“The quick and the undead” (Quicksand)

A regular, if not hackneyed, feature of adventure and action movies, TV shows, and comic books is quicksand. It is unusually found by some foolhardy or overzealous traveler deep in a jungle, swamp, desert, or other forlorn location. Once the sinking begins, it is irreversible and trying to get out only aggravates the predicament. The unfortunate victim slowly succumbs to death by suffocation. Sometimes a hand or hat remains for dramatic effect once the soon-to-be-deceased goes under.

These portrayals represent a mythological version of quicksand, but the phenomenon is real and in certain instances and situations, can be hazardous.

Geologically speaking, quicksand comprises sand, clay, and saltwater, and it appears and acts as a solid. But when weight is applied, the mixture begins to collapse. It most frequently is present where there is upward-flowing water, often near rivers or beaches where liquid is right under the surface. When disturbed, the mixture transforms from a loose packing of sand on top of water into a more dense liquid. Its high viscosity creates resistance and suction, and the more stress that is applied, the more liquid it becomes. So thrashing about will indeed cause a trapped person to further sink and become more engulfed. But this will only make the situation temporarily worse. On an average-sized person, quicksand will be, at the most, about waist-deep.

The key is to stay calm and eventually float to safety. Experts advice stretching out on your back to increase your surface area and waiting until your legs break free. It is also suggested to move one’s legs around at this point, to stir in water, which will help you float.

While that works for people, quicksand can pose a threat to horses, who upon encountering it, may panic and exhaust themselves while trying to break free. It requires specialized equipment and sedation to rescue them. And it can still be hazardous for humans, especially if one is hiking alone and being unaware of these extraction techniques.

So if starting to go under a la an Indiana Jones flick, get rid of anything you are carrying. Next, distribute your weight by lying backward since staying motionless may increase the material’s viscosity. Trying to extract a leg by pulling it means working against a vacuum left behind. A better tact is to rock back and forth, thereby creating a space for water to move into. This will loosen the material around your limbs. Instead of being sucked all the way in, quicksand victims will float once they get about waist deep. That’s how it works, though it would make for a boring movie scene.

“Face the truth” (Lie detection)

Polygraphs are able to detect physiological changes in someone but they cannot determine if that person is lying. The notion that they can is based on junk science and selective memory, which are among the reasons the results are inadmissible in court.

A more disturbing use of aggressive policing based on bad data is the tiny number of law enforcement agencies that have adopted a Minority Report approach to fighting crime. They take a person’s criminal history and a secretive profiling method, then combine this with constant surveillance and harassment in the form of trumped-up charges like “grass too high,” until the supposed criminal, who is really the victim, moves to another jurisdiction.

Today we will look at a third dubious notion when it comes to crime fighting: That there exists a way to tell if someone is lying through their facial cues. BBC reported that Israeli researchers claim to have discovered a way to use electromyography to measure facial muscles to determine prevarication.

The technique employs electrodes that measure contraction in certain facial muscles of the subject. Researchers ran two trials with subjects, who heard one of two phrases, at which point the subject then told another person which phrase he or she had heard, either telling the truth or lying.

Researchers then took their data and used it to develop an Artificial Intelligence algorithm that clustered facial movements that they deduced correlated with lying. Next, they used that to develop a predictive model to detect lies based on cheek and eyebrow movements. Human receivers managed to do no better than chance, while the algorithm did 7.5 percent better than that. That’s a decent performance but insufficient to show demonstrable superiority, and certainly of no value to law enforcement, as it still results in a more than 40 percent error rate.

The problem with the entire approach is that there are no universal indicators to determine if someone is fibbing. The algorithm can determine facial movements but not necessarily deception. Another issue is that a research subject could act and feel much different than a suspect being grilled for a double murder. The concept of a genuine lie detector is attractive. Imagine being able to hook up O.J. Simpson or Donald Trump to one. Alas, it remains firmly in the realm of science fiction.

“Emotional recuse” (EFT)

The Emotional Freedom Technique refers to a putative therapeutic process meant to heal the mind and cure a host of psychological and physical maladies. The method through which this is allegedly achieved is akin to acupuncture but without needles. During sessions, the practitioner attempts to manipulate the client’s undefined energy field by tapping on make-believe meridians while the client focuses on a specific bad memory.

