Archive for the ‘Obfuscation’ Category

“Anti-Radiaton” Mobile Phone Device TV Ads

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

I might be a little out of he loop when it comes to what is on television.  I don’t really watch it all that often, and when I do, I usually am watching a DVR recording, so I don’t really sit through commercials.

Yet the other day I caught this on TV.  Seeing it really annoyed me a lot.  There’s nothing new in terms of the claims being made.  The product is certainly not the first of its type, but seeing these false claims being fed to the public through mainstream mass marketing is all the more infuriating.  The public becomes that much more indoctrinated with falsehoods and the producers of this product laugh all the way to the bank, as members of the public buy something that they don’t need and serves no purpose.

(Direct link to youtube video)

It’s a slick ad campaign. I have to admit it.

It starts off with a common, but completely inaccurate comparison. Yes, tobacco company executives did say that they didn’t think smoking caused cancer. But when it comes to evaluating the health risks of something, corporate executives are not really regarded as the most credible source of information, anyway. That is what scientific studies are for. In the case of tobacco smoking, the evidence that smoking increased the risk of cancer began to accumulate in the early 20th century, not that long after mass produced cigarettes made heavy daily smoking commonplace. By the 1930′s, the data was pretty solid. But even before tobacco smoking was linked to lung cancer, the mainstream medical establishment agreed that smoking was not a healthy habit and that it had negative impacts on respiratory health. (More info on this here)

In the case of RF radiation, we have some pretty conclusive data that would seem to indicate that, no, it does not cause cancer. RF radiation is non-ionizing and does not directly effect the chemistry of molecules like DNA. It therefore does not cause the kind of damage that could result in cancer. The subject of RF energy and health has been one of interest since at least the 1920′s. There have been numerous studies on mobile phones and potential health impacts, but even before they existed, we had decades worth of scientific data on the biological effects of microwaves.

That’s probably why they don’t do much in the way of citing studies. They do show a few snippets of statements of supposed harm from mobile phones. But that’s it.

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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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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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Setting the Record Straight On Radiation Experiments

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

In the 1940′s and 1950′s, the United States government undertook a large number of experiments involving radiation, radiotoxicity and nuclear safety.  While most of this research was done within reasonable ethical standards, using animal models, tissue cultures and occasionally human volunteers, it is known that there were some experiments which involved human test subjects and which did not meet even the most basic standards for ethics.

The most infamous of these were the plutonium injection experiments.  Test subjects were injected with solutions containing trace amounts of plutonium in order to aid in the development of plutonium exposure tests.   Six employees at a Manhattan Project site were given water with small amounts of plutonium in order to determine how it would be absorbed in the digestive tract.   In one case, pregnant women were given what were called “vitamin drinks” in order to study how radioisotopes were transferred to the fetus.

These tests may not have included full disclosure to the test subjects.   It is still important to note that the levels present were bellow those which were supposed to be harmful.  None the less, the potential for harm existed, and today there is no question that the experiments would be considered unethical.

More about these disturbing experiments can be read here.

While we should not deny the existence of experiments of this type, it is also important not to exaggerate them.   Unfortunately, those who see this as some kind of reason to oppose nuclear energy have done just that.   Critical examination of many of the claims put forward show that there is much less to it than has been suggested.

Via City Watch:
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This Month In Radiophobia

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

We all know that radiophobia is rampant. Every time there is even a hint that someone might get exposed to some ionizing radiation, the media goes nuts. It seems like it’s the latest thing to write “studies” pegging cancer risk to medical x-rays or using the wrong kind of tile grout. Just for fun, I wanted to see how many news stories which qualify as “radiophobic” I could find for one month. Here’s what I found in the media, for May 2013:

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Shameful “Study” Claims Fukushima Radiation Affected US Babies

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

What can I say.  I am mad.   I am ripping mad.  I’m disgusted.  I’ve seen a level of dishonesty and scientific misinformation so grotesque, I don’t even know what to say.

One expects that vested interests will tweak data or publish biased studies to support their own causes from time to time.  It’s dishonest and unacceptable, but it happens.  Still, sometimes the level of dishonesty is so severe it really shocks the conscious.

