Archive for the ‘Not Even Wrong’ Category

Chlorine Dioxide: A Horrific Treatment for Autism

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

I have written before about a product being sold as Miracle Mineral Supplement.  It claims to cure everything from cancer to malaria, but is actually one of the most dangerous quack products out there.

Miracle Mineral Supplement is actually sodium chlorite, a toxic and reactive compound.  The instructions for Miracle Mineral Supplement tell users to “activate” the product by combining it with citric acid.  The result is a chemical reaction which produces chlorine dioxide.  Chlorine dioxide is a gas, although it can dissolve into water.  It is not something you would ever want to be exposed to in any quantity.  It is a powerful oxidizer and bleaching agent.  The most common use of chlorine dioxide is in the paper industry, where it is used to bleach wood pulp.  It also is used for fumigation and disinfection purposes.

Chlorine dioxide is very toxic and in high doses it could easily be fatal.  In low doses, like those which might be produced from the Miracle Mineral Supplement product, it is not likely to be fatal, but it can be highly irritating to the skin, the respiratory tract and the eyes.  It is, after all, bleach.  It’s not quite the same as household chlorine bleach (that is sodium hypochlorite) but it is a bleaching agent – one more powerful than the bleach used for household cleaning or whitening laundry.

Despite this, some people still swear by the stuff and use it at their own peril.

One of the most horrific uses, the treatment of autism:

It is one thing to use this nasty chemical on oneself, but it is being pushed as a treatment for autism and is being used primarily on children by believers.   Autism is a neurological condition that exists because of developmental issues that arise before birth, even if it is not obvious until some time later.   There is no cure for autism, as such. However, intensive therapy, special education and social groups can result in major improvements in the prognosis for many autistic children, especially those who do not have a severe case of autism.

Chlorine dioxide certainly has no benefit to autistic children.  It is hard to imagine anything more harmful to a child with social developmental problems than to subject them to the painful and damaging effects of an oxidizer.  If nothing else, it can easily harm the natural inclination to see parents as protective and trusted.

Yet that is exactly what some are pushing.  The website cdautism.org pushes a book and is run by a group of quacks who actively encourage the use of chlorine dioxide to treat autism.  The side claims autism is “avoidable, treatable and curable” and recommends chlorine dioxide, which it calls “an inexpensive, broad spectrum, gentle, anti-pathogenic.”

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Some Revealing Videos from the “March Against Monsanto”

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Around the world, people have come out to events dubbed the “March Against Monsanto.”   The events have happened in hundreds of cities (supposedly) and may involve thousands of people.  Overall, the total number who have come out for these events seems to be relatively small.  Most of them were lucky to draw a crowd of dozens.  But those who did show up certainly are passionate.

The event is supposed to be a demonstration against the Monsanto Corporation.  It’s basically a demonstration against genetically modified organisms, which is the Monsanto product that activists tend to hate the most.  While Monsanto is not the only maker of genetically modified organisms, they have become one of the most the most visible and are certainly the one who is targeted the most by anti-gmo groups.

The protests also seem to oppose modern, conventional agriculture and the production of food on large farms.  It is part of the movement for organic agriculture and the “eat local” campaigns, which promote the idea that food should be grown in a large number of small farms, rather than a smaller number of larger farms.

There are a number of videos that have been taken at these events, including some which interview participants. I would highly recommend checking out those made by Bronson Kaahui, who attended some of these events and interviewed the participants about their beliefs and what they are taking a stand against. There are some others floating around that are also worth watching.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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HAARP Being Retired

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

In 1993, a facility was established in Alaska known as HAARP or High Frequency Auroral Research Program.  It is operated as a joint project by the US Air Force, US Navy, University of Alaska and DARPA.   HAARP was built by BAE Advanced Technologies on a site owned by the US Air Force.  Much of the administration is handled by the University of Alaska.  In it’s two decade history, the facility has cost tax payers roughly half a billion dollars in both construction cost and annual operating expenses.  This is not a huge sum of money for a military research program, given the number of years it is spread out over.

HAARP has a number of different scientific instruments and systems on site.  These include UHF and VHF radars, geomagnetic sensors and radio receivers.  However, the heart of HAARP is a very powerful HF transmitting system, connected to a phased array of upward-pointing high gain antennas.  It directs a beam of up to 3.6 megawatts of RF energy upward at the ionosphere.  The operating frequency is between 2.8 and 10 MHz.