According to the primary EFT website, the practitioner will tap on “end points of the body’s energy meridians,” a vacuous term and an undefined concept. The purported aim is to stimulate acupressure points by pressuring, tapping, or rubbing these points while focusing on situations that represent personal fear or trauma. This is unsupported by any evidence, in addition to being unfalsifiable. Stopping a random person at the street, pressing on a random place on their body, and seeing what post hoc reasoning one could arrive at would produce the same results.

Gary Craig created the technique, which he considers to be energy healing. There is no way to define, license, or regulate such a healer, and there are no standards or uniform training methods. Put another way, if you say you’re an energy healer, you are.

Craig’s website claims EFT “applies to just about every emotional and physical issue you can name and often works where nothing else will.” Such a wide-ranging claim is a pseudoscientific giveaway. Genuine medicine will treat a specific condition through a means or product that is the result of research and double blind studies. For example, Tylenol can help with a backache because of the healing properties of acetaminophen, which has been shown in repeated double blind studies. It will not help with a wide array of physical and emotional issues, nor will any other actual medicine.

Though not quite as telling, the claim that it can work when nothing else will is also a alternative medicine red flag. Because of the cyclical nature of some illnesses and conditions, a person may have already tried three techniques or medicines when they get around to giving EFT or other alt-med idea a shot. It might seem to work, but perhaps only because the condition has run its course. Without multiple double blind studies suggesting efficiency, there is no way to know if a medicine or technique is working.

When my middle child was a Kindergartner, there was an evening where he was experiencing body aches and a fever. It was midnight so all the stores were closed and we were out of medicine, so we gave him absolutely nothing. In the morning, the pain and fever were gone. Had he used EFT or a similar unproven idea, we could well have credited the technique, raved about it to our friends, and made our anecdote one of many on an EFT-promoting website. This highlights one of the reasons double blind studies are crucial and, as James Randi put it, why the plural of anecdote is not data.

Proponents claim EFT works by balancing, blocking, and rerouting energy. They do not explain what type of energy, how this energy is accessed, how it would be balanced, blocked, or rerouted, or why this would be beneficial.

Elsewhere on the site, there is this appeal to antiquity: “Gary’s discovered what traditional healers have known for millennia.” To balance this out, there is an appeal to novelty highlighting quantum physics, again without explaining how it would be used to help. Craig also tries to piggyback on one of the all-time greats by including an Einsteinian reference to energy. Completing this logical fallacy romp, Craig employs the Galileo Gambit, chastising doctors, especially those in the West, for ignoring energy healing.

The website also gloats about EFT’s the lack of side effects. That’s because there are no effects of any kind since it is not medicine. Any genuine medicine by definition is going to be impacting the body in some way. If someone claims a medicine could never have side effects they are either lying or misinformed or it is not medicine.

EFT might have value as relaxation technique but one could get that for free by lying on a couch at home, burning incense, and listening to flute music.

“Let them eat fakes” (Vegan bashing)

Atheists and vegans have a commonality. Both are reviled minorities who are despised for what they do not do: Believe in any gods or consume animal products. While this would seem to be an avenue for atheists to feel rapport with vegans, or at least be neutral toward them, this is not always the case. The Facebook page Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense (AAPN) makes vegan-bashing at least a monthly occurrence.

This seems strange to me, for in the same way that someone not believing in a god has no impact on anyone else, a person favoring fake butter to the authentic version is harming no one. Of course, the maintainers of AAPN are far from alone in their vegan-loathing, which permeates those of all religious stripes. Why does 0.3 percent of the population, doing something that doesn’t affect anyone else, engender such venom?

BBC reporter Zaria Gorvett tried to get the root of this disdain. She wrote that one volley lobbed at vegans is an accusation of hypocrisy. For example, bugs or mice will be unintentionally killed when a farmer harvests corn or plants soybeans. But, first, as vegan law professor Gary Francioine noted, by being vegan, one is taking the most proactive stance and the one that will cause the least cumulative harm to animals. By contrast, if one eats meat or drink milks, the fatal impact on animals is unquestioned. (Male offspring of dairy cattle are often killed at birth, the same fate that awaits male chicks).

Moreover, appealing to hypocrisy is a logical fallacy and in this case, not a genuine reason for the loathing. Further, the hypocrisy charge is similar to the one lobbed at proponents of church/state separation for using money emblazoned with “In God We Trust.” But there is no inconsistency since those proponents would prefer the motto come off. Similarly, vegans would prefer that no living creatures be killed or harmed when their food is produced. AAPN could surely see the logic behind the former, so why not the latter?

A second accusation is that vegans are militant and adopt an in-your-face approach. Consider the lame joke, “How do you know if someone is vegan? They will tell you.” This is an instance of survivor bias, as people meet vegans all the time without knowing it since the person doesn’t mention it. To think that all vegans spout off about it because some of them do is like finishing a hearing test and, before being told the results, thinking you aced it because you heard all the beeps.

The militant accusation is also comical when considering such an approach is more frequent among meat eaters. Think about the Heart Attack Grill or the promotions which bestow a free dinner on the diner who finishes an outrageously-sized cheeseburger or T-bone in a certain timeframe. I have seen animal welfare videos given a retort video consisting entirely of the creator eating chicken nuggets. I have ever seen the equivalent, whereby a hunting video is answered by a vegan recording themselves chomping on a salad. Social media ads for veggie burgers yield derisive comments in the threads; those for hamburgers do not.

Again, this should be a case for common ground between the atheist and vegan. The punchline “They will tell you” has been directed at atheists, even though it is Christians who wear a religious symbol around their necks, who dress in unmistakable nun and priest garments, and who have multiple church options in any square mile nationwide. It is de rigueur for GOP presidential candidates to announce that the Christian god told them to run. By contrast, no Democratic candidate has cited atheism as their impetus.

So with hypocrisy or aggressiveness not the answer, Gorvett deduced that disgust of vegans has its roots in psychological discomfort. She writes, “If you bring your cod and chips home to eat in front of your beloved goldfish, or tuck into a rabbit stew mere moments after cooing over various #rabbitsofinstagram, you’re likely to encounter cognitive dissonance, which occurs when a person holds two incompatible views, and acts on one of them. In this case, your affection for animals might just start to clash with the idea that it’s OK to eat them. The tension that results can make us feel stressed, irritated, and unhappy. But instead of resolving it by changing our beliefs or behavior, it’s quite normal to blame these feelings on something else entirely.”

Encountering a vegan triggers this cognitive dissonance by serving as a reminder of one’s inconsistency so vegan-bashing often follows. As Gorvett explained, “Motivated reasoning might lead people to find explanations for why eating animals is the correct decision. And one of these is that vegans are bad.”

Once more, this should be where an atheist finds common ground with a vegan. After all, some religious types who detest nonbelievers do so as a way of trying to compensate for their faith’s abuses and to keep their lingering doubts repressed.

About the only justification I can find for AAPN’s spite is the vegan-friendly nature of the communion offerings of bread and wine.

“Lie in the sky” (UFOs)

Over the millenniums, humans have made various guesses to try and account for unexplained aerial phenomena. Ancient Roman historian Livy speculated they were phantom ships. Some First Century Jews interpreted them as armed angels riding chariots. In Shakespeare’s day, they were assumed to be fairies, incubus, or witches taking flight on brooms.

Consistent with an evolving hypotheses, the prevailing suspicion over the last three-quarters of a century is that unidentified flying objects are of alien origin. More terrestrial conjectures have included top-secret projects, adversarial aircraft, or developmental civilian products. Objects mistaken for alien transport vehicles have included weather balloons, flares, sky lanterns, sun reflection, artificial light distortion, planets, meteors, satellites, swamp gas, and ball lightning.

While the great majority of strange sightings are explicable as being one of the previously-listed phenomenon, a tiny percentage remain a mystery. The problem arises when UFO enthusiasts plug their default ET explanation into any gap that does not fit these categories. These are unidentified objects, which means we don’t know what they are. Penciling in the alien answer is to commit a secular version of the god of the gaps fallacy. For while there have been countless reports of alien visitors and the crafts which transport them, none of these accounts have included a verified living creature, nor have we been able to examine their means of conveyance. No known extraterrestrials live among us, nor are any flying saucers housed in the Smithsonian. Believers have yet to produce a confirmed alien artifact, souvenir, implant, or DNA sample.

That is among the reasons that defaulting to extraterrestrials is a mistake. Metabunk founder Mick West serves as the skeptic community’s foremost UFO expert, each week scouring photos and videos of putative alien craft and offering conjecture based on math and science. His level-headed, in-depth analysis makes West a pariah among UFO enthusiasts. These detractors bypass reason and observation in order to launch ad hominem attacks, such as, “This threatens your world view,” “Your mind is so closed you can’t see what is obvious,” and, “You are going to look like such an idiot when aliens choose to make contact with us.”

If such contact is ever is made, it is unlikely to be done by an amateur enthusiast or serendipitous video-camera operator. Conspicuously absent among UFO sightings are any made by those whose job it is to keep track of the goings-on in the sky: Astronomers and military radar operators. Almost all of putative encounters with UFOS are reported by those without training in astronomy, atmospherics, aeronautics, physics, or optometry.

On a related note, if alien life is ever confirmed, it is unlikely to be in the form of a flying saucer landing and requesting an audience with our leader. Astrophysicist Katie Mack explained that the discovery would more likely be made by those in her field watching exoplanets orbit their stars. She wrote, “If we can directly image an exoplanet, or see it pass in front of its star, we can search the spectrum of its light for signatures of chemical balances that only biological organisms can produce.” Another possibility is detecting an electromagnetic signal from life elsewhere or encountering an alien civilization’s equivalent of Voyager. So if we reach each other, it will probably be this type of first contact.

And that may be the only type ever made. A species leaving from the nearest exoplanet and averaging 250,000 miles per hour – fast enough to reach the moon in an hour – would take 11,400 years go get here. This hypothetical journey also assumes managing the logistics of repair, refueling, medicine, and food, all while avoiding the perils of deep space. So aliens would need to travel at amazing speeds while keeping a sustainable population housed, fed, clothed, medicated, entertained, cooperative, and sustained, probably for millenniums.

Sure, they could have managed near-warp travel, may have found a way to utilize wormholes, or have perhaps achieved immortality. But those are all baseless conjectures supported by zero evidence and it requires the most desperate desire to believe to take one of those unproven notions, tie it to flashes in Earth’s sky, and deduce they are coming from interplanetary travelers.

“TikdOff” (School shooting rumor)

Last month, TikTok was awash in rumors of an imminent school shooting set for Dec. 17. Skeptical Inquirer Deputy Editor Benjamin Radford investigated the phenomenon and learned that no law enforcement agencies found any of the threats credible. Rather, they were ambiguous and not tied to a specific person, place, or intent to act. And indeed, the day came and went without a school shooting.

Radford found that nearly every mention of the potential shootings had come in the form of warnings, shares, or with the user expressing their fear and worry. In other words, persons were communicating about the threats, not making them. Like earlier social media scares and their ancestors, the urban legend, the focus was on persons reacting to it, not on persons perpetrating it. We have seen this act before, in Internet warnings about T-shirts and zip ties being part of a human trafficking ploy, and in decades past with chilling tales of kidney thieves and drunk-driving victims embedded in car grills.

Radford wrote that the common folkloric themes between many urban legends and today’s social media hoaxes are that they mirror social anxieties, highlight threats to vulnerable populations, and reflect concern about technology gone bad.

Verge journalist Mia Sato interviewed University of Ontario Institute of Technology associate professor James Walsh, who told her, “Adult society has always been concerned about how new media content or new media technologies are going to corrupt young, impressionable minds.” Walsh points out that panic around a particular medium predates TikTok, previously occurring with comic books, board games, and music.

The difference now is that the misinformation gets out much faster and can me much harder to corral. Access to correct information is likewise readily available, but persons all too often to go with an untruth that fits their preconceived notions instead of accepting what to them is a less-familiar reality.

“Misplaced trust” (OOPArts)

Out of place artifacts (OOPArts) are seeming anachronisms that can seem intriguing to some, a validation of alternative history to others, and hoaxes or misinterpreted evidence to skeptics. In a delightful recap of some of these, skeptic leader Brian Dunning examined the evidence or lack thereof for what claimants make of them.

We’ll start with the Acámbaro Figures, a collection of tens of thousands of small ceramic figurines that are a mix of dinosaurs, humanoids, sleestaks, and the like. Some of them vaguely resemble the dinosaur set I had as a kid. That set, incidentally, included cavemen, which would have made any Young Earth Creationist proud. As such, the Acámbaro Figures are beloved among YECs, who think the critters lend credence to the notion of humans and terrible lizards co-existing. Attempts to carbon-date the items has proven inconclusive.

However, Dunning wrote that the figures suggest “large-scale production by small artisan communities for the tourist trade,” and are thus not worthy of serious archeological study. Indeed, archaeologist Charles DiPeso saw some of the figures being retrieved from their shallow Earthly grave and deduced they had been recently planted just below the surface in a failed attempt to trick him. Dunning notes that the figurines’ surfaces were conspicuously free of scratches, blemishes, or other aging signs. Any last chance of these being genuine evaporated when thermoluminescence dating showed the figures to have been made around 1940 as opposed to 1940 BCE.

We now move to the Dorchester Port, a discovery made in Massachusetts in the mid-19th Century. The tale has it that workers dynamiting rock came across the remnants of an ornate silver pot embedded within that rock. Since the rock was 500 million years old, the Dorchester Pot is a favorite of the ancient advanced civilization enthusiasts. These folks are at the opposite end of the universe-age spectrum from YECs but are their brethren when it comes to selectively interpreting evidence to bolster their passions.

However, looking at photos of the object, it becomes clear that none of them are the same. They are from different hookah bases common in 19th Century India, are in good shape, and none look like they have been blown in two. The idea of an extremely ancient pot is merely a hoax and not a very thorough or thought-out one, either.

Next we consider the Upshur Bell, found in 1944 by youngster Newton Anderson while shoveling coal in his family’s basement. The bell seemingly appeared from a lump of this coal. Newton kept the object for 63 years and learned it was a Hindu ceremonial featuring the deity Garuda. Anderson sold the bell to a creationist website, where it is touted as the work of a blacksmith named in Genesis, Tubal-cain. Why he would have been making a Hindu god in a time that, per Genesis, was a religion not yet in existence, is unexplained. Moreover, Dunning noted that the bell resembles countless others in the world. To state the obvious, zero evidence supports the Tubal-cain narrative.

We have highlighted two objects fawned over by YECs, so for balance, we will close with a supposedly ancient tale, that of the Dashka Stone. This refers to an enormous slab discovered in Russia in 1999 that is said to be a 120 million-year-old writing tablet. Physicist Alexander Chuvyrov asserts the stone depicts a topographical map of the Ural Mountains, and he believes the pattern of inscriptions covering it are early Chinese characters.

According to Dunning, Chuvyrov considers two thin layers of different type of rock on the surface as proof the ancients manufactured it as a writing tablet. But Dunning consulted with a geologist, who informed him that the face of the Dashka Stone “was probably a bedding plane between two layers of sedimentary rock, along which some movement may have occurred during a period of deformation in which the other cracks perpendicular to the face also formed. These cracks are textbook compression shear fractures, and their three directions indicate at least three deformation events.”

When it comes to OOPArts, the only thing out of place is the trust their adherents have in them.

“Paper-thin claim” (FDA FOIA request)

Alarmist claims to the contrary, the FDA’s response to a massively-broad FOIA request is not evidence of a conspiracy or cover-up. Rather, it is a statement on how much information was asked for, how those claims are handled, and how many personnel are dedicated to the task.

The requested documents center on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine trial, information about which runs a whopping 329,000 pages. FDA officials said they could start releasing documents at a rate of 500 pages a month, in decreasing order of plaintiff priorities. These pages must be perused to determine which names need to be redacted and to identify trade secrets that need protected. Additionally, there are what the FDA calls “records that cannot be meaningfully paginated, such as data captured in spreadsheets that contain thousands of rows of data.”

A rate of 500 pages per month is consistent with processing schedules in previous FOIA requests. While all of these documents, at this rate, would take decades to provide, the plaintiffs would start getting the most documents immediately. Also of note, agencies have limited resources, and there are other requests to satisfy.

The FDA has been transparent on this topic and large amounts of vaccine data are available online. Regarding safety and effectiveness, there is likewise much published data publicly available. But expecting the agency drop everything to immediately release 329,000 redacted pages is unreasonable and, when considering the names and trade secrets that need to be removed, impossible to do in the time demanded.

“Scary Blossom” (Collapsing athletes/Neuriva)

Continuing their run of delivering a fresh piece of misinformation at least weekly, anti-vax activists are pushing a trope that athletes are collapsing on the field after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. They share context-less videos of players, usually of the European soccer persuasion, fainting during a match. A non sequitur insinuation that this is the result of vaccination follows. But there is no reason to think that the collapsing took place since the advent of the vaccine, or that the collapsing players were vaccinated, or that the vaccine was responsible.

Reuters and Snopes contacted FIFA, whose officials told them they had seen no increase in cardiac events among their players, and certainly none related to vaccinations.

While myocarditis and pericarditis may occur after an infinitesimal percentage of shots, none of the athletes in these videos were diagnosed with these conditions. Snopes reviewed a video that included several images of soccer athletes passing out and then looked into the cause. It turned out that most suffered from heat exhaustion or dehydration and none were the result of vaccine-linked cardiovascular misfortunes.

In short, this is all another anti-vax lie and nothing suggests a connection between the coronavirus vaccine and collapsing soccer players. Indeed, it would seem very strange that this only impacted one sport on one continent. For all the NFL that I watch, I have yet to see these types of collapses, vaccination-related or otherwise. Additionally, Snopes noted some of the soccer players were revealed to have NOT been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, not precisely making it up but not doing a whole lot better is what actress Mayim Bialik does when she touts brain supplements along with her supposed standing as a neuroscientist. The products in question are Neuriva and Neuriva Plus, the latter which combines the original ingredients with vitamins B6, B12, and folate.

However, Dr. Harriet Hall notes there is no evidence these additional ingredients increase the product’s efficiency. Since the product has yet to be subject to double blind testing, we are unsure if it works. There are studies which show the added ingredients may have impact by themselves, though that’s far from certain since they were tested on aging mice. And even if true, it would not necessarily follow that Neuriva Plus is effective for human brain power or memory.

As to the person making such claims, while Bialik did earn a doctorate in neuroscience, she doesn’t seem to have ever worked in the field. University of Chicago professor emeritus Jerry Coyne searched for her name in the Web of Science and found zero publications to her credit. Nor is she employed as a professor, doing laboratory work, or submitting findings for peer review.

While she can’t be compared to anti-vax misinformation agents in terms of damage done or lies being told, she is not doing any more science than they are.

“Grate Scott” (AstroWorld tragedy)

Ten persons, including a grade-schooler, being crushed to death, is horrific enough that it should stand on its own as a tragic event. But for those insistent on finding an even darker meaning, we venture to the online conspiracy theorist.

Rolling Stone cited TikTok users who opined that Travis Scott’s Astroworld stage was shaped like an inverted cross, thus interpreting it as a portal to Hell. They also suggest that the shirt Scott wore that night – depicting persons walking through a door and emerging with horns – as evidence that Scott was luring fans to a sacrificial rite.

It’s hard to miss the irony of the Internet – a capability those in the Dark Ages would have been unable to comprehend – being used to offer an explication consistent with those times.

And of course, no corroborating evidence for any of these extreme claims exist, which means precisely zero in conspiracy land. Consider this affirming of the consequent /appeal to incredulity from a zealous Internet sleuth: “If you don’t believe that there was nothing demonic about that whole concert, you are spiritually blind and I pray that God opens your eyes.” Hmm, looks like he got in an unintentional double negative to go with his double logical fallacy.

Other TikTok users crowed about the set featuring eight pyrotechnic flames lining the stage, with the fires said to represent the victims who died that night. That the death toll later expanded to 10 did little to disabuse believers of this notion. Rather than admitting to having arrived at an erroneous conclusion, they moved the morbid goalposts and said the extra victims were offed so as to detract from the numerical connection.

Another dude wondered if the COVID vaccine combined with Scott’s music to send off 5G vibrations that made for a lethal combination. It would seem strange that only 10 persons were impacted if this were a fatal concoction. Then again, those who are “just asking questions” are seeking agreement, not answers.

Insider cited a clip in which an anonymous TikTok poster lambasted Scott for performing some unspecified “demonic shit” and accusing him of keeping the concert going while knowing that asphyxiation deaths were occurring. Another accused the rapper of being a demonic lackey.

Yet another concluded the deaths were sacrifices to Kris Jenner since the tragedy took place on her birthday. The Law of Truly Large Numbers would apply here, as would a Law of Truly Large Stretches.

Another user Tweeted that Scott’s recent music cover art, which depicted him as somewhat akin to a goblin, proves that the concert was a “sacrifice ritual and no one will change my mind about that.”

Today’s Critical Thinking 101 lesson: First, the certainty of one’s conviction is unrelated to its soundness. Second, the burden of proof lies on the one making this diabolical claim; it is not on the skeptic do disprove it, though that it an imprecise term since it implies something has already been proven.

The Guardian noted that all this viral misinformation shows how young social media users are increasingly susceptible to conspiracy theories, despite seeing themselves as savvy navigators of the online world. But spending copious amounts on the Internet increases the risk of being misled by it, and exacerbating this are algorithms which track usage and beliers and lure users to those sites which affirm the consumer’s bias.