abuse the tools of science and use bad evidence to support their claims. In this section p-hacking is described, pseudoscientist will try to get the p-value to the value of 0.05 which is the lowest value to considered credible. Also in this section conspiracy theories are discussed, and witch hunts. Anecdote which is a persons story of what happen, this is often considered a low value form of evidence, it is good to start an investigation but proof that the belief is true. When I worked at a call center we would get prank and nuisance calls all the time, some of the other workers would say it was the full moon. Then I would go “ we get them all the time.” And the response would be well my relative worked at a hospital as a nurse and they get crazies only on the full moon. Probably some confirmation bias and postmodernism thrown in as well.



The last subsection deals with iconic tales from the past to demonstrate how people allowed themselves and others for various things. The Clever Hans effect came about because someone wanted to prove animals could be trained to demonstrate human like intelligence, but didn’t realize he was giving signals to the horse. Other examples that are giving are pyramid schemes, quantum woo and free energy which often are used to defraud people of their money. Another is cold reading and in this area I have a couple of examples. At one college I attended I spent most of the time in physics society room. This was a place to do work, spend time and some to wait for their ride home. Their was one engineering student who like tarot cards. She offered to do readings for a couple of us on a couple of afternoons. I agreed to do a reading and what I remembered is she dealt the cards. When the cards were down there would be something like death. Death in this context meant change and she would ask is there change coming up in your life. It was a tool to ask the questions for a cold reading. Also when working at the call center one of the co-workers went to psychic fair with a friend. She sat down at one of the booths and psychic asked is there someone in your life whose name starts with an “L”? She said,”Yes, Lance.” The psychic went on about Lance. Lance whole name is Lancealot a poodle.



The second major section is about each of the rogues individual tells of skepticism. The first story is about Steve’s investigation into GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organism ). These have been changed by modern science to increase crop yields, resistant to diseases or pests like insects. There is resistance to these crops because people think these crops will do damage to them. These crops have been tested over years and nothing has been found to do any harm to people. I would like to add, they anti-gmo crowd have fairly public spoke people like the TV show Bones will make the occasional comment about it. Here in Canada we have David Suzuki who has been a science communicator here who has voiced concerns over GMOs. The second tale is about a Free energy device and is Perry’s tale. These devices claim that you can get more energy out then you put in, which violates the second law of thermodynamics. These schemes come in many forms and still exists, the harm in most cases is the bank account. The third tale is Cara’s tale of all health woo being done in Hollywood from fad diets to the anti-vaxx movement. The next three come Bob, Evan and Jay.(You’ll read to hear those stories)



The third section deals with science and the media. One issue is false balance, if their is story about that deals with global warning reporters usually have a global warming denier with a climate scientist on giving there views. This makes it look like that both sides are equal while in reality 97 percent of climate scientist view global warming as fact. There is nowadays many sources of news and some are more trustworthy than others. Some go out and fact check while others just make facts up to support their views on what they are reporting on. In science journalism there has been an increase in sensationalism. One example in the book is when a ninth planet has been found in the out solar system, this was a mathematical model, no one has found this planet with a telescope yet. My favourite on is that a study said there is no life in the universe, again a mathematical study with no observational data. One I fall for was that they found the chemical precursors to life was found on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, which wasn’t the case.



The next to last section deals how pseudoscience can lead to death. Such as Naturopathy which is when people ignore modern medicine or with modern medicine use things like herbs and other natural substances to cure diseases. Or use rituals like exorcism to deal mental health issues, or deny certain diseases exists and most of this leads to death or suffering of some kind.



Is the book worth the purchase, oh yes. I personally had to travel about 220 kms and wait almost three months because of financial reasons. Steve’s style is informal and informative and also encourages the use of the internet to demonstrate some things. I think this is a good companion to Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World, written over 20 years ago. This book is more of how to deal with these situations day to day and Demon Haunted World was Sagan. When it was written there was probably only a few known skeptics. Now we have many more candles in dark such the SGU, mythbusters and other groups all over world. Since I listen the podcast I know they have tried to get a TV show but most of the time TV producers want them to be a token skeptic on a show. The only question I left to ask since this was a guide to the Universe, which way to Wolf 359?



December 17, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — davidlpf @ 7:41 pm

In a bout of insomnia I started to look thru some old movies to see which one I wanted to watch and found the original Stargate movie. This movie came out about 25 years ago, while I first saw it about then in my college dorms TV room on VHS, yes that dates me a bit. You will notice the old monitors on the computers but that is probably the main thing that dates this movie.


