?eb ecneicsitna nac yfoog woH

By Phil Plait | August 11, 2009 12:00 pm

One of the funny things about the Universe is, there’s only one way to be right, but an infinite number of ways to be wrong. For example, I know that the science of astronomy is getting better every day at describing the overall state of the Universe, approaching the ability to describe just how things work. We may never achieve that ultimate goal, but we get ever closer. Moreover, I know that astrology is completely wrong, and provably so. Even better, there are a hundred different flavors of astrology, each of which claims to work, yet none of which actually does.

See? One way to be right, lots of ways to be wrong.

So once you slip off that narrow path of reality, you are surrounded by an infinitely deep fog of nonsense which just gets thicker and more difficult to navigate the farther off the path you stray. I suspect there is no actual wrongest thing in the vast reaches of antiscience, because its illogic goes on forever.

But if I had to choose, I bet reverse speech would be in the Top Ten.

You know this idea; you take what someone says, reverse it, and find out that Paul McCartney is actually Bigfoot. Or something like that. The people who claim this is real — and yeah, they’re out there, and just as earnest as any other zealot who kneels at The Pulpit Of Nonsense — never give a reason why this works, or a mechanism that explains how reversing the time variable in a recording should yield anything but comical noises.

And we know why this stuff seems to work when it’s presented to you: if someone primes you with a phrase that they want you to hear when speech is reversed, it really does sound like what they claim. Of course, if they don’t tell you what it is, ten different people will come up with ten different phrases.

But why should logic, reason, and mechanics stop someone from just making stuff up?

Which brings me to the hilarity that is the EVP Reverse Speaking website. They claim that by reversing your speech you can learn The Great Truths (which, if it were true, would be that reverse speech is really, really silly). They even have examples! And what examples they have, oh yes indeed.

On this page, they reverse my own speech. Yeah, me, your host and Beloved Internet Personality™. And not just me, but also sound bites from Randi and Michael Shermer, just to hit a skeptical trifecta.

Now, I hate to make fun of people, but at some point, really, it’s simply impossible not to. In this case, this stuff is truly well and remarkably ridiculous.

An example: they start with an interview I did with Randi at TAM 5. They take the audio, reverse it, and make claims that are… well, here. Listen for yourself:

Forward.

Reverse.

Did you listen? Try again, a couple of times. What did I say, reversed? They claim I said, "Their walls hit," clearly meaning Randi hit an astral wall when he had his heart attack a few years ago.

Uh, yeah.

Funny. To me it sounds like I’m saying, "They’re all sh*t," which, had they made that claim, might actually sway me to their side. Just a little bit.

And the best part? They didn’t even excerpt the whole sentence I said! They cut the last bit of the sentence out, so what they use is, "Thanks a lot, Rand." Note the missing i at the end; not Randi, just Rand. So they had to edit out part of Randi’s name to make their point… whatever the heck their point is.

The rest of the site is full of incomprehensible gobbledygook just like that. It’s like someone took a bunch of ideas, wrote them down on postcards, cut them up into bits, rearranged them, and then created a website based on what they found. I suggest, dear BABloggee, that you take a look around there. It will remind you of just how silly claims can be, and just how far we skeptics have to go.

!drawrof revE

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking, Humor, Skepticism

Comments (124)

Links to this Post

  1. I object! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | October 1, 2009
  2. David Wilcock & Non-Disclosure. | November 10, 2009
  1. Bigfoot

    Just to be absolutely clear, I am not Paul McCartney.

  2. What I heard was “Your bald head?” That wasn’t very nice ;)

  3. Aaron

    As the legendary Mark Mothersbaugh once pointed out, when reversed, “Jesus loves you” sounds a lot like “We smell sausage.” When reversed, “Bob loves you” becomes “We smell Bob.”

    I’m pretty sure this is incredibly profound.

  4. IVAN3MAN

    For a minute there, I thought that title was in Spanish!

  5. trebor

    @Bigfoot

    Are you sure you are not Paul McCartney? Isn’t it odd that Paul and Bigfoot are never seen at the same time?
    Why are you hiding your true identity Paul?

  6. Frank

    In the words of The Tick:

    “And, isn’t sanity really just a one-trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you’re good and crazy, oooh, oooh, oooh, the sky is the limit.”

  7. Robert: Trebor's Evil Twin

    Only one way to be right? You don’t deal with a lot of engineers, do you?

  8. Jonathan

    >It’s like someone took a bunch of ideas, wrote them down on postcards, cut them up into bits, rearranged them, and then created a website based on what they found.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, though. *Naked Lunch* by Burroughs and “Diamond Dogs” by Bowie were written with that technique. It may not be science, but it sure is fun art!

  9. You should be flattered. You’re getting the same attention that they usually pay to hard rock musicians.

  10. It’s never impossible not to make fun of someone. The tone this article (and other similar ones) sounds to much like the same tone taken by the pseudoscientists themselves. We’re skeptics. We’re logical. We don’t have to stoop to this.

  11. Sounds more like “Their balls itch.”

  12. ahugenerd

    “Reverse speaking and EVP combined, have given me a glimpse into a part of the mind that was shut down thousands of years ago by an alien race who have been manipulating humanity ever since.”

    What. The. Frakk?!

  13. Torsten Mahler

    Phil. Your assumption here is that you are also correct.

    But I digress

    There is a certain built-in requirement that, for the most part, Astronomy needs to be correct, or at least in tune with the respected theories of the time (or accepted theories of that time). Astrology, for example, does not have need for those confines, so to itself it is correct – I am sure that within the astrology world there are in-fights and disagreements about practises and interpretations, but ultimately it is only they, and those who choose the believe, who are actually (or should only be) bothered about this.
    Ultimately do you care if these things are correct or not? Astronomy is of interest to you, astrology is of interest to astrologers.

    Hence the notion that truth is only correct from your perceived point of view.

    (Just one further observation, isn’t science constantly being anti-science or at least attempting to rip itself to pieces. Not sure it needs any help from outside influence)

  14. Jeremy Henderson

    Are we 100% sure that this is serious? Because that site is just stupid enough to seem like a joke.

    The funniest (or scariest, depending on your point of view) thing about the site? The creators apparently believe in the “reptile people rule the world” conspiracy, but still distrust Scientology.

  15. jamerz3294

    OMG, just way too funny!

  16. !AstralProjectile

    Well, “Sorry” is “Eros” pronounced backwards. Seems apropros.

    (Tip of Le Chapeau to Harry Shearer’s Le Show; the Apologies of the week) segment)

  17. Torsten (#14): You are precisely wrong. Astrology is not correct, in that it has no predictive power whatsoever better than random chance. This has been shown to be true in test after test. Therefore it is incorrect and cannot be used in any way to describe the way the Universe behaves, or describe the way we behave in the Universe.

    Astronomy on the other hand has tremendous predictive power, and is clearly modeled after the way the Universe actually works.

    Hence, the notion of truth is objective, in that it agrees with reality, with the way the Universe works. That’s truth.

    Post modernism should have died a long time ago, but I suppose the staggering corpse still lurches among us.

  18. Torsten Mahler

    Phil (#18) – You are looking at this in terms of that something that is predictive is correct. I am not suggesting that Astrology (nor EVP for that matter) is correct; at the same time I am not suggesting it is incorrect on the basis that: a) astrology/EVP doesn’t claim to be science so doesn’t adhere to scientific ethos (nor should it unless they claim to be a branch of science); b) astrology/EVP is insignificant in that it doesn’t try to explain the universe in a predictive manner – arguably it is nothing more than folklore; c) just because it isn’t science doesn’t mean it is incorrect.
    Post modernist! I think not, I just don’t dismiss something because it falls outside of my interest or understanding; just because there are huge tracts of Astronomy I do not understand (or care about for that matter) doesn’t mean that I dismiss them as being non-sense on that basis.

