Archive for the ‘Not Even Wrong’ Category

Student Faces Disciplain Over Uranium

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

This is the kind of story that really burns me up. General fear and ignorance by both authorities and the public is once again making life unnecessarily problematic for someone who didn’t do anything wrong.

Daytona Beach News-Journal:

Stetson student found with uranium on DeLand campus
Stetson University officials confiscated a package containing low-grade uranium from a student Thursday, DeLand police said.

Volusia County’s HAZMAT team, DeLand police and firefighters were called to the scene. Authorities discovered that the amount of uranium was small enough that it could be possessed legally.

Police said there was no immediate threat to the campus, but the Public Safety Office was temporarily sealed off as a precaution.

According to Cindi Brownfield, Stetson spokeswoman, possession of uranium falls under the university’s weapons policy, and the student will go through Stetson’s judicial process.

DeLand Deputy Chief Randel Henderson said in an email that police are “conferring with the FBI as a routine protocol.”

And also, here’s a clip from a local news station:


Uranium found in Stetson University dorm room: MyFoxORLANDO.com

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Unlike Homeopathic Principles, Grass Is Real And Does Grow

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Some quack “doctor” – actually, “naturalistic doctor” by the name of Eric Bakker has been getting some attention with his idiotic tweets about how homeopathy is going to overtake all medicine because its workings are obviously better. According to him, skeptics are just desperate self-deluded idiots or big pharma shills and the fact that the James Randi Educational Foundation will offer one million dollars to prove it just makes Randi a “Dork” because… skeptics can’t explain how grass grows.. or something.

You can read all his stupid tweets here, but here are some of my favorite:

I think my favorite has to be this one:

All truth passes through 3 stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. …

Whether or not this is true, lets not forget: Not all that is ridiculed is truth.

I don’t really see where he’s going with his “explain how grass grows” nonsense or what that has to do with anything. However, I *think* what he is trying to say is that the growth of grass is self-evident and that homeopathy is also self-evident and therefore it does not matter if you can demonstrate how it works or not – it works and that’s that.

Well, unfortunately, this is simply not the case. It’s a common tactic of quacks to use self-observed results and anecdotes about a patient who got better to justify their non-working cures. Anecdotal reports and experiences once guided medicine, and all in all, it didn’t work out too well. It really was not until medicine started to adopt case control studies and quantifiable experimental data, which wasn’t universal until the late 1800′s, that it actually started to make major advances in conquering disease. Toady it’s the cornerstone of medical science, because it works.

There are a number of problems with the “it works, just ask my patients” argument. First of all, many conditions are self-limiting and people usually recover on their own. If you take 50 people with a cold and give them a pill, in a week most of them will be better. But was it because of the pill? Well, you really can’t tell one way or another unless you can actually compare the results with the pill to those without it. As it turns out, people get better from a cold with or without a pill.

The other problem is that a single case or even a dozen cases of someone recovering extremely quickly from a condition could just be a fluke. Even late stage cancer patients have been known to, on occasion, experience spontaneous remission. If you send thousands of such cancer patients to a homeopath, a few will experience remission and tell you how great their experience was. The rest won’t, but they won’t tell you how ineffective the treatment was, because they’ll be dead.

Finally, there is the placebo effect and the fact that people are just not very good at objectively observing anything and even worse at observing themselves. That’s why the studies collect data from third party observers or, when it is self-reported, it is tabulated and compared to a control group, to see if there is a statistically significant trend.

Okay, if I absolutely must, yes I can explain how grass grows:

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No, A Sinlge Case Of Using Alternative Medicine and Getting Better Doesn’t Validate it.

Friday, June 24th, 2011

A rather idiotic write-up comes out way from the Mercury News:

Marin boy’s homeopathic treatment demonstrates difficulty of evaluating alternative remedy

Valerie Goodale of Novato believes that homeopathic treatments administered by a San Anselmo doctor cured her son of a rare, potentially life-threatening disease.

“I’ve seen it do miraculous things,” said Goodale, whose son Nicholas was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis when he was 6 months old. His plight was featured in a Sept. 28, 1997, article in the Marin Independent Journal that documented his initial alternative treatments.

Today, Nicholas is a healthy 16-year-old junior at Novato High School who competes on the track team. “He’s thriving,” Goodale said.

But Dr. Rima Jubran, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who has specialized in the treatment of histiocytosis for 12 years, said some people with Nicholas’ condition get well with no treatment at all.

“This patient may have gotten better despite this homeopathic medicine,” Jubran said.

