Archive for the ‘Not Even Wrong’ Category

Man Arrested At CERN: Claims to be from the future

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011


Some news stories you really can’t make up. Perhaps it’s a little bit off color to chuckle at a story about someone who is very likely mentally ill, but in some cases it’s hard not to.

For that matter, I suppose we could also at least consider that this might be true.

Apparently, a man from the future has come back to the present day (or so he says) to stop the LHC from discovering the Higgs boson, which would lead to some as yet unknown source of limitless energy for humanity. While this sounds like a good thing, he explained that this ultimately was the undoing of society and therefore he was there to stop it. Tragically, he made the mistake of forgetting to fill the tanks on his time machine with whatever fuel it uses, and it now seems he might be trapped in the present, which to him, is the past.

Via Cnet:

Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he’s from the future

A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.

The LHC successfully collided particles at record force earlier this week, a milestone Mr Cole was attempting to disrupt by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment’s vending machines. He also claimed responsibility for the infamous baguette sabotage in November last year.

Mr Cole was seized by Swiss police after CERN security guards spotted him rooting around in bins. He explained that he was looking for fuel for his ‘time machine power unit’, a device that resembled a kitchen blender.

Police said Mr Cole, who was wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, would not reveal his country of origin. “Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I’m here to stop it ever happening.”

This isn’t the first time time-travel has been blamed for mishaps at the LHC. Last year, the Japanese physicist Masao Ninomiya and Danish string-theory pioneer Holger Bech Nielsen put forward the hypothesis that the Higgs boson was so “abhorrent” that it somehow caused a ripple in time that prevented its own discovery.

Professor Brian Cox, a CERN physicist and full-time rock’n'roll TV scientist, was sympathetic to Mr Cole. “Bless him, he sounds harmless enough. At least he didn’t mention bloody black holes.”

Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell. Police are baffled, but not that bothered.

Unfortunately Mr. Cole apparently did not take into consideration some important factors that really all time travelers should consider.

1. Always bring enough fuel. (Although I thought he was from a future of limitless energy.. oh well). In fact, you should bring more fuel than you think you’ll need, because you never know when you’ll make a wrong turn or you’ll have to go back to the past yet again, because for all you know, Biff Tannen might have stolen the sports almanac and stopped your parents from falling in love at the dance, and then what are you to do? You can’t just rely on an opportune bolt of lightning, because lightning doesn’t even provide a huge amount of energy, contrary to popular belief.

Remember to bring both kinds of fuel that you will need. Sure, the time circuits may be electric, but what about the internal combustion engine? That runs on regular unleaded and always has. You can’t always find that.

Also keep in mind that 1.21 gigawatts is not actually an amount of energy at all. It’s an amount of power, which means a reasonably large capacitor bank can provide it, but only for a brief period of time. If you need it for longer, it’s still not impossibly high. Any large power plant should be able to output it. I never really figured out the whole “1.21 gigawatt” thing, but the best I can think of is it might be the amount of power continuously needed to travel a given amount of time. For example, time traveling a year means you need 1.21 gigawatts times one year for the total energy. That would seem to work, but then again, a lightning bolt would still never be enough.

So in any case, choose your fuel well and bring plenty of it. You don’t want to rely on lightning or hijacked locomotives.

2. To be perfectly honest, don’t expect to return to the future you left and have it look anything like you expected or have a place for you. If you change anything, even slightly, those changes will propagate. If that happens your great great grandparents may not meet or may not marry and procreate. And just having your parents meet is not good enough. You can’t just set them back up if you mess up their meeting. Everything has to be identical, which it never will be. If they mate at a slightly different time or if the temperature is different by a fraction of a degree or anything like that, a different sperm will fertilize the egg and the resulting offspring won’t be you. This goes for all generations all the way back to where you have traveled.

So in all likelihood, just stepping into the past will result in a different time stream that you will return to in which you never existed. You could go back to 1890, for example, and just by swatting a fly, you end up stopping World War I and World War II from happening. That might seem like a good idea, until you realize that it prevents a guy from dying who then goes on to marry your grandmother, thus avoiding the marriage of her and your grandfather and now you don’t exist.

Or even if you did exist, you will find that you had not traveled back in time because you had no reason to, thus when you return, you will find yourself and have a real identity crisis.

You might be better off not going back but sending some kind of terminator unit. The terminator could be made of living tissue around a metallic framework or out of some kind of shape-shifting metal. It’s up to you. The only problem is it probably won’t change your present because it gets inserted into an alternate reality. Really, you just can’t win at this.

3. You have all the time in the world. Plan well. Don’t just show up at the LHC with no idea how to stop it. Bring weapons or something. Flesh out a response plan and run it by a couple of your friends for input. Consider what could go wrong. Take the tools you might need. Brush up on your period lingo and customs in case you had to blend in. Just be sure not to mess up.

You only get one shot at this… well, actually, I suppose you can do it as many times as you want, but then you really start to make things messy and complicated. You can encounter yourself on one of your aborted missions, for example. It’s just best to avoid such problems.

4. Consider *when* you want to go back to. Is this really the best time? Why wait until the LHC is constructed and operational? You can go back a little further and it might be easier to stop it during construction. Perhaps you could somehow disrupt the funding for it or sabotage the construction. OR, you could try to stop an earlier accelerator from being built, which would stop the discoveries that would lead to the creation of the LHC.

5. Remember there are alternate possibilities. Don’t focus too much on one issue when it will likely spawn others. Sure, you could shut down the LHC, but what will that do? Some other accelerator will eventually be built and make the horrible discovery. You need to think big and stop all particle physics.

6. If you are going to resort to telling people not to do it, make sure you are believable. It’s not a terribly bad plan to just be honest and tell the world that you are from the future and stopping a horrible mistake. If you can get the governments of the world to listen, that might be the best way of actually stopping the project, but you really need to make it clear you are from the future, so bring some future stuff to show everyone. Since you will be coming from the future, you’ll be able to choose the most opportune time to make a big splash. You might want to pick a time when the news cycle is slow and when you can grab some media attention to warn the world before the government tries to stop you.

Of course, as long as you’re well prepared, the government shouldn’t be a problem. They’ll have no way of stopping you with the crazy ray guns and telliportation devices you’ll have on you, so be sure to be well equipped to prove you’re from the future and that you are serious.

7. Why not mix business with personal time travel? We don’t get many visitors from the future, so it’s obviously fairly expensive or difficult to do, so use the trip wisely. Once you’ve stopped the LHC, why not invest some money in a stock that you know is going through the roof or at least put it in an interest-bearing account. Stop by some of the scenes of the past before they’re gone and enjoy the quaintness of 21st century culture. Maybe grab a few interesting photos, like giving the future president of the world a wedgie while he’s still eight years old. Now that’d be something cool to show your friends!

8. Consider doing something nice. After all, you’re messing up the time stream as is, so you may as well stop 9/11 or warn the Japanese about the 2011 earthquake or the Indian Ocean region about the 2004 tsunami. At the very least look up some people who died of cancer and tell them they have it while it’s still treatable.

You don’t have to do this, but since you’re messing up the time stream, it just seems like you’d be a dick not to.

It could also help with your image, which might be hurt pretty badly if you happen to do something like destroy the LHC. If you destroy the LHC, you’ll go down in history as the guy who destroyed the LHC, and when you return to your day and age they might not think you’re a hero, because they won’t be aware of the problems the LHC caused.

On the other hand, if you evacuate the Indian coast before the Tsunami and then destroy the LHC, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be remembered well just the same.

“The Greater Good:” Possibly the worst movie ever

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

This is a rarity. I’ve seen something so horrible and I’m so goddamned angry about it that I can’t even think of what to say. It’s astoundingly disheartening to see such a professional, compelling and effective set of lies being purported to further infectious disease.

Hopefully by posting this garbage I can get some sound-minded people to vote it down a bit and make some rational comments to educated those who might believe this dangerous message.

Here it is. The Greater Good: Supposedly a fair look at vaccines, but actually one of the worst pieces of lying propaganda I have ever seen.

Click here if your browser does not support embedded video.

