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Episode 84: David Sereda's Claims Clip Show, Part 2

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Recap: David Sereda started as a UFOlogist who became interested in "alternative" energy, propulsion, and anti-gravity. Over the years, he branched out into what most would term a general "new age" movement with quantum vibration jewelry and harmonic resonances. In this second of two parts, I discuss numerous varied claims that he has made related to basic science, physics, and astronomy, that illustrate various misunderstandings of each field.

Puzzler for Episode 84: There was no puzzler in Episode 84.

Answer to Puzzler from Episode 82: This puzzler's solution comes from listener Warwick:

To detect and measure if the orientation to the eclipse is important, I would use a set-up with three mutually orthogonal tuning forks (or watches). I.e. all at 90 degrees to each other. The whole assembly would have to be mounted on a tracking mount so the the orientation to the celestial object in question could be maintained before, during, and after the eclipse.

To be really useful in gathering data, I would use two additional sets of three mutually orthogonal tuning forks, one offset by 30 degrees in each dimension and the other offset by 60 degrees. That would give us some data points looking at exactly how the effect varies with orientation. If it varies with the sine of the angle, for example. Given the complexity of the apparatus, two or three duplications of the entire set-up would be a good check, to guard against anomalies or noise being interpreted as data. That's a lot of watches, but if the effect is there, and you could prove it, the Nobel prize money would cover the cost.

Q&A: There was no Q&A for this episode.

Additional Materials:

Transcript

Claim: As with the Part 1 episode, there is no set claim that I'm going to address in this one; it's going to be a clip show format with a bunch of different things discussed, not necessarily in any particular order. Also, for those just joining the fun, I strongly recommend listening to Episode 83 immediately preceding this. In that episode, I went over the evolution of many of his claims, how he went from a fairly run-of-the-mill UFOlogist to a more new-age guy who, it seems tended to take advantage of the cultural memes like 2012 in order to advance his own brand of pseudoscience.

Heat Transport

In the first interview I listened to, David was very much touting his work in the field of nuclear fusion, specifically that of helium-3 which has so far not proven to be viable yet. However, David claimed that he worked on a hot helium-3 fusion device that "was far more energetic than cold fusion." Which in itself doesn't make much sense, but let's move on to the next claim.

He next claimed that the temperatures reached, "Ten billion degrees with no heat radiating out of the reactor." When asked how the reactor contained the heat, David explained that it's contained by charging a magnetic field such that the field throws the heat back into the center of the device. The discussion went on for another ten minutes, but that was about all the "science" part.

I thought this an interesting first claim to address because it's intrigued me ever since I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. The idea of a magnetic containment makes sense in principle, at least to my mind as a 6-year-old. One of the basic issues with fusion is that you generally need very high temperatures and pressures to overcome atoms' natural inclination to stay away from each other. The core of stars can do that. We can sorta do that in a lab, but it takes more energy to manage than we've gotten in return.

To my 6-year-old mind, I thought that you can't have a physical substance be an insulator. We don't have stuff that insulates well enough and where part of it can get hot enough to "touch" the area where the fusion is happening. Now, I'm not a nuclear physicist, so if there are developments in this field I don't know about, fine. But the basic principle of the transfer of heat being an issue is, well, an issue.

And 10 billion degrees is hot. Doesn't really matter what temperature scale you're using at that point -- it's hot. The core of the sun is modeled to be about 20,000,000 Kelvins ..., or 1000x cooler than what David is claiming that he did on Earth. I'm not sure how you could deal with that kind of heat. That's where the Star Trek idea comes in where it would be really cool if you were able to make some kind of force field that simply did not permit molecules from one side to pass through to the other. That would take care of the conduction transfer of heat problem, where conduction is when heat transfers by physically touching two objects. It would also take care of transfer of heat through convection, where two substances physically mix. But, it wouldn't take care of the radiation problem, which is how the sun's energy gets to Earth. You'd somehow have to make your force field completely opaque to all outgoing light, and we're talking visible but at 10 billion degrees, there'd be a heck of a lot of very very high-energy gamma rays that'd probably kill you pretty quickly.

My point in this sort of stream-of-consciousness musing is to dig into this idea and talk about the real science. It's an interesting idea. It would be amazing if it worked. But just stating that literally Star Trek -like technology exists as though you're talking about whether it's raining outside is not good enough and makes one think that the person making the claim doesn't really understand everything it entails.

Misunderstanding Einstein's E=m*c^2

Continuing with basic misunderstandings of physics, in 2005, David made the following statement: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, September 20, 2005, Hour 2, starting 07:57]

There's enormous amount of energy in the background of space. And if there's energy, in Einstein's equation, there has to be mass because mass and energy are equivalent, E=m*c^2.

