I've been too tired lately to come up with content for here, let alone be able to make it sensible or entertaining.
That said, here's something I scratched out this morning:
One of my guilty pleasures is the show Ghost Hunters on the Scifi Channel, which I suppose might technically violate my "no reality show" policy. I think it squeaks by, though, on the basis that it's so steeped in a fantasy-world rendition of how science works.
See, the Ghost Hunters seem to legitimately believe that what they do is "take a scientific approach" to the study of the paranormal -- but unfortunately most of what they do just plain isn't scientific at all.
One of the staples of the show is Using Faulty Logic™, which I'm pleased to say they're quite good at.
Because so many people seem to not understand how logic works, I'm going to give a couple of examples of Ghost Hunter Logic™ and explain why they're no good. Hopefully this will serve as a kind of public service announcement, possibly helping some people that don't realize that they're not thinking logically about things.
First up: thermometers and EMF detectors as scientific ghost detection tools.
The theory here is that many places that people typically think might be haunted have been found to have measurable temperature differentials and measurable Electro Magnetic Field fluctuations.
As a logic excercise, we're going to assume that ghosts do exist, and that they do cause EMF/temperature fluctuations. (This is quite a stretch; neither of these things has been even close to proven, but bear with me.)
So, if I were going with Ghost Hunter Logic™, I could make the following claim:
"I just measured a cold spot and an abnormally high level of electromagnetic radiation with my scientific instruments. Because I know that ghosts cause cold spots and magnetic field fluctuations, I now know that there's a ghost here right now. Give me a tv show."
In case you're one of the large part of the population suffering from faulty logic-detection, that statement doesn't work because you can't correlate cause and effect in this way. Just because Pine-sol smells like pine doesn't mean that smelling pine proves that there must be Pine-sol around.
That's the fundamental flaw with how the Ghost Hunters guys investigate things. They come into every investigation thinking that there are ghosts; now any cold spot or magnetic field fluctuation that can't easily be explained becomes evidence that there's a ghost. Sure, they often discount them if they can easily explain them, which I have to give them credit for, but far too often they just don't think of the logical explanation.
Case in point:
Recently they were investigating a haunted library. As they walked around through the aisles, they kept hearing "footsteps" coming from aisles that would stop as soon as they would stop to listen. This suggested to them that something sentient was trying to evade detection. What this suggested to me was that their own footfalls were pehaps being echoed, or that there were loose floorboards or something that would transfer the noise over to another aisle.
I'm going to try to make a habit of posting examples of faulty logic I come across in an attempt to solve this serious problem.
UPDATE: This post was originally written in April of 2005.
After being completely oversaturated with coverage about John Bolton's United Nations opponent-turned-Ambassador nomination status, my own personal research has caused me to come to a startling conclusion:
In the early 80's, John Bolton secretly stole world-renowned SciFi Channel psychic Peter James' prized moustache and eyebrows, leaving his own in its place.
Without further ado, here's some photographic evidence:
That's Peter James on the left, while John Bolton is on the right. Clearly those moustaches and eyebrows have been switched.
I'm actually kind of surprised that a psychic of Peter's ability would be powerless to stop the switch from happening, or even notice that it had taken place. In case you are unfamilair with Peter's work, he has visited many historically significant haunted places, eerily telling of people and events he is "seeing." The amazing bit is how accurate he is when you compare his "visions" with the extremely well documented (and publicly known) versions of the same events -- events that the curators of said haunted places tell people about as part of the tour.
It is simply astounding that he could be so aware of the things happening around him and still miss the replacement of his moustache.
