Month: June 2011

Elmore Oil feedback please…

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Months after having published my investigations into Elmore Oil, the interest has continued unabated.

In fact, page views are picking up as time goes by, in particular for these articles here and here, and now number in the many hundreds. This traffic has, in recent weeks, resulted in just three comments taking me to task on my findings and views. One of them was polite but full of factual errors, while the other two got a bit feisty. If you’re interested, you can see them in this thread, and here. But by far the majority of viewers of the relevant pages have not commented.

So, if you’re a potential elmore oil purchaser, and have stumbled across this article because google offered it to you, please let me know what you think about the earlier articles. You can read them all by typing ‘Elmore’ in the search box at rationalbrain.

Did they persuade you one way or the other? Were they too harsh? Or did they perhaps get you to think a bit more about whether to spend the money or not?

I don’t want to sound like a broken record (to sound younger, I should have said an MP3 on repeat), but I already acknowledge that many people will have positive experiences using Elmore Oil, so please, enough with the testimonials. My whole point with this series of articles is not to demonise Elmore and other similar remedies, but to highlight the excessive claims often made by purveyors of miracle cures. In the example of Elmore Oil, the only real testing showed that any old oil will do the trick (though I wouldn’t suggest diesel). So why is it that people won’t simply try some baby oil first?

Look forward to hearing what you make of it all.


Sinning – the facts

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This is a bit mischievous, but fun none-the-less.

It places the focus fairly and squarely on the hypocrisy which is central to some types of christian behaviour, and clearly shows that religion is most certainly not a pre-requisite for a moral life, or even simple good social behaviour.

The perils of technology in meetings

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Based on quite a few years now in the management consulting game, I’d been considering initiating a new category of posts entitled something like ‘management pseudoscience’, and then I saw this article in the Age, which seemed like a good way to kick off the category.

By management pseudoscience I mean all the pseudoscience and nonsense which pervades the business world, resulting in a whole range of practices and belief systems which are just as annoying, bizarre and non-sensical as those in the medical or psychological pseudoscience arena. Examples you may have heard of include Myers-Briggs personality typing, and, ‘Top x habits of a successful business’ and that sort of thing. In general I have found that the analysis behind such so-called management science is about as far from the practice of science as you can get. Anyway, more on that later.

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Reality-based education

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Another word on keeping religion out of mainstream schooling, so that our kids can focus on the wonders of the real world… Read the rest of this entry »

A rationalbrain in the making

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Apropos of nothing, except perhaps to reminisce about the environment in which rational brains can develop and thrive, here is an article written by an old friend and classmate Martin for the Melbourne School of Engineering blog, at Melbourne University, my alma mater as the yanks put it. He wrote the article about a historic little space we carved out for ourselves (not literally), known as the Dungeon.

Basically it was a glorified storage room, sporting an open drain, but was otherwise quite charming. We would sit around a large  table discussing today’s maths problems, and generally marvelling at how Lloyd manage to finish his so quickly. I also spent many happy hours down there defending my heathenistic views from Ross’s born-again ideas. At one point, I remember a gathering around the table comparing our shiny new TI59 programmable calculators, which were the latest thing, and a huge shot across the bows of HP and their revolutionary foray into the world of Reverse Polish Notation. Whatever happened to that? Think Beta video tapes, eight-track sound cartridges, and SQ quadraphonic-encoded LPs. Or just LPs for that matter.

And so it went on.

Martin has cunningly juxtaposed some early class attendance mug-shots with a shot of the group (less a couple of notables, including the above-mentioned Ross) taken at a get-together at my place last January. The shots were taken in 1975 I think (being first year), so are a full 36 years apart.


Re-tweet: Cane toads of the air thrive on stupidity

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I came across this article last week, and wanted to pass it on in whatever the blog equivalent of re-tweeting is… re-blogging perhaps?

In any case, it’s an outstanding article from Elizabeth Farrelly, who writes a column in the Sydney Morning Herald, amongst other things. I particularly enjoyed how she summed up my feelings on these often irrational, self-serving and self-important shock-jocks, of which Alan Jones is the archetype. To quote a couple of particularly nicely-put paras:

They are the cane toads of contemporary culture: ugly, ubiquitous, toxic to most other life forms and adept at using their peculiar behaviour to force change in ours.

It’s not so much that they’re rude, lowbrow or just plain wrong, although these, too, are often the case. The most destructive effect of the shock-jockariat is the poisoning of the logic-well itself; followed by the incremental death of the argument tree that is root and branch of intelligent civilisation.

However, I must say Elizabeth does cane toads a disservice. These poor creatures are just trying to make their way in life, having been introduced into our country some years ago as a means for defeating pests having a crack at cane fields in Queensland. At least they had some purpose, and their behaviour since that time in trying to colonise this great land is understandable, and in fact quite logical.

In contrast, the behaviour of their human counterparts is almost impossible to understand. Even harder to understand is how so many readers/viewers/listeners get taken in by these people – perhaps there is a percentage of the population that just wants someone to do the thinking for them, and simply outsources it to the shock jocks. Not sure. This is especially frustrating when they portray themselves as armchair experts – as is the case with Jones regarding climate change, not to mention Bolt on nuclear engineering. These guys are clueless, really. It’s even more galling when their opinion can be bought, as was the case with Jones and Laws in recent years. These guys didn’t even have the courage or honesty to let their listeners know they were being paid to spruik banks, airlines, telstra and whatever else.

That’s another advantage cane toads have. They’re honest about what they’re doing. And probably more highly evolved.

Exposing the Anti-vaccine loons

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Nice work 60 Minutes. This video highlights yet another misguided fool who is directly responsible for the deaths of children.