The main premise of the movie is based off of Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods, which came up with the idea that most ancient structures were built by aliens. The ancient aliens of modern times is based off of this as well. The underlying premise that the ancients outside of Europe could not figure things out is insulting to ancient peoples and is racists. The three TV series that spun-off from the movie that go into Atlantis and crystal skulls.


The main concept of the movie is that aliens built the pyramids were built by aliens to land there ships on and eventually brought a Stargate to Earth. A Stargate is a round stone and metal ring that creates a wormhole to another Stargate on another planet. This allows people just to walk to other planets. This allowed the aliens to transport humans to other planets for slave labor. The aliens themselves are worm like beings that take over humans. There are some humans that get used as incubators or as hosts for the aliens. The ancient Egyptians overthrow the aliens and buried the Stargate.


In 1928 American archaeologists uncover the cover stones and the underlying Stargate. In the 1990’s the American Air Force put the Stargate in the bottom of a missile tube. After a couple of years of study they find an archaeologists who thinks the pyramids were made by aliens. When a probe is travelling it is said it is going to the far side of the Universe were galaxy was probably meant. He is invited to the top secret location and within a couple of weeks he figures out the Stargate. Then they travel to the planet whose address is written on the cover stone. They find a tribe of humans there and free them also the archaeologist falls in love and stays on the planet.


As mentioned there were three TV series based off of the movie. The characters of O’Neill and Jackson are brought back, the first series. They fight the Goa’uld to free humans around the galaxy, on the way they make allies, enemies, some that don’t care and explore space and themselves. This series lasted for 10 years and have over 200 episodes. The two series takes part on a city in a far away galaxy on a mostly water planet in a city in an ocean called Atlantis. They other on takes part in the far reaches of the Universe. All are watching and probably one of the best science fiction franchises and that came out of the 90’s. It is probably the most relatable to people who don’t watch science fiction because it is based off of people and institutions of modern times. The most remarkable character in the series is probably Sam Carter, an astrophysicists, officer, pilot and a woman who had lines in the first episode like “just because my reproductive organs are on the inside” and “you wouldn’t believe what we had to Macgyver together..” while looking right Richard Dean Anderson. Generally if you find this on Netflis or similar outlets or on DVD it is worth watching.

December 16, 2018

‘Twas a night before Christmas (sort of)

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidlpf @ 11:32 pm


 ‘Twas the night before Christmas
Dr. Gay was finished her podcast
hopefully getting the funds at last.
Out in Colorado Phil Plait.
was with goats really late.
Fraser was out in BC getting ready for some hangouts.
Then I spied a sleigh pulled by nine Honda fits.
There was Geo and Randi in the front seat.
“Take my seat I’ve gotta get back to the heat.”
Then we took off to the land of Oz.
Then I needed a pause.
We saw Richard and Maynard.
Sunning themselves in the yard.
Then we took off over Asia and the Europe’s other side.
Then we were in the land of Merseyside.
Then we met Alice, Mike and Marsh.
Whose talk on placebo was harsh.
There is also Singh and Cox
who I not going to rhyme.
Then over the Atlantic we could not find the guide
So we listened to some Skeptics guide. (lazy I know)
There was the brothers Novella and Cara talking about reason
while Evan was dreading the upcoming season.
Then over the radio we heard the local science talker.
Form the school I went to Dr. Thacker.
Then I got off near the border.
Because I am not a passport holder.
All I had to say was
“Merry Christmas and good night.”

December 13, 2018

Things that Don’t Make Sense

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidlpf @ 2:11 am

First thing to discuss is that mentions that the Thermosphere is 1500 C and she asks “Why don’t the satellites melt?”. The thing is that you need the air to make contact with rocket or satellite to heat up the metal to melt it, the atmosphere in this layer is sparse that there is not enough contact to effect the metal. Also the mesosphere is closer to the Earth than the thermosphere. Also she discusses the temperature of stuff in space by using the day side and night side temperature of the moon, I’ll let her have that but she didn’t do any research into satellites to find out that they have various controls on the temperature to make sure they do not get too hot or cold and generally called TCS or thermal control systems.


