Sunday, April 30, 2006

EoR Ponders

A common rhetorical question from the creationist movement supporters is "If man evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?". Another common retort from them is "Evilution teaches man evolved from mud". Which of course begs the question, "If man evolved from mud, why is there still mud?". Or, to put it another way, "If man was created by god, why is god still around?".

Saturday, April 29, 2006

EoR's Starsign is Star Trek

The World Today on ABC radio reported yesterday on a new study that disproved astrology. Yes, I'm sure you, just like EoR, is shocked and appalled at such a finding.

EoR hasn't gone looking for the study yet (in which, reportedly, 15,000 cases showed not one correlation to personality or intelligence - apparently not even a random correlation - but then reporters tend to simplify, exaggerate and misrepresent scientific studies) but the report itself makes amusing reading.

The reporter begins by arguing that astrology has come a long way since the, unspecified, days of sun worship. As an example of this "progress" a recording from a phone-in astrology service is given:
For a recommendation of the best numbers to play in the next lottery draw, press nine.

Of course, astrology hasn't progressed at all, apart from the occasional fumbling in the darkness as astrologers run around like headless chickens every century or so when a new planet is discovered.
But astrologers say they're used to every jibe in the book, and the new scientific study debunking their craft is telling them nothing they didn't already know.

What? You mean astrologers have known all along that they've been promoting bullshit? Surely not? Brian Clark, from something called the Chiron Centre (presumably a think tank and research centre of some sort) provides the astrologer's defence:
With another study coming out it's like reinventing the wheel and probably astrologers would just go: "Ho hum."

Which, presumably, either means astrologers do already know that it's all bullshit, or they're just not interested in evidence and reason. Of course, a third option is that both answers are true.

Mr Clark then goes into some amazing verbal gymnastics to claim astrology as both a science and something else:
Well, there is a scientific basis. But you talked about scientific proof, which I think is different than a scientific basis. Because what happens is we deal with a scientific basis, but then there is an imagination applied to it. So, you know, in some way what you could say it's more of an intuitive science based on reason. It's not necessarily a rational science.

Yes, EoR thinks those statements are rambling as well. To summarise: astrology is a science that has no proof; it's an imaginary story based on a scientific basis; oh, and it's not rational. Well, there's nothing there that EoR would disagree with to any great extent. Except he'd just give it the simpler term science fiction.

Friday, April 28, 2006

33rd Skeptics' Circle

The eponymous 33rd Skeptics' Circle is now available for perusal at Science and Politics. If you read nothing else from the riches on offer, look at Consegrity® to see not just how loopy and deranged newage healers are, but how deeply dangerous and full of frothing invective they can become.

The next Skeptics' Circle will be hosted in one of the least muddy corners of Eor's home on 11th May. Please send your skeptical submissions to

Thursday, April 27, 2006

EoR Seeks A Totem Animal

Which Totem Animal are you? Could you be the Hermit Crab, who's "Wisdom" includes
Ability to store water energy
Comfort in darkness

or the Hoopoe, which teaches us all such essential living skills as
how to use odor as defense
The value of tunneling as a means of escape

or the Hyena which, in these times of possible flu pandemics,
Understands how to control epidemics

Perhaps your totem animal is the god-like Orca,
Having the ability to convert raw matter into stars, planets, etc.

If you happen to be Pharyngula, your special Octopus/Squid skills are
Moving rapidly away from danger when needed
Proper use of smoke screens (ink) in evading enemies
Destroying negative barriers

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Joy of Googling

EoR's favourite recent search strings that led people to his site:
qigong spanking treatments

homepathic [sic] medicine penis enlargement

Apart from the fact that EoR can't remember blogging on those particular topics (though he just might consider a future posting), he wonders whether the "homepathic" medicine works by ingestion or by direct application and rubbing it in?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What is Truth?

To continue the philosophical tone for a little longer...

The Philosopher's Zone covered the subject of Truth recently, and makes interesting comparison with Nova Magazine's recent treatment of the same subject.

The program starts out by trying to define truth (making the observation along the way that some think that a philosopher who isn't interested in truth is like a doctor who isn't interested in health - note: 'doctor', not 'homeopath', since the simile wouldn't hold in the latter case).

