by Mick West at 9:10 PM
(4,983 Views / 3 Likes)

Kylie Jenner tweeted the left half of the above image to her 10 Million Twitter followers yesterday, and it has already been retweeted four thousand times. I added the answers on the right.

It's quite a simplistic version of the "chemtrail" theory, but given the amount of attention it has received because of Jenner's celebrity status, I think it's worth addressing directly, and in way that can be reused, hence the above anti-meme.

The text of the above questions and answers:

Q) Why did I see 75 planes spraying white stuff into the sky on my 15 minute drive to work?
A) Everywhere in the US sees from 100 to 500+ jets fly nearby every day. Often water in the...
by Mick West at 1:05 PM
(1,527 Views / 8 Likes)

The above chart is based on data from the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP_ database of eruptions, it's a count of all the eruptions that started in each year, from 1945 to 2015. It shows about 35 new eruptions per year, but with a lot of variation from about 25 to 50 per year. The trend over the full period is basically flat, and while there was a slight increase on average from about 1997 to 2008, this is balanced by a decline in recent years.

This year, 2015, shows only 12 eruptions so far, if it continues at that rate we will have about 33 this year, a bit below average. The 12 confirmed eruptions are:
  • Tara, Batu
  • Tungurahua
  • Ubinas
  • Turrialba
  • Turrialba
  • Chikurachki
  • Fournaise, Piton de la
  • San...
by Mick West at 9:25 AM
(1,601 Views / 6 Likes)

When investigating dubious looking claims on the internet one of the most common challenges is in finding out where the claim actually came from. There are a very large number of sites that simply repeat the content that is on other sites. Sometimes they repeat it verbatim, but usually they will post excerpts, and add some commentary, and often link to their source of the story. Sometimes though they simply re-word the story, with a few quotes, so it's not really clear where it came from.

The key part of finding the original source of a claim is simply being familiar with the way stories spread. The evolution of stories can be though of as being something like a family tree - except for any given individual story, there is usually one parent story (although there can be two or more), and each individual can anywhere from one to hundreds of child stories.

But there are a few key things to try:
  • Look for...
by Mick West at 11:02 AM
(1,649 Views / 8 Likes)
A recent article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine^ is being widely reported, with varying degrees of accuracy. One piece of data in the article in particular seems to suggest that if you consume an extra 150 calories of sugar daily (e.g. one extra can of soda) then you get an 11-fold increase in your risk of type two diabetes:

However this is not correct, the article gives the source of this claim: (
Which says:
by TEEJ at 3:03 AM
(914 Views / 0 Likes)
Stumbled upon this one. Rather silly as they are claiming that lack of smoke means that it was staged! Obviously they have never heard of the different rounds and variations of powder.

[Update by @Mick West ] This is debunked on examination of the original video. While the smoke is not visible on low resolution YouTube copies, it's certainly there on the original
by Mick West at 10:29 AM
(491 Views / 5 Likes)
WikiLeak repeated a tweet claiming that a document from the Sony leak shows Google is sharing raw traffic stats with the MPAA on a monthly basis.

The original tweet, number 589833217361977345, was deleted, screenshot below.
The linked report: Traffic Report Full 4-18-2011.pdf

This is an MPAA document, titled: "Referral Traffic Report | Google". On first glance you might think the report comes from Google, due to the Google logo on the front page.

However the report is not by Google it is about Google. There is nothing at all in the report that states data was given to the MPAA by Google (other than the normal use of searching Google), and there is no data in the...
by neoteric at 3:00 AM
(2,732 Views / 0 Likes)
When i first saw the article earlier today...I fell for it rather quickly,that is until i did some investigasting..
by Mick West at 7:44 AM
(19,247 Views / 2 Likes)
This photo is doing the rounds as a "ghost" photo, largely because it was taken in Hampton Court, a historic English house with a reputation for hauntings.

However it's just the result of taking a panoramic photo in low light on the iPhone. Panoramic photos are done by holding the camera up, and panning from left to right. The camera takes lots of photos and then stitches them together into a single image.


But because it takes a while to take all the images, if something moves while you are taking the panorama, then it will get distorted. This can happen in any situation, but it's worse in low light, as it takes the camera longer to take all the photos, so you end up with fewer photos to stitch together, increasing the likelihood of errors.

Here's a photo of me walking past some paintings:...
by Mick West at 3:31 PM
(2,434 Views / 4 Likes)
Which of these two planes is higher? And where are they exactly, relative to each other?


Now your first impression might be that it's fairly obviously plane B, on the right. It's visibly smaller than the left plane, so must be farther away, and its contrail is obscured by plane A the left plane's contrail, so that means the left plane is closer, right?

Wrong. The right plane is actually the one that is closer. It's actually less than half the distance away, and 4,000 feet lower.

The key here is that the aircraft are very different in size. The plane on the left , United Flight 6, is a 777-224(ER) length 209 feet, whereas the plane on the right, Alaska 682, is a 737-990, length 138 feet, or just 66% the length of the 777.

There's a variety of illusions here. For one, even though the plane on the right looks smaller, it's actually visually longer in...
by Mick West at 12:03 PM
(3,189 Views / 6 Likes)
People who believe in the "chemtrail" frequently have several misconceptions about contrails (the trails of clouds sometimes left behind airplanes). The most common misconception is that contrails always quickly dissipate, and can't persist and spread. But there are several other misconceptions - like how contrails with gaps should be impossible, or that other phenomena like colored contrails, or contrails happening ahead of weather changes, or circular contrails, are suspicious.

The best tool I've found for explaining contrails to people has been old books on clouds. I've got a large collection of these myself, but if I were to pick one for someone to show to a friend or relative, then I'd pick the 1981 book...