  19. ndt

    Paul, your concern is noted.

  20. Gus Snarp

    Phil, the reason postmodernism is still alive is because it is not one thing, it is many. I fully agree that some things can be adequately proven as fact, but there are some things that are not amenable to scientific scrutiny in this way where postmodern approaches are quite valuable. This is mostly in the social sciences however, and I certainly don’t expect to see a postmodern astronomy. This also should not be used to give credence to anyone who claims to be able to predict events and can be proven wrong. I’m not the best defender of postmodernism, but most people use the word as a label on anything they don’t agree with, without really understanding the postmodernist world view. Which frankly, I’ve got a better handle on than most and still don’t fully understand.

    On a perhaps completely unrelated note, there is a flaw in your initial argument, namely that there is one way to be right and many ways to be wrong as evidenced by astronomy. This may ultimately be true, as you hint at, but the simple fact that astrologers disagree is not effective evidence. Astronomers disagree too. I don’t ultimately disagree with you on this, but I think your argument is weak.

  21. I heard “en ralls ked”. I’m not quite sure what language that is, but it is clearly a profound message.

  22. “Hence the notion that truth is only correct from your perceived point of view.”

    That notion is inherently pseudoscientific. Both of us can indulge in giving out our opinions about something, but ultimately the facts are going to be in favor of one explanation over another. Creationists can type out 15,000 word screeds for me (and believe me, one of them has done just that) arguing in favor of their standpoint. However, the facts support what I write about the development of life on Earth. It evolved. We don’t have any solid, irrefutable proof of creation while we have countless examples of evolution.

    You don’t get to pick the truth based on your personal opinion. There’s only one truth and you’re supposed to find it rather than make up cheap substitutes and spend more time defending them than looking for something actually tangible.

    “isn’t science constantly being anti-science or at least attempting to rip itself to pieces.”

    Also no. Science constantly reviews, updates and critiques its findings. It’s actually one of science’s biggest strength. You can’t rest on your laurels after churning out a theory. You have to keep going to prove it and merge it with other theories, correcting mistakes and challenging yourself along the way. To someone who doesn’t deal with science, that seems like needless negativity and ridicule for the sake of negativity in ridicule. In reality, it’s a process by which our knowledge is constantly tested, improved and expanded.

  23. Lonny Eachus

    Torsten: The problem is that at some point, we need to define what “correct” is. What could be called the “scientific definition of correct”, that is, demonstrated correlation and causation, is the best definition that man has so far discovered to explain the operation of EVERYTHING around us, including astrology.

    The only way you can get around that is via arguments to the effect that “true” is only true some of the time, or that (as you do mention), truth is subjective. However, for macro events (noticeable to humans), there has never been a demonstrated case of truth being subjective.

  24. Jo

    When everything is relative, we all win! Hooray!

    Torsten, astrology and astronomy are both in the business of making predictions about the real world. I fail to see how you can assert that something can be demonstrably NOT predictive, and still correct. You’re attempting to generate wiggle room by making the definition nonsensical enough to say, well, nothing about anything.

  25. Steven

    @ Torsten: You need to define your terms. No actually you sort of have. But so has Phil. He has defined “correct” in the context of his statements, and his definition is easy to understand and accept from where I’m sitting, and you are redefining the meaning of the word to show that he is wrong….

    If you want to have a different meaning of the word correct that’s fine but when someone defines what they mean by a term you can’t argue that they are wrong using a different definition. That’s what creationists do with the word evolution and suchlike.

    ((DANG. I got ninja’d by Lonny!))

  26. TS

    Band On The Run!

  27. Scott B

    Torsten (#19): What is the claimed purpose of Astrology then?

    Here’s as quick textbook definition I found:

    “The study of the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs.”

    Yet, no influence on the course of events can be shown. It fails to do what it claims. That is why it is incorrect. It’s all fine that some people believe it. It may have a significant impact on those peoples’ lives. It might even be good. Our mind is capable of making us believe all sorts of things.

    Now if we want to get picky, it is probably going far to call Astronomy correct. The definition of correct is:

    “Free from error or fault; true or accurate.”

    I don’t think anyone could claim that Astronomy matches that definition. I don’t see how anyone could deny that Astronomy is much more correct than Astrology.

  28. Gus Snarp

    Let’s agree to stop using the word truth, it’s loaded. To paraphrase Indiana, science is the search for fact, if your looking for truth, the philosophy department is down the hall.

  29. Adrian Lopez

    For some reason, Torsten’s reply reminds me of an essay by Isaac Asimov:

    The Relativity of Wrong
    http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

  30. Len

    Wow, that beggars belief, listening through some of the audio clips on his site you quickly see how deluded he is, not only does he insert words that arent there, the stuff is complete gibberish more open to interpretation than a horoscope.

    Some people are so far down the wrong road that you cant convince them, they must simply be left alone to discover for them selves that they’ve wasted their time.

    Its like 80’s clothing, this guy needs to look at himself in 10 years time and say “Jesus, what the fluck was i thinking”.
    Telling him to roll down the sleeves on his sports coat will just make him go all Sonny Crockett on your ass.
    Hmm I got a bit off track with that analogy.

    Heres the thing though (not that one would need to go to such lengths to prove him crazy), if he took the “scentences” he claims are being exposed following a reverse, recorded himself saying that new scentence and then reversed that, it wouldnt sound at all like what was originally said if you get my drift.

  31. TS

    I was about to reply to you Torsten Mahler, but reading your two entries again I realised I would be wasting my time. You don’t understand science and while you think you got an open mind, it’s really clam shut closed.
    I feel sorry for you.

  32. We should leave poor Torsten alone. Being a post-modernest, he’s not sure of the meaning of what he wrote any more than the rest of us are.

  33. Carl

    Torsten (#19): Astrology makes claims about the natural, observable world–that the positions of astronomical bodies at the time of one’s birth influence his personality, or something like that.

    Claims about the natural, observable world are the realm of science. Astrologers might not claim to be doing science (although, in fact, many of them do–but let’s ignore that for now), but just because they don’t use the actual word “science” doesn’t mean that their claims are not scientific claims. They are. Like any scientific claim, they can be compared to reality. And in the case of astrology, those claims simply don’t stand up to such scrutiny.

  34. Btw, this page is already the #3 match for “Torsten Mahler” on the interwebs! Zweeeee!!!

    It’s funny, but I have an inherent distrust of people who use their full names on the internets. Is that odd?

  35. Torsten,

    I think the big danger with letting anti-science thrive is that it infects people who influence what is taught in the schools. Witness the fights surrounding the teaching of Evolution versus Intelligent Design. Some school board members actually openly admit to thinking that the Universe is only 6,000 years old and want science class taught accordingly. If they get their way, a generation of children will grow up knowing only anti-science and our country (and the world) will be poorer for the loss.

    Plus, once the momentum to teach anti-science starts, it can quickly pick up steam. Today they’re “just teaching the controversy” between Evolution and ID. Tomorrow, they’re presenting ID as if it were the dominant theory and Evolution is some wrong-headed upstart. Next, Evolution is kicked out entirely. Then it’s on to Astronomy because we can’t teach about the Big Bang and the formation of galaxies if the Universe is only 6,000 years old.

    Some of the wackier anti-science (like this one) might be laughable, but the sad fact is that we’re battling against a mentality that puts more emphasis over a pattern seen in toast than on a thorough examination of the evidence.

  36. dhtroy

    All I heard was what sounded like “Buy Death from the Skies” … not sure what THAT’s supposed to mean … Death from the Skies … hahahaha … as if …

    It’s all crazy talk.