The Correspondence Theory of Truth (derived from Aristotle) is introduced first:
It tells you that a statement is true if it corresponds with the facts.

For example: "grass is green" is true if, and only if, grass is green. The problem with this is that it's really only saying grass is green if grass is green (something is true if it's true) which is a little pointless. The Coherence Theory, on the other hand, states
a proposition is true insofar as it can be fitted into a coherent, consistent body of other propositions.

These theories are not mutually exclusive though, but can be seen as complementary.

Interestingly, the program points out that if you doubt whether we can arrive at the truth (like the newage brigade) then you are a skeptic (in the pure sense of the word of course). So this seems to mean that all alternatistas are skeptics, and skeptics believe in woo. Frightening stuff.

The Social Constructivist Theory of Science has evolved from these theories of truth, peppered by postmodernism, where nothing is objective and any theory is as good as any other theory. This is the form of 'truth' that is popular with alternatistas and believers in all sorts of fictional constructs (like vibrational energy medicine, for example). The commentator on this attack on science states:
The basic point is that it's a kind of a relativism and a skepticism which suggests that you can't pretend that some theories have intellectual merits over others. That's what it comes down to and I think it's a very destructive, pernicious business. [...] The Social Constructivists took off from [Thomas] Kuhn's work and went beyond it to a ludicrous degree where they, for their part, want to deny there's a rational, cognitive intellectual element.

Teaching, as a result is seen as propaganda only, and a pointless exercise since any one theory is just as good as another (EoR won't mention Unintelligent Design, since that doesn't even qualify as a theory). Such an approach is described as both intellectually offensive and dangerous, or
Affirmative action for bullshit.

As the program points out, if all theories are equally good (ESP and astrology get mentioned specifically, but the remit is far larger) then that way lies madness. If everyone's beliefs are equally valid, how can anyone set themselves up as a teacher? Socrates is mentioned: his argument goes along the following lines. If everyone's beliefs are true, and most people (almost universally) believe that relativism is false, then the relativists must concede that their doctrine is false. Hence it refutes itself. Or at least disappears up its own fundament in some form of Möbius loop.

The two forms of skepticism bequethed to us by the Greeks are described: that nothing can be known for certain; and that, since that last statement can't be known for certain, you can only remain in a state of doubt. As the commentator points out, there were many schools of skepticism in Greece, and it may just be that we don't know for certain that nothing can be known for certain. Thus it would seem that the alternatistas are the true skeptical heirs. Of course, EoR doesn't think anyone could really live their lives as fundamentalist skeptics of such an ilk, since they would have to believe some things. Is this food okay to eat? Should I cross the road now or will that truck hit me? A skeptic who believes that nothing is certain and nothing can be known would be standing eternally at the roadside, finding it impossible to make a decision whether to cross or not.

Michel Foucault's approach to truth (that there are no facts, only interpretations) is introduced. By this interpretation, science functions by assessing what works in the physical world.

Nietzsche, on the other hand, is much more extreme, arguing that all truths are individual, and that the truth arises from the struggle for power. EoR wonders how the readers of Nova would feel knowing that their approach to truth seems to most closely parallel the creator of the übermensch?

Of course, maybe nothing said in the program is true.

The whole program is half an hour, and available to listen online or for download.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Socratic Interlude

EoR recently had a visit from a troll called anonymous to one of his very ancient postings (about water having a memory) who concluded its comment:
Personally I don't find it difficult - not one bit - to repeat after Socrates: I only know that I know nothing". Indeed, I find it liberating.

Try it some time.
You might like it.

This example of quote mining is an interesting variation on the Galileo Gambit, so beloved of the alternatistas, using Socrates to prove that ignorance is a desirable state. EoR, unlike anonymous, would never presume to compare himself to Socrates.

To put that statement into context: Socrates* is presenting his defence against charges of heresy and corrupting the young of Athens.
Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed to him -- his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination -- and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is -- for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him.

So Socrates was not claiming that ignorance was good - he was merely taking his own ignorance as a starting point to elucidate knowledge and to remove that ignorance. Socrates was never supporting ignorance as a desirable state. Indeed, throughout the Dialogues, Socrates is openly satirical towards those who already claim to 'know'.

