Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thistle thoughts (11)

EoR sits on a thistleEoR, having accidentally sat on some thistles, ponders the State of Things...

Has anyone studied which produces more heat: global warming, or the misinformation promulgated by industry and political interest groups in the furtherance of ideological buttressing?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Psychic continues to maintain accuracy level by failing to find missing person

Back in May and June EoR looked at the efforts by Chris Roubis to psychically locate missing person Hayley Dodd. In summary, Mr Roubis "saw":

  • She was buried under an oak tree near a creek within a 20 mile radius of where she was picked up

  • There are other young girls buried in the area

  • The culprit is 40+ (but looks young for his age) with dark brown or black hair and a moustache, big, 5.7 - 5.9", Aboriginal, has a scar on his face, is also White and with tattoos on his arms

  • He has also killed 3-6 other girls

  • He has killed 3 girls and 1 boy

  • He lives in the area in a duplex and probably has mental problems

  • The oak tree could be a "huge" tree


Astute readers will note that these guesses are either self-contradictory, or so vague as to be useless (since Hayley Dodd disappeared in 1999, it would be safe to assume that anyone who killed her would be around 40+ now, for example). Other psychics are called upon, muddying the waters even further, suggesting it was an Aboriginal in his forties at the time, or two people, and names are known (but not, of course, named). After the relevant thread was commented on by another sceptical blogger, various threats were made, the psychic believers turned on each other, and the thread was eventually closed to the public.

Mr Roubis has now started up another thread which, if the subject matter wasn't so serious, and the random guesses probably so painful for the family of Hayley Dodd, would be the stuff of farce.

Margaret Dodd has been played with over the years by fakes and opportunists, but that is no excuse to be playing with us....


Even when, no matter how deludedly you believe you are 'psychic', you are one of the fakes and opportunists?

A poster claiming to be Margaret Dodd (and quite possibly is) asked for some information known only to her and Hayley in order to gauge the self-titled psychic's truth. Sceptics will realise this is the one thing psychics can't provide, unless the person first gives it to them so that it can be stated back as a 'fact' revealed by 'spirits'.

And as for your negative comments towards me i feel you are being unjust. Rember when you first started the forum on Hayley and the information was so far from the truth? You said sorry deleated the post and said that you had been misslead by fake psychic's and you should have trusted in yourself. Are you supprised that i am a sceptic when you are also misslead by other psychic. I am sorry that people on your forum are bickering and because of this i agree the best thing you can do is close it down because it is not helping to find Hayley.


Far from newage hoslistc caring-and-sharing people, psychics are the most self-centred individuals around it would seem. Mr Roubis calls in a psychic from the US who, like all the other psychics, clearly fails to make any progress, and then storms off in a huff:

Now this lady from USA is so annoyed by peoples lack of respect.. that she will never ever help anyone regarding this missing case...


Yes, she can solve this case. But she won't now! She's taking her crystal ball, and she's going home! You see: farce and tragedy combined, in the person of a psychic throwing a tantrum that would make a two year old proud.

As if the failures, invective and bitterness weren't enough to prove how useless and timewasting 'psychics' are, Mr Roubis unfortunately posts a chat transcript with a "lovely US Psychic that i brought in to help with the case.."* There is an amusing (and lengthy) passage where Mr Roubis and Lovely Psychic attempt to use Google Earth. Mr Roubis keeps sending her links to the relevant page, but she can't seem to get Google Earth to work for her... Why a psychic needs to use Google Earth in the first place is beyond EoR, especially since she's in 'contact' with Hayley Dodd, but then why she can't get it to work stuns him (aren't there any geek spirits around to provide guidance for her on how to use a web browser?). Later she has to take a break to go to the shop for "fags & choc". This really is one classy and professional psychic.

Lovely Psychic is clearly a proponent of cold reading (ask questions, and hope the suckers give you confirmatory information that you can parrot back at them) since she keeps complaining that "see i need her mother for this" and at one point asking for "pics whatever she can provide or the cops" to help her. At one stage (while she's 'communicating' on the ethereal planes with Hayley) she asks Mr Roubis if Hayley has a sister. Doesn't Hayley know this herself? The scamming is so blatant how can anyone fall for it? She also has "some kind of stepfather or uncle" and, when this isn't confirmed, "a male role model." So, the guesses become vaguer and vaguer, in the desperate attempt to try and match something, even if it might apply to virtually the whole human race. Hayley shows "a small dog". There's nothing to say she owns it, or her family owns it, or she had a dog once, or someone she knew had a dog once, or maybe she saw a dog once. Who knows? Who cares? What's the relevance? As far as EoR can determine, the only true statement she ever makes is:

this is just wastin time


Out of the mouths of babes and charlatans...

She claims that Hayley Dodd is buried in bush 10 feet from a gravel road. And there are buildings and signs. There are lots of gravel roads in the country. And buildings. And signs. And her 'guesses' confict completely with the other guesses made earlier by the other brilliant psychics (and this time, we're back to only one culprit, and he has "some kind of pitchfork in his hand" — could it be the Devil?).

None of the psychics seem to have foreseen that a prisoner would claim to be the murderer (though at this stage it is only hearsay, and there is no proof that he wasn't just confabulating to other prisoners).

EoR waits with baited breath to see how long the current revelatory thread lasts.

How pyschics work



*True to form, Mr Roubis has edited the thread, removing the transcript of the chat session between himself and the "lovely" psychic. In the interests of proving that you can never delete anything once it has been placed on the internet, and in the belief that psychics should be exposed for their rambling inaccuracies, EoR preserves here the full transcript (and, yes, the original was in blue):

