Friday, August 30, 2013

5 Things I've noticed about... Fan Fiction

On my "Five Things I've noticed about" articles I generally rag on things that I don't like (conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, bigotry, etc.). But, what about something that I do like?

I like fan fiction. In fact I feel that some of it is just as good as the original fiction itself it is based upon (sometimes even better). But, this isn't always the case, and because of that it's made me noticed a lot of things about fan fiction that I have narrowed down to five things.

So here are five things I've noticed about fan fiction.

5. A lot of it contains unnecessary filler.

A lot of fan fiction is contains what most people would consider to be unnecessary filler, including really good fan fiction. In fact really good fan fiction seems to be especially prone to this.

Now by unnecessary filler I don't mean side stories within a chapter, or a side story chapter itself, as this can actually help improve the content of a story and perhaps gradually explain a few things. What I mean is stuff that doesn't need to be in there at all and has nothing to do with the story.

Some of the most common unnecessary filler includes long disclaimers on every single chapter (it is only need on the first chapter, and it doesn't need to be long), unnecessary author's notes, comments from fans, excuses by the author why they haven't updated in a while, reviews of the previous chapters, and previews of the next chapter. None of this is necessary, and all it does is add to the word count of that piece of fan fiction.

4. Some of it is unreadable.

There is some fan fiction out there that just cannot be read. By this I don't mean it's such a bad story line that no one wants to read it (that's just a matter of opinion than fact), but that the grammar, spelling, line and paragraph breaks (if there are any), and coherency is so bad that no one can understand it.

Now no one expects a piece of fan fiction to be perfect and have everything right with it (it is mostly being written by amateurs after all), but some of it is so poorly done in terms of spelling and grammar alone that it looks like the author didn't put any effort into it, and because of that what could have been a great piece of fan fiction is nothing more than a jumble words and letters that makes little to no sense.

Heck, I know I'm not the best at spelling and grammar (I sucked at language arts in school) but at least I put some effort into what I write, and double and even triple check my work before I publish anything on this blog. Some fan fiction on the other looks like it was typed up and published and that's it. No pre-reading to find errors or anything.

3. Longer doesn't always mean better.

There is this assumption amongst fan fiction readers (and probably writers as well) that a long piece of fan fiction is probably a good piece of fan fiction, which is usually true, but not always the case. In fact many of them can have poor story lines, make the already established characters completely out of character for no reason what so ever, not be very coherent, and as I said before, just be outright unreadable.

Just because someone is dedicated enough to write a piece of fiction that is over 100,000 words doesn't mean that person is any good at writing. Same thing with short fan fiction stories (just in reverse). Just because a story is only a one shot story that's a couple of thousand words long, it doesn't mean that it's bad. In fact some of the best fan fiction I have ever read were short stories that were far better then some long pieces of fan fiction.

2. Romance based fan fiction is way over used.

I don't mind romance based fan fiction. Heck, some of it is even really good, and some of the best fan fiction I have read has some romance in it, but, there is way to much fan fiction out there that is purely romance, and it almost seems like it's just easier to write.

I know, a lot of people love to read romance fan fiction, and write it too, but because there is so much of it, it just feels like it's a cheap way to make a story.

If romance is going to be put in a piece of fan fiction, then it really should be more of a side part of the story that help complete the story rather than the story itself (especially if it's a long story).

1. A lot of it never gets finished.

If you ever go onto and go back around two or three or five years (or longer) in every section, chances are you're going to find a lot of fan fiction that never was finished.

It doesn't matter if it was a really long piece of fan fiction, or a short piece, or if it was really good, or really bad, there is just a huge amount of fan fiction that has never been finished, and probably won't be either.

Now there are several reasons why some people never finish a piece of fan fiction. Maybe they've had a major case of writers block and said to heck with it. Maybe they haven't had any time to do any writing. Maybe they've had to many discouraging comments. Maybe they've gotten bored with it and gave up.

While I have no problem with a bad piece fan fiction getting abandoned, it can be really disappointing when a really good piece of fan fiction doesn't get finished and is just tossed by the way side.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why do people lie about their belief in a Conspiracy Theory? Part 2: Ulterior Motives

Why do some people claim to believe in a conspiracy theory, when in fact they do not?

In Part One I of this two part series, I explained that some people do this out of a motivation of fear (mainly the fear of some sort of lose by no longer believing in a conspiracy theory, or the fear of some type of retaliation).