Such is the case with a recent “study” from the Radiation and Public Health Project.   It is so dishonest in its claims it really makes me wonder about the pathology of those who are behind it.  What is their goal?  To they, deep down, think they are serving a greater good with these lies?   Have they justified this to themselves through some rationalization that preserves their need for attention and to appear to be heros?   I’m sure a psychologist could have a field day.

Here is how it was reported in Yahoo News:

Fukushima fallout may be causing illness in American babies: Study
A new study from the Radiation and Public Health Project found that babies born in the western United States as well as other Pacific countries shortly after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 may be at greater risk for congenital hypothyroidism.

Babies born in places including Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington shortly after Fukushima were 28 percent more likely to suffer from the illness, according to the study, than children born in those same regions one year earlier. The illness, if untreated, can cause permanent handicaps in both the body and brain.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “If untreated, congenital hypothyroidism can lead to intellectual disability and abnormal growth. In the United States and many other countries, all newborns are tested for congenital hypothyroidism. If treatment begins in the first month after birth, infants usually develop normally.”

But… how could this possibly be?

It is true that nuclear fission produces a significant quantity of iodine-131, a radioactive isotope which can cause damage to the thyroid, due to its high biological uptake and tendency to accumulate in the thyroid.   Thyroid tissue is radiation-sensitive to begin with, so in nuclear accidents, iodine-131 is one of the greatest concerns.

Of course, we are talking about the United States of America.  This is thousands of miles from Japan and any iodine-131 that might make it across the Pacific would be expected to be extremely dilute.   Not only that, but with a half-life of only eight days, the fact that it takes a minimum of a few days for atmospheric material to traverse the Pacific (and usually more than that) means that a good portion of the isotope would have decayed by the time it reached the US.

This is born out by the fact that when iodine-131 (which normally does not occur in nature) was detected in the US, after the Fukushima incident, the levels were miniscule.  Radioisotopes like iodine-131 can be detected at extremely low levels. This is done by collecting samples of precipitation, dust or air and placing them in a detector which can detect the characteristic energy levels of the gamma ray photons radioisotopes emit.  When a gamma ray of the energy associated with iodine-131 is detected, it indicates an atom of the isotope has decayed.  Since its half-life is so short, even a few hundred atoms of iodine-131 will produce detectable radiation, if they are present in a sample.

It is a testament to the precision of modern gamma spectrometers that iodine-131 could be detected at all in both the US and Europe.  Yet, although it was detected, in some cases, the levels were so low that the actual concentration could not even be reliably established.    This is not a big surprise, given that even in Tokyo, which was thousands of miles closer to Fukushima, the levels of iodine-131 only briefly exceeded what is considered the “safe” standard for infants.   It should be noted that the standard is extremely conservative.

If that is not compelling reason enough to be skeptical of claims that the iodine-131 levels in the US were high enough to cause harm to infants, it should also be noted that an entire generation of US citizens was exposed to hundreds or thousands of times more iodine-131 from atmospheric nuclear testing.   What harm this may have caused is still a matter of debate.  it likely did result in some additional cases of thyroid cancer, but it certainly did not lead to a large number of kids of the 1950′s and 1960′s with major thyroid problems.

So how could these babies possibly have been damaged by Fukishima fallout?

IT DIDN’T

Lets take a look at the actual study, which can be downloaded here.

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Facilitated Communication: A Dangerous Psuedo-Science

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

For those who do not know, I work at a program which, among other things, provides services in training autistic persons.   I admit that I’m not an expert in the area of autism, and there is much that I do not know or understand, but my experience in this area has exposed me to some very disturbing psuedoscientific claims.

One of the most disturbing that I have seen is something known as “Facilitated Communication.”  Facilitated Communications (Or FC, also known as assisted typing, assisted communications, alternative and augmentative communication and by other similar terms) came about in the 1970′s after the hypothesis was advanced that persons with autism do not have any kind of mental, emotional or cognitive disability, but instead are perfectly capable of understanding and interacting with the world as anyone else, but cannot do so because their body will not let them or because the interface between their brain and body somehow distorts their actions.