It's an interesting idea, that if space has energy, then because E=m*c^2, then space must be made of mass, so it produces inertia which slows you down.

The fabric of space is complicated. I'll leave that to a cosmologist to explain. But, this basic misunderstanding of E=m*c^2 is something I think is worth talking about. The equation is actually a short version where the mass-energy equivalence principle's full version also includes momentum, a +p*c term.

What the equation means conceptually is that matter can be thought of as "frozen energy." And that mass or energy can be converted to the other with the scaling factor of the speed of light-squared. It doesn't mean that there's a sum of both at once, and it doesn't mean that the existence of one means you have the other.

That's the problem with David Sereda's statement, that because there's light in space it means there's mass there, too, which would slow down a spacecraft and why we can't go the speed of light. It's simply wrong and based on a misunderstanding of E=m*c^2. Yet he tries to tell you that he worked with the bestest and brightestest nuclear physicists on the planet, throwing out names like Glenn Seaborg, for whom the element Seaborgium is named and who earned the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Misunderstanding Expansion of the Universe

Later in that same interview, there was another misunderstanding, this time of how expansion of the Universe affects the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. [clip from Coast to Coast AM, September 20, 2005, Hour 3, starting 0:39]

"You've got to consider, before we go to the Big Bang, what's known as the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, viewed by astronomers and radio astronomers. Right now pervades the entire creation with a fairly constant temperature. I mean, it fluctuates a little bit. But according to the Big Bang theory, the Universe started at, you know, a sub-Planck length sphere which is so small we can't even imagine it, and exploded into this enormity of mass, which initially had a huge temperature and energy signal, which eventually, over time, the birth of time, cooled down. So according to the Big Bang Theory, the background radiation should be variation from hot to cold, from the point of origin of the Big Bang to the gradual expansion and cooling of the universe. But instead, it's even temperature everywhere. So this problem has not been solved by the current Theory of Relativity."

This is perhaps a more difficult concept to understand than E=m*c^2, which is why I thought it would be interesting to go into.

Basic idea is that when the universe expanded enough to become cool enough for matter to "freeze out" from energy, it was no longer opaque to light, and light could stream freely. That's the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, or CMB or CMBR.

The basic idea that goes along with this is that there is no special point in the universe, location-wise. From any given point, it will appear as though the universe is expanding away from it. As you go further back in time by looking at objects farther and farther away, it's the same in all directions.

Put those two together, and you effectively have a local universe around Earth that's spherical. The boundary of that sphere can be thought of as where the CMB formed and from where it is radiating to us. That means that the CMB photons that we are looking at are around 13.7 billion years old, and they have stretched and stretched over billions of light-years of space. Which means that they should all appear a roughly uniform temperature.

The misunderstanding of David's seems to be that there is a special point where the Universe started, and that if you, say, look at the Andromeda Galaxy it has CMB photons that started there, and if you look at a more distant galaxy, it has CMB photons that started there, and so on and so forth giving you a range of temperatures. No, that's not the case. For the reason I explained, the CMB is a uniform temperature.

With of course the important caveats that Earth is moving, the sun is moving, the galaxy is moving, the local group is moving, etc. etc. relative to the CMB so there are slight shifts that have to be taken into account. And the other caveat that it's a uniform temperature except for the very small differences which is what COBE, WMAP, and Plank all measured in order to better understand the age and structure and composition of the universe. But these are TINY variations of milliKelvins, as opposed to 100s of Kelvins.

Entangled Particles and Faster-than-Light Travel

Keeping on with the basic physics theme, there's another general claim that Sereda makes about quantum mechanics and entanglement and other stuff, but one of the specific claims is something I've heard elsewhere: An alleged experiment where a mother and child were separated, someone induced pain to the child like a pinch or maybe an injection - some sort of trauma - and supposedly the mother reacted instantly as measured by an EEG (electro-encephalogram). As in, instantly, not at the speed of light, but instantly.

What's easy for me is that I did a blog post about this in 2010 about more general ESP or psi effects supposedly traveling faster than light. In that case, the mother and child were separated by 100 km. Meaning that light would have taken about 0.00033 seconds, or 0.33 milliseconds, or 330 microseconds to travel from one to the other.

