Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Knowledge or Certainty

Back when EoR was a Very Small Donkey (he's now Old, Grey, Irascible and rather Tatty), the BBC produced a 13 part documentary series of hour long programs on Science (and can anyone imagine that sort of thing happening today, when reality TV and pseudo-factual programs about mediums and ghosts are the order of the day?). The Ascent of Man, presented by Dr Jacob Bronowski, was a landmark in television. It has now been released on DVD (at least in the UK and Australia). Go out and buy it. Watch it. Show it to your friends. Show it in schools (while EoR saw the series on television, he also fondly remembers episodes being shown at school). You will not be disappointed. Not only is this about Science, but it's also exciting stuff about Science, and a firm conviction that Science is a positive force. Dr Bronowski is one of EoR's personal heroes (a man who believes in Science, and who wrote books about William Blake, is a man after EoR's own heart). In an obituary, Sean Day-Lewis wrote
His great success as a broadcaster partly stemmed from his determination not to underrate the audience.

One of the programs is entitled "Knowledge or Certainty". In Dr Bronowski's view, science (which he stresses as a very human activity) deals with knowledge. Knowledge is uncertain. Science constantly progresses, but knowledge is never complete. It is an expanding field, albeit with fuzzy edges, but it is never finished. Certainty, on the other hand, is the realm of dogma. Of the unchanging worldview where all things are known absolutely and there is no room or possibility of further progress. Dr Bronowski is a firm supporter of Science.
But what physics has now done is to show that that is the only method to knowledge. There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.

Whilst there is a clear relation to the views of alternatistas today (especially homeopaths with their constant clamouring ululations against any and all studies that show no effect above placebo from their nostrums) and fundamentalism of all sorts (Christian, Moslem, political, racial), for Dr Bronowski (a Jew originally from Poland) the ultimate application of Certainty was the Nazi regime.
When the future looks back on the 1930s it will think of them as a crucial confrontation of culture as I have been expounding it, the ascent of man, against the throwback to the despots' belief that they have absolute certainty.

Bronowski's essays (for so he termed the progams) are full of the optimistic belief that science has steadily pushed back the dark ages and the erroneous beliefs in magic and forces such as phlogiston. Imperfect though it may be, science has become the standard way of understanding the world. Sadly, these days, those forces of darkness and mumbo jumbo are advancing again, im passim subsuming the terms and language of Science (but not the methodology or the rigour) and EoR wonders what Dr Bronowski would make of this revolt against science. He suspects Dr Bronowski would be appalled.

I can do no better than to quote the final comments of "Knowledge or Certainty". Unfortunately, the written word cannot convey the passion and the personal engagement of Dr Bronowski as he steps, unscripted, into a pond of water at Auschwitz and scoops up a handful of muddy water.
There are two parts to the human dilemma. One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a nation, a civilisation, into a regiment of ghosts - obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.

It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken'.

I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dotty Horses

A dotty horse
Diana Thompson kindly provides information on Do-It-Yourself Feature Acupressure to calm your Horse". The theory is that Qi
runs in invisible rivers or lines through the body somewhat like the electrical energy system which provides power to your home. [...] Over thousands of years, TCM practitioners have documented exactly where these lines, known as meridians, flow and what organs or systems of the body they influence. Acupuncture or acupressure points are unique points on the meridians which, if stimulated properly, can increase or decrease the energy flow within the system. Once proper flow of energy is restored, physical and emotional health can be maintained.

The most important of these well-known but completely undetectable magic rivers is the Governing Vessel:
The Governing Vessel actually originates in the horse's reproductive organs and surfaces on the outside of the body just under the horse's tail. It then flows directly up the backbone of the horse. It travels up the midline of the back, along the top of the neck, over the top of the head and down the middle of the horse's head to his upper lip. The last point on the outside of the body is on the inside of the horse's upper lip just where the lip joins the gum.

EoR wonders what happens to the Governing Vessel in geldings? Does all the magic ectoplasm just drop out? But he shouldn't make fun:
The point known as Governing Vessel 26 can even restart the heart and respiration of an animal in shock.

Strong stuff indeed if it can bring the dead back to life. Of course, it's easier to make a statement like that than to actually show even one example of a Lazarus-like resurrection.
One of the functions of Governing Vessel energy in the body is to contain or keep organs in their proper place.

Without proper maintenance, presumably all the internal organs will just wander off...

EoR had trouble following some of the instructions though:
Location: Yin Tang is the name of the point located on the midline directly between the horse's eyebrows.

Since horses don't have eyebrows (presumably, a fact that could have been easily ascertained by simple empirical means) he has some doubt about the veracity of the rest of this stuff. And never mind that the 'exact locations' of meridians have been discovered:
Don't worry about being perfectly on the site of the acupressure point. Acupressure does not have to be extremely precise.

There are even photographs of the practitioner explaining
To be technically right on the point, I should have my hand up approximately ½ inch higher.

The photos, unfortunately, don't show any livers returning to their rightful place, or a dead horse being miraculously revived, but just a horse standing around looking at things. According to Diana, however
Now, the acupressure point is really working!

EoR assumes Diana is channelling the Little Red Engine: "The acupressure can work! The acupressure can work!"

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Truth About Australia

Awareness Quests is one of those sites that foul the muddy waters of the internet: conspiracy theorists hiding out in the backwoods somewhere, and who are the only ones who know The Truth (and who, for some reason, haven't been silenced like everyone else). Oh, and really bad web design yet again (what is it with these people - just because their brains are scrambled, can't they use a colour scheme that's at least readable and doesn't leave the eyeballs bleeding after five minutes?).

Laughingly referred to as research, they provide a credulous list of unconfirmed, bizarre and contradictory claims.

The very first example is an "iron priest's staff" of unknown provenance and dubious identification. But at least there's a photo so you can see the miraculous
recognisable face with a hat

or not, as the case may be. And even if there is a face there (which EoR couldn't see), what's the point?

Next up is the "ancient chariot axle" (unknown provenance, dubious identification - does EoR sound like a broken record?) which
washed up after heavy seas

Call EoR stupid, but wouldn't an iron axle sink in seas (heavy or not)?

EoR doesn't have the endurance to go through all the other examples given, other than to point out mysterious aphoristical gems like
An onyx scarab was unearthed near Kingaroy (Qld) many years ago.

The point being? Then there's the
Perth (WA) hinterland, where 1975 selsmic readings indicated a 167 metre high pyramid 5 kilometres underground.

EoR got a bit confused (as he often does when he tries to understand the mysterious world of alternative anything) as to whether it was the Egyptians, or the Phoenicians, or the Russians, or the Megalithic Civilization, or the Lemurians (all of whom were roaming Australia in the past, apparently) who built this, but he wonders why they built it five kilometres underground? Wouldn't it have made more sense to build it above ground?
Egyptian heiroglyphs found carved on a 3 - 4ft long stone. Taken away by WA museum and stored in basement

So, all the scientists at the museum are hiding the Awful Truth, rather than making their fame and fortune by demonstrating proof that Australia is actually an Egyptian colony? EoR thinks not.

There's even more on the Gympie page (apparently, most ancient civilizations and explorers and colonists all gravitated towards Gympie), including the "Gympie Ape"
A stone ape statue possibility 3000 years old. The statue was unearthed in 1966 on Mr Dal K. Berrys Wolvi Rd property. The ape is made of conglomerate iron stone and shows a squatting ape figure. It is believed to represent the Egyptian God "Thoth" in ape form.

Believed by whom? Raving loony conspiracy theorists? Or people who think it looks like a rock?

Or is it the raving loony conspiracy theorists with rocks in their heads?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Being Had in This Life

EoR recently wrote about showjumper Tim Stockdale's disbelief in horse psychics in Horse and Rider magazine.

Predictably, the latest issue has a riposte from the alternatistas. Reader R Hirst, BHSAI and equine and human Bowen therapist, writes
What I would like to say to Tim Stockdale is that there are a large number of professional therapists out there that have undertaken years of rigorous training and taken lessons at their own, often great, financial expense.

EoR agrees. They're called veterinarians.

Presumably, this is the same R Hirst who, with her business partner, runs the tweely titled Holistic Horsey Website where it is revealed that she practices such well proven therapies as "Saddle Awareness" (whatever that is), Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Homeopathy, Reiki and Bowen.

Sadly, none of these 'therapies' has any basis to their effectiveness. Indeed, these practitioners
are always keen to view the 'bigger' picture when presented with a case and realise that with this type of work the ability for learning is an on-going process. Intuition also plays a huge part in their role as a Bowen therapist, with sense of humour coming close behind!

To EoR's mind, this seems to state that: they don't know what they're doing; they guess what's wrong; they laugh all the way to the bank.

This deception is not limited to dumb animals:
As well as my complementary therapy clinic I also worked part time at my local Hospice as a therapist for the terminally ill which I enjoyed immensely.

Apparently, however, she's not interested in curing any ailments, as her goal is 'holistic' health (which is usefully left undefined):
I feel if mental and emotional issues are worked upon as well as the physical symptoms, then usually 'holistic' health will be achieved.

