Skepticism

Man Uses Wormholes to Make It Rain

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Transcript:

What would you do with a wormhole? Like, if you have the ability to make a wormhole at any time just by snapping your fingers, what would you do with it? A wormhole, in case you’ve been living in a…hole…possibly dug out by a worm…is a theoretical concept of a tunnel that connects any two points in space-time. It was originally thought up by physicists in the early 20th century, eventually being perfected by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen (which is why wormholes are alternatively known as Einstein-Rosen bridges). Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts that wormholes are real, but scientists have yet to actually find one. That may be because they’re also predicted to be microscopically small and prone to collapsing faster than a male soccer player. Yeah, not exactly Deep Space Nine shit.

Despite these challenges, one man claims that he has the ability to call forth a wormhole at will. His name is David Miles and he lives in Australia where he runs “Miles Research.” Miles refuses to reveal how he creates these wormholes, saying that he doesn’t want another company to steal his technology, or for the military to get their hands on it and weaponize it for nefarious purposes. It’s a noble sacrifice he’s making, considering that publishing his research on this subject would guarantee him a Nobel prize and billions of dollars in other awards and funding. But no, he wants to keep his tech a secret to continue with his greater purpose: making it rain.

I don’t mean that to be metaphorical, although in retrospect I suppose it is — he claims to be using wormholes to make it literally rain in southeastern Australia, though what it’s really doing is making it rain. Like, how rappers mean the phrase. Money. He’s making money.

You see, Miles is charging local farmers $50,000 to supposedly bring rain to their dry crops. He says he uses his wormhole tech to identify and build a “bridge” to weather systems that may be moving past in the next ten days, and then starting a “butterfly effect” that results in rain. He says he does this using “electromagnetic scalar waves,” which a University of Melbourne physicist reports “don’t exist.” Oh sure, who are you going to believe? A man who says he uses wormholes to make it rain or some “Big Physics” mouthpiece? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Miles points out that his tech must work, because desperate farmers are paying him for the service. And he even has a money-back guarantee, of sorts! If it rains 100 mm in a month, the farmers owe him $50,000. If they only get 50mm, they only owe him $25,000. And if they get less than 50mm, it’s free. How fair!

This reminds me of a much older scam, in which a psychic or someone with mysterious technology they refuse to reveal claims the ability to predict the sex of a fetus from the moment of conception, without a blood or pee test. This is, of course, impossible, but they promise a money-back guarantee if they get the sex wrong! So it’s win-win, right? Sure, for them. You drop $100. They flip a coin and tell you “boy” or “girl.” If they’re wrong, they lose nothing. If they’re right, they get $100. With a 50% chance of being right with every guess, that means they make, on average, $50 per customer. If anyone ever offers you a deal like this, let them know you want 200% back if they’re wrong. That way you’ll work out who is really confident in their psychic abilities.

Miles is taking advantage of the same trick. If he’s wrong, he loses nothing. If he’s right, he gets $25-50,000 for doing nothing. For the farmers, it’s like signing a contract saying “I’ll pay a random person if it rains.” But the odds say that Miles will occasionally be “right,” in that it actually will rain after he tells a farmer he will make it rain. For that farmer, who may not be well-versed in physics and “electromagnetic scalar waves,” he’s proven that his system works. So, they will keep paying, and if next month it doesn’t work due to some mix-up or system error, well, they didn’t have to pay for it so no worries, right?

It’s a scam, but is Miles a scammer? “Of course he is,” you may think. “You need a scammer to perpetuate a scam.” But what if Miles is also scamming himself? I bring this up because news.com.au reports that Miles’s company actually lost $70,000 last year. They also point out that they have “less than $1300 cash in the bank and debts of nearly $780,000.” I don’t imagine this is like Twitter or Facebook, where a company can be nearly a million dollars in debt but the CEO is still buying mansions for each of his mistresses. I think this is like…sad person whose serious misunderstanding of physics has combined with an overly inflated ego to lead to his financial devastation.

And weirdly, that’s the good news. For the real scammers, like “psychic” Sylvia Browne, they will keep defrauding people until they literally die, which happily Browne finally did when she was nearly 80 years old. Scammers like Miles, though, might not be actual sociopaths and so they will only keep defrauding people until they’re broke or they get decent meds or a good education. That’s not to say I feel too bad for him — after all, he’s still taking tens of thousands of dollars from farmers who don’t know any better.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, basically Australia’s version of the FTC) say they can’t do anything about Miles except for try to educate farmers so they don’t get conned. They point out that if they took him to court, the onus would be on them to prove that he can’t make a wormhole, which they feel is too difficult to do. I feel for them, because proving a negative is generally impossible. You’d think that the onus would fall on the defendant in this case to back up the claims he’s making. Surely if someone advertised that for $50,000 they could cure someone’s cancer with lasers, they’d be able to stop them. 

Even if it’s on the ACCC to prove that he’s wrong, news.com.au literally did that with one quote from a physicist. “Electromagnetic scalar waves don’t exist.” Miles isn’t on trial for murder, but even if he was you can still prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that he can’t open a fucking wormhole to control the weather. Call ten different physicists to the stand. Maybe throw in a meteorologist. Honestly, they should do it not just for the farmers but for Miles. At this rate, he’s going to bankrupt himself within a year and take several family farms down with him, and the ACCC will have no one to blame but themselves. And maybe the state of Victoria’s science education program.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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