Therefore, in order for this experiment to be conducted, three conditions MUST be met: (1) The person or machine pricking the child must be timed to sub-millisecond accuracy, preferably microseconds, but at least on the order of 100 microseconds. (2) The mother’s EEG must also have resolution on the order of 100 microseconds. Based on an article I found, the best EEGs have resolutions 10x worse. And (3) The clocks at the two locations must also be synced and have resolutions better than on the order of 100 microseconds.

One can ask the likelihood of all three of these conditions being met. And, given that some of the equipment -- mainly the resolution on the EEG -- doesn't even exist, then I feel fairly confident that this claimed experiment - a claim made by many people - did not actually take place and generate results as claimed.

Harmonic Codes and Measurement Coarseness

Changing gears a bit, I want to talk about harmonic codes. According to David. As with many people who enjoy numerology, David seems to put special mysticism in repeating numbers. He also seems to think that he's able to measure things exactly with a caliper or ruler, even if it's something displayed on his computer screen.

The setup for the importance of this comes from a March 2009 interview where -- now, try to follow me here -- he claims that rocks store energy from the Sun, we wear rubber shoes, so we've therefore lost contact with that energy. David has managed to capture the natural vibrations of that energy and put them into his "quantum pendants," which is why he sells them for so much money and they cost multiples of $111 CDN. These "quantum pendants" have helped increase peoples' energy levels.

So, "how does he know what crystals will do what and that they actually have harmonic codes," you might ask. I know I did - I was quite skeptical of his claim.

Well, he has a fool-proof method, of course: He measures the sides of a crystal with very precise calipers to the millimeter -- that's a thousandth of a meter and roughly the size of the wire in a paper clip. And then he did division: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, March 12, 2009, Hour 2, starting 25:31]

"Nature could never be wrong. And when I did the math, clockwise versus counter-clockwise on the crystal, the numbers it generates of the ratios are like, 'Oh my God!' Like, for example, side 1 was 4 divided by 3.3, I got 1.212121212... like a harmonic repetition, right? And the next side was 3.3 cm divided by 3.6, I got 0.9116666666... and I got all of these sixes. And on and on this went, no matter where I took a natural crystal and did the math clockwise and anti-clockwise, I got these codes that were repetitive infinities, like 108108108108... and they go forever. And I thought, 'Nature produced-- the waves that produced this crystal, were-- created it with harmonic codes!' So I designed a harmonic code generator to use those multiple code frequencies in a set."

The only reason I'm even talking about this fairly ridiculous claim is that I see it elsewhere. For example, it was why Richard C. Hoagland thought - or at least claimed in public - that the Norway Spiral from a few years ago was evidence of a hyperdimensional vortex: He took pictures of it on his computer screen, held up a ruler, and measured different dimensions around it and got those repeating harmonic - and what he claimed - hyperdimensional numbers.

It should be obvious to most but if it isn't ... you can't do that. There's such a thing as measurement coarseness. We can't measure things that precisely. If you're measuring to the one millimeter level and you measure 12 millimeters, then when you do your math, you should be quoting results to two digits. For example, when I drive, I look at how far I've gone since the last tank of gas and then how much my tank takes to fill. I drive a few hundred miles, and my car's odometer reads out to the 1/10th of a mile. The gas pump reads out to the 1/1000th of a gallon, and usually I take more than 10. So I have 4 significant figures on my car and I have 5 significant figures on the gas pump. I can only calculate the miles per gallon to 4 significant figures. I can only say I drove, for example, 29.43 miles per gallon. I can't say I drove 29.435721396712 and give out all the numbers my calculator gives me because I don't have that much precision. It's the exact same thing here.

Oh, but if there was any doubt, David has had multiple Ph.D.s look at his work and they tell him that, yes, these harmonic codes are how the world works!

Basic Misunderstandings of Astronomy

Next, I want to get into a few of his misunderstandings of astronomy. After all, this is the Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast, not basic physics and science. Speaking of which -- if anyone has suggestions for abbr. of the podcast name, please let me know. I haven't figured out a good one yet.

Missing Mass

Anywho, first is a claim about missing mass in the universe. The lead-up to this clip is that he was making the case that hydrogen is important and makes up the bulk of the universe, roughly 75% of it. In my notes, I have written down, "And then he goes off the deep end." [clip from Coast to Coast AM, October 5, 2008, Hour 4, starting 0:30]

"Now, I don't know if you've heard this, scientists have actually found a big chunk of the missing matter of the universe. And they've found it's ultraviolet hydrogen! Hydrogen vibrating in a higher frequency or higher temperature."

I think I can be quick about this one. Um, no. What he said doesn't make sense and it's not true.

