SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Here is a great example of how pseudo-science is born... 

After reading my article on sleeping positions, a person sent me - what he called - a 'scientific explanation' on it. This is what he said: this is how one of our gurujis explained about sleeping positions. It is based on 'science'.

''You should not put your head to the North and sleep. Why? If you know something about Geography and  the development of the planet… the North pole is pulling all the land upward. The Indian subcontinent is moving at approximately 4 cms per year. That’s the reason why the Himalayan range is still growing; is because the Indian subcontinent is still piling up. You must calculate how many years it will take for the Indian subcontinent to disappear into the Himalayas. It’s happening. We’re losing the country. 4 cms per year, we’re losing the nation, it’s moving upward. Because of the pull of the Northern Hemisphere, it is going and because the geological content of the rock is such the rock up there in the central Asia is so much harder than what is here, it is going and just piling up. Himalayas becoming taller and taller, India becoming smaller and smaller. You know why you must control your population.

So such a strong pull is there from the North Pole that the very land mass is moving upward, and you know the magnetic pull, magnetic field, magnetic pull of the planet, North Pole and South Pole, you know all those things. Which substance does a magnet pull very easily? Iron. Suppose you’re anemic and you go to a doctor, what does your doctor prescribe for you? Iron. So an important ingredient in your blood is iron. If you put your head to the North and sleep, during the night, when you’re in horizontal position, then slowly the blood will get pulled towards your brain. When there is too much circulation in the brain, you cannot sleep peacefully. It will keep you disturbed. Demons will bother you. It won’t let you sleep. If you have any kind of, you know, inherently weak aspects in your brain, or if you’re of old age, you could die in your sleep. One could have hemorrhage, because extra blood is trying to enter your brain, where the blood vessels are hair-like. Something extra is being pushed because of the magnetic pull.

When you’re in a vertical position, this is not so. The moment you become horizontal, this pull on your head is so strong, slowly the blood tries to move towards the brain. So to avoid this… this is only true in the Northern Hemisphere. If you go to Australia, you should not put your head towards the South. If you’re in India, you should not put your head to the North. You can put it any other way. It’s okay. If you’re not aware of this, in the Northern hemisphere, everything turns clockwise. If you open you tap, the water will be clockwise. Have you noticed this? If you go to Australia and open your tap, your water will be anticlockwise. You are not aware of this? If you go to the equator line, where the equator is, in any part of the world, usually they will be demonstrating this. Anybody been to such places? No? If you go in Africa, where the equator line passes just here, where the equator is marked, five feet this side, if you open your tap, or even if you pee, it will go clockwise. Five feet away that side you go and open the tap, it will go anticlockwise, just Southern hemisphere and Northern hemisphere.

So this is a fact that, uh, it will take a very long time, I don’t think we will see that, sometime in the future, we don’t know how many million years, there is certain process happening in the earth, that the poles will shift, but it may happen so gradually there will be no upheaval, or there may be an upheaval, nobody knows exactly how it may happen, but there could be upheaval, because this change from North pole to, Northern hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere is so dramatic, just within a few feet, so when it shifts, many things in the planet will change, many things. The very way your system will function will change. 

…so such a huge magnetic pull, where even the continents are moving up, that kind of magnetic pull is in constant enforcement, across the entire globe…

…if iron is floating around in your blood, and I put a very powerful magnet to the top of your head, it is possible that your blood may slowly start moving in that direction, isn’t it? Let’s say its a very very powerful magnet, it may slowly start pulling up, because there’s elements of iron in your blood…

…your body is designed like this, such that your heart, which is the pumping station, is three-fourths of the way up, not halfway down, because it is hard to pump against gravity, easier to pump towards gravity, so it’s placed here…

…generally all the pipes that are going down are larger ones, the ones that are going up are finer ones, as it goes up here (indicates toward top of his head) they are almost hair-like, so minute that, the circulatory system in your brain is such that, if one extra drop enters there, hemorrhages will happen. People have strokes…"

 Now what do you think?

Krishna: I took the help of a physician, Dr. Asher Nitin, to write this reply to this person. Therefore, most of what I wrote here is explained by Dr. Nitin. The credit goes to him. I took his permission to present his well researched evidence on this topic.

Science is not a matter of public, celebrity or political opinion. It is about evidence based facts. But how you 'produce' that evidence and how you 'interpret' things make it either science or pseudo-science.  

