Alien Abductions: Skeptics, Debunkers, and the Facts at Hand

One of the critical aspects of the abduction phenomenon is that abductees all say the same thing about what is happening to them, even though they do not share knowledge of each others’ experiences. For example, it would be interesting (albeit trivial) to know where aliens come from. If the abduction phenomenon is psychologically based—and therefore, not real—some abductees would simply invent a home base for the aliens, just as they are imagining every­thing else. We would then have a variety of origin theories. In fact, abductees seldom describe a “home base,” because the aliens they encounter do not choose to give this information. Nor do aliens ever reveal the ultimate reason for why they are here. If the phenomenon were psychological, we would be given a wealth of reasons.

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Knowing how aliens got here matters to scientists. They under­stand the immense difficulties of our going to other solar systems or galaxies with our technology and conclude that it is unlikely for others to travel here.… Read the rest

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One year and counting: Mars isolation experiment begins

The obsession with colonizing Mars continues in the media, so much so that I’m starting to wonder how much the movie studio releasing The Martian is paying for it. AFP via Yahoo News reports from Hawaii on a year-long lock-in meant to replicate conditions on Mars:

Six people shut themselves inside a dome for a year in Hawaii, in the longest US isolation experiment aimed at helping NASA prepare for a pioneering journey to Mars.

Photo: Univ. of Hawaii

Photo: Univ. of Hawaii

 

The crew includes a French astrobiologist, a German physicist and four Americans — a pilot, an architect, a doctor/journalist and a soil scientist.

They are based on a barren, northern slope of Mauna Loa, living inside a dome that is 36 feet (11 meters) in diameter and 20 feet tall.

In a place with no animals and little vegetation around, they closed themselves in at 3:00 pm Hawaii time (0100 GMT Saturday), marking the official start to the 12-month mission.

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Federal Drug Sentencing Laws Bring High Cost, Low Return

The War on Some Drugs is a waste of money. We all knew it, but now the Pew Charitable Trusts has produced a research report verifying this obvious truth:

More than 95,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug-related offenses—up from fewer than 5,000 in 1980.1 Changes in drug crime patterns and law enforcement practices played a role in this growth, but federal sentencing laws enacted during the 1980s and 1990s also have required more drug offenders to go to prison— and stay there much longer—than three decades ago.2 (See Figure 1.) These policies have contributed to ballooning costs: The federal prison system now consumes more than $6.7 billion a year, or roughly 1 in 4 dollars spent by the U.S. Justice Department.3

Despite substantial expenditures on longer prison terms for drug offenders, taxpayers have not realized a strong public safety return. The self-reported use of illegal drugs has increased over the long term as drug prices have fallen and purity has risen.4 Federal sentencing laws that were designed with serious traffickers in mind have resulted in lengthy imprisonment of offenders who played relatively minor roles.5 These laws also have failed to reduce recidivism.

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Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left?

A Ghost In The Machine

Robert Bailey via Reason.com:

After two centuries of relentless automation, why are there more jobs than ever? Certainly, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Whatever happened to the myriads of hostlers, blacksmiths, coopers, sucksmiths, millers, tallowmakers, wheelwrights, sicklemen, puddlers, telegraphers, stockingers, fellmongers, saddlers, ploughmen, knackers, bleacherers, weavers, thatchers, and scriveners? Most of these jobs have been either wiped out entirely or largely taken over by machines.

The advance of massively more productive machinery has clearly not led to mass unemployment. The number of people employed in advanced economies has never been higher. For example, since 1950 the number of Americans employed has nearly tripled, rising from about 58 million to nearly 149 million today. During that time the proportion of adults in the civilian workforce rose from 55 percent in 1950 to peak at 65 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000. The ratio has now dropped to 59 percent, but the lower rate is widely understood to reflect the fallout from the Great Recession, Baby Boomer cohort retirements, and younger individuals spending more time in school.

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The Theater of Ultra-Violence

violence-headerOn Wednesday, a man approached a couple talking on a patio, a man and a woman. It became apparent that the two were News reporters. How they spoke, the put-together clothes, and makeup , gave it all away. We see the scene in the first person, as if we’re watching Half-life or Call of Duty. This sense is increased when the point of view pulls a guns and fires repeatedly into the bodies of three reporters.

