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.
My previous blog article pointed out the illegitimacy of Ben Davidson’s (Suspicious0bservers) claims of having a “peer-reviewed publication” to his name. This was done by emphasizing the criticisms made by the solar physicist behind the YouTube channel, Space Weather, about how “what Ben has done is he’s given his paper to a poor journal with no quality peers and as a result ended up with poor results and bad research” (Space Weather 2017).
This blog post is going to expand that focus to a couple of Ben Davidson’s other claims. But first, it’s important to sledge-hammer this nail on the head: there is a big difference between publishing a paper in a reputable peer-reviewed journal and publishing one in a predatory journal that is meant to mimic the peer-review process; the latter of which is pseudoscience that anyone can do, while the former is what constitutes evidence for the scientific claims made by experts.
A couple of people in my Facebook circle shared this meme around the same time as each other yesterday afternoon. Within an hour, each of these separate posts already had someone posting a Snopes article debunking the “reverse PIN panic code” delusion.
This rumor, meme is 100% BS:
“If a thief forces you to take money out of an ATM, do not argue or resist. What you do is punch in your pin # backwards. EX: if its 1234, you’ll type 4321. When you do that, the money will come out but will be stuck in the slot. The machine will immediately alert the local police without the robbers knowledge & begin taking photos of the suspect. Every ATM has the feature. Stay Safe.”
First off, every ATM does not have this feature. Second, ATM cameras are recording 24/7. Finally, notice how this message completely glosses over what to do if your pin code is a number that reads the same backwards as it does forwards (a palindrome)?
At this time, “The Spirit Science” isn’t quite organized enough to be classified as a cult, but their recent fundraising threatens their status as being just a “New Age movement.” Spirit Science’s YouTube videos feature cartoon characters who talk about drugs, peddle conspiracy theories and target anyone who’s gullible enough to overpay for their tawdry merchandise.
The creator of Spirit Science is a Winnipeg native who goes by the names: “Jordan Duchnycz” or “Jordan David Pearce.” As per usual, RationalWiki catalogues it all:
Frauds, hoaxes, pseudoscience, fake news, scams, certain “trends” or “movements,” conspiracy theories, and any other BS lurking around on the internet will serve as content fodder for this blog.
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of questionable content on the internet.
Some of this content is there to troll the gullible, some of it’s there because desperate people are willing to mislead others to make a living, but the bulk of it is comprised of the unsubstantiated, uneducated opinion of average individuals.
And that’s all okay, because we learn from our experiences whether they are good or bad. But what’s not okay is loitering in this impressionable state for too long as there are many out there who thrive on taking advantage of the temporary ignorance of others.