Just the other day, I blogged that one of the reasons we should treat a conspiracy theory as suspect is the assertion that the perpetrators have superpowers. Witness the latest conspiracy theory, based on the Atlanta snowstorm, (Phil Plait reporting)
Here at BA Central I see a lot of truly ridiculous conspiracy theories. Over the years there’s been the Moon Hoax, various asteroids NASA was covering up that would hit the Earth (or wipe us out somehow via electricity), and of course the end of the Earth over and over and over again.
Yet happily, we’re still here. Yet sadly, so are these silly theories.
A new one is making the rounds, and it’s so forehead-slappingly silly that at first I ignored it. Sometimes these things die on their own, and I need not waste precious brain cells debunking them. But this one, unfortunately, is making the rounds on YouTube and Facebook, so it’s time to melt it away.
I made a video debunking all this, but first let me give you a brief synopsis. In late January 2014 a snowstorm hit Atlanta, paralyzing the city. The depth of the fall was only 2 inches, but for various reasons this caused massive trouble across the city, stranding people and leading to general chaos.
Here is where it gets weird. Some people went outside and made snowballs. Then—and I have no clue who would think to do this in the first place, but there you go—they held a lighter to the snowball. What they claimed then is that the snow didn’t melt and drip away as you’d expect. That’s odd enough, but then they saw scorch marks on the snowball! Ice can’t burn, so why were there black streaks on the snowballs?
Here’s the video debunking this conspiracy. Basically, when a snowball starts melting, the unmelted snow acts like a sponge, absorbing the water, which is why the snowball won’t drip much right away. And the scorch marks aren’t from scorched water, its actually the residue of burnt hydrocarbons from the lighter itself.
Of course, I could be a member of the conspiracy, along with Phil, in which case this is just what we want you to think. After all, if we really did have the capacity to create supersnow and inflict it on any unsuspecting city we wanted, would we want to publicize it?
(Actually, yeah. Just think of the winter sports applications of supersnow alone. Ski slopes open in June. We could make a fortune.)
So do either Phil Plait or I have any part in the creation of supersnow?
No we don’t.
Or do we?