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The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide to Comic Books: Iron Man, Part 4

Posted in Comic Books, Critical Thinking, science, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by theskepticalsamurai

Time for another installment of…

 

The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide to Comic Books!  Featuring: Iron Man: Part 4, The Epic Conclusion!

 

Thanks for tuning in dear reader!  Thus far we have established the inspiration for this segment of the blog and we have investigated various aspects of the Iron Man armor to determine if any of it is based in reality and if such a suit would even be possible in the “real world”.  To catch up on all of the action check out the original blog post here:

https://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/the-skeptical-samurais-guide-to-comic-books-iron-man/

 

Check out Part #2 here:

https://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/the-skeptical-samurais-guid-to-comic-books-iron-man-part-2/

 

And Check out Part #3 here:

https://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/the-skeptical-samurais-guide-to-comic-books-iron-man-part-3/

 

So what is left for us to talk about?  Well, weapons and offensive capabilities of course! I have left the proverbial best for last!  I mean what fun is the Iron Man armor if we cannot blow stuff up (NOTE: the Skeptical Samurai does not condone and/or support the random blowing up of stuff).  Anyone even remotely familiar with the Iron Man armor is well aware of its many tactical capabilities.  So where do we even start!?  Good question, might I suggest that we begin with the relatively straightforward and then move toward the more fantastic.

 

For the purpose of this blog we are going to focus on the following components of the Iron Man arsenal: guns, missiles and the almighty repulsors.  I realize that the Iron Man armor has many more items in its arsenal, but for the sake of simplicity (and the fact that these weapon systems are the ones that most people will be familiar with) we are going focus on these weapon systems.

 

And with that, now onto the epic conclusion to The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide to Comic Books: Iron Man Edition!

 

But…

 

Before we get into the offensive capabilities of the Iron Man armor, we must first discuss Iron Man’s defensive capabilities.

 

Defensive Capabilities!?  But you promised us the good stuff!  And what on earth does Iron Man need defensive capabilities for!?  I mean, he is Iron Man! 

 

Someone much greater then me once said, the best defense is a good offense.  Well that statement most definitely has merit, our Iron Man armor can have all of the offensive capabilities in the world, but if it susceptible to even the most basic of attacks, then it is not going to matter what the suit is capable of.

 

Alright…so defensive capabilities are important. Which of the Iron Man defenses are based in reality and which are based in fiction?

 

The majority of Iron Man’s defensive capabilities are actually grounded in reality.  As we have already established in previous blog posts, the Iron Man armor will be constructed out of a variety of insanely strong materials.  Consequently, physical damage to the suit will be at a minimum.  However, if and when the suit is exposed to some sort of direct impact we need to be concerned about possible injury to our user.  Allow me to explain.

 

Think of a high-speed car accident (I know not the most pleasant thing in the world, but stick with me).  Often times it is not the trauma of the actual car accident that kills the driver.  Instead it is the acceleration/deceleration forces experienced by the driver that result in death.  A subtle difference, but a difference none the less.  Think of all of the force generated by a car accident.  All of that force has to go somewhere.  Modern vehicles have been designed to channel that force away from the driver (with technology such as airbags and the manner in which the front of a car crumples).  However, often times (especially at excessively high speeds or in older vehicles) it is simply not possible to channel this force in a safe direction.

 

Acceleration/deceleration forces can easily damage the soft tissues that make up blood vessels walls.  Specifically, these types of forces can easily damage blood vessels such as the aorta (which is arguably the most important artery in the body as it pumps fleshly oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body).

 

 

Damage to the aorta will result in blood spilling out into the extra vascular space (instead of being pumped into the intravascular space where it is supposed to be) and can very quickly result in death (in talking within a matter of minutes).

 

Relating this to our Iron Man armor, an impact with enough force may not cause damage to the external panels of the armor, but it could potentially kill our user, which is simply not acceptable.  So with the above information in mind, we are going to need to develop some sort of additional protection in order to ensure the safety of our user.