Now  who decides what real science is? Well-trained scientists! When only  the evidence is in line with good scientific methodology  it is accepted as real science.  Not the general public or politicians or celebrities or journalists or religious figures or  pseud0-scientists who doesn't know what science really is.

Dr. Nitin now attempts to tell you what real science is and what it says. Don't get intimidated by his detailed analysis. He made it very easy to understand. Over to you doctor...

Dr. Nitin: After reading the explantion of this guru, I can only say... 

  1. All his facts are wrong (with the exception of two). All his concepts are wrong. Some of his facts/concepts are so dangerously wrong that if I said it or even agreed with him it would constitute medical malpractice.
  2. All his premises are wrong.
  3. All his conclusions are wrong.
  4. This person is completely clueless about what he is talking about
  5. If you are not trained in science and therefore  don't understand scientific concepts properly but try to interpret them in the way your conditioned mind  understands and explain things based on this faulty understanding, pseudo-science is born.

Let me explain by analyzing his words ...

So generally, in India, they told you, you should not put your head to the North and sleep. If you put your head to the North, demons will come and catch you in your sleep. Why this is is, if you know something about Geography and all this, the development of the planet… the North pole is pulling all the land upward.

…so such a huge magnetic pull, where even the continents are moving up, that kind of magnetic pull is in constant enforcement, across the entire globe

Because of the pull of the Northern Hemisphere, it is going and because the geological content of the rock is such the rock up there in the central Asia is so much harder than what is here, it is going and just piling up. Himalayas becoming taller and taller, India becoming smaller and smaller. You know why you must control your population.

So such a strong pull is there from the north pole that the very land mass is moving upward, and you know the magnetic pull, magnetic field, magnetic pull of the planet, north pole and south pole, you know all those things.

All wrong. He’s referring to continental drift, what we now call plate tectonics, and he’s wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong, the North pole isn’t pulling all the land upward. Wrong, the continents are not all moving upward. Wrong, the geological content of the rock in central Asia is not harder than the Indian subcontinent’s.

The North pole isn’t pulling all the land upward. There are three driving forces behind plate tectonics, and none of them are even remotely magnetic. Look, these are the four basic layers of the Earth. You know this from fourth grade science.

The inner core is hot and solid. The outer core is hot and liquid. Its liquid state enables the existence of convection currents of magma. As the magma flows toward the crust it cools down. The outermost part, the crust, consists of magma that has cooled and become solid (frozen).

About 70% of the crust is relatively thin. The remaining 30% is relatively thick, at least thick enough to rise above the thin crust. There’s a lot of water as well, and it flows along gravity to occupy the low places, that is, the thin crust. So the areas of the thin crust that are covered with water form the ocean floor. The thick crust forms what we call land.

Below the crust is the mantle. The crust and the upper part of the mantle form the lithosphere.

The lithosphere is broken into several plates. These are the continental plates. The inner mantle is still liquid, so these plates float on a deep bed of hot magma. This bed is called the asthenosphere. So the lithosphere floats on the asthenosphere.

Look, these are the plates.

There appear to be three forces that drive plate movement.

  1. Mantle convection (the convection currents in the asthenosphere): A large current flow below can push upward, thus pushing two plates apart. This would appear as a rift in the ocean floor, through which boiling lava would emerge. The lava would cool on exposure to the water, and automatically add to the edges of the plates that are getting pushed away.
  2. Gravity: As the plates get pushed away, they will collide with adjoining plates, and the smaller plate will get pushed under the larger plate (it will get subducted under the larger plate), and will now hang downward. Gravity will pull this hanging edge down, thus causing the entire plate to slide in that direction. (The edge of the other plate is pushed upward, forming a mountain ridge.) If I remember correctly, this force is now determined to be more influential than mantle convection. They determined this from observing the Pacific plate, I think.
  3. Earth’s rotation: The rotational pole (not the magnetic pole; remember that Earth’s magnetic poles and rotational poles are not parallel) shifts, the moon exerts its own tidal pull, and little wobbles that shift mass slightly. All these influence tectonic shift too.

People often think that mountains form by two plates growing upward together. That might form hills, but that won’t form mountains. Mountains form when one plate grows sharply upward against another plate that is forced sharply downward. When the tension builds in the lower plate and it suddenly settles, that’s when an earthquake happens. Two plates growing upward together wouldn’t cause an earthquake, stupid, because there wouldn’t be any sudden movements.

So you see that Earth’s magnetic field does not play a role, major or minor. There is something called magnetic striping, but that is simply the observation of ocean-bed-level fluctuations in the magnetic field caused by up-welling magma, thus indicating that a rift is soon to form; so that isn’t a force but merely a useful (for us) side effect.

