Posts Tagged ‘EMF’
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 24, 2011
I’ve blogged here before about “professional” ghost-hunters and their woo. And in many cases I have taken such “professionals” to task for not really following any kind of decent, consistent protocols (such as knowing how their instrumentation works, duh) but instead favoring stories that seem to be a combination of the Blair-Witch Project and various kinds of techno-babble. But now I just have to mention a couple of things about how many ghost-hunters just seem to get basic physics (pardon the pun) dead wrong.
My skeptical colleague Ben Radford recently wrote an article for LiveScience.com on this very point…
… Despite years of efforts by ghost hunters on TV and in real life, we still do not have good proof that ghosts are real. Many ghost hunters believe that strong support for the existence of ghosts can be found in modern physics. Specifically, that Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, offered a scientific basis for the reality of ghosts. …
Now hold on a minute. As we’ve seen before, it is not uncommon for pseudoscientists and cranks of all kinds to try glomming onto Einstein’s coat-tails as one of the most well-known and respected scientists of the 20th century as a way of trying to gain traction for their ideas. It is as if they think that by simply invoking Einstein’s name and theories, despite the fact that they have no real understanding of those theories, that it will somehow, magically make them correct. Of course, this simply displays a fundamental flaw in the thinking of ghost-hunters, because it shows they have no real knowledge of how science (much less physics) works.
Specifically, in this case the ghost-hunters are claiming that Einstein’s theory of relativity “proves” the existence of ghosts:
… For example, ghost researcher John Kachuba, in his book “Ghosthunters” (2007, New Page Books), writes, “Einstein proved that all the energy of the universe is constant and that it can neither be created nor destroyed. … So what happens to that energy when we die? If it cannot be destroyed, it must then, according to Dr. Einstein, be transformed into another form of energy. What is that new energy? … Could we call that new creation a ghost?”
This idea shows up — and is presented as evidence for ghosts — on virtually all ghost-themed websites as well. For example, a group called Tri County Paranormal states, “Albert Einstein said that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change from one form to another. When we are alive, we have electrical energy in our bodies. … What happens to the electricity that was in our body, causing our heart to beat and making our breathing possible? There is no easy answer to that.” … [emphasis added]
Actually, the answer is pretty easy, as long as you understand how energy is related to matter as outlined in Einstein’s theory. It can all be summed up in what is probably the most well-known, but one of the least understood, equations in all of science… Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in ghosts & paranormal, physics denial/woo | Tagged: afterlife, Ben Radford, dead, death, detecting, detector, E=mc2, Einstein, electromagnetic fields, EMF, energy, ghost buster, ghost hunter, ghostbuster, ghosts, investigation, mass, mass energy equivalence, paranormal, physics, pseudoscience, relativity, skeptic, skeptical, spirits, theories, theory | 17 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 1, 2011
Okay, I’ve said it before, and no doubt I will have to say it again, but here goes… there is no causal connection between cell phone use and cancer! Not only is it physically implausible, but there is no solid research showing such a connection; in fact, the research shows quite the opposite, as evidenced by this recent article from the BBC News…
By Nick Triggle Health correspondent, BBC News
Mobile phone safety has been much debated over the past two decades
Further research has been published suggesting there is no link between mobile phones and brain cancer.
The risk mobiles present has been much debated over the past 20 years as use of the phones has soared.
The latest study led by the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Denmark looked at more than 350,000 people with mobile phones over an 18-year period.
Researchers concluded users were at no greater risk than anyone else of developing brain cancer.