marymagdolane1: i can locate this girl can see the rd an area of bushes she is passed love
marymagdolane1: strangulation
GraFix: ok
GraFix: ty
marymagdolane1: I am not going to tell the mother that immediately
marymagdolane1: i see a sign further back also this is a gravel rd
GraFix: the mother cannot view the private forum
GraFix: so u can put it in there
marymagdolane1: im worried about others confusing love at this point im not reading theres right now till i focus
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: this girls been gone a while love hu
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: they've searched this area with dogs but missed it
marymagdolane1: damn wish it was over here nto gonna be able to walk there bit too far for me to go love
GraFix: that would be cool
marymagdolane1: i can see the rd i can see the bushes she's like 10feet in
GraFix: wow
marymagdolane1: this is what i do i walk it in my mind remote view
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: connect to the person & it just falls one after the other like a puzzle
GraFix: there are maps in the forum if u want to see
marymagdolane1: man , friend, pic ,road, Bush, sign<
marymagdolane1: now a map i can look at just not worded info
marymagdolane1: & her pic
marymagdolane1: i keep seeing this young man with some kind of pitch fork looking thing
marymagdolane1: chatting to her
marymagdolane1: friendly at this point
marymagdolane1: like "hey how r yu"
GraFix: map is in the forums and u can also use google earth
marymagdolane1: she's a bit shy
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: see diff scenarios leading up coming in now
marymagdolane1: whats the place called just the name of the nearest town
marymagdolane1: no specifics though just place
GraFix: hang on
marymagdolane1: i will look at it on google
GraFix: Badjingara township, Brand highway & North West Road.
marymagdolane1: whooaa north west rd
marymagdolane1: hold up
GraFix: in Western Australia
marymagdolane1: ffs
marymagdolane1: wont bring it up as typed
GraFix: do u have google earth?
marymagdolane1: whooa
marymagdolane1: dense area
GraFix: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&rl ... a=N&tab=wl
marymagdolane1: yeah lookin at brand highway but want that rd
GraFix: focus in more it will show the names
marymagdolane1: kk
marymagdolane1: here we go
marymagdolane1: im on satillite
GraFix: great
GraFix: clik on earth
GraFix: u will see everything
marymagdolane1: k downloading
marymagdolane1: yep thats what i want specific area
marymagdolane1: like im walkin there
GraFix: ye
marymagdolane1: i feel her in spirit hon in the distance here she's startin to connect
GraFix: great
marymagdolane1: her mothers had a llot a bs thrown at her from cops also they dont know wtf there doin
marymagdolane1: so much confusion
marymagdolane1: from get go
marymagdolane1: & they did not move fast enough
GraFix: yep
marymagdolane1: this man is still out there he knows it is one man
marymagdolane1: but others know some details
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: he has told at least two people
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: seh did not suffer allot dear
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: it was frustration on his part
marymagdolane1: like a snap
GraFix: ok
GraFix: did he work on the farm with the others?
GraFix: was it the one hayley was visiting?
marymagdolane1: mm sorta kinda he was different though
GraFix: going to
marymagdolane1: fromt he others
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: they may have questioned this man i feel hes very quiet unnassuming
marymagdolane1: young though
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: teens to 20s
marymagdolane1: early
GraFix: so the guy she liked was the one that did this?
marymagdolane1: they had chatted would'nt like to say it was "the" one
marymagdolane1: as of yet
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: depends if this guy fits the description of the dark hair 5'8 i can see him in my mind
GraFix: so he met her on the road?
marymagdolane1: yes
marymagdolane1: she was walking
GraFix: he gave her a lift?
marymagdolane1: no he had no vehicle
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: he has some kind of pitchfork in his hand like hes working
GraFix: so he just dragged her to the bushes?
marymagdolane1: stop love lol
marymagdolane1: i have to let it comet hrough as is
GraFix: sorry
marymagdolane1: dont put shit in my head hahahah
marymagdolane1: bless ya
GraFix: hehe
marymagdolane1: he was walking chatting as far as i can see it was a snap thing
GraFix: oh
marymagdolane1: fffs this is takin forever to unload
marymagdolane1: im gonna run out & get some fags
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: this has got me gripped now babe
GraFix: can i post this text in the forums if u like?
marymagdolane1: hold up first i dont want anyone puttin there ore in yet lol i really want to speak to this mother so i hope she emails me i dont think she'd want this out there till i speak to her it would be bad for her
GraFix: its a private forum
marymagdolane1: plus the cops are stillinvestigating they have not closed the case yet right
GraFix: she cannot see it
marymagdolane1: no its a few of the folks in there love one specifically not yu baby i trust yu totally
marymagdolane1: someone could get to her
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: on face book iven if the innocentely mentioned it elsewhere
marymagdolane1: yu get my meaning love
marymagdolane1: its not about me not about them its about the family & the girl
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: & she can then choose to share the info witht he cops or not
marymagdolane1: this is how i work i tell them this innitially yu can choose to use what i give yu or not
marymagdolane1: out of respect for them i never go around them to the cops
marymagdolane1: or to others
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: kk babe be right back this things takin forever to download anyway
marymagdolane1: oh & definately yu save the text if yu can
GraFix: ok i will
GraFix: ty
marymagdolane1: cause sometimes i will forget things i have received
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: well just been to store got fags & choc i eat allot when i do this cause of the energy drain love, still this has not downloaded
marymagdolane1: i asked haley to try & come through clearer, she is disturbed ont he other side love, I've asked her to come through for her mum & tell me does she have a sister
marymagdolane1: sorry askin yu that does she have a sister?
GraFix: yes
marymagdolane1: kk
marymagdolane1: she gives this to me
marymagdolane1: while i was int he car she was distressed somewhat its her passing they can stay like this sometimes for many of our yrs
GraFix: ok
GraFix: poor thing
marymagdolane1: but she definately needs help there & her family need help here desperately
marymagdolane1: & I will try my damdest to clear this
GraFix: ty
marymagdolane1: this has gone on way to long
GraFix: yes
marymagdolane1: tell me also i sense some kind of stepfather earthbound or uncle close to her
GraFix: probably
marymagdolane1: a male role model
marymagdolane1: see i need her mother for this
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: the more i connect with others earthbound around her the clearer she will respond
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: she is untrusting
marymagdolane1: she's a wee girl
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: small in stature
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: shy but friendly
marymagdolane1: she's also showing me a small dog
marymagdolane1: earthbound
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: here again i need her mother
marymagdolane1: have yu ever spoken with the mother
marymagdolane1: this momans had enuff of bs
marymagdolane1: w
GraFix: i just messaged her to email u on her facebook
marymagdolane1: so many want something from her
marymagdolane1: want to get in on the act so to speak or have done
marymagdolane1: that pisses me off
GraFix: ye
marymagdolane1: thats why i will give her others to email so she can trust me first
marymagdolane1: i have two in australia she can talk to
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: is this supposed to take this long to download
marymagdolane1: on the phone with one of my clients brb
GraFix: no not that long, go back to satellite
marymagdolane1: kk
marymagdolane1: k off phone i have saved google earth instead of opened now i dont know where it is hahaha
marymagdolane1: aahh s my firewall
GraFix: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&rl ... adgingarra township, Brand highway & North West Road.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl
marymagdolane1: ok earth is downloading properly now
marymagdolane1: bless ya lol
GraFix: lol no bless you my darling girl
marymagdolane1: see i have to work two seperate areas i have the remote viewing psychic end & the spirit end with her personal info & then conjoin them
marymagdolane1: the circle narrows as i go
GraFix: awesome ty
marymagdolane1: it is no accident yu told me about this ya know love
GraFix: oh i bet it wasnt
marymagdolane1: & yu are an intricut part of this procedure
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: person connects with another 7 another etc
marymagdolane1: &
GraFix: agreed
marymagdolane1: i promise yu i will not give up on this for this family
GraFix: ty
marymagdolane1: noone should have to deal with this for so long
GraFix: true
marymagdolane1: k now i dont know how much yu know about the police but was there a mother of a young man questioned yu may not know this
marymagdolane1: im on earth now about to start roaming
GraFix: probably was mary
marymagdolane1: yep get the mother of this young man
marymagdolane1: but haleys mother probably can answer these
marymagdolane1: there are two national parks in this vacinity but not feeling there
marymagdolane1: caravan park
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: i cant get the rds its this rd i want
GraFix: focus in more, u may see it on the map
marymagdolane1: do yu have this rd pinpointed on yur map on yur site
GraFix: yes
GraFix: have a look at the pics in therte
GraFix: or let me show u
marymagdolane1: yeah i gotta get to that rd
marymagdolane1: this is just wastin time
marymagdolane1: the terrain is so large
marymagdolane1: allot a small towns
marymagdolane1: theres a building to the right of where she's walking but in the distance
marymagdolane1: im surrised none of these psychics have pulled to this place
marymagdolane1: this rd
marymagdolane1: p
GraFix: ok hang on
marymagdolane1: kk babe sorry love
marymagdolane1: damn if i could just go there sucks donnit
GraFix: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=coocle ... =en&tab=wl
GraFix: true
GraFix: Badgingarra
GraFix: follow north west road
GraFix: in western australia
marymagdolane1: this is just not close enuff
marymagdolane1: i can see this singular small rd
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: like a side rd
marymagdolane1: do ya get my meaning
marymagdolane1: off the beaten track
marymagdolane1: thats teh problem
marymagdolane1: i have to span out
marymagdolane1: if i were in the area i could see with my own eyes & recognise it
marymagdolane1: i have to focus more on the situation that incurred the family the girl
marymagdolane1: i do know that right close to this spot there is a large building that does'nt look like it belongs in the terraine
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: this young man no longer is in this area
marymagdolane1: but so much shit surrounding it he says she says confusion
marymagdolane1: in the end the cops lost there focus
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: see i had one once where the child was near a lake problem was there were two lakesi felt swamp land & the body on top of the water wetness she was inbetween the two lakes in bogged area i got confused between under water & above water
GraFix: oh ok
marymagdolane1: its the same with anything singular we get a spot sometimes we can see the exact spot its pinpointing the surrounding area for people to look, when im at a place i get a body pull like magnetics
GraFix: wow awesome
marymagdolane1: i see buildings signs etc
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: when from a distance
marymagdolane1: i also have had a few where im the person being murdered or the murderer in there thoughts, or standing outside of them looking in
marymagdolane1: its like snap shots click click click
GraFix: cool
marymagdolane1: how do yu do this
marymagdolane1: i find psychics do this in different ways
marymagdolane1: & some are just psychics & not mediums
GraFix: i just get images
marymagdolane1: can yu focus on the individuals moving
GraFix: not yet
marymagdolane1: yu need to yu can do this graf
marymagdolane1: yu have studied metaphysics the physics of this
GraFix: im not going to push, i always blok myself
marymagdolane1: yeah thats common early on love just relax let it flow in collect yur thoughts on paper if yu have to & put them together
GraFix: ty i'll try
marymagdolane1: see this is why i like to have a family member cause the more connection i have to them the clearer it becomes
GraFix: understandable
marymagdolane1: i had an australian lady come through on my facebook i did not add her she did not add me we were like who r yu? turns out her son had died a yr earlier he came through right here in my room, she had never heard of mediums so i had to explain why this had happened & her son then prodeded to give me info, she sent me a huge package of ausy stuff a few weeks ago to thank me bless her we are close friends now
marymagdolane1: see how spirit connects us
GraFix: awww
marymagdolane1: i also sent her to anothe rmedium friend of mine in the uk for her healing partwe must all share it is important to bring all of us in
marymagdolane1: accept for the wannabees that harm lol
GraFix: true
marymagdolane1: i am going to focus on this later love she is with me haley just in the distance I will be able to bring her in eventually, but cant emphasis enuff the mother input this is her keyhopefully she will email me.
GraFix: ok ty
marymagdolane1: oh ic
marymagdolane1: yu should send her what yu saved yesterday
marymagdolane1: but i will also email her
GraFix: ok
GraFix: so she maybe 10 feet from the road?
marymagdolane1: so she can check with others before she speaks with me i want her to feel comfortable otherwise she will block me
marymagdolane1: theres no maybe its which section of rd
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: thats where im having the issue i need to see the actual place surrounding area
marymagdolane1: pics whatever she can provide or the cops
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: i can see it in my mind clearly & this building to the right of where she was walking
marymagdolane1: i can see the man
GraFix: wow
marymagdolane1: i just have to have verification of some things
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: now her body is clearly gonna be mostely gone
marymagdolane1: but there are fragments
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: yu have animals there also digging
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: sorry to be blunt but these are the facts
GraFix: yep
marymagdolane1: it is actually better for me to discuss these things with the cops directely the mother is too emmotional of course
GraFix: true
marymagdolane1: but i will not do that with out her go ahead
GraFix: ok
marymagdolane1: the family is the most important part of this as i said yesterday