 

Unfortunately, it is not going to be as straightforward as simply lining our armor with a bunch of extra foam padding.  Why you ask?  Well, materials such as foam are compressible and while they may be capable of deflecting the force of a relatively minor impact, any type of force over a certain threshold will simply “pass through” the foam (or any type of compressible substance) and harm (or even kill) our user.  What we require is some sort of non-Newtonian fluid.  That is, we need a fluid that is capable of changing its “behavior” depending on the type/amount of force that acts on it

 

I know what you are thinking…

 

“Non-Newtonian fluid!?  I thought that we where going to stay about from fictitious explanations in our pursuit to build real life Iron Man armor!”  Fear not dear reader, as promised we are going to keep the explanations grounded in reality.  Check out this video clip (fast forward to 02:05 if you do not want to watch the whole video)

 

 

It turns out all that needs to be done is to mix water and corn starch and we have ourselves a non-Newtonian fluid!  As demonstrated in the above video, a mixture of water and cornstarch creates a non-Newtonian fluid that changes its proverbial behavior when a force is acted upon it. This substance will remain a liquid at rest and will become a solid (for lack of a better description) when a force is acted upon it.  It is this property that will ensure that when our Iron Man armor is exposed to a significant force (say like a blast from a tank), that our user will not be fatally injured.

 

This extra layer of protection could be added in contained bladders located between the armor panels and our users skin (no actual bladders pictured here, just a reference for where the bladders would be placed on the user in relation to the armor)

 

 

Additionally, the non-Newtonian fluid could simply be pored into the suit.  The fluid would not be as contained as the above example with the bladders so this option would be a bit messier but would provide the best protection to the user as there would be gaps that could potentially lead to injury.  The following picture gives you a bit of an idea of what this might look like (notice that Tony Stark, pictured here in the “Ultimate Universe”, appears to be covered in a fluid of sorts)

 

 

However, I think that it is safe to assume that we are not just going to allow our Iron Man armor to just eat impact after impact from missile and other types of projectiles.  We are going to want to avoid impact/damage from aggressor’s weapons when possible…

 

So how are we going to do that?

 

Again, the answer is actually pretty straightforward.  As previously discussed the Iron Man armor will be capable of moving at incredible speeds.  Additionally, it will also be extremely agile and capable of maneuvers simple beyond the capabilities of most (if not all) aircraft and weapons systems.  Consequently, it will be relatively easy for our Iron Man armor to out maneuver the vast majority of the obstacles that it might encounter.

 

But what about those situations where our Iron Man armor is engaging multiple projectiles from hostile targets?  Or what about weapons systems that utilize heat seeking/infrared technology.  These types of projectiles (as well as the possibility of multiple projectiles) are notoriously difficult to deal with and can be extremely difficult to loss once they have locked onto a target.  So, how do we expect our Iron Man armor to deal with this threat?

 

With flares (of course!)

 

Now I am not talking about road flares (although in all honesty, standard issue road flares would most likely do the trick), but instead weapons great flares (as pictured here being deployed by a military plane)

 

 

Or as deployed by Iron Man in the following clip

 

 

These types of flares typically contain/burn a substance such as magnesium.  This allows them to ignite and burn hot/bright enough that they are able to “trick” most target and chase types of weapons systems.  A relatively simple solution to our problem, but a solution nonetheless!

 

Alright, Alright!  We need defenses, I get it, and on that point I must concede, but can we PLEASE PLEASE talk about Iron Man’s weapons systems and offensive capabilities!?

 

Well I guess that I have made you wait long enough, so ask and you shall receive!

Let us start with the small (and more plausible) and work our way up from there.  Let us start with small arms/guns.

 

Check this image out (I know, I know, its War Machine, but you get the idea)

 

 

Looks pretty badass right!?  This type of tech would actually not be all that difficult to design and produce.  Essentially what we have is a cartridge (a bullet loaded into a casing containing a propellant which is ignited by a primer), which is loaded into a short barrel.  Pretty simple right!?  All we need in order to make this system function is a means of launching the projectile forward.  This could be easily achieved by utilizing a contained/concealed striker fire system, which is the same firing system as seen on any standard issue Glock pistol

 

 

I know what your thinking, how are we going to activate and aim this striker fire system? Well with Jarvis (our on board computer system) of course!  Given the complexity of our on board computer system (as discussed in previous blog posts) aiming and activating the striker fire system will be a relatively straightforward task.