This idea is entirely false.  Autism does not involve any physical disability and persons with autism generally have perfectly functional fine motor control and are entirely capable of manipulating objects, typing and so on.   In reality, autism is a developmental condition that has an especially pronounced effect on the development of social skills and communications.   Persons with autism commonly lack the ability to communicate and to properly perceive and display appropriate social cues.

The effects of autism can be extremely mild or severe.  Indeed, there is an entire “spectrum” of possible effects and different individuals experience these differently.  Some individuals are perfectly capable of following directions, interacting with others and behaving normally in most situations, but do experience some level of difficulty in social situations, anxiety and difficulty with subtle cues.  Others are more severely disabled, unable to understand basic communications or conduct themselves in a normal manner.  Some become obsessed with repetitive behavior, are prone to being withdrawn or cannot understand basic tasks and normal instructions.

It’s not uncommon for autistic to be speech impaired.  Again, this runs the gamut.  Some can speak as well as anyone else, while others have trouble finding words and correctly using grammar.   It’s not uncommon for communication-impaired autistic to become extremely agitated when they are asked to speak more than a few brief words.  Some autistic are able to understand spoken communications with reasonable accuracy, but cannot find the proper words to express concepts back.

It is important to recognize that these issues are not the result of some kind of physical problem.   Although genuine pathological speech difficulties can exist in autistic, this is not the reason why severely autistic persons cannot communicate easily.  The problem exist regardless of the medium.   An autistic person who cannot find the proper words to speak will not be able to find the proper words to type or point to them on a chart.

Facilitated Communications ignores this proven fact.  Its champions claim that autistics simply need some help in getting their fingers to the correct key or the correct letter on a chart.   As such, a “facilitator” is provided whose job it is to help guide their hand to the correct letter.   Of course, this presents a huge problem.   As long as the facilitator is guiding their hand, it’s impossible to know whose choice it was to pick a given letter or word.   In fact, in many cases, just looking at the action, it seems undeniable that the facilitator is the one moving their hand.

This does not mean that the facilitator always knows that they are making the decision, the ideomotor effect plays a big role and can make it seem very convincing, even to the facilitator, that the words are coming from the disabled individual.   Worse still, most disabled individuals embrace the attention and praise that facilitated communications offers them, even if they are not really communicating.

Regardless of what the facilitators and clients may say (and you can’t tell who is saying it anyway), double-blind studies have provided rock-solid evidence to contradict these claims.

Here is an excellent video on the subject (though twenty years old):

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Why People are Fat

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

People are getting fatter, at least in the industrial world. In fact, it’s become the single largest health problem facing most first world nations. With increased obesity comes more heart disease, diabetes and other health conditions. It’s often been stated that the United States is the fattest nation in the world. That’s not actually true. The US is near the top, but several are in fact, fatter. A number of small nations and the nation of Kuwait have higher rates of obesity and heavier populations than the US. Canada and Mexico are both on par with the US, as is Egypt, while the United Kingdom is rapidly catching up.

In fact, the problem is nearly universal in most first world countries. Across Western Europe, waistlines are growing. Germany, Ireland, Finland, Greece, Spain and others have seen obesity skyrocket in recent years. In both Australia and New Zealand, obesity rates are now described as “epidemic” and continue to rise. The nations with the fastest growing obesity rates, however, are those which are still developing industrially. Although the overall prevalence of obesity in Chile, Brazil and India are low, they are growing at the highest rates. In China, obesity was once extremely rare, but in the past decade has become common. Even Japan and South Korea are seeing rising obesity, despite having had a reputation for generally lean populations.

The common yet false claims:

If you ever happen to watch a youtube video or visit a website claiming dangers associated with food irradiation, genetic modification or the use of vaccines, modern medicine etc etc, you will very often hear claims that it is the reason why the population is obese. Pictures of unhealthy, overweight kids are often shown alongside warnings of the evils of modern agriculture.

Others will say that we need to “detoxify” to become thinner. That seems to be an odd suggestion, since fat is not toxic but the result of your body absorbing and storing nutrients, which is what it’s supposed to do. Others insist that the answer is eating only organically-certified foods.