The findings, published on the British Medical Journal website, come after a series of studies have come to similar conclusions. …
Posted in environmental hysteria, physics denial/woo | Tagged: BBC, BBC News, brain, British Medical Journal, cancer, cell phones, DNA, electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, electromagnetic waves, EMF, environment, health, ionizing radiation, light, medicine, paralyzing precautionary principle, physics, power lines, public health, radiation, radiation sickness, safety, safety hysteria, skeptic, skepticism, wi-fi | Leave a Comment »
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 21, 2011
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization rather irresponsibly scared the hell out of a lot of people when they reported a link between cell phone use and cancer. Of course, as I’ve mentioned in the past, we know of no plausible physical mechanism by which cell phones (or low frequency EMFs in general) can cause cancer; for a really detailed article on this issue, I highly recommend Orac’s post at Respectful Insolence.
But, while Orac’s article is excellent from a technical and medical standpoint, I think the best response to this scaremongering from the WHO comes from satirist Stephen Colbert
Posted in environmental hysteria, humor, physics denial/woo | Tagged: cancer, cell phones, Colbert Report, DNA, electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, electromagnetic waves, EMF, environment, funny, health, humor, ionizing radiation, light, medicine, National Research Council, paralyzing precautionary principle, physics, power lines, public health, radiation, radiation sickness, safety, safety hysteria, skeptic, skepticism, Stephen Colbert, WHO, wi-fi, World Health Organization | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 20, 2011
You may recall that I made a blog post in 2009 – titled Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific Sells “Ghost Detectors” & Other Woo – wherein I strongly criticized the science teaching outlet called Edmund Scientific for caving in to the “ghost hunter” fad. They started to sell all manner of goofy things: ghost detectors (which are actually just electromagnetic field meters) and even DVDs on remote viewing. And all of this from a science teaching catalog – you might as well turn to the biology section and see creationist materials for sale!
[**Addendum (6/28/11): to get a good look at why I view such claims about EMF meters "detecting ghosts" so skeptically, take a look at this post - Convergence/Skepchicon Day 2: Ghost Hunting & Evidence Review - which outlines that so-called ghost hunters, when pressed, basically admit they aren't doing any serious science. But they want to look like it]
Well, not to be outdone in their tumble down the rabbit hole, Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific now has for sale an “ESP Lamp”. I kid you not – they claim this thing can actually read your thoughts… as in extra-sensory perception… as in psychic woo-woo… and it only costs about $200! But don’t take my word for it. Read their own description of the product:
Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific’s “ESP Lamp and Money Burner”
Lead your own experiments in the mind’s possible influence on machines, PSI testing, and more with this colorful LED lamp. Four different color LEDs are lighted dependent upon a random number generated from a miniature Geiger counter included on the back. You may even figure out how to use it to tell the future. And, when you need a break from the lab, it makes a very interesting lamp too.
I’ll agree that it makes an interesting lamp, but that’s about the only thing in the description that’s factual. Everything else is pretty much pseudoscientific gobble-dee-gook because many decades of research has clearly shown that no such phenomenon as ESP exists. And that part about “telling the future”? I suggest just saving your money and buying a Magic 8-Ball, because it would cost a LOT less and give you just as accurate results!
But, sadly, that won’t appear to stop Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific from catering to the lowest common denominator in their quest for a quick buck off the gullible. Unfortunately for them, they don’t seem to have done the math on the other side of things: how do they think science teachers across the country are going to react when they see this sort of garbage for sale in their catalog? I know that I’ve spoken to a large number of science teachers who are quite upset about this (and justifiably so) and who are boycotting Edmund. I’m among them, and I encourage all of my skeptical colleagues (especially those teachers among us) to do likewise: until Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific pulls products like this “ESP Lamp” and their “ghost meter” from their shelves – or at least until they advertise them in an honest and scientifically-accurate fashion – we should refuse to give them any business.