Later in the Apology he says
And therefore if you let me go now, and reject the counsels of Anytus, who said that if I were not put to death I ought not to have been prosecuted, and that if I escape now, your sons will all be utterly ruined by listening to my words -- if you say to me, Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and will let you off, but upon one condition, that you are not to inquire and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught doing this again you shall die; -- if this was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy

and, more famously,
the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living

Or, as Bertrand Russell puts it in "A History of Western Philosophy":
The Platonic Socrates consistently maintains that he knows nothing, and is only wiser than others in knowing that he knows nothing; but he does not think knowledge unobtainable. On the contrary, he thinks the search for knowledge of the utmost importance.

After being condemned to death, Socrates sees this as desirable, since he will be able to continue his questions for eternity:
Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not.

So, yes, EoR does support the stance of Socrates to separate the wise from those who only think or pretend they are wise, to differentiate false from true knowledge, and to continually ask questions rather than accept absurd claims. Oh, and to continue to state that Socrates would have loved making fun of the newage mob.

* Of course, it is erroneous to state Socrates said this (or anything else) since he left no writings. Most of what we have about him is by Plato, who knew Socrates, but who uses him as a character in his works. Xenophon also wrote some works about Socrates, and there is a satirical reference in Aristophanes. Whether any, all or none of these is factual is conjecture.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Measles? Why Worry?

Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma to her friends) recently concluded an Australian tour, bringing her message of peace and love to the crowds. EoR didn't attend, nor did he go through every page on her website(s), but she appears to be the harmless guru type that Western yuppies love, preaching, for example:
Family life is not meant to take us away from God, but to bring us closer to Him. Use it for that purpose, children, without worrying unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, it appears that there was another presence during those meetings other than the devotees and the spirit of god(dess). Seven people (six children and one adult) have been infected with measles. None of the infected was immunised (source: West Australian newspaper, 22nd April 2006).

Amma has made available the Measles Information Sheet from the Department of Health via her Australian website. This includes the shocking advice that
Homeopathic remedies do not provide protection against measles.

Participants in the meetings who are not immunised are also urged to seek vaccination urgently.

EoR is not suggesting that Amma is part of the antivacc brigade (a cursory search of her websites revealed nothing about vaccines or vaccination), but it appears clear that the people attracted to her meetings overlap to a large extent with those for whom vaccination is an evil conspiracy to steal their souls. It's also a good example of what happens when herd immunity is reduced. Instead of having a few unvaccinated individuals within a population that is largely vaccinated, and thus relying on the immunity of the majority to protect them, the meeting appears to have changed those numbers around, allowing the measles virus to opportunistically infect a group of people.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Only Diagnostic Machine You'll Ever Need

EoR loves magic woo machines, like the Quantum (QXCI) Energy Scan.

This machine has it all:
State of the art computerized health assessment ‘biofeedback - bridging the gap between science and complementary therapies’

That would be the logic gap then? Or perhaps the evidence gap?
This technology is known as the Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface (QXCI) or the Quantum Energy Scan.

"Xrroid"? Any relation to haemmorhoids?

The "functioning" of this device is also highly illogical and confused:
There are over 7,500 items programmed into the Quantum as frequencies. Each person will have a greater or lesser reaction to these frequencies depending on their own unique energy field at the time. The reaction to frequencies is assessed by the person’s unconscious not the computer or the practitioner - a skilled practitioner needs to determine why the person reacted to a particular item.

Quite apart from the woo gibberish about "frequencies" (these people wouldn't know a frequency from a wavelength) it seems the computer is not even needed, since "the person's unconscious" assesses the results. Though why the patient has to be unconscious at the time is anybody's guess. And even though a practitioner is not needed a practitioner is needed to assess the results. That statement sort of disappears in a puff of logically fallacious smoke.
An example of some of the7,500 items included in the test are foods, vitamins and minerals, viruses, bacteria, toxins, fungi, parasites, chemicals, hormones and dental materials

Ah, 'toxins'... EoR is willing to bet that it always detects 'toxins'. It also highlights "more subtle warning signals", presumably including things like wonky auras.
It is not easy to explain how such technology works - especially if you are not a quantum physicist!