  37. Dave's not here!

    I heard “[are] they ralls, yet?”. So Phil, what are ralls?

  38. Arlo,

    I used to use my full name on websites but then I had kids and my wife and I decided it was better to use pseudonyms. Unfortunately, there are still a handful of websites I frequent that I use my full name on because I’ve been part of those communities for some time. I don’t want to close my old account and open a new one as “TechyDad”, pretending to be a new user. I also don’t want to tell everyone “Hey, I’m going to change my name to TechyDad now” because it would defeat the pseudonym’s purpose.

  39. Torsten Mahler

    It is incredibly amusing that you’d all try to assess someone based on their comments, particularly that person’s grasp of science. If you read and religious, or philosophical forums you get the same entrenched arguments that boil down to: we are right, everything else is wrong, especially if you try to follow a line that opposes ours.

    The point that you all seems to have missed from my comments is this: WHO CARES ABOUT ASTROLOGY or EVP! Why does this blog even care about these things enough to give them “column inches”. Leave them alone or else they will wake up.

    As for TS (#29) it is obvious you do not comprehend the notion of “open mindedness”.

    (One additional comment, I did think for a while that the photo above was of Dr Richard Wiseman, sorry Phil)

  40. Leander

    “One of the funny things about the Universe is, there’s only one way to be right, …”

    If you count things like art, music, food, love, sex – just about anything that makes being human what it is – as belonging to the universe, you’re…wrong.

  41. One thing I should make clear: I’m not trying to denigrate all of postmodernism, just its extension of things being relative to science. Certainly there are many claims about the human condition that are relative from person to person and culture to culture, thus making absolute truths difficult to ascertain or even impossible to define.

    But gravity works whether we’re around to argue about it or not. If I kick you out an airplane, or drop you into a black hole, I can predict with pretty good certainty the outcome. Mass cares not for humans; only we care about it.

    Like any tool, post modernism needs to be used on the right area. Extrapolating it to thinks like Newtonian dynamics would be like using a hammer to repair a glass sculpture.

  42. Lonny Eachus

    I would like to add that when making comparisons between the scientific viewpoint and something else, it behooves one to keep the following in mind:

    Scientific principles are behind virtually everything in your life that is not naturally occurring. That includes not just your TV and iPod, but also the carpet under your feet, your cooking utensils, and the electricity you cook with and see by. It is responsible for the glass sliding door leading out to your deck, and the screen door behind that. And the nails in your deck. And the pre-finished lumber in your deck. And the zinc-plated joist hangers.

    Scientific principles lie behind Elmer’s glue, #2 pencils, and the laser pointer you use when playing with your cat.

    Obviously it would be silly to try to make a comprehensive list. But think: what other definition of “truth” or “correctness” has ever had that kind of impact on our history and our lives? None, of course. In fact, I do not know of a specific instance of astrology noticeably improving my life. I am not saying it hasn’t, just that I cannot show that it has. Even once.

    The upshot is: we KNOW that the one system works. Not just works, but works incredibly well. On the other hand, nobody has ever really been able to show that any of the alternatives do.

  43. RL

    Hmmm…Torsten sounds like a Jedi..and Phil like a Sith…hmmm…

  44. I heard “Their balls hit”. But that could just be me…

  45. JoeSmithCA

    “God, now am I suprised by all this sillyness that these people come up with? No. For I now believe people can come up with the strangest things.”

    Ok, lemme reverse what I just said…

    things, strangest the with up come can people believe now I For. No. ? with up come people these that sillyness this all by suprised I am now God.”

    A little editing…

    “For I am now God.”

    Woot! I know everything and can do anything. Thank you everyone I must go now and re-create the universe my own image. Expect to see me on your morning toast soon.

  46. jsb16

    Adrian Lopez (#30): thanks for the link to that Asimov article. It seems to me that many people (including Torsten Mahler and many politicians) are falling into the same trap as Asimov’s English major.

  47. Torsten Mahler

    One last thing to consider (before I go for dinner): Astrology preceded what we would now consider to be Science; it is arguable whether or not ancient astrology laid the foundations for astronomy, but it is undeniable that astrology required the study of the heavens in order to create their systems and in doing so required astronomy; you should consider ancient Iranian astrologers and astronomers – for example Al Kwarizimi who, amongst many other things, was a Persian mathematician, astronomer and astrologer; hardly someone we would consider to be a crank.

  48. Patrick

    I don’t know about only one way to be right, though. For science I take an instrumentalist view . Your comment seems to imply scientific realism.

    Instrumentalist says that science doesn’t produce theories that neccesarily more accurately describe the world

    For an example of the difference take the mutually incompatible frameworks of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

    To the realist this means that ultimately one or both of these frameworks is *wrong* and we need a better framework.

    To an instrumentalist it doesn’t matter that they’re incompatible (though the corner cases which are hard to deal with are problematic). Instrumentalism is fueled by the pessimistic induction.

    Ultimately all scientists are at least a little instrumentalist. I mean in scenarios where it works you use Newtonian mechanics (cause they’re easier) even though we all know that Newtonian mechanics can’t be accurate.

    Of course since pseudoscience doesn’t make accurate predictions, it’s nonsense regardless of your philosophy of science.

  49. The last paragraph in the orginal post, above the reversed line, is actually an idea first described by Johnaton Swift in one of Guliver’s Tales

  50. (Disclosure: I’m a BSc Physics graduate, not that that should add or detract weight from my arguments particularly.)

    I personallyhave not been convinced of the use to science of arguments over whether scientific theories are “true” and whether or not they reflect “reality”. Both “truth” and “reality” are philosophically loaded terms, and even a shallow reading of the philosophy of epistemology and ontology (such as my own) will demonstrate to you that they ar eno clear value-neutral a priori grounds for deciding what either “truth” or “reality” are.

    Science IS predictive, as all here in this thread seem to readily concede. We can explain the concept of prediction without recxourse to philosophically thorny problems of truth and reality. “predictive” merely means that wwhat we observe correlates with what we would expect to observe derived from a given scientific theory. Here “observation” refers merely to our individual subjective qualia, the colours, shapes, soudns and feelings of our perceptions to which we have a direct access. No external reality need be posited as real: merely a kind of conceptual guide for makinf predictions.

    Are atoms “real”? I don’t know. What is “real”?

    Does the concept of atoms help scientists make better predictions? Absolutely yes.

  51. tacitus

    Goodness, are the RS idiots still around? They were a bit of a fad on Coast To Coast AM a few years ago, when David Oates was a regular guest to “analyze” the sound bites of whatever the hot news item of the week happened to be. They even tag teamed NASA with Richard Hoagland a couple of times, if I recall correctly.

    The trick is, of course, to tell your audience what you want them to hear in the reversed speech clip before you play the clip. Just like visual pareidolia, suggestion is key to their little scam.

    Oates, of course, is not satisfied with the usual crazy. He actually claims that babies are able to “reverse speak” long before they can talk — play baby babble backwards and you can understand what they’re saying… er… right…

    This lot would be harmless, except that they are (or were, anyway) pushing RS as a valid psychological profiling tool, claiming that it is valuable in such circumstances as job interviews — play the applicant’s answers to questions in the interview to hear what they “really” mean (since you supposedly cannot lie in RS).

    I had one of my first ever online discussions about woo with the RS crowd over that. After failing to get anywhere with them, of course, I simply told them that recording my speech during a job interview would be a waste of time, since by doing so, the interviewers had automatically disqualified themselves as a company I would ever want to work for.

  52. Leander

    @Phil

    “One thing I should make clear: I’m not trying to denigrate all of postmodernism, just its extension of things being relative to science.”