Then she tries to discuss how rockets are lunched, The first thing is she states the rocket since it is on the Earth has the same speed as the Earth of 1600 km/hr. The rocket relative to the Earth when it launches has zero speed. The reason of the rocket is accelerate the rocket to a speed so that either it orbits or the payload escapes the Earth’s gravity. She goes onto a analogy of a merry-go-around. She says that the rocket or satellite is like dropping a ball off of the merry-go-around. It is actually like throwing a ball while on a merry-go-around, if you throw the ball with enough speed for it to go straight this is like when a rocket has enough energy to keep going into interplanetary space this called the escape velocity. If the ball does not enough speed the ball will fall back to the Earth. If you throw Things Thathe ball with just enough energy and if you have a string tied to the ball it will stay up going around the merry-go-around this is when a satellite goes into orbit.


Satellites are used for GPS, communications, weather satellites and space observatories some pointing back to the Earth. Some people use them for the internet but this is done by radio waves. Lasers are used in the internet but this is done in fibre optics and are underground not in space.

December 3, 2018

Nope, Cassini Was In Outer Space.

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidlpf @ 10:48 pm

First thing as a citizen of the world you should know there are other agencies and other groups who study the sky, like European Space Agency (ESA), JAXA the Japanese space agency, the Canadian space agency, thousands of professional astronomers all over the world and millions of amateur astronomers from all over the world. I myself have shown many people Saturn thru a telescope and it is a round object with rings on either side. Most of these groups would like to find something that the others haven’t because that would mean more funding. But there are times that agencies will work together Cassini is one of these projects, the main body of the probe was made by NASA and the other part called Huygens which landed on Titan Saturn’s largest moon was made by ESA. One big error some of the alternate theory community make is that these probes are just there to take pictures. These probes are loaded wit as many instruments as possible to detect and measure particles in the space the probe flies thru, even the speed that the probe can be used to detect variations in the gravity of the planet it travels around. The measure in gravity can give you an indication of the mas distribution and density of the planet in that region which would give an idea on the what that are is made out of. Cassini was crashed into Saturn not to hide anything but it probably had all kinds of bacteria on it and in future scientists would like to test the moons of Saturn for life but if the probe hit the surface of a moon, the moon would be considered contaminated with Earth life so it was sent into Saturn where there is likely no life. Also because the Earth is rotating there has to be multiple locations on to pick up the transmissions from Cassini. Another Common assumption that people make is that the scientists using observatories like Hubble and Cassini work directly for NASA, usually they work for universities and get grants. Then they use some of their grant money to get time on Hubble or whatever observatory they need to use. For Hubble after a year in most cases the scientist releases the raw data to the public.

Most of the video she clearly demonstrates that she really doesn’t know what she is talking about such as how photos are taken and quantum mechanics. First we will deal with the photo taken and processing. The images were taken by a ccd camera, it is the same as the camera in cell phones. These the devices record images by when a photon hits the surface of the chip and converts the energy of a photon into electrical energy. To get a color picture, different filters are used usually RGB also on what the scientists need from the images. On cameras that you use everyday the filters are spread out over the surface chip, in something Cassini or Hubble they take an image with a red filter over the entire chip, then the blue and then the green. There are usually a dark frame and flat frame taken with the camera, these frames are used to cancel out errors on the chip and if there is anything on the lens of the camera used such as dust. The images are processed in a computer program, sometimes several images are combined to make a large detail image, the colors in the images are usually adjusted so they image represents what the object looks like but sometimes the images have some artistic license is used in publications.

The major area the present has some troubles with is quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics dealing with sub-atomic and atomic particles. In this regime particles act like particles and a wave. In the regime particles do not behave exactly like they do in our regime, particle and quantum physicists used probability functions to figure out where the particles are and their interactions with other particles. Another thing this presenter seems confused about is Young’s double slit experiment. When a stream of particles comes to a barrier with a hole or slit the particles will behave as if the slit is the source of the particles. If there are two slits the particles will behave as if both slits are the sources of the particles. When this happens the waves will interact with on another. In some places the waves will either add together or cancel each other out. The part about how you need a conscious observer to make a photo real seems like she is misinterpreting the Schrodinger cat thought experiment. And Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The uncertainty principle states if you know the location of a particle you cannot know precisely the momentum of the particle within a certain range. Schrodinger and Einstein did not like the idea that there was uncertainty so Schrodinger came with a thought. Lets say there is a box inside the box there is a cat and a vial poison, you don’t if the poison has been released so you can’t know if the cat is alive or dead at the same time. There is nothing in either that states it has to be conscious being, just something observing it.

I really don’t think this person is trying to misled others but has been misled herself by others or she just doesn’t understand what she is saying. The problem with some of the pseudoscience is the money that is wasted by buying it or the time it takes to try to inform people where they are wrong.

Something on the lighter side

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