marymagdolane1: & as for the haley case the mother is very quiet love im not sure if she wants to deal witht his
GraFix: oh ok ty for trying
marymagdolane1: her trust is destroyed seemingly
marymagdolane1: I sent her an email back & said I will give her or yu any info I get & she can do with it what she will
GraFix: ok ty
GraFix: ty for trying
marymagdolane1: It almost feels like & I may be wrong, that she does'nt want to know yu get my meaning
marymagdolane1: like it would be too hard for her the reality
GraFix: i understand

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The madness of altie practitioners (again)



If you wanted to make a horror-thriller, you couldn't do better than a mad scientist who had been debarred from practising medicine, but continued his arcane experiments in some remote location, killing innocent victims in his insane search to perfect a cure for cancer.

Sadly, it's not a film script and it's not a thriller, it's terrifyingly real.

The WA Coroner has recently been considering the deaths of five people receiving an alternative cancer 'cure' promoted by Hellfried Sartori, aka Abdul-Haqq Sartori. Local doctor, Alexandra Boyd, is also under investigation for making her home available to have the treatment administered (involving intravenous administration of various substances including cesium chloride, magnesium and potassium, as well as coffee enemas). Perhaps wisely, she chose not to actually be present during the treatments.

Some of Sartori's 'alternative' views are that cancer drugs kill people, not cancer, and that giving a patient a diagnosis of cancer is one of the most dangerous things a GP can do.

He said the majority of cancers were caused by "acute shock experiences" and when doctors told patients they had cancer, the shock of the news could cause the body to develop secondary cancers.

Under questioning, Dr Sartori confirmed he believed anti-cancer drugs were the major cause of death in cancer patients and he totally opposed chemotherapy.
"Nature wants to heal itself and you have to provide the proper conditions. This is the art here," he said.


In fact, he 'knows' that cancers are caused by traumatic events:

According to Sartori, almost all cancers are caused by an acute shock after a traumatic event, and he says that if this event involves a son or daughter, breast cancer tumours will grow on the left breast, as was the case with his mother.

"All of these tumours have a biological sense; for the child, this tumour grows as long as the conflict is active; after she [the mother] sees the child has recovered, the tumour stops growing.

"Then there is certain bacteria, they remove this cancer from the breast and all is gone."


His treatments cost his clients thousands of dollars — one of those who died paid $35,000, others paid up to $40,000.

Claiming to have cured "up to 10,000" patients, EoR can't decide whether Sartori has a grandiose personality disorder or not. Of course "up to" also includes numbers such as zero. He is certainly not above lying to gain his ends, failing to reveal a US criminal record when seeking Australian registration.

Dr Sartori spent three years in jail in the US for practising medicine after his licence was revoked. When asked whether he had lied when filling out the Australian forms, Dr Sartori shrugged and said: "Well, I did".

He said he did not consider writing vitamin prescriptions for patients were grounds for his convictions in the US.

Dr Kemp read out a 1984 report from medical authorities in the US state of Maryland saying Dr Sartori was "seriously deficient in medical knowledge and judgment" and below the standard of a competent family practitioner.


Sartori has also been jailed in Thailand for fraud and practising without a license.

Those who failed to recover from his unorthodox treatments (the Coroner raised the matter of 24 Australian deaths in a two year period) receive the usual altie total lack of compassion, with the patients variously being blamed for not thinking positively enough, "eating pizza and getting drunk", or the patient's partner being to blame. Or, in the 20th November edition of The West Australian, that classic altie excuse for utter failure, "a homeopathic healing crisis" (which seems most bizarre of all, since these patients weren't even receiving homeopathic treatments, though he makes the same claim in his marketing material*). Also, like other alties facing the Coroner, he seems very ready to blame everyone else except himself.

Sartori described the proceedings as "more than a witch-hunt". Well, given that Sartori was peddling witchcraft, it seems entirely appropriate to EoR for the chief witch to answer for his actions.

The case is currently in recess and resumes later next year, when Dr Boyd will appear. It will be interesting to see who she blames.



*His method is so mad that it's almost funny that he charges his treatment for large tumours by the kilogram of tumour.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Next thing you know they'll be playing croquet

Flamingos

Photoshopped, or real? A flock of flamingos gather into a giant avian group form. Is this the ornithological equivalent of crop circles? Were they responding to strange geomagnetic energies in an attempt to communicate with passing UFOs? Or are they simply saying "So long and thanks for all the fish"?

Bigger versions available here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Robin Day (1915-2010)

Sit down and take a moment to consider this man's effect on your life.

Rare is the human backside that hasn’t found solace and support in Mr. Day’s most famous creation, a molded polypropylene shell fastened to an enameled bent tubular steel base that has become familiar seating in schools, churches, offices, auditoriums, home patios, kitchens, dens, bedrooms and basements around the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Positively swishing forward fast to desired energy

EoR has been aware of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) for decades, but never really thought much of it other than some sort of wacky fringe mind programming cult. It has been brought to his attention, however, by the constant advertising from the local bonecracker who, regardless of his constant claims that the 'body has the power to heal' and chiropractic's miracle cures, still feels the need to pile on improbable therapy on top of improbable therapy, including trigger point therapy and kinesiology (the applied — fake — kind). Not only that, but his advertising also includes a Christian ichthos so, presumably, prayer helps as well. Now NLP is included in the package:

NLP life coach Terri Messenger said she offers NLP studied by Bandler & Professor Grinder to move people forward fast and effectively. "It's the study of human excellence and how people think on a neuro-synaptic level," she said. "It models Milton Erickson, Fritz Pearls [sic] and Virginia Satir. It is successeful in the fast phobia cure and swish pattern. These are some techniques used to beat depressive, anxious, fearful and addictive states. People can expect to reach desired states of energy, motivation and positivity very quickly."


Now, perhaps EoR is alone in seeing that as gibberish, but he'd never realised just how deeply mad NLP is. Even though its practitioners seem to be heavily skewed towards the holistic kind where the preference is for the deeply mad.