 

In addition to the more traditional striker fired/cartridge system, the Iron Man armor also utilizes missile technology.

 

 

 

Again, pretty badass right!?  It is quite a sight to watch Iron Man deploy these relatively tiny missiles and then have them fix in on their targets and cause chaos and destruction.  The astute amongst you will pick up on something of an anomaly in the last sentence, specifically, the use of the term “tiny missiles”.  Allow me to explain, a missile is essentially a rocket with some sort of warhead (or payload) attached to it.  The rocket is what propels the missile in a specified direction and the warhead is what does the damage.  The extent of the damage is determined by the size of the warhead.  Ergo, the bigger the warhead attached to the missile, the more damage that can be done to an intended target.  Let us take a look at the relatively common Sidewinder missile

 

This particular missile has the capability to take out aircraft size targets.  Compare this missile to those ones in the above pictures that deploy from Iron Man’s wrist gauntlets.  Notice anything?  Iron Man’s missiles are relatively TINY in comparison!  Yet somehow Iron Man still manages to take out aircraft and tank sized targets!  How on earth can this be!?  Again, excellent question!

 

For obvious reasons missiles the size of the sidewinder are simply not going to fit on (or within) the Iron Man armor.  Now for small targets (say the size of a medium to large size box) the missiles deployed by Iron Man (in the above pictures) would be sufficient. However, we can assume that our Iron Man armor is going to have to engage hostile targets much larger then a small to medium sized box.  So we are going to have to find a means of making the most of the weapons that we have.  Now we could go with the old argument that Tony Stark has simply equipped the missiles with some sort of super secret destructo technology that only he has access to, but (again) what fun would that be!?

 

So instead of taking the easy way out, let us take a look at plausible options that explain how such a small missile can be effective against such a large target.  A little bit of research quickly uncovers the answer to our query, “Smart” technology.  Now when I say “smart” I am not talking about a missile that is capable of doing your grade school multiplication tables, instead I am talking about a weapon system capable of targeting the weak point of a given target thus inflicting the most amount of damage with the smallest payload.

 

Wait a moment…

 

in order for our missiles to be capable of targeting the weak points of their intended targets, each one is going to require a complex on board computer system, connected to the Iron Man suit,  that is capable of complex calculations (far beyond any high school multiplication tables) ensuring that each missile is capable of hitting the weakest point on its intended target.  Alright, looks like I am going to have to retract the statement regarding a missile capable of doing math!  So the take home message is that by utilizing “smart” technology, we can use the smallest warhead possible, thus making it possible to fit onto/into the Iron Man armor and ensuring that we are able to inflict the maximum amount of damage on even the largest/most well armored target.

 

Enough with the bullets and missiles, Iron man is know for his repulsors!  So, tell me about Repulsors! 

 

Alright!  Are you ready for it!

 

It is time to talk about the almighty Iron Man repulsors!

 

 

So let us get to it!

 

So after combing the Internet and peer reviewed journal after peer-reviewed journal, I have come to the following conclusion regarding the almighty Iron Man repulsors…

 

Sadly, the most iconic weapon system in Iron Man’s arsenal appears to be nothing more then a complete work of fiction.  Based on our current understanding of the natural world, Iron Man’s repulsors are not currently reproducible.  That is not to say that someone will not some day develop a functioning repulsor, but for the time being we are going to have to make without!

 

This has been the Skeptical Samurai….

 

WAIT!  WHAT!?  NOT SO FAST!  No Repulsors, how can that be!?

 

I know!  I know!  I want the repulsors to be real as well!  Sadly, given our current understanding of the natural world, repulsors are simply a technology that is not realistically feasible.

 

But your right, we cannot just leave it at that!  Well I guess that we could, but that is not why you come to the Skeptical Samurai blog now is it?  You come here for logic, reason and explanations.  So with that in mind let us take a look at why implementing repulsor technology into our Iron Man armor is (at this time) simply not possible.

 

Although at first glance Iron Man’s repulsors appear to be based in reality, a closer examination reveals that there are several factors that make their construction (currently) impossible.