Posted in education, ghosts & paranormal, physics denial/woo, psychics | Tagged: catalog, Edmund Scientific, education, electromagnetic fields, EMF, equipment, esp, extrasensory perception, ghost hunter, ghost meter, ghosts, infrared, lamp, paranormal, physics, pseudoscience, psychic, remote viewing, RV, science, Stargate, teaching, temperature, time travel, waves, woo | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 4, 2010
If you recall, last week I posted the first of two skeptical lessons with a Halloween theme to them, and now I share with you the second one: the Haunted Physics Lab. I cannot take credit for this idea, as I borrowed it years ago from my colleagues in the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). What I did differently is to add a number of skeptically-oriented twists to it, such as why Ouija boards don’t work and why “ghost-hunters” are full of hooey when they claim EMF meters are detecting ghosts.
But don’t take my word for it, take it from an article by a local news outlet that interviewed me and some of my students about the Lab
Mix in the spirit of Halloween with some physics concepts and learning occurs.
By Jim Powers | Email the author
Jenna Schmidt considers herself to be a logical person.
So on Halloween, the Lake Forest High School senior walked into physics teacher Matt Lowry’s classroom dressed in a gorilla suit last Friday.
Compared to the rest of the advanced placement physics students in her class, she blended right into the backdrop. For the past six years at the end of October, Lowry has transformed his classroom into a Halloween-themed dedication to the world of physics.
Carrying her gorilla head in one hand, Schmidt took a look around the classroom and noted, “There is a lot going on. Usually it’s just one lab, but this is a lot to get through. It’s a lot of different types of physics topics.”
Lowry created 37 stations, each one devoted to a principal of physics from a Theremin which creates some of the eerily, high-pitched creepy sounds from horror movies to optical illusions to even disproving the aura of an Ouija board. …
I especially like how the article ended:
… Many students have seen an Ouija board before, but it’s hard to tell if it holds the same prominence it once did for slumber parties. Lowry’s station tests the opposing forces of magnetic fields using a magnet and a magnetic board underneath the Ouija board. Remove the Ouija board and the magnet and magnetic board continue to oppose one another.
“The demonstration is specifically set up to not only demonstrate a good physics concept about electro-dynamic induction, but it also shows the Ouija board does nothing,” Lowry said.
Crushing news for the spirit world.
Posted in education, physics denial/woo | Tagged: AAPT, American Association of Physics Teachers, detectors, education, electromagnetic fields, EMF, ghost hunters, ghost hunting, ghosts, Halloween, Haunted Physics Lab, high school, Lake Forest, meters, Ouija, Ouija board, paranormal, physics, science, skepticism, spirits, teaching | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 27, 2010
Last October I posted about a really crappy piece of “journalism” in the New York Post regarding a supposed link between cellphone use and cancer. The punchline was that the headline-grubbing morons at the NYPost ran their story before the actual study had been published!
Well, now the actual study by the real scientists & researchers involved has been published, and – lo and behold – it paints a very different picture from the fear-mongering goobers at the NYPost. In part, their conclusion states:
“Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones.”
For reference, the entire study is available here in PDF format. Now of course I’m not surprised in the least by these results, seeing as how, based upon the laws of physics as we know them, there is no plausible mechanism by which such low-energy emissions from cellphones could cause cancer!
One would hope that various media outlets would take a lesson from this fiasco, but I suppose some people are more interested in selling paper than responsible news reporting.
Posted in environmental hysteria, media woo, physics denial/woo | Tagged: cancer, cell phones, DNA, electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, electromagnetic waves, EMF, environment, health, ionizing radiation, journalism, light, media, medicine, National Research Council, New York Post, news, NY Post, paralyzing precautionary principle, physics, power lines, public health, radiation, radiation sickness, safety, safety hysteria, skeptic, skepticism, wi-fi | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 7, 2010
Okay, shameless plug time
This past Friday I had the priviledge of being interviewed by SETI astronomer Seth Shostak on SETI Radio’s monthly “Skeptic Check” segment. Apparently, Seth and executive producer Molly Bentley had caught the article that I wrote to Skeptical Inquirer magazine about the Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific ghost detector (my blog post on the subject is here) and how that once respected science teaching outlet had now decided to go down the rabbit hole of nonsense.
