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January 4 will be "Zero G Day," according to a report trending online. Do a twitter search for #zerogday, and you can find people talking about it. The report originates from news-hound.net, which offers this explanation:

It has been revealed by the British astronomer Patrick Moore that, on the morning of January 4th 2014,  an extraordinary astronomical event will occur. At exactly 9:47 am, the planet Pluto will pass directly behind Jupiter, in relation to the Earth. This rare alignment will mean that the combined gravitational force of the two planets would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth’s own gravity and making people weigh less...
Moore told scientists that they could experience the phenomenon by jumping in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred. If they do so, he promised, they would experience a strange floating sensation.

This is all nonsense, of course. Patrick Moore has been dead for over a year, so he hasn't been telling anybody anything.

Zero G Day is just a shameless recycling of Moore's famous 1976 April Fool's Day hoax about the "Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect." Moore intended his joke to be a spoof of a book called the The Jupiter Effect, published in late 1974, which claimed that a rare alignment of the planets in 1982 was going to trigger massive earthquakes on Earth.


I've got a fairly long article about Moore's 1976 hoax in the April Fool Archive, and I couldn't help but notice that the language of news-hound.net's article is very similar to what I wrote in my article. (I can't remember how many years ago I wrote it, but it was a while.) For the sake of comparison, here's what I wrote:

During an interview on BBC Radio 2, on the morning of April 1, 1976, the British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that an extraordinary astronomical event was about to occur. At exactly 9:47 am, the planet Pluto would pass directly behind Jupiter, in relation to the Earth. This rare alignment would mean that the combined gravitational force of the two planets would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth's own gravity and making people weigh less. Moore called this the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect.
Moore told listeners that they could experience the phenomenon by jumping in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred. If they did so, he promised, they would experience a strange floating sensation.

I think it's fair to assume that at some point the news-hound.net writers read my article.
Categories: Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 01, 2014
Comments (1)
Good grief! This is kinda sad. Melba Ketchum fancies herself a bona fide scientist. But her subject-of-choice is Bigfoot, which immediately exiles her to the crackpot fringe of science. For which reason, she found that she couldn't get her paper on her "Sasquatch genome study" published anywhere. So what did she do? She created her own journal, the DeNovo Journal of Science. But instead of admitting she created it, she's pretending that it's some kind of independent journal. The problem: her Bigfoot-DNA paper is the one and only article this "journal" has ever published.

A Texas Geneticist Apparently Invented a Science Journal to Publish Her DNA Proof of Bigfoot
dallasobserver.com

On Wednesday, Ketchum announced that she had finally found a publication with the courage to go against the ivory tower establishment and that her research was finally being published by the DeNovo Journal of Science. She immediately took to Twitter, directing the attention of popular science gatekeepers like National Geographic, the BBC, Jane Goodall, and, um, Rob Lowe, to a 19-second video clip, supposedly showing the sleeping female Sasquatch whose DNA was sequenced for the study. But Ketchum's victory celebration might be a bit premature. The Huffington Post and others did a modicum of digging and found that, not only is DeNovo's website shoddy and amateurish, the domain was registered all of nine days before it published Ketchum's study, which, by the way, is its only article. To read it, you have to shell out $30.
Categories: Cryptozoology, Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 20, 2013
Comments (3)
I was walking through La Mesa last night (La Mesa, where I live, is a suburb of San Diego), when I came across a flyer for the Creation & Earth History Museum, which is down the road in Santee.


creation flyer


At the bottom of the flyer, as you can see, is a list of sponsors. Scantibodies, NOTW, 1:1, Christian Examiner, and KSDW didn't surprise me. They're all christian organizations. (The founders of the Creation Museum were also the founders of Scantibodies. KSDW is a bible radio station, and I don't know what 1:1 is, but I'm assuming it's some kind of reference to a biblical verse.)

But Krispy Kreme and Chick-fil-a surprised me. They're sponsoring creation science? Seems like an odd publicity move for them. Am I now going to have to boycott them? (Not that I go to either one much already.) I've sent their pr offices an email to confirm that this sponsorship is real.

Even odder is that I don't believe there's either a Krispy Kreme or a Chick-fil-a in Santee itself. So it's not like they're neighbors.

As I was contemplating this flyer, it occurred to me that a perfect location for the Museum of Hoaxes would be to park it right next door to the Creation Museum. I could work there and stay in San Diego.