 

1)    There appears to be no moving parts.  Although initially this does not seem like a deal breaker, most modern weaponry is based on the principle of some sort of mechanical devise that follows the formula of a charge that ignites a propellant, which then pushes a bullet/payload/warhead toward a target.  Although there is certainly technology in development that differ from this formula, it is still in its infancy and no where near developed to a point that it could be realistically deployed in an exoskeleton suit of armor

2)    The repulsors seem to require no charging time.  Again, most if not all of modern armaments utilize the formula of a mechanical device that hits a charge that ignites a propellant that pushes a bullet/payload/warhead toward a target.  Weapons systems that utilize this formula require reloading.  Weapons that differ from this formula typically require a significant amount of “charging” time in-between each discharge.  Depending on the weapon system that we are talking about this can be minutes to hours.  For reason that I do not need to explain when we are in the middle of a firefight with a rogue scientist utilizing our own technology against us we simply do not have the time to wait minutes (to hours) in order for our repulsors to charge!

3)    The damage that the repulsor inflict upon their intended target appears to be kinetic in nature.  That is, a force is being impacted upon the target (and a massive force at that).  Allow me to clarify, there are three types of damage that a warhead can do: kinetic, thermal and chemical.  The damage done by the repulsors does not appear to be thermal in nature, so this rules out the possibility that the repulsors are simply some sort of supped up flamethrower.  The damage done also does not appear to be chemical in nature, specifically, there is no evidence of a chemical reaction taking place upon the intended target.  So that leaves kinetic damage and for there to be kinetic damage there would also have to be some sort of kinetic energy working on object deploying the weapon system (in addition to the kinetic energy being experience by the intended target) and this is just simply not what we see depicted in the comics.  In the comic books, Iron Man appears to experience little (or even no) recoil when the repulsors are deployed.  This does not leave us with a plausible explanation regarding how the repulsors are causing damage to their intended target.

4)    And the last and final issue (and it is a big one), the repulsors can be used without the rest of the suit.  This would support the conclusion that the repulsors are being powered by something other then the reactor in Tony’s chest.  Given that our explanation for the reactor in Tony’s chest is based yet to be developed technology that does not really leave us with a plausible explanation regarding how the repulsors are being powered.

 

So given the points presented above, as much as it pains me to say it, the only way in which it will be possible for us to create repulsors for our Iron Man armor is with the use of fictitious/non-existent technology (read as: it is not going to happen).

 

And with that we have concluded the epic four part series of “The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide To Comic Books: Iron Man Edition”.

 

So what have we learned?

 

As surprising as it may be, the vast majority of the technology integrated into the comic book version of the Iron Man armor is based in reality.  Although certain aspects are completely fictitious (the repulsors) and others are beyond our current capabilities (the power source in Tony’s Chest) much of what we see is actually grounded in reality and completely within the realm of possibility.  So for all of you out there who had ever wanted to have/build your own suit of Iron Man armor, keep your chins up as there is still hope for you!

 

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this saga of blog posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them!  Please feel free to drop me a line (check the contact page) and suggest which comic book character you would like me to investigate in the future!  And please stay tuned as there are some exciting things in the works!  Until next time…

 

This has been the skeptical samurai

 

Working to serve…

 

Through the process of inquiry…

 

 

 

 

 

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Top Ten Creationist Arguments

Posted in Critical Thinking, religion, science, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , on October 13, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Sorry about the lack of updates as of late!

Fear not dear readers, the Skeptical Samurai is still here!

I have been preparing my application for medal school which has been taking up a considerable about of my time.  Additionally, I am working on a new segment of the blog which has also required a lot of attention (but trust me, I think that I will be worth the wait).  Add working 60-80 hours a week, and you have one busy Skeptical Samurai!

Anyway, in the meantime I came across the following video that I wanted to share with you.  Perhaps a bit inflammatory at times, but an interesting watch none the less.  Enjoy!

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…

The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide to the Movies: The Crow

Posted in Critical Thinking, science, Skeptical Samurai's Guide to the Movies, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Time for another instalment of…

The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide to the Movies!

