Not Saussure

April 3, 2007

Skepticism and Pseudoscience

Filed under: junk science, scams — notsaussure @ 12:45 pm

Via The Art Of The Prank, a link to an exclusive video (lives only on that site, apparently, but is available for download as a podcast) in which

Skeptic Magazine founder Michael Shermer takes us on a hilarious romp through the strange claims we humans put forth as truth – from alien encounters to Virgin Mary sightings on pizza pies, to hidden messages revealed while playing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ backwards – and explains the evolutionary and cognitive basis for these lapses in reason…

Brief adverts at the beginning and the end, but the 17-odd minutes in between are highly entertaining. I particularly liked the special hi-tech dowsing rod, for which apparently at least one US school has paid $900, that enables teachers to dowse for marijuana in students’ lockers. Apparently it really works; if you open enough lockers you’ll find pot in some of them; the video makers apparently conducted tests under controlled conditions, with two sealed boxes, one containing pot and the other not. Spookily, the dowsing rod detected the one containing the pot 50% of the time.

The Art Of The Prank is a new, collective blog, appropriately started on April 1st, in which

you will find insights, information, news and discussions about pranks, hoaxes, culture jamming & reality hacking around the world – past, present and future – mainstream and counter culture. You are invited to contribute to its development. May your journey be filled with more than your expectations.

It was started by one Joey Skaggs who, according to his website,

has been called everything from the World’s Greatest Hoaxer to a royal pain in the ass. He’s been threatened, assaulted, summonsed, subpoenaed, arrested, deposed, dismissed, trivialized, maligned, even thanked and praised. In fact, Skaggs is America’s most notorious socio-political satirist, media activist, culture jammer, hoaxer, and dedicated proponent of independent thinking and media literacy.

In a similar vein, Boing Boing reports that Uri Geller has used his paranormal powers to get YouTube to remove a video of him being debunked by the American illusionist James Randi.   Fortunately, the video is available here.

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1 Comment »

  1. Alien encounters are mostly examples of sleep paralysis.
    The James Randi filn is a classic- must watch it again.
    It is interesting that in a supposedly secular society who has laid ‘superstition’ to bed, so many people believe such unscientific crap. I am pretty sure that more people believe in Grey Aliens than believe in strict Darwinian evolution.
    Personal opinion.

    Comment by crushed by Ingsoc — April 3, 2007 @ 4:48 pm


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