Fun Science Fact

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Happy Halloween everybody! I’m a Christian, but I like Halloween (yes, I do know the origins of it). After all, what’s the harm in a little dress up and candy? As long as we’re not glorifying evil, then it’s all in good fun. Which is why my son gets mad at me every year when he wants to be the blood-dripping, sickle-wielding hooded murderer—no way, not gonna happen in my house. Thankfully, my girls still want to be princesses.

This is the last day of hoax month! So here it is—the most famous Halloween hoax of all time is War of the Worlds. Of course, I didn’t hear the original broadcast and neither did my parents, but I have heard about it because it has lived on in our popular culture for decades.

On the evening of October 30, 1938, in honor of Halloween, a radio station aired a supposed news broadcast during a musical program that was already in progress. In this broadcast, reporters claimed that a meteor travelled from Mars to Earth and fell on a farm outside of Grovers Mill, NJ. Then, they reported the meteor was actually a space ship out of which came a tentacle alien who killed people with a deadly heat-ray and a toxic black gas.

Although the producers put out a disclaimer at four separate points in the broadcast—saying it was a dramatic version of H.G. Wells’ story The War of the Worlds—it apparently wasn’t heard by all, because several areas saw widespread panic. This wasn’t meant to be a hoax, but the play was done in such a realistic way that even some people who heard the disclaimer believed that aliens had landed.

As a fiction writer, I spend most of my days presenting the unbelievable in a way that makes it believable. It fascinates me to see what our minds will accept as truth when it’s presented in the way we’re accustomed to learning about reality. In 1938, people were accustomed to having the news reports break into radio programs and many of them didn’t question the veracity of those reports.

What do you think? Do we do the same thing today with what we see on TV and read in books?

 

Reference: http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/the_war_of_the_worlds

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamie-uk/554260961/”>Jamie Durrant</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
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Cardiff Giant

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Only two more days in hoax month! Be sure to visit here on Friday to read about the most famous Halloween hoax.

The Cardiff Giant is a ten-foot tall stone man that was found in 1869 by workmen digging a farm well near Cardiff, New York. From the moment of its discovery, this giant man created controversy. Some believed it to be a statue carved centuries before. Others thought it was a petrified giant, as in proof of the biblical passage that says “there were giants on the earth in those days.” Still others recognized if for the hoax it was.

This hoax started when George Hull, a cigar-maker, visited the gypsum mines of Fort Dodge, Iowa. You see, George was an atheist and he’d just had an argument with a minister about the literal interpretation of the Bible, including the passage referring to giants. At the gypsum mine, he came up with an idea. Why not poke fun at biblical literalists and make some money on the side?

So, he paid to have a five-ton block of gypsum sent to a stonecutter in Chicago whom he swore to secrecy. The stonecutter carved the ten-foot tall man, then it was shipped secretly to Cardiff and buried on a farmer’s land. The farmer hired two workmen, ordering them to dig a well at the exact spot where the giant was hidden, ensuring the discovery.

Immediately, the farmer started charging people to come see the giant. And people came from everywhere across the country. Soon, a group of businessmen bought the giant for $37,500 and moved it Syracuse where it came under greater scrutiny.

Sensing the truth would come out soon anyway, George Hull admitted to the hoax and his reasons for doing it—to ridicule the Bible-believing public. Amazingly, his admission did nothing to lessen the popularity of the Cardiff Giant. People seemed to love it, hoax or not.

As a biblical literalist, I find it astounding the lengths George Hull went to make fun of people who believed differently than him. Would I bury a hoax dinosaur-bird missing link just to discredit evolutionists? No way. That’s basically lying to somebody and then calling them an idiot for believing you.

But then again, for George Hull, maybe it wasn’t about religion at all. Maybe it was just about the money. What do you think?

 

References: http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/the_cardiff_giant, http://www.farmersmuseum.org/node/2482

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Devotion

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

After coming back from our trip to Costa Rica, I was amazed at how relaxed I felt. My husband and I aren’t exactly lay around at the beach kind of people, so our vacations, while fun, usually wear us out. This time though, we took almost two days to lay by the pool and de-stress. I came back with a new perspective on rest.

We all need it.

None of us gets enough of it.

We should do something about that.

As a mom of three, I know I can’t just sit around and expect the kids to fend for themselves while I lay by the pool, but there are some intentional things I can do to get better rest.

Cut down on the clutter: We all do things every day—things we don’t have to do—that clutter up our day. While brushing teeth and showering are mandatory, checking Facebook, ESPN news or catching up on Gray’s Anatomy is not. And if you have kids, they will survive if they don’t play five sports and three instruments a year, contrary to what they might tell you. Make a list of where you want to be in five years for both yourself and your kids (I know everybody says this, but that’s because it works). Focus on activities that will meet those goals. And pay attention to the things that suck your time away (and that of your family), time which could be spent meeting your five-year goals, relaxing, or even better, resting in the Lord’s presence.

Spend time in prayer:  Time with the Lord will refresh you more than anything else (and faster too).

Keep an eternal perspective.: We all do good things for the Lord, and there’s no end to the things we could do for the Lord. But He has a best path for all of us. Maybe we’re doing too many good things and not enough great things for His kingdom. A good thing won’t be great unless it’s what the Lord planned for you to do. Let Him guide your steps (which again means prayer).

Get over the guilt: We all tend to think we should be superman/superwoman or God’s little worker bee doing it all for the kingdom. But we can’t do it all and we shouldn’t. If we do it all, no one else gets a chance. Do your part well, but know your limits. Don’t feel guilty for resting.