This week’s movie: The Crow

This is one of my favourite movies of all time.

I am not going to dissect the entire movie (as this is not the type of movie that really lends itself to Fact vs. Fiction treatment!), but
instead i am going to focus one particular aspect of this film.  Specifically, the tragic death of Brandon Lee.

Brandon Lee was born Feb 1st/1965 and died tragically Mar 31/1993.  Brandon was accidently shot while filming a scene for the film “The Crow”.  As a result of the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death, as one might expect, a variety of different claims began to surface regarding his death.  In honour of Brandon Lee, let’s take a skeptical look at some of the claims surrounding the late actor’s death.

Claim:  “The Crow” was released without the approval of Brandon Lee’s family

Reality: I remember when the trailer for this movie 1st came out.  I was so excited!  Shortly after the trailer was released, i began hearing “rumors” that the lead actor had actually been tragically killed while filming a stunt and the movie was being released ithout the consent of the fallen actor’s family.  You see kids, back in the day, prior to the proliferation of the internet, one did not have immediate access to info.  When a story “broke” sometimes you would not hear about it until days or even weeks later and when you finally did get the info it could be difficult to verify it.  Sadly, the “rumor” that Brandon had tragically died turned out to be true.  However, the second part of the “rumor”,  that the movie was being release without his family’s consent, could not have been further from the truth.  The director and production crew actually contemplated not even releasing the movie.  In addition to fears that releasing the movie would be in “bad taste”, the issue of how to market a movie in which the lead actor was deceased (and had died while making the film) was also major concern.  However, because Brandon had been so proud of the film, the Lee family felt strongly that “The Crow” should be released.  Both Eliza (Brandon’s fiancé) and the rest of Brandon’s family wanted the movie released as a final tribute to Brandon.

Claim: Brandon’s death was no accident.  Instead, it was the result of a “curse”
passed onto him by his late father, Bruce Lee.

Reality: Legend has it that Bruce Lee had some sort of “curse” on him.  Those who propagate this myth are not clear regarding who put the curse on the Lee family, how it affected the Lee family, or how it was passed on from Bruce to his son, Brandon.  All that seems to be said with any certainty is that the curse killed Bruce, the curse was passed onto his son Brandon, and ultimately it killed him as well. Let us look at the notion of a family “curse” a little bit closer shall we.  Those of you who regularly read the blog will most likely know what i have to say about the possibility of a “curse”.  For the uninformed, it is quite simple actually, there is no such thing as a curse.  The possibility of a cruse defies our current understandings of the natural world.  In order for a curse to exist, there would have to be extraordinary amount evidence refuting most (if not all) of what we currently know about the natural world.  But, for the sake of arguement, let us put the above aside and assume that a “curse” is a real possibility, and let us assume that the “Lee family curse” is a reality.  Contrary to popular belief, Bruce Lee was actually born into a rather well off family.

At the age of 18, for circumstances i will explore/expand upon in an upcoming blog post about the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Bruce (real name, Lee Jun-fan) moved to the United States.  Despite moving to America with only $100 in his pocket, as a result of hard work and perseverance Lee managed to get a university education (although he never graduated), run a successful martial arts club, become a fixture in the California martial arts community, and eventually become a television and film star.  With that information in mind, the notion of a curse seems rather silly.  I mean aren’t curses supposed to be bad!  We should all be so fortunate to have such a “curse” in our lives!

Those that propagate the myth of a “Lee family curse” will quickly dismiss the above and information, claiming that both Bruce and Brandon died under mysterious circumstances and this is more than enough to prove the existence of a curse.  Sounds compelling at first, but upon further investigation, the circumstances surrounding the death of both Bruce and Brandon Lee are far from super natural.  In regards to Bruce, our best evidence tells us that Bruce died as a result of an adverse reaction to an over the counter medication, which lead to cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) and ultimately lead to his untimely death.  No super-natural explanation is required to explain Bruce’s death, a little bit of logic and reason tells us that Bruce died tragically as a result of a extremely adverse reaction to an over the counter medication. Unlikely and rare, yes, but impossible, far from it.

