Richard Dawson, Quantum Mechanics, The Mandela Effect

“No, it’s the Mengele Effect.” – X-Files


Remember when a wax Rocky Balboa knocked out President Gore after the Soviets invaded Pakistan?  Me neither.

For me it started somewhere in my early thirties.

The Mrs. and I were watching the television one night and a show called “World’s Funniest Gameshow Moments” came on.  We started to watch – it was narrated by Richard Dawson.  Richard Dawson was the host of Family Feud® back in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  On the celebrity scale he was higher than most – parts in two big feature films and almost two straight decades on television.

No big surprise that he’d be narrating a show about game shows, right?  It even makes sense.

Except he was dead.  And the dead are notoriously bad at calling back their agents to get roles narrating television shows.  Except Bono®.  He’ll do anything.

I clearly remember reading Dawson’s death notice in the paper on a winter morning almost a decade earlier from the time we were watching the show in year 2000.  It was on the right hand of page 2 about two inches from the top.  I was sitting in the back of a classroom.  It was winter.

John Wilder:  “Hey, this is Richard Dawson.  But he died.  Right?”

The Mrs.:  “Yes, I certainly remember that he died.  Wonder when they filmed this?”

I booted up my computer.  I clicked on the network icon and connected to the Internet, via a nice 56k modem.

Yes, this was the sound of the Internet in the before time.  Imagine watching Netflix – it would only take 6 or 7 days to download a non-HD movie. 

After I logged in, I did a quick search, and I found out that . . . Richard Dawson was indeed alive (at that time – Richard Dawson is dead now, having passed away on June 2, 2012).


Ahhh, the sweet morning scent of piano cinnamon trees.

The Mrs. and I both had very specific memories of Dawson being dead.  Very specific memories, and based on our recollection it was roughly in the same year.  And the same cause – cancer.  But we were wrong.

Now it’s understandable when one of us is wrong.  People goof.  But for us to have the same, specific detailed memory was spooky.


We brushed it off.  But we never forgot it.  It’s the sort of odd coincidence/occurrence that sticks pretty firmly in your mind.  Not that I dwelled on it, but every so often it came back up.  In one instance, I was travelling for work and thought that it might be the basis for a short story.

First, some background, from Wikipedia – stick with me, it’s worth it:

In Dublin in 1952 Erwin Schrödinger gave a lecture in which at one point he jocularly warned his audience that what he was about to say might “seem lunatic”. He went on to assert that when the equation that won him a Nobel prize seems to be describing several different histories, they are “not alternatives but all really happen simultaneously”. This is the earliest known reference to the many-worlds.

Catch that?  When you flip a coin, does it land heads or tails?  Schrödinger appears to be saying, “yes.”

Essentially, any time there’s a decision, the universe splits into two.  One pops off and becomes another, nearby, nearly identical universe.  Nobody remembers who won the coin flip to get the next beer, so these small changes that make universe splits go largely unnoticed.  Heck, maybe they collapse back into themselves for not being sufficiently unique.  It’s not like a big event like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, right, or when we nuked Berlin?  (I’m just kidding.)

As a side note:  we have discovered parallel dimensions – check out this (LINK) for more amazing (not kidding) details.

The most common example of this theory is Schrödinger’s Cat, which is a pretty famous thought experiment at Schrödinger’s expense (rumor has it this made him kinda pissy after he heard about it).  The really short version of this “experiment” is one takes a cat, and puts it in a box.  There’s some mechanism that has a 50-50 chance of triggering, say, poison gas to be released with our kitty cat.  Pretend it’s the radioactive decay of a cesium atom.  Let’s say you set the cat-killing machine in motion, toss a cat in, and wander off.  After a while, your Internet addled brain looks up from your MyFace© page and remembers you left a cat in the Death Machine again and should go and see how it’s doing.

This is funny if you like physics jokes.  I like physics jokes.

Is it alive or dead?  According to Schrödinger’s equation and Futurama, yes.  It’s in a state of quantum superposition.  And the quantum waveform collapses only after you observe it – and this isn’t some sort of made up thing – it has been proven through repeated experiments that observation (not interference) changes the pattern that light makes.

If light were a wave, it would make a pattern of alternating light and dark spots passing through the slits:


Source:  Wikimedia, Fu-Kwun Hwang, CC BY-SA 3.0

Stay away from the light, Carol-Anne!  The quantum collapse might put your eye out!

But if it’s a particle, it will make a dot on the back.

If you don’t check and see where the photon comes through, it makes the wave pattern.

If you check and count the photons going through (they have a way to do this) it just shows up like a dot.