A few days ago, there was an announcement that someone from my neck of the woods (Vancouver, WA) has photographed what appears to be a sasquatch on Silver Star Mountain. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has posted the photos and some information on their news page, and the photos are now making their way around the blogosphere. Upon first seeing them on my 320×240 T-Moible Sidekick screen, I was intrigued, but it wasnt until today that I remember to check out the photos on my computer after seeing it again on I Can’t Eat Cheese. Here’s the best of the photos:
<p><center><img width='321' height='299' border='0' hspace='5' src='/uploads/Silver_Star_Mt._030.jpg' alt='' /></center></p>
<p>Like with the video of George Bush <a href="http://nyquil.org/archives/259-Bush-Flips-off-Reporters.html" title="my debunkery of the bird flipping">“flipping the bird”</a>, I decided that since I am apparently the only rational person around, it is up to me to play mythbuster. Now mind you, I believe that there is a possibility of such a creature as a sasquatch living in various parts of the world, and I’ll be among the most excited when/if credible evidence (ie, a dead one, or better yet a live one) is found. Sadly, today is not that day.</p>
<p>Using “high tech image processing techniques”—OK, who am I kidding? I upped the contrast and the brightness—I managed to get a little bit more detail to emerge, and things actually make quite a bit of sense to me. Before I show you my results, I want to show you a snippet of the text description on this scientific organization’s website:<blockquote> There’s no lines indicating clothing or a pack. The lump on the neck could easily be a clump of hair, similar to what you can see in the <span class="caps">PGF</span><sup>*</sup>.</p>
<p>Most snowshoers or backpackers in these conditions would look different than this silhouette.</blockquote></p>
<p>Ok, that said, I now present you with what I’ve determined this figure to be. I’ve only adjusted the brightness and the contrast, so no accusing me of making things up. Feel free to load up the original picture in the image editor of your choice, kick the brightness/contrast up a notch and take a peek if you don’t believe me.</p>
<p><center><img width='391' height='581' border='0' hspace='5' src='/uploads/bigfoot.gif' alt='' /></center></p>
<p><span class="caps">EDIT</span>: Er, I mean that the first frame of the animation has the contrast boosted. I obviously painted the colored areas by hand, but overtop of the corresponding shapes in the original image. I wasn’t trying to be cute.<br />
*: I have absolutely no idea what PGF means, I’m suspecting the F stands for footage, so they are perhaps referring to that really famous footage of bigfoot walking. If you are a bigfoot researcher, please let me know.
UPDATE: B-Will informs me that PGF stands for Patterson-Gimlin Footage, which is in-fact the footage I mentioned.
The last couple days, this has been floating around the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON -- Four months after the end of World War II, five Navy bombers took off into sunny skies from Fort Lauderdale on a routine training mission, never to be seen again. Soon after, a rescue plane was sent to find them. It, too, vanished.
Now a new NBC News investigation marking the 60th anniversary of Flight 19's disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle is rekindling speculation on what happened that day. The anniversary also prompted a resolution in Congress by Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, to commemorate the mission's 27 vanished pilots and crewmembers.
"Perhaps someday we will learn what happened and lay this mystery to rest," Shaw said Thursday, a day after the resolution passed the House 420-2.
The idea that the House passed a Bermuda Triangle resolution boggles my mind, and I've done much searching trying to uncover just what this resolution could possibly entail. I have had absolutely no luck, only finding the original AP article and press releases about both NBC and the SciFi Channel's Bermuda Triangle coverage. I'd really like to know the details of this resolution, and whether or not those 2 lone naysayers will be getting political backlash in the future.
Scary smoker guy voice-over: "Alistair Hoel (L-Wa) voted against the Bermuda Triangle resolution in 2005. He wants our military personnel to depart this plane of existence for a much more horrifying and mysterious one -- one that can only be reached by GETTING LOST IN THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE. Do you want our troops to face unknown horrors beyond the Triangle?"
Do you ever have the sensation of your bed shaking violently while either falling asleep or waking up?
This has happened to me off and on pretty much my entire life, in a variety of beds and a variety of houses. Sometimes it is just a little jiggle, other times it feels like the bed must be hopping up and down, usually only lasting no more than a second or two. I'm reasonably sure that the phenomenon I've been experiencing is a natural one having to do with your brain shutting off the motor controls for your body during sleep transitions rather than a paranormal one having to do with either a haunting or poltergeist* manifestation.