Goodale’s experience with homeopathy illustrates just how tricky it is to evaluate the medical efficacy of an alternative therapy that was used by 3.9 million U.S. adults and approximately 900,000 children in 2006, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

No. It doesn’t show how “tricky” it is. No one case can be used to validate a treatment because it could easily just be a fluke that the person got better. That is why there must be a sample *group,* and ideally a large one. This is compared to a control group of similar composition. It’s not enough to show that some who received the treatment got better – it must be a greater proportion than those who didn’t.

Histiocytosis is a general name for a group of syndromes that involve an abnormal increase in the number of white blood cells called histiocytes.

According to the Histiocytosis Association of America, the vast majority of sufferers survive the illness.
In

some cases, however, the disease proves fatal, and other patients develop life-long chronic problems while still other patients go into remission without treatment.

“My son had a skin rash over his whole body, and he had enlarged lymph nodes,” said Goodale, who has worked as a nurse for 32 years.

Goodale took another nurse’s advice to explore alternative therapies after doctors at Stanford University suggested trying chemo and radiation therapy.

“I felt like I was dealing with fire. I didn’t want to kill him,” Goodale said.

You’re lucky. You almost did kill him. You saw fire and what did you do? Rather than call the fire department you let it burn. It just happened to burn out. It might not have, but it did. If it hadn’t you would be in a much different place now.

But it gets better (or rather worse)…

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New “Renewable” Energy Idea – Barometric Pressure Power

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

When it comes to “renewable energy” some ideas work better than others. At least with wind and solar power energy can be generated – it’s expensive and you don’t get much of it, but working poorly is at least better than not working at all. There are other ideas which just plain won’t work. Some of these fall into the category of free energy or perpetual motion. Others are somewhere between unworkable and impossible.

Here’s a new one (at least to me): barometric pressure energy. Point of fact you could gather a tiny amount of energy from changes in local barometric pressure, if you had a large enough piston to move every time the air pressure changes. This idea, however, is based on the concept of using pipelines to connect distant areas. (and I don’t mean wind power, which in a sense, does work in this manner) When these areas have different barometric pressure, air will flow through the pipeline and spin a turbine.

Or at least that’s the idea…

Via “Cold Energy Technology”:

ACM is a system for the generation of energy based upon differences in the atmospheric pressure at geographically spaced sites, and comprises at least one long conduit – in the order of many miles long. In operation, the air flow in the conduit will accelerate to a high velocity wind without the consumption of any materials and without the use of any mechanical moving parts. A power converter, such as a wind turbine, in the conduit converts the high wind velocity generated by even small pressure differences into energy of any desired type.

The opposite open ends of the conduit are located at geographically spaced sites, selected on the basis of historical information indicating a useful difference in barometric pressure. A plurality of conduits, each having open ends in different geographically spaced sites, may be interconnected to maximize the existing pressure differences, and will produce higher and more consistent levels of energy production. The ACM conduit configuration of the invention can transform even barometric pressure differences in the order of one tenth pound per square inch into wind velocities in the sonic range.

Now who wants to explain why this absolutely will not work?

Unintentionally Funny Homeopathic Press Release

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Somehow the following idiotic press release managed to actually get reposted on several major news outlet websites.

Via the San Fransisco Chronical (reprint off of PRWeb):


How natural medications affect the brain

How does medicine affect our brain? Prof. Dr. Wilfried Dimpfel from the Justus Liebig University in Gießen, Germany, uses electricity to come up with the answer. He measures brain waves with the help of an electroencephalogram (EEG) to characterize the impact of pharmaceuticals. Using one of the homeopathic medications produced by the pharmaceutical company Heel as an example, he examined its effects, compared it to other medications and created a differentiated profile.

The electroencephalogram (EEG) is an approved standard method in medical diagnostics. It measures the electric signals that nerve cells in the brain use to communicate. Based on the region of the brain and the frequency of these electrical activities, the psycho-pharmacological effect of medication can be described, among other information. Each drug produces an individual reaction pattern.

The pharmacologist Prof. Dr. Wilfried Dimpfel examined the effect of a medication that contains several natural active pharmaceutical ingredients in homeopathic dilution, including passion flower and oats. Within an hour after taking the drug, the brain activity in certain regions already becomes more intense. It then reaches its peak after two to three hours and gradually decreases.

Yes, EEG is a valid medical technology that has diagnostic value, but in this case, the actual results are meaningless. It does not seem as if there is any placebo group, and in fact there is no control group at all. Whether or not the activity on the EEG is at all related to the fact that the homeopathic concoction was taken is impossible to tell. It could be that just sitting there for two hours causes the activity in certain areas of the brain to increase.

