have conspirators ruined reality for you?

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Is everything you thought you knew actually wrong? Have brilliant investigators looked behind the accepted stories of our times and exposed shadowy conspiracies? Actually, conspiracy theorists tend to fall into the Bozo the Clown category referred to in the quote below.

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

– Carl Sagan

Just like great geniuses, true conspiracies are few and far between. There’s a good way to screen out some of the silliest of them: figure out how many people would have to be in on the conspiracy for it to succeed. The more people required, the less likely it could be kept secret.

For example, take the “moon landings were faked” conspiracy. How many thousands of people would have to be in on something like this? Imagine what it would take to pull off six fake trips to the moon. Thousands of NASA workers silenced or fooled. A multitude of scientists and engineers for other companies hired by NASA, silenced or fooled. All those who studied the moon rocks that were brought back – silenced or fooled. The photos all faked, the landing sites that you can see from space, faked.

Ack! It would have been easier to actually go to the moon. The same goes for the 9/11 “Truther” claims. Even tossing aside all the contrary evidence, it would take a massive scheme the size and scope of the Manhattan Project to carry it out – with no one ever breaking ranks and exposing it. Ridiculous.

Human-caused global warming is not true and that fact is being covered up – another great example. It would need to be a worldwide conspiracy by almost all atmospheric scientists in every developed nation. Mass quantities of research would be faked or misrepresented, and the reviewers must be either fooled or complicit.

NASA – a gang of liars, faking the data! The members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences – a bunch of dupes. The American Geophysical Union membership – part of the cover up. The combined membership of the Geological Society of America, the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and all their counterparts across the world – a lot of know-nothings.

What brought this conspiracy topic up for me are the fact-free theories being floated by the Trump crowd, as mentioned in my last blog entry. Trump seems to believe the global warming conspiracy (except in his view, it was perpetrated by China).

Hillary Clinton, currently criss-crossing the U.S. giving speeches, is alleged to have Parkinson’s disease. I mentioned this in my last blog post, but this time I’ll expand it a little. One of the most filmed and photographed people on the planet right now is somehow keeping this illness from the public. The interviewers and photographers are fooled. The crowds she stands in front of are fooled. The TV audiences for all three debates – fooled. The foreign dignitaries she met with as Secretary of State – deceived. The physician’s statement provided to show her fitness to be president – lies and fakery.

The ones who say they know the truth about her health are professional bloviators, searching through hundreds of videos to find something they can claim is out of the ordinary. That includes a couple wing-nut doctors who have never examined her.

This conspiracy does not rise to the level of the moon landing nutters and the global warming deniers. Still, it’s very unlikely. If true, it would be an astonishing accomplishment to run for office, defeat her primary opponents, and possibly win the presidency, all while conspiring to hide an illness that allegedly makes her unfit for office. Her actions would seem to prove the opposite.

In the previous post, I covered other unsupported conspiracy theories: rigged elections and the “Clinton murders.” It’s a wonderland of confabulation and motivated reasoning out there.

I just want to point out that one useful tool is to ask, “What would it take for this conspiracy to be true, and how many individuals would have to be involved?”

Now it’s your turn. Take this conspiracy theory and analyze: Pharmaceutical companies have a cure for cancer, but they are keeping it under wraps because they make so much money on cancer treatment.

https://xkcd.com/966/

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moon owls

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Fortunately, staring at the lunar eclipse the other night didn’t burn out my retinas. I wore moon goggles for protection.

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But I wasn’t prepared for what came next. When I was trying to brighten up some hopelessly dim and fuzzy photos of the eclipse, I accidentally grabbed a photo I had tried to take of an owl last week.

I thought the picture was all black (except for some background lights) but behold, cranking the brightness all the way to 11 brought out this spooky silhouette of the barred owl.

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It’s an image made to strike terror into the hearts of any small rodents who are reading this. If you are a small rodent, I would appreciate your feedback.

moon – the movie

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moonI managed to safely ride my bicycle to the Metro to see Moon. What do you know? A science fiction movie that’s all about story and not about explosions and monsters. Though made on a low budget, it really works because Sam Rockwell is great and the effects are good enough.  (Just don’t think too hard about lunar gravity–it would have been very difficult to fake a low gravity environment.) Like 2001, the film is a little bleak, and like that movie, it has a computer intelligence that wants to act differently than its makers intended. The movie has surprises in store and leaves you with a lot to think about. Yes, the director, Duncan Jones, is the son of David Bowie. He wisely chooses not to put Ziggy Stardust on the soundtrack. Hope his next film is just as interesting.