Of course it is not always fear that motivate a person to claim that they believe in a conspiracy theory when they really don't. It could be that they have an ulterior motive that tends to be selfish in it's reasons.

Attention Seeking

Conspiracy theorists get a lot of attention, either from fellow conspiracy theorists who may or may not share their beliefs, or from skeptics who debunk their beliefs (while at the same time mocking them for those beliefs), or from the media (and law enforcement agencies) when a conspiracy theorist breaks the law after being motivated to do so by a conspiracy theory.

This attention can be attractive to those whom seek out attention themselves, and will take any type of attention (positive or negative) they can get.

Basically you can think of them as a bratty child who is acting bad simply because no one will play attention to them, and they know that acting the way that they are people will pay attention to them, and they do so without fear of consequences because there might actually be very little in the way of consequences, and even when they do suffer the consequences of their actions, they know it will be either minor and/or temporary, and that there are probably ways around it too.

Financial Motivations

Some people claim to believe in conspiracy theories not because they actually do, but because they're greedy, and they know that selling products that some conspiracy theorists buy can make them a lot of money.

For example, some one might open up a store that sells alternative medicine. The owner of the store might tell their customers how they "believe" that big pharma is evil, and that the medicine big pharma makes is actually bad for you, and that what they are selling will cure just about anything. The owner might not believe a word they just said, but if it gets them a sale, then they might not care.

Another example would be someone who has their own radio show and/or internet site which is dedicated to conspiracy theories, and lets say that this radio show and/or internet site has several sponsors that sell products that are aimed at conspiracy theorists. This could cause the host of this radio show and/or internet site to constantly spout out conspiracy theories that don't believe in order to keep money rolling in from those sponsors, and maybe even sell products that they have created (such as videos) to their audience.

Political Motivations

Another reason why some people might proclaim belief in a conspiracy theory that they don't believe in, and even make up conspiracy theories that they know are bogus, is because of political motivations.

Politically motivated conspiracy theories are actually very common, and the most common use for them is to try to get a person elected to an office by making up some stuff about another person whom already holds that office (or vice verse). The reason for this is to try to fool the voting public into believing these conspiracy theories about said candidate, and get more people to vote for their own candidate. This can be done by either a supporter of one of the candidates, or by one of the candidates themselves via attack ads, or internet postings.

Persecution complex

Somewhat similar to politically motivated conspiracy theories, some people might claim that a certain piece of legislation would (or does) somehow take away their rights (whether real or not). Some people might use the claims that a certain piece of legislation would take away their rights in order to rally people around them and either intimidate a politician to vote no on said piece of legislation, or create legislation that is suppose to counteract the other piece of legislation, or to an extreme extent, get people to ignore the legislation and any laws that comes with it as way to make it appear that piece of legislation is a failure. This could also apply to legal rulings as well as legislation.

Another reason why someone might claim that there is a conspiracy in that they are being persecuted for is that they are in fact being either investigated by law enforcement officials, or they really are being prosecuted for a crime they may or may not have committed. Some people might start spouting off conspiracy theories about the government targeting them over some conspiracy theories that they claim to believe in (which they may or may not actually believe in).

In fact they may actually be claiming that they are being persecuted (and even go so far as to claim that they have proof of a conspiracy theory, when in reality they never do) as a way to rally support around them, and as an attempt to try to intimidate the government into backing off of them.


Some people might claim that they believe in conspiracy theories, and go to gatherings of conspiracy theorists groups, not because they believe any of it at all, but because they are doing research into conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists.

The reason for this could be because they could be a psychology student, or a psychologist, who is doing research into the mentality of conspiracy theorists, so they may pretend to believe in conspiracy theories in order to gain their trust, and help to better their research in understand conspiracy theorists, and the conspiracy theories that they believe in. Perhaps they are even a skeptic who is trying better understand conspiracy theorists.

The research could also be being done by law enforcement officials in order to seek out individuals who might be considering committing a crime (like an act of terrorism).

Controlling people

Probably on of the more darker aspects of conspiracy theories is some people might create conspiracy theories as a method of (or an excuse for) controlling people in order to get them to do what they want them to do.

The creation of conspiracy theories are primarily based off of some type of fear, and there are people out there whom have no problems using that fear in order to control another person.