Unfortunately, much as Ms Hirst might wish, paying lots of money for sham qualifications doesn't mean you're an effective health practitioner. It just means you're an ineffective health practitioner with a nice piece of paper.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The More Things Change (the Less Homeopathy Does)...

The Australian Skeptics site has a very interesting excerpt from the May 1957 issue of Heal magazine.
It is becoming clearer every year that polio will be the scourge of mankind. Whatever may be said in official publicity, it is a fact that this disease as now experienced, is the result of modern "scientific" medical methods. [...] A case of paralysis of the type now known as paralytic polio was so rare that very few people had ever seen one. What a difference from today, when most parents are scared stiff lest their children "get the polio." Today, there are vast chemical combines, ever seeking to enlarge their trade by the production and sale of new weird vaccines against whooping cough, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and many other perils of which we, in healthier days, were never or seldom aware.

Read that paragraph again, but replace "polio" with "autism".

Just like the "autism epidemic" today, the alternatistas have no capacity to understand cause and effect. Polio was an increasing epidemic before vaccination. Polio is no longer found in the wild in the western world because of the success of vaccination (except amongst groups, for example, that refuse vaccination for religious reasons). Polio is still found in the third world where vaccination levels are low or nonexistent but is also being increasingly eradicated there as well due to vaccination. The parallels to the wild terror-mongering about autism today are uncanny.

Then there's more gross misinformation and distortion. A member of the UK Committee for Polio is quoted as saying
neither the Salk nor the British vaccine was 100 per cent safe...

Note the dots at the end of that quote indicating an elision. The implication here is that polio vaccine (or mercury today) is not 100% safe, therefore it is 0% safe, whereas the truth is that any vaccine has the possibility of some side affects. The affects (let alone the side affects) of polio are, however, far far worse.

The World Health Organisation comes in for a bashing as well, particularly for trying to prevent disease in third world countries (including using large quantities of insecticide against malaria - probably DDT).
The World Health Organisation is not concerned with homoeopathy which does not provide fortunes for drug houses.

Funny thing, that. Homeopathy didn't work in 1957, and it still doesn't work now. If it worked, by the homeopaths' own twisted logic the Vast Chemical Combines (or Big Pharma today) would be selling it just as readily as real treatments. The argument of fear and terror that alternatistas love to revel in is stil the same as well, only the words now are "autism" and "mercury". Meanwhile, DDT is no longer used because science recognised the dangers of it and, however reluctantly, changed its approach.

It's very nearly the 50th anniversary of the publication of this trash. EoR wonders if the homeopaths will be celebrating "50 Years of Terror and Fear". Or maybe "Half a Century of Lying for Profit".

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Alternatistas Not Awarded

The Australian of the Year 2006 has been announced: Professor Ian Frazer.
Professor Ian Frazer founded and leads the University of Queensland's Centre for Immunology and cancer research. For 20 years he has been researching the link between papilloma viruses and cancer, seeking ways to treat these viruses in order to reduce the incidence of cancer. Ian has now developed vaccines to prevent and to treat cervical cancer, which affects 500,000 women each year. A vaccine based on his research has shown in worldwide trials to prevent papilloma virus infection and reduce Pap smear abnormalities by 90%. It has the potential to virtually eradicate cervical cancer within a generation.

This must be an alternatista's nightmare: not only an Evil Scientist, but a Vaccine Scientist to boot.

There seems to be a pattern here, last year's Australian of the Year was Dr Fiona Wood.
She has become world renowned for her patented invention of spray on skin for burns victims, a treatment which is continually developing. Where previous techniques of skin culturing required 21 days to produce enough cells to cover major burns, Fiona has reduced that period to five days.

It's good to see real research and science being recognised, but EoR fears it is only a matter of time before some Homeopath is awarded this honour for miraculously curing the entire world with a drop of water and without working up a sweat.

PS: Last year's Local Hero - Metropolitan winner was EoR's favourite priest (admittedly, a very small group), Father Bob.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Going Around in Credulous Circles 4

For those who want to explore the arcane world of crop circles further, these in-depth DIY instructions are invaluable. And remember:
A formation will be deemed genuine if:
1. you are not caught making it.
2. the pattern represents a shape which leading cerealogists could regard as of symbolic importance, and, therefore, useful on the proselyting lecture circuit, e.g. mandalas, Atlantean script, etc.

Of course, it might just be that crop circles are made by the bored controllers of secret satellites (and who also occasionally shoot down aeroplanes just for the heck of it) that only this guy knows about. But it's unlikely.

Going Around in Credulous Circles 3
Going Around in Credulous Circles 2
Going Around in Credulous Circles 1

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Going Around in Credulous Circles 3

In this final part of the discussion of Contact, EoR will be looking at Dr Eltjo Haselhoff's proof of Balls of Light (BOLs) creating crop circles.

Dr Haselhoff is that creature beloved of alternatistas, a real scientist who has had a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal proving some paranormal phenomena is real. In this case, the paper was published in Physiologa Plantarum. A copy of the paper can be viewed online (it's quite short, only two pages including diagrams).

The paper is actually a comment on a previous paper by W C Levengood and N P Talbott on pulvinus length increase in crop-circles.
data points corresponding to the central ‘tufts’ in the formations were omitted in the analysis. It was found that the Pearson product moment correlation coefficient, R (Levengood and Talbott 1999), decreases in one of the
reported cases. In the other two reported cases, however, no significant changes in the correlation coefficients were

The rest of the paper concerns the position of a BOL to form a crop circle, and includes language such as (my emphasis)
Assuming the point source to be located at a finite height above the field for the case of simplicity, it
is fair to assume that the radiation absorption in the air is negligible in comparison with the 1:r decrease of the radiation emitted by the BOL. Assuming that the BOL is located at the centre of the circular imprint

Dr Haselhoff also claims a personal communication from van den Broeke as an authority.

The author concludes
The experimental data published in Levengood and Talbott (1999) suggest that pulvinus length expansion in crop circles is a thermo-mechanic effect, possibly induced by a kind of electromagnetic point source. Data obtained from a simple
hand-made formation did not reveal the same characteristics.

So Dr Haselhoff's paper shows there is some statistical correlation between plant node lengths in crop circles. There are lots of assumptions and possibilities. There is no evidence or proof that BOLs are involved.

A less technical explanation can also be found at Swirled News, though
An identical analysis was repeated on a formation in Holland. An eye witness claimed that this crop circle was created in a matter of seconds, while a "ball of light" was floating in the air, right above the centre of the circle.

with its unnamed source immediately brings Mr van den Broeke to mind, and his high levels of trust and respect for the truth.

Joe Nickell has posted some concerns with Levengood's work, including the possibility of researcher bias, that correlation does not prove causation, and
Even his alleged correlations are suspect. Citing variations in pit expansion and node size in plants from within the formations, he states: "These energy distributions are by no means uniform." Again, he cites formations where there were increases in plant pit size well outside the formations, saying that "some 20 feet out is the farthest I've seen this energy carryover and so even [though] those crops were standing upright and looked perfectly normal they had been hit." He attributes this to "several different kinds of energy" being involved. He thus gives the impression that, like Meaden, he is constantly rationalizing new data and attempting to fit it in to preconceived vortex notions. Apparently no one has yet independently replicated Levengood's work. One scientist from Colgate did attempt to verify his seed germination claims using some of his seeds but without success. Apparently few mainstream scientists take Levengood's work seriously other than one or two friends who wish "to remain anonymous because of the ridicule. Until his work is independently replicated by qualified scientists doing "double-blind" studies and otherwise following stringent scientific protocols, there seems no need to take seriously the many dubious claims that Levengood makes, including his similar ones involving plants at alleged "cattle mutilation" sites.

Francesco Grassi, Claudio Cocheo and Paolo Russo have published a paper detailing concerns with these papers. Among these concerns are sampling inadequecies (only four crop circles were sampled), lack of defining parameters, different sampling methods, the possibility of researcher bias, discarding some data, and inconsistent assumptions. The authors conclude
The total evidence discussed in this critical review demonstrates nothing but a mere difference in the stem elongation between the flattened plants lying inside the circles and those standing outside it, as we should expect when
whatever kind of mechanical force flattens the plants, rope and wood plank included.

Dr Haselhoff has provided a response, stating
Most, if not all of Grassi’s points of concern on my publication are irrelevant or erroneous. Some of his comments would have been valid in case my paper had been a full- length article, which it was clearly not.

Dr Haselhoff's main points of refutation are: his paper was only a comment on the two earlier papers, and "stimulates further discussion"; that his original conclusion was that "much more data" would be needed (which seems to support Grassi et al); that his paper does not contain full data because it is not standard practise to do so in a scientific paper (but, as Grassi et al argue, does it contain all relevant data?); and, most bizarrely of all
the reason for omitting the data in my analysis was simple: due to an unfortunate incident several of the samples in this series had been mixed up even before the measurements were made. Although I had re-ordered the samples to the best of
my knowledge, this event rendered any correlation analysis worthless, including much of the work performed by Grassi and presented in his paper. All of his related findings and conclusions are therefore worthless as well.