Which these people clearly are not. EoR bets they've never even been near a high energy particle collider.
The Health & Longevity Journal in the UK explains it like this: "The basis of the QXCI technology is the transmission of 65 million tiny electro-magnetic signals into the body, many times per second. These pulses help map the body and its organs and reveal anomalies within the body. The signals feedback to the QXCI machine and without the patient even being aware of any effect or sensation, the machine calculates a mathematical model based on the voltage, amperage and resistance of the body." [...] As an electronic feedback device the Quantum is also able to deliver energetic therapy for pain, detoxification, allergies and trauma (both physical and emotional). It can stimulate immune function, destroy pathogens and help detoxify free radicals with the use of its inbuilt supportive therapies which help facilitate healing functions.

"Inbuilt supportive therapies"! Precisely what therapies? How are they inbuilt? EoR suspects a few diodes and capacitors and maybe, just maybe, in the high end model, a transistor. Maybe even with connecting wires. It isn't really clear in the single picture, but it looks like the usual marvellous small plastic box with a couple of leads and what EoR suspects might be a homeopathic bottle placed in a receptacle (or could it be bottled subtle energy?), as well as a headband and some ankle and heel straps. Very impressive. EoR bets the electronics inside might even fill a tenth of the available space.
The Quantum device electronically challenges the body with a fractal (the mathematical equivalent of a shape or image) of biologically active compounds. These compounds include such items as medicines, vitamins, pathogens and homoeopathics. The reactivity of the individual is measured using Fourier mathematics.

EoR used to have nightmares about being challenged by fractals. Horrible slavering things. Seriously, this isn't even bad science fiction. Someone's just written out all the quantum/alternative therapy words they can think of on separate bits of paper, thrown them in the air, and copied out whatever the runes told them.
The Quantum is also able to use this non-linear analysis to develop multi signals for deep tissue interface.

There follows a brief explanation of resonance (a child on a swing [not resonance at all - that's frequency!], an opera singer shattering a glass). Shouldn't this machine increase the illnesses and ailments of the patient if it's resonating at all the bad "frequencies"? Could the patient's body potentially shatter like the glass if a particularly evil Stress Toxin Frequency is resonated too strongly? Shouldn't there be a health warning on this machine? Something like "Use of this device may potentially damage your brain cells"? Or, as the blurb has it,
Since the ionic exchanges of reaction take place in the body at speeds in the centisec range our computer can easily interact to measure the energetic components of the body. Then with a feedback loop, the computer can auto-focus treatment.

Apart from the fact that that statment means absolutely nothing that could be construed in any sense as logical, possible, scientific or intelligent, anyone who's experienced feedback will know it's a wild rollercoaster ride as frequencies spill out of control. It can also lead to damaged electronic components, let alone blasted and withered body organs. Of course, that would only be if this machine actually worked or did anything.
The computer is calibrated through a cybernetic feedback loop via the harness to allow testing to reach at least 85% accuracy. This has to be established in order to do the test. The test takes about four minutes during which time the client is relaxed and still and the therapies [sic] leaves the room.

85% accuracy? With 7,500 items to be tested, that means that potentially 1,125 possible health issues are being missed! Furthermore, if the test takes 4 minutes and, as stated earlier, 65,000,000 pulses are involved in the test, that's a frequency rate of 270kHz. Better known to the rest of us as radio waves.

Like the best alternative therapies
The Quantum can stimulate the body’s own natural healing powers enabling a more curative outcome on all three levels - physical, mental and emotional.

But probably not financial.

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's Bach Jim, But Not As We Know It

The Bach family was famous for producing musicians, well before the most famous of them came along. EoR is referring to the composer of the six suites for unaccompanied cello by, of course, Anna Magdalena Bach. Perhaps you mistakenly thought they were by Johann Sebastian, but not according to Martin Jarvis.
A Darwin music expert has cast doubt on whether Johann Sebastian Bach wrote some of his most famous work. The conductor of Darwin's Symphony Orchestra, Martin Jarvis, has been researching Bach's cello suites and believes they were actually composed by the German musician's second wife, Anna Magdalena. She was a student of Bach's in 1714 and married him in 1721. They had 13 children. Mr Jarvis has told ABC Radio if Magdalena did compose some of the music she would never have been credited for the work.

