The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense by Crispian Jago. (via Boing Boing)

The curiously revered world of irrational nonsense has seeped into almost every aspect of modern society and is both complex and multifarious. Therefore rather than attempt a comprehensive taxonomy, I have opted instead for a gross oversimplification and a rather pretty Venn Diagram.

Miscellany

The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

“As such nonsensical beliefs continue to evolve they become more and more fanciful and eventually creep across the bollock borders. Although all the items depicted on the diagram are completely bereft of any form of scientific credibility, those that successfully intersect the sets achieve new heights of implausibility and ridiculousness. And there is one belief so completely ludicrous it successfully flirts with all forms of bollocks.”

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6 thoughts on “The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

  1. The brilliant thing about this Venn diagram is that it is guilty of the very accusation it makes…. that of implying the validity (or in this case the invalidity) of phenomena by giving it a loaded term, rather than by applying reason to evidence.

    I’m not sure the author even knows what some of these words mean. For example ‘occult’ simply means hidden (knowledge). So the diagram categorises the possibility of things being hidden as ‘bollocks’, which implies all knowledge that is knowable is already known.

    And as for ‘chemtrails’ …. there are literally hundreds of patents for chemtrail technologies and there are UN documents discussing them. There is also thousands of hours of video footage of them filmed from all over the world. They appear in adverts, and have been discussed in mainstream media news articles as a viable solution to AGW (which curiously appears to be absent from the diagram).

    To not explain these facts (presumably with some giant global conspiracy theory about making chemtrails appear real when they don’t in fact exist) is as much ‘pseudoscience’ as any other unfounded claim regarding the phenomena.

    Telepathy has been proven in scientific experiments that are as scientific as any other study out there. There are ongoing experiments you can even participate in.

    I was going to suggest putting the entire diagram in a box and calling the whole thing ‘bollocks’, but I see that’s already happened 😉

    • If you read the original post, the creator says “rather than attempt a comprehensive taxonomy, I have opted instead for a gross oversimplification”, so this chart is definitely a tongue in cheek exercise. That said, I shall defend!

      Occult according to my dictionary means ‘mystical, supernatural, or magical powers, practices, or phenomena.’ That certainly tallies with my understanding of the word. Clearly the creator of the diagram didn’t mean that “all knowledge that is knowable is already known”. That is a wild stretch.

      I only recently became aware of the chemtrail conspiracy theory, but it strikes me as utter, utter bollocks of the highest order. Some of these people seem to think that all contrails are chemtrails, which says something about their level of understanding. And the fact that there is a patent for something is absolutely meaningless – a patent doesn’t mean something is real. The Patent Office don’t check that ideas being patented are ‘true’ in any sense or even that they might work or not. Ultimately though, unless someone gives me permission to disassemble a bunch of aircraft I’m not going to be able to disprove this one myself.

      As a long-time science fiction fan I’d like to believe that there could be telepathy, but if you say that it really “has been proven in scientific experiments” then I’m going to have to say [citation needed]. And be aware that magicians performing on stage are not “ongoing experiments you can even participate in.”

  2. Sure, I realise it was slightly humorous (as was my response) but it does reflect the overall attitude of establishment academia to ‘condemn without investigation’ – which is the height of ignorance, as Einstein is credited as saying.

    The fact is that the humorous diagram DOES reflect the general consensus among the establishment scientific community and while some things obviously do deserve to be there (scientology etc) … others definitely do not.

    “…Occult according to my dictionary means ‘mystical, supernatural, or magical powers, practices, or phenomena.’ …”

    Right… and plasma, magnetism, erupting volcanos, solar eclipses, radiation and electricity were all ‘supernatural’ or ‘magical’ phenomena at some point in our past. All established scientific knowledge starts out as occult knowledge. As that occult knowledge spreads into society as a whole it becomes accepted as scientific fact. So to say the ‘occult’ is bollocks is a completely nonsensical claim (even half in jest). It just shows how dogmatic our prevailing materialist scientific world view has become. Having cool technology makes us feel like we know it all, and that there is nothing else to know.