HAARP is an ionospheric heater.  It uses this energy to excite the ionosphere over the site.  The heating and excitement of the ionosphere allows measurements to be taken of the general state of the ionosphere.  Some of the energy is reflected back to the ground and can be received and analyzed. Pumping the ionosphere with RF energy can also produce a temporary controlled plasma turbulence effect.   The overall effect, however, is relatively modest and highly localized.  The 3.6 megawatts of RF energy a facility like HAARP can produce is quite small compared to the effects of geomagnetic fluctuation and solar wind particles on the ionosphere.

haarpimage

HAARP is basically a research facility.  There are a number of types of research conducted at HAARP.  Much of it is public, although some of the activities are military related and classified.

 Some of the classified military-related research that is either being conducted at HAARP or which has been credibly speculated to be conducted at HAARP include:

  • General purpose ionospheric science
  • Measurements of ionospheric bending of radio waves in order to improve HF direction finding
  • The effects of ionospheric disturbances on GPS reliability
  • HF communications jamming and countermeasures to jamming
  • Next generation over the horizon radar
  • Improved understanding of how ionospheric events, such as solar storms or nuclear weapon detonations can impact communications
  • The use of ionospheric stimulation as a means of generating ultra low frequency radio waves, which are vital to submarine communication and typically require very large antennas to transmit

Most of the science that goes on at HAARP is public, but even the potentially classified activities are, by most accounts, pretty innocuous, as far as classified research goes.  After all, it’s really nothing more than a big radio transmitter.  There’s nothing on site that has any real potential to be used as an offensive weapon.

That has not stopped conspiracy theorists.  HAARP is one of their favorite facilities.  It’s been linked to every other bogus claim from chemtrails to mind control.  It’s been said that HAARP can control the world’s weather, that it is responsible for earthquakes or major weather events.  Others have claimed that it is the cause of everything from chronic fatigue syndrome to the downing of aircraft and the 2003 loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

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It had to happen: The Ebola Conspiracy Theories

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

It happens periodically:  Ebola, a highly contagious and very deadly virus with horrific symptoms known as “flesh eating” has flared up in Africa.   This recent outbreak has been especially bad.   The virus is native to Africa and appears to survive in natural reservoirs such as bats or gorillas.  Periodically, it makes the jump to humans and that is where an outbreak occurs.

The only good news is that these outbreaks tend to be short-lived and the lives lost never total more than the hundreds.  Granted that’s a tragedy for everyone who loses their life, but the scale is small.   There are a number of reasons for this, including the generally rapid response to contain it.  But also, the nature of the virus makes it prone to brief outbreaks.   It does not have an extended incubation period and often kills its host quickly.  This makes it an inefficient virus when it comes to transmission, because it is the fact that many viruses have a long period when the host is apparently healthy that they are able to infect so many.

Well, it had to happen.   The conspiracy theories have started:  It was produced by the government, to depopulate the world or just out of evil.  It was caused by HAARP or chemtrails.  Yes, they are all out there and the anti-vaccine groups are getting in on the action.

Here is what the Australian Vaccination Network has to say:

With the current epidemic of Ebola, it is instructive to remember that
the first outbreaks of a Filovirus (Marburg which is nearly identical to Ebola and which causes clinically indistinguishable hemorrhagic disease) took place simultaneously in laboratories in Frankfurt, Marburg and Belgrade in 1967. These labs were all producing vaccines using (amongst other animals) African green monkeys.

Interestingly, though the outbreak was associated with the monkeys,
there is no known animal reservoir for either of these viruses -
humans appear to be their only victims. It seems that fruit bats can
spread the virus but they are not affected by it.

The Filoviruses also appear to be a strange combination of viruses
which have never before been seen in nature – much like the 2009 ‘swine-flu’ which the well-respected scientist, Adrian Gibb, said had to have been man-made. These viruses have strong structural & genetic similarities to both Rhabdoviruses & the Paramyxoviruses (both measles and mumps are paramyxoviruses) – and are novel or new – never having been seen before.

And again, the index cases were not in Africa but instead, were in European vaccine laboratories.

These facts have to lead a thinking person to ask the question – are these viruses man-made or do we believe that their sudden emergence simultaneously in three European vaccine labs is a mere coincidence?

People in parts of Africa affected by this outbreak are avoiding doctors like (pun intended) the plague and you have to think – do they know something that we don’t know?

There are so many conspiracy theory websites out there, it’s hard to even pick one to use as an example. But here’s a good one.

