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 17 April 2014

The ELF Solar Bike-Car-Hybride Thingy: Another Vehicle That Makes Me ask “WHY?”

January 31st, 2014

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The Organic Transit ELF has been getting a lot of attention recently.  It’s another vehicle that claims to be poised to revolutionize the way we get around.

Granted, in this day and age of global warming concerns, congested cities and high gas prices, it might seem natural to go looking for alternatives to automobiles.  Using human power also seems like a good idea, given the way to go, since many of us can use exercise anyway.

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Elf Electric Pedal Car: When 1 Horsepower Is Enough

Mr. Cotter is the founder and CEO of the Durham, N.C.-based Organic Transit, which makes the Elf: an ovoid, semi-enclosed, solar-chargeable, plug-in, bike-lane-legal, electric pedal car. Got that? With a 1-hp (750-watt) electric motor in the rear wheel hub and a lithium battery pack, or two, snugged into the center frame rail aft of the front wheels—and a plastic canopy to keep the weather off drivers—the Elf proposes a solution for urban commuters who want to leave the car at home but can’t quite hack the rigors of a conventional bicycle.

“We’re creating our own consumer product category,” said Mr. Cotter, whose operation in a downtown storefront in the former tobacco capital is bustling. The company has 1,500 orders in hand—more than enough to reach profitability, said Mr. Cotter, a TED talker who Kickstarted much of the original funding—and soon the company’s retinue of bike gurus and production staff (including some volunteers) will be moving to larger quarters downtown. Prices just went up: the Elf costs $4,995, more if you want the backup battery, the continuously variable transmission rear hub or the better solar panels.

The Elf’s capacity is 350 pounds; top assisted speed is 20 mph (it goes faster downhill); and the 10-amp-hour batteries offer a range of up to 30 miles, but the batteries last longer the more riders pedal. It takes one whole sunny day to charge a fully depleted battery with 60-watt roof-mounted solar panels.

Mr. Cotter and I took a couple of Elfs for a tour of Raleigh recently, and according to the vehicle’s smartphone-app instrumentation, I traveled 15.4 miles at an average speed of 15 mph; burned 586 calories (by pedaling) and displaced 15 pounds of CO2 (using solar watts). It’s a start.

elfbikecar

The vehicle has gotten a huge amount of press and attention. It even managed to raise nearly a quarter of a million dollars on Kickstart – apparently from a large group of people who are genuinely convinced this is an amazing and revolutionary concept.   It’s even touted as the “Cleanest, most efficient vehicle on the planet”

 


I do not mean to rain on this parade, but I just don’t get it.  Not only is it not revolutionary, game-changing or the next big thing, but it seems to me that this is just a vehicle which serves the same roll as the bicycle, while being inferior in most respects and considerably more expensive.

Let me know if I am missing something or just wrong…

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Bad Science, Just LAME, media, Misc

Radiation Claims by US Sailors

January 24th, 2014

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A story has been making the rounds recently about a number of sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan who are suing the US Navy and TEPCO for symptoms they claim are related to exposure to nuclear radiation on board the ship.   The Reagan did not land in Japan at the time of the tsunami or the ensuing problems at the  Fukushima nuclear power plant.  However, it did participate in the transfer of relief supplies, a mission which resulted in the Reagan spending several weeks in an area about one hundred miles away from the crippled reactors.

The lawsuit has been dismissed, but those who brought it are vowing to continue their fight, attempting to appeal or refile their claims.
WUSA has heart-wrenching the story of one of the sailors:

Maryland sailor blames Fukushima for radiation poisoning

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — He served his country, but has his country turned its back on him? A Maryland sailor says he’s now wheelchair-bound, and he blames it on radiation he was exposed to while representing his country at what’s been called the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Steve Simmons spoke to WUSA9′s Debra Alfarone exclusively.

Simmons never needed any help getting out on the golf course, “Even if it is a bad shot, I’m still happy.”

Golf, hiking, he’s always been the guy that never stops, “I love P90X, in fact after I did P90X, I also ordered the insanity workout.”

Until November 2011.

