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The Tao of Questy is about love and laughter and being human. It's about sharing ideas and being a little bit crazy in order to stay sane.
Updated: 6 hours 40 min ago

Debunking the mindless misinformation of the cult of Tesla

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 05:28
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We use the phase "Drinking the Kool-Aid" as we joking talk about a mythical "Cult of Tesla." The phrase "Drinking the Kool-Aid" means to blindly follow someone without asking any questions. Check out the deadly story behind drinking the Kool-Aid, where we go into more detail on the sad circumstances of the origin of that phrase.

It is sad to see people blindly believe every myth about Nikola Tesla without questioning the validity. Tesla was indeed a pioneer and visionary in many areas of technology and science, but he did not invent many of the things the Tesla fanatics claim.

Nikola Tesla has a cult following that gives him credit for inventing just about everything. There are people who object to the phrase "the Cult of Tesla," but the Tesla fanatics are a prime example of a cult. Tesla fanatics have an "us against them" mentality with stories full of conspiracy theories of how the government took all of Tesla's files when he died. When it comes to any attempts to have a rational conversation, they deny any facts that might contradict the group's beliefs.

When I told someone that a statement they made regarding Tesla was false, their comeback was, "Do you have a source for it being false?" LMFAO! If I claim to be the king, does that make it so, until someone proves me wrong? The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, proof is provided that gives validity to the claim. Having a meaningful conversation with Tesla fanatics can be frustrating because there is a complete avoidance of critical thinking.

Debunking Nikola Tesla myths on electricity and AC current

Here at the World of Questy, we explore the myths and legends. Over at the GeekHistory website we document the inventions and the inventors.

In addressing all the myths on electricity and AC current we created an entire new GeekHistory section on the history of electricity, and we broke it down into multiple pages starting with a list of scientists and inventors that contributed to our modern understanding of electricity.

Most of Tesla's early inventions fell into the categories of electrical power distribution or motors and generators. Nikola Tesla developed the polyphase alternating current system of generators, motors and transformers.

There are many forgotten geeks who made incredibly important contributions in bringing electricity to our homes. Nikola Tesla did not invent AC power generation. It was theoretically described by other others before him, as were many of the other inventions and discoveries often credited to Tesla. Our next page looks at the European inventors before Edison and Tesla who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power distribution.

It bothers me that so many internet sites talk about the War of Currents as the great battle between Edison and Tesla. Edison eventually lost control of Edison Electric as it merged with another company to become General Electric. Nikola Tesla was not a member of team Westinghouse when the War of Currents started between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison.

Westinghouse was a systems thinker, he also had a knack for spotting good ideas and people and bringing them into his fold, and he knew AC power distribution was a good idea. Follow this link to learn about the many Westinghouse Electric engineers responsible for electricity and AC power in our homes

Edison does deserve credit for many inventions in a wide variety of areas, and in defending Edison, I have come up with a fair amount of material for the GeekHistory websites. Edison might have been too stubborn to back down on DC power generation as the way to produce electricity, but he does deserve to be respected for launching the modern electric utility industry with the creation of the Pearl Street station in lower Manhattan in 1882. When the War of Currents ended around 1893, Thomas Edison was no longer in control of Edison Electric. But the Edison team (which became part of the General Electric Company) lived on in many ways.

Debunking Tesla Myths Defending Edison

In the World of Questy websites we get a bit cynical and sarcastic at times as we try understand various myths and legends regarding both Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. We really scratch our head wondering why people follow mindless misinformation without searching for the truth.

As I revved up my writing for the GeekHistory website over the last few years I have become active in social media looking for common questions about famous inventors and inventions. In search of information on all the "who invented it" myths of technology history I found a great deal of misinformation giving credit to Nikola Tesla for a variety of inventions. I find myself often defending Thomas Edison because of over the top claims of everything that Nikola Tesla allegedly invented.

When I created the GeekHistory website my main goal was to draw attention to the many scientists and inventors that I call the forgotten geeks. It was not my plan to spend a lot of time defending Thomas Edison, after all he does get mentioned often. Some of the Tesla fans point to crazy things that Edison did to discredit him as an inventor. Don't get me wrong, Thomas Edison was no saint, he was a lunatic at times, but to discredit Edison as a means to glorify Tesla is more than a little humorous.

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant man with many ideas and inventions. Nikola Tesla was a colorful character who gives us much to talk about. Nikola Tesla cornered the market on craziness during his lifetime.

Studying the claims of Tesla fans, searching for the truth, has made me even more passionate about my original goals of drawing attention to the forgotten geeks who deserve to be remembered.


A few more links to learn more:


Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War 

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There is a sucker born every minute and they are using Google

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 20:43
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American circus entertainer P. T. Barnum is often credited with the statement "there's a sucker born every minute".  I was talking about another famous deputed phrase of P. T. Barnum a few months ago, "there's no such thing as bad publicity," in reference to Marketing 101 and how Pepsi succeeded. In my remarks about how Pepsi succeeded a photo that appears to show  P. T. Barnum with the quote "There's no such thing as bad publicity"  was attached to my posting.

