Mr Eccles Presents | Kavin Senapathy – A Science Mom’s Path from Reason, to Oz, and Back Again

If skeptics are diametrically opposed to one thing, it’s woo.

That’s why Kavin Senapathy took on her new Woo Watch column for Skeptical Inquirer, which explores the alternative health, clean food, and spurious parenting worlds, examines what drives these movements, and, of course, cites the evidence that condemns them. But even though she relishes wielding data and evidence, Senapathy fights woo not only because it’s wrong.

What took this mommy blogger from buying Dr. Oz-endorsed supplements just a handful of years ago to her third time on the CSIcon stage? From being raised staunchly atheist by former Hindu immigrants from India to today, this Science Mom will explain why Woo Watch and CFI are part of her fight.

The Center for Inquiry is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. CFI’s vision is a world in which evidence, science, and compassion—rather than superstition, pseudoscience, or prejudice—guide public policy.

You can join CFI and find out what we do to protect critical thinking and science by visiting:

Kavin is an author and public speaker covering science, health, medicine, agriculture, food, parenting and their intersection. Her work appears regularly at Forbes, SELF Magazine, Slate, and more.

Her chapter in the recent MIT Press book “Pseudoscience” is entitled “Swaying Pseudoscience – The Inoculation Effect.”

When she’s not writing and tweeting, she’s busy being a “Science Mom”—also the name of a recent documentary film in which she’s featured—to a 7-year-old and 5-year-old.

This talk took place at the CSICon 2018 in Las Vegas on October 20, 2018

Gods of Terra Primer | The Assumptions of Psionics

Vanakkam. Here, I give the basic ideas that go into the use of supernormal mental powers, or psionics, for the setting. Psionics are powers of the brain, and are utterly physicalistic in how they operate, having nothing to do with anything spiritual or nonmaterial in nature. There is no such thing here as astral or spiritual travel abilities, as the soul as a nonphysical entity does not exist in this setting. The mind here is not some homunculus loosely connected to the brain operating it like a puppet, but rather a thing that the brain does in its normal operation. Minds are an emergent property of the brain, not something separable from it. But psionics are still powerful, and those who use them are capable of demonstrable feats that any stage conjuror or performing mentalist in the real world would be hard-pressed to duplicate. Psionics here are on the level of comic book and pulp SF super-powers. This will offend alleged psychics, mediums, and intuitives in the real world, and their supporters, but think X-Men, or better still, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensmen, not the late Sylvia Browne or the extant John Edward. Gods of Terra psis don’t mess around with mere tricks or stage illusions, and that’s because they don’t need to. 

So, here are the basic principles governing the functioning of such powers and abilities:

  • There is no such thing as a uniquely psionic energy or force-carrying wave-particle generated by the mind for psionic effects. Psionic abilities employ only the fundamental forces of real-world modern physics: the electroweak force, the strong force, and gravity. Psionics may be partly understood from the standpoint of a more mature, future theory of quantum gravity, possibly descended from current Loop Quantum Gravity or M-Theory. There is an element of psionics that is still poorly understood in the setting, and that is its ability to bend natural laws and physical constants locally, using portions of certain physical laws to seemingly violate major portions of other laws. It may be the emerging and still young discipline of Axiomatic physics that leads to a better understanding of how hypershards, and the brains of Stage Three wavetouched, achieve this.
  • Psionic potential is software in the brains of psis that needs additional hardware to power and operate effects. That hardware is usually an active hypershard, or the central prefrontal lobes of Stage Three wavetouched. The brain provides the instructions, the hardware provides the energy source and the means to produce the effect. The signal strength possible for unaugmented human brainwaves is far too weak, and attenuates far too quickly from brain, skull, and flesh to be of use.
  • Psionics obeys conservation of energy and momentum. It needs a power source that can tap, generate, and transmit greater amounts of energy than the ordinary human brain alone can possibly generate and emit at range. While there appears to be some bending of physical laws by psionicists in the use of their powers, fundamental conservation laws cannot be violated or overturned, even locally or temporarily.
  • Psionic effects are non-local, using shortcuts through hyperspace, with range from the body for that nonlocality limited by the strength of the psionicist. Weaker psis generate effects nearer to the body, stronger psis further away. The strongest psis’ nonlocality can ignore physical barriers, except psionic screens and Kurtz-Dunar fields, which can block them. Psionic effects do not radiate through and out of the brain, through skull and flesh or other body tissues, to produce effects in the world. All psi-effects are generated at a focal point in a hypershard or specialized neuronal tissue in Stage Three wavetouched, and appear at the target location without travelling across the intervening space. This allows some stronger psis to generate effects using nuclear forces, despite the rapid decay rates and extreme range-limits of the force-carrying particles involved, by cutting the actual space crossed to less than the diameter of a proton. Weaker psis often generate effects microscopically close to the skin, and must touch the target to affect it.
  • Psionics obeys Special Relativity in the speed of transmission of energy and information from point to point in conventional spacetime, limited primarily by the level of hyperspace accessible by the psionicist. Higher levels of hyperspace, more difficult to access, give more rapid relative transmission time. Such transfer of energy/information is never instantaneous for macroscopic objects, as there is always a lag time from sender to target, or from origin to destination for physical teleports. Teleportation here does not rely on quantum-level information, as it is not a mass-transference of particles in which the exact position and quantum state of each must be known. I’m talking subjectively rapid travel through warps in spacetime, closer to stargates, tesseracts, or wormholes than Star Trek transporters. No “Heisenberg compensators” need apply. Relativistic time-dilation occurs with teleportation over interstellar distances. 