India is moving North (North-East to be precise) but all the continents are not moving up. Here is an actual map of tectonic activity from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs. Look at the directions in which the plates are moving.

By NASA - http://sideshow.jpl.nasa.gov/mbh..., Public Domain, File:Global plate motion 2008-04-17.jpg.

I’ve drawn over that image here, trying to summarize the net shift for you. Look.

The funny thing, when you think about this guru’s statements is that not a single vector points true north. He isn’t even partially correct or contextually correct. Not a slightest chance. Where on Earth did he get his ideas from? 

Moving on.

Which substance does a magnet pull very easily? Iron. Suppose you’re anemic and you go to a doctor, what does your doctor prescribe for you? Iron. So an important ingredient in your blood is iron.

If you put your head to the North and sleep, during the night, when you’re in horizontal position, then slowly the blood will get pulled towards your brain.

Once again, he’s managed to get every single thing wrong. First off, there are different types of responses to a magnetic field.

  • Ferromagnetic substances are strongly attracted to a magnetic field
  • Paramagnetic substances are weakly attracted to a magnetic field
  • Diamagnetic substances are weakly repelled by a magnetic field.

Then there are different types of iron. There’s ferrous iron (Fe2+) and there’s ferric iron (Fe3+). Why is this important? Because the type of iron, its quantity and its arrangement matters a lot. Iron in the blood is in the ferrous form, not the ferric form (it is in the ferric form in a very unpleasant disease called methemoglobinemia).

So to begin with, it’s the version with lesser positive charge, not more (that is, less metallic, not more).

Then, to make matters worse, one Fe2+ atom is bound at the center of a molecule called heme. Looksie-here.

Now each heme molecule is bound to the center of a protein (which is a macro-molecule, chemically speaking) called globin. Four such globins are bound together, and the four hemes with their four globins form one molecule of hemoglobin.

This is hemoglobin. The heme is in bright green, and the iron is in bright yellow. See those four tiny yellow dots? Iron.

But even if we allowed that all the continents are moving upward (they aren’t), even if we allowed that this is due to magnetic pull (it isn’t), it doesn’t follow that our blood will get pulled by any magnet because hemoglobin is not ferromagnetic. Deoxyhemoglobin (Hb without oxygen) is paramagnetic. Oxyhemoglobin (Hb with oxygen) is diamagnetic. Here’s a science blog explaining this same thing: Is Blood Magnetic?

…if iron is floating around in your blood, and I put a very powerful magnet to the top of your head, it is possible that your blood may slowly start moving in that direction, isn’t it? Let’s say its a very very powerful magnet, it may slowly start pulling up, because there’s elements of iron in your blood…

Nope. Not possible. We know for sure. How could we? Because we tried that. A lot. In every combination possible. Here’s a thorough yet concise summary of the story of the medical community’s love affair with magnets: Does Magnetic Therapy Work?

But even without reading that, you could still intuitively guess that the iron in our blood cannot be attracted by a magnetic field. You know how? You see this machine? Every large hospital or diagnostic centre has one of these.

That’s an MRI machine. It uses very powerful magnets to scan the body. So powerful, in fact, that metal objects are not allowed into the MRI room. The patient is required to remove his belt buckle, pen, clips and jewelry. Likewise for anyone accompanying him once the machine turns on. And if he has a metal object inside him, like a bullet, or a prosthetic, he can’t be scanned in an MRI machine, because the magnets would tear the metal out.

Now if the iron in our blood could respond to a magnetic field, we would explode into a big wet red blotch in an MRI machine! But we don’t.

Another point: the unit used to measure the strength of a magnet is Gauss. Now check out the relative strengths of these various magnets, Earth included.

  • The magnets in an MRI machine are about 5000 to 30,000 Gauss.
  • Most refrigerator magnets are about 300–800 Gauss or so.
  • The Earth’s magnetic field at our surface is 0.25 to 0.65 Gauss.

Our blood gets attracted to the magnetic north my foot.

…your body is designed like this, such that your heart, which is the pumping station, is three-fourths of the way up, not halfway down, because it is hard to pump against gravity, easier to pump towards gravity, so it’s placed here…

No. It isn’t. The human heart is not placed three-fourths of the way up. It appears that way when you look at the body superficially, that is to say, volume-wise. But the heart’s primary function is perfusion, and perfusion is driven by target tissue mass, not target tissue volume. So when you adjust for relative density of the various body parts (the head is very dense, the buttocks and thighs are less dense) and look at the human body mass-wise, the heart is actually placed roughly halfway-down the human body. Try these beautiful full body MRIs that were adjusted for different densities.

