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Peptron
2005-Aug-11, 08:31 PM
I've noticed that in most science discussion where the group is large (especially the Internet), it's almost certain that there be a few people that bring quite woowoo explanations.
I also noticed that some topics are almost what I could call "woowoo magnets", some topics that, even if they are really scientifically interesting, usually end up bringing an overwelming amount of woowoo that often end up highjacking the topic at hand and often kick out of the discussion any non-woowoo.

I know that most topics about astronomy tend to be quite attractive to the woowoo, since most of it isnt widely known to the public (despite that even things very well known to the public arent protected from woowooism). Biology seems to suffer from woowooism too, probably even more than astronomy in fact... since it "hurts" religion more directly.

But I've noticed that THE subject that almost always becomes infected by woowooivitis is sleep, especially the "side effects" of sleep. In fact, it's after being constantly under attack on a forum about sleep that I decided to register to the BABB. My strong interest in astronomy helped too, but before I would only read some topics at random. The woowoo were the ones forcing me to seek refuge and shelter here.

The topic I was most often talking about was "sleep paralysis", since it does happen to me often, and it's also quite common in the general population too. In fact, the word "nightmare" comes from that state. There would be about 3 to 4 new topics about it everyday, since most people wouldnt use the "search" function, thinking they were the only ones in the world to whom it was happening.
If I was fast enough, I could explain to them that the state is caused by the brain not entering sleep with the "right sequence". I would explain them how you normally fall asleep (or come back from sleep), and that in some case, the order of events that leads to sleep may not line up perfectly, so you can be "aware" that you fall asleep. I would also point them to a lot of places that perfectly explains the scientific mechanisms involved in that, as well as how and where the scientific researches were done.
If I was not fast enough, I would have to scroll through about 2 pages of people talking about astral travel, demonic possessions, djinn possessions, old hag attack, incubus/succubus attack, shadow attack, night mare attack, alien abduction, etc. I would then debunk them one by one, explaining how it can "feel" like you are moving out of your body (debunks astral travel), how it can feel like you are being watched (debunks all the presences, especially demons and aliens), how it can feel like you are being pulled by the feets (debunks alien abductions), how you can hear a constant buzzing noise like the one you hear when you plug your ears or put your head underwater (debunks a lot of things). But after that I would usually get flamed VERY badly, by people almost linking me to some censorship agency and sometimes even to the nazi. No matter the amount of reasoning would usually always end up with me "losing" and looking like the bad guy. Some other times it wasn't bad and they simply weren't reading my posts

What I hated the most is that when the one that was seeking what was that odd state where you are completely paralysed when falling asleep or waking up was getting the scientific explanation, they usually ended up feeling better thinking "so it really was just that..."
But when the woowoo would come in, the explanations would always be shocking and quite disturbing. Like: "It's a demonic possession, never sleep again!", or "It was astral travel, if you are not careful you will die in a painful manner and be stuck in the ethereal void forever!". I would usually say to myself... "My god! THAT is not the type of thing to say to somebody that seek information about a state that can be quite frightening!". The nightmare got even worse when it seemed that the original poster seemed like they believed the woowoo.


So... are there any other topics that attracts woowoo like there is no tomorrow? Especially those where the topic at hand can actually change the life of one or more people?

Samara
2005-Aug-11, 09:09 PM
The Mind. I'm always happening upon ads claiming how you can "expand you vocab/reading abilities/intelligence/fill in the blank!" The most laughable ones are the ones that claim to give you supernatural abilities such as telepathy, telekinetic power, aura sight, blah blah blah

Sam5
2005-Aug-11, 09:57 PM
The topic I was most often talking about was "sleep paralysis", since it does happen to me often,

Talk to a doctor about it. Low dose Amitriptylin might help.

Theoretician
2005-Aug-11, 10:08 PM
Not sure if it applies but I find that coincidences get the 'WooWoo' treatment a lot. Things like "I was just thinking about Johnny and the phone rang, it was Johnny". When you think about all the possible coincidences that could possibly happen, the ones that do occur really don't seem to occur frequently at all.

frogesque
2005-Aug-11, 10:29 PM
Quietly stand up, clear your throat and in a concerned tone say,"I used to think astrology was bunkum", ... pause for effect ... continue, "now I know it's codswallop!"

tbm
2005-Aug-11, 10:36 PM
Greetings!

A top Woo-woo theory of course would be chemtrails. BIG problem for the small-minded.

Regards, tbm

Sammy
2005-Aug-12, 12:24 AM
Anything which has to do with energy production/generation. "Free" energy soon rears it's head, followed by "Tesla," followed by a rant about TPTB supressing all the great discoveries providing "free" energy.

A good second topic is taxation (usually peaks in April, but good all the year-round). It seems that, unknown to all but a brilliant few, there are a host of reasons why no one in the U.S. is required to pay income tax. The 16th amendment never passed ratification; income taxes are voluntary; there is no law requiring filing/paying taxes; the IRS is a private corporation (not govt,) located in Puerto Rico; and, if you declare yourself to be a state, rather than a federal, citizen, you are exempt.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-12, 01:04 AM
Magnets

Tensor
2005-Aug-12, 02:00 AM
Not sure about life changing, but Relativity is a big woo-woo magnet. There are a lot of people who find the non common sense aspects to much and try to make it follow common sense. Part of the reason, IMHO, is the math required to really understand it. SR can be presented with some simple algebra, but that can tend to hide some underlying concepts that are better understood using Linear Algebra. GR is a whole 'nother story as the math required for it, is much more difficult and most of the types that object, have no where near the math needed to understand it, and end up having to use analogies that they take beyond the analogy's area of validity.