With these five principles in mind, we can then take a look at the powers themselves and how they operate in greater detail. Next time, we examine the power-level classifications of psionicists according to military and law-enforcement organizations in the setting, while after that we’ll do a deep dive into the specifics of the powers themselves and their sub-abilities.

I’ll see you then!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Gods of Terra Primer | Setting History, Part 2

The Shutter was a catastrophic event that closed all access to M-level hyperspace, halting all interstellar travel, settlement, commerce, and warfare, and resulting in the collapse of Local Galaxy civilizations for centuries. The previous installment in this series ended at the onset of the Shutter, and this one opens at its end, leading to the timeline in my planned novelette, The Null Dance, and the adventures of the Meera:

190 BPE: Development of S-drive by emerging Local Galaxy civilizations, replacing the now-useless M-drive. Resumption of interstellar trade, exploration, and warfare. 

130 BPE: The Broogh Flow meanders into Tellusine space. Intermittent warfare between Broogh and Kai’Siri Koorgraada fleets. Bombardment of Terra by Broogh Giyagh6 fleet. Destruction of Giyagh6 fleet in two stages by Tellusine at the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Jupiter’s moon Europa is destroyed in the conflict. Phobos is fragmented, knocked from orbit, and crashes into Mars. Rebuilding of Terra begins. 

100 BPE: Founding of the Second Great Tellusine Civilization, centered on Terra. Sirug becomes an imperial ally, as Kai’Siri enlist in the Tellusine military along with Mentite-, Sensorian-, Brute-, Bomb-, Cannon-, and Dreadnought-class wavetouched as special forces troops, but no Planet Killers (Officially). 

45 BPE: Creation of Indigo Sigma by Tellusine, as an elite intelligence and paramilitary organization. Personnel makeup is highly classified but suspected to involve at least one Planet Killer-class wavetouched. Maybe. 

0 PE: Reconstruction of Terra is complete. The Indian subcontinent, Africa, and South America took the least of the Giyagh6 fleet bombardment of Terra. Much of Africa, South America, and everything south of the Himalayas is once again fit for human habitation. Lagos, Khartoum, Rio de Janeiro, New Kolkata, Colombo, and Chennai become major economic and space transport hubs. 

115 PE: First contact between humanity and the alien Tathladi. Alliance between human and Tathladi against their ancient enemies, the Dinathog-Trulg. 

336 PE: The Meera is given the now-regenerated hypershard once belonging to the Mirus, becoming for a short while the second Magna. She wakes up, quits the role, and goes into hiding while those who tried turning her into a superweapon seek to re-enslave her and recover “their property.”

50 Billion PE: The far-future descendants of humanity loop back in time to ensure the evolution of humans, and thus themselves. These beings will be known to xeno-archaeologists as the Strangers, and known only by the fruits of their biological engineering and meddling with early Homo sapiens and its relatives on Terra. This generates a predestination paradox in which humanity brings about its own existence, a causal chain with neither beginning nor end.

Gods of Terra Primer | The Wavetouched: Children of Terra

Gods of Terra actually has little to do with any sort of truely supernatural forces or supreme beings, beyond the fact that religions that promote belief in them exist. So though there are beings in the setting with tremendous power, ultimately, even they have limits, and even they can die. 

So, Gods of Terra is really about false gods, and the evolution of humanity, of  beings with sometimes remarkable powers and abilities whether aliens, new emerging hominin species, or technologically weaponised humans. 

One such hominin species, a new side-branch of Homo sapiens, is the wavetouched, H. mirus, and its three stages, each its own subspecies, and each progressively further isolated reproductively from H. sapiens. I’ll hereafter refer to Homo sapiens as baseline humans as they are the standards against which all other species in  the setting are compared for admittedly humanocentric reasons as well as game-balance in an RPG setting.

Each stage is as follows, with each having its own taxonomic name, with in fact a rather tangled web of descent from baselines, and in fact much intermixing going on between these to the chagrin of so-called “race realists:” 

Stage I: (H. mirus mutans

Called mirants, these are not strictly mutants despite the nomenclature, but the offspring of mutants, and are the first stage to breed true with itself or with baseline humans to produce hybrid offspring sharing the robustness of both parents. Mirant genes tend to be dominant, though in no way necessarily “superior” to baseline genes, but seldom bearing recessive traits. Offspring are fully fertile with baselines. 