Via the Sky Alert:



Click here if your browser does not support embedded videos

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Malaysia Airlines 370 and Reporters Who Have No Idea What They Are Talking About

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The disappearance

of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is, without doubt, one of the strangest episodes in recent aviation history.  Though it has not been found, the current evidence seems to indicate that someone on board the plane, most likely a crew member, shut down most of the on board communications systems and then flew the plane in a direction away from its flight plan.  Given that the 777 aircraft has exceptionally long range capabilities and that it appears to have been headed toward a large area of open ocean, with no radar coverage, the search has been very difficult.

The reporting on this event has ranged the gamut from pretty good to absolutely horrible.  One of the worst things seen is the numerous glaring errors in major publications about basic technical facts regarding aviation and the aircraft in question.

Reporters, of course, don’t generally know a lot about commercial aviation, aerospace technology, search and rescue or any of the other specialized topics involved.  Degrees in journalism don’t usually requite training in basic aircraft systems.   That’s a given, as it is with most highly technical topics.  However, it’s not exactly difficult to find people who are real experts in the area.  So if you are reporting on a story for a newspaper or other publication, why not track down an actual expert before writing about transponders or ACARS or ETOPS requirements or anything of that kind?   In fact, I’d advise tracking down more than one, just to make sure the one you find first is not BS’ing you.

Here are some examples:

 

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No, An Earthquake Did Not Create the Shroud of Turin or Skew Carbon Dating

Friday, February 21st, 2014

shroud-2_1The Shroud of Turin is one of the most revered and famous artifacts of Christianity.  For centuries, it was claimed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, having been left with a haunting image of the the very face of the savior mysteriously imprinted on it.   The cloth, which is kept in a church in the city of Turin, Italy, gained great attention when it was first photographed, in the late 1800′s.  It was revealed that the image on the cloth is far more easily discerned in a photographic negative than in the normal “positive” direct view.

shrouddateIn 1988, however, enthusiasm for the shroud took a major hit when samples were subjected to radiocarbon dating and revealed the cloth to be of more modern origin.   The final result put the age of the cloth at less than one thousand years old.  The period it was dated to, in fact, turned out to coincide perfectly with the historical record of when the shroud first appeared on the record – about 1350 AD.   The procedure was done by multiple laboratories, using the most reliable radiocarbon dating protocol available, and all analysis was in agreement.  The shroud was thus far too young g to be the burial cloth of Christ.

Almost immediately, objections were raised.  Many of the faithful would go to extreme lengths to explain why the tests might not be accurate.   Some claimed that the samples were contaminated with external organic material.  While this may be possible, it’s a well known issue with radiocarbon dating and procedures therefore exist, and were used, to remove surface contamination.  Others said that the cloth was taken from an area where newer cloth had been added for repairs.  This seems to be at least semi-plausible, but there is no hard evidence that the material was not original to the cloth and the examination conducted at the time indicated that the samples were well representative of the entire cloth.  Others claimed that the cloth could have been contaminated by soot or smoke from a fire or that there had been errors made in the calculations.

In the end, none of these claims have much hard evidence to back them.  Radiocarbon dating has been well tested and is a mature science.  The laboratories that tested the shroud samples were well qualified and followed the highest protocol standards.  Radiocarbon dating does not produce an exact year of origin, but gives a range of probable years.  It’s possible that the actual origin could be outside this period and could be skewed by some environmental factors, but for it to be more than 1,200 years off, there would have to be a major procedural error or confounding factor and no evidence of this has been produced.

Now a new claim has begun to make the rounds.  It’s so unfounded, so unsupported, so speculative and so absurd that it really is not news.  But, despite this, the news media has jumped on it.

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Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

For those who don’t know, science advocate and educator Bill Nye recently debated young earth creationist Ken Ham in a highly publicized internet-broadcast event.

There have been many mixed feelings from the scientific community on the event.  Many of which, I would tend to agree with.  Debating a creationist really won’t do much of anything.  Believers will continue to believe in what they want, regardless of the arguments or evidence.  Those who look at things objectively will have no choice but accept evolution as a well tested and established scientific fact.

Some might say that the debate raises creationism to a level it does not deserve.  It is not a matter of debate for the scientific community; it was closed long ago.  If we were to assume the earth were thousands of years old, biology were the result of a being simply willing it to be so and the bible could guide all scientific thought, we would have to throw away most of the advancements of science.  Evolution is key to our understanding of biology.  We have seen it happen and have fossil evidence of how it has shaped life over the long term.