While this way of controlling people is mainly used by cult leaders, it is also used by egotistical people who simply love to control others.

Friday, August 23, 2013

5 Thing I've noticed about... Cryptids


Creatures that are often times so elusive that there is no physical proof of their existence, and has lead most people to believe that they don't exist at all.

Now despite the fact that there is actually no proof that any cryptids exist, there are certain things that I have noticed about them, and have narrowed down to five things.

So here are five things I've noticed about cryptids:

5. They are masters at Hide & Go Seek.

If a cryptid was to ever enter a hide & go seek contest, they would probably win it, because they are masters at hiding.

Despite the fact that many of the areas of the world where various cryptids are known to live are actually very well explored, no one can actually seem to capture a living or dead cryptid.

A couple of good examples of this would be the search for the Loch Ness Monster and the search for Bigfoot.

Despite the fact that there have been multiple explorations of where Bigfoot is suppose to live (which is apparently everywhere now) or the use of motion sensor triggered trail cameras where they are suppose to roam, no one has ever been able to produce any solid proof that Bigfoot exists, other then a few grainy photos taken by people whom weren't even looking for the creature and could easily be something else entirely, and some photos and videos and footprints that are clear, but have either been found out to be hoaxes, or are strongly suspected of being hoaxes.

As for the Loch Ness Monster, that creature is so good at hiding scientists couldn't even find it after all of Loch Ness was scanned with sonar devices.

4. They're big business

Cryptids have made people a lot of money.

There have been many popular TV shows dedicated to finding cryptids, or has a cryptid as one of the characters. There have also been multiple products that feature cryptids as well (including shirts and toys). You can even pay people to take you on expeditions into these places where these cryptids are suppose to inhabit, and the sites where some of these creatures are suppose to live (such as Loch Ness) have become huge tourist attractions, attracting thousands of wannabe monster hunters every year hoping to catch a glimpse of one of these elusive creatures.

Of course lets not forget the millions of dollars spent on high tech equipment to try to find these alleged creatures.

Plus, who here can honestly say that the creation of the Star Wars character Chewbacca wasn't in some ways inspired by the descriptions of Bigfoot.

3. They don't seem to interact with each other.

Out of all the claimed sightings I have heard about varies cryptids, the one thing I have never heard is one cryptid interacting with another cryptid.

This could be a result of the alleged rarity of these creatures that there are simply not enough of them to actually interact with each other (other than a cryptid of their own species, which is also something that is never seen), or they're just scared of each other and avoid each other (which many known animals actually do).

Of course it could be because people so rarely see a cryptid (and it's usually from a distance, and it's not very clear) that it could be that no one has ever had the opportunity to see a cryptid interacting with another cryptid. It's not like people see Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster everyday, so it shouldn't be surprising that no one has ever seen Bigfoot riding on top of the Loch Ness Monster either.

2. There are multiple explanations for them.

While a few cryptids will have one explanation for it's existence, most of them have multiple explanations.

The two most common explanations for a cryptids existence is that they are either an unknown animal that has simply yet to be discovered, or, as many scientists believe, the misidentification of a known animal (other than those that are out right hoaxes).

Other explanations are that some could be a prehistoric creature that survived extinction (as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are sometimes claimed to be) or that they could be aliens (as the Mothman and Chupacabra are sometimes claimed to be) or that they're some kind of spirit like creatures (as the Jersey Devil is sometimes claimed to be).

Regardless of how many logically (and not so logical) explanations there are for a cryptid, there is one true thing that all cryptids have in common...

1. They probably don't exist.

Despite the numerous explorations of areas where the creatures mentioned above (along with many others) have been done in an attempt to find these creatures, no one has ever been able to capture one, or bring back any physical proof that these creatures exist at all. These facts, combined with the logical explanations for the sightings of these creatures (including misidentification of a known animal, and intentionally created hoaxes) has lead many scientists to concluded that most, if not all, probably don't exist, or they just don't exist at all.

Or course I (and many scientists) say they probably don't exist rather than saying that they don't exist at all in most cases because there is a remote possibly (and very remote at that. Basically being on the same level as proving the existence of ghosts, or proving that aliens have been coming to Earth) that a few of them could exist.