Note how the lungs weight very little (they’re like sponges) and the intestines are mostly hollow and collapsed, and the buttocks are mostly fat.

Yes, it is true that it is harder to pump against gravity than to pump along gravity (He got that right! Someone give him a PhD, please.) but anyone who ever took a basic biology class would know this much:

  • the heart pumps oxygenated and nutritious blood to the entire body
  • the various body parts use the oxygen and nutrients
  • the blood then returns to the heart

How do you suppose the blood returns to the heart? Do you think each organ again pumps the blood upward? When the heart pumps, it has to pump hard enough to send the blood down along gravity to the toes and then back up against gravity all the way up to the chest. It is true that the muscles of the calves help, but they are a minority player, and they don’t play all the time (especially when you spend a lot of time in the act of sitting cross-legged and narcissistically staring at your crotch, also called “meditating”).

So gravity has nothing to do with the positioning of the heart. It is positioned where it is so it can be close to another delicate organ- the lungs and a bunch of delicate tubes called the trachea, esophagus, aorta, thoracic duct and vena cava, so that all these delicate organs can be protected together in one bouncy but strong cage called the rib cage.

Here’s my emphasis on the three major protective zones below the neck.

Get it? That is why the heart is where it is.

…generally all the pipes that are going down are larger ones, the ones that are going up are finer ones, as it goes up here (indicates toward top of his head) they are almost hair-like, so minute that, the circulatory system in your brain is such that, if one extra drop enters there, hemorrhages will happen. People have strokes…

Wrong again. The biggest, uh, what did he call it… “pipe”… in the human body is the aorta, and the aorta first goes up, supplies the head, neck, shoulders and arms, and then turns and goes down.

The blood vessels toward the top are progressively finer and finer to the point they are like a hair? Wrong again. I mean, that is a partial truth taken out of context and turned into a lie. It is true that the brain has a very fine vascular perfusion system. Correct. Here’s an MRI of the arterial supply of the brain, viewed roughly.

And if we re-adjusted that to make all the arteries in the brain visible, this is what it would look like.

But what he isn’t telling you, what he never received enlightenment about, is this: you have just as fine, and even finer vascular networks in the kidneys and lungs.

This is the renal (kidney) arterial supply. See how fine the arteries are? They look like a red mist, like a cloud.

Let me get you in close on the action. Here’s a contrast scan of the kidneys, in which we inject a dye that makes the blood vessels highly visible. The first image is one entire kidney. The second zooms in on the first. The third zooms in on the second. (You should really click on this image to expand it. Totally worth your time. You can always masturbate tomorrow.)

You see? Those capillaries are even finer than a hair.

Now for the pulmonary (lung) arterial supply. This is a regular chest x-ray. Those empty spaces next to the heart are the lungs. They appear dark because their density is so low the x-rays pass straight through them. Now the heart gives off the pulmonary arteries in a y-shape (as I have indicated).

Now if you inject a contrast dye into the pulmonary arteries like you did with the kidneys, the dark, dank boring lung space lights up. OMG!

Look at that now! The image on the left is not at full perfusion (not all the blood vessels are flooded yet). The image on the right is. Look at those fine ever-dividing vessels. Once again, thinner than a hair.

In fact, do these perfusion pattern remind you of something? A tree in winter, perhaps? Or a river and its tributaries?

You know why?

They’re all Lindenmayer fractals.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but the brain is not the organ with the maximum number of fragile blood vessels. The lung is. This isn’t obvious with radiology. You need histology to see that. You take a sliver of tissue from each organ, stain it with eosin and hematoxylin, and mount it under a compound microscope lens. Here, take a look. The images have minute details, so you might want to click on them to magnify them.

This is what the blood vessels in the brain look like-

This is what the blood vessels in the lung are like-

Do you see how fine they are? This is not to say that capillaries do not exist in the brain. They do in every organ. It is just that the lungs have a much higher density of capillaries.

When you’re in a vertical position, this is not so. The moment you become horizontal, this pull on your head is so strong, slowly the blood tries to move towards the brain. So to avoid this… this is only true in the Northern Hemisphere. If you go to Australia, you should not put your head towards the South. If you’re in India, you should not put your head to the North. You can put it any other way. It’s okay.