Being an information geek I was curious to learn the origin of the photo of P. T. Barnum.  Doing a quick search of the image on Google quickly showed that the photo was not P. T. Barnum but famous psychologist Bertram R. Forer.

So if the image I think is P. T. Barnum is actually Bertram R. Forer, I ask Google for an image of P. T. Barnum. But now  I am confused, as I use Google to search on a photo of P. T. Barnum they look an awful lot like the same photos identified as Bertram R. Forer.

Bertram R. Forer's connection to P. T. Barnum

In 1948 psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a psychology test to 39 of his psychology students. Similar to the P. T. Barnum statement "there's a sucker born every minute" Forer was looking to prove that when assessment statements are vague people read their own meaning into the statements. Basically Forer was trying to show that people are easily tricked or manipulated into believing vague things.

But Forer did not connect his theories to circus showman Phineas Taylor Barnum.  The term "Barnum effect" referring to the the work of Forer was coined in 1956 by American psychologist Paul Meehl

Truth by consensus lies

In the world of Questy websites we have been critical of Google claims that "Democracy on the web works." The phrase "truth by consensus" describes the philosophical theory of taking statements to be true simply because people generally agree upon them.

I am cynical about the artificial intelligence of the internet, as I find examples of where truth by consensus is really a lie. Should I be reasonably certain that most of the photos Google identified as P. T. Barnum are accurate? If that is true, at this point I am not sure that I have found an accurate photo of famous psychologist Bertram R. Forer.

The more examples I find of truth by consensus like this mis-attributed photo of P. T. Barnum to Bertram R. Forer illustrates that there is a sucker born every minute and they are using Google to find the answers to their questions.

 


Truth by consensus and the myths and legends created by the internet | http://questy.com/content/truth-consensus-and-myths-and-legends-created-...

We've Got Something for Everyone: The Barnum Effect | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201411/weve-got-somet...

F is for Bertram Forer | http://shootingparrots.co.uk/2017/02/15/f-is-for-bertram-forer/

P. T. Barnum | http://www.nndb.com/people/121/000056950/

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Privacy on the Internet is just wishful thinking

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 23:40
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It wasn't all that long ago that former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden was making news accusing the US government of accessing the web servers of some of the biggest internet services for the purpose of data mining, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was becoming a cult hero for exposing government secrets.

Right now there are many arguments over net neutrality that stir up privacy issues into the mix, but they are another area in the fight to control the internet.

Recruiters research prospective candidates on social networking sites as part of pre-hire screening. Social media users have not all learned that the delete key is an illusion. The curse of the digital age is once information is accessed on the internet and passed on to others, there is no way to take it back.

Over at the Guru 42 Universe we talk about the great power comes great responsibility of the internet and the brave new online world. In spite of the fact that their use is increasing everyday, there is a growing distrust of social networking sites. Privacy and personal security concerns become hot topics as websites gather personal information for profiling users to enable advertisers to target them more productively. Ethical and legal concerns are raised as websites make money by selling our digital footprints.


Is privacy a thing of the past?

Back in 1999, Scott McNealy CEO and co-founder of Sun Microsystems uttered the famous quote, "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." Do you think things are any better nearly two decades later?

I know from a long career in telecommunications and computer networking, you have zero privacy.  I don't post my every move on Facebook, and I don't tweet from every restaurant I visit. But I don't go out of my way to run and hide either. I would rather you hear me pitch my view of who I am, instead of visiting one of the many websites offering to sell you anything you want to know about me. Even a simple search can turn up previous addresses and unlisted phone numbers.

I have been accused of blatant self promotion from time to time on social media. I admit to it. I feed the internet with information about me. I believe that a strong defense is to lead with a strong offense. That's not a football strategy, that's my view of dealing with social media.

I write about technology and politics, things like net neutrality, privacy issues, and attempts to regulate the internet. There are no easy answers to the issues. Many issues will involve understanding common ground and compromise.

Do you know who is watching you?

Are you using an email provider like Gmail? Did you know email stored on a third party's servers for over 180 days is considered to be abandoned, and law enforcement agencies only need to provide a written statement certifying that the information is relevant to an investigation in order to obtain the content of such emails. - See more at: Will the Email Privacy Act Become Law?

There are those who will tell you how you can hide your identity on the internet. I must really be cynical, because I wouldn't trust my life on that assumption, as explained in this Washington Post article: The NSA is trying to crack Tor. The State Department is helping pay for it. 

Is privacy just wishful thinking?

The technology generally exists to allow network managers to monitor all aspects of their computer system, including, monitoring sites visited by employees on the Internet, monitoring chat groups and news groups, reviewing material downloaded or uploaded by employees, and reviewing e-mail sent and received by employees.

Most Americans agree that the government should not infringe the individual’s right to privacy, property, and right to speak. But they also agree that law enforcement and national security are important governmental functions.  Interestingly enough, the word “privacy” does not appear in the Constitution.

Some follow up thoughts:

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Protecting your assets balancing better security versus big brother

And a few more articles to get you thinking...

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again 

Most people don’t realize they are leaving behind digital footprints 

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