Sunday, 27 September 2009

Chernobyl: 20 Years Later

I'm sure you all know what happen at Chernobyl on the 26th April 1986. And I'm many of you have kept abreast of the ongoing reports from within the sealed off area, of conflicting reports nature dying/thriving and of the people who still live there.

Well... here are some outstanding pictures from around Chernobyl taken 20 years on. They are absolutely fascinating. Moments in time seemingly captured (if slightly rusted) for decades. And in others the decay speaks for itself. Check them out.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 20 September 2009

9/11 "Truth"

Conspiracy theories are, in my opinion, reliant upon one's level of belief in the quality of the average human mind. If, like me, you believe all humans have a very limited mental capacity and are pretty unreliable then conspiracy theories often strike you as a bit bizarre and unbelievable.

Nothing stinks more of this than the conspiracies that swirl around the events of the 11th of September 2001.

I find that Truthers lack the ability to imagine. They are unable to imagine the destruction a jet liner can render. They are unable to imagine the fact skyscrapers aren't outside the laws of physics are just as destructible as any other human creation. They are unable to imagine the damage FALLING skyscrapers can have on the buildings around them. They are unable to imagine that 19 men armed with only small knives were able to bring about such murderous destruction. They are unable to imagine the hurt and pain their made up stories and their ignorance must cause to victims and families alike.

Let me make things clear. I HATE George W. Bush. I would be the first person to call for his arrest if there was any evidence of his, or any Government body, complicity in the 9/11 attacks. But even if he was aware something was up in the world of risks to American security that autumn, that isn't really enough to convict the man for "complicity" that's just your run of the mill, head in the sand politician for you.

Read those conspiracy theories on Wikipedia and then try taking them seriously. They make less sense than what we all saw happen before our eyes that day. They have been so roundly and thoroughly debunked it actually blows my mind to see people still proposing them. In my mind the people suggesting a Titanic/Olympic switch theory are more sane than the Truthers.

Why am I going on about this? Because the Truthers represent to me everything that makes researching the anomalous near impossible. People are dumb. We are all total idiots. We see things that aren't there. We see things that are there and then think they are something else. The Truthers are one of the reasons I regard EVERY claim with scepticism. Keep your mind open to other possibilities but steer well clear of the clinically stupid.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Paracast

By now, Dear Constant Reader, I'm sure you realise I tend to lean strongly towards scepticism. That doesn't mean I'm closed minded, nor do I pretend to have the answers. But I also don't really have any "beliefs". I like facts, which are hard to come by anywhere, let alone in the sphere of the anomalous. Another thing about me, which you may not know, is that I am a keen listener of podcasts. They help pass the time on my daily commute across London and back again. I listen to a lot of sceptical podcasts (Like The Skeptics Guide To The Universe and Skepticality, which I highly recommend for being entertaining and informative. And for kicking the butts of the antivax crowd and the like) and I listen to quite a few paranormal podcasts (which I won't link to as most I've found are self-indulgent pieces of promotion for the friends of the podcasters). But a few months ago I came across The Paracast.

The Paracast is a podcast with an interest in the anomalous (especially UFO reports). Hosted by Gene Steinberg and David Biedny, this podcast is not full of "true believers". These two guys truly seem interested in finding out the truth and are refreshingly open minded about what might cause sightings and encounters. And when I say open minded I don't mean the usual paranormal open mindedness that leads to weird beliefs in all sorts of bizarre and ridiculous things. I mean they truly seek to try to understand what is behind the phenomena be it Fortean or be it something more mundane.

They seem to have a reputation of being a bit harsh on their interviewees. Having listened to a lot of their shows, I have to say it's not deserved. What they do is talk to their guests like they are adults and have a conversation with them. Sadly, in this time of bad journalism and sycophantic interviews, this is interpreted by some as rudeness or abrasiveness. Personally I think it's great to hear them asking some pointed questions of crazy fundamentalists (who believe UFOs are piloted by demons) and, in their most recent show, trying to get a straight answer from the lamest sceptic I've ever heard. Honestly his answers were totally off the mark and made me ashamed to consider myself a sceptic. Get Dr. Steven Novella on, and then we might get a real debate going!

I cannot recommend this podcast enough, it's great entertainment and if they continue with the way they are going they might finally "separate signal from noise" and come up with some answers.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist