Skeptical Thoughts

March 2021

Here are the topics I chose to talk about on RadioLive for the month. Some of them may not have been mentioned on the radio due to a lack of time.

  • March 31, 2021

  • Is BitCoin like a Ponzi Scheme?

    Bitcoin is a digital currency that allows people to transfer money to other bitcoin users anonymously and securely (although there are ways of tracking unsuspecting users if they don’t know how to cover their tracks properly). There are two main pieces of technology that allow Bitcoin to work.

    5 min read, 925 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: BitCoin, CryptoCurrency, Ponzi Scheme, Scam

  • A BitCoin Primer

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: BitCoin, CryptoCurrency

  • March 24, 2021

  • Should we worry about LED bulbs?

    Stuff published an article recently about the dangers of LED light bulbs, arguing that the blue light from LED bulbs disturbs our circadian rhythm and disrupts our sleep, with wide ranging knock-on effects to our health. My skeptical radar beeped at reading this, as I’ve looked into this issue in the past and found much speculation and very little actual science, even though every digital device these days seems to have a night mode for reducing blue light emission from the screen.

    3 min read, 525 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, LED

  • Oumuamua probably isn’t aliens

    A new astronomy paper suggests that the strange object named Oumuamua that passed through our solar system a couple of years ago was probably a thin disc of planetary matter, and not a piece of alien technology.

    2 min read, 388 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Aliens

  • Prayers @ Parliament

    On Thursday evening last week I visited Parliament to pray for the future of our country. Now I’m not a Christian, so I’m pretty sure my prayers aren’t going to make a difference, but it’s interesting to see what influential Christians think about what is wrong with our country and how it should be fixed.

    2 min read, 389 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Religion, Politics

  • Freedom Rally

    On Saturday I attended one of several Freedom Rallies around the country. In Wellington, the rally was set for midday at the train station. It was a fairly low key affair, with flyers being handed out saying that masks and the vaccine are both ineffective.

    3 min read, 460 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy, COVID

  • March 17, 2021

  • Builders Of The Adytum

    On Sunday I finally made it to the Builders Of The Adytum, a strange group whose beliefs combine Kabbalah and Tarot into an unusual, but enjoyable, philosophy.

    3 min read, 482 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Religion

  • The Luck of the Cantabrians

    Rebecca Booth, from Fairlie in the South Island, recently found a seven leaf clover. The Stuff article about this find mentioned that this is not the first clover-related find Rebecca has had. Apparently earlier this year, in January, she found both four and five leaf clovers.

    2 min read, 271 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Luck, Superstition

  • An Open Letter to Plan B

    A new group called FACT (Fight Against Conspiracy Theories) has published an open letter to Plan B about their connection with Voices for Freedom. The letter calls on Plan B to distance themselves from Voices for Freedom and the groups anti-science stance on COVID related issues:

    2 min read, 325 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: COVID, Vaccines

  • Beware of Scientologists Bearing Gifts

    At a meeting last night I was made aware of a conversational English course offered on the MeetUp website that someone had attended, and when they arrived they found out that the course was being run by Scientologists. This type of bait and switch sneakiness is about what we’d expect from Scientology, so I decided to search google and find the course.

    2 min read, 375 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Scientology, Cult

  • Should we be worried about blood clots?

    The AstraZeneca vaccine has made the news recently, as several European countries have halted its rollout temporarily due to reports of blood clots. These issues are real, but it’s important to look at how many incidences of this issue there are, and how that compares to other vaccines. It turns out that not only is the incidence of reported clotting similar to that seen with other COVID vaccines, but it’s also similar to what you’d expect from a population that haven’t received any medical interventions. Both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism levels for the millions of people who have taken the vaccine are about what would be expected of a random selection of people in their day to day lives. Sadly some people just get blood clots at times, and people can have exacerbating medical conditions that mean they’re more susceptible to this issue.

    1 min read, 201 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Vaccines, AstraZeneca

  • Football Index is just a Ponzi Scheme

    A UK company, Football Index, has financially collapsed over the last as its users have realised that the entire thing is nothing more than a pack of cards.

    6 min read, 1094 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Scam, Ponzi Scheme

  • Christchurch massacre conspiracy theories

    We’ve just had the second anniversary of the horrific Christchurch massacre, and as skeptics it’s sad to have seen over the last two years those in our country who have posted content denying that the attack was real, or claiming that it was a “false flag” operation. It’s been hard enough over the last 20 years watching high profile conspiracy theorists, such as Alex Jones, engage in denial in the US for events such as the Sandy Hook massacre and the 9/11 attacks. But to see this kind of wrong headed thinking at home somehow feels worse. I guess we’ve been able to rest on our laurels watching America suffer from a spread of the conspiracy mindset, and at least for me it seemed implausible that the problem would ever reach our fair shores. I guess I was just too naive.

    4 min read, 697 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy

  • QAnon 2.0?

    A group who monitor extreme Right Wing groups, Hope Not Hate, have published an article detailing a weird attempt to hijack the QAnon conspiracy. The new conspiracy theory, called Sabmyk, has been creating new channels on Telegram, Gab and BitChute in an attempt to entice those who have become disillusioned with QAnon since Trump left office and the promises of QAnon fell through. Why not Facebook and Twitter? Probably because many right wing activists have been driven off of those platforms in the last few months as admins have removed thousands of accounts for posting hate and misinformation. Telegram offers a modicum of anonymity, and Gab and Bitchute are a social network and video hosting site respectively that are less regulated and more welcoming to extreme views than the mainstream social media sites, claiming that they’re pro free speech.

    2 min read, 228 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Sabmyk, QAnon

  • March 8, 2021

  • Worried about 5G? There’s a pill for that!

    I’m guessing that Jami-Lee Ross, head of the failed conspiracy themed political party Advance NZ, has run out of money. Why else would he be planning to flog useless anti-5G pills to us?

    2 min read, 369 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, 5G

  • An unexpected endorsement for the COVID vaccine

    I’ve recently read calls for high profile figures in New Zealand to endorse the new COVID vaccines, as a way to reassure the portion of the public who currently feel unsure about the vaccines’ safety. It’s been suggested that public figures such as Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield and others might want to allow the media to record them being **immunised **against COVID. Personally I think that, at least for those who are conspiracy minded, watching those who are supposedly a part of the conspiracy be injected is probably not going to be very convincing.

    2 min read, 310 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: COVID, Vaccines

  • Skeptics 0, Ken Ring 1

    After last week’s nocturnal earthquake, Ken Ring has been on Facebook proving how right he is. He’s pointed out that he **predicted **the earthquake in his 2021 almanac:

    6 min read, 1014 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience

  • March 10, 2021

  • Cat Buttons

    Videos have been making their way around the internet this week showing a vet communicating with her cat via a set of large buttons placed on the floor. Each button speaks a word or two when pressed, and in this case both the cat (Billi) and owner (Kendra) press the buttons to communicate with each other. At first glance, it appears that the cat is engaging in meaningful communication with its owner, conveying complex thoughts.

    4 min read, 725 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, Cat