Samara
2005-Aug-12, 02:26 AM
What exactly are chemtrails?

Quantum Mechanics are a much abused science on woo-woo sites. They think if you stick quantum in front of any word, it automatically lends credibility to the subject. Quantum Leap anyone?

Tensor
2005-Aug-12, 02:48 AM
What exactly are chemtrails?

Quantum Mechanics are a much abused science on woo-woo sites. They think if you stick quantum in front of any word, it automatically lends credibility to the subject. Quantum Leap anyone?

The government is supposedly spraying chemicals to control the citizens minds. The proof? Just look at all the chemicals coming out of those airliners. You know, those things that some people call contrails? So the combination "Chem"trails. This (thttp://educate-yourself.org/ct/) is a good woo-woo explanation. 9complete woo-woo site warning)

Gullible Jones
2005-Aug-12, 11:46 AM
Biotech.

V-GER
2005-Aug-12, 12:37 PM
Peptron wrote:

I would then debunk them one by one, explaining how it can "feel" like you are moving out of your body (debunks astral travel), how it can feel like you are being watched (debunks all the presences, especially demons and aliens), how it can feel like you are being pulled by the feets (debunks alien abductions), how you can hear a constant buzzing noise like the one you hear when you plug your ears or put your head underwater (debunks a lot of things).

Curious: what is the explanation for feeling like you're being pulled by your feet? I once had that "experience", it was right before I thought I was
going to fall a sleep(obviously I had moments earlier) and suddenly I was pulled by my feet and hurled around my room from them. I also thought I saw someone standing at the feet of my bed. I could literally feel the movement in my stomach the same way you feel when you drive fast to a steep downhill. At the end of it, I was slammed back to my bed and I woke up. It was quite unsettling to say the least, but since I'm pretty convinced it wasn't an old hag on steroids, I'm open for a scientific answer... :)

Peptron
2005-Aug-12, 01:27 PM
Well, the explanation to "to be pulled by the feet" is the same as all the other hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations. It's simply is that sleep paralysis happens when you are in the twilight between waking and sleeping. So you can have "elements" of a dream come in, even if you are conscious.
The twilight is not the "exact middle" between being asleep and being awake. You can be much nearer of being completly awake or much nearer of being completely asleep. The nearer you are of being awake, the less "hypnagogic hallucinations" you have (usually you are just paralysed with no other effects), and the most likely is the effect to just come to an end. The nearer you are of being asleep, the more hallucinations you'll get, and the more likely it will end with you completely starting to dream. When you are near of being completely asleep, you can even be able to "move" a part like an arm (you dream it), while you "see" your "real" arm not moving, making you see two "copies" of your arm (the one you really see with your eyes and the other that you "dream"), which REALLY looks like you are "leaving" your body.

The things you see/hear, etc during sleep paralysis are very closely linked to how you feel or what you are thinking about. If for some reason you get scared that somebody could pull you out of your bed, it's quite likely that you will feel it (if you are near of complete sleep). Being pulled is just something that people tend to think about when they can't move, almost as common as "feeling" a presence (since when you feel helpless, you most likely DON'T want a malevolent person to be there).


Sam5 said that this state's occurence can be reduced with medication... but that isn't problematic (except if you get overly afraid of it), and I don't really care about it. I know what causes it in my case, so if I want to avoid it I can. But sleep paralysis can be very useful to make lucid dreams, since you are still aware when you start to dream, and that can be quite fun!

V-GER
2005-Aug-12, 01:31 PM
Thanks for the info Peptron!

captain swoop
2005-Aug-12, 02:06 PM
Pyramids

Donnie B.
2005-Aug-12, 03:37 PM
Magnets
Heheh, when I read the thread title I thought that's what it was about -- things like magnetic bracelets and shoe inserts. :P

PatKelley
2005-Aug-12, 03:44 PM
Human achievement; it seems to be the rote "if I can't do it, then nobody possibly could" and the woo-woo train is off. Supernatural explanations or conspiracies are somehow more probable than the idea that a difficult thing could be done with enough determination and hard work.

This includes the Pyramids, any ancient monuments, the Apollo moon landing...

Izunya
2005-Aug-12, 05:01 PM
The words, "We don't know," usually as voiced by some authority on the subject.

We don't know exactly why someone took the time to sketch a bunch of critters on the South American landscape . . . <woo mode>To appease their alien god-king from Planet X, duh!</woo mode>

We don't know exactly why this earthquake happened . . . <woo mode>Because the wise beings on Planet X are preparing us to pass through a consciousness singularity, of course.</woo mode>

Um, we don't know exactly what you mean by "consciousness singularity," let alone why wise beings would go around causing earthquakes . . . <woo mode>Because you, and all the other tools of the Government Conspiracy, understand that when we pass through the consciousness singularity all their temporal power will be meaningless, and so you Conceal The Truth!!!</woo mode>

But it still doesn't make any . . . ah, never mind. You're a moron, is all. <woo mode>Hah! Once more, the government-conspiracy-run-scientific-establishment is routed by the truth! I win!</woo mode>

Izunya