Observation matters.  There is some debate as to whether or not that observer has to be conscious or not – certainly Nobel® winning physicist Eugene Wigner thought that a conscious observer was required for quantum mechanics to work.  And if quantum mechanics doesn’t work, the universe doesn’t exist.  At all.  At the heart of physics there is a (debatable) proposition that conscious observation is required to make the whole thing (you, me, PEZ®, a potential multiverse) even exist.

I wish I were making this up.  I’m so not making it up – this is actual physics.  You can check out this link for more background (LINK).

Back to my story idea:

The concept is there was a guy who began noticing things . . . like Richard Dawson’s death/not death.  These were trackable events, but events so subtle you’d never notice them if you weren’t paying attention.  Let’s say you could go back and forth between the universe where Richard Dawson died and the one where he didn’t.  Not a lot of change?  Probably not.  But maybe, you could make yourself notice less . . . or make yourself believe you’d observed things you hadn’t.  Maybe you could move to universes that were more and more different . . . and maybe you got unstuck in reality and started drifting through various universes.

Who knows?  Maybe that’s what makes a certain category of insane people the way they are – they can actually observe and move through universes, or are maybe adrift – they don’t have a grip on reality, since reality keeps morphing around their consciousness.

Still haven’t figured out how to write that story.  But I’m willing to bet you’re a bit creeped out right now, so I win, anyway.

Which brings us back to the Mandela Effect.  It’s so named because one of the big examples is South African leader Nelson Mandela and his death in prison in the 1980’s.  Except he didn’t die then – it was December 5, 2013.  There are a bunch of other examples here at this great website (LINK) for your viewing pleasure.  It’s like an Internet meme made of words.  My addition is just Richard Dawson.  And, no, I don’t remember Mandela dying before 2013.  Just the Dawson story.

I had decided to do this article on the Mandala (or Dawson!) Effect prior to the X-Files doing the best episode of this season (so far) with their episode “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”  Just funny it surfaced right before I was going to do this one – and, yes, sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.

Or maybe another Mr. Wilder has it right:



Warning Signs, The Economy, Didier Sornette, and You

“We have no Great War.  No Great Depression.  Our Great War is a spiritual war.  Our Great Depression is our lives.  We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires . . .”

Fight Club


This is the corpse of FDR, brought back to life every 75 years to fight Robot Hitler.  Notice we added a laser eye for this year.

I’ve talked about both the causes (LINK) and effects (LINK) of economic bubbles and economic depressions in two articles that won the Coveted 2017 Wilder Prize for Excellence in Journalism Related to Things John Writes About®.  You should read these articles.  They’re fun and may save your life, if you require expensive medicine from fresh squeezed bats each day and need the cash to pay for bat juice.

But what happens before everything goes straight to hell?  What are the precursor signs before a recession or depression takes hold?  Where are the danger signs that say . . . beware of dragons beyond this point?

mother of dragons

Game of Thrones would not be as popular if this was the casting choice for Daenerys.

Let’s start with definitions.  A recession (and a depression is just a bigger recession) is when the economy starts to contract, and the definition is that this contraction lasts at least two financial quarters.  A depression is the same thing, but there are great dust storms and everyone moves to California and no one bathes for a decade.

Why does the business contract?

Let’s take the last recession.  Everyone wanted houses.  Lots of houses.  In 2007 people were buying houses on speculation that they’d go up in price.  Because houses always went up in price.  And for a few years?  Yeah.  But when houses stopped going up in price?

People stopped building houses, six was enough for the average family.  But if you have no new houses to roof, and you’re a roofing company?  You fire your roofing crew and stop buying shingles.  The people you fire stop making truck payments.  The shingle company stops making shingles, and lays off the factory workers at the shingle factory.

Prices collapse.  Everywhere.  And in 2008-2009 this cascaded throughout the economy.  And the first thing that happened is that EVERYTHING got cheaper.

Perhaps the first sign that things will be going south is that . . . things are going well.  Too well.  It’s like the frat party at midnight before the heaving begins – laughter and joy everywhere.  And everyone believes that this party is different – they’ll escape the hangover gods in the morning.

So what is a gauge of the measure of market intoxication?

The VIX.

VIX stands for . . . Volatility IndeX.  VIX.  Like PEZ®, only with money instead of those small bricks of candy that build a wall of love around my heart (my doctor calls that arteriosclerosis), the VIX was created in 1990 and attempts to predict the market volatility for the next 30 days.  Here’s the graph of the VIX for the last 27+ years, thanks to Yahoo Finance©:


If you look closely, you can see that when the VIX spikes, people are running and screaming in the streets because the economy is collapsing.  But what happens before the spikes?  Everyone is calm.