NOT reasons why people are fat:

  • Vaccines
  • Antibiotics
  • Chemtrails
  • Genetically modified foods
  • High fructose corn syrup being used as a sweetener (as opposed to cane or beat sugar)
  • Food irradiation
  • Bisphenol A
  • “Toxins”
  • Insecticide residue
  • Fluoridation of water
  • A need to “detoxify” the body

Reasons why people are fat:

  • Eating large amounts of high calorie food
  • Sedentary lifestyles

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“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.

Mexican Nano-Technology Professor Targeted By Terror Group

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I find it absolutely stunning that there are groups today who use violence and blatant disregard for the law in an attempt to stop technological advancements.�� It’s an almost religious fury that labels certain fields of science and technology as evil and so dangerous that they must be stopped by any means necessary.� It’s as if they are cursed or embodied with black magic and for those who are so fearful, no action to stop them is too extreme.

It ranges from weedwackering the genetically engineered crops they fear so deeply to sending bombs to terrorize, injure� or kill.

Via the Miami Herald:

Mexico: Anti-technology group sent college bomb

MEXICO CITY — An anti-technology group calling itself “Individuals Tending to Savagery” was responsible for a package bomb that injured two university professors just outside Mexico City, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

The explosion at the Monterrey Technological Institute’s campus in the State of Mexico on the outskirts of the capital Monday injured two professors, one of whom was involved in robotics research. Neither suffered life-threatening injuries.

Mexico State Attorney General Alfredo Castillo said at a news conference that the group’s involvement was identified from a partially destroyed note found at the scene.

Castillo said the group opposes experiments with nanotechnology and has staged attacks on academics before.

“The ITS is a movement that, in accordance with its ideals, opposes any development of neo- or nanotechnology anywhere in the world, and they are linked to attacks in several different countries of Europe, including Spain and France,” Castillo said.

He confirmed that the package had been disguised with labels from a well-known express package service, but did not say which one.

A manifesto signed by the group and posted on a radical website said: “We have no remorse, our aim was precisely for the guards to deliver the package to the intended professor,” who it identified as Oscar Camacho.

The ITS statement said Camacho’s “police impluses” to inspect the package triggered the detonator, adding that “there is no doubt that curiosity killed the human.”

The statement said nanotechnology and other technologies damage nature and native species and contribute to natural disasters.

It appears that the group in question is a kind of anti-industrialization movement with similar beliefs to the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. Essentially, such groups believe that mankind is best left in a primitive tribal state, living off the land in a hunter-gatherer or subsistence lifestyle. While such societies do tend to result in very low life expectancy and high infant, maternal and childhood mentality, this is not necessarily seen as being negative by members of such movements, as humanity is usually seen as being a problem in and of itself, one which is best kept in check through such attrition. The philosophy also takes a page from Amory Lovins, seeing low technology and primitive, tribal lifestyles as somehow being more honorable or honest than modern technological societies.

Of course, this philosophy does have a major problem: given the choice, humans will generally tend to prefer a safer, easier lifestyle and given the option for leisure or comfort will take it. Not only this, but humans tend to be inventive and will develop new ways of doing things, including tools and technologies and refine and improve those technologies. Even if you took all technology away from human kind, we’d start to invent it again. Hence, the use of violence and intimidation to try to stop this from happening.

Such groups tend to be especially fearful and intolerant of any technology that they see as especially unnatural or which ignorance has bread fear over.

Sound familiar?


Nanotechnology is an especially exciting area of science which also has a number of anti-technology and green groups scared. It combines aspects of chemistry, materials sciences and computer and mechanical engineering. It may also include aspects of biology and atomic physics.

Basically, nanotechnology is the use of atoms and molecules to construct nanoscopic structures capable of acting as machines or of presenting useful physical properties by virtue of their structure. The push to nano-scale structures came in part from the desire of computer chip designers to push technology to creating the smallest possible functional electrical circuits. It also grew out of the availability of technologies like the scanning-tunneling electron microscope.

Of course, such concepts are not entirely new either. Chemists and materials scientists have long understood the importance of molecular structure in determining the properties of a material. Nanoscopic “machines” already exist in nature in the form of proteins and enzymes. The semiconductor industry has also long used molecule-level engineering to produce special materials for use in electronics.

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