Pseudo-science

More blood on Oprah’s hands

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It seems to have been ages since this post, and this… in which the link between Oprah’s obsession with new age nonsense in ‘the Secret’ and smooth talking con artists pushing self-help solutions clearly resulted in a preventable death.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped, and here another example – 3 deaths caused by some idiot pushing the really deep idea that ‘thoughts, feelings and actions need to be firing simultaneously in the same direction’. Oh what a lot of drivel. Just wish for it, and so it will be. It’s the Secret all over.

This piece of video focuses one of the deceased. It’s both heartbreaking and infuriating.

Good work again Oprah.

Unfortunately, none of your charitable works brings back the dead, or in any way makes up for facilitating con artists to find their marks.

 

EMF – OMFG!

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EMF is not one of those abbreviations you commonly see in text messages, so don’t worry if you couldn’t decipher the title of this post.

It means Electromagnetic Fields, and it’s a thing.

But it’s another of those things that con artists have appropriated to separate you from your money. Yep, anything vaguely sciencey or technical is certain to baffle the rubes and have them reaching for their wallet (see one of my earlier sprays on this subject here).

The whole EMF protection industry (and there seems to be quite a decent sized one out there) plays on the fact that yes, there are EM fields out there – otherwise, no TV, radio, phones, air traffic control, TV remotes, wi-fi, bluetooth, microwave ovens, etc etc, but that they are nasty and can harm you, and therefore you need to be protected from our cruel modern world.

Before we get into the fun of looking at a couple of these hilarious sites, a couple of simple statements on EM fields.

  • EM radiation can hurt you if the field intensity is high enough – for example, I wouldn’t put the cat in the microwave oven. Or stand too close to a high power phone cell antenna dish (that is, on the actual dish, not the mast).
  • Nothing in our daily environment has been shown to be harmful in any way. The biggest controversy has been mobile phones, but even huge studies on their effects have been inconclusive. And by ‘inconclusive’ I don’t mean ‘well, there may or may not be a problem’, like it’s 50:50; rather, there is no significant evidence of ANY harm. There is also the issue of living close to power lines, and all the media that’s had, but again, no evidence for any physiological effect, although there are certainly some psychogenic illnesses associated with them.
  • Perhaps the dominant EM issue for us is UV radiation from the sun, and we already have protection from that – ozone layers, creams, and just staying indoors.

Conspiracy theorists and nutters, start your search engines! I expect a tonne of comments telling me how blinded I am by the establishment and ‘Big Tech’, and the New World Order, which used EM fields to control the population, yada yada yada. Go for it. But you know what I’m going to say, right? Show me the evidence for your claims. Closely followed by “no, not a study from the Online University of Hicksville USA, but one from a reputable source”. You know the drill by now.

Now that you know the basics, let’s have some fun – let’s start with the nicely titled EMF Blues. This site is basically a vehicle for mom and pop McKusick to sell some ceramic doo-dads which mom has cooked up in her ceramics class. In fact they would make nice buttons or ear-rings if you’re a bit a of a hippy.

But instead, their buttons are actually ”Crystal Catalyst Resonators”. OOohh. I swoon at the technical talk. Go on, say it to me again. Crystal Catalyst Resonators. Back in a minute….

Ok, I’m back now. Yes, apparently, these devices:

..harmonize electromagnetic frequencies so they are no longer harmful to your body. This makes them powerful EMF Protection Devices AND Life Energy Enhancers. …The technology has a unique composition and structure which allows it to absorb and then rebroadcast harmful electromagnetic radiations in a cleaner form. These cleaner frequencies are beneficial to the body. Tests shows that Crystal Catalyst® Resonators increase the body’s strength and enhance whole brainwave functioning.

So, more for your money then. But surely they play havoc with mobile phone reception? They didn’t say, but I emailed them, and their response was:

The Cell Phone Tab will not interfere with cell phone reception. The Tab does not block or shield the frequencies but rather harmonizes them, therefore, the frequencies are still present and intact, and reception is not altered.

They pointed me to the relevant page, where I found I could buy the Cell Phone Tab for only $16.50. Just stick it to the back of my phone, and all will be well.

