Debunking "Ghost Hunters": Their Equipment, Tactics & "Haunted Houses"

 
Thumbnail photos: Quest TV/YouTube; SYFY/YouTube; shrikeshmaster/Pixabay

Thumbnail photos: Quest TV/YouTube; SYFY/YouTube; shrikeshmaster/Pixabay

 

There is no good reason to believe that "ghost hunters" encounter or detect anything paranormal. Their equipment can be triggered by many different things in the environment including power lines, cell phones, or radio towers. Their audio recordings often sound nothing like what they claim to hear, and saying you feel spooky sensations proves nothing to the person at home. Ghost-hunters go into their investigations biased—expecting to encounter ghosts—and their entertainment-driven shows are incentivized to exaggerate or outright lie to viewers. Many characteristics of "haunted houses" in fact have very straightforward, naturalistic explanations.

Debunking Creationism: "Mutations Are NEVER Beneficial!"

 
Kaden11a/Wikimedia Commons; Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay

Kaden11a/Wikimedia Commons; Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay

 

Creationists are simply wrong when they claim that genetic mutations are never beneficial. Many such mutations have been observed that provide new enzymatic functions, protection against predators, and immunity against disease. Beneficial mutations are also much more commonplace than creationists make them out to be, with studies finding that 1 to 6% of mutations are advantageous. The statistics used by creationists to support an astronomically lower number come from deeply flawed analyses. Contrary to what they claim, beneficial mutations can and do increase overall fitness—in the wild and the laboratory—and such mutations accumulate over time via this little thing called "natural selection."

Debunking Republicans: "Guns Don't Kill People!" & "Criminals Will Switch To Knives!"

 
Thumbnail photos: docmonstereyes/Flickr; Conmongt/Pixabay

Thumbnail photos: docmonstereyes/Flickr; Conmongt/Pixabay

 

It's often argued that guns don't kill people; people kill people—and in the absence of access to firearms, criminals and killers will simply switch to other tools to get the job done. While yes, guns don't take it upon themselves to go out and kill, they to make it much easier to kill to a degree that other weapons don't compare to. While many miscellaneous objects can be used as a weapon, it wouldn't make sense to ban them because they have beneficial primary functions. Pointing to killers making the switch from guns to knives undermines the argument that gun control would be ineffective.

Debunking Myths About CO2, Global Warming & Greenhouse Gases

 
A loose necktie/Wikimedia Commons

A loose necktie/Wikimedia Commons

 

Climate change deniers make many false claims about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These include the idea that CO2 has a limited or negligible impact on global warming—or even has the net effect of cooling our planet. Some also claim that the greenhouse effect would violate the laws of physics. Others make the assertion that the small quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere couldn't possibly cause significant worldwide temperature changes. As I show here, every single one of these arguments are incorrect.

Debunking William Lane Craig: "Objective Morality Comes From God!"

 
Photos: University of Notre Dame/YouTube; Gebhard Fugel/Wikimedia Commons

Photos: University of Notre Dame/YouTube; Gebhard Fugel/Wikimedia Commons

 

William Lane Craig argues that objective reality cannot exist without God. As I argue here, this isn't evidence that a God exists; it's merely an appeal to undesirable consequences. The many horrific godly actions described in the Bible also make clear that such a God's moral viewpoints wouldn't be worth following even if he did exist, and such atrocities don't match up with Craig's description of God as "perfectly good, loving and kind."

You can't describe religious morality as "objective" if it allows for Christians to disagree with each other on every single moral question while also citing scripture to support their viewpoints. Finally, without God, people can still use reason and empathy to decide right from wrong, and despite this process being imperfect, moral progress *is* made over time.

Debunking 9/11 Truthers: "Molten Steel = Thermite From Controlled Demolition!"

 
thumbnail v1.2.png
 

There is no good reason to believe that the molten material seen dripping on 9/11 and found in the debris piles was melted steel generated in thermitic reactions during a controlled demolition. Aluminum from the airplanes and buildings makes much more sense, as it can glow bright orange at the temperatures present in building fires.

No testing ever confirmed the presence of molten steel, and the WTC "meteorites" contain visible chunks of still-solid steel. Building fires are more than capable of deforming steel beams, whereas neither thermite nor explosives would act in this way. Finally, high surface temperatures can't be used to infer the presence of below-ground pools of molten steel, and the shifting nature of these hot-spots indicates that fires were responsible.

Debunking Conservatives: "U.S. Gun Control Doesn't Work!"

 

Photo: JustFacts.com/guncontrol.asp

 

Conservatives argue that within the United States, gun control has been ineffective and counter-productive, citing Washington D.C. and Chicago as their key examples. Their portrayal of the data on this question is very misleading and inaccurate, and as I show here, nationwide data on the subject makes very clear that the stricter a state's gun laws, the lower its rate of gun homicides, gun suicides, and mass shootings.

Debunking Republican Gun Control Myths: "More Guns = Fewer Deaths!"

 

Photo: Modified from Ben Shapiro/Twitter

 

Conservatives incorrectly argue that more guns do not lead to more deaths; some go so far as to claim that there's an inverse correlation. The graphs and data they use to support this view are flawed in several important ways.