While there are seemingly millions of sites on the internet explaining NLP, Wikipedia provides a good single-source summary.

To sort out some of those names Ms Messenger rattles off: Bandler and Grinder were the originators of NLP back in the seventies. Fritz Perls was a gestalt therapist, and Virginia Satir was another therapist, both of whom inspired the creation of NLP. They were not, however, part of NLP.

NLP does not appear to have any sort of scientific validation of any kind. Instead, its practitioners seem to rely on the double edged sword of "it works for me" and "it can't be tested scientifically". Long term skeptics will recognise the cri de coeur favoured of homeopathic practitioners in the face of all evidence that their preferred form of magic is, in reality, a placebo.

Perhaps the single most telling condemnation of how brilliant NLP is in increasing energy, motivation and 'positivity' is the protracted and acrimonious breakup of Bandler and Grinder, and the subsequent court cases. If it doesn't work for the creators, what hope for the rest of the world?

Furthermore, like cults that break up into increasingly more isolated subcults, NLP has a plethora of forms. Wikipedia notes that you can become an NLP practitioner in Europe with only 2-3 days of training. For the truly dedicated, those prepared to devote themselves longterm to the hard slog, you can become a professional in a wearying 35-40 days. In Australia, the average seems to be around a week to become a fully qualified practitioner, though you could opt for the incredibly lengthier 13 day training course (though that does, of course, give you "3 international certificates"). That last site offers scientific proof of all the claimed miracles that NLP delivers ("Click here to find out what the latest research has shown about NLP Practitioner Training in Australia"). Unfortunately, that link only takes you to a solitary recommendation from a fellow coach.

I know all this to be true because I've worked with Wilbert before on various projects and I've also had him as my coach...and he's brilliant! One of the best.


In the context of "lastest research" it's worth less than nothing.

But what is that bizarre 'swish pattern'? Apparently it is

The process of taking a behaviour or state and changing the submodalities to enhance a new behaviour or state, sometimes accompanied by a noise like swwwwishhhh at the time of changing them.


It involves two (imaginary) pictures, one showing the desired behaviour and one the negative behaviour which are swapped around faster and faster — the 'swishing'. It basically seems to be a method of distracting yourself from an unwanted or negative behaviour. Whether it works or not is another question. But if the next public speaker you see stands on stage sweating nervously, and making 'swish' noises over and over, at least now you'll know why.

What's that noise? Swwwwiiiissshhhh.... Oh, it's the sound of evidence disappearing...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nature knows best

We all know that "[m]ost animals are natural herbalists, often seeking out particular herbs when needed". So how does it happen that 40 horses have died from eating a poisonous plant?

Were these a particularly stupid herd of horses? Or was it a mass suicide pact?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Experiencing magical courses

There is so much wrong with this...

The Australian reports on an Australian Universities Quality Audit report into the Endeavour College of Natural Health (report available here).

The Australian doesn't list the full "13 recommendations, four commendations and two affirmations" in the report, but notes that students

were largely cynical towards the college's management and were "not impressed" with the state of facilities, "particularly as they are paying what they perceive to be large fees".


Students were critical of the College's "student experience" and the report also noted the College's "cultural challenges".

EoR has no idea what these marketing weasel words have to do with education. Are the students customers clients stakeholders attending College for the "experience" rather than an education? And what sort of "experience"? Relevant, accurate knowledge? Intellectual debate? Examinations? Rigorous tutors? The student bar? The night life?

Of course, the glaring omission here, as in the UK, is that the Australian authorities will license any sort of course if it meets certain management and regulatory provisions. The actual content of that course can be as wacky, unproven or magical as you like. What, for instance, is the real world basis for teaching units such as Chakra Meridian Interface or Acupuncture Channel Theory?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thistle thoughts (11)

EoR sits on a thistleEoR, having accidentally sat on some thistles, ponders the State of Things...

How much formaldehyde does it take to choke a horse?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Toy stores promoting paedophilia!

According to the trashier end of the media spectrum the new Barbie doll (which also contains a camera in it) is the latest moral panic that will destroy our society.

EXPERTS have slammed a new Barbie doll incorporating a hidden video camera, as a potential paedophile's paradise.

Barbie Video Girl encourages children to get creative and film themselves playing.

A tiny camera is built into the doll's necklace.


The report fails to justify its rabid claim that paedophiles will be using this as their new 'paradise'. They get a quote from a clinical psychologist who says

"I am calling for all Australians to boycott this product and to refuse to shop in any store that justifies selling this potentially pornographic tool."


which is not quite the same thing, and a spokeswoman from the Australian Council on Children and the Media who describes the doll as "disturbing".

EoR wonders just how many girls already have mobile phones. With cameras in them. The horror.

Or how many potential paedophiles lurking right near your daughters have laptops. With cameras in them. The horror.

And how much of this is simple technophobia from adults who aren't digital natives and who feel threatened by the younger generations' ease of use with these devices?

The New York Times provides a more sober account of the new toy.

“Creepy!” said nearly every boy I showed her to; “Cool!” said the girls, who immediately got the idea of the toy — to make movies from Barbie’s point of view.


It's interesting to note that the "creepy" response in the Herald Sun was from a boy journalist. Rather than focusing on how technology might be abused (Shut down the internetz! There's pr0n on it!) shouldn't the fact that this toy seems to have a specifically female-oriented attraction, and is designed to provide an outlet for girls' creativity be celebrated?

Or perhaps we should only be giving girls toys that prepare them for their proper place in the world: pregnant, in the kitchen, and definitely not competing with men?

Actually, the only thing that EoR finds truly creepy about this toy is the New York Times' x-ray photo of it...

Barbie x-ray

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ill winds

We're already well aware of the significant negative health effects caused by random electromagnetic frequencies (seemingly, only from high tension power lines and mobile phones — all other sources such as television signals, microwaves, computers, wall cabling and so on do not cause problems) but what about the terrible and hidden health costs of renewable energy sources?

Dr Sarah Laurie has raised the terrible spectre of "wind farm sickness".

Dr Sarah Laurie, medical director of the newly formed Waubra Foundation, has forwarded to executives of Hepburn Wind a letter she wrote to Premier John Brumby, in which she says she's shocked at the extent and severity of symptoms in patients she has encountered with "wind farm sickness".

[...]

Symptoms included a sudden acute severe headache, nausea, a sensation of "their heart leaping out of their chest", and they feel extremely unwell.


"This pattern of symptoms is associated with a dangerously high blood pressure, and warrants immediate medical attention," Dr Laurie said.


A Wind Farm Director interviewed for the report notes that Dr Laurie is discussing "very small numbers of patients" but the exact number is not given. The claims Dr Laurie makes also come from interviews, not any sort of study, and there appears to be no effort to match and compare with any sort of control group. Her letter to the Victorian Premier mentions five people (and another two who, it is not clear, may or may not be included in the five) who have suffered health problems, though she doesn't specify the total population this sample comes from. Nonetheless, Dr Laurie wants a 10 km buffer zone around wind farms.

The symptoms she describes sound eerily similar to those of EMF poisoning:

Commonly reported symptoms of EMF poisoning include sleep disorders, headaches, vision problems, sensitive skin, dizziness, chest pain and nausea.


It has been noted that people experiencing such symptoms have them only when they know that EMF radiation is present. However, if they are unaware of whether the radiation is present or not, there is no correlation between symptoms and EMF. It would be very interesting to know whether the same situation exists with wind farms.

EoR would also be interested in learning whether a Q Link pendant is equally effective for the new malaise as for EMF poisoning?

The Yorkshire Post is equally concerned, noting

a possible link between low-frequency noise of the type transmitted by wind farms and a rare condition called vibroacoustic disease – a complex illness that can lead to epilepsy and cancer.


Vibroacoustic disease appears to have mainly been studied by N Castelo Branco, who describes it thus:

Vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is a whole-body, systemic pathology, characterized by the abnormal proliferation of extra-cellular matrices, and caused by excessive exposure to low frequency noise (LFN). VAD has been observed in LFN-exposed professionals, such as, aircraft technicians, commercial and military pilots and cabin crewmembers, ship machinists, restaurant workers, and disk-jockeys.


