August 29, 2006

My Brain Is Fried, Look Out For Vampires

Ugh - my brain is fried. I have a bunch of work to do and I’m having trouble concentrating.

I’m staring at my program’s code and the characters are all moving around on the screen.

And I have an urge to eat a bunch of doughnuts.

Calgon, take me away!

So, I’ll pick on some scientists.

Physics proves horror movies get it wrong

In this waste-of-time article, physics poke holes in stuff that pretty much nobody believes in anyway. And they do it badly.

They debunk ghosts:]

But Newton’s laws of physics suggest that if a ghost can walk it shouldn’t be able to pass through walls […] […] in order to walk, we apply a backward force on the floor with our feet, propelling the feet up and us forwards. But if a ghost can walk through walls, it must be “material-less”, the authors argue, and incapable of exerting force.

Bad debunking. Ghosts don’t need to actually walk to move any more than clouds need to walk to move. There are other ways of moving than friction between your feet and the floor. Not that I believe in ghosts, but if I did, I would just say “they’re not actually walking, it just looks like they’re walking.”

In any case, you can’t remove logically what was placed in someone’s mind by non-logical means. Horror movie fans don’t need or want physics explanations. That’s why it’s called fiction. That’s why Jonathan Edwards was on the SciFi channel… science FICTION.


They argue it would take just two and a half years for vampires to wipe out the entire human race from the day the first one appeared […]

If vampires feed once a month, the great grandaddy of all vampires would have killed one human and produced one vampire in the first month. So in total there would be two vampires and one less human, or a tally of vampires 2, humans -1. […]

After n months there would be 2 × 2 x 2 … x 2 = 2n, or a geometric progression with ratio 2.

“The vampire population increases geometrically and the human population decreases geometrically,” they say.

Using the principle of reductio ad absurdum, they conclude that vampires can’t exist as their existence contradicts the existence of humans.

By this logic, there are no diseases, since diseases spread in a similar contact model.

Movies don’t explain the limiting factors for vampires, but for the purposes of fiction and suspension of disbelief, if diseases somehow manage to succumb to limits it’s a very small concession to imagine that vampires do as well.

Dear Physicists:

I appreciate your desire to apply your knowledge and expertise to debunking. You’re in Florida. Consider contacting the James Randi Foundation to find out how you can go out and debug actual charlatans and crackpots, rather than movie monsters. I think you could make some headway there, and skeptics can always use the help.

Now, I need some fruit.

Posted by James at August 29, 2006 5:12 PM
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I am just howling at your letter to the physicists. Absolutely perfect comeback to a really dumb idea.

Posted by: Cindy at August 29, 2006 10:56 PM

I got my fruit. OPeaches and bananas. And I got some work done.

And I also got some white chocolate and dark chocolate M&Ms. But please don't tell.

Posted by: James at August 29, 2006 11:06 PM

I know what'll fix you up: a fluffanutter with Nutella on good bread, like Matthew's white.

Protein and sugar--what's not to like?


Posted by: Patti M. at August 30, 2006 9:06 AM

Hah. Well, if they can debunk the kind of stuff that really worries me, like hit-and-run drivers, I'd be much happier.

Posted by: Julie at August 30, 2006 10:29 AM

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