I don’t want to be pessimistic

But this could be the most catastrophic application of Hultgreen-Curie Syndrome in human history:

Scientists managed to capture the very first direct image of a black hole – and it was all thanks to a graduate at MIT. Three years ago Dr. Katie Bouman, now 29, created an algorithm that collects data from telescopes across the world to stitch together a photograph of the phenomenon which is 55million light years away.

Her work, which essentially turned Earth into a virtual telescope, has been praised across the political spectrum by First Daughter Ivanka Trump, Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and by A-listers including Sophia Bush and Olivia Munn.

Without her groundbreaking work, the supermassive black hole would be simply impossible to capture because it would need a 10,000-kilometer wide telescope dish to even attempt it. The largest telescope dish in the world currently is just a 1,000ft in diameter.

It’s a magnificent scientific achievement, no doubt about it. But it’s a first, a very big first, and that’s precisely what makes me nervous about the whole thing.

One giant hoax for mankind

Most people around the world do not believe the US government ever landed anyone on the Moon. A Moon Landing skeptic summarizes his reasons for skepticism concerning one giant hoax for mankind:

I am not going to discuss all the evidence presented in these sources. I can only recommend them and a few others on the way. I will simply sort what I see as the most convincing arguments, add a few recent developments, give my best conclusion, place the issue in the broader historical perspective, and draw some lessons from it all about the Matrix we have been living in.

First of all, we need to be clear about the aim of such an inquiry. We should not expect any conclusive proof that Neil Armstrong, or any other Apollo moon-walker, didn’t walk on the moon. That cannot be proven, absent some indisputable evidence that he was somewhere else (orbiting around the earth, for example) at the precise time he claimed to have spent on the moon. In most cases, you cannot prove that something didn’t happen, just like you cannot prove that something doesn’t exist. You cannot prove, for example, that unicorns don’t exist. That is why the burden of proof rests on anyone who claims they do exist. If I say to you I walked on the moon, you will ask me to prove it, and you will not take as an answer: “No, you prove that I’m didn’t go.” Does it make a difference if I am the NASA? It does, because calling the NASA a liar will inevitably lead you to question everything you have been led to believe by your government and mainstream media. It is a giant leap indeed! Just like children of abusive parents, decent citizens of abusive governments will tend to repress evidence of their government’s malevolence. And so, people choose to believe in the moon landings, without even asking for proofs, simply because: “They wouldn’t have lied to us for more than 50 years, would they? The media would have exposed the lie long ago (remember the Watergate)! And what about the 250,000 people involved with the project? Someone would have talked.” I can actually hear myself speaking like that just 10 years ago. All these objections must indeed be addressed.

But before that, the scientific thing to do is to start with the question: can the NASA prove they sent men to the moon? If the answer is no, the next step is to decide if we take their word for it or not. That requires pondering what could have been the reasons for such a massive lie. We will get to that.

But, first of all, can the NASA provide hard evidence of the moon landings?

As for those who resort to the logical argument that the Russians would have disputed the Moon landings if they were faked, they should probably keep in mind that most Russians don’t believe that the US ever landed anyone on the Moon.

Decades since 1969, many Russians are still unable to believe in that “small step” that Armstrong took on the Moon. True, the so-called ‘lunar conspiracy’ was invented in the U.S., but no other country in the world has so fully embraced this indestructible conspiracy theory as Russia. Many Russians believe that the U.S. government staged a complex hoax, and that the alleged Moon landing was in fact filmed in Hollywood. At the moment, this myth is NOT believed by – brace yourself – only 24 percent of Russians!

I haven’t believed in the veracity of the Moon landings ever since seeing the interview with the Apollo astronauts. And, of course, I always reject every Official Story endorsed by the U.S. government on principle, because it has always – ALWAYS – proven to be less than entirely true for one reason or another.

Estimating intelligence

Most people are very, very bad at estimating their own intelligence or the intelligence of others. Except, unsurprisingly, for the highly intelligent, who tend to correctly grasp exactly where they stand.

One feature stands out:

F: 124.47 (self-estimate) 94.48 (actual)
M: 126.10 (self-estimate) 95.89 (actual)

Dwelling on this a moment, one thing becomes clear: many people are immensely deluded. They think themselves two standard deviations brighter than they really are.

In fact, the scores on the Raven’s Matrices were corrected for two decades of Flynn Effect. Without the correction, the scores would still be 1.5 standard deviations too high. Lake Wobegon on steroids.

Back to the main point: people seem to be over-estimating their intelligence by 30 IQ points and their partner’s IQ by 38 points in the case of women doing the judgments, and 36 points in the case of men doing the judgments. People are deluded about their abilities, and deluded about their partners’ abilities. Delusion plus 7 points. This is dreadful, but also highly illuminating. No wonder so many people hate actual intelligence tests.

No wonder people react so negatively to being confronted by genuine intelligence. The experience tends to puncture their self-delusion bubble.

Scientists don’t understand statistics

Which is why it’s good that hundreds of them are signing on to an effort to abandon the concept of “statistical significance”:

Let’s be clear about what must stop: we should never conclude there is ‘no difference’ or ‘no association’ just because a P value is larger than a threshold such as 0.05 or, equivalently, because a confidence interval includes zero. Neither should we conclude that two studies conflict because one had a statistically significant result and the other did not. These errors waste research efforts and misinform policy decisions.

For example, consider a series of analyses of unintended effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. Because their results were statistically non-significant, one set of researchers concluded that exposure to the drugs was “not associated” with new-onset atrial fibrillation (the most common disturbance to heart rhythm) and that the results stood in contrast to those from an earlier study with a statistically significant outcome.