But how do they know they work? More on this later. But front and centre they have a wonderful testimonial from William in Quebec (I know, impressive, right?), who says:

I had my Crystal Catalyst® Bead muscle tested by my naturopath and he was impressed by how well it worked for so little cost. I am now buying Cell Phone Tabs and the Star 3 Hole. I now feel confident in buying more and recommending them to others.

With that sort of support, why wouldn’t you be convinced? If a naturopath is impressed, it must be the real deal. But Robyn from Kentucky really seals the deal:

Do you ever tell what these blue disks are composed of? Don’t know how, but they really do stop the icky vibes from coming out of the computer. I don’t feel them anymore. Thank you!

Icky vibes from the computer? I only get those when I read Andrew Bolt online.

The site admits that science doesn’t know how it works, but goes for the ‘argument from antiquity’ with this quote:

Egyptian Faience refers to a silicon based ceramic glaze which was produced in Egypt from 3500 B.C. until the first century A.D. The Ancient Egyptians believed Faience to be a magical substance that contained the powers of rebirth. Scarabs and talismans were thought to derive their powers from this quartz based Faience glaze.

Crystal Catalyst® Technology shares many properties of Faience. It too is a silicone based ceramic and is fired in a similar energy field as was used to produce Faience in Ancient Egypt.

Well, it’s old, it must work. But wait there’s more…you can also charge water with the device! Bullshit you say. No, really. Here’s the proof:

Charged Water is water that has been given a new structure and has more healing abilities because of it. Water can be charged by placing a Crystal Catalyst® Bead in or touching the outside of a pitcher of water. This water tastes sweeter and is more easily absorbed by the body. Plants watered with Crystal Catalyst® Water grow green and lush.

But how was this wonderful technology developed? What great lab took this from wish to reality? None other that the team at Biomagnetics Research Inc, established in  1983. Here’s the team. I’m sure there’s a PhD in there somewhere. Actually there isn’t. Ma and pa’s main qualifications are in dowsing – you know, using a stick to find things in the ground. That’s ma and pa on the right, with Billy-bob and Betty-Lou on the left.

BioMagPortateforWeb

Perhaps surprisingly, I found a ‘Testings’ page on their site – so kudos for recognising the need for it, even though it’s grammatically unsound. But what do we find? Apparently EMF meters (which are also a thing) can’t test their product! Have we heard that before? You know, the ‘your modern science can’t deal with this mystical phenomenon’ gambit. No, apparently the only way to test that their product works is with Applied Kinesiology, Kirlian Photography and Whole Brainwave Functioning.

And damn, if they didn’t actually provide proof! There’s an actual picture of ma lifting a bottle of water before and after activating the patented technology! Wow, you have to see this to believe it! But now I’m being facetious. They’ve actually also done independent testing, oh yes. Here it is:

A leading International Canadian Testing Laboratory for Clean Energy has confirmed that the resonators “are not electrical, magnetic, or radioactive, and they can not harm electrical appliances, or computer hardware or software”

Well, ok, I could have told you that and I’m not a Canadian Testing Laboratory. Any comment on whether they work??? How about this:

Doctors at the University of California at Santa Cruz used Kiniseology (muscle testing) to measure the strength of subjects before exposure to electromagnetic radiations. Subjects were then measured in an electromagnetic field using Crystal Catalyst Resonators and showed to be stronger than they were prior to the exposure.

So now we’re using a fraudulent therapy, to test a fraudulent product? Nice One. See my article on Applied Kinesiology here. Pure theatre and totally bogus. Same goes for Kirlian Photography – which is completely fake – here’s a nice discussion of it here. What else?

Farmers in Wisconsin had Dairy cows in Wisconsin were under stress from power line radiation. After placing Crystal Catalyst® Beads on their collars the cows produced more milk with increased butter fat and less bacteria.

And the cows looked cute too, with their beads and all. Actually I’m surprised those farmers had time to do this testing, what with all the aliens doing anal probing in the part of the country. Maybe the aliens relaxed the cows – that would be a far more plausible explanation.

As for the brain testing, they contend that:

Being electrical, the brain is severely affected by electronic pollution. That’s why you feel so “brain-dead” after spending hours on your computer or talking on your cell phone.