To the best of his knowledge? Any good scientist would have been extremely frustrated, and gone off and done the statistics again. It seems more likely that it is Dr Haselhoff's findings and conclusions which are worthless given his seeming admission that he simply fudged and made up the statistics. This is disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at the worst. Dr Haselhoff concludes by arguing that further 'studies' are available in his book and on the internet, provides an ad hominen attack on Dr Grassi, and finally threatens to take his bat and ball and go home.
I will consider writing a formal reaction, together with the authors of the other two articles, to the Journal of Scientific Exploration. In such a reaction I would address all of Grassi’s points of concern one by one, in more detail. However, as it has become clear to me that Grassi and coworkers have no or little interest in an honest and constructive scientific discussion, and too much time and energy has already been wasted in my opinion, I may decide to spend my time on more useful activities.

Oh, if only...

Dr Haselhoff, like a lot of 'alternative' provers, appears to have forsaken tiresome scientific methods (and all that entails, such as proof, peer review and repeatable results) for publishing books. He is the author of "The deepening complexity of crop circles".

EoR wonders if, as Dr Haselhoff believes, crop circles are formed by some hovering electromagnetic source, why aren't all crop circles exactly that - circles? How does this 'source' which he likens to the effect of light from a hanging lightbulb and which he argues projects an inverse square law ratio of 'energy' also create straight edges and lines linking the various parts of the crop circle formations?

Going Around in Credulous Circles 2
Going Around in Credulous Circles 1

Monday, January 23, 2006

Going Around in Credulous Circles 2

Yesterday EoR looked at Contact, which purported to provide proof of nonhuman intelligences involved in the creation of crop circles. Today, EoR wants to look a little more closely at the video evidence.

There are a number of points to immediately note about these videos:

  • They are all made by 'crop circle researchers' ie believers

  • Apart from one example, mentioned separately below, the BOLs (Balls of Light) all move left to right, or right to left across the screen.

  • The BOLs do not cast shadows, nor do they emit light, on their environment.

  • The BOLs appear to be a similar size on the screen, no matter how close or far away they appear to be against the background.

  • The videos shown are heavily edited - the fragment (sometimes a split second) that shows the BOL is shown repeatedly, but not any of the video prior to the BOL appearing, or any of the video after it has disappeared.

  • The BOLs, while they appear to be easily recordable on video, are invisible to observors on the ground or elsewhere, even though people report them as making a sound. One BOL flies right at a person, who appears to be completely unaware of it. Another flies across a crop circle where six people at various locations in the crop circle completley fail to see it. Yet another flies in front of a helicopter which appears to be unware of it.

  • Most of the videos seem to shot in poor light, are shaky, and grainy.

EoR certainly can't prove that any of the videos on this DVD are fake though the points above indicate a massive amount of room for doubt, and he can imagine a few easy ways to make similar videos, even without using video editing equipment. The easiest would be to place a dot on a sheet of plastic or glass, hold it in front of the video camera and shoot through at a background (often a slightly sloping hill so that the brain automatically applies perspective to it and 'places' it in the landscape). There are, however, a number of issues surrounding these videos that leads EoR to suspect fakery and cheating.

One particular video, shot by the psychically inspired Kerry Blower, clearly applies the plastic in front of the camera method in a slightly different form. A wavering light appears closely in front of a stand of oats, before suddenly shooting up. Quite clearly, this is a light reflection, either filmed at the time, or added later, on a clear surface. It is telling that this is the only video shot in bright sunlight. Also, if you look closely, you can see a secondary reflection of an upright line to the left of the 'BOL'. This is the same Kerry Blower who has telepathic communications from UFOs (the story with different details eg gold ball rather than silver, husband sees it as well rather than ignores it), has Marfan's Syndrome (though there is no evidence of that on the DVD) and proudly maintains
Of the hoaxers, Kerry says, "I detest them with a passion because they do it with deceit in mind..."

EoR presumes she would know.

The BOL which 'flies' across a crop circle and six unamazed people is also quite interesting. While it is shown in slow motion, through the magic of DVD EoR slowed it down considerably. Interestingly, the BOL wavers around except every time the camera pans when its position relative to the screen remains the same, apart from the final sequence when it "accelerates rapidly". Since the camera is constantly panning and pausing, this is quite hard to pick up unless you watch it frame by frame. Now, this is either an amazingly intelligent BOL which is aware of the camera, and follows it exactly every time it pans, or it's simply a blot on a screen held in front of the camera. EoR is presently weighing up the odds to decide which option he prefers.

One of the most incredible videos is the John Wheyleigh (or Weyleigh) evidence. It shows a number of BOLs which appear to move back and forth in circles while a crop circle can be seen forming direcly beneath them. The James Wheyleigh video is notorious and disputed even amongst 'crop circle researchers'. It appears James Wheyleigh is really John Wabe, a co-owner of a video editing and TV producing firm. It is telling that Wheyleigh or Wabe knew exactly where the crop circle would form, since it appears in the middle of the screen without him having to pan to follow the BOLs, nor does the camera at any time attempt to move with the BOLs. Also, even though the BOLs appear to move in circles, they do not change in size. The complete sorry saga can be read online (including the fact that the video first shown is different from the more impressive one now circulating), including the conclusion
Since this report was written, John Wabe was traced to a Bristol video production company, and caught. He since came clean about the video being a con, and is being prosecuted.

Paul Vigay also has a very good technical analysis of the video, and his observations that show it was faked.

Robbert van den Broeke, who provides a verbal account only, tells how he saw a ball of light descend from the skies and make a crop circle outside his house. Indeed, the BOL singed and burned his window frame (even though no one else has ever reported BOLs burning crops). As proof, we are shown a scorch mark on the window frame! Of course, it had to be a mysterious intelligent light. There could be no possibility of doubt, that Mr van den Broeke might have stuck a lighter on the windowsill and made the burns himself... Mr van den Broeke, for those of you unacquainted with him, is a well known Dutch psychic. Oh, and also a charlatan and fraudster who is currently featuring in James Randi's newsletters in this issue and the previous issue.

But of course, just because they're fakers doesn't mean it's still not paranormal:
Some argue that even so-called 'fakers' have been instructed to create patterns subconsciously by aliens wanting to send earth messages in a process called 'auto-rolling'.

Tomorrow, EoR will look at the scientific proof for BOLs creating crop circles.

Going Around in Credulous Circles 1

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Going Around in Credulous Circles 1

EoR has recently been watching Contact from Bert Janssen Productions (screenshots here):
Undeniable evidence of the existence and presence of non-human, highly intelligent entities with a plan for mankind. Warning: this documentary contains material that will change your view of this world forever...

The entities? Balls of light (or BOLs as those in the know affectionately call them). The plan for mankind? Um, making crop circles, EoR thinks. This rather short documentary (45 minutes with repeated showings of grainy, dodgy, evidential video film) purports to prove that crop circles (those well known and unexplainable signs of paranormal activity) are made by little BOLs.

Bert Janssen is a clear-headed independent investigator. Who could doubt anyone who spruiks Quantum i sing [sic] on his website:
When the activity of the left brain comes in tune with the right brain, the whole brain comes in a resonating coherent brainwave state. From there interaction with the Field is possible and creation of a new reality is within reach. Our ancient ancestors were able to directly tap into this Field by having coherent brain wave states. As humans have evolved into our modern society, most of us have lost this ability. However, this ability is still locked into our subconsciousness. We only have to reActivate® it.

Maybe he means the Field where the crop circles form? Other 'investigators' presented in the documentary are equally as 'independent'.

The main argument of the documentary is that BOLs are associated with crop circles. They therfore formed them and are intelligences of some sort. In support of these assertions a number of BOLs caught on video are shown, a number of crop circle 'researchers' are interviewed, and a scientist who has proven that crop circles are caused by BOLs is presented.

Today, I propose to go through some of the main points and arguments presented on the DVD. Tomorrow, I shall address the credibility and authority of the 'evidence' and the 'researchers' (incidentally, apparently anyone with a slackjawed belief in mystical origins for crop circles is automatically labelled a 'crop circle researcher' - presumably also including the gentleman shown dowsing a crop circle) and after that a brief resume of Dr Haselhoff.

In this "mindblowing" documentary (the phrase is used repeatedly) we are shown a number of videos of BOLs around crop circles. These include examples provided by John Smith, Steve Alexander, Kerry Blower, Peter Sorensen, Dominik and Constantin von Durckheim, Donald Fletcher, John Wheyleigh, Stuart Dike and verbal reports from Charles R Mallett, Robbert van den Broeke and Maki Masao. These provide proof of an "irrefutable relationship between crop circles and lights".

Dr Eltjo Haselhoff is brought forward to provide scientific proof, having published an article on crop circles in a peer reviewed journal. Dr Haselhoff's argument appears to be that plant nodes in crop circles are bigger (or possibly further apart) than in the similar plants outside the crop circle. This, in his words, provides proof of an electromagnetic point source some distance above the centre of the crop circle. This of course, in the words of the narrator, means
it is now a scientifically accepted fact that at least some crop circles were generated by balls of light. Researchers and scientists were left baffled. [...] We are dealing with an unknown intelligence.

