Ocean of Pseudoscience Linkfest, Round 5

Below are the blogs that have joined in on our week long adventure into an Ocean of Pseudoscience, today. Don’t worry, at the end of the week we’ll have an aggregate post linking to everyone who’s participated.

There have been tons of great posts from within the Southern Fried Science Network:

And our colleagues at other sites have joined in on the fun ,too:

~Southern Fried Scientist

Ocean of Pseudoscience Shorty – Chemosynthetic ecosystems and independence from the sun

One of the many frequent claims that crop up in both popular and scientific reports about deep-sea hydrothermal vents is that chemosynthetic ecosystems are independent of photosynthetic ecosystems. Even high quality scientific reporting have been guilty of making this claim: “These animals live completely independent of sunlight” (NOAA Ocean Explorer).

But are chemosynthetic systems totally independent of the sun?

Recall the basic equation for chemosynthesis:

CO2 + O2 + 4H2S -> CH20 + 4S + 3H2O

Now, this is a basic chemosynthesis reaction using hydrogen sulfide as the electron donor, this is not the only possible chemical pathway for chemosynthesis. Notice that one of the required molecules is O2. Where did that oxygen come from? Photosynthesis!

So while chemosynthetic ecosystems are not directly dependent on the sun for energy, a critical part of the chemosynthetic pathways requires a byproduct of photosynthesis, therefore, it is inaccurate to state that “These animals live completely independent of sunlight”

~Southern Fried Scientist

Ocean of Pseudoscience Shorty – The Montauk Monster

The headlines read: “Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk”

So what exactly was this crazy dead thing? Some call it a marketing scheme and no one can deny that it brought attention to the town of Montauk.

Others say it might have been a prank by a local filmmaker to bring attention to his movie. There’s a pretty good understanding of how the story unfolded but no conclusion on how the story started and whether it’s a normal hoax or a hoax of a hoax.

In the end, the actual carcass appears to be a dead, waterlogged raccoon.

~Bluegrass Blue Crab

The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

Science can often be complicated, which makes a simple explanation extremely appealing. Sometimes, these simple explanations are correct. Sometimes they are spectacularly wrong.

One of the most complicated areas of science is evolutionary biology. Describing the origin of current species  is a lot like putting together an enormous puzzle when most of the pieces are missing. A simple explanation for an evolutionary problem would be very, very appealing. Some people believe they have found one for human evolution, and they call it the “Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”.

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Our favorite sea monsters – Scylla and Charybdis (#2)

Scylla and Charybdis team up to make passing through the Straight of Messina impossible – to be a safe distance from one meant being too close to the other. They were one of Odysseus’ many challenges during his epic journey. Scylla is a six-headed monster storied to have become that way after poisoning by the jealous wife of Poseidon who captured sailors off their boats and ate them. Charybdis is best described as a whirlpool bringing ships to the bottom of the sea. She was the daughter of Poseidon and converted by Zeus.

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Ocean of Pseudoscience Shorty – The Bermuda Triangle

There is a place in the Atlantic where ships vanish, where planes fall from the sky, where vast, inexplicable mysteries haunt the sea. The Bermuda Triangle, darling of mysterious disappearance buffs.

What causes all these weird disappearances? Numerous hypotheses have been put forward, from aliens to methane bubbles, to magnetic anomalies.

Unfortunately, the real answer is not nearly as exciting. There is no Bermuda Triangle. An analysis of all the Triangle stories revealed that many of them were mis-remember, poorly reported, exaggerated, or just plain fabricated. In reality, there number of ship disappearances is not statistically greater than anywhere else in the ocean. Some of the vanished ships may be unexplained, but there is no link between the Triangle and higher than average maritime incidents.

~Southern Fried Scientist

Reader mail: Shark Fin propaganda

Last weekend, longtime SFS reader Suzy sent me an interesting question. Suzy is Asian, and though she is a committed conservationist, several members of her family regularly eat shark fin soup. One relative just sent her a copy of a news article entitled “Shark Fin Soup: Eat it without guilt” (available here). Suzy asked me if the information in this article is correct, and how she should respond to her family members.

Though it is a few years old, I had never seen this article, and it’s a little shocking. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better example of distorting or ignoring science to promote a political agenda outside of Fox News. In short, Suzy, most of the information in here is either false or intentionally misleading.

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Ocean of Pseudoscience Linkfest, Round 4 and reader challenges

More people have joined in on the Ocean of Pseudoscience week.

First, Shark Diver from Underwater Thrills throws down with Shark Pseudoscience – Juicing Tweaked Bulls. Something tells me Bull Shark Testosterone isn’t going to make you cool, but let’s see if our readers can come up with an explanation why.

Sheril, from the intersection posts on twitter:

Hey #oceans tweeps, real or fake? http://tinyurl.com/28xuztn

The link leads to this picture of an apparently giant freshwater carp that look suspiciously like a goldfish. Well, what do you think, real or fake?

And Zen Faulkes of Neurodojo posts on Eating your own brain. Delicious.

~Southern Fried Scientist