Archive | March 19, 2014

Half Of All Americans Believe In At Least One Medical Conspiracy Theory

OuchFlintGoodrichShot1941If you believe that the CIA deliberately infected African Americans with the HIV virus or another medical conspiracy theory, you have plenty of company: about half of all Americans, reports Reuters:

About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results.

Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however.

For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information.

“Science in general – medicine in particular – is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty,” Oliver said.

“To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to ‘if you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad,'” he said.

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In 1947 a Live Fish Got Stuck in a Man’s Throat: Here’s How They Removed It

PIC: Klem (CC)

PIC: Klem (CC)

Here’s one from the archives: In 1947, medical personnel had to perform an emergency tracheotomy as part of a complicated procedure to remove a fish that had become lodged in the throat of an unlucky Malaysian man. The man’s family said that the fish had jumped from the man’s net and into his mouth, becoming lodged in his throat. Sounds about as likely as people who visit emergency rooms with rectums stuffed with “foreign bodies” that they “accidentally” fell on while naked, but what do I know? Stranger things have happened. Anyway, this is a pretty gruesome story…

Via Discover:

CASE REPORT: A Malay villager was admitted to the Malacca General Hospital on Feb.27, 1947, in a very distressed state, with laryngealobstruction.There was a marked stridor and retraction of the intercostal spaces. He was throwing himself about on the stretcher and was very dificult to examine, and of course quite unable to give any history.

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New Hampshire Lawmaker Tries and Fails to Pass Bill to Keep Police From Buying Tanks

PIC: SDlewis (PD)

PIC: SDlewis (PD)

It looks like New Hampshire police will get their BEARCAT (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck – sounds like a mid-eighties GI Joe toy.) armored vehicles. You know – for “the terrorists.” Wondering who the terrorists du jour are today? Well, on a grant application to Uncle Sugar, Concord Police Chief John Duval identified C.O.B.R.A.,  the New Hampshire Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire. Don’t worry – he’s really sorry, though, and promised he didn’t mean it.

Duval’s backpedaling didn’t convince city residents, though. Protesters gathered outside Concord town hall to demand his resignation.

Duval’s application also attracted the attention of New Hampshire Republican legislator J.R. Hoell, who sponsored a bill to prevent police departments from purchasing more BEARCATS. There are already 11 departments that already have them.

“Where do you draw the line to say, ‘This is too much,’ in terms of military equipment in the hands of the police?” Hoell asked.… Read the rest

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93 Year-Old Former Auschwitz Medic Arrested For War Atrocities

PIC: Jochen Zimmermann (CC0

PIC: Jochen Zimmermann (CC0

Nearly 70 years after the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz death camp, Germany’s Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes continues its efforts to find and prosecute those who oversaw the deaths of millions of Jews, gays, Roma, Poles, political dissidents, and anyone else the Hitler regime considered immoral, defective or troublesome. The latest to be arrested is an 93 year-old former medic. In accordance with German privacy laws, his name has not been released to the public.

Via The Guardian:

The 93-year-old, who was arrested at his home near Neubrandenburg, north of Berlin, underwent a medical checkup before he faced a judge and was then taken into pre-trial detention.

The former SS member allegedly assisted in the mass murder of prisoners who arrived on eight transports from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Slovenia in September 1944.

Of the arrivals, 1,721 were killed in gas chambers after they were deemed unfit for forced labour at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland, prosecutors said.

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Skeleton Key to the Conspiracy: The Eriksson Twins

Sabina ErikssonThere’s a gang of YouTube videos out there “proving” that So-and-So is a shape-changing lizard alien, based solely on minor video distortions.  And (if you didn’t know) Paul’s bare feet on the cover of Abbey Road is proof that MI5 replaced him with a double when he died in 1966.

Sometimes, the most innocuous event can be touted as evidence of a conspiracy.

And sometimes, the evidence supporting a theory will be so damning that it will push that theory into the realm of “fact.”  Like Snowden’s revelations, which proved what the Alex Jones crowd had been saying for years.

But somewhere in the middle, are those events which refuse to be either proof or conjecture.  Events that merely dull Occam’s razor, leaving you with only a slightly scarred hunk of rock-solid “what if..”

A couple of years ago, I saw one of these odd moments in a BBC documentary, Madness in the Fast Lane.… Read the rest

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Grant Morrison – Perdurabo

PIC: pinguin (CC)

PIC: pinguin (CC)

The ruthlessly eloquent condemnation of Grant Morrison, unleashed by Alan Moore earlier this year, still seems to be ringing through the mediasphere. Dangerous Minds sums it all up quite succinctly with “Alan Moore really hates Grant Morrison’s guts.”

One of the more enchanting rhetorical spells Moore casts against his fellow scribe, taken from Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s interview, is when he refers to Morrison’s “herpes-like persistence.” Which he intends as an insult, one would assume, but unfolds as an illuminating insight into what makes Morrison’s work resonate.

Persistence! Through all manner of obstacle and difficulty. It reminds me very much of Aleister Crowley’s magical motto: “Perdurabo” a latin word which is generally translated as “I will endure to the end.”

I for one would like to express my sincere gratitude for Grant Morrison’s herpes-like persistence, long may it endure!

Alan Moore, of course, still totally rules, and I very much look forward to his participation in Daisy Eris Campbell’s dramatic adaptation of Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger.Read the rest

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How Misinformation Spreads on Facebook

RIAN archive 988824 Facebook social network's pageSarah Gray reports for Salon (via AlterNet) on research about how people on Facebook interacted with “trolls” posting false information; she says the results are depressing:

From the steady roll of theories on what happened to Malaysian Arlines Flight 370, to Sarah Palin’s “death panels” panic, to Donald Trump’s birther theories, misinformation spreads like wildfire in the age of Facebook.

In 2013, professor Walter Quattrociocchi of Northeastern University along with his team studied how more than 1 million Facebook users engaged with political information during the Italian election. During that election a post appeared titled: “Italian Senate voted and accepted (257 in favor and 165 abstentions) a law proposed by Senator Cirenga to provide policy makers with €134 billion Euros to find jobs in the event of electoral defeat.”

The post was from an Italian site that parodies the news. According to  MIT Technology Review it was filled with at least four major inaccuracies: “[T]he senator involved is fictitious, the total number of votes is higher than is possible in Italian politics, the amount of money involved is more than 10% of Italian GDP and the law itself is an invention.”

Despite the blatant falsehoods of this  parody news post, the story went viral — shared over 35,000 times in less than a month.

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