About 50% of the subspecies have some potential for psi-abilities, but without a hyperseed, a submicroscopic quantum hypershard that grows and unfolds  to coexist with the developing brains of such talented individuals, there is no energy source available to fuel this potential and put it to use beyond the latent stage. The law of conservation of energy applies here, and only a fully developed, unfolded, and active hypershard can tap into an external energy source for the psionic latent to achieve a fully active stage. 

Mirants have less of the usual baseline human psychological weaknesses, and more of the strengths. Mirants find it easier to pick up effective reasoning skills on average than baselines, and though possessing many of the same psychological biases and heuristics, tend towards better insight and more efficient ways of countering them. Abstract reasoning and critical thinking come to them more readily, more naturally, though they must still be trained in these to do them with skill. 

As well as that, mirants have the full range of human emotions and expressiveness, but are less prone to fuzzing the clarity of their thinking under stress and strong emotion. The first four Gods of Terra were all Stage I’s weaponized with Prime hypershards, without significant innate psi-ability of their own. They were beings of tremendous power even then. 

Stage II: (H. mirus miradi) 

With higher on average psi-q scores than even mirants, and known as miradi, this stage is reproductively less compatible with baselines, and only about 60% of the time will such mixes produce fertile offspring. All wavetouched are fully fertile with each other across subspecies. 

Wavetouched are across all subspecies about 99.9% genetically similar to baselines, with most of the difference going to their cognitive strengths and psionic potential. Stage II’s still require an active hypershard in their brains to power their psionics, having only baseline metabolisms though with more robust physiques and fewer of the hereditary disorders common to baselines on average, while they sometimes have others of their own that can cause problems.  

Stage III: (H. mirus hyperiadi

This subspecies, called hyperiads in common parlance, are almost fully reproductively isolated from baselines, and have the highest degree of neurobiological distinction. They cannot serve as hosts to a hypershard implant, either imposed from without or inherited by hyperseed. They also have the highest average psi-q’s of all wavetouched, and one other important feature that allows them to use it: a brain structure similar to a third prefrontal lobe, situated between the left and right prefrontal lobes, with specialized neural and glial tissues permitting the transduction of energy from an external source to a psionically useful form. 

They can draw power to fuel their abilities merely by being physically near, or better, touching an external source and willing the transduction process. Geothermal taps, high-intensity flood lights, and high-voltage electrical sources are good for this. 

So long as transduction occurs, no injury or harm from the source will result to the user, though the energy source must continually generate output, for while a Stage III’s remarkable brain structure can transduce energy, it cannot store it like a capacitor. 

Stage III wavetouched are estimated at one out of a billion humans, though none have yet been unambiguously identified in observations of any known world’s population.


These three subspecies may even diversify further, and are at present already beginning their ascendance in human planetary demographics since H. sapiens began its decline during the Shutter era more than five centuries ago. Baselines are on their way out, and it is projected that they will be supplanted on their own worlds by Stage I wavetouched within the next thousand years or so.

Evolution marches on, and that of humans can be no exception.

Quid Novi? | Gone? No, still here, just crazy busy.

Vanakkam. I’ve mostly been off the blog, with a couple of days re-releasing earlier posts that have been sitting in my drafts admin page since April 2018.

Mostly over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping up and maintaining the house and cats with no assistance from family. Needless to say, it consumed most of my waking time, and even passable time-management skills didn’t help much in my posting new entries on this site.

Otis the Indestructible, one of our old strays, has been getting his regular feedings an average of three times daily, four or more on especially cold days. He doesn’t see or hear very well, but he’s learned to identify me by voice and stride pattern, and comes running when he smells his gushy food. He’s healthy for his age, or would be without his skin condition (we think it’s probably cancerous, and it’s slowly spreading…), and he’s not very social. but I’m glad he took to me so quickly.

I’m back to penning down drafts for new posts here, and will resume operations on the Call by next Tuesday. Family is back in town, and that permits more time for hobbies, like blogging. These last few days since fam returned from their trip, my study time has resumed, but is a bit disorganized, loosely involving Tamil and minor subjects, like mental calculation skills for serious fast number-crunching with precalculus and geometry.

So I’m reopening posting after this unintended pseudo-blogcation.

I’m glad to be back..

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Cat Thursday | Mister Eccles Sez the Four Postulates of Grand Conspiracy Theories

Vanakkam. This entry was inspired by a post by Andy Hall of Laughing in Disbelief on Patheos. I thought it might be fun to update these postulates (because I hesitate to call them laws) and use some of my favorite shots of the diabolical Mister Eccles, tuxedo and all, with a little skeptical content.