Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weird Stuff

Today in the airport I saw a group of people handing out literature for the LaRouche movement. I've heard that the LaRouche movement is a bunch of kooks, but I was interested in learning more. Part of what they said made some sense, like how we should spend less money on the bailouts and more money on technology and infrastructure. But a lot of their literature descended into conspiratorial kookery, such as claiming that JFK was assassinated by "British Empire bank-connected assassins" for wanting to get us out of Vietnam, claims that White House science adviser John Holdren supports forced population control (no, he doesn't). But their literature also taught me something about science that I didn't already know: it talked about using electromagnetic fields to predict earthquakes, and I thought that didn't make any sense but I looked it up and it turns out there is scientific evidence for that.

Another thing sort of related - in the mall today I found a stall selling "negative ion bracelets" for $25. It is an ordinary rubber bracelet that (according to the person selling it) had a small amount of volcanic ash embedded in it to emit "negative ions" that supposedly improve your strength and balance. I asked for a demo and he gave me a "balance test" with and without the bracelet, but the bracelet didn't make much of a difference, which makes sense because there's no scientific evidence that the bracelets do anything. Also, it seems that the people who wrote the brochure about it didn't know much science either, because it said something like "negative ions are natural ... when water mist falls to earth, it loses an electron, which turns it into a negative ion." (Of course, electrons have a negative charge, so if the water "lost" an electron it would gain a positive charge.)


And also, something that might be interesting on the Internet - the web site I linked to above is part of a network of "Stack Exchange" web sites which allow you to ask questions and get and look up answers on a variety of topics - it started off with computer programming but on expanded into lots of other fields like math and statistics. It works a lot like Wikipedia in that it is entirely community driven where people post answers to and edit each others' questions.

1 comment:

Dan Mont said...

Glad to see you have both an open mind in considering people's ideas but enough sense to reject ridiculous ones.

I will check out that website. I've tried using Wikipedia a few times for statistics questions and haven't always been totally pleased.