Edit: Apparently Chick-fil-a is an openly Christian corporation, which leaves Krispy Kreme as the odd-man-out in the list of sponsors.
Categories: Pseudoscience, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 02, 2011
Comments (22)
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa has determined that Dr. Abdallah Kiwa has been "'duping' people into paying for services that cannot possibly be delivered." Specifically, Kiwa has distributed advertising pamphlets in which he has made the following claims:

• ENSURES SUCCESS AS YOU GET RICH QUICKLY
• BRING BACK LOST LOVER…
• REMOVE BAD SPELLS FROM HOMES, BUSINESS ECT
• ENSURES THAT PROMOTION YOU HAVE DESIRED FOR A LONG TIME AT WORK OR IN YOUR CAREER.
• REMOVE BLACK SPOTS THAT KEEP TAKING YOUR MONEY AWAY
• FIND OUT WHY YOU ARE NOT PROGRESSING IN LIFE & THE SOLUTION
• INTRODUCING(MULONDOX) BLEND FOR ENLARGING THE PENIS IN THE BOTH LENGTH AND GITH (sic) IT STIMULATES THE TISSUE AND MUSCLES…
• READ AND TELL ALL YOUR PROBLEMS BEFORE YOU EVEN MENTION THEM TO HIM
• ELIMINATE IN-FAMILY FIGHT BETWEEN CHILDREN AND PARENTS, IN-LAWS HUSBAND AND WIFE AND ENSURE PEACE AND HARMONY IN HOME
• RECOVERS STOLEN PROPERTY AND TRACE WHEREABOUTS OF PEOPLE THAT HURT YOU
• GAURANTEED THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND TRUSTED BY YOUR COLLEAGUES, HUSBAND,WIFE, IN LAWS, FRIENDS ECT
• GET YOU MARRIED TO THAT LOVER OF YOUR LIFE IN A SHORT TIME AND SEAL UP YOUR MARRIAGE WITH INTERNAL LOVE AND HAPPINESS
• ENSURE THAT A SINGLE PERSON GETS A PARTNER IN A SHORT TIME
• BRING TO SEE YOUR ENEMIES AND MAKE DEMANDS ON THEM USING A MIRROR”.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 08, 2009
Comments (6)
USA Today points out that a "rare time/date alignment" occurs on July 8, 2009 at 4:05 a.m. and 6 seconds. The exact date then will be: 04:05:06 07/08/09.

Does this mean anything? Well, if you ask a tarot card reader, it does. And, of course, that's who USA Today asks:

Although the alignment may not mean anything specific, it could be a good day to do something for yourself and others, said Betsy Carlson, a Palm Springs tarot card reader and numerology expert. "It's a good day to make money and have good health," she said.

As John Walkenbach notes, "the article doesn't mention that this is hokey nonsense. It quotes the numerology expert as if she's actually a credible person."
Categories: Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 08, 2009
Comments (18)
Amazon is selling a ghost meter for only $27.98. Sounds like a bargain. And according to the reviews it's "a reliable indicator of paranormal activity." Of course, what it really detects is electromagnetic fluctuations, such as the kind produced by any electrical device. So as a home repair tool for finding live wires, it could be useful.
Categories: Paranormal, Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 09, 2009
Comments (8)
Two days ago the Daily Mail published an article describing an unnamed "Salzburg insurance company" that seems to be practicing a form of astrological discrimination in its hiring. The company is said to have placed this ad in newspapers:

We are looking for people over 20 for part-time jobs in sales and management with the following star signs: Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarius, Aries and Leo.

When accused of discrimination, the company responded: "A statistical study indicated that almost all of our best employees across Austria have one of the five star signs." And a spokeswoman later followed up with this argument: "When an employer considers star signs and says: 'I want to only hire Pisces,' for an example, it must be assumed that within this group of people born under the sign of Pisces there are old and young people, women and women etc. It does appear like a certain limitation, but it is not discrimination."

The story has now begun to appear in other papers and websites, although the Daily Mail appears to be the sole original source. So is there any evidence the story is true? Not that I can find. My German-language skills aren't too good, but I can't find any sign of the story in papers such as the Salzburger Nachrichten.
Categories: Journalism, Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 06, 2009
Comments (8)
What would Grissom have to say about this: Forensic Astrology

Forensic Astrology is the art of using Horary and Birth Charts in combination to determine the nature of events as they occurred in unsolved crimes and missing persons cases.

In its defense, I'm sure the guy gets results that are just as good as those psychics who try to solve crimes.
Categories: Future/Time, Pseudoscience
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 05, 2009
Comments (6)