Dear Lord, thank you for our frail bodies which remind us to depend on You. You have designed us to require physical rest and spiritual rest. Help us to balance our lives using Your priorities. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

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Crop circles are one hoax that the general public seems predisposed to believe. Think about it. A hoax that even when proven fake still retains its air of mystery and the supernatural. It makes me wonder why we desperately want to believe in beings from another planet. As if we’re somehow alone if the four billion people on our planet is the sole population of the universe.

But I digress. Back to crop circles. Before the modern and elaborate circles started, there were a few reports of smashed crops that were claimed to be “saucer nests.”

In 1976 in England, two buddies were talking over drinks about the saucer nests. These men, Doug Brower and Dave Chorley, thought it would be funny to make it look like a flying saucer had landed in a nearby field. They had no idea how far the idea would go. Although they never claimed to create all the crops circles—many were done by copycat pranksters—they did admit the fraud in 1991.

Most crop circles today are concentrated in southern England. Every year, anonymous circle-makers create elaborate works of art. Maybe some are just expressing their artistic side. Some are probably trying to draw in “croppies,” those who believe the crop circles are supernatural, to boost tourism.

But why do people continue to believe in crop circles despite the evidence they are fake? Maybe it’s the longing in our souls for the mysterious. We seem to have a God-given bent toward the supernatural. In fact, Doug Brower now says he wishes he would have kept quiet and not exposed this hoax at all. Perhaps he too would like to dwell at little longer in the mystery.

 

Reference: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/crop-circles-the-art-of-the-hoax-2524283/?no-ist=&page=1

Photo Credit: ID 41660173 © Wesley Abrams | Dreamstime.com

Iffyosaurus? The fake dinosaur.

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Sometimes we’re tempted to think of scientists as people smarter than us who study things that take years of training to even understand. And that’s correct—to an extent.

Scientists are people with their own thoughts, agendas, career aspirations and biases. Yes, I said it—biases.

I was trained as a scientist and just because I might know more fifteen letter words than you, doesn’t mean I don’t have my own bias. We all come at the world with our own viewpoint, our own lens through which we look at the world. While scientists might be smart people, they’re still people.

And sometimes people are fooled.

In 1884, the National Museum of Wales at Cardiff received an Ichthyosaurus (a marine dinosaur) specimen from a local businessman. The museum kept the skeleton on display for 116 years before it started to show some wear and tear.

In 2000, museum staff worked on restoring it. They chipped away at the layers of paint meant to preserve the fossil. Underneath, they discovered an elaborate forgery which meshed two different types of Ichthyosaurs together along with some fake parts. The staff affectionately dubbed the specimen, Iffyosaurus.

How were several generations of paleontologists taken in by this forgery? Well, of course some of the evidence was covered up by paint, but this also could have been a case of confirmation bias. When something is established in our head as fact, our minds overlook contrary information that’s right in front of us. Meaning we’re predisposed to confirm what we already believe.

Why? Because we’re people. And people can’t be perfectly objective. But people who are scientists have an obligation to at least try to look past their biases in search of the objective truth.

First, though, we have to identify our biases before we can look past them. I’ll start. I’m biased in favor of the Bible as God’s word of truth. Do you think that’s the bias for most scientists?

Probably not.

What do you think? How many scientists would admit they have a bias? Are you biased? What are your biases/assumptions about the world?

 

Reference: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2000/dec/08/dinosaurs.uknews

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Devotion

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

John 20: 24-25

Have you ever found yourself weighted down by questions? I naturally question things and I find I have more in common with doubting Thomas than I’d like to admit. But here’s the funny thing—God made me this way—and yes, He did it on purpose. You see, God’s not afraid of our questions. He doesn’t run away from our doubts. If we bring those questions to Him, He meets them head on with truth and love.

But what if we don’t bring the questions to Him?

Therein lies the problem for most of us. We buy into the fear that our questions raise. When our logical minds don’t have all the answers, we fear trusting God. Sometimes, we even fear what other people might think when we don’t know how to answer our own questions. But if we try to test God—to make Him quiet all our doubts—He is disappointed by our lack of faith.

God made us to turn our questions to Him. He reveals the answers to us when we need them and almost always after we’ve already demonstrated our faith in Him.

Each day, we can trust Him, even before the questions arise in our minds. Because He is perfectly good, holy, and just. He is trustworthy. He’s done nothing to deserve our lack of faith. Even if bad things have happened in our lives, He has been faithful. And He has rescued us from this life.

Dear Lord, thank you for the inquisitive minds you have given us. Help us to turn our questions to You and to grow in our faith when we don’t have the answers. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

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Alien Autopsy

Yes, it’s still October so it’s still hoax month on my blog! This one is one of the most elaborate hoaxes of the twentieth century. In 1995, Ray Santilli, a British music and video producer, released footage of an autopsy on an alien that he claimed crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1945. Supposedly, he bought the film–contained on 22 film reels–from a retired military cameraman.

In 2006, Ray Santilli confessed to the hoax (the same time that he released a comedy movie based on the hoax called Alien Autopsy). The alien body was created by sculptor, John Humphreys, who also played the part of a surgeon in the film. The innards of the alien consisted of sheep brains, raspberry jam and chicken entrails.

Although autopsy experts weren’t fooled by this hoax, many UFO believers were. This film propelled the notion of aliens at Roswell into popular culture.

References: http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/alien_autopsy, http://www.livescience.com/742-story-alien-autopsy-hoax.html

 

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