But it gets worse:

“Although the active pharmaceutical ingredients in the homeopathic preparation are highly diluted, the brain shows a strong reaction,” Dimpfel says. “The low dosage possibly even has a higher impact: In pre-clinical experiments, the brain’s response was even stronger if the dose was half of a pill per kilogram of body weight instead of a whole pill,” he adds.

Am I the only one who sees some pretty astounding logical paradoxes here?
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Amazing Stupidity: Scientists Indicted For Not Predicting Quake

Friday, May 27th, 2011

This is one of the most breathtakingly idiotic and downright scary stories I’ve read. Persecuting scientists for not predicting something they absolutely cannot predict seems like the kind of thing that might happen in the middle ages. When I saw the headline I immediately thought it must be coming from some backwater place in Africa or perhaps Haiti.

But no, it’s Italy, a fully industrial country that actually has running water, electricity and where everyone should know better than this.

Via the Sydney Morning Herald (Associated Press Story):

Italian scientists arrested over deadly quake
ROME: Seven scientists and other experts have been indicted on manslaughter charges for allegedly failing to warn residents sufficiently before an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009.

Defence lawyers condemned the charges yesterday, saying it was impossible to predict earthquakes. Seismologists have long concurred, saying no big earthquake has been foretold.

The judge, Giuseppe Romano Gargarella, ordered members of the national government’s great risks commission, which evaluates potential for natural disasters, to go on trial in L’Aquila on September 20.
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The judge reportedly said the defendants ”gave inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” about whether smaller tremors felt in L’Aquila in the six months before the April quake should have constituted grounds for a warning.

Prosecutors focused on a memo issued after a meeting of the commission in March 2009 called because of mounting concerns about seismic activity. The memo – issued a week before the big quake – said experts had concluded a big quake was ”improbable” but could not be excluded.

Commission members later stressed to the media that six months of low-magnitude quakes was not unusual in the highly seismic region and did not mean a big one was coming.

In one interview included in the prosecutors’ case, a commission member, Bernardo De Bernardis, responded to a question about whether residents should just relax with a glass of wine. ”Absolutely, absolutely, a Montepulciano doc,” he replied, referring to a red wine.

Such a reassuring opinion ”persuaded the victims to stay at home”, the indictment reportedly said.

The 6.3-magnitude quake killed 308 people in and around the mediaeval town, which was largely reduced to rubble. Thousands of survivors lived in tent camps or temporary housing for months.

Defence lawyers contend that since earthquakes cannot be predicted, accusations that the commission should have sounded an alarm make no sense.

Although earthquakes cannot be predicted, after Japan’s recent devastating quake experts said an early warning system in place there to detect the Earth’s rumblings before they could be felt helped save countless lives.

But as recently as this month Italy’s national geophysics institute insisted earthquakes could not be predicted in a bid to dispel a widely reported prediction of a huge quake that was due to strike Rome on May 11.

Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

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May 21 and…. we’re all still here

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

As mentioned on this site before…

It’s really no surprise. Aside from a few really really wacked out fundamentalists and the commenter named “anonymous” – who pretty much believes the sky is falling all the time, it would seem that predictions of the end days are not coming true.

Now to be perfectly fair, the 21st is not entirely over and they were a little vague on what time this would all go down. According to some sites it’s 6 o’clock PM, but others just seem to say it’s May 21. Then there’s the little issue of time zones. Obviously the world does not experience May 21 at exactly the same time. In fact, as of this writing, may 21 is already over for much of the Pacific, as May 22 dawns across the International Dateline.

According to Harold Camping, the old fool who came up with this idiocy it actually will follow the time zones.

Via the Times Union (quoting Camping):

I have learned that Judgment Day will begin in one part of the world, when they arise on May 21, about six o’clock Standard Time. And then every time another city or an area of the world comes to May 21, at about six o’clock, they will be in the Day of Judgment. And so the rest of the world that has not arrived there yet will know that it is occurring, many hours before it comes to their nation. On May 21, beginning at the International Date Line, the moment that first earthquake happens, the whole world will know that Judgment Day has come. It will follow the sun, from east to west.

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Soy Makes You Gay? Well there’s a new one!

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

What determines why some people are heterosexual and others homosexual? Is it genetic? Environmental? Developmental? Is it a combination?

To be honest I really don’t know, and I don’t care that much. However, I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with soy.

Yes, soy, as in the bean and products made from it.

No, there’s no evidence for this in terms of studies or empirical data. However, one guy with an enormous forehead thinks that the reason there are so many gays out there is a direct result of the consumption of soy. (Amazingly, in Southeast Asia, where soy has been a staple of centuries, there are actually still a large number of heterosexuals. No explanation for that one.)