Steve was 33. That’s when life started changing for this U.S. Naval Administrative Officer. It was eight months after Simmons served on the USS Ronald Reagan when it was the first ship to respond to what’s been called the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl – the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. It was the result of being slammed by a powerful tsunami, triggered by the most violent earthquake Japan had ever seen. Steve started feeling tired, not himself. Then, he blacked out while driving to work, and drove his truck up on a curb. Steve said his list of ailments was puzzling,

“You’re starting to run fevers, your lymph nodes start swelling, you’re having night sweats, you’re getting spastic and you’re losing sensation in your legs, and you can’t feel your legs when you’re getting 2nd degree burns on them, and how do you explain those things?”

Doctors could not. Steve’s leg muscles eventually just gave up, and he’s now confined to a wheelchair to get around.

Steve’s then-fiance, now-wife, Summer, had just moved cross-country to Maryland with her three children to start their lives together. She says she was shocked, but quickly made a plan, “Things change, I started calling around, borrowed a wedding dress, we started looking for a chaplain and we were married the day before Easter in 2012 in a borrowed wedding gown and his dress whites. It was the last time Steve was really able to spend the day on his feet.”

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Simmons. People do occasionally unexpected medical conditions, some of which are difficult to diagnose. However, there’s simply no reason to think this is radiation-related.

But this is my favorite part:

Steve explains, “As far as the big picture we still don’t have a diagnosis of what this is, still struggling to even get a doctor to acknowledge that radiation had anything to do with it.”

That diagnosis is critical. Without the Navy acknowledging that Steve wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for his time in Operation Tomodachi, his retirement and pension are at stake. Plus, he doesn’t qualify for aid in the same the way he would if he lost his legs in an IED explosion.

No doctor will say it is radiation related? Probably because they have medical training and understand what radiation does and does not do to the body. It’s just not consitstant with that. Granted, the man may be convinced that something as demonic as radiation must be the casue, that’s not going to hold up in court.

The Department of Defense says radiation levels were safe, and were the equivalent to less than a month’s exposure to the same natural radiation you pick up from being near rocks, soil and the sun.

Steve doesn’t buy that, “How do you take a ship and place it into a nuclear plume for five plus hours, how do you suck up nuclear contaminated waste into the water filtration system and think for one minute that there’s no health risk to anybody on board.”

Again, we have an emotional response. Whether an area is dangerous depends on a number of factors, like there intensity of the radiation and whether there are particles that can be inhaled or ingested. Other important considerations include the time spent in the area and whether it was indoors or outdoors. It’s not a binary safe-unsafe kind of question.

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Posted in Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Enviornment, Nuclear

In India, Homeopaths Now Can Write Prescriptions

January 13th, 2014

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I hate to pick on the nation of India all the time for bone-headed homeopathy policy, but it’s hard to avoid.  For a nation which has been growing technically, by leaps and bounds, even sending probes to the moon and beyond, India still seems to have healthcare regulations from the middle-ages.

It also should be seen as a warning to the rest of the world.  In India, homeopathy has taken hold an is respected more than perhaps anywhere else in the world.   Contrary to popular belief, homeopathy is “western” medicine, as it was dreamed up in Germany.  Modern science has long rejected it, and, indeed, it never really gained much of a following in mainstream medicine.  Yet in a few places, most notably India, homeopaths have become a strong and organized force.  They have demanded the same respect and privileges as real doctors and have often gotten it.

Via FirstPost India:

Homeopaths can do one-year course, prescribe allopathy drugs: Maha govt

In a move that could benefit over 60,000 homeopaths practising in Maharashtra and one that has invited shock and anger from MBBS doctors and others, the Maharashtra government has given its nod to a proposal to permit homeopaths to prescribe allopathic drugs after they complete a year-long course in pharmacology.
The Indian Medical Association has opposed the decision, threatening to approach the Bombay High Court and calling it a move to promote quackery.
Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India.
“Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report.

The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Shocking as it may sound, homopathy doctors are often appointed as housemen in hospitals, an official was quoted as saying, adding that this pharmacology course would only improve their education. IMA honorary secretary Dr Jayesh Lele said the move was “nothing but legalising quackery”. Pharmacology was usually studied by MBBS students over three years, doctors said. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) will also approach the courts against the decision, reported DNA. Dr Santosh Wakchaure of MARD was quoted as saying: “It is a disrespect to science and we will approach court to get a stay order on it.”

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

Shocking as it may sound, homopathy doctors are often appointed as housemen in hospitals, an official was quoted as saying, adding that this pharmacology course would only improve their education. IMA honorary secretary Dr Jayesh Lele said the move was “nothing but legalising quackery”.
Pharmacology was usually studied by MBBS students over three years, doctors said.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) will also approach the courts against the decision, reported DNA. Dr Santosh Wakchaure of MARD was quoted as saying: “It is a disrespect to science and we will approach court to get a stay order on it.”