Different frequencies are given, but the dangerous levels appear to be 500Hz or less, with lower frequencies being more dangerous. The authors state that decibel levels are not important:

Hence, two situations arise: a) it is not scientifically sound to compare the results of noise-related studies that describe their acoustical environments merely in terms of a dBlevel measurement (i.e., without a frequency spectrum analysis), and b) the results of noiserelated studies that do not report the frequency distribution of their acoustical environments cannot be compared to those that do.


The Clean Energy Council states:

[H]ealth problems stemming from wind farms might be related to the anxiety and stress a person might feel about living near turbines which is then “exacerbated by rhetoric, fears and negative publicity” in the media.

[...]

Australian guidelines for wind farm acoustics were among the most stringent in the world and noise levels were improving with advancement in turbine and blade technology and anti-wind farm campaigners could be responsible for creating their own health problems.


Of course, this sort of possible issue is manna from heaven for the climate change deniers. The Australian Environment Foundation has joined in the protest, calling for windfarm development to cease until all its concerns are addressed. Finding independent information about these matters has been some trouble for EoR, with interest groups on both sides putting their points of view, but any organisation with "environment" and "foundation" in its title these days is automatically suspect for being a duplicitous front for climate denial interest groups. Which the AEF, of course, is.

The Australian Environment Foundation is a front group founded by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a conservative Melbourne-based think tank.

The director of the environment unit of the IPA, Jennifer Marohasy was the founding Chairwoman and is listed as a Director in the organisation's documents with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Mahorasy is also the listed registrant of the group's website, although the address and phone number for the website registration are identical to the address and phone number for the Victorian office of the logging industry front group, Timber Communities Australia.


Presumably, "Australian environment" means exploiting the Australian environment, and not sustainability. If the AEF truly believed in the precautionary principle, it would also be advocating action on climate change.

Dr Anthony L Rogers at the University of Massachusetts provides a powerpoint presentation offering some relevant information on noise and infrasound in relation to wind turbines. He notes (p.28)

No reliable evidence that infrasound below the hearing threshold produces physiological or psychological effects.


He also provides some intersting graphs (pp. 46-47) showing that annoyance levels increase faster for wind turbines than for comparable industrial noise, and also when people held negative attitudes towards turbines. These concerns were also related directly to audible noise, rather than infrasound.

Dr Laurie's letter of concern is now being quoted by politicians as a "study" in order to stop windfarm development.

[Bass MLA Ken] Smith said a study by a South Australian GP Dr Sarah Laurie, had shown that noise disturbance, sleep deprivation, headaches, increased blood pressure, body vibrations and tachycardia (fast or irregular heart beat) could all be symptoms of wind turbine syndrome.


Perhaps these people would also support shutting down Manhattan?

Noise in 98 percent of Manhattan's public space exceeds healthy levels, says a study co-authored by Columbia University researchers to be released today.


To summarise: there may be a possible link to windfarm turbines and vibroacoustic disease. VAD has, however, never been studied in this situation, nor is it clear that VAD itself exists. Evidence that much of the health issues experienced around windfarms may actually be psychosomatic is clearer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ask the vet

While reading Dr Dingle's latest proclamation in Nova, EoR also came across the following Q&A: A WORRYING LUMP - Animal Healing Q & A with Dr Clare Middle, BVMS CVA Cert1AVH.

A woman writes to holistic vet Dr Middle about her Pomeranian dog which has a tumour that she, as a pensioner, cannot afford to have treated with chemotherapy. That was two years ago, and now the lump is "40 or 50 cm in size".

If Wikipedia is to be believed, Pomeranians average 13-28cm high. If Nova is to be believed, the tumour has now grown to twice the size of the dog. Even if the dimensions are taken as 40-50mm it's still a large tumour, and the implication is that in the two years it has been growing its owner has not been back to the vet.

Dr Middle advises (EoR's emphasis):

It does sound as if the lump on Snowy's leg is a nasty one if the vet has recommended chemo. If it is a tumour of the bone, or an osteosarcoma, then it may have spread to other parts of the body, but small dogs rarely get this type of tumour. It is more likely to be a fibrosarcoma, which is unlikely to have spread. So if the vet has done a biopsy and knows it is this type of tumour, then this might sound drastic, but amputating the hind leg may be the best and most cost effective option if the lump is causing him pain. This would be easier and more successful than trying to remove the tumour, according to the information you have given me. Small breed dogs do not carry much weight on a hind leg and usually do well after an amputation.

However, if the lump is not causing him pain, that is, if he is using the leg without much of a limp, then it may be best to do nothing about it, or use herbs to reduce its growth rate. You can buy these herbs cheaply from a herbalist or health food shop which sells herbs, in either a dry herb or liquid tincture form. The herbs are, Burdock, Slippery Elm Bark, Sheep Sorrel, Red Clover, Indian or Turkish Rhubarb Root and Blessed Thistle.


Call EoR old fashioned and alarmist, but his recommendation would be for a vet to examine the dog urgently to determine the nature of the growth and how it has progressed. A fibrosarcoma is less likely to have spread, but is also extremely rare in comparison to osteosarcoma in dogs. How Dr Middle can differentiate based on a brief letter is an amazing demonstration of her skills.

Sadly, at 11 years old, and this advanced, it may well be that nothing can be done. Sitting back and seeing whether a hodge podge of herbs and doing nothing will effect a cure, however, are the sort of actions that kill people suffering from cancer.

Dr Middle also warns most strongly:

do NOT feed him dried commercial food, as the carbohydrate will weaken his immune system


because, you know, processed carbohydrates are all different from any other carbohydrates, with a completely different chemical structure, and they go straight for the immune system.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A pot and a kettle walk into a bar...

Dr Peter Dingle's latest 'health advice from a non-health qualified person' in that esteemed journal of well researched information, Nova, is on the subject of published research on pharmaceuticals (EoR's emphasis):

An interesting dimension of pharmaceutical companies’ practices is that the same drug companies that reap money from drugs conduct the research, pay the researchers and control the research - including what is, and is not, published. Drug companies engage in censorship, bribery, corruption, fraud, suppression of negative studies and all varieties of unscrupulous tactics to sell their products; there are literally hundreds of studies that demonstrate this situation. At the simplest level, most medical research is financed by pharmaceutical companies seeking support for drugs that are either on the market or in development.


Big Pharma, we are informed, are nefarious, devious, malevolent and all powerful.

The influences employed include participant bias, ghost writing, pressure on researchers or, even worse, financial incentives for researchers, fake journals and just about any underhanded means by which a pharmaceutical company can achieve the outcomes it desires, including pressure on or removal of dissenting academics.


Strangely, Dr Dingle, as a dissenting academic, still has his job. Perhaps his powers of resistance are more powerful than the average academic?

Dr Dingle's argument is effectively the same one promoted by climate change deniers: scientists are corrupt, papers are faked, the science is made up. Don't believe it. They're only in it for the money!

To sum it up, the studies are rigged from the beginning, and still the doctors trust the research and the drug companies? If it were any other business, these companies would be out of business and no one would believe the information. So why do we do it here?


Of course, there are genuine concerns about industry influence on studies, but a more balanced and nuanced view of the issues involved would be better found at Bad Science than the Nova Journal of Fearmongering.

What is interesting, however, is not what Dr Dingle mentions but what he doesn't, since his arguments are so often selective presentations. There is, for instance, no discussion of Big Altie. What funding do they do? How do they influence the various studies they conduct (when they conduct them)? What funding does Dr Dingle receive, if any? His website includes a link to Nova on the front page, while Nova includes a link on its front page to Dr Dingle's site. Are these funded? What influence (whether stated or implied) might there be in this relationship? What other Doctors, naturopaths or organisations does Dr Dingle recommend? Do these, in return, recommend him? Is there any financial incentive, whether directly or indirectly? Does the fact that Dr Dingle is married to a naturopath influence his health recommendations? Is the fact that he has a conflict of interest from running a business promoting his unqualified health advice relevant? Is it more relevant for not being mentioned? EoR doesn't know, since there is no disclosure.

A serious question of ethics arises as a result of the strong link between the authors of most of the studies, at least the ones showing positive results, and the pharmaceutical companies. The disclosure of the associations reads like a Who’s Who of the pharmaceutical industry.


