Tag Archives: Skeptic

Sexy Alternative Medicine

Why waste your money on medical insurance when a new-age dork and a Russian hottie have the answers? Massage your problems away.

A member of my family was recently diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, a condition involving the esophagus, stomach, and diaphragm. He spent two nights in a real hospital where he was examined by actual doctors. He received a blood transfusion and underwent a battery of unpleasant tests. His initial symptoms were  severe fatigue and a persistent dry cough. An abnormality in a blood test, found during a routine checkup, is what got the whole process rolling. He was found to be dangerously anemic –his red blood cell count was way too low. He’d been slowly bleeding for months from stomach ulcers caused by the hernia. And his body no longer had enough iron to make up for the loss. He’ll be fine thanks to science-based medicine.

Now, the alternative as found on YouTube: Holding up a person’s arm and poking them in various abdominal locations is somehow supposed to diagnose a hiatal hernia. And a gentle and arousing stomach massage is in some way going to correct it. Most everything the man in the video said about this type of hernia is incorrect. Many of the symptoms associated with hiatal hernias are actually nonspecific and could be caused by more serious conditions like cancer. That’s why my family member had an array of intrusive tests, to check for all the possibilities, and to rule out the worst.

The vagueness of “alternative” medicine lends it perfectly to fraud and disastrous outcomes. All you have to do is perform a useless examination, then provide the patient with a bogus untestable (by alternative means) diagnosis. Finally, recommend an innocuous treatment (like massage) and hand over the bill. You’re done, unless you’ve mistakenly lulled the patient into thinking they have a mild ailment, when in fact they have a deadly disease; then you’re a menace to society.

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Filed under Science, Skepticism

Jeffrey Epstein, Lawrence Krauss, and The Inequity Of Justice

Jeffrey Epstein —media mogul and sex offender — has a loyal friend, perhaps too loyal. If you have big names like Lawrence Krauss —physicist and sometimes skeptic–on your side, and you have enough money and influence, you can wriggle your way out of hard trouble and into soft justice. Epstein received only 18 months for paying to have sex with numerous underage girls. Some of his other friends who sang his praises prior to his arrest included President Bill Clinton, billionaire clown Donald Trump, and Duke of York Prince Andrew. The inequity of the justice system is always disgusting to behold. To contrast, radio talk-show host Bernie Ward was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison for “downloading graphic images of child sex and distributing them on the Internet.”

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Filed under Politics, Skepticism

Ghost Hunting With Geiger Counters?

TV ghost-hunters have raided electronic stores for every possible piece of testing equipment that can produce pseudo-scientific drama with speculative data. They use them to span the intellectual and logical gaps –to attribute perfectly natural phenomena to the paranormal or supernatural without any further explanation as to why. Anecdotal evidence is not research. So, it’s no surprise to learn that the GhostHunterStore sells Geiger counters:

A geiger counter can be very useful in an investigation for monitoring the changes in the background radiation of a location. Researchers have found that ambient radiation seems to be drained or increased in the presents [sic] of ghosts. Geiger counters have been shown to be effective in paranormal investigation since the 1970’s and are recommended by ghosthunters such as Troy Taylor and Peter Underwood. [my emphasis]

Yes, what a wonderful “present” a ghost would make. It’s better than a pet rock, and no wrapping is required. And it’s value and size are left up to the imagination. Splurge if you wish, give a friend a dozen ghosts for their birthday. You can easily confirm your ghostly “purchase” (wink, wink) because radiation levels increase or decrease in their presence. Talk about hedging your bets. Up or down and you win. If the level remains steady, I guess it means that your ghost is dead or just resting after a long haunting.

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Filed under Skepticism

SmartMeter Anxiety –Part 1

A YouTuber from Ontario, Canada has come to the “scientific” conclusion that a SmartMeter is somehow killing off a shrub. For we all know that evil shrubs can only be killed off by modern technology. Garden pests, dehydration, flooding, over-fertilization, under-fertilization, or strangulation by other plants just won’t do the job. It’s electromagnetic fields that are the bane of gardens everywhere.

Out of nerdy curiosity, I downloaded the PDF instructions for the very model of meter this concerned citizen is utilizing, the HF-35C RF Analyzer. The audio “alarms'” from the meter give the false impression that some sort of dangerous overexposure is occurring, like a Geiger counter frantically clicking away. The reality of the RF meter is not so dramatic.

The RF meter can be set to produce audio, indicating the type of  RF signal. But the instructions are deliberately vague on this point and don’t tell the user which devices produce which audio, and suggest that users test it on various electrical sources to get the feel for themselves. So we are left wondering if the user in the video has the experience to match the audio we hear with the SmartMeter being tested.

This is made so much more relevant when we take into account the directionality of the signal. The RF meter detects cellphones, cordless phones, microwave ovens, 3G, and Bluetooth. The instructions are clear –multiple measurements from different directions should be taken in order to determine from where the strongest signal originates. It could, in fact, be coming from behind the user. But he doesn’t turn in a circle, he only gently arcs his arm in front of the SmartMeter.