And, historically that’s been the case.  Everybody is an expert when the stock market keeps going up.

“Taxi drivers told you what to buy. The shoeshine boy could give you a summary of the day’s financial news as he worked with rag and polish. An old beggar who regularly patrolled the street in front of my office now gave me tips and, I suppose, spent the money I and others gave him in the market. My cook had a brokerage account and followed the ticker closely. Her paper profits were quickly blown away in the gale of 1929.” – Bernard Baruch, famous dead trader dude (from Fortune Magazine, April, 1996)

And that’s what that low VIX number tells you.  Everything is great!  Sunny sky and the wind is in your sales.  Not a cloud in the sky.

So, one big signal is that everything is going great.  Not sure how useful that is, but the current VIX is very near an all-time low.  This is why in my (very brave) 2018 prediction (LINK) I said it wasn’t going to blow up in 2018.  Obviously I could be wrong, but as low as the VIX is, I’d expect some upturn prior to things falling apart.  In 2007 the VIX turned up before everything blew up.  So?

My expectation of an economic recession/depression/crack-up number one?  The VIX will turn up prior to the fall, probably at least six months in advance.  So here’s one indicator of future economic downturn, and it’s been shown to work.  Perfect?  Certainly not.  Sudden dislocations (think 9/11) could throw it right out of the window.

Currency and Trade

What else might indicate a coming crack up?  One that was pretty popular was high interest rates.  Back before the FED so tightly controlled the currency and interest rates by buying all of the United States’ debt that’s unsold (yes, this is somehow legal), this was a sign that the party was going to end.  Failing businesses led to banks only lending to the best projects – the ones that could afford high interest rates.  Interest rates were (kinda) set by the market.

I’m pretty sure this one is long gone . . . and not sure that there’s a replacement.  The economy of the United States is such that, if we experience difficulty, other countries experience collapse.  Think the riots in Egypt, Syria, and Libya were spontaneous – no – they were the result of economic trouble in the US.

Another major indicator would be if another currency became as well accepted in the world as the dollar – and imports rose significantly in price.  Sadly, if this happens, the entire economic system is near collapse.  As I’ve pointed out before – the only thing that keeps our currency going is belief.  I can trade two pieces of paper with $100 printed on them to a liquor store owner and have a nice bottle of Johnny Walker Blue© handed to me.  Oh.  It has to be the government that prints the $100.  Not me.

Why?  People (silly people!) believe in the government more than me.  They believe the government won’t print too many.  Just like Bitcoin (LINK) is limited in the total number that will ever exist.  Except governments everywhere print money whenever they can.  Except the Swiss.  I blame it on the cocoa.


Other signs of big trouble?  Oil above $100.  Oil above $140 is screaming collapse.

Modern economies run on energy.  What would we do without it?

This is from Kentucky Fried Movie.  Good times.

Oil is consumed by every product you buy, generally in the production, packaging and transport.  Because of that, it acts as a general tax on the economy when prices go up.  And because oil extraction infrastructure takes years to get going – high oil prices can distort the economy for years.

Cash Ban

Horrible sign.  Venezuela will look awesome in comparison if this happens.


I’ve mentioned Dr. Didier Sornette before.  He’s a French geophysicist that applied advance math previously used to predict earthquakes to predict whether or not a bubble exists in stocks, and, if so (at least in prior work) how long the bubble had until it popped.  He pegged that we were going to enter a singularity around 2045 or so where all bets are off, based solely on the math.  Don’t know if he still stands by that, but he produces a monthly report at the Economic Crisis Observatory (LINK).

In the latest report, of the sixty stocks in the US he studied, 35% were in a bubble.  That’s up from the previous month.  From this, we’d deduce the bubble is (potentially) inflating.

And Dr. Sornette absolutely called the big Bitcoin bubble a month before it topped.  Pretty amazing.

I’d keep an eye on this work.  It shows that there’s plenty of bubble a brewing in the record setting stock markets around the world.

And be careful.  There may be dragons here . . . .

NOTE:  I AM AN INTERNET HUMOR-DUDE, NOT A FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL.  Consult someone sane prior to making investment decisions.  Like your Mom.  Or a lawyer.  Or a carnie.

The Flu, Fred Hoyle, Creation of all the Elements in the Universe, Panspermia, and You

“You’re from Pittsfield.  Know what happens to scholarship students caught cheating on exams?  You had the flu that day, didn’t you, David?  You didn’t take the exam?  You missed the test. And since you were ill, why not write me an essay instead?  Go get started.” – Dreamcatcher (Flu obsessed Stephen King)


Pictured – Cosmic Background Radiation left over from the Big Bang.  Maybe.

