Full disclosure Merck, a science and technology company, have been kind enough to sponsor this blog post and therefore are enabling my (some might say…) unhealthy obsession with quackery and the bizarre. Just to give you a bit of background, Merck have created a Curiosity Initiative to make us more curious and promote innovation and progress. As part of this Curiosity Initiative Merck have developed a Curious Elements’ program which explores different ways in which people interact with and train curiosity.
So, as many of you know I am the proud owner of a rather unusual collection of weird and wonderful examples of pseudoscientific products. Although I am sure most of you think that I am wasting my money on this bad-science-personified, the truth is that that not only is it integral to my work here online but it also helps scratch my curiosity itch. When I hear the bizarre, the outlandish and the ludicrous I don’t shrug it off as most people do, I want to know more. I want to know how people can fall for such rubbish, what they actually believe, and if there is anything valid to their arguments. To help answer these questions I have amassed my ever growing collection of woo which ranges from the ridiculous, like my kitty chakra healing set, to the flat-out dangerous, like my copy of “The One-Minute Cure” which promotes hydrogen peroxide as a panacea.
Most people I have encountered online do not share my curiosity with pseudoscience and rather unforgivingly believe that those who fallen victim to quackery or various conspiracy theories deserve all that’s coming to them. I believe these people need our help which is why I have invested so much time into consuming this nonsense in all its formats to better understand and reach those who have been fooled. It also helps that I get an enormous sense of enjoyment from trying to understand the creator’s point of view and outlook on life. What I have discovered on my adventure through pseudoscience, which might surprise some of you, is that there is often a nugget of truth at its core. Take for example a surprisingly popular conspiracy theory first put forward was by Robin Gardiner in his book, ‘Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank’ which as you guessed it theorises that the Titanic never sank.
The book, which I am proud to say is in my collection theorises that on that fateful day in 1912 that it was the Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, disguised as Titanic, that sank. According to Robin the switch took place after Olympic was damaged in 1911 when it collided with the HMS Hawke. The Hawke’s bow, which was designed to sink ships by ramming them, punctured Olympic’s starboard side, both above and below the water, flooding two of her water-tight compartments, and twisted a propeller shaft.
Engineers spent over two weeks making temporary repairs to Olympic, allowing her to return to Belfast, where she was moored next to her sister ship, Titanic. According to the book, it was here where it was discovered that the damage from the collision was more severe than first thought. Her keel had been bent, giving her a constant list to port, and it became apparent that she would need extensive repairs, which were uneconomical. At this point, Olympic had only made four transatlantic trips from Southampton to New York, leaving the White Star Line with a potentially huge financial loss, which could have resulted in the collapse of the company. It was at this time, at least according to the book, that a plan was hatched to allow White Star to not only collect the full insured value of a brand new ship, but also to have a fully working ship that continues to make transatlantic journeys. All they needed to do was to swap Olympic with Titanic, stage an accident where they would sink her, and then claim on the insurance.
There are many problems with this theory starting with the simple fact that the Titanic and Olympic are not identical. Yes, they might seem that way at first glance after all they were constructed from the same set of plants however a number of improvements were made to Titanic during Olympic’s construction and after her maiden voyage. Many of these differences were structural, meaning that any switch would have been an extensive, time consuming and very expensive undertaking. For example, the forward half of A-deck on Titanic was enclosed with glass screens, whereas Olympic’s deck was open. The two ships also had different spacing between their windows on B-deck, which on Titanic also went back further. B-deck internally was also drastically different on both ships, with Olympic having a promenade, whereas Titanic had guest rooms that were flush with the side of the ship.
Although I can imagine to most this theory sounds outrageous there is a nugget of truth. The Olympic WAS damaged in 1911 after it collided with the HMS Hawke and she and her sister Titanic WERE moored next to one another after the collision. By acknowledging these facts people tend to drop their defences and are more willing to change their mind.
My curiosity in pseudoscience and conspiracies is something that helps me to connect with people who might be involved with or affected by them. Being curious and taking the time to understand other people’s points of view, beliefs and theories is vital when trying to counter potentially dangerous claims. My online work helps me to cascade the results and evidence from my curiosity to reach people from all corners of the world and I have been contacted by many people to say that my videos have helped them. This is great evidence that I’m not just shouting to an online void but that my curiosity is making a difference to people
My curiosity has had a major impact on my life, it has helped me to be a moderately successful YouTuber, I have travelled the world and met some amazing people, some of whom have become lifelong friends but the most important thing to me is that I have been able to help vulnerable people who have been prayed upon and make a difference to them. What I am basically saying is you never know where your curiosity will take you.
I would like to thank Merck for helping me to continue with my curiosity and encouraging others with their curiosity initiative. If you would like to know more about Merck and their Curious Elements, click the link HERE and learn about your 4 dimensions of curiosity and how to train them