    I knew you weren’t – but that didn’t show in your statement. It was rather absolute, and on an absolute level wrong, so I figured I’d point it out. There’s enough people here pointing out the things you’re right about.

    “Like any tool, post modernism needs to be used on the right area.”

    Perfectly fitting the focus of this discussion, I don’t agree at all with you when you describe postmodernism as a “tool”. To me, postmodernism isn’t a tool, and the right word to use instead in this context would be psychology. This is really the “tool” that’s used to cover the “relative” areas that go beyond the “right and wrong” of the natural sciences. Actually, relative areas of that kind only come into being when some sort of living thing with a psyche is involved.

    five-pound meteor + human being = death
    david lynch movie + human being = complex beyond a definite, “right or wrong” answer (I was tempted to write “death” for a second)

    But these equations that go beyond the b/w simplicity have been part of the universe since the first psyches popped up, and thus a statement like the one I quoted in my first comment really rubs me the wrong way.

  53. Nosh (also not McCartney)

    I had a girlfriend whose mother was an Astrologer (hereafter, “mom”). I had great difficulty speaking to mom, as everything she discussed was somehow tied to Astrology. When confronted with the fact that I was, in conversation, exerting some gravitational force on her, she just stated that “you science types” hadn’t yet discovered the force(s) at work. I asked her to help me find the missing force, and she said it was mysterious, but that its influence was obvious. That was one of our last conversations about anything other than dinner. As Neal Stephenson says through one of his characters in “the Confusion”, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a yo-yo.” Here here!

  54. T_U_T

    Like any tool, post modernism needs to be used on the right area.

    I have to disagree. Postmodernism is like a gun with U shaped barrel. It is useless, except for self-harm.

    Certainly there are many claims about the human condition that are relative from person to person and culture to culture

    Such claims are thus not pieces of genuine knowledge at all.

    OT : why do I have to use anonymous proxy to post here ? Why is my IP banned ? I did nothing wrong here nor anywhere else.

  55. This is categorical proof that Randi is The Walrus.

  56. Yojimbo

    “coo-coo-cachoo”

    Gesundheit!

  57. I heard “amoral skin”.

    Without context, vague sounds like this can sound like almost anything, depending on where your mind is at that moment.

  58. Paul M.

    I wasn’t going to go here but… Torsten,

    How long ago did Al Kwarizimi live? I don’t actually know, but I’m guessing it was a little while before most of the tools and techniques of modern astronomy. Science is a way of improving our knowledge of the way things work in reality – if you could take the guy and drop him into todays world he may well have some different ideas, otherwise the crank label would be apt. Unfortunately he’s dead, so bringing him into the discussion is kind of unfair of you.

    On a more interesting note…
    It’s amazing what you can do to speech and still be able to understand it. For instance, you can remove all of the amplitude information from the waveform and still understand the words. I wish I could find a reference for this now… I have heard it done though.

  59. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    This is covered by YouTube user, and skeptic, “shanedk” in his video “Bogosity Episode 7: part 3.” (link in next post)

  60. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    “Bogosity Ep. 7: Pareidolia (Part 3)”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgE7rmgyhgk

    In another of shanedk’s vids, he does has footage of one Phil Plait on the matter of creationism. Specifically, Phil’s problem with a “fine tuned universe.”

  61. Mena

    The first part of the replies to this post reminded me of this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fSpI4oZoDc
    It’s in Hindi but someone put what English words it sounds like he is saying. Some were better matches than others. I also kind of like the song, even though I have no idea what it is about! As for what Phil is saying in the backward thing, I’m hearing “And all’s good”.

  62. JustAsItSounds

    Wayne Carr (Chris Morris) did a very informative radio expose in the early 90’s of the whole sickening plot to corrupt our youth with backwards messages in popular music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdD6s2q6Rqo

    He exposes the godless Elaine Page injecting her venomous evil into a song from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar':
    “Oh more cheap savage, rush know you savage and I admit you powders”

    He also exposes Phil Collins’ “grim bestial drug fixation with a dog, that he’s probably shagging”

    Perhaps most shockingly, Rolf Harris has managed to backwards record some quite unrepeatable rudeness in his seemingly innocent song, ‘Two little boys’.

  63. shawmutt

    .nwo ym etutitsbus dna ytilaer ruoy tcejer I

  64. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    @shawmutt,

    My, maybe backmasking is revealing after all: “nwo,” and “dna.” lol

  65. Torsten Mahler

    Oh dear, this is getting awfully tiresome.

    Firstly: referencing a respected 7th century astronomer is meant to serve as an illustration of the (arguable) strong connection between early astronomy and established astrology, which, at that time, people did not seem so ridiculous; somewhere in the mists of time, astrology was cast aside and now astrology finds itself derided/mocked by astronomy (skeptics) thus establishing the same position of opinion that most religions take in regards to astrology; interestingly enough, at the same point in history astrology was respected by religion (look it up).

    Secondly: I realise that this will induce more “Torsten Season” but bringing a 7th century astronomer/astrologer/mathematician to the 21st century still means you are bringing a person with a 7th century mindset to the present; it does not necessarily follow that you change this. Additionally, sending you (Paul M) back to the 7th C would probably see you stoned to death as a heretic for no logical reason other than the fact that you mindset is “different”

    Thirdly: (and lastly, since this really is getting tiresome) the original point of stating that one is “right” or “true” is a philosophical and (arguably) a political one. You are establishing a point of view that you assert is the correct one, or the truthful one; this is established on this basis that if there is any truth in astrology (or RS) it should hold up against scientific analysis, which it doesn’t so you hold these to be incorrect and dismiss them. This does not establish a “truth”, only a point of view based on a specific criteria. I would argue that unless you establish what a “truth” is then you have no reference…and then we descend into the fiery pits of philosophy. It is on this basis that I agree with Thomas Lawrence (#51) above.

    …and NO, I do not opine that there is anything in Astrology, EVP/RS, I am more interested in the arguments presented from a Fortean point of view (queue more “Torsten Season”)

  66. Bill

    @ shawmutt:

    .emoh ta od su ees ot tuoba er’uoy gnihtYNA yrt t’noD
    !!!revE

  67. I thought I heard you say, “All is well.” Which I took to mean all is well with your evil plans!

    :-D

  68. gruebait
  69. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    Or, for more on why EVP is bunk, here’s “Saint Transformer” by Youtube user, buffalax:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSsXlRytRDs .

  70. Mark Hansen

    Torston, human sacrifice preceded most civilisations; doesn’t make it right or acceptable today.

  71. Cairnos

    That site is like….ummm….wow. With a second paragraph starting with “Years ago, while I was doing remote viewing for the Western Institute of Remote Viewing” I thought I was prepared for what I’d see poking around, but no, even my firmest reality filter fell before the sheer onslaught of uberwoo.

  72. I, for one, love post modernism and notions of socially constructed ideas. I find these concepts to be tremendously useful in understanding human behavior (including scientific behavior).

    Like any tool, it is possible to use them in ways that make varying amounts of sense to the observer (from perfect sense to nonsense).

    Regarding the actual content of the post: Wow! That site is a motherload of ultrawoo. It is a black hole of woo. Now, normally I am a strong advocate of thoughtful analysis rather than name-calling. But there is so much deeply questionable content on that site that I am overwhelmed. I couldn’t begin to thoughtfully question it and apply critical thinking. Too much! It hurts.

  73. ahugenerd

    I think people should keep sight of the fact that science is science and, as such, is mostly an aggregate of theories. These are just theories and there’s nothing in the way of anyone who might want to disprove them. This is not true of fields such as astrology, homeopathy or acupuncture, where dogma reigns supreme.