Once or twice I've experienced the transistion from sleep to wakefulness with alarming lucidity. One of the most memorable times was once I dreamed I was standing up, and actually seemed to feel the gravity shift a full 90 degrees as my body realized that I was actually lying on my back rather than standing up as I became fully awake. The other was when I was at the beach with Dan and dreamed that I woke up from a dream of him strangling me to him sitting on the edge of his bed in his underwear and then woke up for real and actually seemed to see him dissolve from a sitting position to a sleeping one. I generally don't dream in homoerotic imagery, so I'm pretty sure that's unrelated to my bed shaking problem, I just mentioned it because it was a neat experience -- the transition from sleep to awake I mean, not being dream-strangled or dream-ogling Dan's tighty-whitey clad body.
Anyway, am I the only one experiencing this?
As a child I often wished for poltergeist activity, since that would be an indication that I had yet-unhoned powers of telekinesis (Mind bullets! The power.... to move you) but sadly, I don't believe that's whats happening.
The other night I was trying to tell Rob about the freaky-scary haunted building D used to live in -- not cool-scary-haunted like I had always expected haunted places to be, but freaking-scary-haunted. What really surprised me is how not-at-all frightening any of the occurrences were after being robbed of the context you feel at 3:15am while lying awake letting your imagination get away with itself. My imagination is rather good -- I find that I can pretty easily work myself up into a state of unease without much effort at all. Or, rather, no amount of effort can stop it once it gets going that way.
When I was about 13, I was terrified of Freddy Kruger. This sounds really stupid -- and I agree it is -- but he scared me to death. At that point, I had never even seen a Freddy Kruger movie. I knew what he looked like, I knew his story, and I had worn a replica of that fuckin' glove he wears (my neighbor was completely obsessed with Freddy, his mom's boyfriend made him a really awesome Freddy glove one year for Halloween). That was enough. I also knew that he was fictitious, but that didn't help at all. I'd just start thinking of Freddy and work myself into a state of extreme unease.
In times like those I would resort to something that I think most people who've ever been children must know about -- the Olympic event children everywhere have used undoubtedly since the beginning of time: The Terrified-Triple-Jump. You know the one I mean? With eyes squinched shut, you quickly flip off the light, take a giant leaping step into the middle of your room and then dive with all your might towards the bed, landing half-on/half-off the bed and sliding under the covers in one graceful move. Every Christmas I opened presents, hopeful that I would be the proud recipient of one of Gary Larson's Monster Snorkels. but alas, I never got one.
I like being scared, but apparently only in controlled situations. A movie about ghastly things banging on the inside of someone's closet door is great. I'm there. However, when something ghastly is banging on the inside of my closet door or reaching up from the darkness inside the gaping maw of a 100 year old Murphy Bed to get me while I try desperately to sleep, I most definitely wish that I'm not there.
I had a really good time at the parade, something I wouldn't have anticipated had you asked me about it beforehand. I've always hated parades, especially the waiting before it starts.
This time however, I had a camera and found that people at parades are a joy to photograph. So many children who are bored, adults who are trying to entertain children, pets who are trying to stay amused, etc. All of whom are totally oblivious to cameras because they can see 1,000 of them at any given time.
It astonishes me how speakers can take such interesting and thought provoking subjects such as alien implant removal, non-terrestrial isotopes found in human implants, mysterious deaths due to contact with extra-terrestrials and passive radar tracking of unknown airborne objects and make them so mind-numbingly boring.
I'll try to do a good summary writeup on sunday with all the photos I took during the implant experts lecture.
A Current Affairput up that bigfoot video that's been all abuzz on the internet the last couple weeks. I'm guessing it must be the crappy windows media encoding, but this video is nowhere near as amazing as has been implied.
Click to watch
It does appear to be a humanoid walking on the beach. From this video, I'm guessing its a humanoid in green rain gear.