    It’s clear from artefacts, documents, architecture and myths that highly advanced knowledge has been occulted (kept hidden from the masses) throughout human history by various groups. A cliched example being the precision of the Giza pyramids and their encoding of precession, the precise geometry of the earth and even the speed of light which (as scientists would have you believe) were built at a time when humans had just emerged from hunter gatherer tribes and were armed with only copper chisels and twine!

    The purpose of secret societies, brotherhoods and the academic elite in general has always been to keep knowledge safe, and this is a noble goal … but it’s clear that this has often morphed into keeping knowledge from the masses – knowledge that would empower the masses and liberate them from the ruling / educated classes. Religion has served largely the same purpose, keep knowledge, technology and wealth hidden from the general public.

    “..I only recently became aware of the chemtrail conspiracy theory…”

    That is a misleading statement. You mean the chemtrail *evidence*. The evidence consists of documented cases all over the world of persistent trails in the sky which do not behave like ordinary contrails (often they are documented side by side with ordinary disappearing contrails), numerous patents for chemtrail spraying technologies, UN documents, and numerous testimony of insiders (which is either genuine, or disinfo…… which is itself evidence of some kind of a cover up). Levels of heavy metals and other substances have also been linked to chemtrals. And the refusal of various agencies (EPA etc) to investigate – even when the public demands it – is also evidence of a cover up of ‘something’. Usually people do not cover up ‘nothing’. There are agency staff on camera basically saying “Yes we know it’s going on, but we can do nothing – our hands are tied”.

    To call evidence a ‘conspiracy theory’ is unscientific. A dead body floating in a canal is not a ‘conspiracy theory’. It is evidence. Claiming the victim was murdered because he was exposing a drug cartel is a conspiracy theory. The two are totally separate things. One is evidence, the other is a theory (speculation). Whether the victim was murdered or had a heart attack and fell in the canal or slipped in while jogging or was put there by aliens is a separate issue to the evidence of a dead body floating in the canal.

    “… it strikes me as utter, utter bollocks of the highest order….”

    That is not an argument. It’s just pathological dismissal of the evidence without any explanation. With respect, your opinion (or mine) is worth as much as someone else’s opinion that Elvis is living on the moon. Pathological denial is no more scientific than pathological belief. And calling evidence a ‘conspiracy theory’ is no more scientific than calling a belief or speculation a ‘fact’.

    “…. Some of these people seem to think that all contrails are chemtrails, which says something about their level of understanding….”

    Again, this is not an argument. Some people believe Justin Bieber is the greatest singer to have ever lived. They are clearly deluded. But their mad opinion doesn’t mean the guy can’t sing… or that he doesn’t exist.

    “…And the fact that there is a patent for something is absolutely meaningless – a patent doesn’t mean something is real….”

    So are you implying a bunch of major corporations are involved in a huge conspiracy to create fake patents for technologies which don’t exist in order to mislead the public? How is that not ‘wacky’? 😉

    And even if it were true, it still doesn’t disprove the other evidence such as the phenomena itself, documented in the sky. Are they also putting ‘fake chemtrails’ up their as part of this global conspiracy of mass deception?

    “…Ultimately though, unless someone gives me permission to disassemble a bunch of aircraft I’m not going to be able to disprove this one myself….”

    What would that prove? Finding a plane or fleet of planes equipped to spray chemtrails does not really prove it is happening, or not happening. However filming planes actually spraying in the sky does, and there is plenty of footage of that, including footage where the chemtrails can be seen coming out of the wings as if the fuel tanks were leaking from uniformly spaced holes on each wing – which is extremely unlikely!

    People are now starting to track and document the air traffic over their homes thanks to low cost equipment as well as film the spraying with increasingly higher definition cameras. This is presumably why the categorical denial of such a program has changed into a kind of “Yes there technology is there, and we should probably use it to stop global warming”. In other words denial is no longer an option, it’s time to admit it but make it seem like a recently conceived initiative and no big deal.

    See also: reading people’s emails, drone attacks, torture…. etc etc etc

    Classified spraying programs has been *admitted* by US and UK governments going back to at least the 50’s. A famous Lynmouth flood (UK) which killed 35 people in 1952 was recently linked to weather modification experiments after the military admitted to cloud seeding in that area at the time.

    The weaponisation of weather technologies has been an ongoing program for at least 60 years – and like so many of these programs they were all publicly admitted to in the WW2 and post WW2 era before going underground.

