The Moon Landing was Faked.

Not really.

You may think it’s a fringe idea that the entire moon landing in 1969 was faked in a movie studio, despite the fact that it was televised live, you can go talk to Buzz Aldrin about it right now, you can go see moon rocks and an actual Saturn V rocket at Kennedy Space Center today if you want to, and countless people watched Saturn V rockets launch first-hand who are still around. Believe me, if you’ve seen a large rocket launch (I have,) it’s not something you can forget, and it’s not something you can fake. And getting something that large to escape Earth’s gravity is the hard part.

Yet a 1999 Gallup poll showed that about 6% of Americans believe the moon landing was faked – and the evidence is the numbers have increased greatly since then, as more people have been born after it happened. A poll from last July showed that 52% of British people surveyed believe the moon landings didn’t happen – and it’s the 25-34 year olds where most of this support exists. This same poll also showed that 64% believe dinosaurs never existed. I take solace in the fact that this study had a relatively small sample size of about 1,000 people, but it’s still deeply disturbing.

Here’s the thing with conspiracy theories – you can’t disprove a negative. For example, you can’t prove that I’m not an evil shape-shifting alien lizard who is part of this whole moon landing conspiracy. Yet, 4% of Americans believe exactly that (see question #13). Or maybe you’re part of the 28% who believe Elites like me are part of some evil group planning to create a New World Order (question #4). You can’t prove we’re not!

The polarization of society and “fake news” isn’t helping, either. The surge of moon landing hoax support is coming from the InfoWars website, which I won’t reward with a link. The founder of InfoWars has been promoting the idea that maybe we did go to the moon eventually, but that first landing was staged. InfoWars, if you don’t know, is a leading “alternative” news source. But calling them “fake news” is ineffective, because they’ve trained their readers to believe that real journalism is the “fake news” and they’re the only ones who have access to the Truth.

It also plays into the temptation to not believe anything you haven’t seen with your own eyes – although somehow Deities get a pass on this test. By that logic, Donald Trump doesn’t exist, since I’ve never seen him myself. Hmm….

No! Let’s not go there.

The important question that’s relevant to Frank’s Geekery is what to do about this. Unfortunately, these sorts of worldviews are often so deeply entrenched I don’t think reasoning will get you anywhere. I think there are only a couple of approaches here:

Bring your favorite moon landing hoax believer to meet Buzz Aldrin and watch Buzz beat some sense into him.

– Shock and awe him with an abundance of physical evidence and debunking of the various hoax theories.

Since the former is of questionable legality, let’s go with the latter.

Let’s start by debunking all the “evidence” that the landing was faked:

The fluttering flag with no atmopshere! There was a wire inserted at the top of the flag to keep it taut, the “fluttering” resulted as the wire was adjusted.

But the radiation! They’d all be dead! No, the astronauts passed through the Van Allen radiation belt in about 4 hours, and received no more radiation than you get in a chest X-ray.

But shadows are going in different directions! That’s because they were on a hill, and the contours of the terrain caused the shadows to look that way. Without any atmosphere, there is no skylight on the moon, so you don’t have the usual visual cues you’d have on Earth about the shape of the terrain.

Film couldn’t survive on the moon! Yeah, it gets really hot on the moon when it’s in direct sunlight. But they landed during lunar dawn and dusk to avoid that problem.

How can you leave footprints on a moon with no water in the soil? Go dump some dry talcum powder on the table and walk your fingers through it, and get back to me.

Why don’t you see stars in the sky in the photographs? Go outside on a clear night, and take a photo of something illuminated by a spotlight (much like the sun on the moon.) The short exposure needed to capture the foreground isn’t enough to capture the stars.

There are countless examples of “evidence” from the moon landing conspiracy folks beyond these – but a quick trip to Wikipedia is all you need to debunk them.

Furthermore, around 400,000 people were involved in the Apollo program. That’s an awful lot of people to successfully keep a secret for this long, isn’t it?

Plus, there’s plenty of physical evidence of the moon landing. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took photos of the landing sites just to shut everyone up (but they’re still going.) They even imaged every US Flag planted that’s still standing. (Unfortunately, the Apollo 11 flag was blown down by liftoff exhaust according to Buzz Aldrin, fueling the conspiracy theorists who believe that only that mission was faked.)