Kerry Blower (whose video is remarkably different from the others, and to which I shall return) is interviewed. She tells how she was hit with a psychic intuition, telling her friends
I'm going to film a luminosity tomorrow.

Taking her video camera, which she hadn't used in years, she went out tomorrow and filmed a luminosity.

We are also introduced to Maki Masao, a Japanese "professional debunker" who conducted an 'experiment'. He, and eleven other people, performed a group meditation praying for a crop circle that had the following characteristics: it had to appear that night, in the immediate vicinity, to the west, containing a Japanese symbol. Deciding one prayer was not sufficient, the group repeated the 'experiment' at a second location. While there, five people watching Maki Masao (what happened to the other six people is never revealed, presumably abducted by BOLs - or could they have been off somewhere making a crop circle?) saw a "great ball of light" descend and rise behind him. Apparently, professional debunkers do not carry any sort of video equipment with them, since it seems no visual evidence of this remarkable happening exists. Still not satisfied (!) the group went to a third location where they 'felt the energy in the air'. Next morning, guess what! "A little to the west" was a crop circle with a Japanese origami symbol!

There is also a brief discussion of Defence Department helicopters which often seem to 'chase' the BOLs while at other times apparently not seeing them even though the BOLs fly right in front of them (there's even a video to show this apparent non-interest). We're also told helicopters often turn up minutes after a BOL is seen. A helicopter pilot trainer is interviewed and, predictably, denies everything. What is not made clear is that this area of Wiltshire seems to be used for helicopter training, so it's expected that they would be flying around quite frequently. But the Defense Department is obviously Hiding Something.
Why would they lie? What are they hiding?

We're also told that the BOLs often appear to people with video cameras, but not other equipment, as if
they want to be filmed, not analysed [...] they decide who is to see them.

Are you a believer yet? The whole thing is presented with a breathless intensity and a pounding repetitive rock riff. It would be hard to deny all the evidence and anecdotes presented here. Unfortunately, tomorrow EoR will be doing just that.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Psychic Diana - Slight Return 2

More from Psychic Diana (who realised her incredible powers when she dropped a a tray of cookies, and who practices Pendulance - EoR doesn't know what that is, but it sounds painful). In the wacky world of Psychic Diana, who is an Online Psychic, she is
Able to read emotions simply by touch
Does Readings by hand, and can feel if anything is not right in your life, or you possess some sort of injury.
Able to identify past pains and traumas by touch of hand

Online? How does she do all this amazing witchery online? Do you need to be sitting at the next computer terminal from her so she can reach out and touch you? EoR is stunned. Of course
Psychic Predictions are always correct.

Well, Access Positive (who seem to be the copyright holders for this abomination and fraud): Psychic Diana is hardly ever correct, except when using the amazing psychic power of hindsight. In other words, Psychic Diana, and the people behind her, are guilty of deception and misrepresentation, presumably for monetary gain from the credulous.

Of course, if these liars were 100% accurate, the whole cheating organisation would be moving out of Australia immediately, given some of the earth-shattering predictions Psychic Hope has for 2006 (all grammar and spelling maintained to show the very poor quality of this stuff:
Psychic Hope predicts that Prime Minister John Howard,more threats on his life. A bullet comes close.

This year the people of Oz will need all the strength and courage that they can muster. It is a time where we see more and more people dissatisfied with what is happenning to our civil rights. The law society confronts the Govenment on the ethical side of new laws pasted.

We will see escalations in racial,industrial,and environmental riots this country has ever seen before.

Sydney has a terrorist attack in the middle of the CBD.

Earthquake rocks the east coast of NSW.

Western Australia has unusually high tidal activity the causes the coastline to change dramatically.

Great concerns for the East coast as the coast line changes due to weather conditions.


Townville rocks from an earthquake.

Psychic Hope presdicts many changes will occur through out the WORLD in 2006

Wars escalate. More and more people speak out of the injustices and crimes of wars. Sadam Hassin is sentenced to prison, for te rest of his life.

The Avian flu takes hold in China and spreads through the world.

Another Tsunami in the Indonesia and Philippines areas.

Volcanoes in Hawaii and Europe create devastation.

New Zealand voted one of the safest countries to live in the world.

Look for Access Positive to be moving to New Zealand almost any day now...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Psychic Diana - Slight Return

Last month EoR expressed his amazement at the predictions of real true psychic Diana, including that
Chappelle Corby, charged with Drug Trafficking in Bali, will be released.

Strange then that the ABC reports
An Indonesian court has reinstated the original 20-year sentence given to convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby.

Whoops! Got that one wrong. And all the others as well (unless, of course, she forgot to mention that she'll be released in twenty years).

EoR suggests Psychic Diana should change her name to Conning Diana. Or Charlatan Diana. Or Lying Diana. Or Great Big Bullshitter With No Sense of Conscience Diana.

But somehow he's not getting any visions saying that thsi will come true any time soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Equine Guided Human Development

Tired of all those newage touchy-feely psychic counsellors? Never seem to get anywhere? Not developing on your spiritual path fast enough? Chuck the charlatans - learn from the horses!

Using horses as 'counsellors' is a growing fad in the US, and is also making inroads into Australia.

Humanequinus is an outstanding example of this doublespeak nonsense.
Equine-guided human development is not about horsemanship; it's about relationship. It's about becoming even better at finding clear intent, being congruent inside and out, communicating what's true within, and learning to go toward uncomfortable and joyful feelings to find out the important messages contained therein.

EoR ins't quite sure what all that means, but how does it work?
We can’t explain horse’s multi-dimensional capacity for healing; regardless, we can still make the best of it. [...] Human Equinus is a program designed for putting horse and human together in a safe environment and allowing what comes up to come up. The experience begins fully in the body and moves to the mind and heart.

Multidimensional horses? EoR wonders where the published research on this is. Are they more multidimensional than dolphins?

There is more of this meaningless confusion of ideas:
Guided meditations and grounding are typically part of each session. [...] One might walk forward and backward on a line, a timeline, or stand on designated locations or spatial anchors on the floor. Everyone's experience is unique.

One might do the hokey-cokey, but at $US80 an hour, it's an expensive way to go out and pat a horse.

"You put your left leg in
You put your left leg out
You shake your chakras all about
And leave your wallet at the door
That's how you do the newage con."

EoR feels this idea can be extended, and is presently working on developing Bacteria Guided Human Development ("The experience begins fully in the body and moves to the hospital").

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Okonics 5

The final part of OKONICS! Goodbye Chronic Pain is a bit of autobiography by Wendy Schulze.

While initially trained as a physiotherapist, Ms Schulze found
My Physiotherapy training also didn't teach me the heart of healing so I decided I would look for a discipline where I could combine a strong science method with my humanity. I was then introduced to Kinesiology and found that it bridged this gap.

Apparently, a "strong science method" means believing anything that ends in "ology" and has no evidence for its methods or efficacy.

When she was 25 Ms Schulze had what she terms a "quarter of a century crisis". She was depressed. She was miserable. She was unhappy. Until she drove past a woman parked at the side of the road:
Beside the road was a parked car, a battered old station wagon. Inside the car were lots of children, crawling over the seats, spilling out of the windows, fighting and laughing. Getting into the driver's seat was a large, motherly woman dressed in rags. This woman was my saviour; she was an angel (in disguise - they are everywhere), for she alone started my path to freedom and joy. It was the expression on her face. She was laughing. Not just laughing she had the energy of contentment emanating from her being. Despite everything, she was living and loving life. The contrasts between us were too great. In an instant I sped by this scene and from then on I decided to take charge and change. My angel had cast her spell on me.

Ms Schulze got rid of her husband and went travelling. This made her a stronger woman. Literally. She recounts the tale of what happened when she walked down a deserted street late at night:
Suddenly half a block ahead a man popped his head around the next corner and looked directly at me, our eyes locked. He then started to run towards me at full speed. There were just the two of us and the hollow sound of his feet hitting the tarmac. I intuitively knew that it would be dangerous to run so I calmly walked on looking directly at him as he ran directly towards me. I was thinking, "This is it, this is the end, there is no way out of this one." When he was two feet from me some mysterious force deflected him to the extent that his face became deformed as though it was pushing against glass. His body was flung sideways without me lifting a finger. He looked puzzled and then ran on.

The amazing insight that this incredible psychic event led to was that
I am now more careful about where and when I walk!

When she returned to Australia Ms Schulze was fatigued. She saw doctors who variously diagnosed depression and said she needed psychiatric help. Not liking these diagnoses, Ms Schulze determined that she
needed to be more aware when choosing a Professional to consult.

So, if you don't like the diagnosis, keep trying until you find one you like. Just after a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (which seemed to please her), Ms Schulze demonstrated what a debilitating condition this is:
Just after my chronic fatigue diagnosis I travelled to Egypt and hitched through the desert, first the Western Sahara and then the Sinai. It became obvious to me how chemicals and pollution affected my energy levels as I moved from purity of desert villages and back again to the cities.