Via WorldNetDaily:
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Press Release on Boron and Radiation is “Not Even Wrong”

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Every once in a while you read something that is not just wrong, but wronger than wrong, in fact, it’s not even wrong. Sometimes it’s so much worse than wrong it either makes you laugh at the ridiculousness of it or cry at the knowledge that people actually can believe it.

This is one of those cases.

From the Site “Hawaii Health Guide”:

Big Island Dairy Farmers fight radiation with Boron
An open letter from dairy farmers on the Big Island of Hawaii shares some solutions for working with radiation problems in milk.

Dear Milk Share Members,
Our goal to offer high quality safe food to our community has recently been challenged in the reality of the radioactivity being released into our environment. In the past weeks radioactive levels have increased in Hawaii, with high spikes and a more current leveling off of radiation levels. Milk from the large dairies in Hamakua and Hawi has shown elevated levels of radiation, from 400 to 2400 times the recognized safe levels.

Why is milk contamination significant in the world of agriculture? Because milk represents the overall condition of the entire food chain, since cows consume grass and are exposed to the same elements as crops. So, when milk tests positive for radiation, it indicates the entire food chain is contaminated since cows eat grass. When grass is contaminated everything grown in the same soil is contaminated. This has proposed a serious concern to us farmers, with us asking what can we do? After much consideration, research, and conversations with much appreciated experts in the field of biological farming and human & animal health, we have found some things which we are able to do to protect our soil, animals, and bodies.

But wait. It gets better. Here comes the best (or worst) part…

Aside from the much recognized supplement potassium iodine as a protection against radioactive iodine, there are a number of ways we can help. We have remembered our friend, elemental boron and the position it plays on the earth. Boron is the only mineral capable of accepting and ionizing radiation that never changes the innards or the nucleus of the cell. Spoken simply, boron can take radiation and release it without upsetting its own very delicate balance.

WTF? Accepting ionizing radiation that never changes the innards or the nucleus of the cell?

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Idiotic Report Claims Nuclear Power Plants are “11 Trillion Dollar Risk”

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Via the Associated Press (From Germany – Surprise Surprise!) (Presumably the dollar figure was translated from Euros for reprinting in the US)

Insurance cost vs. nuclear power risk
BERLIN — From the United States to Japan, it’s illegal to drive a car without sufficient insurance, yet governments around the world choose to run more than 440 nuclear power plants with hardly any coverage whatsoever.

In the United States, every nuclear power plant is required to maintain a minimum of $300 million in privately paid liability insurance. This is about the maximum that anyone can really hope to effectively get from private insurers, since much more would risk the insurance company itself would be unable to pay out. In addition to this, every plant operator pays into a shared risk insurance pool, which now totals over twenty billion dollars. Anything above that is government underwritten, since no private entity ever could guarantee such massive insurance burdens. Obviously these amounts are significantly higher than one could ever hope for most plant operators to ever be able to come up with on their own.

I don’t know the specifics of other countries, but most have some kind of insurance requirements.

Japan’s Fukushima disaster, which will leave taxpayers there with a massive bill, brings to the fore one of the industry’s key weaknesses — that nuclear power is a viable source for cheap energy only if it goes uninsured.

Governments that use nuclear energy are torn between the benefit of low-cost electricity and the risk of a nuclear catastrophe, which could total trillions of dollars and even bankrupt a country.

The bottom line is that it’s a gamble: Governments are hoping to dodge a one-off disaster while they accumulate small gains over the long-term.

It is a cheap source of energy even when heavily insured, which it generally is.

The Japanese have a huge bill from a Tsunami and earthquake. This may have been made worse by the fact that the government is continuing to enforce an unnecessary evacuation area, even after nearly all the iodine-131 in the reactors is gone, decay heat has been reduced and cooling is stabilized. But that’s the Japanese government’s fault if they want to continue to support the evacuation.

The cost of a worst-case nuclear accident at a plant in Germany, for example, has been estimated to total as much as $11 trillion, while the mandatory reactor insurance is only 3.7 billion.

11 trillion? Now you’ve gone from wrong to complete absurdity. You could completely destroy much of Germany and rebuild it all for less than that. We know. We’ve actually done it. Even if you adjust for inflation it comes nowhere close to $11 trillion. Even if you consider the increased costs of labor, infrastructure construction and the fact that there were costs that were locally-paid, it does not even come close.

I’d love to hear where this $11 trillion figure comes from. It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

From there on, the article pretty much says the same thing, claiming all nuclear plants should carry insurance for amounts of money that don’t even exist and adding in a few dramatic statements from “experts” on the matter. There is also the high and mighty claim that it’s unethical for a society to have to be burdened by the risk that a nuclear plant will suffer a cooling system failure and thus bankrupt superpowers.

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