It’s a short interview (only about 6-7 minutes long), and you can listen to it here (fast forward to the 24:00 mark to get to my interview)…
Posted in ghosts & paranormal, skeptical community | Tagged: alien, Edmund Scientific, education, electromagnetic fields, EMF, equipment, ET, extraterrestrial, ghost hunter, ghost meter, ghosts, infrared, paranormal, physics, pseudoscience, psychic, science, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Seth Shostak, SETI, Skeptic Check, teaching, temperature, waves, woo | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 21, 2009
In another *facepalm* moment, the state legislature in Maine will soon be considering a bill that would require cell phones to carry warning labels that they, you guessed it, might cause brain cancer. Ugh – I have posted about this topic before (in my post “Electromagnetic Fields & Cancer Myths”), and I cannot state strongly enough that there is no evidence that cell phone use causes cancer! Not only is there no conclusive evidence that cell phone radiation causes cancer, but according to the known laws of physics there is no physical mechanism by which this is even possible. But that won’t stop some non-scientifically minded nut with political clout from pushing this nonsense into a useless law…
Maine to consider cell phone cancer warning
A Maine legislator wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer, although there is no consensus among scientists that they do and industry leaders dispute the claim.
The now-ubiquitous devices carry such warnings in some countries, though no U.S. states require them, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. A similar effort is afoot in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom wants his city to be the nation’s first to require the warnings.
Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said numerous studies point to the cancer risk, and she has persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal to come up for discussion during the 2010 session that begins in January, a session usually reserved for emergency and governors’ bills.
And here’s my favorite part of the article…
While there’s little agreement about the health hazards, Boland said Maine’s roughly 950,000 cell phone users among its 1.3 million residents “do not know what the risks are.”
Ahem, Rep. Boland, this is an argument that is essentially begging the question… the assumption is that there is a risk, despite there being any conclusive evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship (not to be confused with correlation) between cancer & cell phone use AND a lack of any kind of physical mechanism to even facilitate that process. Folks, this is what happens when you mix political power with the Paralyzing Precautionary Principle. Now this may be crappy science, but I’m sure it’ll raise Rep. Boland’s political profile – too bad she couldn’t just stick to the actual science as opposed to pushing pseudoscientific & fear-mongering woo woo.
Folks, if you live in Maine, please take a moment to contact your state representatives and ask them to – for the sake of good science & sound legislative policies – just throw Boland’s bill in the trash heap where it belongs. I’m sure there are far better, more important, and real issues the Maine legislature could be dealing with on behalf of that state’s citizens.
Rep. Boland, this one’s for you…
Posted in environmental hysteria, physics denial/woo, politics | Tagged: Andrea Boland, Boland, cancer, cell phones, DNA, electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, electromagnetic waves, EMF, environment, health, ionizing radiation, legislature, light, Maine, medicine, paralyzing precautionary principle, physics, politics, power lines, public health, radiation, radiation sickness, safety, safety hysteria, skeptic, skepticism, wi-fi | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 27, 2009
I just wanted to share in this quick post with everyone a video I saw this last summer at The Amazing Meeting 7 in Las Vegas. During the convention, our pals at the Skeptics Guide to the Universe shared their first effort at skeptical movie-making, a spoof of “ghost-hunting” shows which have become so popular these days. For a more detailed analysis of why ghost-hunting is a load of woo-woo, click here. I hope you enjoy the show!
The G Hunters: Episode 1, Part 1
The G Hunters: Episode 1, Part 2
Posted in ghosts & paranormal, humor | Tagged: electromagnetic fields, EMF, equipment, extrasensory perception, ghost busters, ghost hunters, ghost hunting, ghost meter, ghostbusters, ghosts, haunted house, humor, infrared, orb, paranormal, physics, pseudoscience, science, SGU, skepticism, Skeptics Guide to the Universe, spirits, temperature, The G Hunters, waves, woo | Leave a Comment »