No, you feel brain-dead because you’re tired. They follow this up with some hokey charts which anyone could have knocked up. Of course, this data has been published somewhere right? And peer reviewed? Because if they’ve actually built one of these things it would turn science and physics on its head. It means we could travel to Mars without worrying about those pesky cosmic rays! No more sunburn! And if string theory is correct, these devices could be used to block gravity too! Must get me one.

And finally, visit the Testimonials page, for a real laugh, all written in the same style – here’s the first one:

Your Frequency Harmonizer Pendant makes my child less jumpy and the Crystal Catalyst Bead makes him sing all day. Thank you very much for such nice products…I’d like to buy more in the future.

Really? You want your kid to be singing all day? And why would you need to buy more? Do they wear out?

Anyway, enough fun – and they’re are not the only site – the internet is littered with them –  try this one for example, which is a shambles of a site. Some of the fun facts on this site include:

Microwave ovens heat the food by radiation, which “deranges” the
molecules
 of food and water so our bodies have trouble recognizing
and using them.

The hip area produces 80% of the body’s red blood cells.  This
function is especially vulnerable to EMF damage.

You shouldn’t use your cell phone in a car because the metal car
frame amplifies electromagnetic radiation and affects all passengers,
even those not using the cell phone.

A cell phone’s impulses can disable the brain’s barrier that shields
the brain from poisons in the blood.  And it happens after only 2 minutes
of cell phone use.

You get the idea. Gloom and doom, therefore, buy our pendant.

Same old scam. Same old pitch.

Please don’t fall for it – just have a laugh and enjoy the kooky con artists of the 21st century.

Central State and The Age – I’m really spooked now

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Just what this video was doing on the Melbourne Age website I have no idea. They’ve started this ‘Age.TV’ section, and I suppose they have to publish something.  And I’m sure the quality of the content can only improve after the planned sacking of 1900 staff.

It’s a ‘documentary’ about ghost hunting, set in a disused mental institution called Central State, which apparently closed in 1994, and of course is full of tortured souls.

I really hope I’ve missed the point of this movie – that it’s satire. But I don’t think so. It’s just another execrable piece of self-delusion by people who really want to believe in ghosts. Naturally these people are easy fodder for film-makers who want to cash in on their fantasy.

Yes, it’s another bunch of people who’ve drunk the kool-aid of the paranormal, much like our friends at MyTelekinesis. (Hi guys, where ya bin? It’s awfully quiet when you’re not around. I know, too busy moving stuff around by thinking about it, right?)

I thought we were done with this sort of thing. Dimly lit scenes, inexplicable sounds, ghostly images in the lens, and ‘experts’ who can feel the energy of those poor, tortured souls.

Please don’t bother watching the whole thing. Just skip through randomly. I guarantee that every frame you randomly select will contain the same crap.

In fact, just watch the first few minutes to get the flavour. You will be greeted with the horrifying footage of a ghostly visage in one of the windows, which sends our intrepid film crew into a frenzy. No matter that this ghostly visage clearly looks like a knotted up bed sheet.

What follows is an exploration of the building, in which there’s never enough light. Funny about that. A couple of generators would fix that, but somehow no-one thinks of it. So we have a bunch of brainless twits following each-other through tunnels, bullshit-detecting equipment flashing away, sampling synth stuck on ‘Ghosties’,  mouthing inanities like  ‘yeah, definitely a totally different energy in here’ and ‘there’s something here’. Well, duh. My guess would be half a dozen or so morons. But there I go being all skeptical again.

Really people, can’t we move on from ghosts, holy or otherwise?

And if this is the type of content which The Melbourne Age will have behind it’s shiny new pay-wall, then their new business model will be a bigger disaster than everyone is predicting. I think in future I’ll be getting my news and analysis from The Conversation, unless a mining magnate buys that as well.

MyTelekinesis – One more magnet for loonies

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Update for visitors from MyTelekinesis – you’re most welcome to make comments, and I’ll try to get to them all. But be aware we may be in different time zones, so your post may not be published for quite some time, since I read and release each and every item.

Also note that I will not publish abusive emails, as submitted by one of your number already.

Of course, you call all foresee that I would do that.

 

Here’s a bit of fun.

While surfing that great wonderful world wide web the other day, I came across this marvellous site: MyTelekinesis.

Normally, with a wacky website, one could judiciously select some key aspects of the site to discuss and, where necessary, point out the folly of the arguments or points being made.