Some warned that Bill Nye could end up losing the debate, or just come off looking bad, if Ham backed him into a corner using contentions that were too illogical to easily and directly refute or by forcing Nye to waste his time providing a class in biology 101 in order to simply explain where he is coming from.  Given that creationism has no scientific evidence, only religious faith, it seems likely that a creationist would fall back on appealing logical fallacies.   It should be noted that one can be factually correct and still lose a debate if faced with a skilled opponent.

Thankfully, Bill Nye seems to have held his own.  Still, I tend to side with those who think it was unnecessary and generally unproductive to even bother engaging in the debate.   It didn’t change anyone’s mind.

Here’s the video for those interested (Starts at roughly 13:00)



Just who decided to start “naming” snow storms

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Has anyone noticed something new about winter storms?   At least in the United States?   They now have names.   That’s right.   The Eastern US now is getting ready for Winter Storm Hercules.   That sounds rather impressive, given it’s the name of a Greek half-god known for strength.   This follows last years storms that include Athena and Nemo.   The names now seem ubiquitous, and even officials use them.   So you might ask, what government agency decided to start naming winter storms and when did they start?

The answer is none.  These names are not official and have no standing in any way shape or form other than being made up by the Weather Channel.

Background:

Around the 1940′s, forecasters ran into a problem when it came to big tropical storms.  With more communications, spotting aircraft and ships, they started getting reports of multiple storms at the same time.  They were also keeping more records and it was getting confusing.  “The Hurricane of 1938″ just did not cut it when it came to keeping one storm straight from the other.   Military meteorologists came up with a pretty simple system: any storm that was considered tropical storm force (sustained winds over 65 miles per hour) was given a letter.  They thus had “tropical storm A” and “Tropical storm B” etc.   The actual names, however, used the then-current phonetic alphabet, so the storms were actually called “Storm Able,” “Storm Baker,” “Storm Charlie” and so on.   The names were repeated each season.

HurricaneCarolIn 1953, the United States Weather Bureau started to standardize the names.  In 1953, there was a major policy change.  Phonetic alphabet names were replaced by a list of female names, which were assigned to each storm as it occurred.  In part this was because a new phonetic alphabet had been developed.

Initially, the plan seems to have been to reuse the same names each year, but in 1954, Hurricane Hazel and Hurricane Carol received a large amount of press and it was realized that reusing those names in 1955 would cause much confusion.  For that reason, a new policy of coming up with a new annual list of names to use was created.  Names are sometimes reused, but storms the practice is avoided for storms that are significant or strike land.  For storms that are especially significant, the names are officially retired.  Thus, there will never be another Hurricane Hugo or Katrina.   Initially the letters Q U X and Y were omitted from the list.  Today only the letter X is routinely left off the list of hurricane names.

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Absolute Bullshit from VOA on Fukushima

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

VOA or the Voice of America is a US Federal Government-sponsored international broadcasting organization.  It’s intended to provide news and information with an American perspective to the world.  The official mission is “to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication of accurate, objective, and balanced news, information and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas.”  To some, it might be considered straight up propaganda, while others might see it as being the US version of the BBC.   In any case, the organization is supposed to provide accurate news.

Yet if they wanted to maintain credibility, this news story and video are not really doing much in that respect:

Under Fire, TEPCO Prepares for Critical Phase of Fukushima Cleanup
TOKYO — Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan are about to embark on one of the most critical aspects of the clean-up: removing the fuel rods from one of the worst-hit reactors. Critics say the plant’s owners, TEPCO, should not be trusted to carry out the operation and warn the consequences of any accident would be unprecedented.

Over 1500 fuel rods sit in a damaged storage pool 30 meters above the ground inside the shell of the reactor 4 building at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Safely removing them is the next big challenge for the plant’s owner, TEPCO.

General Manager Masayuki Ono said the operation has been carefully planned.

He explained that because the entire reactor 4 building was destroyed by a hydrogen explosion, TEPCO had to reinforce the structure. This happened during the first year and that new building is now strong enough to stand another earthquake, he added.

That hydrogen explosion – one of the iconic images of the Fukushima accident – left the inside of the pool littered with debris.

TEPCO’s first task is to remove the debris. And then, one by one, the fuel rods will be removed manually using a crane suspended above the crippled reactor building.

Ono explained that a fuel extraction cover was built over Unit 4 and installed at the fuel handling facility. This structure does not put any weight on the Reactor 4 building, and can be used to remove the fuel without adding any additional weight.

The fuel rods must be kept submerged and must not touch each other or break. Nuclear experts warn any mishaps could cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.

Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland and an anti-nuclear campaigner, said a series of incidents over the past 30 months – including radioactive water leaks – have called into question TEPCO’s ability to carry out this critical operation.