The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India. “Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report. The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

In a move that could benefit over 60,000 homeopaths practising in Maharashtra and one that has invited shock and anger from MBBS doctors and others, the Maharashtra government has given its nod to a proposal to permit homeopaths to prescribe allopathic drugs after they complete a year-long course in pharmacology. The Indian Medical Association has opposed the decision, threatening to approach the Bombay High Court and calling it a move to promote quackery. Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India. “Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

In a move that could benefit over 60,000 homeopaths practising in Maharashtra and one that has invited shock and anger from MBBS doctors and others, the Maharashtra government has given its nod to a proposal to permit homeopaths to prescribe allopathic drugs after they complete a year-long course in pharmacology. The Indian Medical Association has opposed the decision, threatening to approach the Bombay High Court and calling it a move to promote quackery. Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India. “Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report. The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued. Shocking as it may sound, homopathy doctors are often appointed as housemen in hospitals, an official was quoted as saying, adding that this pharmacology course would only improve their education. IMA honorary secretary Dr Jayesh Lele said the move was “nothing but legalising quackery”. Pharmacology was usually studied by MBBS students over three years, doctors said. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) will also approach the courts against the decision, reported DNA. Dr Santosh Wakchaure of MARD was quoted as saying: “It is a disrespect to science and we will approach court to get a stay order on it.”

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

There may indeed be a legitimate shortage of doctors in rural areas, and if that is the case, then it is a problem which is not easily tackled. However, this is certainly NOT the way to address it!

In fact, if you are going to solve the problem of lack of prescribers this way, you may as well give up the whole system of prescriptions and just let all drugs be sold over the counter.  After all, the entire reason prescriptions exist is that it is understood that certain drugs are too hazardous, too prone to miss use or too complex in administration to be given without advanced medical knowledge.  Other drugs treat conditions which should not be treated without a doctors supervision.

A year of training in pharmacology is a poor substitute for years of college, medical school, internship and residency.   Even with this background, real doctors do occasionally make errors with prescriptions.  This is why many doctors will not prescribe medications that they are not familiar with or which treat areas outside their specialty.  Having less qualified practitioners write prescriptions is certainly not going to help the situation.

Other countries should not be so quick to dismiss this as a uniquely Indian problem.  In the UK, for example, homeopaths have been trying to get more standing in the medical system and have their procedures compensated by state-run health programs.  In Canada, naturophaths and homeopaths have demanded the right to be considered “doctors,” and in the US homeopathic institutions have been lobbying for government-sanctioned accreditation in the same way medical schools are accredited.

The risks from this lunacy, which is not beyond possibility outside India, are pretty obvious:  more improperly treated conditions, greater risks of prescription drug abuse and addiction, more drug interactions, fewer conditions treated by qualified doctors, more improperly administered antibiotics.

Besides, if homeopathy actually worked, why would they need anything else?


Posted in Bad Science, Quackery

Just who decided to start “naming” snow storms

January 1st, 2014

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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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Posted in Bad Science, Culture, media, Misc, Not Even Wrong, Obfuscation

Sorry about the spam

December 31st, 2013

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Anyone who reads this blog probably has noticed there have not been a lot of posts recently.  Unfortunately, I have just been very busy.  As such, I also have not had a lot of time to moderate the comments.

There has been a huge influx of comment spam recently.  The CAPTCHA test has actually stopped most of it, but it seems many of the spammers have actually turned to human confirmation, using cheap labor.  Others may have used a backdoor around the tests.  But in any case, it’s clear they are far from 100% effective.

While it is unlikely that 100% of spam will be stopped, I’ve implemented some new plugins and filters in an attempt to reduce the problem.   Hopefully it will prove effective.

As before, there may be a problem with false positives.  If your comment does not show, it is likely because it was flagged as spam.  I periodically check the spam traps for such false positives and approve them, when I do find them.

Thanks for your patience.

Also, more posts coming soon!


Posted in Announcements, Website

Student Experiment Proves RF Kills Plants… or not…

December 18th, 2013

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A recent story that has been making the rounds is one that seems to have it all:  brilliant young aspiring scientists, underdogs shaking up the world and fear of wifi and phone RF radiation.