From here, it all goes downhill a bit. An Italian man introduced her to the books of Carlos Castaneda which "opened my mind". She went to a Reverend and his wife for a faith healing.
They prayed over me in "tongues", it sounded like ancient Italian.

Maybe she means Latin. It only took ten minutes and
from that moment on I was healed of Chronic Fatigue.

Thank you Lord! Thank you Jay-sus! Thank you Angels! Thank you Flying Spaghetti Monster!

So why is she selling her OKONICS system? Shouldn't she be promoting faith healing? Assuming there's a difference, of course. EoR presumes Ms Schulze doesn't speak in tongues, though it wouldn't surprise him if she did. Ms Schulze's Conculsion [sic]:
You can get back to a vitality you haven't felt for years by learning more about each of the intelligences. Take some time and see what you worry about the most. This is the area to start learning about how to free up your healing vitality. My next book is all about the intelligences and how they can be used to create healing and joy in your life.

And what is EoR's Conculsion?

OKONICS is a mish-mash of newage platitudes thrown into the melting pot of management seminars, stirred vigourously, and the muck carefully retrieved off the top. There's nothing new here, nothing you haven't heard in a thousand other newage and spiritualist feelgood books. In fact, the only things of any (flimsy) substance, can be gained much more clearly and easily from sources such as Norman Vincent Peale's Positive Thinking or The Little Book of Calm. Ms Schulze's main thesis seems to be avoid chemicals (of course, she means TOXIC chemicals, which means WESTERN chemicals) and think happy thoughts. Even if you want to believe these incredible ramblings, there's nothing coherent or interesting or new in this book.

Okonics 4
Okonics 3
Okonics 2
Okonics 1

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

What's sillier than reiki? Dolphin Reiki!
If you are ready to move into your next level of healing, growth, then let the love of the dolphins spread over you like a warm tropical sunny day!

More powerful than Dolphin Reiki is Dolphin Trilogy Reiki
This system takes what we learned from Dolphin Reiki and advances it to encompass Dolphin Healing Reiki, Orca Empowerment Reiki and Dolphin Crystal Reiki.

EoR still doesn't understand what it actually is though. Then there's the Dolphin Rainbow Chakra Healing System:

Actually, they have four lobes, but factual information is clearly not a high priority to these people.
These are no ordinary dolphins:

There's more:
At this time the Celestial Dolphins are here, they have ushered into our consciousness and our dimension their wisdom, vibration and healing. We are awakening again to the ancient truths we all have within, and the Celestial Dolphins are here to assist this transformation of humankind. The Celestial Dolphins don’t represent what we see on earth’s plane, they are of a much higher vibration, and come to us from other dimensions, much like the angelic realm. At this time the Celestial Dolphins have come to us in the form of Golden Dolphin frequency, Pink Heart Dolphin frequency, for the High Heart Chakra creating the Dolphin Heart Reiki frequency.

If it wasn't for the dolphins, the world would be doomed:
who are the dolphins, really? dolphins are master healers and keepers of the light upon planet earth. they are highly evolved omni-dimensional beings who live in the oneness. their role is similar to that of the angelic kingdom. they are here to watch over us, to help us and support us, and to guide us on our remembrance to radiant wholeness. their love for humanity is profound. like the angels, the dolphins' influence transcends time, space and physicality. it is not necessary to be in their physical presence to be healed by them

If you want to see pictures of people acting stupid, you can see 'the pod' doing things like
Just ending our Dolphin Healing Vibration Mandala Workshop! We not only opened ourselves up creatively with the colours, and drawing, but the dolphins gifted us with a coloured pencil reading for everyone!

Of course, it is clear that dolphins are higher beings, exemplifying all those qualities that we mere humans can only aspire to, such as biting children, genocide, infanticide, killing for pleasure, bestiality and gang rape.
But the facts would spoil a good story (and stop all those suckers giving their money away). People are still convinced that
The dolphin is a highly evolved life form, originally from other places in the universe. They are here to teach us. primarily through the act of unconditionally loving. They have a highly developed sense of ethics, and intuition. [...] They are masters at sound healing, as well as light healing. They are also capable of storing vast amounts of information like the Akashic Records. Moving through time and space is very easy for them.

Of course, if you really want to merge with the angelic dolphins, you need to follow the correct technique, beginning with
Spin your chakras 11 times to the left, 11 to the right. Ask for a dolphin guide to come forth and stand upright before you, the better to chakra link. Greet each other in Love and Light and much respect. You may or may not get a name and a gender. It ultimately doesn't matter.

There's more, but EoR was laughing so loud he couldn't read it all.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Proof of Psychic Powers

Take a look at The Flash Mind Reader (Flash plugin required). Without any prompting, The Flash Mind Reader can work out which of 90 numbers you've randomly selected.

Those of you who understand mathematics can work it out quickly, though there's a moment of distraction of attention which is also important.

It is, in fact, not psychic (how surprising) though it is a good example of how these things can bedazzle and play on human behaviours to give the indication of paranormal powers.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Okonics 4

Chapter Nine deals with Human Intelligence, something that seems to have been lacking from the book so far.

In the magical mumbo-jumbo filled world of Ms Schulze, humans aren't intelligent or not -
This chapter is to tell you about the many different intelligences and how they can help you to heal. There are over ten types of intelligence. At school we learn the rational sides of two types of intelligence - Mathematical and Communication. There is some art, music and sport; these are also mostly limited to the rational.

At least Ms Schulze is admitting that her methods are irrational, though EoR thinks these 'intelligences' are really just skills. Having just said there are more than ten 'intelligences', the next page lists The Eleven Plus Intelligences. They're increasing by the minute! In fact,
I believe this is incomplete and will continue to grow as humanity grows.

These eleven+ 'intelligences' are the sort of things that you'll hear at any management/newage workshop: communication, mathematical, financial, emotional, relationship, divine/spiritual, physical, intuitive or street-wise, nature, artistic and social or community. But it doesn't stop there. No, there are Intelligences from Other Cultures. Such well known and documented facts as
Telepathy - Some cultures have the natural ability to use telepathy in their normal daily lives.

Go on, Ms Schulze, name one. Just one. Please. Oh, and Atlantis isn't acceptable.

Then there are 'intelligences' such as astral travel, conscious control of basic body functions, firewalking and eating, and directly viewing the Universal Energy field.

This is all straight out of the Woo Manual from the section "If only it really were true...". Though EoR does give Ms Schulze credit for having waited until page 55 before she parrots the 'P' word:
Using this intelligence Paradigm we can then look at different Medicine Styles and see their strengths and weaknesses. To really heal yourself, training your intelligence and being aware and using the OKONICS system is the way to go!

EoR has always enjoyed a good Paradigm shift, though it's much more fun when it's combined with a quantum physical energy field.

Chapter Ten addresses Eastern and Western Healing.
General Practitioners are trained to write out prescriptions so in the main they will offer you drugs. Surgeons are trained to heal using surgery; what do you expect them to offer you if you go and see them?

Magic juju practitioners are trained to bedazzle and bamboozle. What do you expect them to offer you if you go and see them?
In the East the body is balanced so that there are no blockages or oversupply of energy.

The only trouble with this is that no one has ever defined, seen or measured these blockages and energies, other than as a metaphysical or religious concept (which therefore implies faith, not evidence).

Ms Schulze contrasts Eastern and Western approaches by looking at a hypothetical group of 25 people with diabetes. In the East there would be 25 different treatments (but doesn't it all get so confusing? so many people, so many illnesses, so many treatments...) while in the West the 25 would get "pretty much" the same treatment. Well, no. Treatment would be assessed on the stage of the disease, the patient's age and condition, any cofactors and a number of other indicators. But Ms Schulze obviously isn't really all that interested in truth (however she might define it) when it might spoil a good piece of fiction.

Strangely, Ms Schulze does not recommened abandoning Western medicine altogether, though she does warn that Western drugs are "usually toxic with side effects". As if herbs are never toxic, and have no side affects. The contents of herbal supplements aren't even regulated.
In the OKONICS system, usually the Western approach will help in Stage One, the crisis stage. When the crisis has passed, slowly introducing the Eastern approach will balance the body/mind.

In other words, if something is actually wrong, seek real treatment. You can go to all the sayers of sooth you like after you're better.

Chapter Ten praises Kahuna Healing and seems a strange late afterthought. It explains the five intelligences (only five?) that this 'system' uses, and that a cure is effected through the use of long chats, colours, exercises, herbs and rituals "that honour Mother Earth". Nothing new there, and EoR wonders why she even bothered giving these particular infestation of magicians a separate chapter.

Okonics 3
Okonics 2
Okonics 1

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Some Press Releases

Courtesy of EurekAlert come these two press releases.