But with this amazing site, I wouldn’t bother. Actually, the only challenge is to avoid laughing out loud.

Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of quantum…

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Just by coincidence, I came across this video in this article on PZ Myers’ Pharyngula site. It’s Richard Dawkins interviewing Deepak Chopra on quantum physics.

I have mentioned Deepak Chopra as a serial offender in the misappropriation of the word quantum – applying it to all manner of mumbo-jumbo. In this video, he backs off, claiming it’s use is just a metaphor. PZ makes the point that, in the same breath, Chopra then accuses science of misappropriating the word. What a cheek, Deep.

The thing about this video is Chopra’s straight face as he mangles some basic concepts to suit his magical thinking.

And Richard Dawkins can barely contain himself – it’s amusing to watch Dawkins squirm, as he resists the urge to have a crack at Chopra. Enjoy.

Oh boy – Christmas has come early!

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Danger: extreme smug-alert for the next several paragraphs.

In what seems to be a sudden, planet-wide attack of common sense, the world of reason has received two early chrissy presents.

Firstly, we read that here in Oz, Doctors take aim at chiropractors. It’s about bloody time that doctors stood up and and pointed the finger at these purveyors of quackery and pseudoscience. I’ve written before about this, and a particular irritation is the fact that our universities are teaching this stuff, and what’s more are being funded federally to do so. Predictably, the spokesman for the quackopractors insisted that “chiropractic treatment was evidence-based, including its use on children for the treatment of conditions such as colic“. They say that, but they NEVER back it up with evidence, such as, oh, reference to quality trials. If such trials and results existed, then the British Chiropractors Association wouldn’t have lost the celebrated case against Simon Singh in which Simon was sued for referring to chiropractic treatment as ‘bogus’. The BCA proferred a range of studies as evidence, but none stood up to scrutiny. So, Australian Chiropractors Association, let’s see the studies ….

And today I also read an article entitled EU quells buzz on royal jelly, in which a body called the European Food Safety Authority has sunk the boot into a whole range of health claims of one sort or another. In fact they’ve gone further than just safety, but have assessed products for efficacy. It appears that  the EU approved regulations in May 2006 to ensure that nutrition and health claims appearing on food products were scientifically proven. Well done EFSA. Our Therapeutic Goods Administration should take note. Apparently the EFSA has approved only 200 of 2500 health claims made by different products,with many more waiting in the wings. Amongst those products that get the thumbs down are royal jelly and its claim to boost the immune system, green tea and its claim to maintain healthy blood pressure, black tea and its claim to help focus attention, and glucosamine and its claim to improve joint pain and function (no doubt the EFSA finally read this).

Advice: You are leaving the smug zone.

From the archives: SCENAR Challenge

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Way back in March, I did a couple of pieces on the magical therapy known as SCENAR. You know, another of those amazing things which the Europeans/Ancients/Russians/Easterners invented, but about which we are blissfully ignorant . After my rant in this piece, I featured and excited response by someone going by the well-thought out pseudonym of ‘person’, who, in defending the treatment and attacking me, made every logical fallacy in the book.

In the end I concluded it was just SCENAR marketing types wanting to get even, but just in case, challenged my learned correspondent to contribute some real learnin’ to rationalbrain. I suggested he/she:

  1. Show me the ‘real research’ which demonstrates efficacy. I mean real studies, not ‘I’ve treated 47 people and they’re all happy’. Preferably the studies should have been published in a relevant and reputable peer-reviewed journal.
  2. Explain to me why the Therapeutic Goods Administration has censured purveyors of scenar for misleading claims, which sound not unlike yours. And I don’t want to hear about how ‘big Pharma’ is trying to suppress this magical treatment.
  3. Explain to me and the readers your understanding of the way scenar works. What is the mechanism of action, in terms of what we know about physiology, and without reference to mysticism, energy fields or quantum babble.
  4. Please provide your qualifications, the institution from which you received them, what (if any) your specialties are, and what (if anything) you’ve published by way of research.

Well, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that I didn’t receive a response. And after all that outrage.

So, I’m putting the challenge out to all SCENAR practitioners. I’m sure there must be at least one of you willing to enlighten us all by answering some or all of the above.

I sure hope the WordPress servers don’t melt down as the responses come in on this one.