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Astrology=Myth

November 1, 2010

Time for some good old-fashioned debunking.

It seems like Astrology is one of those old myths that manages to pervade everyday language even with some of the most well-educated people. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but it simply is a load of crap. The biggest reason, and the only one I will spell out in this post, (you will get links to more thorough debunking articles later) is that the 12 “houses” of the zodiac are not constant. Our earth’s axis of rotation wobbles, just like a top’s axis of rotation slowly wobbles when you spin it on a table. This phenomenon, called precession, causes the zodiac to slowly change over many years. In fact, there are now 13 constellations that fall within the zodiac, not 12. The Babylonians created the 12 sign zodiac we’re all familiar with, but that was thousands of years ago. The zodiac has shifted so that there’s a good chance that when you were born, the sun was not in the constellation that corresponds with your astrological sign based on the calendar. Said calendar is based on how the Babylonians observed the sky thousands of years ago. It is not the same today!

Modern astrologers have turned this pseudo-science into a huge moneymaking scam that is no different than that of psychics and other scam artists that use misdirection and mentalism techniques to screw people out of their money. They use vague predictions that could be applied to almost anyone or anything, and they use the fact that people always remember the few things they get right, and not the many things they got wrong. The logic people use when they claim that an astrological prediction was right is appalling. “My horoscope said I’d come into money today, and I found a dollar on the ground! It was right!” The predictions made by astrologers have never EVER stood up to actual scientific research. They get no more predictions correct than a person making random chance guesses would.

One more point- the idea that the position of the planets and sun when we were born could have any effect on our personality is totally absurd. How? There are 4 forces in nature- electromagnetism, gravity, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. None of them can affect you based on the positions of the planets/sun when you were born. This is scientifically proven fact.

I don’t have a degree in science, but I do consider myself an amateur scientist and a skeptic, and I follow the writings of extremely smart scientists who do have degrees in what they write about, and I can be damn sure that I can trust them. Go read their more thorough debunkings of astrology here, here, and here.

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Science-y tibits 10/13/09

October 13, 2009

I haven’t posted any science-related stuff on here in waaaay too long. Part if it has been Next Big Nashville, which I’m still recovering from, along with other general business. That being said, here are some goodies for you:

NASA has a renewed focus on the moon, especially to determine how much, if any, water is there.  One of the ways they decided to do that was to smash the rocket stage of the current satellite into the surface and analyze the result plume of dust and debris. Sunday they did just that, and the results are still coming in, but it was definitely a successful impact. Check out more about the LCROSS mission here.

I’ve mentioned the 2012 doomsday myth on here before and linked to various website that thoroughly debunk it, but today one article caught my eye. I’d never even thought to research what the Mayan descendants have to say about this issue. Turns out they are pretty smart and fully understand that the world won’t end just because their Long Count calendar ends. The whole steaming pile of bullshit that is the 12/21/2012 doomsday myth is entirely a creation of modern Western culture that’s been imposed on the Mayan culture and one of their many calendars. The point to drive home here is that THE VERY PEOPLE WHO INVENTED THE CALENDAR DON’T EVEN BELIEVE THE HYPE BECAUSE IT’S BULLSHIT! They simply take it for what it is: an anniversary of sorts, a time when the Long Count calendar starts over again. Read the article at Discovery News.

Remember when Stephen Colbert lead a huge campaign to get the newest node for the Space Station named after him? While he did win the popular vote, NASA had the final say and didn’t name it after him, but they did come up with a ridiculous name for the new treadmill for the ISS that, when abbreviated, spells C.O.L.B.E.R.T. and the astronauts just completed its assembly. Here’s a pic of them using it for the first time:

Via Space.com

Image via boston.com

Image via boston.com

Boston.com, website of the Boston Globe, has an interesting article on how to create hallucinogenic effects without taking drugs such as LSD. These are pretty interesting, and I want to try them. I’ll let you know how it goes…

I wonder why M.I.A. hasn’t told anyone what she named her baby… It’s probably hard to pronounce, but seriously, does it really need to be a secret? Hipster Runoff muses about what it might be.