In the first, soy products, that food item beloved of alternatistas as the natural, healthy way to goodness and wholeness, is linked to reproductive problems in laboratory mice.
The NIEHS researchers previously showed that mice given genistein immediately after birth had irregular menstrual cycles, problems with ovulation, and problems with fertility as they reached adulthood. The new study looks at the direct effects of genistein on the ovaries during early development. [...] Female mice were injected with three different doses of genistein during their first five days of life. The genistein given to the mice was comparable to what human infants might receive in a soy-based formula, which is approximately 6-9 mg/kg per day. The researchers examined the effects on days 2 through 6. The researchers found effects at all levels. Mice treated with the high dose (Gen 50 mg/kg) were infertile and mice treated with lower doses were subfertile, meaning they had fewer pups in each litter, and fewer pregnancies. Mice receiving the highest level of genistein, 50 mg/kg per day, had a high percentage of egg cells that remain in clusters, unable to separate and therefore develop abnormally. [...] "I don't think we can dismiss the possibility that these phytoestrogens are having an effect on the human population," said Dr. Jefferson. "They may not show their effects or be detected until later in life, but chances are they are having an effect."

Where will the alternatistas run to now?

In a separate report, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital projected a 90% cure rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The progressive improvement in the cure rate since 1962, when only 4 percent of children with ALL survived, reflects in large part the more effective use of existing drugs and the incorporation of sophisticated genetic technologies to personalize treatments, the authors said. Research findings at St. Jude have enabled clinicians to identify patients for whom standard treatment is most likely to fail, and who should therefore be treated more aggressively; these findings have also allowed clinicians to choose the optimal drugs and drug dosages for individual patients. [...] The continued improvement in diagnosis and treatment made possible by MRD, pharmacogenomics and new drug therapies has shifted the focus in ALL therapy toward reduction of both the immediate and long-term side effects of treatment. For example, a St. Jude team lead by Evans demonstrated that patients who lack the enzyme TPMT are more sensitive to thiopurine chemotherapy drugs and are more likely to suffer damage to the body's blood-producing cells. Evans subsequently discovered the genetic cause and developed a gene-based test that permits clinicians to identify children who should be treated with lower doses of this class of drugs while still receiving full therapeutic benefit. The overall improvements have led to more skilled use of cancer drugs, stem cell transplantation and treatment of ALL that invades the central nervous system, according to Pui. "We are now testing the feasibility of omitting irradiation for all patients and reserving this treatment for only those children who suffer a relapse," he noted. "Irradiation of the brain can cause second cancers, hormonal disturbances and disruption of intellectual development as the child grows. So our omission of the use of irradiation should further reduce acute and long-term toxic side effects and improve outcome."

As well as that
St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. No family ever pays for treatments not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fund-raising organization.

EoR read the article carefully, but he couldn't find any references to homeopaths, acupuncturists, reikiists or other woo-healers. But then, they already have a 100% cure rate, don't they?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"In a Past Life You Were Had By a Con Artist"

While the world of magic and mystery continues to increasingly permeate the equestrian press as a proven fact, showjumper Tim Stockdale's column in the December 2005 issue of Horse and Rider presents a slightly different view:
As a professional rider, my job is to get as good a performance as possible out of my horses. And much as I am open-minded about many new methods and ideas, I struggle with the idea of some of these 'alternative' therapies.

If I thought any of these methods deserved any merit, then believe me I'd give them a go, as I'm always looking for that secret ingredient to help make my horses go that bit better - who isn't? But when a 'psychic' touches one of my showjumpers on the shoulder and tells me the horse is scared, I despair. According to the psychic, this horse - Mont Blanc - had, in a past life, been a battle horse who'd been stabbed and now he was frightened. What a load of rubbish!

A lot of these people just peddle in people's dreams and it's wrong, especially when they're charging the earth for their so-called advice. [...] Call me a cynic, I don't care, but some of these alternative therapists are just preying on people looking for a quick fix.

EoR would never call you a 'cynic' but rather a 'realist'. But only 'some' alternative therapists are shysters?
We were once sent a horse who wouldn't load even after an alternative behaviourist has spent nine hours at £200 an hour trying to solve the problem - only to tell the owner to give up on it. With us it went in after half-an-hour.

£1800 for no result? Of course not! The alternative behaviourist (what is alternative behaviour anyway? alternative to what?) should be able to retire to the South of France quite soon with results like that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Okonics 3

Chapter Six explains Energetic Debt.
The OKONICS system teaches you that your energy is affected by everything that you do. You can gather and start to invest your energy with a great lifestyle or you can spend it recklessly.

For 'great lifestyle' read 'Ms Schulz's lifestyle'.
Energetic debt is when your body requires more energy than you have available. Your body then has to use the energy available in your muscles, tissues and organs so they start to break down and you get ill or injured easily.

EoR is not quite sure what this 'energy' is since Ms Schulze fails to define it at any stage. Perhaps she means the metabolic pathway by which adenosine triphoshate is utilised to release energy, but it is more likely that she's simply using the word 'energy' as a vague, ill-defined catch-all phrase without any real meaning. Anyway, an indefinite, unexplained concept is so much more amenable to holistic interpretations.
You can increase your bodies [sic] "income" by improving your physical and emotional fitness. You can then decrease your spending by giving up emotionally draining relationships and toxic physical things like food additives and pollutants.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Ms Schulze has an unreasoning fear of 'toxic' things ie anything that isn't organic, natural, unsullied and pure.

Chapter Seven (The Four Stages of Learning) is much longer at nine pages, but only because it reiterates information that has been part of training models since at least the early 1970s. The argument is that people progress through four stages of learning: the unconscious-incompetent (where people don't recognise the lack of a skill), the conscious-incompetent (where people recognise the lack of a skill), the conscious-competent (where people have a skill but it is not yet automatic), and the unconscious-competent (where people have a skill and practise it automatically). Ms Schulze disingenuously presents it as part of her "OKONICS system" without credit (or at least acknowledgement, since the originator remains a matter of discussion). Ms Schulze does, however, enliven it with her own brand of "Wendy's 'new age nonsense'" (as she terms it).
Many highly educated western people are Unconscious-Incompetent about things that are simply natural in third world countries and this creates much of the depression, chronic illness, drug addiction and suicide that is so common in our culture.

As opposed to high child mortality, poverty, starvation, AIDS, prostitution, lack of medical treatment, disease, lack of clean water, parasites, and a severely reduced lifespan that are so common in the 'natural' third world countries.
Understanding that the world is a sea of conscious energy and that each of us are [sic] a part of this sea of knowledge is essential.

Which is it? A sea of consciousness, or of knowledge? Or possibly a sea of delusion?
Physics experiments now confirm what the ancient "seers" taught. We are connected to "all that is" because we are a part of the energy field of the "all that is". Many religions call "all that is" - "God".

Ms Schulze: physics has not confirmed anything about ancient "seers". Nor has it ever found an energy field that is "God". These statements are lies (oh, hang on, truth is whatever you want it to be - so these statements are a 'truth' that would be accepted by very few, and certainly not the physicists so lauded by Ms Schulze) and incoherent mumbo-jumbo mixing religious concepts and inappropriate physical terms.

For the Conscious-Incompetent, Ms Schulze advises
Always remember that emotions are a bit like the weather, sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy, and just keep going.

Apart from the bad grammar (does the weather keep going, or the emotions?) this is just more inanity. Ms Schulze, should she so choose, could get a well-paying job writing greeting card verses.

The closing point of this chapter is that
healing [with] the western world-view is often Unconscious Incompetent.

Presumably as opposed to natural nice third world holistic happy-thoughts pain and suffering.

Chapter Eight addresses Health Catalysts.

Yet again, Ms Schulze is not referring to any molecular action, not to any immune response, but to something rather different:
OKONICS expects you to be proactive in choosing the people around you and this includes your Healing Catalysts. [...] This chapter is about learning to choose a Health Catalyst who will treat you with the respect and understanding that you deserve. [...] Only you can heal you. Your Health Catalyst can either catalyse your body/mind to make the conditions to heal or not. This is for you to assess.

At least we're back on familiar ground: medical treatment bad, truth whatever you want it to be, and you can 'heal yourself'. EoR looks forward to the day the last hospital is shut because everybody is at home self healing.

University trained graduates are to be avoided, since they have only learned the "Yang or science of healing". You should instead find someone with a bedside manner ("the Yin balance") which is not part of university training. Qualities of a Health Catalyst include listening skills, empathy, communication skills, honesty, "they live in the real world" (which pretty much excludes all the alternative practitioners) and respect. All very admirable skills, but why do you need to sign up to a "system" to realise whether someone is a good health practitioner or not (though EoR would also add skills such as knowledge and experience).
In the OKONICS system you are learning how to value and honour your pain and your inner feelings so that you create vitality and health.

Is it just EoR, or do we seem to be slipping further and further from the promise on the cover of the book to say "Goodbye Chronic Pain"?

Okonics 2
Okonics 1

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Holisticbeats: All the Woo that Fits

Some more from the current issue of holisticbeats.

