Archive for the ‘aliens & UFOs’ Category
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 3, 2012
I just ran across this parody of the “History” Channel by some folks calling themselves the EVP Patrol Squad. They are spoofing the various pseudoscientific “experts” that are regularly paraded out on that channel in favor of various ancient alien, paranormal, and ghostly claims. The funny thing is that if you actually watch some of the stuff on the History Channel, it is so goofy that it almost seems that this is straight from one of their shows – so this is good evidence of Poe’s Law. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you all, but I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to look a sporks the same again. The horror… THE HORROR!!!
Posted in aliens & UFOs, ghosts & paranormal, humor, skeptical community | Tagged: aliens, ancient astronauts, cable, EVP Patrol Squad, ghosts, History Channel, humor, mystery, Mystory, paranormal, parody, Poe, Poe's Law, Soundiron, spoof, spork, TV, UFO, video, youtube | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 27, 2011
My favorite time of the year is almost upon us: Halloween!
I love Halloween not just because of the candy, the costumes, and the decorations (when else can you be a complete freak and it be socially acceptable?) but also because of the wonderful potential for promoting skepticism and critical thinking about various paranormal claims. Let’s face it: at this time of the year, ghosts, witchcraft, psychics, and various other kinds of woo are on everyone’s minds, so why not take advantage of that fact and use it to inject the skeptical viewpoint on things? I have found this to be a very effective teaching technique over the years, so that’s why I pass it along to you.
So in the spirit of the season (pardon the pun), allow me to share with you some links to various Halloween-ish skeptical resources that you can use, including a few of my earlier blog posts on the subject…
Posted in aliens & UFOs, education, ghosts & paranormal, humor, magic tricks, physics denial/woo, psychics, skeptical community | Tagged: 1938, AAPT, aliens, American Association of Physics Teachers, broadcast, cartoon, critical thinking, delusion, detectors, education, electromagnetic fields, EMF, equipment, esp, extrasensory perception, Flim Flam, ghost hunter, ghost hunters, ghost hunting, ghost meter, ghosts, Halloween, Haunted Physics Lab, high school, hoax, humor, hysteria, infrared, invaders, invasion, James Randi, Lake Forest, lesson, magic, mars, Martians, mass hysteria, media, Mercury Theater, meters, NOVA, orb, Orson Welles, Ouija, Ouija board, panic, paranoraml, paranormal, PBS, physics, pseudoscience, psychics, radio, Randi, science, Secrets of the Psychics, skeptic, Skeptic's Dictionary, skepticism, Snopes, South Park, spacecraft, spirit, spirits, TAPS, teacher, teaching, temperature, The Amazing One, The Amazing Randi, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, UFO, war, War of the Worlds, waves, woo | 4 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 7, 2011
According to this story over at Space.com, there is an amateur astronomer claiming that he has discovered what he calls a “Base on Mars” in the following image that he downloaded from Google Mars…
All I can say is… are you kidding me?! A grainy, fuzzy, and heavily pixelated image from Google Mars shows… what exactly? Why couldn’t this be some kind of geological feature on Mars, or couldn’t some of the features be artifacts of the imaging process? Why the rush to jump to “alien base on Mars” without any supporting evidence? This sort of thing is on par with people using similar crappy-quality images to claim they’re looking at Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or seeing Jesus in the clouds. Folks, it all boils down to that well documented phenomenon called pareidolia, because if there were decent high-resolution images available then it would be harder for people to see what they (consciously or not) want to see in the pictures.
Some more reasonable possibilities are suggested by some experts in the Space.com article:
“It looks like a linear streak artifact produced by a cosmic ray,” said Alfred McEwen, a planetary geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona and the director of the Planetary Imaging Research Laboratory. McEwen is the principal investigator of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a powerful telescope currently orbiting Mars.
Cosmic rays are extremely energetic particles emitted by the sun and other stars. For the most part, the Earth’s protective magnetosphere blocks them from hitting the planet’s surface, McEwen explained. “But with space images that are taken outside our magnetosphere, such as those taken by orbiting telescopes, it’s very common to see these cosmic ray hits. You see them on optical images and a lot of the infrared images too,” he told Life’s Little Mysteries. …
… The digital compression software that converts the image into a JPEG file then “sort of smears out the image, giving it that pixelated look,” McEwen said. What started as a clear streak in high-resolution turns into a streak that, in the armchair astronaut’s words, looks like it is “made up of cylinders.”
That, or this guy actually did discover an alien base on Mars. I think you’d have to have a particularly dull Occam’s Razor to accept that conclusion, however.
Posted in aliens & UFOs, space | Tagged: aliens, base, Bigfoot, cosmic ray, digital, Google, Google Mars, image, Loch Ness Monster, mars, Martian, NASA, Nessie, pareidolia, picture, pixelation, pixels, space, UFO | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 13, 2011
Last week the media was all abuzz about a story that a NASA scientist had discovered “definitive evidence” of alien life in a meteorite. In fact, they apparently even had photos of the little critters…
Here’s the headline:
Aliens exist, and we have proof.