Now, let’s look at the actual data. The researchers describing their statistically non-significant results found a risk ratio of 1.2 (that is, a 20{2b1141b7891b3a9a6e789b6011ce7f6b4c83be08b36e8974656edf3aca7b95b9} greater risk in exposed patients relative to unexposed ones). They also found a 95{2b1141b7891b3a9a6e789b6011ce7f6b4c83be08b36e8974656edf3aca7b95b9} confidence interval that spanned everything from a trifling risk decrease of 3{2b1141b7891b3a9a6e789b6011ce7f6b4c83be08b36e8974656edf3aca7b95b9} to a considerable risk increase of 48{2b1141b7891b3a9a6e789b6011ce7f6b4c83be08b36e8974656edf3aca7b95b9} (P = 0.091; our calculation). The researchers from the earlier, statistically significant, study found the exact same risk ratio of 1.2. That study was simply more precise, with an interval spanning from 9{2b1141b7891b3a9a6e789b6011ce7f6b4c83be08b36e8974656edf3aca7b95b9} to 33{2b1141b7891b3a9a6e789b6011ce7f6b4c83be08b36e8974656edf3aca7b95b9} greater risk (P = 0.0003; our calculation).

It is ludicrous to conclude that the statistically non-significant results showed “no association”, when the interval estimate included serious risk increases; it is equally absurd to claim these results were in contrast with the earlier results showing an identical observed effect. Yet these common practices show how reliance on thresholds of statistical significance can mislead us…. The trouble is human and cognitive more than it is statistical: bucketing results into ‘statistically significant’ and ‘statistically non-significant’ makes people think that the items assigned in that way are categorically different. The same problems are likely to arise under any proposed statistical alternative that involves dichotomization, whether frequentist, Bayesian or otherwise.

Unfortunately, the false belief that crossing the threshold of statistical significance is enough to show that a result is ‘real’ has led scientists and journal editors to privilege such results, thereby distorting the literature.

It’s important to remember that most scientists have no more training in statistics than any other college graduate. And even if they did sit through an extra class or two devoted to the subject, that doesn’t mean they are any good at it.

A race, not a religion

This news should conclusively end the long-running shell game:

Judy Maltz reported in Haaretz that the Israeli Rabbinate, which controls conversion, marriage and divorce in Israel, is using DNA testing to verify a person’s Jewishness. Since a person who isn’t Jewish can’t marry a Jew in Israel, which has no civil marriage, the rabbinate is using the DNA test to deny people they consider non-Jews the civil right of marriage.

As if it wasn’t already obvious when Ben Shapiro was bragging about being 100 percent racially pure.

Help end Crohn’s disease

The development of the vaccine that many members of this blog have helped fund is at last entering human trials. If you’re in the UK, you’re healthy, and you’re willing to put your body on the line to help cure Crohn’s disease, please consider volunteering for the trial.

HAV001 Vaccine Trial
What is the purpose of this trial?

The purpose of this study is to assess the new MAP vaccines, ChAdOx2 HAV and MVA HAV, at different doses. The study will enable us to assess the safety of the vaccines and the extent of the immune response in healthy volunteers. We will do this by giving participants one or two vaccines in addition to doing blood tests and collecting information about any symptoms that occur after vaccination. This is the first trial to use these vaccines in humans and we plan to recruit a maximum of 18 participants to be vaccinated.

What’s involved?

Number of visits: 7-12

Trial length: 3-5 months

Location: OX3 7LE

Am I eligible to participate?
You must:

Be aged 18-50 years old
Be in good health
Refrain from blood donation for the duration of the study

One Darkstream listener has already volunteered. This is a big step, as once the vaccine is proven to be harmless to healthy adults, they’ll be able to test its ability to eradicate the disease from those suffering from it.

Those nefarious Russians

First they got Drumpf elected and now they’re messing with the magnetic North Pole:

Earth’s magnetic fields are shifting – and scientists are unsure why.

Researchers say the magnetic North Pole is  ‘skittering’ away from Canada, towards Siberia.

The problem has got so bad, researchers around the world are scrambling to update a global model of the fields.

Called the World Magnetic Model, it underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones. The most recent version of the model came out in 2015, and it was supposed to last until 2020.

However, researchers say the  magnetic field is changing so rapidly that they have to fix the model urgently.

It was due to be updated on the 15th January, but due to the US Government shutdown, that has already been delayed until the 30th.

The magnetic field is in a permanent state of flux.

Magnetic north wanders, and every few hundred thousand years the polarity flips so that a compass would point south instead of north.

Is it just me or is everything getting weirder faster these days?

Invasive species in Europe

It’s strange that scientists expect people to be concerned about the threat invasive species pose to the native squirrel population, but not the native human population.

Meet 9 Creepy Species That Pose Greatest Threat to Europe

Scientists have identified 66 species of plants and animals that pose the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecosystems. These species, entering and falling into new territories, displace the local flora and fauna.

Scientists considered eight species to be the most dangerous, another 40 to be high-risk, and 18 others to be medium-risk.

Species considered by the team of researchers included plants, terrestrial invertebrates and some marine and freshwater vertebrates and invertebrates.

This is just additional evidence that even those who affect to believe in evolution by natural selection don’t really believe in it.

No one went to the Moon

Owen Benjamin makes the case. Feel free to criticize it, if you are a Moonie, but don’t bother with either the fainting or shaming routines. Because if there is one thing that has become eminently clear over the last 20 years, the one and only thing we can be ABSOLUTELY SURE did not happen is the Official Story.

As with all things for which there is no clear historical consensus, I remain entirely agnostic on the issue. To the extent that I lean one way or the other, I tend to assume that the landings were faked due to the means, motive, and opportunity heuristic and because I am a confirmed cynic when it comes to Official Stories narrated by the U.S. government.