Laminitis is a painful inflammation of the laminae in the horse's feet. In a sidebar to an article on this condition EoR is advised
The barefoot trimming approach to founder recommends regular trims - that is, every few days during acute stages, followed by weekly and fortnightly maintenance. [...] Long term use of painkilling medication is another principle not supported by this method, as many of these drugs are considered contradictory in their effects.

ie the more drugs you use the less money you have for the daily fleecing. Since horse's feet are usually trimmed every six to eight weeks, daily trims must be a nice little money spinner (can anyone even detect a day's hoof growth?). I won't bother detailing the reader anecdote about how this 'method' cured her laminitic pony (along with Bowen Therapy, of course). You know the routine. And why are painkilling drugs 'contradictory' in their approach? Because they reduce pain?

EoR is also rather confused about the news item "Vet Fined for Misconduct", telling the sorry tale of a vet who failed to care properly for a cat with diabetes which subsequently died. It concludes
The animal-owning public needs to be assured that their vet maintains professional levels of competence.

EoR doesn't understand how this relates to the stated purpose of the magazine: "riding, training, horsekeeping" unless the postmodernist 'narrative' here is

Of course, how many Bowen Therapists have ever been fined for misconduct? Apart from the ones fined by the courts for 'improper' behaviour, that is. Where is the professional level of conduct from the shysters supported by this magazine performing reiki, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal treatments? Of course there is none, but the message seems to be not to worry since these people are all holistic, newage, natural, gentle and apparently can do now wrong. Oh, and all charlatans.

Monday, January 09, 2006


hoofbeats [sic], the local equestrian magazine has been charting a steady decline from reason and information towards mystification and magic. The charlatanism isn't quite as obvious as normal in the latest issue (Vol 27 No 4) - though there's still that full page advertisement for Acupuncture without needles" (a cheap red flashlight with a markup of thousands of per cent and a promise to cure all the evils of the world) - but it's still there.

In an article on Ross River Virus, for example, we have an addendum (well, about 50% of the article actually) relating one true life real reader anecdotal paean to witchery.

The reader's horse had insect bites, was coughing continuously, had greasy heel on 2 and a half legs, and tropical ulcers. Cortisone injections 'helped a bit' (cleared up one and a half legs), along with steroid cream and Blue Heelerology ('which took to lying on the ground to lick and tease the scabs off his equine friend's legs').

The reader approached her vet for a blood test or skin scraping but was told a blood test wouldn't show anything since he had vasculitis.

The reader immediately changed vets. Phlebitis was diagnosed, with the same treatment regime (which seems reasonable assuming the diagnosis was the same, just that the second was a little more specific).

Knowing vets were useless, the reader started using herbs (Thuja - 'helped a little', Calendula - 'quite effective in healing up many of the sores').

She even learned Bowen Therapy to help and some months later the horse 'seemed a little better'. Try as he might, EoR cannot conceive of how a muscle manipulation (and wallet manipulation) therapy can cure inflamed veins. But such thoughts have never stopped the Dark Side in their efforts to drag the world back to the Dark Ages.

Spring came, and so did the swollen glands, puffy eyes, joint swelling, intermittent coughing, low grade colic and sores again. Comfrey cream was applied. Hair testing resulted in a diet change (unspecified) which 'immediately' stopped the cough and colic, and herbal tonics 'seemed' to brighten the horse's outlook. Whatever that means.

Colloidal Silver spray resolved the leg sores 'within a few weeks' instead of months.

Finally, our reader had managed to locate a Homeopathic Vet (an oxymoron? or just a moron?) who organised a blood test, showing Ross River Virus.

The vet immediately prescribed 'feed herbs, additives [unspecified] and homeopathic medicines'.

The horse is now cured, and only receives Vitamin C, rosehips, garlic and Bowen Therapy. His joints are near to normal, he is no longer 'pudgy' and he no longer has sores. Though he still has 'slightly' puffy eyes and his glands 'come up occasionally'. Yet Bowen Therapy soon fixes that, and he can be ridden for 15-20 minutes (walk and trot only) every second day.

As the owner says in conclusion: 'Thomas need not have suffered as much as he did while I wandered around the medical then natural remedy wilderness looking for the answers'.

As EoR says in conclusion: 'Constant ongoing therapy, joints not normal, recurring 'puffiness' in eyes and glands, and a severely reduced capacity to work do not constitute a cure.' It seems Thomas is still suffering needlessly while his owner is lost in the magical wilderness. But the owner is happy, and what more can we ask for?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Magnets Do Nothing. Buy Our Product Anyway.

For the equestrian seeking that edge on the competition, Barnsby have come to the rescue with the FTS Calming Bridle. This is an ordinary bridle with a magnet in it. This magnet doesn't actually do anything, and it's clear the manufacturer knows it (all emphasis mine):
Magnets are reputed to assist circulation and healing processes and are well known for the beneficial effects attributed to them by people afflicted by rheumatism or arthritis. At the same time the relaxing properties are extolled by horse owners using magnetic rugs or rollers. [...] Barnsby’s research indicates the FTS Magnetic Crownpiece benefits excitable or nervous horses, which seem calmer when ridden in the magnetic bridle. In older horses the gentle massage provided by the crownpiece appears to helps loosen top line muscles, facilitating freedom of movement and encouraging the horse to relax and work "long and low". The magnets used in the Barnsby crownpiece are registered in Germany as "class one medical devices" (European Patent No. 0.134.437, US Patent No. 4,549,532, Japanese Patent No. 1,652,939).

So buyers are expected to pay a premium for something that appears to work. EoR is interested in the company's 'research' and has emailed for further details*. He suspects the 'research' is anecdotal market research (assuming any research was carried out by the company at all, which is not certain) and not 'scientific' research, even though the mention of it in between all the other vaguely scientific adulation (Hey! Let's call it a 'class one medical device' and patent it! What a great idea! People will think it's a proven medical device!) is obviously meant to give the impression of a scientifically accepted and proven fact.

And now, the BBC reports
Magnet therapies which are claimed to cure conditions ranging from back pain to cancer have no proven benefits, according to a team of US researchers. Sales of the so-called therapeutic devices, which are worn in bracelets, insoles, and wrist and knee bands, top $1 billion worldwide, they said. But a major review showed no benefits, a British Medical Journal report said. The team also warned self-treatment with magnets risked leaving underlying medical conditions untreated. Professor Leonard Finegold of Drexel University in Philadelphia and Professor Bruce Flamm of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California said turning to magnetic therapies could also cause "financial harm".

'Financial harm' only if you're not the one selling them.

*EoR emailed on 15th December 2005 and has, to date, not even received an acknowledgement of his email. He is not holding his breath.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Okonics 2

Welcome to the second part of my review of Okonics.

Chapter Two describes What is OKONICS?.
The OKONICS system will teach you how to become fully healed; you will learn to think about your body and your life differently and get back in charge of your life. Full healing is to be joyful and at peace with life.

There are three stages in OKONICS (EoR isn't sure why Ms Schulze capitalises the word, but he will follow her standard - hell, he doesn't even know what the word actually means). Stage One is "Relieve the Pain".
This, the "crisis" stage, is very gentle with caring treatment and sound advice. It is a stage where you need the support of others about ninety percent of the time.

Some examples of "crisis times" include severe injuries, addictions, anything that requires hospitalisation, high levels of physical pain, depression and suicidal ideation.

Stage Two is "Repair the Problem".
When the pain starts to ease you can then work out why the pain was created in the first place. [...] Physically during this stage you will be sorting out your diet, exercise, toxin intake, body alignment, muscles, balance, joint stiffness and much more.

Like the rest of the book, this is low on specifics, but this seems to mean that when the problem has resolved, you can spend time practicing the alternatista catechism of 'real' reasons for pain.

Stage Three is "Restore full Health and Happiness".
During this stage you would be setting goals for what you do want rather than trying to fix what you don't want! [...] The end result of the OKONICS system is to heal your pain or be at peace with the pain.

Okay... So my leg is still broken, but at least I'm at peace with it. Nirvana.

Chapter Three (Beliefs) is only two and a half pages long. Such is the depth of information this little book provides.
Fear is the greatest limitation to living a healthy, wealthy and fulfilled life. [...] Your beliefs create your reality. [...] Beliefs are just beliefs they are not the truth. [...] The OKONICS system challenges you to review your beliefs on healing so that you can take charge and get back in control of your life.

This sounds like Ms Schulze has simply rebadged Positive Thinking as OKONICS. And she seems confused about her definition of truth which I discussed in Okonics 1 (truth is whatever you want it to be) - why aren't beliefs the truth?

As to the stoner philosophy of beliefs creating reality: Ms Schulze, please stand in the middle of the road in front of a semitrailer and repeat "I believe I am standing on a lovely tropical beach". We will discuss your maxim after your discharge from hospital (or with your next of kin).

Chapter Four (Healing in this moment) is only two pages. Could Ms Schulze be running out of steam? This chapter is a bit confusing (well, more confusing than the rest of the book so far), but Ms Schulze helpfully gives an example of bad thinking:
I'm more attractive if I don't smell of bad body odour. Therefore I will use TOXIC underarm deodorant.

as opposed to good thinking:
I'm more attractive if I don't smell of bad body odour. I know that my natural pheromones are incredibly attractive. I will shower regularly and wear natural fibres and keep my natural attraction.