Dark Matter

But David really likes the argument from ignorance -- he has a thing for claiming what dark matter is. Here's a fun clip from December, 2009: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, December 21, 2009, Hour 2, starting 04:50]

"Here's a whopper. This was reported October 30, 2009, on the New York Times by Dennis Overbye [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/science/space/31dark.html?_r=0 || http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010ApJ...717..825D]. What happened is this satellite that NASA-- that was observing the galactic center -- now this isn't -- another amazing thing as we're coming to 2012, we're getting more data, more incredible quantum leap understandings of what's happening in the galactic center than we've ever had in the history of the world. So NASA's W-- it's called the W-M-A-P satellite, actually-- they actually discover something in the center of the galaxy that shouldn't be there! Instead of this supposed black hole that's supposed to be devouring everything, something is utterly happening that doesn't make any sense at all that agrees with the model that I've been-- that I've been discovered for many many years now, and also is in my book "Differentials," the last show we ever did together we, we talked about the hidden harmonic codes of the universe. The hidden harmonic codes of the universe and differentials predicted that dark matter would transform itself through the differential between dark energy and dark matter, and actually create matter, visible matter out of what was apparently invisible: dark matter. And that's exactly what this satellite detected in the center of the galaxy! I just about fell off my chair when I read this because they're seeing the birth of new matter decaying from dark matter in the center of the galaxy, rather than the destruction of matter, they're seeing the birth of it! The actual birth of matter! This-this has turned all-- when you read the article you realize that all the physicists are completely confused because now we have a conduit, or a circuit pathway for dark matter to actually create more matter, which actually explains how the universe is expanding rather than it being confined to a limited or a finite amount of matter that's constantly converting some solid matter, you know, into light, back into physical matter which is what Einstein in his theory predicted."

Having the power of the internets, I have linked to both the article in question and the published Astrophysical Journal paper in question. It is not how David has represented it. No, we have not discovered dark matter creating baryonic matter. The authors do suggest that it is possible that they are seeing the decay of dark matter particles into baryonic matter, but they don't know, and as far as I can tell, this is not an accepted view. To quote a member of the team that runs the telescope that took the data used, "In my opinion, they are skating on very thin ice."

The observation is a haze of gamma rays near the galactic center. No, not replacing the black hole, there is still a black hole there. I don't know where David is getting the idea that the black hole in the galaxy's center doesn't exist. Anyway, the gamma rays detected by the Fermi telescope coincide with a microwave source that was previously discovered by the WMAP satellite that was looking at the CMB, but it could be a case of correlation ≠ causation. The issue is that the center of the galaxy is a virtual Hell's Kitchen of high-energy astrophysics. Separating out every single known astrophysical source that could be contributing to these will take years.

Now, it is possible that it's the decay of dark matter into baryonic matter. Of course that's what the news article is going to play up. But, there could easily be more mundane explanations. And, this is in no way, shape, nor form confirmation of anything that David has said.

Making $h¡‡ Up

To wrap things up for the astronomy portion, I'm going to give you another clip with no debunking. I debated on this one, but then decided to go with it since it gets into something that probably every skeptic knows about: How much of our brain do we use? [clip from Coast to Coast AM, June 4, 2006, Hour 4, starting 15:46]

"The number of missing-- it's 95% of the universe is missing. And we only use 5% of our brain apparently. I mean, so which means, we're only seeing 5% of the universe and we're only using 5% of our brain's capacity. You get the same numbers. So maybe the reason we can't observe the-- the 95% of the universe, that missing mass, is because of the particular state of our brains. Now, as we become more enlightened, I think we'll be able to see more and more of those layers to our universe."

More Arguments from Authority

The final topic I want to address in this episode is one I got into last episode, as well: Arguments from Authority. Why? Because it's very important as critical thinkers to be able to identify it to recognize that it is useless. We need evidence, and the plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence."

First up there are two clips that David used to backup his claim that the Tesla Death Ray is real and is our defense against aliens: [clips from Coast to Coast AM, June 4, 2006, Hour 3, starting 9:17 and then 11:33]

"They're expert witnesses in my opinion. You CANNOT question a military officer like Gordon Cooper or Col. Phillip Corso when they say that this happened. WHY would they just make this stuff up? There's no-- there's nothing-- it's just pure nonsense they were making it up, and I really don't believe they would. And the debunkers just come out and say, 'Well, they were making it up, and he was crazy and it's not really real,' but who are THEY? Who are debunkers?" (emphasis his)

"A military man cannot give a false testimony in a-- in a court of law."