That astonishingly awesome claim comes from Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who says he has found conclusive evidence of alien life — fossils of bacteria found in an extremely rare class of meteorite called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites. (There are only nine such meteorites on planet Earth.) Hoover’s findings were published late Friday night in the Journal of Cosmology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth,” Hoover, who has spent more than 10 years studying meteorites around the world, told FoxNews.com in an interview. “This field of study has just barely been touched — because quite frankly, a great many scientist [sic] would say that this is impossible.” …
The “field of study” to which Dr. Hoover is referring is astrobiology, and it is a legitimate scientific endeavor that attempts to study the question of life beyond Earth. Unfortunately, Dr. Hoover is somewhat of a crank, and his claims are quite overblown, as evidenced by the ruthless criticism he and the “peer-reviewed” Journal of Cosmology received from the wider scientific community. Here are just a few samples of how these trumped up claims of “alien life” simply wither under scrutiny…
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in aliens & UFOs, scientific method, space | Tagged: alien, astrobiology, astronomy, bacteria, Bad Astronomy, biology, bug, debunked, Dr. Hoover, Dr. Richard B. Hoover, ET, extraterrestrial, Fox News, journal, Journal of Cosmology, life, meteor, meteorite, microbe, microorganism, NASA, panspermia, peer review, Pharyngula, pseudoscience, science, scientific method, skepticism, space, virus, Washington Post | 4 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 31, 2011
Time for me to toot my own horn a bit
Recently, my blog was listed atop the list of Top 25 Paranormal Skeptic Blogs from the PharmacyDegree.net website. Actually, another reason why I wanted to share this information with you is because the list contains a large number of very useful links to other skeptical blogs. Here it is…
Do you believe? Whether you’ve had a firsthand experience with the paranormal or seldom believe the ghost stories you heard as a kid, these are the blogs to turn to when you want a major myth or paranormal experience debunked. Some paranormal historians have made a career out of this and now blog on the topic to prevent folks from being spooked by events and reports that can be explained with pure logic…
Click here to access the entire list of blogs
Posted in aliens & UFOs, ghosts & paranormal, skeptical community | Tagged: aliens, blog, blogging, ET, extra terrestrial, extraterrestrial, ghosts, paranormal, Pharmacy Degree, skeptic, spirits, UFO | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 11, 2010
I have to say that last week I was pretty upset with NASA, because – if you recall – there was a lot of hay being made by NASA about a big scientific discovery they were going to announce. In the process, there was a great deal of media spin & speculation on whether or not it was going to be an announcement of the discovery of “alien life” or something similar.
But when it came time for the announcement, it ended up being something quite less spectacular: it was about how a group of NASA scientists had uncovered a form of bacterial life which seems to have adapted itself to living in the harsh conditions of a lake laced with heavy concentrations of arsenic – the original NASA press release can be accessed here.
NASA has made a pretty big deal out of this discovery, but there are some problems with how they’ve rolled it out, in my opinion. I am of the view that they’ve oversold this thing, with overly dramatic phrases (from the above press release) such as…
NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth.
This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth.
Upon hearing about this discovery, and not being a biochemist or evolutionary biologist myself, I decided to look past the spin being put on this by both NASA and the news media in general and go to people who know the field far better than me. In a short amount of time, I found a great post by PZ Myers over at Pharyngula on the matter, wherein he states, among other things…
… I finally got the paper from Science, and I’m sorry to let you all down, but it’s none of the above. It’s an extremophile bacterium that can be coaxed into substiting arsenic for phosphorus in some of its basic biochemistry. It’s perfectly reasonable and interesting work in its own right, but it’s not radical, it’s not particularly surprising, and it’s especially not extraterrestrial. It’s the kind of thing that will get a sentence or three in biochemistry textbooks in the future. …
… So what does it all mean? It means that researchers have found that some earthly bacteria that live in literally poisonous environments are adapted to find the presence of arsenic dramatically less lethal, and that they can even incorporate arsenic into their routine, familiar chemistry. …
… This lake also happens to be on Earth, not Saturn, although maybe being in California gives them extra weirdness points, so I don’t know that it can even say much about extraterrestrial life. It does say that life can survive in a surprisingly broad range of conditions, but we already knew that. [emphasis added]
And, unfortunately, it seems that the story could get worse for NASA, because if you know anything about how the scientific community operates, you know that when someone makes a really bold claim (such as how the NASA researchers did) then other scientists are going to want to review the work & offer criticism. Well, upon doing so, there has been some quite withering criticism coming from many DNA & biochemistry experts about the manner in which the NASA researchers conducted their work…
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in aliens & UFOs, media woo, space | Tagged: alien, arsenic, astrobiology, bacteria, biochemistry, biology, cold fusion, criticism, DNA, Earth, ET, evolution, extraterrestrial, GFAJ-1, hype, intelligent, life, media, microbe, Mono Lake, NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, phosphorus, research, science, space, spin | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 31, 2010
Every Halloween, when I’m not having fun at a party or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, I like to take some time to listen to the 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. I do this for two reasons: 1) it’s a great story – full of suspense & the appropriate amount of spookiness for the season, and 2) it’s a wonderful lesson in skepticism. In fact, it is perhaps the first, best example of a widespread media hoax (however intentional or unintentional it may have been) with ensuing mass hysteria that we have in the United States, because so many people tuned in and took the story of the Martian invasion of Earth literally. Invaders from Mars? It was no wonder there was a panic!
Having said that, I’d like to share with you two things: the original “War of the Worlds” broadcast, and an excellent article by Joe Nickell on the various truths & myths concerning this event. Enjoy!
Posted in aliens & UFOs | Tagged: 1938, aliens, broadcast, delusion, Halloween, hoax, hysteria, invaders, invasion, mars, Martians, mass hysteria, media, Mercury Theater, Orson Welles, panic, radio, spacecraft, UFO, war, War of the Worlds | 2 Comments »