Earth, Wind & Fire are teaming up with Chicago for a huge US summer tour. It’s RETRO, people!

Scientists have finally confirmed that reality, is in fact, real. Like, the world actually exists when someone is not observing it. Phew… I’ve always been worried that reality doesn’t really exist… Seriously though, even the scientist who headed this experiment called the results “preposterous.” Something about this whole thing is perplexing to me though… basically what they’re claiming is a paradox; that they observed something without actually observing it. We are, though, talking about quantum mechanics here. The quantum world is probably the hardest thing in science for our brains to comprehend. Trying to visualize or understand the quantum world from our large, worldly perspective is simply impossible, so me trying to wrap my feeble mind around this experiment is futile in the first place. No matter how hard to understand, this could be a major scientific breakthrough… as long as the results can be duplicated and further analyzed.Via Kottke.org.

Now for a bit of debunking. Everyone has heard the claim that water going down a drain spins opposite directions in opposite hemispheres, the same way that large cyclones and storm systems rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere instead of counter-clockwise as in the nothern. It’s not true. The Coriolis Effect is responsible for the rotation of large-scale storm systems such as hurricanes, but it simply does not affect something so small as water going down a drain. It only applies to large masses over long distances. The only thing that determines how water spins down a drain is the surface of the basin and/or the direction the water was poured. Unfortunately everywhere along the equator one can find rigged demonstrations that do nothing more than suck money from gullible tourists and contribute to the spread of ignorance.

Wow. I’ve only been doing this for about a month and I’m already getting requests from a promotions company to review an album. Look for some mp3’s and my take on the new local band Blue Eyed Blacks, and their first album “Black Eyed Soul” soon.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a huge sci fi nerd, and that I’ve been an avid fan of both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis for many years now. SG-1 was the longest running sci fi television series ever, lasting a whopping 10 years. They started Atlantis as a spinoff in 2005, and even had some interesting interplay between the two series while they overlapped. While I was sad to see SG-1 come to an end in 2007, I knew it was time, and quite frankly, the new SG-1 team just wasn’t quite the same without Richard Dean Anderson’s character, Colonel Jack O’Neil. I was heartbroken initially upon hearing that this current season of Atlantis will be its last, which prompted me to do a little research as to the reasoning for this, and in the process I discovered that executive producers Brad Wright and Robert Cooper are up to something new: another spinoff series called Stargate Universe. There’s not much info about it yet, but according to the press release, it will be set on a ship rather than earth or a remote base, and the crew will be a group of earth explorers who get stuck on this ship and have to fend for themselves as the ship carries out its unalterable mission of exploring the entire universe. Yes, not just one galaxy… the whole universe. I’m cautiously excited about this new direction for the franchise. I really hope the writers keep the same level of character development of the other two and keep using the layers and layers of mythology developed in the SG-1 series. Read the full press release to get the details if you’re interested.

I’m not a sports fanatic by any means, but I have been following my hometown team, the Tennessee Titans, for several years now, and of course I’m quite happy to see them leading the NFL at 10-0. Their veteran quarterback Kerry Collins apparently has an unlikely side-hobby: songwriting. Only in Nashville.

And now for some debunking. I came across this video on Oddee.com and couldn’t resist posting it because of the astonishing absurdity.

Because the show on which this guy Ramana is performing is in Dutch I really don’t know how seriously they’re taking him, but how can anyone not see that big wooden post (and base) to which he’s attached? Are people completely blind?!?!? I have much respect for the needle and thread trick he does, and for any tricks that require real skill and years of practice. I also think his performance art installations of hanging on the sides of buildings are interesting in a purely artistic sense, but this particular levitation stunt is just silly. “Illusions” that are obviously the result of specialized props just piss me off.

Random interesting tidbit: Scientists have created microscopic Obamas out of carbon nanotubes.

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