Maybe you trust the Mythbusters more than me. Go watch their episode on the moon landing, which they’ve made freely available just to shut everyone up. Or are Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman also shape-shifting lizard aliens?

At the end of the day, you can’t disprove a negative. But there is no valid evidence for the positive assertion that any moon landing, including Apollo 11, was faked. What you can do is educate yourself about the moon landing conspiracy theories so you can discuss them when the occasion arises, and hopefully bring someone around that you know.

Image credit: NASA/Neil Armstrong

Saturn’s Enceladus Moon Tipped Over

Newly published findings from NASA’s Cassini Mission reveal that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, appears to have been knocked over at some point – presumably by an asteroid.

Cassini found geological features called “Tiger stripes” associated with this impact, which have caused Enceladus’s spin axis to shift by 55 degrees. That’s more than halfway toward tipping over completely on its side!

This discovery also offers an explanation for why Enceladus’ North and South poles are so different geologically – they aren’t really this moon’s original poles at all.

Can we talk a little about how cool the Cassini mission is? I mean, here’s an actual photograph it took of Enceladus, if you’re wondering what it really looks like (well, the color is enhanced, but still, it’s a photo.)

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Cassini has captured some really weird things around Saturn, such as its tiny moon “Pan”, which is shaped like a space-ravioli:

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini probe has also captured strange “hexagons” at Saturn’s poles, which can be explained by sinusoidal waves moving along a circular path:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Last month, Cassini passed through Saturn’s rings, providing new data on the composition of Saturn’s most recognizable feature (which are generally only about 10 meters thick!) It also snapped some close-ups of the Keeler Gap, with its wavy edge created by the tiny moon Daphnis:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

These are just the most recent of Cassini’s accomplishments; two years ago, it gave us evidence that Enceladus contains a global ocean underneath its outer layer of ice. And this is the same mission that gave us the Huygens probe, which in 2005 landed on the surface of Titan and sent back this picture:

NASA/JPL/ESA/University of Arizona

Cassini’s long mission is drawing to a close now; it is currently in its “grand finale,” as it orbits closer and closer to Saturn, sending back images of Saturn’s weather systems in unprecendented detail. Cassini will plunge into Saturn itself on September 15.

So long, Cassini, and thanks for all the great discoveries.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Let’s Re-Animate Egyptian Mummies!

Well, let’s not jump the gun. But a recent article in Science Magazine reports that DNA from Egyptian mummies has been successfully recovered for the first time!

This is a big deal, because previously it was believed that no DNA from this era survived. However, Johannes Krause, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, came across a collection of 151 mummy heads (that must be a sight) and successfully extracted mitochondrial DNA from them.

The mummies originated from the ancient settlement of Abusir el-Meleq south of Cairo, which was dedicated to Osiris, god of the dead, and a popular burial location. These remains represent a wide range of 1300 years of ancient Egyptian history.

It’s an embarrassing fact that we didn’t really know what ancient Egyptians looked like, but this DNA is giving us concrete information about the ancestry of these people once and for all. Interestingly, early results show that ancient Egyptians had no sub-Saharan African ancestry at all, while modern Egyptians do. So at some point, a shift in the population took place. These mummies demonstrated remarkably consistent ancestry, closely related to Near-Eastern areas – notably Levant, which encompasses modern Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon.

Nobody’s talking about cloning a mummy head just yet! But what we’ve already learned from this genetic material is exciting stuff.

(Image licensed from iStock.com/Nomadsoul1)

Science is a Liberal Conspiracy

Not really.

We continue this week’s theme of science denial and skepticism with a look at “fake news,” and the politicizing of science.

A friend sent me a link to this gem of an article at viralground.com: THE ALIEN MEGA STRUCTURE HAS STARTED SENDING STRANGE SIGNALS. AGAIN!

Whatever. We covered this last week – there’s no evidence that it’s an alien megastructure. It’s just something we can’t explain yet. Sensational tabloid-style news like this has been around since the printing press.

But, there are two things in this article that really stick in my craw.

First is the big pull-quote that declares, in large italic letters,

“this could be the discovery of something HUGE, and something which the Elite cannot deny!”

Part of me likes the thought that scientists are part of some elite conspiracy that have all the secrets of the universe, but are keeping it to themselves just to retain their own power. There’s a definite evil super-villian vibe there that’s a little bit appealing.

But no. This isn’t a good thing.