Is this also applicable to the altie world? Or do they play a purer game?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thistle thoughts (10)

EoR sits on a thistleEoR, having accidentally sat on some thistles, ponders the State of Things...

Since The Secret is an irrefutable Law of Science, it follows that every single individual in the entire universe can each have more than the sum total of all the wealth in the entire universe. Does that seem even slightly improbable?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fearful symmetry

A tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage and when he is exterminated – as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies to his support – India will be the poorer by having lost the finest of her fauna
— Colonel Jim Corbett, 1944




The Guardian reports on the parlous state of tigers in the wild:

There are now just 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Three of the nine subspecies (the Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers) are extinct; a fourth, the South China, is also lost to the wild, with a few dozen specimens surviving in captivity.


Altie organisations argue that tigers are no longer used for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Andrew Lam has a bizarre argument that TCM never endorsed using tiger parts for enhancing virility. In fact:

Many doctors and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine are angered by the suggestion by some environmentalists that tiger parts are prescribed as aphrodisiacs in TCM. Tiger parts, and tiger derived medicines -- especially tiger bone, tiger bone plaster, and tiger bone pills -- have indeed been constituents of the official pharmacopoeia of TCM, even appearing in textbooks used at Universities in Beijing as late as the early nineties and unfortunately, continue to be used to this day. However, tiger bone derivatives are principally used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other bone and joint related illnesses, and have never been used as aphrodisiacs within TCM.


So killing tigers because of a magical belief that their bones cure arthritis is different from killing tigers because of a magical belief that their bones cure impotence is relevant exactly how? The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, believes that tiger parts are no longer used in TCM, at least in China.

Tiger trade bans have helped wild tigers, and alternatives to tiger bone are effective and plentiful. Why waste 14 years of progress by TCM, China and the world in reducing the market for tiger products?


The 'alternative' proposed is the dead parts of mole rats which, in an apparently powerful conjunction of TCM and homeopathy (since less mole rate is more powerful than more tiger), are even better than tiger bits.

In May 2007, the prestigious, state-owned laboratories at Tanggula Pharmaceutical Company, which is supported by China’s Northwest Institute of Biology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, published results of 10 years of research showing that sailong (mole rat) bone “can completely substitute tiger bone for the effective treatment of rheumatism. Although sailong bone is smaller than tiger bone… its strength is obviously higher than tiger.”


China Daily reported in 2007

More than 20 years ago, Professor Zhang Baochen from the institute began to research the Sailong. He was amazed to find during his dissection of the rats that no cases of arthritis or other bone diseases had ever been identified in this species although the rats live in areas of low temperatures and high humidity.

Zhang said he realized that this rat's unique ability to fight rheumatism could hold hope for human beings afflicted with this disease.


Perhaps they die before arthritis shows itself? Certainly, dissection of an unspecified number of rats without arthritis doesn't automatically prove that they have some mysterious anti-arthritis powers. Despite more than 20 years of research, EoR was unable to locate any published evidence of these claims.

While mole rat bones may cure rheumatism (or, very probably, may not) the fact is that TCM continues to insist on killing animals in the name of a primitive belief system.

The facts about this remarkable turnaround in the killing of tigers shows the propaganda of TCM proponents for the empty arguments they are:

Tiger experts are agreed on the prime, simple cause of its disappearance: it is being massacred for a lucrative illegal trade in traditional Chinese medicine. Shocking new figures released this week show that parts of between 1,069 and 1,220 tigers were seized between 2000 and April this year – an average of at least 104 animals per year. The vast majority of seizures of parts from illegally killed tigers, including skeletons, claws and skins, were in India, China and Nepal, according to Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network. "With parts of potentially more than 100 wild tigers actually seized each year, one can only speculate what the true numbers of animals are being plundered," says Pauline Verheij of Traffic and WWF.


And the view that the ground up parts of almost extinct animals have magical properties is not confined solely to 'primitive' or 'superstitious' peoples. Westerners are equally prone to trusting in sympathetic magic. Just ask Elle MacPherson. Or all the sharks being killed because of a magical belief that dead sharks cure cancer.

And Australians, of course, are not unfamiliar with the principle of needlessly slaughtering a species to extinction (and, yes, EoR is well aware this is a different sort of tiger hunted to extinction for a different, but equally pointless, reason).

Dead thylacine



In a strange twist of synchronicity and quantum entanglement, Andy posted about rhinos while EoR was working on this post.

Friday, November 12, 2010

When facts meet merchandising

What is it about altie promoters and their (first and second) wives?

Ian Gawler is well known in Australia for his miraculous recovery from osteosarcoma by foregoing conventional treatment in favour of diet and meditation, and his subsequent Foundation, books, tours, retreats and other merchandising.

The Gawler Foundation provides a range of internationally renowned cancer healing retreats and programs that embrace an integrated approach to health, healing and wellbeing that includes the body, emotions, mind and spirit.

Our cancer programs and healing retreats work within an integrative medical framework to provide access to the best possible instruction and support for the implementation of self-help techniques for people experiencing cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and other serious illnesses, and those seeking a preventative approach to health and wellbeing.


In 2008 the Medical Journal of Australia published an article detailing a case of recovery from osteosarcoma. Dr Gawler's first wife, Grace, wrote to the Journal last year (but the letter has only now been published) disputing a number of claims in that article, and identifying the patient as her previous husband and asserting that he did not, in fact, use a vegan diet prior to his cancer cure.

An appraisal of the patient’s symptoms, combined with an accurate clinical history, reveals a more plausible scientific hypothesis for his remission than the effects of diet and meditation. Although diet and meditation may be adjuncts to a patient’s wellbeing, it is unlikely in this case that they were curative, and certainly veganism was not a relevant factor. Immunotherapy with BCG vaccine treatments, the timing of symptoms and the patient’s eventual diagnosis of tuberculosis could be associated with his remission, as postulated by his radiation oncologist in 1978. There is extensive scientific literature about remission of cancer, including osteosarcoma, associated with febrile conditions.

The patient’s sporadic visits to doctors meant that metastases were not diagnosed histologically and much of the information reported on his case is anecdotal. Clearly, in this and other cases, unbiased investigative scientific research needs to be undertaken before reporting anecdotes and extrapolations as if they were fact. Teasing apart the errors in Jelinek and Gawler’s story, now on the public record and almost medical myth, is an enormous task, but one that must be done, because correctly reporting the patient’s clinical timeline is crucial in any discussion about the causes of his remission and the flow-on effect to cancer patients and their treating doctors.


George Jelinek and (Dr Gawler's current wife) Ruth Gawler also respond in the same issue, disputing Grace Gawler's claims, though noting that their report was written 30 years after the fact, and concluding

The case history is certainly complex and compelling. The message is clear: unexpected recovery from disseminated cancer remains a possibility, and is likely to be influenced by lifestyle factors.


"A possibility" and "likely" seem to emphasise the weakness of the argument. It hardly seems the basis for the marketing of a whole lifestyle business. EoR is also confused about how this claimed recovery is also applicable to Multiple Scelerosis which Dr Gawler also runs retreats for.

The Australian, in reporting this issue, notes

Dr Gawler said he believed it was "inappropriate" of the MJA to allow him to be identified, and that the journal had breached medical ethics by publishing the letter.

MJA editor Martin Van Der Weyden rejected the accusation, saying Dr Gawler had already "capitalised on this 'spontaneous cure' " through his foundation and biography, where the events had also been recorded.


Grace Gawler also has a blog where she discusses this matter, and notes a number of deaths of people seeking alternative cures to cancer (including a number of deaths currently before the WA Coroner).

It should be noted that Grace Gawler also promotes "integrated" cancer treatments, including the completely spurious reiki.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Psi-porn

Sceptics can rest easy, now that psychic powers have been scientifically proven. Even better, the magic powers are enhanced when porn is involved.

The suitably science-fictionally named Professor Daryl Bem of Cornell University has had a paper accepted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which h+ claims

presents some rather compelling empirical evidence that in some cases — and with weak but highly statistically significant accuracy – many human beings can directly perceive the future. Not just predict it based on the past.