But he’s still wrong, because even if the continents are all moving north (they aren't), even if this was because of magnetic pull (it isn't), even if the iron in our blood could be attracted by the Earth's magnetic field (it isn't), even if all this is the reason we have to sleep facing South, he's still wrong because he just contradicted himself within his own conceptual universe.

He spoke of Earth's magnetic field, and then spoke of Earth's North and South pole, then stated with zero ambiguity that this same magnetic field is responsible for moving the continents upward and could also move one's blood upward. He puts this all together and wisely concludes that if we slept oriented North, Earth's magnetic field would attract our blood upward and congest the vessels in the brain, causing mayhem. And so he recommends we should not sleep oriented North. Within his conceptual universe, all this makes sense. And then he contradicts himself by saying we should reverse this paradigm in the opposite hemisphere because, um, water flows clockwise in one hemisphere and anticlockwise in the other? But wait! What about the magnetic field of the Earth? That is the same orientation regardless of hemisphere! In the Southern hemisphere and Northern hemisphere, ferromagnetic iron points North! Magnets in Australia and magnets in Russia both point the same way. So why would we have to point our heads the opposite direction when we switch hemispheres?

This is different from the scientists at CERN, who upload their Large Hadron Collider results in a silly Comic Sans MS font the moment they have verified their findings, who spend years honing the science of determining the percentage of truth in another persons' words, and decades learning to eliminate bias in analysis (also called, in some pretentious circles, the ‘awakening of one's mind’).

So this is a fact that, uh, it will take a very long time, I don’t think we will see that, sometime in the future, we don’t know how many million years, there is certain process happening in the earth, that the poles will shift, but it may happen so gradually there will be no upheaval, or there may be an upheaval, nobody knows exactly how it may happen, but there could be upheaval, because this change from North pole to, Northern hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere is so dramatic, just within a few feet, so when it shifts, many things in the planet will change, many things. The very way your system will function will change.

Pole Reversal Happens All The (Geologic) Time.

To summarize the information in that link; pole reversal will change nothing, there will be no adverse effect on the human body, we know, because the last two times it happened, there was life on Earth, and nothing changed then. So the next time it happens, it most certainly will not affect our cerebral perfusion or circulation.

So if that changes, if the poles change, we will have to change the way we use it also. But I don’t think people will have the sense to change it. They’ll continue the same way, hehe. Because it is written in the scriptures you must go clockwise, just because the pole shifts, you think they will go anticlockwise? They won’t.

If you don't know what science is just keep quiet. Don't try to mislead people with pseudo-science.  We in the scientific community are very annoyed. Watch what other scientists like Neil Tyson say about ignorant arguments...


Krishna: Thanks Dr. Nitin. You did a wonderful job.
So folks now you know what the truth is. How pseudo-science is born when you don't even acknowledge that you don't know much science or how scientific reasoning is done.

This guruji is from the art field - literature or something. It is okay if he learned about some science. So he came to know that our blood consists iron. He also learned that our planet Earth has a magnetic field. And what did he learn in school and his play ground? That magnets attract  iron. Very nice. That is really good.

He was born into a culture that says sleeping with your head placed North is bad.   He wanted to defend his culture. What better way to do that than take the help of science everybody trusts? So he went the way of science. That is good too!

But he doesn't know that Earth's magnetic field is too  weak to effect anything in a human body. He doesn't know that iron exists in different states and that only some are effected by magnetism and others don't and the iron in our blood belongs to the second category. 

But he went ahead anyway and tried to make silly connections where none existed. And created pseudo-science with his false perceptions. And people listened, thought it was all science and the guruji 's right and brilliant. 

Until we entered the scene and showed how wrong he was. So trust real science, not its impostors.

And our purpose is not to down-size anybody or anything. We are only trying to educate people and help them in identifying real science. Our aim is defending science. And our endavour continues ...

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This is one of the most comprehensive proof against pseudo-science. People nowadays take ancient superstitious belief and try to give a scientific twist with half knowledge. We need more such initiative against this assault on rationalism and scientific temper. This initiative must go mainstream into the social media and TV and newspaper.

I tried to  comment on the news paper articles that promoted pseudo-science here. My comments were deleted.  My letters to the editors of news papers went into dust bins. Why?

Because news papers and the main media people deliberately promote pseudo-science! Because they attract people more. They are not interested in real science. They are not interested in correcting themselves and tell  their readers their articles were misleading them.

That's why I myself founded Sci-Art Lab. To tell the truth to the world. It may not reach many people but I am doing everything possible.

Please promote this network if possible and bring more people here.

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