We also don’t know if all the other potential sources of RF in or around the homes have been turned off.  Is there WiFi in the neighbor’s home, or a cellphone, or 3G? A modern, suburban street is an RF, “music festival.”

What places this video is real doubt is that SmartMeters don’t broadcast a continuous signal. Why would they need to? They’re only measuring electrical usage, which isn’t complex data. We’re not talking about uploading JPEG’s or video files. It’s just a set of numbers. And according to the utilities, SmartMeters only broadcast every 15 minutes for a about one second. So whatever is being measured here, it probably isn’t a SmartMeter.

My baloney detector is going off. It sounds a lot like a cow stomping on a pig. It’s not pretty.

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Welcome To The Kirk Cameron Zoo

In Kirk Cameron’s stunted imagination, “if evolution were true”, we ought to see “one animal transitioning into another”; for example, an individual crocodile literally transforming into a bird, with the intermediate being a Crocoduck, a perfect half-and-half creature, like a decimal half way between two integers. Well, tucked away in my childhood, toy depository, I have just such a creature. No, I have three such creatures. Welcome to the Kirk Cameron Zoo.

Behold, the magnificent Chickow

Recoil before the teetering Giraffant

Gaze upon the creepy Catogator.

The tragedy of Kirk Cameron is that he’s fixated on a definition of evolution that doesn’t exist in the real world, the adult world. Kirk, here’s a bit of advice from your own medicine cabinet –the Bible.

Corinthians 13:11 — “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

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Filed under Creationist Of The Month Club, Religion

Arrogance In Prayer

I invariably regret it when I check out the insipid stories linked through AOL News. (Old e-mail accounts are a burden.) Not only is the quality of the reporting from these junior outlets surpassed by that of any high school newspaper, the comments left, which I can’t help from browsing — are inherently vacuous. This time the story I fell upon is about an unfortunate 4-year-old boy, named Luke, who was struck by a foul ball at a baseball game. He suffered a skull fracture and is currently in a medically-induced coma. The reporter and several of those who left comments couldn’t help but stick religion in the reader’s face. The reporter said:

Luke was hit Sept. 2 at a minor league game in Niles, Ohio. We may never know why it happened, but what’s happened since should restore your faith in people. It might even restore your faith in faith.

Maybe this nutwing will never know why it happened, but I already know. And I think I may speak for all reasonable people when I say they know, too. It was a mere accident. Even the distraught mother said so in the video. And why would a well trained and responsive medical team restore my faith in faith? A commenter took the god slant further:

May God’s healing hand touch this precious young boy. I pray God is with his parents, giving them strength and faith in this critical time of his recovery. Also, prayers for the ballplayer, may he find comfort and peace.

In tragic cases such as this, religious minions are quick to grab credit for their non-existent deity. If the boy survives god will receive their praise, even though god didn’t prevent the accident. But if the boy dies, I’m sure the same minions will lay blame elsewhere, on the non-existent devil, perhaps. It’s not like the god of the Old Testament ever killed a child –well, except in some of those fire-and-brimstone stories, which are simultaneously and conveniently open to wide and narrow interpretation. That worldwide flood must have killed millions of innocent children. On the other hand, modern medicine has saved countless. Who to trust?

When tragedies occur and people insist on praying for deliverance, the one thing I find most insufferable is that humans can’t admit to themselves that they are sometimes helpless. Prayer is the delusion of certainty that humans have control over everything just by asking the Sky Daddy to intervene. And encouraging children to believe in prayer sets them up for disappointment when god doesn’t provide. Pray to your heart’s content, but don’t expect me to join in, and don’t condemn me as a heartless bastard when I don’t. Supporting modern medicine and reason is the best way to help children like Luke.

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity

The Creationism Movie To End All Creationism Movies

The entertainment world is on fire with the rumor of another creation movie from Kevin Miller, the maker of Expelled. The story is to be based on the life of evangelist creationist Kent Hovind, a.k.a. Dr. Dino, the tax dodger, the prison bitch.

In September 2009, Resurrection Pictures is partnering in the release of The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry—a heartwarming coming-of-age story about three 12-year-old boys who are shown how to apply Scripture to daily struggles—and is a 2009 Silver Sponsor of the 168 Hour Film Project & Festival. Creation, Resurrection Pictures’ first original film project— a humorous and tearful story of a high school biology teacher’s struggle to expose the lie of evolution, based on the life of creation evangelist Dr. Kent Hovind and written by Kevin Miller the writer of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is scheduled for production in 2010.

My reaction to this news can’t be expressed in mere words, so I offer you this video. Just pretend I’m the talk show host, and Kevin Miller and Kent Hovind are the guests. The fact that it’s in Dutch is irrelevant, for laughter is an international language.

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Filed under Evolution, Intelligent Design, Trawling For Creationism