EoR isn't sure what "weak but highly statistically significant" means. That the psi powers are really tiny (but that we're certain they're really tiny)?

h+ does, however, include some interesting graphs showing, among other things, that Christians are more likely to believe in ESP than any other group.

The paper has led to some trippy postmodernist 'reality is what you make it' because quantum physics is all weird and hard to understand and lets you claim anything you want is possible style musing, also repeated at Psychology Today (and which Bem also argues for in his paper).

So if we accept that these psi phenomena are real, how then can we explain them without throwing out our entire understanding of time and physics? Well, the truth is that these effects are actually pretty consistent with modern physics' take on time and space. For example, Einstein believed that the mere act of observing something here could affect something there, a phenomenon he called "spooky action at a distance."


Personally, EoR never crosses a road, precisely because of the uncertainty of just where exactly that truck is, and whether it's about to pass him, or has already passed.

Quantum physics: it works at the quantum level, so it must work at the macro level. In which case, it would be called just physics.

io9 also report on the experiments:

For instance, in one experiment Bem gathered 100 subjects, half male and half female. Using a computerized system, they then played a game in which two curtains were displayed on the screen and the subjects had to choose which one had a picture hiding behind it. Some of these pictures were neutral in content. Others were chosen at random by the computer from a database of semi-erotic and erotic photos (hey, looks like science isn't boring after all).

The result: In cases where an erotic photo was lurking behind the curtain the subjects were able to accurately identify which curtain it was behind with 53.4 percent accuracy – not a huge statistical spike but significantly better than the 50 percent accuracy rate that could be expected by chance. The accuracy rates were not as high for non-stimulating images, which fell more or less in line with raw statistical chance. This suggests that the subjects could somehow sense the erotic stimuli that awaited them before it happened.


To get an idea of how close the differences are that are being claimed here, Experiment 5: Retroactive Habituation I (p.31) of Bem's paper notes, for example (EoR's emphasis):

Women achieved a significant hit rate on the negative pictures, 53.6%, t(62) = 2.25, p = .014, d = 0.28; but men did not, 52.4%, t(36) = 0.89, p = .19, d = 0.15. This sex difference is not statistically significant


Experiment 7 used 200 undergraduates and found (p.37):

Across all 200 sessions, the hit rate was in the predicted direction but not significantly different from chance, 49.1%, t(199) = -1.31, p = .096, d = 0.09. (I now wish I had simply continued to use subliminal exposures.) Nevertheless, stimulus seeking was again positively correlated with psi performance (lower hit rates)


Other experiments had either 150 undergraduates (in two experiments) or 100 (in the rest). Occam's Razor would seem to indicate that, like any truly random process, greater numbers approximate more closely to statistically expected outcomes, rather than psychically altered differences, which appears to be what is happening here.

EoR, meanwhile, is off to randomly click on interweb links, now that he knows they'll very likely be pr0n.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In which EoR calls for a new holiday

One of the best things about Firefly is the use of profanity, creatively presented in Mandarin to get by the censors. Is there any occasion in which "Holy Mother of God and All Her Wacky Nephews" (我的媽和她的瘋狂的外甥都) isn't appropriate? And shouldn't Holy Testicle Tuesday (神聖的睾丸) be a real holiday? And there are also a few people EoR feels would qualify as a "Frog-Humping Son of a Bitch" (青蛙操的流氓).

In case you need to be told, that page (and the comments) are very probably NSFW (depending on where you work, of course).

More fan translations.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A fat load of marketing

EoR was casually switching through radio stations the other day, when he heard a woman scarily telling everyone how they were deficient in all sorts of nutrients, and it was almost essential that everyone in Australia supplement iodine, vitamin D, selenium and so on. She also informed the listeners of the dangers of a fatty liver.

By this stage EoR was getting rather worried. It turns out that the woman was Dr Sandra Cabot. Well known worldwide for her bestselling book The Liver Cleansing Diet. True to form, like all self-help books, regardless of the amazing results promised by the original book it has now apparently been superseded by a new volume, Fatty Liver — You Can Reverse It.

Well known American doctor, Thomas Eanelli, meets an Aussie doctor, Dr. Cabot, through her little green book The Liver Cleansing Diet. After searching through university medical libraries and visiting numerous liver specialists and surgeons and finding no real answers, Dr. Eanelli discovered that the liver could be healed without drugs or surgery - luckily the information in this little green book was the catalyst that would inspire him to go on and heal himself thus avoiding potentially dangerous surgery.
Dr. Sandra Cabot has devoted her career to helping people heal themselves from this potentially fatal yet still under reported disease.
Dr. Thomas Eanelli's courage has enabled him to "come out of the refrigerator" to share his tale so others may be saved.

What sets this book apart from others is that rather than bravado and bragging by a set of new age gurus, Cabot and Eanelli instead forge an instant connection with their readers by their honesty and empathy when confronting the imperfections of dieting, especially where food addictions are concerned.
This book may become one of the most timely and important health narratives in years.


Like other fringe health advisers, Dr Cabot seems to spend a lot of time scaring people, with her reports of how cancer is increasing, interspersed with promoting her seminars. Fear, of course, is one of the great advertising motivators (are you too fat? too undesirable? too unfashionable? do you have bad breath? are you going to get cancer?) and it's unsurprising that the altie health vendors use this since it seems Australians fear cancer more than any other nation on Earth*.

Her modality is, however, scientific (why, she says so herself!). In fact, disagreement with her claims is so rare as to be noteworthy.

There has been the occasional person who did not understand my theories on the liver, and in particular one reader thought it was impossible to cleanse the liver, believing that this was unscientific! However, it is vitally important to cleanse the liver regularly because, like any filter, it can become overloaded and blocked with excessive waste products.


Yes, your liver is really just a fancy kitchen sink filter.

Possibly the singular person who refuses to accept this miracle is Dr Joe Proietto.

No doubt, the diet is good because it involves low-fat and more vegetables and more fruit. None of us would argue with that. The problem I have is the claims made for this diet are based on no scientific evidence and the simplistic blaming of the liver for a multitude of different ailments. I will quote again Dr Cabot’s own words?—?“How can anyone know the benefits of a particular diet or therapy without evaluating its effects upon patients first”. On this we agree. What we clearly don’t agree on is what constitutes proper evaluation. There is overwhelming acceptance in the medical and scientific community that any new therapy or any new claim for an old therapy must be tested in a controlled trial, preferably in a double blind fashion. The words “controlled trial” do not appear anywhere in the book.


Dr Proietto also details the various expensive supplements, memberships, powders, tonics, books and creams that you need to buy to ensure your health the Cabot way.



*The newspaper report makes the world-encompassing claim, based on a survey conducted in only eight nations. No, EoR can't see how the extrapolation has been made, but it's not alone in its statistical exaggeration.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Favourite 19th Century German art music works

ABC Classic FM have been revisiting their listener-voted Top 100 Classical Works which they originally compiled in 2001. Described as The Classic 100 Ten Years On even though it's only been nine years (EoR expects the next one will be in eight years time) it's interesting to see what people prefer in classical music (or what they don't by the ommissions). The two lists are not directly comparable, since listeners could nominate ten works this time, but only one last time.

EoR's favourite composer, Jean Sibelius is there with four (non challenging — where's the Fourth Symphony or Tapiola?) works compared to only one last time. No Webern, no John Dowland (but no change from last time there).

Nine composers make up over half the chosen works: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Bizet. That's not too bad: nearly half of them aren't German. Nearly.



Three musical forms account for almost half the works: concerto, symphony and opera.



Selections are seriously skewed towards the late nineteenth century. They drop off dramatically for the second half of the twentieth century (and those few are works like Gorecki's Symphony 3 and the Giazotti arrangement of Albinoni's Adagio — not exactly challenging listening), and there are no works from the last decade.



There are no women composers in the list.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Homeopathy serially diluted

According to Google Trends homeopathy is on a steady decline of interest. If the current trend continues, it should disappear from view around 2016. Of course, what happens then is anyone's guess. By the Law of Infinitesimals, if homeopathy disappears it will become infinitely powerful. EoR expects the universe will implode into a singularity (but at least it will have a boosted immune system and all its chakras correctly aligned).