Via the Daily Dot:

Your wireless router could be murdering your houseplants

Are you slowly killing your houseplants? Probably! But there might be a reason (other than neglect) why they’re all yellow and wilty: your Wi-Fi router.

An experiment by a handful of high school students in Denmark has sparked some serious international interest in the scientific community.

Five ninth-grade girls at Hjallerup School in North Jutland, Denmark, noticed they had trouble concentrating after sleeping with their mobile phones at their bedsides. They tried to figure out why. The school obviously doesn’t have the equipment to test human brain waves, so the girls decided to do a more rudimentary experiment.

They placed six trays of garden cress seeds next to Wi-Fi routers that emitted roughly the same microwave radiation as a mobile phone. Then they placed six more trays of seeds in a separate room without routers. The girls controlled both environments for room temperature, sunlight and water.

After 12 days, they found the garden cress seeds in the routerless room had exploded into bushy greenery, while the seeds next to the Wi-Fi routers were brown, shriveled, and even mutated. See for yourself:

Teacher Kim Horsevad told the Daily Dot that her students did the test twice with the same results. She was quick to point out that while the students did the experiment to test only one variable to the best of their ability, it is a high school experiment and this isn’t a professional study.

“Some of the local debate has been whether the effects were due the cress seeds drying up because of heat from the computers or Access Points used in the experiment, which is a suggestion I can thoroughly refute,” Horsevad said. “The pupils were painstakingly careful in keeping the conditions for both groups similar. The cress seeds in both groups were kept sufficiently moist during the whole experiment, and the temperature were controlled thermostatically. The computers were placed so that the heat would not affect the seeds, which was verified by temperature measurements. Still, there may be confounders which neither the pupils or I have been aware of, but I cannot imagine what they would be.”

Well, the photos are certainly pretty dramatic, but that does not mean that this should be considered hard confirmed science. After all, it was not peer reviewed and was done by high school students. That said, it’s the message rather than the messenger, and it’s not impossible that non-professionals could discover something to shake up the scientific world.

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The Problems With This Experiment:

I am all for teaching students about science through hands-on demonstrations.  But in this case, there are a few things missing that are critical.   One of the most important is the basic idea that all experimental results should be viewed critically, but especially when they fly in the face of established science.  It can be summed up in the statement “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”  If something is well established by science and your experiment seems to indicate something else, you should probably examine your experiment critically and repeat it (perhaps several times) before jumping to the conclusion that you have valid results.

Even professional scientists who try very hard to control their experiments.  For example, last year, scientists at a neutrino observatory in Italy took measurements which seemed to indicate the neutrinos were traveling faster than light.  They scratched their heads and checked their equipment repeatedly, repeated the experiment and finally concluded there were no flaws in their methodology and indeed they did record neutrinos exceeding the speed of light.  Then, however, they found there was a loose cable.  Oops.

Many studies have been done on RF radiation and biology and the results refute this.  Even if we assume that there could be an effect, it is all but unthinkable that it could be this dramatic.  If this was the case, then it would seem impossible that plants could grow near high power transmitters, which they clearly do.

Given that it flies in the face of logic and established science, anyone who gets these results should look at them with an abundance of caution and only consider them valid after repeated examination and conducting the experiment several times.

There are a few obvious things that could account for this:
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Posted in Bad Science, Education, inverse square, Misc

First New Pictures From the Lunar Surface

December 14th, 2013

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Before today, there were two nations that had managed to land a craft on the surface of the moon and beam back data and pictures.  The United States and the Soviet Union.  Both landed a number of unmanned probes.   The US also sent twelve manned missions to the lunar surface.  The Soviet Union didn’t send any humans but did send some sophisticated unmanned missions including two remote controlled rovers.

The last transmission from the moons surface was made by a Soviet probe in 1976.  While there have been other craft to orbit the moon or crash into it, this was the last surface probe.

Now a third nation has landed a probe on the moon and for the first time in thirty years the surface of the moon is being beamed back.

Via MSNBC:

China’s first moon rover lands — and rolls onto lunar surface

BEIJING — China on Saturday successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said. Hours later, video footage showed the probe’s rover rolling onto the lunar surface.

The achievement marked the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet in the myth. Within hours of its landing on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover separated from the Chang’e lander to embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

As an American, I’m a bit saddened to see someone else sending payloads to the moon while our own once-great space program seems to be getting nowhere fast. Still, it’s good to see the the moon is once again being visited by humankind. Though it might not be the most difficult planetary body to get to nor the one with the greatest scientific discoveries waiting, there is something about the familiarity and closeness of the moon that seems to beacon.