“The Unit 4 contains 10 times more Cesium-137 than Chernobyl. So in case the worst occurs, a total withdrawal [from the site] will be imposed, which means this can be considered as the beginning of the ultimate catastrophe of the world and the planet,” said Murata.


Click link for the video of the story

I have a few responses to some of the information, or misinformation in this video:

First, using a well known anti-nuclear activist as the expert for a news report is not exactly good journalism. You can expect the comments of such a person to always be as pessimistic as possible and always with a strong anti-nuclear spin. To say that this could be “the ultimate catastrophe of the world and the planet” is ridiculous.

The fuel rods have cooled for more than a year and are now no longer nearly as difficult to handle as they had been. While it is still best to keep them under water, they do not require the cooling they did right after the reactor went off line. They also no longer contain the most dangerous radioisotopes, such as iodine-131.

The amount of cesium-137 in the totality of fuel rods is really not the important thing. For all that cesium to be released, every one of the fuel rods would have to be vaporized or ground into a powder and blown into the wind. Clearly, even under the worst case accidents, that will not happen.

If the fuel rods were to knock into each other, there would be no catastrophe. In fact, nothing would likely happen. Given the precautions and the state of the fuel, a criticality accident is not a major concern. If part of a fuel rod broke off, it would also not be a catastrophe. It would, however, mean that the fuel rod fragment would have to be fished out of the debris, which would be a pain, but not a massive safety problem

Of course, the refueling operation will be long and expensive, just like every part of this decommissioning is, at least relative to other decomissionings. They are working on a heavily damaged reactor and the circumstances demand precision and caution. Support systems were heavily damaged and the reactor was not shut down in a controlled manner. Still, there’s very little danger of a major mishap and zero danger of a global catastrophe.  There’s no significant danger of explosion.

Deplorably Bad Study on Mobile Phones And Saliva Published

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

I have been taking some time off.   I was not planning on posting again until mid next week, but this recent news story is so hideous, it was impossible for me to ignore it.   Recently a study was published which claims to have found marked differences in the saliva of heavy cell phone users.   This would be significant, if it were true, because it could show a direct biological effect on the saliva glands and, by extension, the possibility that this could lead to cancer or another condition.

It has been making the rounds in the mainstream media, as one might expect.  These kind of studies are almost guaranteed to generate a lot of press.

Via Science Daily:

Heavy Cell Phone Use Linked to Oxidative Stress
July 29, 2013 — Scientists have long been worried about the possible harmful effects of regular cellular phone use, but studies so far have been largely inconclusive. Currently, radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those produced by cell phones, are classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A new Tel Aviv University study, though, may bring bad news.

To further explore the relationship between cancer rates and cell phone use, Dr. Yaniv Hamzany of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Department at the Rabin Medical Center, looked for clues in the saliva of cell phone users. Since the cell phone is placed close to the salivary gland when in use, he and his fellow researchers, including departmental colleagues Profs. Raphael Feinmesser, Thomas Shpitzer and Dr. Gideon Bahar and Prof. Rafi Nagler and Dr. Moshe Gavish of the Technion in Haifa, hypothesized that salivary content could reveal whether there was a connection to developing cancer.

Comparing heavy mobile phone users to non-users, they found that the saliva of heavy users showed indications of higher oxidative stress — a process that damages all aspects of a human cell, including DNA — through the development of toxic peroxide and free radicals. More importantly, it is considered a major risk factor for cancer.

The findings have been reported in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.

For the study, the researchers examined the saliva content of 20 heavy-user patients, defined as speaking on their phones for a minimum of eight hours a month. Most participants speak much more, Dr. Hamzany says, as much as 30 to 40 hours a month. Their salivary content was compared to that of a control group, which consisted of deaf patients who either do not use a cell phone, or use the device exclusively for sending text messages and other non-verbal functions.

Compared to the control group, the heavy cell phone users had a significant increase in all salivary oxidative stress measurements studied.

“This suggests that there is considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone when in use,” he says. The damage caused by oxidative stress is linked to cellular and genetic mutations which cause the development of tumors.

The fact that this was even published leads me to believe that the journal in question must have extremely poor standards for peer review.

The number of study subjects is pretty small, and that itself would call into question any findings.   However, I will not bother critiquing the statistical distribution or significance of the study, because none of that actually matters, and doing so would dignify the validity of the study’s methods.   In fact, regardless of how dramatic and significant the findings of such a study are, they are irrelevant to the debate on mobile phones and health because of a massive foundational flaw in the study.

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