More of the usual chemicals=bad, natural=good unthinking dichotomy. And why does she shower all the time if she thinks her body odour is so attractive?

Chapter Five (Change) is down to only one page (the chapters get a little bit longer after this again, but not by much). This chapter seems to be a collection of deep and meaningful sayings collected from the internet, and published here without any attribution as the profound work of Ms Schulze.
Nothing ever stays the same. [...] The only constant in life is change. [...] The first sign of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Oh, hang on, what if my 'truth' says I can get different results? Is Ms Schulze denying my truth? Hardly holistic or newage. Hardly consistent with her earlier chapters (but then, consistency is not a failing that alternatistas are usually liable to).

She also quotes Heraclitus, again without attribution:
You can't dip your foot in a river in the same place twice because of the movement of the water, and you can't have this moment in life back ever again.

though Heraclitus was a little more succint:
We step and do not step into the same rivers, we are and we are not.

Heraclitus also said, EoR feels compelled to point out
I honour more those things which are learned by sight and hearing.

It is better to hide folly than to make it public.

Ms Schulze, please take note.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Animal Communicators - The Last Gasp

EoR promises that this is the last entry on the Wonderful World of Animal Communicators (at least for a while).

While all the communicators have wonderful testimonials on their sites, what happens when someone without a vested interest uses their services?

The Washington Times sent their reporter to chat with Sonya Fitzpatrick.
Prior to the interview, religion reporter Julia Duin e-mailed a brief biography and a photo of her cat, Serenity, per Mrs. Fitzpatrick's request. Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Miss Duin discussed Serenity's problems for roughly half an hour. Miss Duin was frustrated because Serenity had several behavioral problems: gnawing her stomach, not using the litter box and vomiting all over the house.

Why does an animal communicator need a biography of the owner? Doesn't the animal already know all that? The only person who possibly wouldn't have that information would be the communicator. And the only reason for asking would be because she was getting nothing from the animal. Surely not! Shysters wouldn't sink this low! Would they?

After providing all that information about herself and her cat's problems, Miss Duin was informed
"She knows she's a problem. She knows she's disrupting your household. She knows she takes a lot of understanding."

Profound. Very deep. Very unexpected. Miss Duin was told to send mental pictures to her cat of the cat using the kitty litter box to train it.
But that was as far as the interview progressed before both parties became frustrated with the other. Miss Duin was resistant to the idea of animal communication, Mrs. Fitzpatrick said, and was difficult to work with.

EoR asks again, What has the owner got to do with it? The communicator alleges that they're chatting to the animal, not the owner. Oh, hang on, it's the owner giving them all the information they regurgitate back.
At first, Miss Duin said she was interested in Mrs. Fitzpatrick's counsel, but then Mrs. Fitzpatrick's advice became repetitive. "Most of the stuff she said, you could have deduced from [the bio] I sent," Miss Duin said.

In Iowa, the Des Moines Register chatted to Shirley Bice about a urinating cat (and from EoR's trawling of the animal communication sites, the big two issues are dead or dying pets, and urinating cats). Ms Bice might be worth consulting just for her methods: she crawled around the floor for an hour following the cat and taking notes. Her advice apparently consisted of admonishing the cat for its bad toilet habits.
In the case of Reggie the cat, Clark said he had never talked to a veterinarian about Reggie's predawn fake coughing fits or feline hygiene faux pas because he figured they were behavior problems. He had been following the vets' advice about frequently scooping the litter box to encourage Reggie to use it, and it seemed to be working by the time Bice came to visit.

So the veterinary solution seemed to work (even before the animal communicator intervention), while the animal communicator seems primed for a comedy career.

Also consulted was Karen Craft (and note, in passing, yet another animal communicator who also practices reiki - two fake delusions for the price of one). And a vet who, sadly, regularly refers clients to one or other of the two.
Ilana Reisner, a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine, assistant professor and the director of the animal behavior clinic at the University of Pennsylvania, cautioned that pet owners should consult with veterinarians first if they want to consult with an animal communicator. There is presently no system of quality control in this field.

EoR would venture to suggest that quality control is not needed, since they're all a crock of the same shit and unable to get much lower (except for the crawling Ms Bice).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I Hear Voices...

EoR is fascinated by past life regressions, and has been investigating this in relation to animal communicators.

First, a quick overview of a few of these shysters (EoR hasn't got the time or the desire to look at them all - Google gave over 13,000,000 hits for "animal communicator past life")...

There's Pam Sourelis who assures us in no uncertain terms in the very first sentence of What is Animal Communication? that
All creatures are telepathic, able to send and receive non-verbal, non-physical messages.

It's on the interent. It's in writing. It must be true. Forget proof or evidence. This poor woman is deeply mired in woodom:
As an animal communicator, I use Reiki energy to open a channel of communication between myself and my animal clients. The Reiki opens my heart chakra, quiets my mind, and enables me to receive the animal's message at the same time that it soothes, calms, and heals the animal.

Translation: "I can wave my hands around, go into a sort of daze, and have a very vivid imagination which, alas, only allows me to state cliches".

A dog apparently told his owner, via the mediumistic wonder,
information about a past life he had shared with her.

Ms Sourelis also practices SENSE (Strength with Elegance through Natural Somatic Education). She carefully points out
The SENSE practitioner does not:
Diagnose or treat medical conditions
Make any "adjustments" to an animal's spine or joints
"Fix" an animal
Dispense any substances, either for internal or external use
Place hands on an injured animal or work with an animal in acute pain

before launching into a lengthy list of medical conditions that she can cure. And, of course,
Please note: It is also appropriate to call a SENSE practitioner before movement problems such as these manifest themselves.

because then you'll never know whether it's done anything or not, there isn't the pressure on Ms Sourelis to 'cure', and she still gets all that lovely money.
Then there's Georgina Cyr:
An Animal Communication is a telepathic "two-way conversation" between a human and another animal, such as a dog, cat, or a horse. An Animal Communicator, also called an Interspecies Communicator or Pet Psychic, has the ability to telepathically connect with another species

There's that telepathy again. She'll even train you how to do it yourself (six modules at $225 per module plus shipping and handling). A bargain. Particularly when it includes things like
Animal Angel Music CD The Animal Angel Music CD was specially channeled for Georgina by Gabrielle Silva. Gabrielle has channeled this music from the animal angels, whose gentle energy assists to help you to stay focused while communicating with an animal

and the assurance that
You need not be worried about your results: this is a training program, and there is not necessarily a cut-and-dried "correct" and "incorrect" answer or response.

You will also learn
Communicating with Plants, Fairies & Divas

Then there's Nicole who chats to the animals in three different ways:
The first style of communication is direct or telepathic.

They're all doing it! How can anyone deny the reality of telepathy now? She also chats to animal angels, and has 'visions'. I bet she does. But even with all these angels, gods, and fireside chats, some animals
may be trouble makers or tricksters who find it fun to tell jokes or even flat out lies!

So Nicole is never wrong. The animal lied. Give me a break. Nicole, like the others featured today, are deranged delusional nutters.
On to Holly Gray who states
This is my story about the name Solomon's Ring, and why it has such meaning for me. About the time I was going to set up this web site, I had the opportunity to do a past life regression. I specifically did the regression in order to learn more about a past life that my equine friend, Abe, had revealed to me. The regression was so insightful! Abe and I were in Brazil in the early 1700's. We lived in the forest. We spent our days walking through the forest, talking to the animals and fairies.

There's also a photo of Abe
with two of his guides. Abe is an old soul with a vast knowledge of the universe and the power within it.

So how come he's got his nose on the ground eating grass between piles of manure while blurry lights play fancifully about his head? Is that the Meaning of Life? I don't think Ms Gray is the real telepathic McCoy though, since she can only rustle up one fulminating amazing mindnumbingly incredible testimonial.

EoR wonders why people always remember past lives as Cleopatra, Napoleon, or maybe Alexander the Great's Chief Eunuch, and why horses always remember past lives as horses, and dogs as dogs, etc etc? Is this some sort of Nietschean Eternal Return? Are we doomed forever to go on and on doing the same things?

But then, how come when every one of these 'animal communicators' is asked to chitchat with a deceased animal, it's always 'passed over' and 'happy'? Are animals only now starting to finally leave the cycle of rebirth and achieve doggy heaven? Why?

And how can truly amazing people like Allison "World's Only Real Psychic" Dubois chat to the dear departed (and get stunning revelations such as "She's near water") if people are constantly being reborn as more people?

And why are there more people now than there have been alive in the past? Where do all those new souls come from? More pertinently, where did they fit in all those past lives? Were there two or three souls per Cleopatra? Did Napoleon have a whole village of souls wandering about in him?

EoR's head hurts. He's leaving now to chat to some very nice microbes he knows who are really fairies in disguise.

i am taking advantage of eors absence for a moment boss to interject an observation why do humans think they are always so important that they are reborn as humans question mark there are more of us cockroaches than there have ever been humans exclamation mark this gives reason to pause for thought