Much like his father, Brandon’s death was not the result of some sort of super-natural curse.  Instead it was the result of another set of tragic circumstances.  The reports change slightly depending on which account you read, but essentially what happened is as follows: In an attempt to make a close-up shot of a revolver seem more real, dummy rounds are typically used to filled the cylinder of the gun.  As seen in the following picture:

When looking at the business end of a revolver one can easily see whether or not there are actually rounds in the cylinder.  Using an unloaded gun could easily be spotted by viewer and could arguably ruin an otherwise realistic scene.  That where dummy rounds come in.  Dummy rounds are used to load the revolver for close-ups to give that “real life” look.  These types of rounds contain a bullet, but no actually charge (which is required to actually fire/propel the bullet forward).  Unbeknowst to anyone on the set that day, the bullet from the dummy round broke off and became logged in the barrel of the revolver.  Fast forward to later in the day, the same gun is loaded with blanks, which contained a charge without a bullet.  I think you can see where this is going.  During a scene, involving a stunt where the character Eric Draven (played by Brandon Lee) was shot, the revolver was pointed at Brandon and the trigger was pulled.  Because the gun, had a bullet in the barrel with a blank with a charge in the cylinder, when the trigger was pulled, it ignited the charge which then propelled the broken bullet from the dummy round forward, ultimately killing Brandon.  Similar to his father, the notion of a Lee family curse sounds compelling at first, but upon further investigation both Bruce and Brandon’s deaths were the result of tragic circumstances.

Claim:  The scene in which Brandon Lee was fatally shot was left in the final cut of the movie.

Reality:  False.

Contrary to popular belief, the above clip is NOT the scenein which Brandon was fatally shot.

Instead, Brandon was killed while filming a scene that involved the assault of his character’s fiancé and the “death” of his character.  In the scene, Eric Draven walks into his apartment to find his fiancé being assaulted.  The original script/scene involved one of the thugs (specifically a character called Funboy) shooting Lee’s character in the stomach through the bag of groceries that he was carrying.  Re-watch the movie, the above scene will not be found in the film.  The scene was shot as described above, and footage of Brandon being shot and fatally wounded did exist, but for obvious reasons this footage was not used in the final cut of the movie.  In fact, again for obvious reasons, the director and production crew felt that it was in bad taste to “re-shoot” the same
scene, and instead re-wrote it and re-shot it.  The scene was changed to have a different thug (specifically a character by the name of Tin Tin) kill Eric Draven by fatally wounding him with a knife.

So what happened to the original footage?

This is less clear.  Some sources indicate that the footage was immediately destroyed.  Others indicate that the footage was seized
by local police (who were conducting an investigation to rule out the possibility of foul play) and remains as evidence.  Others maintain that the footage was viewed as evidence, and after ruling out foul play, was destroyed.  In reality the truth most likely somewhere in the middle and without having access to police records/evidence (which for obvious reasons we cannot) this question may go unanswered.

Claim: Michael Massee,

the actor who played “FunBoy”, was never heard from again after the movie was released.

Reality: False.

I remember hearing all sorts of stories regarding what happened to Massee and many rumors still persist to this day.  Some say he went insane.  Others say that he took his own life.  These accounts could not be further from the truth.  Massee was understandably devastated over the death of Brandon Lee.  While he was not actually responsible for Brandon’s death (as previously discussed, Brandon’s death was the result of a set of tragic circumstances and was ruled an accident by law enforcement) it was ultimately him who pulled the trigger on the faulty prop.  He took a year off from acting and essentially, in his own words “did nothing”.
Coming to terms with what happened he got back to acting and remains a regular in television and film to this day.

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…

NO WAY!!!

Posted in Richard Wiseman, science, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Good old Richard Wiseman, always a great source for skeptical videos!

Take a look at the following video…

and then use the inevitable “how did you do that” as a teaching moment.  That or tell your friends/family that you have super powers!

this has been the skeptical samurai

working to serve…

through the process of inquiry…

The Skeptical Samurai Guide to the Movies: G.I. Jane

Posted in movies, science, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Time for another instalment of…

The Skeptical Samurai’s Guide to the Movies!