    However, hard-nosed scientists do tend to forget this, never really questioning the theories they use on a daily basis. I once asked my calculus teacher what he would do should the fundamental theorem of calculus be disproved, since, after all, it is a theorem and not a law. He said he would retire. I found that sad. Science is about discovery and I cannot think of a bigger discovery than finding out everything you thought you knew was incorrect. That wouldn’t be a crushing defeat, it would be exciting!

    That’s the major difference between science and pseudo-science: one tends to embrace and encourage change and rethinking whilst the other avoids any form of change, declaring itself as correct and perfect. But you still end up with individuals on both sides of the fence that just don’t get it.

  74. Levi in NY

    Tunak Tunak Tun and Saint Transformer are nothing compared to the king of misheard foreign lyrics: Benny Lava (also by buffalax)! Warning: eyeballs may explode with delight at seeing the awesomest video on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA1NoOOoaNw

  75. Captincrash

    i heard something along the lines of “looks good?”

  76. Paul M.

    Torsten,

    The point I was trying to make (it was a thought experiment, the difficulty of time travel has not escaped me) was that just because astrology was the state of the art in the 7th century doesn’t mean it has equal credibility with the science of astronomy today. It would be grossly unfair, as you say to call Al Kwarizimi a crackpot for an adherance to Astrology if that was the state of the art at the time. But that was how long ago? It is immaterial when it comes to an assessment of the validity of astrology today.

    In what ways has astrology progressed? It hasn’t, it is still as flawed a description of reality as it was back then, we understand this now (well some of us do). In what way was astrology cast aside as you say? As a description of reality. And why? Presumably because the results obtained thereby were found to be… incorrect. Those that still cling to it today are wrong.

    Science has made progress, we now understand the universe better than we did then. It will continue to do so, current theories will be refined or possibly even overturned. Anyone who clings to the old explanations in the face of undeniable physical evidence would be rightly regarded as a crank.

  77. AggieAndrew

    Did anyone look at the rest of that website? It reads like a bad science-fantasy plot line. Astral Wars and reptilian aliens? One post even explained that two earth governments were currently having a secret war in space, and that’s not even the strangest!

    I think Phil’s giving these guys a little too much credit by even linking to the site!

  78. Steven

    @67: I would suggest that most people who have read more than one of Phil’s posts would realize that his definition of truth involves scientific method etc. But maybe he should put a preamble to each blog post he makes from now on defining every term he uses so that no one gets confused.

  79. John Manolesco

    The great Michael Shermer himself in an astounding performance :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N1dIUTbZTo

    !gnizamA

  80. Josh

    The first time I heard of reverse speech was listening to an episode of Skeptoid about it. After it was over I tuned in to Coast to Coast AM. The episode was about reverse speech. The guest was even the same guy Mr. Dunning mentioned as the leading proponent of this phenomenon. I really don’t have much else to say except for “Hail Beeny Lava” and “I think the Nuns are gay”

  81. Eddie Janssen

    Among other things, Johannes Kepler was an astrologer (he and his family had to eat!). I think the point is that in the distant past being an astrologer meant you knew a lot more about the universe than anyone else. Eventually someone (presumably an astrologer) had to look at the data and distill the hidden truth. And from there the companies parted…

    More on topic: if sentence A becomes sentence B backwards then the normal foreward pronounciation of sentence B should get us at sentence A. Has anyone ever tried?

  82. Jeremy H.

    Eddie @84:

    Yeah, quite a bit. As a big example of it, all of the scenes from Twin Peaks in the Black Lodge were spoken backwards, and then reversed:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9HN4zSriDs

    The “little person” who speaks first was the expert at it, and taught all of the other actors. Does a darn good job, too.

  83. I’m not sure I grok the philosophy of post modernism when it comes to arguing the “truthfulness” or “rightness” of astrology. It either works or it doesn’t. Anything else is intellectual masturbation (not that there is anything wrong with that).
    What is your take on the old biblical view that Pi = 3 (there is some controversy as to whether the bible actually says this or not though)? Is it “true” too?

  84. Nigel Depledge

    Torsten Mahler (14) said:

    Hence the notion that truth is only correct from your perceived point of view.

    But reference to evidence that is external to the self means that we can indeed obtain a consensual truth about the universe. One need only assume that one’s sensory experience relates to a genuine reality external to the self. So, no, not all opinions are equal.

    (Just one further observation, isn’t science constantly being anti-science or at least attempting to rip itself to pieces. Not sure it needs any help from outside influence)

    Erm … no. Science is not a body of knowledge, it is a method of investigation. Scientists are forever trying to refine the conclusions that have been reached, and to obtain evidentiary confirmation for the correctness or otherwise of hypotheses.

  85. Nigel Depledge

    Torsten Mahler (19) said:

    Phil (#18) – You are looking at this in terms of that something that is predictive is correct. I am not suggesting that Astrology (nor EVP for that matter) is correct; at the same time I am not suggesting it is incorrect on the basis that: a) astrology/EVP doesn’t claim to be science so doesn’t adhere to scientific ethos (nor should it unless they claim to be a branch of science);

    Irrelevant. Astrologers claim to make predictions. They sell this stuff. Astrology has no actual predictive power, so they are selling a lie. In whatever ethos you care to imagine, this is wrong.

    b) astrology/EVP is insignificant in that it doesn’t try to explain the universe in a predictive manner – arguably it is nothing more than folklore;

    Well, it is only insignificant if you cast aside the fact that astrologers bilk millions of people out of their hard-earned cash every year. Arguably, astrology is nothing more than a pack of lies.

    c) just because it isn’t science doesn’t mean it is incorrect.

    What?

    What is this supposed to mean?

    Astrologers claim to make predictions about people’s lives. Astrology has no predictive power. By any meaningful standard, astrology is wrong. It has been proven to be incorrect every time it is tested in a rational manner.

    Post modernist! I think not, I just don’t dismiss something because it falls outside of my interest or understanding; just because there are huge tracts of Astronomy I do not understand (or care about for that matter) doesn’t mean that I dismiss them as being non-sense on that basis.

    This too is irrelevant. You seem to be claiming that we cannot describe astrology as incorrect, because it is outside our interest or understanding. That is pure nonsense. Whether we understand the methodology of astrologers or not, the whole thing can boil down to a simple comparison: astrologers claim to make predictions about people’s lives; when tested, these predictions are invariably wrong (or so vague that they can apply to anyone). You seem to be ignoring the power of facts to allow us to distinguish the real from the imaginary.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    Gus Snarp (21) said:

    On a perhaps completely unrelated note, there is a flaw in your initial argument, namely that there is one way to be right and many ways to be wrong as evidenced by astronomy. This may ultimately be true, as you hint at, but the simple fact that astrologers disagree is not effective evidence. Astronomers disagree too. I don’t ultimately disagree with you on this, but I think your argument is weak.

    I think you have a point here, but I also feel it is rather limited.

    Astronomers disagree about the cutting-edge brand-new science. Therefore, the argument that astrologers disagree is not by itself strong evidence.

    However, astronomers universally agree about the basic stuff, and these days there is more of this than there is cutting-edge stuff at any one time. So, one can argue that astrology is wrong because astrologers do not agree universally about any of the basics: there are no common frames of reference, no common methodologies, no common conclusions about which astrologers universally agree with one another. Whereas, astronomers do agree universally about a great many of the conclusions that have been drawn to date.

  87. Nigel Depledge

    Back on topic…

    There is an Ozzy Osbourne song (Bloodbath in Paradise) that starts with a bit of backward masking. The backward masking, when played the other way using a 4-track, turned out to be saying “your mother sells whelks in Hull”. Ooh, sinister!