    The evidence is there. The conspiracy wackos and the authorities / media are both now acknowledging the existence of chemtrails in their own peculiar ways, it’s only the general public sandwiched in the middle who are still categorically denying their existence.

    This denial is scientifically predictable. The existence of a worldwide program implies not only that governments and the media have been lying but also that so called ‘democracy’ is an illusion, as is the idea of ‘nations’ (at least once you get beyond a certain level in the hierarchy). These realisations create massive cognitive dissonance and it’s well known that we will always seek to resolve cognitive dissonance by denying evidence… even to the point of denying reality.

    As for telepathy experiments, try looking into the experiments and research of Rupert Sheldrake. He’s presented peer reviewed studies, which have still been dismissed (without reading them) by some scientists on the grounds that “we already know it’s impossible”.

    Here he is giving a TED lecture about the dogmatic attitudes which exist in materialist science….. his lecture got banned by TED (validating everything he was accusing the scientific establishment of being!), but TED eventually admitted they had no grounds to ban it. LINK

    What strikes me as tragic is that it’s this ingrained attitude of pathological denial (posing as scepticism) and associated ridicule which puts off scientists from investigating these subjects … and that means it’s left to conspiracy wackos in their basements to do all the research, which is not always of the highest quality! This in turn only serves to validate the prejudices of scientists….. which leads us back the that quote of Einstein.

    • Hmm, that didn’t sound like an Einstein quote, so I investigated. Nope, probably not. (I tried to find a source that I thought you would trust.)

      Plasma, magnetism, radiation etc. were never ‘occult’. They were unknown, unexplained or misunderstood. Just because there were mythological explanations for solar eclipses and the like before they were better understood is irrelevant. Nobody denied eclipses happened, but I have to imagine that there were those who doubted the mystical explanations for them even before scientific ideas started to develop.

      There are two ways to use the word ‘occult’, and you seem you be using them together. Cribbing from Wikipedia here: The occult (from the Latin word occultus “clandestine, hidden, secret”) is “knowledge of the hidden”. In common English usage, occult refers to “knowledge of the paranormal”. I doubt there are any good examples of either type of ‘occult knowledge spreading into society’ as you suggest. The story of science is the story of overcoming these fanciful notions of the past: The Earth is round; we are not the centre of the universe; life evolved over billions of years; we are changing the climate of our planet. Often scientific ideas have struggled to gain acceptance, quite true, but do widely believed pseudo-scientific notions ever get proven in any meaningful way? I’d be genuinely curious if you could think of an example (though based on the scope of things you believe it’s unlikely we’ll find agreement).

      I won’t defend these ‘scientists’ who are supposed to be hostile to new ideas, but as Carl Sagan said: “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.” If the scientific community had to dedicate time to disproving every little ‘theory’ or ‘opinion’ that came along, then on balance they would probably spend a lot less time doing actual important research.

      (Total tangent, but it’s interesting to consider what acceptance by the scientific community really means: Something like 97% of scientists believe in climate change, but they’re struggling to convince the rest of the world, big business, politicians and the general public alike. Meanwhile people are quite given to believing in telepathy, homeopathy, deities and all manner of things despite almost zero support from the same scientific community.)

      “With respect, your opinion (or mine) is worth as much as someone else’s opinion that Elvis is living on the moon.” With respect, I hardly think so. An opinion about something is only as good as the truth supporting it. Admittedly, when evidence is disputed the battle of opinions can get subjective, but if your ‘opinion’ is that Elvis lives on the moon, then I’m afraid your opinion counts for very little to me.

      “So are you implying a bunch of major corporations are involved in a huge conspiracy to create fake patents for technologies which don’t exist in order to mislead the public? How is that not ‘wacky’? ;)”

      Woah cowboy! I’m only suggesting that patent clerks aren’t technologists or scientists and that there are plenty of wacky patents out there filed by crazy people who think they’re onto something or big tech companies who feel the need to patent nonsense like ‘a rounded rectangle’ so they can sue other big companies.

      Otherwise I’m going to leave your whole chemtrail ‘evidence’ (and much else from your lengthy reply) alone. I may read up on it later, but I’m perfectly convinced that it’s all water vapour doing what water vapour does at different temperatures, different airspeeds and different altitudes etc.