Countries and states with higher levels of gun ownership have more gun homicides, suicides and accidental killings. People with guns in the home are much more likely to die from guns than those without—and you're much more likely to use your gun to commit homicide or suicide than to use it in a defensive, justified killing. An overall cost-benefit analysis of the question shows that people are much more likely to be harmed by guns than they are to benefit from them.

Debunking David Pakman: "Male Circumcision Is Beneficial!"

 
Thumbnail photos: Angelo Esslinger (whitesession)/Pixabay; Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay; joffi/Pixabay;

Thumbnail photos: Angelo Esslinger (whitesession)/Pixabay; Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay; joffi/Pixabay;

 

Circumcision advocates argue that performing this procedure on children and infants is justified because of its medical, hygienic, and aesthetic benefits. Here, I point out the many problems in all of these different arguments, ultimately concluding that circumcising children without their consent is deeply immoral and unjustified.

Debunking Creationism: "Transitional Fossils Don't Exist!"

 
transitional fossil thumbnail v2.2.png
 

Creationists mistakenly claim that no transitional fossils exist. There are actually many such examples, illustrating evolutionary change taking place in organisms ranging from whales to turtles to fish to horses to dinosaurs. Creationists also have many misconceptions about the fossil record and apply a double standard to evolution vs their religious beliefs. Here, I also address the idea of "the missing link" in human evolution and debunk many creationist arguments made in this area.

Debunking: "Climate Change Model Predictions Are Unreliable!"

 
Photo: Edited version of graph from: "Testimony of John R. Christy."  Docs.House.gov . Feb 2, 2016.

Photo: Edited version of graph from: "Testimony of John R. Christy." Docs.House.gov. Feb 2, 2016.

 

Climate change deniers are wrong when they claim that the predictions made by climate models are unreliable. As I show here, most of them are very accurate—and where they get it wrong, they're more likely to *underestimate* the warming (or associated consequences) than overestimate it. The most inaccurate predictions are actually those made by climate change "skeptics."

I also show some of the problems in the data and graphs used to support this viewpoint, and I debunk a variety of related arguments, including one made by Jordan Peterson about whether can measure the impact of our climate-related actions.

Debunking Republican Tax Myths: The Reagan Tax Cuts

 
Photo: Reagan White House Photographs/Picryl

Photo: Reagan White House Photographs/Picryl

 

Conservatives endlessly praise the Reagan tax cuts, claiming that they stimulated economic growth while reducing unemployment and growing personal income. In reality, many different factors contributed to the growth under Reagan, including a lowering of interest rates, a post-recession recovery, and stimulative government spending. Rarely mentioned are the many tax *increases* passed by Reagan. When presenting statistics to glorify the Reagan tax cuts, right-wingers often use very misleading tactics.

Debunking Creationism: "Life Can't Come From Non-Life!"

 
Thumbnail photos: NASA/NASA.gov; MasterTux/Pixabay; Ali Zifan/Wikimedia Commons

Thumbnail photos: NASA/NASA.gov; MasterTux/Pixabay; Ali Zifan/Wikimedia Commons

 

Creationists often argue that "life can't come from non-life." The scientific research actually shows that every step of the process is quite plausible. In addition to examining the research in this area, I also debunk a variety of arguments made by creationists to support their position.

Debunking: "The Left Is A Violent Mob!"

 
Thumbnail photos: cantfightthetendies/Flickr; Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons;

Thumbnail photos: cantfightthetendies/Flickr; Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons;

 

Republicans often talk about the scourge of left-wing violence—yet as I show here, right-wing violence is actually much more prevalent, both recently and historically. They also *pretend* as if Democratic politicians are calling for violence when really, they do nothing of the sort. Finally, their arguments on this subject are fraught with double standards and contradictions.

Debunking Creationism: "Evolution & Speciation Has Never Been Observed!"

 
 

Creationists falsely claim that evolution has never been seen happening in real-time by human observers. Here, I show many such documented examples of evolution & speciation. I also pick apart creationist arguments in this area and explain where they go wrong, pointing out that they shift the goalposts, misuse scientific terminology, and set impossibly high standards for the changes we should be able to observe.

Debunking Libertarianism: "Taxation Is Theft! Abolish The Income Tax!"

 
Photos: 5chw4r7z from Cincinnati/Wikimedia Commons; LillyCantabile/Pixabay; Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons; James Montgomery Flagg & Infrogmation of New Orleans/Flickr.

Photos: 5chw4r7z from Cincinnati/Wikimedia Commons; LillyCantabile/Pixabay; Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons; James Montgomery Flagg & Infrogmation of New Orleans/Flickr.

 

Libertarians argue that taxation is theft and that we should abolish the income tax. Here I argue that the comparison with theft is ridiculous because the taxpayer benefits from government programs and also gets to vote on what the tax rates are and what programs we do or don't fund. Among other things, I also point out that government force is only used to punish tax evaders as a last resort, and opting out of paying taxes or making it voluntary wouldn't be fair and would cause the overall quality of society to decline in many key areas.