Archive for category paranormal

Some thoughts on Project Barnum

Project Barnum has caused a bit of a stir within the skeptical community in recent days.

Detractors claim that Project Barnum is illiberal and seeks to censor those they disagree with.  Supporters say that it is about consumer protection, preventing the unscrupulous (or even merely misguided) from making money by telling people they can do things that they can’t.

Parallels have been drawn, by both sides, with the 10:23 Campaign.  Critics of 10:23 similarly claimed the campaign was illiberal, and supporters claimed that it was about consumer protection, preventing the unscrupulous (or even merely misguided) from making money by telling people their pills can do things that they can’t.
Read the rest of this entry »

4 Comments

I Believe in… Miracles

Well folks, I think everyone is pretty much recovered from the events following the big swallow and with all of us swallowers retaining the use of body, mind and ‘energies’, then it must be time to turn some attention further out, deeper into the big, bad, wild and woolly world of woo.  Woohoo!

The “I Believe in…” series that is currently playing out on BBC Three at the audience-friendly time of ‘midnight-ish’ is, by far, the most incredulous, poorly thought-out, nonsense-laden idiot-fest seen on British TV since, well…  *cough* erm…  Jeremy Kyle is on every day…  and The Wright Stuff…  and then there’s almost all of Channel 5’s output…  Satellite channels…  (has anyone ever watched anything of Conspiracy TV?  *giggles*)

OK, so there’s stiff competition out there in the time-rich and thought-poor facets of British media, and anything that comes with short sentences, a couple of nice locations and a pretty face or two is likely to get up there on the box at some point, no matter how inane the subject material, or how utterly bonkers the take on said substrate may be.  This is where Danny Dyer, Jodie Kidd and “I Believe in…” come in.

Danny Dyer’s effort, “I Believe in UFO’s”, deserves its own lengthy analysis, but I’ll just relay one little element that really made me chuckle…  Loveable, credulous, silly old Danny has just been out in a crop field with a ‘Crop Circle Expert’, who is in fact just some random dude with a VW campervan and an IQ problem, calmly explaining how crop circles must be produced by aliens, because the ‘knees’ of the stalks on the crops can only be bent over in this way by high temperatures of some sort, and thus ‘steam’ in the joint and…  WHOOM…  down go the grasses into this week’s pattern picked out of ‘Flying Saucer Crop Patterns Lightyearly’ (WHSmith will get it in if you ask nicely, have two green heads and 6 limbs (but don’t tell Danny!)) by our Alien UberSturmFuhrer on duty to watch over us puny Earthlings and molest cattle on that particular night.  Our hero, swollen with ‘knowledge’, goes into the local pub to meet some thoroughly delightful chaps at the pool table – very casual.  These delightful chaps then go on to tell him that it’s all a load of bollocks.  It’s them!  They go into the crop circles at night, mob-handed, and proceed to inflict criminal damage on a lot of innocent arable crops and the brains of gullible, half-witted townies…  without actually admitting it of course – the local constabulary might be watching.  Cue Danny’s almost weepy lament pouring out of his drizzle-stricken grid.  For everything else there may well be credit cards, but these moments which warm the heart…  Priceless. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , ,

11 Comments

Amazing Easily-Identifyable-Flying-Objects Of 2009

2010 is almost upon us, and it’s around about this time of the year that people start doing niche retrospectives of the year. Top 10 twitterers of 2009. 15 of the best political balls-ups of the year. 2009 in animal dentistry: a retrospective. That kind of thing. Well, I never claimed to be particularly original, just as The Sun hasn’t ever claimed to be conduct truthful reporting of the story. With this in mind, and the end of the year fast approaching, I give you your-super-soaraway-whopping-Sun’s ‘Amazing UFO pics of 2009‘.

As anyone who keeps their eyes to the skies – or, more likely, to the news and the skeptical blogosphere – might imagine, this bumper UFO-tastic article follows on not only from the recent strange spirals over Norway (which turned out to be a stray Russian missile, rather than a stray alien emissary) but also from the news that the Ministry of Defense has latterly closed the UFO-hotline. I know recent Righteous Indignation guest Nick Pope was particularly interested in that latter story, which you can hear over on the RI Podcast site. Feel free to have a listen, I’ll wait if you like.

Actually, that’s a lie – I won’t wait at all: if the MoD have decreed alien sightings too unimportant to report to them, I best crack on through the story before the MoD’s lack of interest inevitably trickles down to your alien-believer on the street, and the whole UFO story goes cold. That’s how it works, right? Read the rest of this entry »

, , ,

4 Comments

Breaking News: Bulgaliens Have Landed

Stop the press: aliens have finally gotten in contact with Earth. Just kidding – don’t really stop the press. Actually, there isn’t even a press to stop, what with this being online and all. Unless you count WordPress. Hell, why not – Stop the WordPress: aliens have finally gotten in contact with Earth. What’s more, they’re no mucking around – they turned down the advances of Carl Sagan’s beloved SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and instead have gone straight to the top guys, the big cheeses: the Bulgarian Space Research Institute.

Lachezar Filipov, deputy director of the Space Research Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (to give it it’s full title), confirmed research into the other-worldly communication was currently underway, and that the aliens were in the process of answering 30 questions beamed out into space by scientists. And their chosen method of communication? Did they beam their answers directly into Filipov’s brain? Did they use their advanced technology to create a universal translator and speak Bulgarian to the lucky scientists?

Did they hell. They left a series of 150 crop circles, around the world. Including the dragonfly circle left in Yatesbury, Wiltshire, earlier this year. It’s never easy, is it? Poor Bulgarian scientists. But Filipov holds out hope that he won’t always have to be jetting around the world looking at pretty patterns in the grass (patterns that could be made, say, by someone like… say… anyone who wanted to). Apparently he holds out hope that in the future people will be able to  establish contact with the extraterrestrials through the power of thought. That thought presumably being ‘Oooh, look at that pretty crop circle pattern’. Read the rest of this entry »

,

1 Comment

Psychics: Why Believe Them At All?

Psychics and their antics are a common presence on our blog. Whether it’s Joe Power being grumpy on a Liverpool street or Jayne Wallace contacting the spirit of Michael jackson through twitter, we’ve covered it. It’s not surprising, really. Psychics make so many extravagant claims that they’re bound to attract those of us with a Skeptical bent.

Except me.

For some reason, I’ve never been that bothered about psychics, even though as woo goes, psychic powers are up there with the best. Psychics claim extremely ridiculous and hard-to-believe powers, yet are incredibly popular with the public. And they’re everywhere! People reading fortunes through crystal balls and tarot cards, others contacting the dead or reading your mind. You find them at seaside towns, in circuses, on the internet and on phonelines. You even get travelling fairs that run the full gamut of ‘spiritual’ woo. Most people will have heard of the ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’ festival. Read the rest of this entry »

, , ,

10 Comments

Skeptics in the Pub: December 17th – Trystan Swale

Trystan Swale

Ghosts and the People Who Hunt Them

Trystan Swale

When: Thu, Dec 17, 2009 8:00 – 11:00 PM
Where: Crown Hotel, 43 Lime Street, Liverpool.

Summary

Who are the people that spend their weekends sat in haunted buildings hoping to capture evidence of an after life or a snapshot of a ghost? From academics to housewives, Trystan Swale blows the whistle on the profiles, methods, means, deception, poor research and bad science of the people who continue to shape popular culture and perception of ghosts.
Read the rest of this entry »

,

2 Comments