      (Be careful how you throw the word ‘theory’ around though. It doesn’t just mean ‘speculation’, and that’s a cause of considerable misunderstanding.)

      I’m not totally conspiracy-blinkered however. The NSA/GCHQ revelations surprised me with their scope and scale, but not the fact that things like that were being done. Drone attacks and torture programs are also evidence that there is much we don’t know because we are simply not told. There is clearly a healthy infrastructure for keeping information away from the public, and I doubt that will ever change. But just because some crazy shit is real doesn’t mean that all kinds of other crazy shit is real.

      Sorry if that came across as another pathological dismissal.

  3. Whoever’s quote it was, it’s appropriate. I don’t trust google either which is why I said “….as Einstein is credited as saying.”

    “..I doubt there are any good examples of either type of ‘occult knowledge spreading into society’ as you suggest…”

    I already gave some obvious examples. The first ‘modern’ human civilisation, the Sumerians, wrote about the outer planets with stunning accuracy, even describing Neptune and Uranus as “blue-green water twins”. These planets (and their blue-green surfaces) were not ‘discovered’ by western science until the last couple of centuries.

    Neolithic monuments around the world encode highly sophisticated and precise astronomical alignments and other information which was not common knowledge among the primitive societies credited with building them. We still don’t know how many of them were built. Some of the structures incorporate stone blocks weighing 1500 tons. Our most powerful modern cranes are required to lift those kinds of weights, yet these monuments were constructed thousands of years ago, and with precision to a fraction of a degree/ inch. Clearly they used some kind of occult knowledge and occult technology.

    The history of human civilisation is absolutely brimming with evidence of occult knowledge. But by its very nature it will be invisible to most people, and even those who look for it will only find examples which are not hidden entirely.

    “..The story of science is the story of overcoming these fanciful notions of the past…”

    You’re equating occult knowledge with fanciful notions. Knowledge of the outer planets, precession, the ability to move and lay 1500 tons blocks, knowledge of the speed of light or the diameter of the earth is not a fanciful notion. It is knowledge. That fact that it was unknown to the vast majority of people at the time made it occult knowledge.

    “…do widely believed pseudo-scientific notions ever get proven in any meaningful way?…”

    If it’s *widely* believed then it’s not occult. And if it’s mere *belief* then it’s not knowledge.

    “..If the scientific community had to dedicate time to disproving every little ‘theory’ or ‘opinion’ that came along..”

    Occult knowledge is, by definition more than a mere theory or onion. It is, as the name suggests, knowledge.

    “..An opinion about something is only as good as the truth supporting it….”

    Right. And that is just as true whether someone is validate a claim or invalidate a claim. For example, if you claim the builders of the pyramids did NOT have occult knowledge then you have to provide a satisfactory MUNDANE explanation as to (1) how they were able to build the structure with copper chisels and twine (2) why it’s a perfect scale model of the earth (3) why it has a precision (1/60th of a degree) which we would find difficult in not impossible to achieve today (4) why the structure encodes complex astronomical alignments, mathematical equations, the speed of light etc.

    If you can’t provide satisfactory explanations for these (and many other) things then your claim is not valid.

    Western education teaches the idea of linear progress, which states that human knowledge and technology has always increased from ancient ‘cavemen’ to modern ‘astronauts’. This is a BELIEF SYSTEM which is contradicted by thousands of pieces of empirical evidence. Whenever this evidence is encountered almost all modern scientists disregard that evidence in favour of the belief system they adhere to (often called the ‘Church of Progress’). This is completely unscientific, and is on a par with creationists ignoring fossils.

    “…Something like 97% of scientists believe in climate change..”

    I find that figure suspect, but even if it’s true it would only prove that 97% of scientists are not scientists. Climate change (AGW) should not be a matter of belief. The fact is all of the AGW climate predictions have been proven wrong and the climate has been doing the exact opposite – ie cooling – for over a decade. The desperation of these AGW ‘believers’ is apparent in the ever-changing names they give to their theory… first ‘global warming’, then ‘climate change’, and now ‘climate disruption’ …..soon they will be forced to simply call it ‘climate’ because that’s the only name that isn’t misrepresentative. They have been exposed as fraudsters, liars, data manipulators and their documentaries have been banned after being found to contain lies.