This is beyond shameful. It’s a very skilfully made, compelling set of bold faced lies that tug on heartstrings and can easily cost lives. Defeating this kind of propaganda is going to be very difficult. It’s a potent weapon against the war on infectious disease that humanity has fought for its entire history. We’re really going to have to work hard to fight this filth. It may require writing letters to the film festivals and venues that show it.

For a complete and well researched refutation of the film, please visit Science Based Medicine.

Oh, and by the way, there’s no evidence that the health problems of the young lady shown in the beginning are at all related to vaccines. She began to experience health problems which were diagnosed as central nervous system vasculitis and central nervous system lupus “within weeks” of her third dose of the HPV vaccine, but there’s absolutely no evidence the two are related and in all likelihood, the condition had been developing for some time before that. Of course, it’s very sad that she has this condition, but it was not caused by the vaccine. You can read more about it on the Science Based Medicine page.

It is going to be very very hard to counter this kind of media. We’re facing an uphill battle. The major pro-vaccine groups have nowhere near the money necessary to produce a film of this kind of quality and if they did, it would just be portrayed as proof of all the dirty money that big pharma is spending. The only way of combating this is to redouble grass roots efforts, but with this well funded and cunning opposition, it won’t be easy.

In the war on infectious disease, it now seems we have two enemies working in close alliance. One is the pathogenic microbes who seek to invade our bodies and the other is the humans who have defected to their side. I’m not sure anymore which is the tougher one to defeat.

Afraid of Vaccines? Have your child suck a stranger’s spit

Monday, November 7th, 2011

This has got to be one of the most bizarre, crazy and just plain disgusting stories I’ve heard in a long time.

Chickenpox is a pretty nasty disease to have. Like most adults, I went through it when I was a child because there was no vaccine at the time. It was pretty misserable, but I was lucky, because despite missing more than a week of school and being covered with an itchy, painful rash, I didn’t have any lasting effects. Some are not so lucky. It’s fairly common to be left with disfiguring scars, especially on the face, from chickenpox (I know a few people with such marks on their cheeks or forehead). It’s less common, though not unheard of to have more severe and lingering effects and occasionally even death.

The virus tends to be less severe in children than adults, there was once a custom of intentionally infecting children with the disease. So-called “pox parties” were held where children intentionally came into contact with others with chickenpox to get the disease when young. Whether exposing children to the disease intentionally was ever a justifiable idea is debatable (most medical experts think it was always a bad idea), but it certainly is not any more. These days, there is a vaccine for chickenpox that is highly effective and avoids the discomfort, suffering, dangers and possible disfigurement of the disease. The vaccine is now part of the normal vaccine schedule and most children receive it. Chickenpox is therefore far less common than it once was.

But what to do if you’re a vaccine fearing idiot? Since the antivax crowd seems to think that getting infections is a good thing and boosts the immune system, a pox party seems like it would be right up their ally. The only problem is that the vaccine has reduced the number of cases of chickenpox enough to make it difficult to find a good pathogen host to infect your kid with. So what to do? Why not use social networking to find other like-minded morons around the world and swap spit by mail with them.

The most popular and widely reported on Facebook group for doing this appears to have been recently shut down, but that’s unlikely to actually stop anyone in the long run.

I’m not even kidding…

Via the Los Angeles Times:

What if chemicals were sprayed from planes

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I’m trying a new method of addressing the lunacy of chemtrails by showing that dumping chemicals at altitude wouldn’t generally do very much or be a very effective way of exposing populations to the chemicals that some claim are being sprayed. It’s worth noting that the chemtrail loonies can’t even seem to agree on what is being sprayed, so here are some of the more common chemicals claimed.

If chemtrail conspiracy theorists are to believed, then large jet aircraft, possibly the same aircraft that carry passengers are being used to spray unknown quantities of chemicals of some type at high altitude. While it’s rather difficult to judge the altitude of an aircraft by sight alone, based on what has been claimed to be chemtrails it’s fairly clear that the aircraft were flying at normal jet altitudes, well above tropospheric weather. If they were indeed passenger aircraft then the altitude is generally above thirty thousand feet.

Some commonly claimed materials:


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:


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:


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.

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)…


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?

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.