Because of this remote possibly that some of these creatures could exist, and the occasional eye witness sighting from someone who doesn't appear to be making their claim up, it keeps people looking for them and wasting their time and money trying to find something that odds are doesn't exist. But still, much like with UFO hunting and ghost hunting, cryptid hunting can be fun, and can lead you to go to all these interesting places and lead people to learn more about history and nature, and maybe even real science along the way.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why do people lie about their belief in a Conspiracy Theory? Part 1: Fear

Why do some people continue to express belief in a conspiracy theory when they actually no longer believe in that conspiracy theory?

Yes, as hard as it might sound to some people, their are people out there that do in fact lie about their beliefs in a conspiracy theory, and there are actually several different reason why someone does this, but one of the main reasons why someone does this is fear.

In fact not only is fear a major reason why someone would claim to believe in a conspiracy theory that they no longer believe in, there are actually several different reasons (or excuses) for that fear.

What if?

Probably one of the most common reasons why a person says they believe in a conspiracy theory, even when they do not actually believe in it is the question of "what if?" as in "what if I'm wrong?"

The fear of being wrong about something is often times one of the biggest reasons why someone claims to believe in something when in their minds they actually don't (or at least question themselves) because they think it might save them in some ways if they turn out to be wrong and it actually is true...

They don't want to look stupid.

For some people whom believe in a conspiracy theory, but have since stopped believing but continue to claim to believe in a conspiracy theory, they may be continuing to claim they believe in a conspiracy theory due to the fact that they, in a way, would be admitting that they were being stupid, and maybe in their egotistical minds, would look stupid in the process.

Because of this fear, combined with their own ego, it can cause a person to continue saying that they believe in a long after they actually stopped believing in a conspiracy theory, and can cause them to continue to try to prove a conspiracy theory that they no longer believe in is real to other people.

They can also be very sensitive as well and blow up when someone questions their claims, or intelligence, or sanity.

They're afraid losing relationships.

Some people might claim to believe in a conspiracy theory not because genuinely believe in it, but because someone they are close to, or a group of people they are close to, believes in that conspiracy theory.

This relationship could be with a family member they are close to, or their entire family, and they're afraid that if they speak out and say that they do not believe in the conspiracy theory that the family member (or members) believes in, or do not even express any of the same beliefs in said conspiracy theory, they may lose what relationship they have with that family member, or their family.

The relationship lose might not come from a family member either. It could be a fear of a lose of friends.

Lets say a person has a friend, or a group of friends, who believe in a conspiracy theory. Or, maybe they even joined an organization that promotes a certain conspiracy theory, and they made friends with some of the people in that organization. Some people might continue to claim they believe in that conspiracy theory long after they stopped believing in it simply because they don't want to lose their friends.

They're afraid of being harassed and retaliated against.

While some people's fear based reasons for continuing to believe in a conspiracy theory they no longer believe in (or never really did) might be a selfishly based fear, some people's fear might be a legitimate fear, such as the fear of being harassed and/or retaliated against.

This fear is a very legitimate in fact, not only because conspiracy theorists have been known to harass skeptics and debunkers who express doubt in a conspiracy theory, or actually prove a conspiracy theory to be false, but also because it has happened before to other former conspiracy theorists too.

This fear of harassment might not even come from people in a conspiracy theorist organization. It may come from the whole community, especially if the whole, or at least many in the community actually believes in a certain conspiracy theory and you do not. Expressing disbelief in a conspiracy theory in such a community could result in some people trying to run that person out of town.

Because of this fear of harassment and other, perhaps more violent forms of retaliation, this may keep a person claiming to believe in a conspiracy theory long after they no longer do.

They're afraid of being abused.

While most people believe in a conspiracy theory because they want to, some people only say they believe in a conspiracy theory out of the very real and legitimate fear of being assaulted by someone close to them that does.

This fear can be very real and could be the result of a spouse, or a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, or even a parent whom is either intimidating, authoritarian, and/or abusive. Combine this with a belief in conspiracy theories that person might have, and it might make a person whom is on the receiving end of the abuse feel like they have no choice but to say that they believe in a conspiracy theory simply to stay safe.

Sometimes they claim to believe in a conspiracy theory not out of the fear of possibly being abused, but because they have been told by the abusive party that they will be beaten if they defy them, or actually have been beaten for defying them.

Fear of financial lose.

The final fear based reason why some people claim to believe in a conspiracy theory even when they no longer do (or never did) is because they have a real financial incentive to claim to believe in a conspiracy.