Let me set the record straight – if scientists did find evidence of an alien mega-structure, they would love nothing more than to tell the world about it! The truth is that even if SETI finds a verifiable signal, there is no International protocol to consult with politicians, leaders, or any secret societies before announcing anything. The most recent interesting signal, which could not be verified by others, was widely reported. Nothing’s being hidden – scientists are driven by seeking the truth.

But what’s really troubling is the implication that scientists are part of “the Elite” – that evil tribe of people who live in cities who think they’re smarter than everyone else. Or at least, that’s how half of the country views them.

This is a real problem – when science becomes an “us versus them” thing like this, it spurs anti-intellectual movements and a distrust in science as a whole. Sure, science has its share of problems – but good scientists acknowledge them and are trying to fix them. But left unchecked, trends like this are how dark ages begin.

It is on the shoulders of scientists and technologists to try and break free of this “elite” classification. I recently watched an interview with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, who thinks a lot about the politicization of science. His advice was for every scientist or technologist to “tithe” 10% of their time to talking about science and technology with others. That’s why I created Frank’s Geekery. Just get out there, and show people – regardless of the tribe they identify with – that scientists are people too, and generally have good intentions.

I also help organize a local star party every month for the same purpose. If you own a telescope, this is a great way to get the people in your neighborhood excited about science, instead of fearing it. I’ve had people from all walks of life see the moon or the planets for the first time through my telescope, and I could tell it changed them in a way. Many of them couldn’t even identify the moon in the sky before they stumbled across this group of nerds with telescopes in a city park. Local outreach such as this is a great way to start.

The second big problem is the whole “fake news” aspect of this article. In particular, they misrepresent Michio Kaku’s interview on the subject. “He also believes that has to be proof of an advanced Alien civilization!” the article declares. But although Dr. Kaku is sometimes inclined toward the sensational, he’s still a real scientist and would make no such claim. All you have to do is follow the link in the article to his actual interview and read it, to see that all he says is that it can’t be ruled out.

I don’t know how to combat blatant misreporting in an era where anybody, including me, can publish news on the Internet and make it look real. Until people develop critical reasoning skills and are willing to research the more sensational claims they see, that’s a tough one. But again, getting out and talking to the community about the known facts and misconceptions, is a start. If enough of us do it, it will make a difference.

(Image licensed from iStock.com/intueri)

The Earth is Flat.

credit: istock.com/Mike_Kiev

Not really.

But there are people who really believe this still. What do you do when confronted with one?

Let’s talk about Matt, the flat-earther, just so we have a name. Matt rhymes with flat. No offense if you’re named Matt.

What you don’t do is say “ha ha Matt you’re a moron. Everyone knows that’s wrong.” If you really want to educate Matt, you need to come at it from a place of understanding and respect. A flat-earther is just the end result of our hyper-polarized society taken to its extreme. You can blame cable news, echo chambers in social media, income inequality, urbanization, religious fundamentalism – whatever. But Matt is just making a reasonable conclusion given the information he’s exposed to. Matt isn’t necessarily dumb. He’s just following his tribal instincts, and the tribe he has fallen into subscribes to the “scientists, like most coastal elites, are the enemy” camp.

If you attack these beliefs head-on, then you’re just putting yourself into the “other” tribe, and you can expect a defensive reaction as a result. We like to think humans are special, but in many ways we’re still animals driven by these sorts of instinctive urges. Protect the tribe, find food, have sex. That’s pretty much what we’re made for. And be honest, you think of Matt as part of an enemy tribe at some level yourself.

So here’s what you do:

  • Demonstrate you understand Matt’s position
  • Find common ground
  • Explore that common ground to find the right conclusion together

Here’s what a conversation could go like:

Matt: The Earth is flat, you know. This round-Earth stuff is all a liberal conspiracy to justify wasting money on space stuff.

You: Yeah, I’ve been hearing more and more people say that on the Internet. It’s kind of interesting. What sort of evidence have you heard about it?

Matt: Well, all you have to do is go in a plane and look out the window! Looks pretty flat to me.

You: So, you’d expect to see some curvature at really high altitudes, right?

Matt: Yeah, and you just don’t! I mean WTF man.

You: You know, I’ve looked out the windows of planes before too, and wondered why the horizon doesn’t look more curved too. If you look really close you can kind of see it, I think. But that got me wondering why there’s a horizon at all.

