Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Secrets of the pyramids

What is it with people thinking that pyramids are magical?

I knew a woman a long time ago who was so convinced there was something special about a square and four equilateral triangles that she built one by hot-gluing together some dowels. Then she'd store her apples and bananas under it, and told everyone how much longer they stayed unspoiled than if the fruit was just sitting on her counter.  She'd also resharpen her dull razor blades by putting them under the pyramid, and last I heard, was trying to construct one big enough to sleep under, because it's supposed to make you sleep better and also boost your sex drive.

And lo, over at the the site Life Positive, we find out why this is:
Likewise, do we know that most of our body related ailments are not even body related?  There is nothing wrong in saying that medical treatment cures your body and mind.  But, we also have to understand that it's not only our 'body' and 'mind' which needs all the attention and cure.  Above all, it is the in-depth aspect to be taken care of, is our "Soul." 
Physical Body of an average human being accounts for 0.01% of the total energy.  Mind accounts for 0.99% of the total energy. Most noteworthy, 'Soul' alone is liable for 99% of the total energy of the human being...  A few scientists have discovered that pyramids have energy properties that help in healing many types of diseases.  There is a special property of a pyramid.  It deflects any type of cosmic rays that are falling on its apex.
These deflected rays combine with earth’s gravitational force and form a new and powerful bioenergy field.  Pyramids deflect all the rays falling on its apex without affecting the centre and this indicates that it is safe at the centre surround by bioenergy field.  Pyramids have a good ionization effect and so they enhance oxygen intake in the body and improve our concentration.
A few responses to this bit:
  • 0.99% and 99% are not the same thing.
  • There is no such thing as a "bioenergy field."  The term "field" is precisely defined in physics, and trust me, what these people are talking about ain't it.
  • "Ionization" means turning neutral atoms into ions -- charged particles -- by moving around electrons.  There's no such thing as "good ionization" except insofar as some ions (like the O2- superoxide ion) are damaging to living tissue, so I suppose a "good ion" is one that doesn't do that.  What this has to do with pyramids is anyone's guess.
  • I suspect that the whole cosmic-ray-deflection business is a wild misinterpretation of some real research that was published back in 2018, wherein it was found that pyramidal structures could act as resonators for radio waves.  As soon as I saw this paper I did a facepalm, because I knew this would be further incentive for the woo-woos to claim that there was something supernatural going on here.  In fact, resonance isn't anything New-Age-y; it occurs when an object has the capacity to reflect waves in such a way as to reinforce them and create a "standing wave," such as the vibration of a guitar string.  This only occurs at certain frequencies -- which is why a plucked guitar string can only produce one particular note -- and explains such phenomena as the enormous tides in the Bay of Fundy and the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Despite these and other objections the whole pyramid-power thing has gotten so much traction that it actually made Mythbusters.  They tested a bunch of these claims, with a certified pyramid made to the exact proportions of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and to no one's particular surprise, none of the claims turned out to be true.

Which makes you wonder why sites like The Secret Power of the Pyramidal Shape still pop up.  This one was sent to me by three different loyal readers of Skeptophilia, and it's quite a read.  The thing I found the most amusing about it was that it had in-source citations, so it looks a little like an academic paper, but when you check the "Sources Cited" you find out that three of them come from the aforementioned Life Positive article; one comes from a man named David Wilcock, who claims to be the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce; and one of them comes from the phenomenally loony site Above Top Secret.

Not exactly a bibliography that would inspire confidence.

The article itself is worth reading, though, because it has some fairly surreal passages.  Take, for example, this:
The best passive torsion generators are formed by cones or pyramidal shapes built according to the “phi” ratio of 1 to 0.618 and it can, therefore, be said the pyramid shape has the power to harness torsional energy because torsion waves are phi-spirals and for this reason a pyramid will hold positive energy and deflects negative energy wavelengths and therefore inhibit natural decay.
Sure!  Right!  What?

I mean, about the only things that was doing spirals were my eyes after reading that passage.  Torsional energy is well understood by physicists, and has nothing to do with "phi."  But it's unsurprising that it comes up, honestly.  "Phi" is, of course, the Golden Section, about which much mystical nonsense has been written.  It's a pretty cool number, no question about it, and crops up with great regularity in nature; but it doesn't repel "negative energy wavelengths."

Whatever those are.

We also have some lunar lunacy added to the mix:
Parr has... found that the width of the energy containment bubble or orb expands and contracts with the phases of the moon.  This suggests again that the spherical orb on the outside of the pyramid is a static torsion field that gathers around the pyramid and is strengthened by absorbing other dynamic torsion fields.
It was also, apparently, found that a pyramid's "energy field" oscillates at 500 to 1000 hertz.  Should be easy to measure such a phenomenon, right?  I mean, physicists do this sort of thing.  But then we read, " was found that every now and then Pyramids quit responding to recordings and measurements."

Convenient, that.

Then we get a photograph of a Mayan pyramid shooting a beam of light up into the air.  Proof, right?  Here's the photograph:

This struck me as especially amusing, because I did a piece on this photograph way back in 2012 when it first started making the rounds of the interwebz, and included an analysis by Jonathon Hill, digital image analyst for the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University.  Hill noticed something odd about the "energy beam" -- that it was perfectly vertical with respect to the image orientation.  Not a single pixel's variation along its entire length on either side, which is pretty odd if it's a natural (or even a supernatural) phenomenon.  (But easily explainable if it's a digital image artifact.)

But maybe pyramids make these sorts of exactly coherent beams of biocosmic resonant wavelength positive energy vibrations.

Oh, and "quantum." Don't forget "quantum."

So even despite Mythbusters and other round debunkings, and the complete lack of scientifically admissible evidence, "pyramid power" is still out there.  I have to admit there is something kind of special about these archeological sites; I remember being awed by visiting the Jaguar Temple, a Mayan pyramid in Belize.  My sons and I climbed to the top, and it was pretty cool, although we didn't experience any surge of harmonic resonance energies (mostly what I remember is looking down the stairs and thinking "Good lord that is A LONG WAY DOWN").

So don't waste your time putting your fruit under a pyramid.  There's another magical device that is much better at keeping fruit fresh.

It's called a "refrigerator."


This week's Skeptophilia book recommendation is a fun and amusing discussion of a very ominous topic; how the universe will end.

In The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) astrophysicist Katie Mack takes us through all the known possibilities -- a "Big Crunch" (the Big Bang in reverse), the cheerfully-named "Heat Death" (the material of the universe spread out at uniform density and a uniform temperature of only a few degrees above absolute zero), the terrifying -- but fortunately extremely unlikely -- Vacuum Decay (where the universe tears itself apart from the inside out), and others even wilder.

The cool thing is that all of it is scientifically sound.  Mack is a brilliant theoretical astrophysicist, and her explanations take cutting-edge research and bring it to a level a layperson can understand.  And along the way, her humor shines through, bringing a touch of lightness and upbeat positivity to a subject that will take the reader to the edges of the known universe and the end of time.

[Note: if you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to support Skeptophilia!]

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