First, the person could own a business that has clientele that not only believe in conspiracy theories, but believe in it them so much so that they might not do business with someone whom doesn't agree with them (this could be based off of their own fear that a person could be a shill if they don't agree with them).

Because the owner might not want to lose that person's business, they might claim they also believe in that conspiracy theory, why in reality they really don't.

Now the other type of fear of financial lose might not come from the fear of the lose of clientele, but the fear of losing your job, either by getting fired by a manager or owner who believes in a conspiracy theory and doesn't want anyone working for them that doesn't, or a co-worker whom believes in a conspiracy theory, and retaliates and does anything they can to get a person fired because they don't believe in the conspiracy theory that they believe in.

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 Things I've noticed about... Cult Leaders

Cult leaders.

I'm sure everyone has heard about them and the groups that they form around them and their "teachings". I'm also sure you're aware of how they act...

Well anyways, I've been examining cult leaders for a long time, and people who act like cult leaders as well. During my observations I've notice certain traits that most of them have, and from that I've come up with five things they all tend to share.

So here are five things I've noticed about cult leaders:

5. They're narcissistic.

If you were to ever meet the leader of a cult they will tell you that all of their teaching are for you to help better your life, and on the surface that sounds great... except this is a lie.

In reality it is all about the leader of the cult, and the power that leader has over you and the members of that cult.

The leader doesn't actually care about you, they only care bout what you can do for them, and how much you respect (or fear) them.

And as for their teachings? Well, just remember this is something that THEY created, and therefore can change at any time they want to (which most do) to suit whatever needs that they have, and they do this while telling you it's for your own good.

4. They like to surround themselves with important people.

Because of a cult leader's narcissism and their need to feel important, and also feel the need to gain influence (as well as new members), they tend to try also try to surround themselves with people who are either important, or they feel are important. This of course could be politicians, community leaders, celebrities, Playboy models (which I can't really blame them for), and especially people who are rich.

They do this because not only does it help them get new members (via influence of the important person), they also do this because they feel it gives them a kind of bubble of protection (which does work sometimes).

Now, if they can't actually get important people into their cult, then they'll do the next best thing: make members of their cult important and rich (as this helps get them more money).

3. They try to destroy their critics.

Probably one of the most well known and enduring practices that L. Ron Hubbard created for his Church of Scientology was the Fair Game policy, which is basically guidelines on how to destroy a critic of Scientology using whatever means necessary to silence that critic. This policy is still used today (although some in the cult claim it isn't), but it is far less effective than it was years ago as most people are no longer afraid of the Church of Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard isn't the only cult leader whom did this, or something similar to this. In fact many, if not all cult leaders do this, mostly because they see their critics as their enemies (although this might not be to far off in some cases, it's usually for good reason).

While most have a direct hand in their handling of critics, most of the time they aren't the one whom actually handle their critics. In fact the actual handling of their critics is done by other followers, they just give out the orders on whom they feel should be targeted, and how, and this is because...

2. They prefer have others do their dirty work.

While a cult leader is usually responsible for the unethical (or illegal) stuff that their cults do, they're usually not the ones who actually do it. More often times they have other people within the cult actually do it for them, usually so they can do what ever they want (and to whomever they want) and not face the consequences via denial of knowledge that their members were doing what they were doing (which doesn't always work).

Of course they could also be having others do their dirty work so that they can fight their enemies, while at the same time not look bad to the public at large (which again, doesn't always work). Or they could be doing that so that they don't look bad infront of their members as well, or so that they don't look weak.

1. They're paranoid.

Besides being narcissistic, cult leaders tend to be paranoid as well.

While their paranoia could be the result of their narcissism (you think that you're important, so you start to believe everyone is out to get you) it could be that they are already paranoid, and because they think that someone or some group is out to get them, they start to believe that they must be important, which can result in them developing narcissism.

Regardless of the reason why they are paranoid, because of their paranoia, it can cause them to do things that are not only morally and ethically wrong (and possibility illegal) it can cause them to attack anyone whom they feel is threatening them, and it can also cause them to lash out at their followers as well (including their most loyal ones). The results of this is that they could either kick out any members without any reason, or force them to do acts to prove their loyalty, sometimes with extremely tragic consequences.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

11 Reasons why people believe in Pseudoscience

Why do some people believe in pseudoscience?

It's a question that I'm sure that many skeptics have asked when they encounter someone who believes in something that has been discredited for years (sometime centuries).

