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Special Articles — Reductio ad Absurdum

Reductio ad Absurdum

Exploring what happens when you take paranormal and supernatural claims into the real world.

Suspend your disbelief for a moment and turn skepticism inside-out. Instead of first looking for evidence, let's give pseudoscientists the benefit of the doubt. How would the world be different if these claims were true? How would the food industry deal with people who can live on air alone? How would a hospital stay be different for someone who was really was magnetic? With Reductio ad absurdum I want to present the real world implications of out-of-this-world claims. With some science, and some fun, I hope that you will see that when the absurd really does bump up against reality, skepticism is well-warranted.

Identified Flying Objects

Identified Flying Objects

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
October 30, 2013

If aliens really did visit Earth, we would quickly confirm their presence with the most distributed evidence in the history of human sharing. “Viral” wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

Diamonds: A Doctor’s Best Friend

Diamonds: A Doctor’s Best Friend

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
October 17, 2013

When crystals really do generate happiness, health, and well-being, diamonds are everyone’s best friend.

The Feng Shui Way: A Catastrophe For City Planning

The Feng Shui Way: A Catastrophe For City Planning

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
September 25, 2013

Dick Van Dyke’s home had terrible feng shui. Improper positioning had him stumbling, fumbling, and tumbling all over the house. The futon in the living room had a particularly negative qi about it. To think of all the slapstick sitcoms we would be deprived of if feng shui were true…

Billions and Billions of Planets and Stars, Twelve Personalities

Billions and Billions of Planets and Stars, Twelve Personalities

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
September 12, 2013

You are not special, the stars and planets decided that at your birth. In fact, all your complexities and quirks, your desires and passions, everything you have done or will do fits neatly into what looks like a twelve-slice pie chart laden with calligraphy.

A Million Poisoning Planes

A Million Poisoning Planes

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
August 14, 2013

Millions of planes criss-cross the skies, dumbing down the populace with secret and powerful chemical agents. Every time you board a plane, you can’t look out a window without seeing one of these jet-powered poisoners. There is always danger overhead when chemtrails really do cover the sky.

Moonacy

Moonacy

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
July 31, 2013

Our moon has about as much gravitational effect on the body of any one person as a mosquito sitting on someone’s arm. If the amount of gravity the moon commands really did affect rates of crime, suicide, homicide, depression, and accidents, any swarm of the pests would be a flying disaster waiting to happen.

When All of Us Are Nostradamus

When All of Us Are Nostradamus

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
July 11, 2013

Peeking at the hand fate dealt you is commonplace in a world where psychics actually exist. For them, the future is as clear as the past, though abilities would range from Spidey sense to Oracle at Delphi.

Blame the Victim, But Get a Bentley

Blame the Victim, But Get a Bentley

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
June 27, 2013

If brain waves could really make it out of the head and into some cosmic crucible of creation, neurology would be radically transformed (not to mention that it would become the most groundbreaking science in history).

The Life of Death

The Life of Death

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
June 12, 2013

More humans have died than you will ever meet, see, or learn about. Since our split from the apes, Earth has been littered with the detritus of human demise—nearly 110 billion bodies. If spirits did live on after death, most of the people you meet will have already met their end. Every single house on Earth would be haunted by default.

The Miracle of Molecular Medicine

The Miracle of Molecular Medicine

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
May 30, 2013

The germ theory of disease allowed modern science to dissipate the harmful miasma that pre-modern medicine sought to remedy. But the organisms that can make us sick are nowhere near as dangerous as a world where every particle might be poison. It’s a world where homeopathy works.

Magnet People: How Do They Work?

Magnet People: How Do They Work?

by Kyle Hill
Reductio ad Absurdum
May 13, 2013

The first in a hopefully fun and informative series of columns, I want to kick-off Reductio ad Absurdum with a look at so-called “magnetic people.” As will be the case for all the columns, never mind that there is no evidence for these gaussy guys and gals, what would the world be like if people really did generate a noticeable or even intense magnetic field?