Winter is flu season.

I know, I’m being so topical.  I promise I’ll get off being topical in two minutes and take you someplace you’ve never been before.  Promise.

First, let’s get to basics:

What exactly is the flu?  The flu is a virus, from the Latin word . . . virus.  It literally means “Poison” – but it’s been a long time since Poison had a viral video . . .

Hmm, that was way, way cooler in 1988 before Bret Michaels discovered carbs.

Anyway, the flu virus isn’t poison – it’s a cellular invader.  A virus can’t reproduce by itself, it can only reproduce inside a cell.  And since it doesn’t have any cells, it needs a host critter that does have cells.  The flu picks . . . you.

Once it gets inside of you, it spreads as fast as it can, by attaching to a cell wall like a stripper on a billionaire.  After injecting part of itself into the cell, the cell cooks up millions of copies of the virus.  So, the virus uses your cell as a copy machine.  But it’s really awfully hard on the machine.  It’s like you sent a copy of your taxes to your printer and it exploded, but left you two million copies of your taxes splattered all across your basement.  Because the virus, in order to reproduce, makes the cell explode.  Thankfully, you don’t have to drink toner to get better.  (Although I’ve heard that toner solves the problem so quickly life insurance companies will not pay off – they don’t like tonercides.)  But still?  The cells explode.

In this case the cells are located in your respiratory tract.  You know, the place that provides life-giving oxygen so your Twinkie® and ice-cream eating body can live another three minutes?  Yeah, that place.

Your body has groups of virus hunter cells who look and dress exactly like mid-level late 1990’s programmers.  These virus hunters isolate the virus, and, once isolated, they extrude flagella that look exactly like baseball bats and destroy the invading virus.

Yes, I know that’s not the original song.  The Boy subscribes to this blog.

That’s how you get better, really, from any sickness this planet tosses at you – programmers attack it with baseball bats.  And your immune system keeps those geeky programmer guys around – so you don’t get the same virus again.  But the flu comes in all sorts of strains and mutates every year so the geeks don’t recognize the next virus.

How is the flu deadly?

Two ways.  The first and most psycho way is a cytokine storm.  A cytokine is a chemical signal that brings the cells with the baseball bats to destroy the copier.  (I apologize if this is getting too technical).  But let’s just say that your body releases too much cytokine?  In a really bad design flaw, all of the guys with baseball bats come from everywhere in your body and start trashing the place, even when they’ve run out of copiers.

In a cytokine storm your immune system trashes everything.  And can kill you.  So when you hear that a 205 pound (that’s 650 kilograms for you in Canada, or, as I like to call it, America’s hat) 22 year old bodybuilder with 4% body fat died two days after getting the flu?  Cytokine storm.

Medical hint:  If a medical science describes something as a “storm” it’s generally not a good sign, unless it happens to a really rich relative that liked you.

So far, I haven’t had at cytokine storm.  Since I’m breathing and all.  But the second reason flu kills people is the one that gets me in trouble:

All of the cells (copiers) that explode?  Well, all of their parts are everywhere in your respiratory system.  Your respiratory system is beyond inflamed – it’s covered in cell debris.  Which looks just like food to normally harmless bacteria that live, well, everywhere in your throat.  They sense the food?  Yeah.  Bacteria food fest.  And they don’t necessarily stop at the cell debris.  And then your already psycho baseball bat wielding immune system comes along, and . . . pneumonia.  Nothing fun about that.

That’s the one that gets me to get on the phone to my Internet doctor and pretend I have strep throat to get some amoxicillin.  It only happens every 11 years or so (this is important for later) so it’s livable, and also defines then interval between doctor visits for me.

But let’s get to the REAL point of this post, the one I’ve been teasing.

Flu, or “Influenza” comes from the Italian word . . . wait for it . . . “Influenza.”  Yay!  It’s easy when English just coopts the whole word.  But in Italian, influenza means, literally, influence.  Influence of what?

Influence of the stars.

So, you and I would just chalk this up to fate, karma, or some random encounter with some grimy plague covered dude.

But not Fred Hoyle.

Fred Hoyle, excuse me, Sir Fred Hoyle was a British dude.  And not only was he a British dude, he was a British dude who was smarter than Stephen Hawking.  Yeah.  I’ll stand by that.  He was (essentially) cheated out of a Nobel® Prize™ for the discovery (solo discovery) of how heavier elements are formed in stars and supernovas.