So runs Bryce Williams’ video footage that was discovered on social media minutes after the shooting. Traumatic real world violence, performed for the camera both on live TV and social media. We discovered his account moments before CNN did, so I didn’t know what I would find when I clicked it.

When I saw it, for a moment, I couldn’t believe it was real. This is a common reaction even in the midst of real violence — somehow the surreal cuts in.… Read the rest

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“Jesus Was Black,” Reveals Newly Found Manuscript

black-jesus

Bob Flanagan via Global Research/World News Daily Report:

A team of archeologists from the University of Tel Aviv have uncovered a collection of ancient scrolls in the West Bank region, near the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were originally uncovered in 1947, and which promise to shed a new light on the life and physical appearance of Jesus Christ.

The newly found documents which are believed to have been written by a small Jewish sectarian group, called the Essenes, retraces different elements of the Old Testament and New Testament similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but scholars have turned their attention to a peculiar fragment which describes the birth of the Christ figure in a new light. 

The manuscripts that have been dated between 408 BCE to 318 CE describe the son of Mary as of a “darker color” of skin than her parents, a revealing bit of information admits professor Hans Schummer.

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Polish Official Says ‘More Than 99% Probability’ German Treasure Train Exists

Last week the story of a hidden Nazi gold train in Poland generated a lot of excitement but also a fair amount of skepticism. It now appears that it might really be uncovered as a Polish official calls the chances of it being real “more than 99%,” per the LA Times:

A top Polish cultural official on Friday stirred already feverish excitement over claims of a legendary Nazi treasure train having been located when he told reporters he had seen ground-penetrating radar images of a massive armored transport.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-639-4252-19A, Im Osten, Panzerzug mit Geschütz und Vierlingsflak

“This is an absolutely unprecedented situation,” Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski told a news briefing in Warsaw. “There is a very high — more than 99% — probability that this train exists.”

The radar images showed the shape of a train platform and what appeared to be cannons mounted on the more than 300-foot stretch of military-type wagons, Zuchowski said.

His enthusiasm over the reported discovery signaled that the Polish government, to which any recovered wartime-era property would belong, has bought into the deal offered by the finders to lead authorities to the train in exchange for 10% of the value of its contents.

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Vatican’s No. 1 Pervert Priest Dies Suddenly in Vatican City

67-year-old Josef Wesolowski, one of the Vatican’s most notorious pedophiles, has died. Unfortunately this happened before he had to stand trial for crimes of sex abuse against minors and hoarding child pornography in Vatican City.

Barbie Latza Nadeau via The Daily Beast:

VATICAN CITY — Josef Wesolowski died too soon.  The 67-year-old former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic, whose undeniable crimes of child-sex abuse ran the gamut from victimizing shoe shine boys in Santo Domingo to hoarding more than 100,000 files with child pornography inside Vatican City died in his private room in a Vatican City palazzo overnight.

An autopsy was ordered to confirm his cause of death, which was said to be from natural causes.  No foul play is suspected, according to a Vatican statement no doubt meant to stifle conspiracy theorists, which read simply: “Vatican authorities quickly carried out the first investigation and have established that the death was caused by natural causes.”

Wesolowski, from Poland, who was defrocked for his heinous sins last year, was easily the poster priest of bad behavior and his shocking case was meant to prove that the Church was finally doing something to stop the vile sins of some of its clergy. 

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An Emerging Challenge to Science’s Credibility

The disinformation offices have long enjoyed a subscription to The Journal of Irreproducible Results. The joke of course, is that scientific journals are supposed to publish research that can be reproduced.

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It’s becoming increasingly apparent, however, that many established journals are publishing papers perhaps more appropriate for the aforementioned Journal of Irreproducible Results. From the Christian Science Monitor:

Concerns are mounting that a pillar of modern science is showing cracks.

A key feature of science is researchers’ ability to reproduce experiments – to conduct a reality check on another group’s work by using its materials and following its methods, then comparing the results.

It’s a way to separate results worth building upon from those that aren’t, either because a research team was careless, overlooked something, misinterpreted data, or at worst, fabricated results.

During the past several years, however, worries have grown that many nonreproducible results are working their way into the scientific literature, lingering undetected and, importantly, unchallenged.

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