Doing a little bit of research into the subject, as well as a bit of thinking, I've come up with quite a few reasons why some people actually believe in pseudoscience.

11. It goes along with their beliefs.

Due to either religious or personal beliefs (or a combination of both) some people will believe in the pseudoscientific explanation for something, rather than the scientific explanation for something, if the pseudoscientific explanation goes along with their beliefs. Sometimes this will even go so far as to out right reject and ignore the scientific explanation, so long as the pseudoscientific explanation goes along with their beliefs, and the scientific explanation does not.

Examples of this would be people who have strong biblical beliefs rejecting the theory of evolution in place of intelligent design because intelligent design goes along with the creation story, or people who reject modern medicine in place of alternative medicine or believe in claims that vaccines cause autism because they believe pharmaceutical companies are evil, or people who believe that GMO foods are bad for you because they believe that organic foods are better for you and that GMO foods aren't tested or regulated.

10. Real science can be difficult to understand.

I have to admit, there are some things in science that are just difficult to understand, and unless you already have a decent amount of knowledge about a certain scientific field, you probably aren't going to understand whats going on if someone is discussing something about that scientific field.

Pseudoscience on the other hand is usually much easier to understand than real science, and because pseudoscience tends to be much easier to understand than real science, it can attract some people who have become frustrated with real science and their inability to understand it.

9. It sounds more awesome.

Besides being difficult to understand, science can also be boring to some people.

Because some people find the real scientific explanations to certain things to be boring and uninteresting, some people will go over to the pseudoscientific explanations, because it sounds a lot more exciting.

An example of this would be the explanation by ancient astronaut theorists that the Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed by aliens using their advanced technology for reasons unknown. Sounds a lot more exciting than the actual scientific explanation in that it was a giant monument and tomb constructed over a 20 year period by thousands of people for some egotistical Pharaoh.

8. It sounds more logical.

For some people that don't have a good understanding of both how science and logic works, a pseudoscientific explanation can actually sound a lot more logical than an actual scientific and/or logical explanation for certain things.

Lets take crop circles for example. Some people believe that crop circles are made by aliens as a way to send us a message. To some people this sounds more logical than the actual explanation of a bunch of pranksters getting together and creating these geometric shapes in wheat fields using rope and 2x4s.

7. It makes them feel smart.

Because real science can be hard to understand, it can make certain people feel dumb when they try to understand it and just can't. On the other hand because many things in pseudoscience are easy for most people to understand, and because of the false assumption that it is real science, it can make people feel smart when they understand it.

Because of the fact that they can understand it (and because they feel that it makes them look smart because they understand it) they might be more inclined to believe in it.

6. They were taught it and have yet to be exposed to the facts.

Most of the time when a person believes in a pseudoscience it's because it either makes them feel smart due to their lack of knowledge in the field of science, or they're just being stubborn in their beliefs that don't go along with the scientific and/or logical explanation. Sometimes of course it could also be that they were taught the pseudoscientific explanation, and never was exposed to the facts.

This could come in two different means: First, it could be because of an overbearing parent who refuses to allow their child to learn the scientific explanation for something in place of their own personal and/or religious beliefs (as is the case with many fundamentalist Christian parents who homeschool their children and only teaches them "intelligent design"). Second, it could be because what a person believes to a science fact is really a scientific misconception and they've had no reason to find out if it was true or not.

5. A celebrity believes in it.

Celebrities, much like the rest of us, are only human, and because of this many celebrities believe in some pseudosciences. Because celebrities can also be so influential to certain people, and can give off the misconception that they are smart, it can make some people believe that it's cool or okay to believe in that pseudoscience because this celebrity believes in it, and that it must be true because they believe that celebrity is smart, which may or may not be the case.

Most of the time this harmless because the pseudoscience the celebrity believes in is harmless. Sometimes it's not.

4. A scientist endorses it.

Much like celebrities, scientists are also humans as well. Because of this sometimes scientists will endorse a pseudoscience too.

Because an actual scientist, or doctor, or engineer officially endorses a pseudoscience, it can cause some people to not only believe in that pseudoscience, but even refuse to believe otherwise despite a majority of scientists, or doctors, or engineers who say otherwise and can back up their reasons why.

3. It was once considered real science.

There are several different types of pseudosciences out there that at one time were considered to be real sciences, but was either discredited by, or over taken by real science.