This week’s movie: G.I. Jane

and the trailer

G.I. Jane is a movie about a fictional character named O’Neil (played by Demi Moore).  O’Neil is selected by a U.S. government official to represent her fellow female military personal in a set of trials to establish that men and women are equals (in the
military sense of the word) and should be able to serve/function side by side in combat roles.  O’Neil soon learns that she has been selected to participate in Navy SEAL training, which arguably involves some of the most intense military combat training in the world.  What she is not aware of is that her U.S. government contact does not expect her to complete the training.  O’Neil is essentially a sacrificial lamb for her government contact.  O’Neil was not intended to finish the training.  O’Neil manages to overcome all odds and not only complete the training but carry out a successful tactical operation and save the life of her command master chief in the process.  All and all, G.I. Jane is a very inspiring movie.

After viewing the film, one is left to wonder…

Could a female in today’s armed forces become a Navy SEAL?

After viewing the movie, one is left with the impression that it is entirely possible for a female to become a Navy SEAL.  One would assume that in today’s modern world that any individual could apply to become a Navy SEAL as long as he or she was able to meet the requirements as set forth by the Navy SEAL program.

A quick review of the Navy Seal website reveals that this is simply not the case.

Taken directly from the requirements section of the Navy SEAL website (under the category “other”): http://www.sealswcc.com/navy-seals-general-requirements.aspx

It is clearly stated that you must be male to apply to the Navy SEALs

This raises the obvious question…

After completing the required training, why can’t a woman become a Navy SEAL?

Taken from the Navy SEALs blog: http://blog.usnavyseals.com/2008/10/women-in-seals-could-real-gi-jane-exist.html

“Sure, the women of today have been a lot tougher than before. There are many women who have excelled in fields that used to be dominated by men. In terms of physical capabilities, many women can endure the toughest obstacle courses ever made.  Women can also be great snipers.  However, SEAL authorities have given out a number of reasons why women can’t be allowed to join the training. First, men and women cannot stay in a single house together.  Another point is that women have special needs on hygiene, especially during their menstrual period, and fighters might have to stay and hide in a foxhole for a week during battles. Basically, a woman’s physiology proves inappropriate for battle conditions.

Many say that women can’t be in the battlefield, but there is surely a role in the SEAL operations that would be ideal for them. If the United States is to stay as the world’s most competent and powerful military force, we should find the best person for every job, regardless of gender. “

So there you have it.

Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, regardless of whether or not it seems just, G.I. Jane (or someone like her) simply cannot (currently) exist.

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…

James Randi Overdoses!

Posted in Critical Thinking, Debate, Homeopathy, Medicine, pseudo-science, science, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Well…

not really!

Randi has been doing this demonstration for quite some time.  He obtains a homeopathic sleep “remedy” and consumes an entire bottle of the stuff.  According to the label, and our current understanding of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics this should be enough to kill and individual. 

But somehow Randi remains unharmed.

Which raises the question…

How has Randi managed to go unharmed after performing this demonstration time and time again year after year?

The answer is quite simply really…

Because there are NO active pharmacological ingredients in a homeopathic preparation.  Homeopathic remedies are simply just water.  Sure there may be a molecule or 2 of the original substance in the preparation, but nowhere near enough active pharmaceutical ingredient(s) to have any sort of measurable physiological effect.  And do not even get me started on the whole “like curing like” non-sense.

Please watch the video attached below…

And behold the one and only James Randi further explain things to you as only he can!    

  

Please forward this to all your friends.

And more importantly please forward this to anyone who uses and prepares homeopathic remedies.  Hey worst that can happen is that you win a million dollars…

Or have your entire belief system disproven…

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…

The Fall of the Last Emperor

Posted in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Critical Thinking, martial arts, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Anyone familiar with MMA should be familiar with the name Fedor Emelianenko. 

For the uninformed Emelianenko is a mixed martial arts fighter who for a period of time was essentially an unstoppable force in MMA the likes of which have not previously been seen.  Coming from virtual obscurity, Fedor quickly rose to the top the mixed martial arts world, dispatching all challengers in his way, earning the name “The Last Emperor”.  Put simply, Emelianenko was thought to be unstoppable. 

But sadly, all good things must come to an end. 