Matt: I guess it’s just how far you can see with smog and stuff.

You: Yeah, that can totally happen. But when it’s perfectly clear, you see a very crisp horizon line in the distance, and new cities and scenery will appear over it as you travel. Makes you think, yeah?

Matt: Uh… hm. Can’t really explain that one.

You: And the higher you go, the farther away the horizon is. Here, let me grab this really conveniently-placed beach ball I have here and demonstrate how that works, without sounding condescending in the process.

Matt: Huh. But what about that guy who took a carpenter’s level on a plane and saw that it never moved as the plane flew “around” the Earth? That proves the Earth is flat!

You: I know! If the Earth were flat that’s totally what you’d expect to see.

Matt: Yeah! Get me another beer.

You: I saw that video too, and it made me think. We agree gravity exists, right?

Matt: Well duh.

You: Gravity as we understand it pulls toward the center of mass of large objects like the Earth, right?

Matt: Sure, I think my physics teacher said that once.

You: So if you have a round Earth, its center of mass is in the center of the Earth – so gravity always pulls “down”, and keeps the level straight, no matter where on Earth you are. But here’s the kicker – in a flat Earth, the center of mass is in the center of the disc or wherever. Where exactly is the edge of the Earth?

Matt: California. They’re all gonna fall off into space in the next big earthquake. Those libtard snowflakes deserve it.

You: OK, so gravity would be pulling people in California toward the center of mass of the flat Earth, which I guess would be in Africa somewhere. They’d all be falling sideways, right? In fact, that level on the plane really would change as you moved if the Earth were flat – it’s completely opposite of what you’d expect. Mind blown! Boom!

Matt: Well how do we know gravity works that way? Maybe it just pulls in the same direction no matter what.

You: Hm. I have to admit that would explain it.

Matt: Yeah! Get me another beer.

You: But gravity also explains things like how the planets move really well. I mean, if you watch the sky over time, you can see the planets move differently from the stars because they’re orbiting the solar system’s center of mass in the sun. Hang on while I get my conveniently placed telescope; oh look, it happens to be a crystal-clear, dark night. OK, take a look at that star just over that tree. Remember where it was.

Matt: OK

You: OK, have a look at Jupiter here. Damn, right?

Matt: That sure is purty!

You: You can even see the great red spot!

Matt: Oh yeah! Nice. I know you’re gonna say “look Jupiter is round” – but maybe it’s just a flat circle facing us! How would we know?

You: Hold that thought. Hey look, that star we looked at earlier has moved higher in the sky.

Matt: Yeah it did. Well maybe the stars just spin around us. That seems like the simplest explanation. What do you people call that? Occam’s razor or something?

You: Yeah, but it just doesn’t explain why planets like Jupiter move differently. The Earth would have to be center of everything for that to work. But if the Earth were round and spinning, that’s also a pretty simple explanation for why the stars move in the sky at night. Here, look at Jupiter again.

Matt: Yup, it’s still purty.

You: In the half hour that has somehow elapsed since we last looked at it, you can see its spot has moved a little. That’s because Jupiter spins pretty fast, once every 9 and a half hours.

Matt: Maybe it’s just moving across a flat disc.

You: But when it falls off the “edge”, it’ll come back at the other edge 4 hours later. Every. Time.

Matt: Hm. OK, maybe Jupiter is round. Still doesn’t prove Earth is.

You: And what about all those photos taken of the Earth from space?

Matt: Yeah, well we all know the moon landing didn’t happen, so those photos are fake.

You: We’ll get into that one later. But it’s not just the moon landing – you can look at pictures from the ISS and clearly see the curvature, pictures from satellites we launched – I mean, it would have to be a pretty huge conspiracy if they were hiding that the Earth is flat. You just have to get high enough (not that kind of high) to see it, since the Earth is really really big.

Matt: Ah fine. Maybe you’re right. Get me another beer.

You: It’s on me! Oh look, the International Space Station, which is orbiting the round Earth, just passed overhead. If that’s a conspiracy, it’s a pretty elaborate one. What were you saying about Occam’s Razor?

Matt: You can stop now.

Now in reality, Matt would probably have tried to change the subject quite early on in this conversation in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. People don’t like having their worldviews challenged – and this is quite literally a world view! But if I can imagine a successful conversion of a flat-Earther, I think it would go something like that. Many of them actually have an open mind; the fact that they’re willing to accept a theory like “the Earth is flat” demonstrates they have the skepticism and ability to embrace new ideas that make a good scientist. It’s just a matter of using those qualities in the right way.