Yeah.  That smart.

Why was he cheated out of the Nobel©?  I’m thinking it was one of two things:  first, he berated the Nobel® committee for not giving the award one year to the grad student who actually did the work and made the discovery.  Hopefully she appreciated that.

Second?  He wasn’t shy about giving his opinion.  On anything.

Ever hear of the “Big Bang”?

Sir Fred was the guy who came up with the phrase.  He came up with the phrase while describing a theory that competed with the leading theory of the day – steady state.  That means the Universe didn’t start with a singularity – it has always existed.  Sure, we need more matter.  Hoyle speculated that the matter itself was being continuously created – he postulated that was no crazier that the idea that the Universe came from nothing.  His point when the background radiation was found by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson was that the radiation they found, if it were 10 times more or 10 times less would still have been proclaimed the background radiation from the Big Bang.  The conclusion was fixed – the evidence could change.

Other crazy things.  Carbon.  Hoyle looked at carbon and the physics for carbon formation in stars and supernovae.  He found that it was crazy unlikely that carbon would be present in the quantities that it is.  (HINT:  we are made of carbon.  And if there were less of it?  No us.  There are literally millions of carbon compounds – it’s a crazy versatile atom.)  He felt that the physical constants that governed carbon atom formation were so unlikely, that they were tweaked to make carbon since it is so important to  . . . us.

Did I mention Hoyle was an atheist?


He also felt that life was so unlikely (the analogy of life being as likely as a “747 being assembled by a tornado throwing parts together in a junkyard” was his) that he was a major proponent of panspermia – the idea that life was seeded here from interstellar space.  Because the idea that even single celled life occurs . . . is amazing.

Hoyle was also a fan of the concept of abiotic oil.  Abiotic is just a word that means “no dinosaurs died in making your gasoline” – the petroleum is a result of natural forces bringing it together.  If I didn’t have my next 18 blog posts planned out?  I could just start with Hoyle and get a dozen.  The man had ideas.

Yeah.  He wrote novels, too.  The one I read (The Incandescent Ones) was not particularly memorable.  I read the synopsis and . . . oh, yeah, I guess I remember that.

But the biggie for this post has already been alluded to:  Hoyle, in 1989 and in 2000 brought up . . . the flu.

Hoyle’s thesis was that the flu was not from Earth.  The flu came from outer space, and incidents of significant flu outbreaks were tied to the Sun.  See my link here (LINK) for other Sun linked things, and there will be (it’s currently scheduled for sometime in the next six weeks) another Sunspot linked post.

Did you catch that?  Hoyle felt that the flu came from space (queue echoey space music) and the solar cycle correlated to when we would have flu outbreaks.  The previous times Hoyle brought this up were at solar cycle peaks, in 1990 and 2000.  And the Spanish flu that killed 50,000,000 and infected 500,000,000.  (500,000,000 of a total population of 1,800,000,000.  25% of everyone on Earth got the flu.  The same flu.)  Yeah, that happened at a solar cycle peak.  Going back to the origin of the word “flu” or “Influenza” or “influence of the stars”?  Yeah.  Most scientists thought he was wrong.  Which is how every scientist feels about a new idea until they die.

solar cycle

Did I mention that Hoyle felt that life outside of Earth, began in space?  Yeah.  I did.

The Universe as depicted by 1978.  Note:  No Cylons were injured in the creation of this film.

The flu is dangerous.  A minor modification could make that cytokine storm much more likely.  Another minor modification?  Near universal death.  Call it a full flu.  But that’s a sad thought.  Not one that anyone has ever had.

Yeah, The Stand was an awesome book by Stephen King.  Read it!  It’s what a full flu would do to you!  (Note, not an instruction manual for the Anti-Christ.)

So I’m struggling for the moral to the story this week.  Don’t allow the flu to turn your immune system into baseball bat wielding dudes who will kill you?  Avoid crazy ideas since you won’t get the Nobel™ Prize®?

So an atheist that knew more about science than you or I ever will was convinced that not only the Universe was rigged in favor of life (carbon atom formation) and that life was so improbable that he speculated it came from space . . . .

Yeah, that’s the moral.  The flu can be more than a virus.  It can make you flat-out think.

Be like Hoyle.  Allow one crazy idea a day to enter your brain.  Figure out where it leads.  And take vitamin C (LINK) if you get the flu.

Believe me, you don’t want the one the aliens came up with this year.


Did I mention that my buddy John Apollo has a birthday this weekend?  Yeah, he does.  Happy Birthday!  Leave a comment and let him know that you care.  Or don’t and make him wallow in horrible sadness.