    I did hear, some years ago, that the band Virus included a bit of backward masking on one of their albums that (if played the other way) said “Don’t do this, it [family-friendly edit: ruins] your stylus”.

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Arlo (35) said:

    It’s funny, but I have an inherent distrust of people who use their full names on the internets. Is that odd?

    But, Arlo, you can trust me – I’m a doctor.

  89. Nigel Depledge

    Torsten Mahler (40) said:

    If you read and religious, or philosophical forums you get the same entrenched arguments that boil down to: we are right, everything else is wrong, especially if you try to follow a line that opposes ours.

    I see.

    So, because several people have pointed out (with good reason) flaws in your argument, we are “entrenched” are we?

    If you take a bit of time to browse through the comment threads here, you will find that most regular visitors value two things above all else: evidence and logical reasoning. Irrespective of what we think of it, the universe is what it is and it operates the way it does. There is only one way to be right about the universe and how it operates. The only way we humans can get close to being right about the universe is to test what we think we know by comparing it against reality. We call this process “science”.

  90. Nigel Depledge

    Torsten Mahler (48) said:

    One last thing to consider (before I go for dinner): Astrology preceded what we would now consider to be Science; it is arguable whether or not ancient astrology laid the foundations for astronomy, but it is undeniable that astrology required the study of the heavens in order to create their systems and in doing so required astronomy; you should consider ancient Iranian astrologers and astronomers – for example Al Kwarizimi who, amongst many other things, was a Persian mathematician, astronomer and astrologer; hardly someone we would consider to be a crank.

    And here you ignore another very important thing: context.

    Yes, going back 500+ years, astrology and astronomy were essentially the same thing. However, science as we would recognise it today did not exist then. Al Kwarizimi, in the context of what was known at the time, was probably one of the brightest and greatest of his time.

    But we now know that astrology is a crock, and that science is (thus far) the only successful method of learning about the world around us (except in the most trivial ways).

  91. Ariane

    Sounds like “enrol us again” to me lol. Then again I did just pay for my current semester of uni..

  92. Nigel Depledge

    Ahugenerd (75) said:

    I think people should keep sight of the fact that science is science and, as such, is mostly an aggregate of theories. These are just theories and there’s nothing in the way of anyone who might want to disprove them. This is not true of fields such as astrology, homeopathy or acupuncture, where dogma reigns supreme.

    However, hard-nosed scientists do tend to forget this, never really questioning the theories they use on a daily basis.

    But there are some theories that have been tested so many times that it is only reasonable to accept them as true. In fact, the best theories of science have been tested to such an extent that we can state, with confidence, that they are either true or a good approximation of reality.

    I once asked my calculus teacher what he would do should the fundamental theorem of calculus be disproved, since, after all, it is a theorem and not a law. He said he would retire. I found that sad. Science is about discovery and I cannot think of a bigger discovery than finding out everything you thought you knew was incorrect. That wouldn’t be a crushing defeat, it would be exciting!

    You seem to be conflating science and maths, and “theorem” and “theory”. A theorem is something that has been proven. For instance, Pythagoras’s theorem was true when it was first proved, it is true today, and it will be just as true in a million years’ time.

    That’s the major difference between science and pseudo-science: one tends to embrace and encourage change and rethinking whilst the other avoids any form of change, declaring itself as correct and perfect. But you still end up with individuals on both sides of the fence that just don’t get it.

    Maybe so, but most scientists focus their attention on exploring areas of uncertainty and mystery, not on repeatedly confirming what everyone accepts anyway. There are exceptions to this. For example, evolutionary theory is tested every time a new fossil is unearthed, but this is incidental to the reason for hunting for fossils (which is to fill out the detail of the evolutionary history of life on Earth).

  93. Gary Ansorge

    Dang, Phil, I’m gonna have to either stay up later or get up earlier, just to be able to get to these interesting parties on time,,,grumble,,

    First, the print on your very high, mutant forehead, is obviously intended to imply that to LIVE is to be EVIL,,,so, I guess the only way to be good is to be DEAD,,,

    ,,,which leads into an old Dead saying that “Ya gotta be a little bit crazy to believe.”

    51. Thomas Lawrence -You want to know what’s real, eh?
    Real is – if you jump off a cliff,,,you’re probably gonna be dead, ’cause gravity always sucks, it never blows,,,

    Truth is Relative? What a crock. What you really mean is that your interpretation is relative. Truth is the way things actually work.

    Relativity, Newton’s theories and Quantum mechanics are all accurate descriptions of the way things work, for the size of the phenomena you’re looking at. (as my ex pointed out, size DOES matter).

    Just as the quality of “wetness” is an emergent property of very large numbers of particles, so too are the emergent properties of the macroscopic universe. Out of chaotic, random activity on the microscopic level averaged properties result in our stable, predictable macroscopic universe. Relativity is not “wrong”. It’s just a special case description of one aspect of reality. Quantum mechanics is in the same boat. Newton’s theories dealt with the limitations of what we could see with our rather ordinary senses and instrumentality. Einstein’s dealt with the high velocity, high mass aspect of reality. Quantum mechanics with very small, essentially chaotic systems. They’re all describing truth in their chosen realms and they do it quite well. Are there difficulties bridging the gaps between them? Only in terms of ease of calculation. Relativity can accurately describe processes on the quantum level, the calculations however, become extremely complex and cumbersome. E=MC^2 is a true statement on both the microscopic and the macroscopic level.

    Schrodingers cat-in-a-box was meant to show just how stupid that particular “interpretation” of quantum mechanics was. In reality, the cat is either dead or alive,,,it’s NOT both at the same time. Our KNOWLEDGE of it’s condition is however, in-determinant, until we look. Thus quantum mechanics says more about our perception of reality than about the condition of reality at any particular moment.

    I am not a fan of the solipsist philosophy. It quickly stumbles and falls upon a punch in the nose.

    The whole point of the Scientific Method is the DISPROOF of errant theories. We only need one example to show what’s wrong(opposed to the way reality really works) but to prove some theory true, we’d need to test to infinity. Thus all theories are always suspect and subject to revision. It’s the nature of knowledge, to slowly grow.

    Astrology has been shown to be wrong so many times, it makes no sense to expend resources believing it’s true,,,

    Truth is whatever actually works!

    GAry 7

    There, now you know the terrible truth. I’m much more an engineer than a theoretician,,

    Oh, and about using my real name,,,that just reminds me to be courteous,,,so I don’t go all pissy on idiots.

  94. @Torsten: What you’re not realizing is that the people here really don’t really give a hoot about astrology, EVP, etc. What they do care about is exposing the people who want nothing other than take people for everything they have using these things as frauds.

    And that is exactly what they are. Hucksters who use people’s gullibilty to free them from their monetary resources.

  95. Gary Ansorge

    Gee, I forgot all about art and music.

    Beauty MAY be in the eye of the beholder, but honestly, there are some things nearly everyone would see as just plain UGLY.

    One mans music, it is said, is another mans noise. Often I’ve heard that applied to the music of the Grateful Dead however, noise is a definable parameter. It’s anything that changes so fast it causes physical pain and damage to the ears, like finger nails on a black board. Music is a mathematically relational series of sounds that are in accord with the structure of our nervous systems. As Bob Weir once pointed out, “One note is noise, two notes suggests somethings coming and three notes in a row implies music,,,”(sorry Bobby, if I screwed that up).

    Gary 7

  96. One more thing…

    On Pink Floyd’s The Wall there are several examples of backward masking including gems like, “Congratulations! You’ve just discovered the secret message…” and “If you are listening to this now, you will see this record is sick, sick, sick”. I’m bet people have posted it online, if you are interested.