I hope this will be the start of a new era of lunar exploration missions by numerous countries.

And here’s the first picture…

2D9988205-moon4.blocks_desktop_medium


Posted in Good Science, Space

The Only Study to Link GMO Foods to Cancer Retracted

December 2nd, 2013

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You may remember back in March, this site called out a study in the Journal Food and Chemical Toxicology as being fraudulent.  No, I cannot claim credit for outing the study, however, as by the time it showed up here, a number of prestigious scientists had pointed out the extreme flaws in the study and conclusion.

None the less, the study, complete with dramatic photos of tumor-ridden rats has become a mainstay of the anti-biotech movement.   It is one of the most often cited pieces of evidence of the evils of genetic engineering.  Now, however, after much criticism, the journal has decided to retract the study.

Via the International Business Times:

GMO Corn Study To Be Retracted By Journal Following Storm Of Scientific Criticis

A controversial paper purporting to show a link between genetically modified corn and tumors in rats is poised to be retracted by the journal that published it following a storm of critics from scientists over the past year.

University of Caen biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini and colleagues published their findings on GMO corn and rats in September 2012 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. They reported that rats fed genetically modified corn or water spiked with glyphosate, the herbicide used in conjunction with GM corn, were more prone to tumors and multiple organ failures. But there were odd signs surrounding the paper from the start: Seralini allowed some journalists early access to the paper, but only on the condition that they sign a confidentiality agreement that reporters not seek comments from other scientists on the paper before publication, an extremely unusual move. Once the research was released, scientists criticized almost every element of the paper: the experiment’s design, the use of a strain of rats prone to tumors, the lack of standard controls, and conclusions that did not seem fully supported by the data.

“This paper as it is now, presents poor quality science and dubious ethics,” scientists from the Brazilian Biosafety Association wrote in a letter to the journal.

On Thursday, French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Food and Chemical Toxicology editor-in-chief A. Wallace Hayes had sent Seralini a letter saying the paper will be retracted if he and his colleagues do not agree to withdraw it.

Having an article retracted, with or without the agreement of the authors is a rare event and about the most extreme form of censure that can be imposed on a scientific publication. It is especially noteworthy that this comes as a direct result of the legitimate criticism that came from the scientific community. Although the journal it was published in was far from prestigious, it became apparent that this was the only way to maintain any credibility they may have had.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to end the use of the study as evidence of the evils of biotechnology. Just as Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent study still convinces anti-vaccine groups, it is impossible to shake the faith of true believers. Already some are saying this is just more evidence of a Monsanto-backed conspiracy.

So while this is a positive step and will certainly assure no legitimate scientists put any weight on the conclusions of this study, it will not unring that bell or put this claim to bed.

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Posted in Agriculture, Announcements, Bad Science

“Psychic” Sylvia Browne Dead

November 21st, 2013

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Perhaps it is in poor taste not to be a bit more sad and respectful of the dead, but if that is the case, let me be in poor taste.

There are many self-proclaimed psychics who take advantage of people who are in a state of grief or desperation.  One of the most odious has been Sylvia Browne.   A frequent guest on the Montel Williams show, she is known for having made a series of predictions that turned out to be dead wrong, such as saying Shawn Hornbeck was dead when he was later found alive.

While the more skeptical of us would not pay much attention, it did cause a great deal of pain to the families searching for their lost loved ones.

So bad were her scams that my friend Robert Lancaster started the page Stop Sylvia some time ago.

Well, now she is stopped….

sylviaxout

Via the Huffington Post:

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Posted in Announcements, Bad Science, media, Misc, Paranormal

A Few Long Overdue Updates

November 17th, 2013

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To those who have repeatedly asked for things like a return of the comment preview and better anti-spam measures, your requests are finally being answered.

It has been a while since I last upgraded WordPress to the latest version. Today I am doing just that, along with updating some of the plugins and seeking out some better ones. Comment previews should be back, as the new WordPress version once again supports the plugin. New captchas or other measures may be seen today as I experiment with various new options and plugins.

This is long overdue.

But be advised that if you catch the page in the middle of an update or when a plugin is being tried for the first time, you may experience some erratic behavior or interruptions to page arability.


Posted in Announcements, Misc, Website