Fact-Checking the Claim: “Earth’s Weakening Magnetic Field ‘Could Kill Tens to Hundreds of Millions of People in the Next Few Decades’”

Could the earth’s weakening magnetic field “kill tens to hundreds of millions of people in the next few decades,” as the YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) claims? No, says the solar physicist behind the YouTube channel, Space Weather.

In the video, “DEATH by COSMIC RAYS?,” the expert, Space Weather, debunks Ben Davidson’s (Suspicious0bservers’) outlandish claim about how the weakening of the earth’s magnetic field, “could kill tens to hundreds of millions of people in the next few decades.”

A partial transcription of some of the more important takeaways from this video can be found at the end of this blog, and I encourage readers to watch the video in its entirety for more information. But first…

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An Introduction to Internet Charity and Cyber Begging: Creative Altruism or Destructive Selfishness?

Chances are you’ve seen it online, it’s something that’s become more socially acceptable yet is seldom fact-checked or scrutinized as thoroughly as it should be: cyber begging or Internet panhandling. Over the last decade, websites like Begslist.com have cornered the market for free cyber begging platforms.

As per usual, users should be aware of the fact that Begslist.com is just another content management system offering a “free service” that actually benefits from adding the personal information of its users to a database. Plus, Begslist only has to put in minimal effort as users upload their own stories to promote, which essentially becomes word-of-mouth advertising and translates to organic Begslist shares within the social networks of thousands of motivated (needy) individuals.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just important to realize that any information a person puts on the Internet will be accessible in the future, so, even though it’s currently legal and promoters say there’s little to no stigma in begging for money on the Internet now – who knows if it’ll stay that way.

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Trolling on the Internet: Sockpuppet Accounts Disrupt Conversation Online

Ever been in the comments section under a YouTube video and thought: WTF are these lunatics talking about? Chances are you’ve seen, or even taken part of, a comment thread that’s been created and curated by an Internet troll.

This blog post will focus on the impact that “sockpuppet accounts” can have on online discourse between members of the public and niche audiences led by individuals with vested interests. This is going to be an introduction to the darker side of the Internet and how sockpuppet accounts are used for trolling.

In the New Scientist article, “Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post,” Edd Gent reports on what researcher Srijan Kumar, of the University of Maryland, said, “In the era of fake news, detecting sock puppets is important…Whenever multiple accounts are used by the same party it is harmful and it skews the discussion and fake news can be propagated very confidently” (Gent 2017).

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Potholer54’s ‘Live Debate’ Turned ‘Private Discussion’ with YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) on Climate Change – Transcript Part Two

This is the second part of the transcript from science journalist Peter Hadfield’s (Potholer54’s) video “Discussion with Suspicious Observers,” which was supposed to be a “Live Debate” that turned into a private Skype “discussion” with the YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers). Part one of this transcript can be found here.

In a previous blog article, I mentioned that Ben Davidson has a disclaimer (published in all capital letters) on the “About” section of his website that says, “I OFTEN INTERJECT MY OPINIONS ABOUT THE TOPICS PRESENTED ON THE CHANNEL AND ON THIS SITE, AND I ATTEMPT TO CLEARLY COMMUNICATE WHEN THAT IS THE CASE” (Davidson 2018). I went on to point out that this is:

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Potholer54’s ‘Live Debate’ Turned ‘Private Discussion’ with YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) on Climate Change – A Partial Transcript

The science journalist Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) just released a new video on YouTube that reveals the first part of his “live debate” that turned into a “private Skype discussion” with the YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers).

Be sure to check out the series of four YouTube videos that led up to this whole exchange, which include: Ben’s original video, “Yale’s Two Climate Bombs,” Peter’s first debunking video, “Correction of ‘Yale’s two climate bombs’ by suspiciousobservers,” Ben’s response of “How Someone Tried To Debunk A Video,” and Peter’s “Second response to Suspiciousobservers” video.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read my previous blog article, “The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: What Constitutes Evidence for Claims (Prequel to ‘Potholer54’ vs. ‘Suspicious0bservers),” for a little more background on the two involved in this “discussion.”

I find it’s helpful to read the things that people say in order to read between the lines and discern the real meaning behind the words they’re using, because some people sure do say a whole lot! It’s important to note that not everything that someone says is true, even when they say that it is; this is especially true when the person making the claims has no relevant education or expertise to back up the assertions/interpretations they’re making.

Scripted “Discussion” & Tangential Responses (Ranting)

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“The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: The Expert ‘Space Weather’ Asks YouTuber ‘Dutchsinse’ to Stop Cyber-Bullying”

In addition to being the home of cute puppy photos and millions of cat videos, the Internet can also be a house of horrors when someone uses it for the purpose of trolling, stalking or harassing another individual. While a crackdown on cyber-bullying using the laws that are already on the books has been gaining popularity among the public, cyber-harassment is still commonplace on YouTube, which remains the vulgar Wild West of the Web.

The fake news and pseudoscience being propagated through popular social media platforms present unique challenges to the existence of free speech on the Internet, with the old axiom attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan being as relevant as ever: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.

Taking that a step further: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to preventing another from sharing their own opinion. Cyber-harassment is intimidation that uses threats and coercion in an attempt to control/manipulate the person being targeted. On social media it’s often employed as a tactic to silence an opponent and quell damaging dissent/questions.

An Intro to YouTuber Michael Janitch (Dutchsinse)

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The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: Computational Propaganda Creates the Illusion of Popularity and Support

It’s a simple fact that a user of social media is more likely to interact with, and share content if it looks like other users are doing the same. But what we now have to consider is whether those other initial interactions are even real, or if we’re being duped into thinking we’ve found something that’s more popular than it actually is.

For the most part, people don’t want to belong to a group that is seen as “unpopular.” However, there is a way of developing support for an “unpopular” person, group or cause by creating the illusion of popularity through manipulating how social media works; this artificial popularity can garner actual support in the real world.

In this case: some of the content creators who use social media benefit from an illusion of popularity that can be created by inflating follower/subscriber counts, through the use of “follower bots,” which can translate to real popularity, actual support and financial gain over time.

What is computational propaganda?

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