(Image licensed from iStock.com/Mike Kiev)

Frank’s Geekery: Episode 1

Welcome to our very first video and audio podcast! Every week, we’ll cover the latest science and technology news, and science fiction fandom isn’t off-limits either. In this episode, we’ll talk about:

  • Tabby’s Star, or the “WTF” Star is at it again – is it really an alien superstructure?
  • Can Bitcoin save the planet?
  • Google’s AlphaGo beats the best player in the world
  • How do flamingos sleep on one leg?
  • Is chocolate really good for your heart?
  • The world’s most sensitive dark matter detector is on-line
  • Disney World’s Pandora – The World of Avatar is open
  • Findings from the Juno mission at Jupiter
  • Report from the Megacon convention in Orlando

Jupiter Sure is Purty.

This week’s issue of Science magazine features publication of the findings of NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. While I read through it yesterday, nothing really caught my attention that wasn’t reported earlier about its findings. But talk of giant weather systems caused by huge plumes of ammonia swelling up from the planet’s interior, or the newly discovered strength of Jupiter’s magnetic field (10X that of Earth) certainly captures the imagination.

But what really captures the imagination are the stunning pictures Juno gave us of our solar system’s largest planet. Especially the close-ups of its polar regions that we’ve never seen before. This may be the biggest benefit of Juno – just getting more people interested and curious about planetary science!

I mean, just look at these images NASA released:

It’s just plain art.

If you want to do more to support planetary missions like Juno, consider joining The Planetary Society – they are not only funding their own research, but are very effective at lobbying Congress to continue funding missions like Juno. I’m a proud member myself.

You’d also be surprised at how well you can see Jupiter right from your own backyard. On a clear night, you can make out details in Jupiter’s cloud bands and its Great Red Spot quite nicely, and in full color, in a modestly-priced telescope. Here’s an image taken from my own 8-inch telescope, right from my driveway in light-polluted suburbia:

OK, Juno’s pictures are just a little more impressive. But there is something special about seeing Jupiter with your own eyes. If you don’t own a telescope, find a local star party and take a peek through someone else’s! It’s quite a sight.

Pandora Opens Today at DisneyWorld

The world of Pandora from James Cameron’s visually-stunning film from 2009, “Avatar”, opens to the public today at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

The staff of Frank’s Geekery were treated to a sneak preview of this new themed land last week, and it blew our socks off. While it’s a small area, they’ve packed in the best dark ride in all of Disney, the best flight simulation ride, and the most detailed theming they’ve ever done. You will really feel as though you’re on an alien moon, where even the laws of physics are different – they’ve replicated the floating mountains seen in the film, and they look real. It’s just a stunningly beautiful place.

It’s also a place where you can geek out hard – in addition to sparking the imagination on what human colonization of a habitable alien moon might look like, there’s a detailed replica of Sigourney Weaver’s science lab in the queue for “Flight of Passage” that features some magical little science experiments you can talk about.

I expect Pandora is also going to be a very crowded place for a very long time, as the public floods in for the first time today. If you’re planning a family vacation to Orlando in the next few months, get your FastPass reservations now.

I created a vlog on our walkthrough below – take a good look at those empty lines, because you’ll never see them again!

The World’s Most Sensitive Dark Matter Detector is On-Line

The XENON1T detector is now on-line in Italy, looking for particles that may be the mysterious “dark matter” that seems to make up most of the universe’s matter. 3.5 metric tons of liquid Xenon cooled to -95°C detect interactions between particles passing through the tank of ultra-pure water surrounding the Xenon detector, making this the largest, most sensitive dark matter experiment to date.

Although its first 30 days of operation have not yielded any big discoveries, this isn’t unexpected. The particles it’s looking for are called WIMP’s – Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. By definition they are difficult to detect – they are “weakly interacting” and detectable only through gravity and the weak force.

WIMP’s are the most widely accepted hypothesis as to the nature of dark matter, but it’s just that – a hypothesis. We know that our standard model of cosmology, based on our observations of the universe, would require that only 4.9% of it is made of the ordinary matter that humans and the detectors we’ve built can easily see. 26.8% is “dark matter” that has a measurable gravitational influence on ordinary matter but can’t be seen, while 68.3% of the universe is the even stranger “dark energy.”