    Unlike the claimed reverse speech of the website linked to in Phil’s post, these messages were apparently put into the record album on purpose.

    I uncovered these messages when I was in high school by recording the album on cassette and then reversing the spools within the cassette so I could listen to the album backward in my tape deck (I was committed to the cause).

  97. Chris

    I heard “And all is good?” But I am half asleep as I just woke up and wanted to peruse the rest of the blog that I was unable to finish early this morning.

  98. Jeff

    ‘We may never achieve that ultimate goal, but we get ever closer”

    1. We definitely won’t achieve the ultimate goal, we’re human , not god.

    2. If we take, for example, gravity theory, the only way that is going to move forward is if it makes predictions that are experimentally verified. The LHC might, but they haven’t yet, so string theory, for instance, is not confirmed yet. It might never be. We may be maxed out now and can’t move any further in some of these areas. I had a major professor, Dave Cline, involved with the last great discovery in the area of particle physics: the W boson of electroweak theory. But , alas, that was 25 long years ago. Experimental discoveries at the margins are few and far between. Another prof. , Dr. Wu is still involved at CERN after decades, and hoping to discover something new at LHC. But still nothing yet.

  99. Jeff

    The problem with astrology, as well as pseudosciences, they do not have lawlike causal mechanisms which enable us to put their hypotheses to test. To be scientific, hypotheses must be explanatory and testable.

    For example,
    (1) correct astronomy hypothesis: today the sun will rise in (zodiac constellation X) . Why, because the sun moves around the ecliptic every 12 months due to orbit of earth. That is lawlike prediction
    (2) nonscientific astrology hypotheses: because today sun rises in (zodiac constellation X), you will have a great day. No cause-effect law here. Why not just make something up? that’s the point

  100. Gary Ansorge

    101. Jeff

    1. We definitely won’t achieve the ultimate goal, we’re human , not god.

    Hmmm, care to define what that little three letter word really means? Because to Buddhists , human and god are synonymous,,,

    No tested predictions in string theory? Actually, I recently read an article on that very subject, unfortunately, I can’t find it on my computer. What can I say? I’m disorganized. It was on physics.archive.org,,,

    The main thing about new particles is they require vast energies to uncover and the LHC MAY be big enough to do that,,,or not but that will refute those theories that predict certain particles in that energy range and that counts as new science, doncha think?

    Anyway, I expect there are several posters on this site much better qualified than am I to explain the errors in your thinking,,,

    GAry 7

  101. CallMePC

    Most enjoyable music I’ve heard backward: the first four Ramones albums. It’s like getting another four ’70’s Ramones albums you haven’t heard before! And the lyrics are nearly intelligible! As I recall, “Lobotomy!” backward sounds like, “Heyyyyy Bud Abbott!” Words to live by!

  102. Jeff

    @Gary, thanks for reply.

    god? heaven (not really) only knows? I just mean humans, being a PART of the universe, cannot ever understand the universe, a philosophical problem here. In that sense, we’ll never “know it all”, only, as Phil says, get close, but how close?

    do I think LHC will resolve the issue? Maybe, maybe not. String theory predicts certain particles, but if they are not discovered, that doesn’t falsify the theory, just leaves it in limbo. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, because the LHC isn’t the biggest energy machine that will ever be built, it might take a new generation of machines to resolve the issue.

    errors in my thinking? I’ve been a professor for 30 years so I would be the first to admit errors in my thinking. But profs., just like science itself, may never have the ultimate answers, but we can get as close as possible to the “truth” What’s important is that you be trained in critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and apply this type of thinking to phenomena, and then you’ll probably be on the right track.

    I recommend this book for distinguishing science from pseudoscience : “Frauds, myths, and mysteries” by Ken Feder. It’s one of my favorite all time books.

  103. cpt Jameson Lave de Reorte

    Maybe it has been mentioned in the comments, The Beatles anticipated on a hype about the suggested death of Paul McCartney. A rumor that surfaced in the 1966 by crackpots. They experimented with then new four track recording equipment, tape echo machines and running recordings backwards (i.e. Tomorrow Never Knows, Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite, Nr 9). It was probably Lennon fooling around, just experimenting.

    The dead McCartney hype has been mentioned several times, you got it right Phil. “a clue for you all, the walrus was Paul”, not Big Foot, in ‘I am the walrus’. And there are excerpts from ‘a Day in the Life’ and a few other songs. It has been said that ‘secret messages’ gave i.e. Charles Manson an excuse although he heard whole different things. Crackpots.

    To conclude, there is footage of a kind of weird fellow staying near Tittenhurst, the then residence of the Lennons. Lennon eventually invited him in and asked him why he came. The guy explained that he heard messages calling him. Lennon explained that lyrics didn’t mean anything and offered him a cup of coffee. Years later Lennon was killed by another crackpot.

  104. cpt Jameson Lave de Reorte

    PS, the website you mentioned brings me to Poe’s Law.

    “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.”

  105. mike burkhart

    May be these people come form an oppisite universe (like the one in star trek where the federation in this universe was an evil empire in the other and Spock had a beard and Kirks opsite could just push a button and get rid somebody) O.K. I know other universes are only hyperthetal and are in the relm of sci-fi as for astrology well nothing ever happened to me that the astrology collom in the newspaper said would so I stop reading it when I was in my teens by the way I don’t consider Phill Platt to be evil . I like his book and I like this website any one who wants to explore the universe and find the facts to answer questions and has dedicated his life to it is not bad

  106. Gary Ansorge

    105. Jeff

    By errors I was referring to the idea that the human neurological structure, because it is finite, is incapable of comprehending the entire sidereal universe. My Bro(the rocket scientist) and I have wrestled over this subject on several occasions. He is of the opinion that nothing new has been discovered since quantum mechanics. My opinion is that he’s a crusty curmudgeon.( Hey, he’s my Bro. I can zing him if I want.)

    I believe(w/o hard evidence, admittedly) that the development of intelligence will progress until we ARE, in fact, able to understand everything. It may require us to augment our biological systems with other kinds of systems(silicon based or something even more esoteric) but continue we shall.

    Well, that’s my opinion and as we all know, that’s one thing everyone has,,,

    GAry 7

  107. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Post-modernism isn’t AFAIU only useless to understand reality, it is harmful to such understanding. One can, if I understand it correctly, for example claim that astrology is as valid or useful as astronomy, or that it isn’t harmful to the later and so society in general. All wrong, of course.

    Now people seem to have trouble to define post-modernism, but it often involves mentioning using “deconstruction”. There is a funny piece on the web by an engineer who learned what it was and proceeds to show how it collapses under its own weight. (IIRC the whole procedure is contradictory, to say the least.)

    post modernism and notions of socially constructed ideas.

    That was, for me, a new definition. But I fail to see how earlier sciences did not know and study this. But studied it in an objective way, of course.

    @ Torsten Mahler #40:

    If you read and religious, or philosophical forums you get the same entrenched arguments that boil down to: we are right, everything else is wrong, especially if you try to follow a line that opposes ours.

    The test is in the pudding, the method of science works. And the technology based on it.

    [And yes, that means that the assumption of this also is tested, and works.]

    This is hugely different from “socially constructed ideas”.

  108. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Thomas Lawrence #51:

    Here “observation” refers merely to our individual subjective qualia, the colours, shapes, soudns and feelings of our perceptions to which we have a direct access.

    Solipsism is, in David Deutch words, “indefensible”.

    Deutch has a fine criticism (as regards solipsism and analogous religious ideas) in his “The Fabric Of Reality”. In essence, a solipsist or the Inquisition facing Galileo, has to explain the lawfulness of the “universe” part of his mind or their geocentric model. Explain it fully as much as science has.