Because somethings were once considered to be real science, some people might be inclined to believed that it is still considered to be real science. Or, it could because they don't believe it should be outright abandoned.

2. The possibility it could be real.

There are some pseudosciences that exist not because the subject at hand is real, but because of the possibility that it is real.

Because there are certain pseudoscientific subjects that could be real (no matter how remote) this could lead some people to believing it really is real. Or, this could cause some people to believe in a pseudoscience is real just incase it ever is proven to be real and they don't look like a fool.

1. It goes along with something they are trying to sell.

Sometimes belief in a pseudoscience doesn't just make logical sense to some people, it can also make finical sense as well, especially if they are selling some product or service based on pseudoscience (like alternative medicine). This can be due to the combination of wanting something you're selling to work, and customers telling you that it works.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is it a Conspiracy Theory, or is it Satire?

When you investigate conspiracy theories and the claims that go along with them you will occasionally find some that are so strange, and so bizarre, that it will make you ask the question "is this real? Or is this something that a satirist came up with?"

Because of the result of the strangeness of certain conspiracy theories (or the fact that some conspiracy theories just look like satire and/or intentionally created hoaxes) it is seriously believed that some conspiracy theories were created by a satirist or hoaxer, rather than an actual conspiracy theorist.

A recent example a conspiracy theory that is so strange and absurd that many people (both skeptics and conspiracy theorists alike) believe it to be some type of satire or hoax is a conspiracy theory concerning the birth of Prince William's and Duchess Catherine's son.

The conspiracy theory that has been floating around the internet basically accuses Catherine of faking her pregnancy, and that some woman working for the "Illuminate" (a group that has never been proven to exist) was actually the birth mother.

Sounds so absurd that it sounds like it is entirely untrue and it was all made up, right?

Well, technically it is untrue and was all made up (as is with most conspiracy theories). The difference between this conspiracy theory and most other conspiracy theories is that it is heavily speculated that it was created as a hoax or even a parody by someone trying to show how gullible conspiracy theorists are, rather than some kook (or severely mentally ill person) who spends their time inventing these conspiracy theories.

Then of course there are some conspiracy theory articles on the internet that are so absurd that it's actually natural to assume that it is satire, when in reality it isn't. Such was the case this week when I read an article (or at least as much as I could have before the stupid started to burn) that claimed that Alex Jones was a "Jewish shill". If it wasn't for the fact that the website it is on promotes a lot conspiracy theories, and that several associated skeptics told me it wasn't, I would have assumed it was satire. In fact, I actually did ask if it was satire, and if it was on another website, I would have continued to assume it was satire rather then the rantings of a extremely bigoted, paranoid conspiracy theorist.

When I see stuff like this it honestly makes me wonder if any of the really strange conspiracy theories are the creations of some paranoid kook, or a well constructed hoax. It's even lead me to wonder if any of the older conspiracy theories who's origins I already question to being with, like chemtrails and FEMA camps, are hoaxes as well.

I already question whether or not the chemtrail and FEMA camp conspiracy theories were either the creations of some conspiracy theorist that got out of hand, or a deliberately created hoax to be used by various anti-government groups as propaganda that ended up taking a life of it's own. But now I'm wondering if those two conspiracy theories are just some hoaxes that were created for the purpose of showing how easy it is to either create a conspiracy theory that will be believed by others, or to show how gullible conspiracy theorists are by making them believe in a conspiracy theory that has no evidence to back it up.

So in conclusion I think it's okay to question not only whether or not a conspiracy theory is real or not, but to question whether or not it was actually meant to be taken seriously or not.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What is a Sheeple? The Conspiracy Theorist definition, and the reality based definition.

Recently on Facebook came across a picture on my feed that, considering the group it was posted in (it was a comedy page) I thought was very... unusual, to say the least.

This is the picture that was posted in said group:

I found this picture a tad bit disturbing, not only because it was posted in a group meant for comedy, but because it clearly showed what at least some conspiracy theorists thinks about people who disagree with them or out right do not believe (and most of the time, for good reason).

In fact this description would be far more accurate if the word "Sheeple" was replaced with "Conspiracy Theorist", as many skeptics would agree that this would more accurately describe many conspiracy theorists (or at least the far more psychotic ones).