    AGW is a SCAM. It has all the hallmarks of religious propaganda – but modified for a more secular age. The central message is that we humans are sinners simply by virtue of being alive (and breathing out CO2) and that we must repent by paying our tithes to the church of climatology… otherwise we will be struck down by wrath from heaven (storms and floods). Like all religions it uses a mixture of guilt/ sin/ fear to extract money from the general public and put it into the hands of the ruling elite.

    “…Meanwhile people are quite given to believing in telepathy, homeopathy, deities and all manner of things despite almost zero support from the same scientific community….”

    No, scientific experiments have proven telepathy to be a real phenomena. To equate proven phenomena with deities is a dirty tactic. It’s true the scientific community shows zero support for this kind of research, but that is because if more money was thrown at studying telepathy there would be more experiments proving it to be a real phenomena and the entire materialist description of the universe would be proven to be invalid (or rather, inadequate). The Vatican does not fund scientific research which it knows would disprove the existence of god. The scientific community does not fund research which would disprove materialism. It really is as simple as that. As I pointed out in my previous comment scientists who have demonstrated the non-local nature of human consciousness are ostracised and censored by the mainstream academic community. A few hundred years ago they would have been put to death.

    “..Otherwise I’m going to leave your whole chemtrail ‘evidence’ (and much else from your lengthy reply) alone…”

    That is precisely the behaviour that ‘skeptics’ criticise ‘true believers’ for doing – and rightly so. When the evidence conflicts with your beliefs, put the evidence in inverted commas and pretend it doesn’t mean anything … and then just ignore it! 🙂

    “…I’m perfectly convinced that it’s all water vapour doing what water vapour does at different temperatures, different airspeeds and different altitudes etc….”

    That is not an argument, that is a belief. You have not addressed the evidence. You are even admitting to ignoring the evidence in order to maintain your belief system.

    “…(Be careful how you throw the word ‘theory’ around though. It doesn’t just mean ‘speculation’, and that’s a cause of considerable misunderstanding.)…”

    Theory has many meanings and in common usage is often used to mean (unfounded) speculation. The term ‘conspiracy theory’ is an example of this. The term is most often used as a put down and a way to dismiss *evidence* or *knowledge* by classifying it as theory/ speculation/ opinion/ belief.

    As I pointed out previously, you yourself mis-used the term ‘theory’ presumably to discount the *evidence* I presented (re: chemtrails) and portray it as mere speculation/ belief/ opinion etc. Portraying evidence as theory allows you to avoid having to account for that evidence. It is a dishonest and extremely common tactic used in debates.

    (“…I only recently became aware of the chemtrail conspiracy theory…”)

    “…I’m not totally conspiracy-blinkered however…”

    I’m glad to hear it. A conspiracy just means a hidden and typically nefarious plot by two or more people. The newspapers and criminal court system are full of exposed conspiracies every day. The federal reserve banking system is an admitted conspiracy by those who created it. The ‘war on terror’ is a response to an alleged conspiracy. There are thousands of laws, regulations and conventions which protect us from conspiratorial behaviour. The majority of crimes involving two or more people are conspiracies. Most of history is full of successful or failed conspiracies, especially when it comes to political or royal power and the actions of governments.

    To be closed minded to conspiracies is to deny reality and to deny human behaviour.

    “…But just because some crazy shit is real doesn’t mean that all kinds of other crazy shit is real….”

    You don’t say.

    “..Sorry if that came across as another pathological dismissal…”

    No worries. I just think that it’s a lot more productive to stick rigorously to the evidence, especially if the subject happens to challenge the ‘official’ consensus world view 🙂

    • WRT my claim that “something like 97% of scientists believe in climate change”, I should have worded that better. Belief wasn’t a helpful word and I should have said “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.”

      Everything else I’m going to leave alone. I could challenge some points, research some more and debate wording and definitions again, but I don’t think I want to put any more time or energy in here. Take that as a victory if you like, but I also feel like it’s the only way I’ll win my sanity back. I’m certainly no scientist, but I can see now why they don’t want to engage in these kinds of discussions. Up is down; this word actually means that; lack of evidence is evidence. I dunno, I lack the imagination I guess.

      Perhaps I’m just unable to see the mind-control chemicals for the clouds.

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