    But if they when take solipsism/religion seriously, the largest part of their mind/model behave as committed anti-solipsist. Moreover, this part must now be amenable to ‘introspection’. So solipsism self-destructs, as definition, as procedure, and as a competitive simple model; realism is simpler.

  109. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Patrick #49:

    For an example of the difference take the mutually incompatible frameworks of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

    To the realist this means that ultimately one or both of these frameworks is *wrong* and we need a better framework.

    To an instrumentalist it doesn’t matter that they’re incompatible (though the corner cases which are hard to deal with are problematic). Instrumentalism is fueled by the pessimistic induction.

    Ultimately all scientists are at least a little instrumentalist. I mean in scenarios where it works you use Newtonian mechanics (cause they’re easier) even though we all know that Newtonian mechanics can’t be accurate.

    Instrumentalism is a possible method. (But not good as an ideal, since then you can’t really compare theories for their content including objects, say for picking the most parsimonious.)

    However I don’t agree that these are arguments for instrumentalism.

    First, relativity and QM isn’t incompatible. It is easy to combine QM with special relativity; you end up with quantum field theories by quantizing their lagrangian (I think), or string theories. The first diverges in some cases, the others not so much or possibly not at all.

    It is also easy to combine QM with general relativity; you end up with a (linear) quantum field theory by quantizing its lagrangian [google “effective field theory description of quantum gravity” on Jacques Distler’s blog Musings], or putatively string theories. The first diverges for large energies, the others not so much or possibly not at all.

    Distler: “as an effective field theory, gravity is no worse, nor better, than any other of the effective field theories we know and love.”

    But divergence isn’t a sign of incompatibility or *wrong*ness, but of incompleteness of effective theories. The same for Newtonian mechanics when you apply it for systems outside its area of applicability. It fails because it isn’t a complete description of physics, not because it makes the *wrong* predictions where it applies.

    All in all, realism is both simpler (than say ideal solipsism) and more powerful (than say ideal instrumentalism).

  110. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff (105) said:

    do I think LHC will resolve the issue? Maybe, maybe not. String theory predicts certain particles, but if they are not discovered, that doesn’t falsify the theory, just leaves it in limbo. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, because the LHC isn’t the biggest energy machine that will ever be built, it might take a new generation of machines to resolve the issue.

    Of course, this is correct. You seem to have missed a part of the picture, though. Every negative result rules out some possibilities and thus adds constraints to the theory. Eventually, after testing the full range of energies postulated by the theory for (for instance) the Higgs boson, we can say that the theory was wrong. Until then, negative results give us progressively tighter constraints on the energy of the particle.

  111. Nigel Depledge

    In my previous comment, I should have said that I was assuming we did not find Higgs – if we find the Higgs, of course, within the expected range of energies, this is evidence to support the theory that predicted it.

  112. Gary Ansorge

    112: Torbjörn Larsson

    The following link is about tossing out the Lorentz invarience, which rather neatly results in time having a preferred direction and gravity working on the quantum level as neatly as it does on the macroscopic. Plus inflation then just naturally falls out of our equations. Very interesting,,,

    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/06/getting-a-theory-of-everything-by-ditching-tenet-of-physics.ars

    Gary 7

  113. I wouldn’t have bothered with this site nor this blog but Phil decided to ridicule reverse speaking about which, it is obvious, he knows nothing.

    In putting up one little itty bitty reversal as his argument that this is all nonsense, he shows his own ignorance of this field of research.

    I have listened to evp (electronic voice phenomena) and reverse speaking for approximately 7 years and have collected many thousands of recordings.
    .
    I will admit that most of the people on this blog seem incredibly smart. I’m sure many of you spent lots of money getting smart and now have the papers to prove that you are indeed smart, but that doesn’t mean you are really aware of all that is happening within different levels of reality.
    .
    I would have imagined that such smart people would also be curious, and hopefully, open minded. Hummmm
    .
    I would challenge any of you to record yourselves talking about how silly this whole study of reverse speaking is and then hit the reverse button and listen to yourself speaking back to you.
    .
    You may be very shocked at what comes out of your own mind in that strange cadence of speaking in reverse.

    Note: Give your mind a break though. It is having to rearrange forward speech sounds at the same moment that you are speaking, and create recognizable speech patterns when reversed. These phrases will tell the truth no matter what you happen to believe. This is quite a little feat. No computer on Earth is capable of this. Our minds really are quite talented when we put aside assumptions and really listen.
    .
    But I will assume that this will go unheeded and people will continue to feel superior and blithely ignore this challenge.
    .
    If there are some here, who would like to look a little more closely at this research before dismissing it, I think you may be in for quite a shock.
    .
    But that assumes the mind is open, and therein lies the problem.

  114. EVP Reverse speaking and Astrology have nothing to do with each other.
    .
    Astronomy and astrology are more closely related.
    .
    Also, it takes a bit of practice to get used to the cadence of reverse speaking. If you listen to one or two and dismiss the field, that is fine, but don’t open your mouth with opinions that will put your intelligence on the line. It will soon be obvious that you don’t know sh*t about it.

    There are limitations to be sure. But I have volumes of remarkably clear and coherent reversals, many from scientists who really think they know ever so much.
    .
    It’s coming from their minds and their mouths. I merely listen.

  115. Peggy, you have made lots of statements that I could comment on — my favorite being that we’re not open minded, when in fact the real point is that you have no real evidence what you claim is true, and there’s tons of evidence this is all just audio pareidolia — but I won’t focus on that.

    Instead, I’ll say this: I imagine that what you are claiming could qualify for the JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge. Why not apply? I would think a million bucks would buy an awful lot of recorders with a “reverse” switch on them.

  116. Dear Phil, Thanks so much for your response. I won’t be bothered with Randi’s million dollar challenge because personally, I think it’s bogus.

    But I will issue you a challenge if you are up to it.

    You put up videos on youtube, so why don’t you put one up where you say what you think about reverse speaking and I’ll then do my best to fairly reverse you. I think most people who know me will say that I am careful and if you say in reverse, that I am full of BS, I will certainly put that up.
    So,Let’s see what you say in reverse, after all, it’s you speaking….
    What do you think?

  117. I just put up a selection of reversals and evps which are at least a fair representation on my website.
    I would suggest before calling this modality audio pareidolia, go take a listen to these. It’s just a tiny sampling and will only take a few moments.
    Then you will have a little more upon which to base an opinion.

    http://www.evpreversespeaking.com/2009/11/11/for-the-skeptical-but-open-minded-a-short-overview-of-reverse-speaking-and-evp/

  118. Nigel Depledge

    Peggy Kane (118) said:

    I will admit that most of the people on this blog seem incredibly smart. I’m sure many of you spent lots of money getting smart and now have the papers to prove that you are indeed smart, but that doesn’t mean you are really aware of all that is happening within different levels of reality.

    What the hell does this even mean?

    Reality, by definition, is that which is.

    What can you mean by “different levels” of reality? Do you have any evidence that “different levels” of reality exist? Or at least some proposed way to find out, for example, how many “levels” reality has? Or is this merely some phrase to hide the fact that you don’t actually know very much about how the universe functions and are desperate to validate your intuitive grasp of the way the world works?

    BTW, for the purpose of full disclosure, I have a certificate that says I am persistent (I have a PhD), but it doesn’t mention “smart” anywhere.

  119. Nigel Depledge

    Oh, and, also @ Peggy Kane (in case you should ever return to this thread and read the comments again) –

    What evidence is there that reverse speech is anything other than just random-ish sounds being assembled into something that sounds vaguely meaningful by our pattern-obsessed brains?

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