Why would they make this stuff up? Who knows? Notoriety is one reason. Or, maybe they're just bat-shit crazy. And anyone can give false testimony. Saying that a military man cannot give false testimony in a court of law is like saying that a Priest can't diddle a kid. Duh, they're not supposed to, it's illegal and immoral, but that doesn't stop them.

Next is the lone, amateur scientist claim: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, February 4, 2011, Hour 3, starting 06:01]

"And that's what I like about the lone scientist, you know, I personally trust these-these lone scientists almost more - I hate to say it - than NASA for telling us the truth about what's going on."

Yeah, that's right, the armchair scientist - in this case who saw a compass needle move one day away from North and claimed that it was a giant magnetic temporary pole shift that no one else saw - is somehow more right than everyone else in the world who didn't record this.

Low-hanging fruit perhaps, but important nonetheless to expose for what it is.

General Conclusion

This has been a long hodge-podge of different ideas. And there are many I left out, like his claim that solar flares on the sun lead to non-specific earthquakes or volcanoes on Earth that is the correlation ≠ causation, sharpshooter, and cherry picking fallacies. Or that in the 1900s the magnetic north pole moved at 10 km/yr but in the 2000s it's moving at 40 km/yr which is a fallacy of where you take an average. Or numerology in the Greenland early sunrise of 2011. Or that birds are dying because noctilucent clouds are poisonous and are going lower in the atmosphere and sucking birds in and killing them. Or that because our bodies are made mostly of hydrogen that we're made of the same stuff as the sun and can communicate instantly with it.

With that in mind, there's one more logical fallacy I'd like to discuss related to all this, and that's the Fallacy Fallacy. No, I didn't stutter. The fallacy fallacy is when you point out all the logical fallacies that someone has used and therefore their conclusions are wrong. That's a fallacy in and of itself. All because someone's argument is horrible, it does not mean the conclusions are wrong. For example, I could say that the sky is blue because Dr. So-and-So told me it is. Doesn't mean the sky isn't blue, but I did commit an argument from authority. Or I could say that I weigh a lot therefore I'm tall. That could be true - in my case it's not - but it's poorly argued because it's a correlation ≠ causation fallacy.

Throughout this and the previous episode, I've pointed out a lot of logical fallacies David has used. And I've done a bit of my own ad hominem mocking of him. That doesn't mean that his arguments are wrong. His arguments are wrong for the other reasons I pointed out. But, as with other fallacies, this is important to be aware of, and this is an especially important one for skeptics to be aware of because we like to point out logical fallacies and often assume that if we can find one, then the conclusions are wrong. It doesn't mean that, just that the argument was poorly made.

I'd like to end the segment with one final clip just illustrating some of David's fairly crazy trains of thought to the land of word salads. He says this after talking about an ESP experiment: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, August 8, 2009, Hour 2, starting 31:51]

"Now this leaves Dr. Tiller to believe, and Carl(?) Swanson and many others, that consciousness is more subtle than even the smallest-- the highest frequency, smallest wavelength we've ever measured, which is beyond the Planck scale. And that means-- oh my g-- I mean what that means to a physicist is utterly outrageous, oh my-- the fact that it can go through anything with 100% accuracy, no resistance, that DOES mean we've eliminated the hypothesis that when Heisenberg and Niels Bohr came to Einstein and said, 'Our minds are affecting the results of the experiment,' it is not the bio light emissions, it is more subtle than that. When you use the word 'subtle,' in comparison with frequencies, it actually means 'more powerful,' not 'weaker,' as the word suggests."

Provide Your Comments:

Comments to date: 2. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:

Lewis   Mexico

11:23am on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 

Hahaha, Sereda is a fool, but an intrepid one, he´s only riding the New-Era gravy train with his "powerful" trinkets and books for sale.

Excellent podcast, got directed from the JREF. I thank you sir and keep up the good work.

Rick K.   St. Louis, MO

6:12pm on Friday, August 23rd, 2013 

Thanks for reminding us about the fallacy fallacy. Helps to remember that.

I realized I had e=mc2 a little wrong, too, so thanks for correcting my misconception of it.

It's amazing that he hasn't been totally discredited, since he keeps claiming to be what he's not, and never provides any proof except his insistence he worked with some big-name people.

What he says is now better thought out, and he has his "background" more firmly in place (although much of it is fiction). However, he's still saying stuff that only has minimal contact with reality.

I appreciate you warning us about Sereda, because he's yet another crank. At first he sounds plausible, but it's too easy to prove he barely understands the sciences he discusses and the rest of what he claims is too far out there to be accepted.

P.S.: Has Sereda ever come up with an idea of his own? Although Hoagland is almost always wrong, at least he occasionally does share his own creations.

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