“Dark matter” is a bit of a misnomer – we don’t know for sure it’s matter at all. “Dark gravity” is a better term, since we only postulate its existence through its gravitational effects.

XENON1T is an example of what humanity can do when nations come together in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Big experiments are expensive, but their results benefit the world’s knowledge. XENON1T is produced by a consortium of scientists from the US, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

Solving the mystery of the nature of dark matter would be a huge step forward in our understanding of the universe we live in. Should XENON1T find the WIMP’s it’s looking for, the universe will make a lot more sense. And if it doesn’t, it may be a sign that we need to explore even more imaginative hypotheses. The human brain and its senses have only evolved to facilitate our survival on Earth, and there is some audacity in attempting to understand the nature of the universe on scales that are much larger or much smaller than the environment we’re made to operate within. The fact we can do this at all, and build things like XENON1T in response, is part of the wonder of science to me.

Is Chocolate Really Good for your Heart? Well, Maybe.

The British Medical Journal published a new study that claims eating chocolate can reduce your risk for irregular heart rhythms. You can expect to see a bunch of hype on the Internet today about how chocolate is good for you! So, is it time to have chocolate bars for dinner? Hold on a minute.

The quality of science in the medical field is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It’s not entirely the fault of the scientists; I mean, a real controlled experiment that involves life or death can be tricky to say the least.  But there are real problems:

  • Lying with statistics – experiments often suffer from small sample sizes, or are not controlled. If it’s not a double-blind study, or it’s not a study with a large number of participants, the results must be taken with a grain of salt. All too often, the media reports on studies published from journals that don’t have high standards for experimental design.
  • Funding bias / conflict of interests – all too often, a sensational scientific claim turns out to be funded by an organization that stands to benefit from it. A recent study about how cheese isn’t bad for you made the rounds on the Internet, but it was funded by the Global Dairy Platform and the Dairy Research Institute.
  • The reproducibility crisis or replication crisis – over half of published studies cannot be replicated, and in some fields it’s much higher.
  • Publication bias – researchers publish because they want tenure, and have a bias to only publish successful experiments as a result. We never hear about negative results.

These are huge issues that threaten the credibility of science as a whole. So what’s a person to do when faced with a claim like “chocolate’s good for your heart?”

Well, it’s on us to apply critical thinking and dig into the details. Let’s ask a few questions about this study:

Are they lying with statistics? This paper claims a 10% risk reduction in people who eat chocolate. 10% isn’t that big of a number, so I’d expect to see a large sample size (how many people were studied) before taking that seriously. Turns out this study had 55,000 participants, so a 10% difference does seem significant. You don’t need a degree in statistics to understand this – even if you rigorously measure statistical confidence, in the end it’s still a judgment call – statistics can only say how likely a measured effect is to be real; it never says it’s real conclusively.

Is there a conflict of interests? In this case, no. This study wasn’t funded by anyone who stands to benefit from increased sales of chocolate. This test also checks out on this study.

Has it been reproduced? No, but that’s not unusual for new research. However, if you really plan on increasing your chocolate consumption as a result of this study, it would be prudent to wait a few months and see if anyone has attempted to reproduce these findings (or proven unable to do so.) If I were a betting man, I’d say it won’t happen. Thanks to publication bias, it may take quite a bit of digging to find these results on your own.

Was it a controlled experiment? No, and the authors of the paper freely admit this. It was not a “double-blind” study; it merely looked for correlations between people who ate chocolate and those who didn’t with irregular heart rhythms. Correlation does not imply causality – there may have been some other underlying difference between these two groups that occurred randomly. Or perhaps there is some connection between eating chocolate and the real cause of the difference – perhaps chocolate-eaters are more likely to be physically active, in an effort to burn off that extra fat. This is the main issue with this particular study, and why you should take it with a huge grain of salt. Salted chocolate, as it were.

In the end, I wouldn’t call this particular study “bad science,” but its results should be taken with a good helping of skepticism – and the study’s authors admit as much, which good scientists should do. It’s not a controlled experiment, the results aren’t overly dramatic, and it hasn’t been reproduced yet.

Still, a chocolate bar sounds pretty good right now.

Copyright 2017 Sundog Education, a brand of Sundog Software LLC.
Tech Nerd theme designed by Siteturner