Now, a far more accurate definition for the word "Sheeple" would probably be this:

Sheeple - A derogatory word that combines the words "sheep" and "people", and is typically used by conspiracy theorists to try to describe a person whom does not believe in their conspiracy theories (see Skeptic).

Typically the word "Sheeple" is used in arguments over the internet as a blatant insult directed at a skeptic, and is also used as an attempt to intimidate a skeptic into backing down or backing away from an argument concerning a conspiracy theory, and/or even bully them into agreeing with the conspiracy theorist.

This is not to be confused with the word "Shill" which is typically directed towards people who not only do not believe in a conspiracy theory that a conspiracy theorist is presenting, but also presents evidence and/or logical reasoning to show why they don't believe in a conspiracy theory.

Both "Shill" and "Sheeple" are also used by conspiracy theorists as an attempt to end an argument over the internet while trying to save face when it becomes obvious to them that they can not win and are just making themselves appear as someone of either low intelligence and/or questionable sanity.

That would be a far more accurate description for the word "Sheeple". Basically speaking, it is just a typical insult that conspiracy theorists use to try to scare away a skeptic.

The best thing to do if someone calls you a sheeple is to ask them why they think you are a sheeple, and then explain to them why you are not one (this also works if they call you a shill). If this does not work either ignore the accusations, ignore the person completely, or (if you feel like just making them mad) tell them that they are actually conceding defeat in that they actually have nothing left to counter argue, and that they are actually trying to end the argument while at the same time attempting to make it appear as if they have actually won the argument.

Regardless of how you decide to actually handle someone who calls you a a sheeple or a shill, you just have to remember that this is typical conspiracy theorist speak, and that they're only saying it because they're mad that you don't believe them.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Psychics and Alternative Medicine Practitioners: Who is worse?

Psychics, and alternative medicine practitioners. Two different groups of people who peddle BS pseudoscience that wastes gullible peoples money. But which one is worse?

Now many people would say that alternative medicine practitioners are worse, because not only are they peddling something and taking peoples' money for products and services that do not work, they're also physically harming people as well, and even risking peoples lives by not only selling them products and services that makes them think they can forgo real medicine and medical services that could help them and even save their lives for the alternative stuff, but also selling them products and services that really can cause harm, and possibly even kill you.

So it sounds like a no brainer, right? Alternative medicine practitioners are selling you products and services that could harm you and possibly kill you, while psychics are just taking your money. Except... many alternative medicine practitioners might not know what they are doing is harmful, because some do seriously believe that alternative medicine does work (this is mostly due to anecdotal evidence).

People claiming to be psychics on the other hand are different, because while many alternative medicine practitioners might not know what they're doing is fraud, psychics on the other hand almost always know what they're doing is fraud.

Psychic powers simply do not exist. Every person who has ever been tested for psychic powers under controlled scientific testing conditions have always failed to prove that they have psychic powers, and the really famous so called psychics have never gone and had their alleged powers proven under controlled scientific testing conditions, so it is very safe to say that psychic powers don't exist, and that anyone who is claiming to be a psychic is most likely lying (although it is also possible that they may be self-deluded and have actually convinced themselves they are psychic, or they're just mentally ill) and therefore if they do take any money from you for their services, are knowingly committing fraud.

Besides committing fraud, psychics also screw with people's emotions as well (although it could be said that alternative medicine practitioners also do this to by selling people false hope) by making their "customers" believe that they are talking to their dead loved ones. That, or they give "customers" bad advice that results in them losing even more money.

So which type of person is really worse? Psychics, or alternative medicine practitioners?

Alternative medicine practitioners, while what they're doing is harmful, and even deadly, and also selling false hope while at the same time wasting peoples' money, they might not know what they are doing is wrong, and actually believe what they're doing is a good thing.

Psychics on the other hand while they do know that they're committing fraud, and also screwing with peoples' emotions and possibly causing them to make bad decisions, they're not physically harming anyone, just lying and taking gullible peoples' money.

So again, which one is worse?

Personally, I think alternative medicine practitioners are worse.

The reason for this is while alternative medicine practitioners might not know what they're doing is harmful, it's still harmful, and it can and has killed. Even if they really don't know what they're doing is wrong, and actually believe that they're doing something that's good, it's still not enough of an excuse to excuse what they are doing.

While an alternative medicine practitioner might not be be a bad person, the fact that they are doing something that is harmful, makes them worse than psychics.

Of course that's just my opinion. I would like yours.