Fedor has lost his last 2 fights.  His 1st lost came via triangle choke by Fabricio Werdum, in the 1st round of their fight.  Although a devastating loss to Fedor, his camp, and his fans, it could be argued that Fedor had simply got sloppy/lazy in this grappling technique and “got caught” by a skilled practitioner.   

Many, including those within Fedor’s camp, felt that they was no need for alarm.  Fedor made a simple mistake against a skilled practitioner and “got caught”.  Surely this would not, in fact it could not happened again. 

Fast forward a few months later and Fedor suffers his second loss (in a row no less!) at the hands of Antonio “Big Foot” Silva.  Fedor not only lost, he got beaten down.  Granted there were moments when we saw glimpses of his former dominance, but reviewing the fight in its entirety, Fedor looked like a shell of his former self.    

After the fight, there were many different explanations for Fedor’s loss.  Some felt that Fedor was simply in a slump.  Others theorized that Fedor was simply no longer able to hang with top competitors and was approaching the end of his career.  The most interesting explanation came from Fedor’s camp, specifically from his head coach, Vladimir Voronov.  Voronov, had a perfectly logical explanation for why Fedor had lost the fight.      

Psychics…

Yeah, you read that correctly…

Psychics.

Pulled from Russian Sports Website, Lifesports.ru:

“We believe that forbidden psychological technology was used… It seems to us that not everything was right, and that certain technologies were used. Not ones that could be seen by the naked eye but psychological technologies that worked on both fighters at a distance.”


“That is why during the fight Fedor was just not like himself. It seemed very strange behaviour from Fedor. He stepped into the ring and did everything exactly the opposite of what we practiced before the fight. We were all shocked! Fedor had never previously done such a thing.

“Now nearly a week passes, everything settles, and we understand why all this happened.”

Whether or not you are a fan of mixed martial arts, I am sure that we can all agree that the assertion that Fedor lost as a result of physic attacks/manipulations is just…

Well…

it is just sad…

Instead of searching for a logical answer for Fedor’s most recent loss, his team has instead decided to pursue para-normal explanations.  Instead of looking at logical reason for his loss (such his striking game, his grappling/ground game, his diet, or even his mental preparation for an upcoming fight), they have focused their attention of para-normal/supernatural explanations.  It should be noted, that as a result of this type of reasoning, one could argue that Fedor is no longer held accountable for this loss.  I mean, how can Fedor be held responsible for his loss, when he was up against an evil, mysterious, unseen, and unknown individual with psychic powers!  I mean come on!  The man is only human.  I would argue that the path taken by Fedor and his team will have 1 of 2 possible outcomes. 

1)      Fedor and his camp will concede that his loss was not Fedor’s fault, but instead the fault of psychic manipulation by the hand of some evil unknown enemy.

2)      Fedor and his camp will invest time, effort and resources to find/develop a means of combating and overcoming these mysterious psychic attacks that plaqued him in his last fight.

It should be noted that the end result of either outcome will be the same.  Fedor will be doomed to repeat his past mistakes. 

So…

What can we learn from all of this?

People often ask me, “what is the harm in belief in the para-normal/supernatural?”  The harm is that instead of identifying real world/logical/rational answers to a problem, and individual is instead reduced to chasing their proverbial tail, looking for an answer that does not exist or will have no impact on the situation before them.  One of life’s greatest frustrations is how little control we have over so much.  Why would you want to increase that lack of control you already have (or is that don’t have) by trying to have an impact on something that is, at best, outside your scope of influence or, at worst, does not even exist?  One the things I despise most about para-normal/supernatural explanations is that they take the accountability away from the individual in question.  In the above case: Fedor’s team is trying to make the case that Fedor was the victim of a psychic attack, consequently they are implying that Fedor cannot be held accountable for his loss. 

So dear reader…

Again, I ask you, what can we learn from all of this? 

Don’t take the easy way out.  When faced with defeat, do not look for para-normal/supernatural explanations.  Instead, take the proverbial “hard look at yourself in the mirror” and find a logical/rational/reality based answer for your defeat.  Take that answer and learn from it.  Take that answer and become a better person than you where the day before.

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…