It's also well worth noting that the majority of times when interest in homeopathy has peaked has been for all the wrong reasons if you happen to be selling this impossible magical therapy. In fact, the only time people seem to show a renewed interest in homeopathy is when they appear to be wondering "People really fall for this???"

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Northam is doomed!

Es lebe Northam!

The Federal Government is setting up two new detention camps for asylum seekers, one of which is in Northam, northeast of Perth. EoR is deeply concerned about this matter and is glad he doesn't live anywhere near the town, given the volatile nature of the residents and what might happen. And he doesn't mean the asylum seekers.

Howard Sattler, well aware of his audience demographic, has been pushing this issue for weeks now, including a three hour broadcast from Northam with a live audience full of redneck racists (actually, one person spoke up for moderation but was quickly shouted down). Continually claiming that he's not trying to stir things up, Sattler consistently warns of riots, escapes, lack of health services and violence because of the asylum seekers. He even tried to push the line that the army camp they are to be housed in is some kind of national historical site.

Still not trying to stir things up, he allows callers to make accusations that Serco (the security company that will be operating at the Northam camp) are "playing both sides of the fence" by supervising the asylum seekers and somehow funding the people smugglers as well. While Sattler declared that he had "no evidence" to support that claim he nonetheless allowed the caller to go on at length and, at the same time, apparently had no idea where the dump button was or what its use was.

The West Australian reports on the meeting that followed Sattler's rabble-rousing rally.

Belinda McKinnon, who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words Bomb Their Boat, said anyone who tried to arrive in Australia without permission committed an illegal act.

[...]

One Nation State vice-president Lyn Vickery said: "They will slit your throat in a second."

Another Northam resident, John Edwards, claimed 3m-high fences would not be enough to stop detainees from escaping. "The first thing they are going to do when they jump the fence is steal my car and drive to Perth to blend in with their own kind," he said.


EoR can already hear Duelling Banjos.

And how Lyn Vickery can get to be vice-president of a political party (admittedly, a fringe, loony, racist, conspiracy-mongering party) is bizarre. Described as a sad little fantasist, his website uses the symbolism of a bomb and states

We will change the world by informing the people. By showing them how they have been lied to, conned, robbed and how what they see as "the real world" is a cunningly manufactured hell designed to reward the psychopaths who control it while at the same time milking everyone else until death! The slaves will be set free. And when that day comes "I see wars, horrid wars, the Tiber foaming with much blood"


There's extremism for you. Mr Vickery lives in a world where Bolshevism is still a threat, and Adolf Hitler a paragon of virtue to be emulated by all right-thinking, pure-race eugenicist thugs. What would the Australian media's response be to inflammatory statements made by a Muslim in the same vein, and using the bomb symbolism? Would it be the same as it is for Vickery?

Sattler has stirred the situation so successfully that the right-wing Premier of WA, Colin Barnett, is actually sounding reasonable:

Premier Colin Barnett has accused some Northam residents of prejudice after angry scenes at a crowded town meeting last night over a proposed immigration detention centre.

[...]

Mr Barnett today said he was concerned by some of the extreme statements made at the meeting, which he said were not appropriate.

“It just shows on a sensitive issue like asylum seekers, on what many will see as illegal immigration, this flares the tempers and maybe some of the prejudices that in Australian society,” he said.

“That's why issues like this need to be handled carefully, even slowly if that's what it takes, and sensitively.”


Racial vilification is not unknown to journalism, of course, nor to politicians who seek to exploit an easy and simple polarisation of views in order to increase their votes (or readers). Wayside Signals reports on a UK politician who tried that stunt and, surprisingly, has been called to task and his victory overturned. If only Australian politicians (and journalists) had the same sort of accountability. News with nipples reports how the media aided and abetted the politicians.

We – the public and the media – have been pwned by the Howard, Rudd and Gillard Governments. They wanted us to hate asylum seekers, and now we hate asylum seekers. They wanted us to think that 692 people a year is a massive problem, and now we think that 692 people a year is a MASSIVE PROBLEM. John Howard must have soiled his pants a little when he (or, more likely, an adviser) came up with “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” – a sentence that’s almost nine years old to the day, and one I’ve heard trotted out constantly since then. Even my own mother (an immigrant) has used it.


To date, Howard Sattler has not come out in opposition to Hakea Prison, situated in suburban Perth, housing over 900 male prisoners, even though this is just as much a clear (and already existing) threat to god-fearing, law-abiding white Australians, nor has he organised public protests against it, or devoted hours and hours of his mean-spirited radio show to it.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Lazarus dissembling

Does anyone understand what this man is talking about? Former PM John Howard, on the book-selling trail now, featured on Counterpoint delivering a marketing talk to an audience organised by Quadrant magazine so he could be assured there'd be none of the nasty shoe-throwing brigade but only The Faithful (many of whom he seems to know on a first name basis).

In discussing the reasons his government was reelected in 2001, he states this was not because of the MV Tampa or the World Trade Center attack:

The truth is that the government had recovered its political fortunes by the time of the Astin by-election held on Bastille Day in 2001 and then also for those who follow political programmes as fanatics the night before the inaugural programme of Insiders on the ABC. I remember it very well because I'd gone to watch the Wallabies the night before um, ah, defeat the er, the er, British Lions in the last test and retain whatever trophy ah, ah, was then available in relation to that and was very hoarse and could hardly reply to Barry Cassidy but I was feeling very happy because we'd won the Astin by-election.


So that's all clear, then?

Answering questions from the audience, he clarifies those pesky Weapons of Mass Destruction that Saddam Hussein had. There were, apparently, two possibilities. Either the WMDs would be found (which would be clear evidence that Saddam possessed them) or they would not (which would be clear evidence that Saddam had possessed them but had hidden them).

The truth about people's attitudes in 2003 on the eve of the operation is that there was really no argument amongst most people that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction. My successor as prime minister, Kevin Rudd, told a meeting of the Zionist Council in Victoria that it was an empirical fact that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

I detail in the book a meeting I had with the then head of MI6 at the High Commissioner's residence in London late in February of 2003 in which I was shown some of the most compelling intelligence material imaginable. And the detail I've got in the book is I cleared its use with the person in question, Sir Richard Dearlove, who is now the master of Pembroke College at Cambridge University, and the truth is that there was widespread material strongly suggesting Iraq did have weapons. There is a view that the actual weapons themselves that did exist were deliberately dismantled or taken elsewhere, and there are a number of countries that qualify as a possible destination. It was established after the military operation by the Iraq survey group that there were plenty of weapons programs.

So the argument that is now being used and was used for a long time that we somehow or other made it all up and it was all a pack of lies, it was anything but. The actual weapons themselves, stockpiles, were not found, and there are a number of explanations possibly for that, I don't know what the real truth is. But there can be no argument that there was a widespread view at the time that they certainly did exist.


As the bastion of truth and reality at the ABC, regularly exposing the lies and frauds of the Left and Science (especially Climate Science) EoR is, however, bemused at the fact that the transcript of the question and answer section has been doctored. Surely the impeccable and incorruptible hosts of that outstanding show would never stoop so low?

One questioner addresses Howard as "Prime Minister" (the one who poses "The current government by its composition has been forecast by some to have a very short-looking vision") but this is excised from the transcript. Other salutations are there in full, but only this one is missing. Is it because revealing the time warp these people live in, where John Howard is still Prime Minister, is too embarassing?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

If this calendar doesn't exist, it would be necessary to invent it

Via the Skeptvet, EoR learns of a new nudie calendar, celebrating the world of holistic veterinary therapies (probably NSFW, since there's a photo of a nude female vet fondling a cock while she ponders the Joy of Aromatherapy). Sadly, unlike other efforts in this genre, it doesn't appear to be for charitable purposes but simply to generate income. Nonetheless, EoR can't see why the idea can't be extended. There's a whole altie network in Western Australia. Surely they could work together not just to recommend one another, but to produce a charity calendar demonstrating their particular skills.

Such as non-medical doctors producing meals that will allow you to live as long as you want to.

Vitamin D cures MS!

Or psychics communicating with the dear departed (who have, let's face it, already seen the psychic in the shower countless times).

The spirits see all!