Author Archive | majestic

Mirage Men: Who Is Paul Bennewitz?

From the forthcoming movie Mirage Men:

For more information on Bennewitz here’s his Wikipedia entry:

Paul Frederic Bennewitz, Jr. (September 29, 1927 – June 23, 2003) was an American businessman and UFO investigator who originated UFO Conspiracies in the 1980s.

A one-time PhD candidate in physics, Bennewitz claimed the existence of a plot involving an extensive network of UFO bases tied to an alien colonization and control scheme to subjugate the human race. After he saw the hypnosis sessions of Myrna Hansen, who claimed to have UFO experiences, he became convinced that cattle mutilations were due to aliens. As a result, Bennewitz claimed to have uncovered evidence of aliens controlling humans through electromagnetic devices, and furthermore claimed that UFOs were regularly flying near Kirtland and the nearby Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Facility and Coyote Canyon Test Area.

Convinced that he was intercepting electronic communications originating from alien spacecraft located outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bennewitz soon believed that he had located a secret alien facility that he called Dulce Base.

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Food Terrorism: Fact or Fiction?

2008-07-24 International truck docked at Duke Hospital South 2Should we worry about terrorists making our food supply even more toxic than it already is? NPR discusses the “issue”:

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster: Villains bent on chaos set their sights on a food company — an easy target — with plans to lace its products with a chemical or pathogen. The hero finds out in time to save the day.

Sound far-fetched? Not according to U.S. regulators who have been pondering such scenarios.

Under new proposed rules from the Food and Drug Administration, food processors and manufacturers — both domestic and companies abroad that ship food to the U.S. — would need to take steps to mitigate a potential terrorist attack.

Few documented incidents of malicious food contamination exist, though, which raises the question: Is food terrorism fact or fiction?

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the U.S. government spent years, and billions of dollars, fortifying various industries against possible terrorist attacks.

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The NSA Wants to Keep Its Water Usage Secret

When a government agency once considered so secret that its nickname was “No Such Agency” comes under scrutiny for more or less everything it does, it shouldn’t be considered too surprising that it resists disclosure of activities even (seemingly) as mundane as the quantity of water it uses at its Utah Data Center. Wired reports on the NSA’s reasons for wishing to keep this particular secret:

The National Security Agency has many secrets, but here’s a new one: the agency is refusing to say how much water it’s pumping into the brand new data center it operates in Bluffdale, Utah. According to the NSA, its water usage is a matter of national security.

nsa-utah-data-center

The agency made the argument in a letter sent to officials in Utah, who are considering whether or not to release the data to the Salt Lake Tribune. Back in May, Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle asked for local records relating to the data center, but when he got his files a few months later, the water usage data was redacted.

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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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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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Secrets of Success: Winners Wear Sweatpants

Pregnant woman smoking outside a London hospitalAccording to this Wall Street Journal report on a Harvard Business School study, people confident enough to take a nonconformist attitude to social dress codes are perceived as more successful, so keep your sweats on all day:

Anyone who has felt like the odd duck of the group can take heart from new research from Harvard Business School that says sticking out in distinct ways can lend you an air of presence or influence.

Standing out in certain circumstances, like wearing sweats in a luxury store, also appears to boost an individual’s standing.

One obvious way people signal what the researchers called “status” is through visible markers, like what they wear and what they buy. Previous research has largely examined why people buy or wear branded items.

Less work has focused on what others think of those who try to communicate that they are different or worthy of attention. Efforts to be different are interesting because humans are wired to conform and be part of a group.

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“They” Don’t Want You To Know About Author Kevin Trudeau Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

TrudeauKevin Trudeau, the author of bestselling but highly dubious books like Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About  has been sentenced to ten years in prison reports CNN:

Kevin Trudeau, the television pitchman and author who amassed a fortune telling consumers his secrets about how to get free money, how to lose weight and how to cure a number of illnesses the natural way, is headed to federal prison.

Trudeau, 51, was sentenced to 10 years on Monday for criminal contempt for violating a 2004 federal court order that prohibited him from making misleading infomercials and misrepresenting his weight-loss books.

During Monday’s sentencing hearing he also got a tongue-lashing from U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago…

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Global Warming Will Cause Widespread Conflict, Displace Millions and Devastate Global Economy

Alicante(30-09-1997)Coming soon! The Independent reveals the latest findings of the UN’s IPCC in advance of its next report, and it is depressing reading indeed:

Climate change will displace hundreds of millions of people by the end of this century, increasing the risk of violent conflict and wiping trillions of dollars off the global economy, a forthcoming UN report will warn.

The second of three publications by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due to be made public at the end of this month, is the most comprehensive investigation into the impact of climate change ever undertaken. A draft of the final version seen by The Independent says the warming climate will place the world under enormous strain, forcing mass migration, especially in Asia, and increasing the risk of violent conflict.

Based on thousands of peer-reviewed studies and put together by hundreds of respected scientists, the report predicts that climate change will reduce median crop yields by 2 per cent per decade for the rest of the century – at a time of rapidly growing demand for food.

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Hawking: We’ll Colonize The Moon Within 50 Years, Mars By 2100

320px-Physicist_Stephen_Hawking_in_Zero_Gravity_NASAStephen Hawking joined in a two-and-a-half-hour live broadcast from the International Space Station and Mission Control in Houston on March 16th, telling viewers that our future is in space and that we’ll have colonized the Moon within 50 years and Mars by 2100. It’s a message he’s been preaching for some time and with thousands of people clamoring to join the one-way mission to Mars planned for 2025, it seems his message has resonance…

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