The full interview (just over three minutes) can be listened to online, and provides a few more details, which make the startling headline "Bach's wife wrote works, expert says" not quite as shocking as it seems. Mr Jarvis states
It doesn't sound musically mature, it sounds like an exercise.

Much of Bach's works were, indeed, exercises (the most famous being The Well-Tempered Clavier) and almost everything Bach wrote were commissions produced to order. Whether the cello suites were exercises or not does not necessarily correlate to the quality of the music. It is true, however, that the reason the cello suites were written is unknown, and that they do not scale the heights of the solo violin sonatas (though they are not easy pieces).

Mr Jarvis has used handwriting analysis of the original manuscripts and detected Anna Magdalen'a handwriting in
places where it shouldn't have been.

So whether this all means Anna Magdalena composed some, or all, of the music (or whether she just helped out with the manuscripts) is still an open question in EoR's mind. Mr Jarvis will be presenting his research this weekend at a forum in Darwin.

If, however, Anna Magdalena was the uncredited composer, EoR stands in admiration of her. Running the Bach household, taking time to have thirteen children, and composing great music!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Slender Evidence for Woo Machine

Apparently people can claim that they talk to animals and that the animals talk back to them (for money), that they talk to the dead and the dead talk back to them (for money), that water that was once in touch with a single molecule of another substance can heal (for money), that holes in your aura can be repaired (for money) etc etc (you know the routine) with impunity.

EoR was surprised, therefore, to discover that claiming a product could

  • tone and firm any part of the body with no effort by the user

  • provide the user with the benefit of a workout without exercise

  • reduce the user's weight

  • reduce the user's body measurements by an inch or more

  • give the user, in 40 minutes per day, the equivalent of 300 general exercises

  • flatten the user's stomach without effort, and

  • eliminate or conquer cellulite

were not supported by evidence and contravened the consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

At least, this is the view of the Australian Federal Court, which has heard a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against Slendertone. Nonetheless, the penalty imposed is, in EoR's opinion, only slightly better than being spanked with a damp cabbage leaf:
Justice Nicholson also made orders against Slendertone and EOD restraining them and Mr O'Donoghue from making similar claims in the future; for Mr O'Donoghue to attend a trade practices law compliance seminar; for the companies to publish corrective notices in the Women's Health and Ultrafit magazines, two prominent newspapers and its website to inform the public of the court's decision and to pay the ACCC's costs.

Certainly, Slendertone now appears to have effectively been put out of business (though it appears it was a one man operation) and Slendertone's Australian website now seems to consist of a single page with the ordered corrective notice. Of course, this doesn't seem to stop other Australian sites promoting the exact same devices, nor sites overseas, including the international domain

The desperate and the gullible will still be well served by these purveyors of scam machines (for money).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Soft Touch

'Natural' Horsemanship is a trendy marketing scheme these days. Repackage various ideas about horse training, give it a catchy name ("Savvy', "Join Up", "Bonding") and sell all sorts of merchandise and seminars to the public. But such ideas seem quite sane and straightforward compared to the aptly named Soft Touch Quantum Horsemanship which contains enlightenment such as (standard EoR warning: alternatistas may be in touch with the Universal Goddesshood Auric Vibrational Energy Centres, but know nothing about website design):
This is only for those --who are ready for the 'transition' into the outer realm of the Universal Knowledge, the Cosmic Intelligence that we know and accept as Our Divine God. The energy of intuitive thought can not be traced or defined --not seen or heard with the human mind. THE power of intuitive thought or pure knowledge is only absorbed electrically --by
grids --and waves of loving energy -absorbed in/by our 'aura' that emits our reflective energy, or aura. It is captured only --in a millisecond --heard only by our 'spirit' when open to and shared with the 'ALL Spirit' for definition and interpretation --by the center of our beings --our ethereal energy capsules (atoms) --that contain our knowledge center --the essence, breath, or 'energy' of life Itself.

As opposed to instructors who believe how you sit on a horse affects the horse's balance and way of going, this mad woman has discovered
LEARNING TO RIDE: --should make and keep you --aware of your horse, not your self or your 'position'.

Of course, real horse training is just plain wrong. You don't train horses. You train the people.
Horses do not change, people do! The horse remembers who they are, and they long to be appreciated for who they are. We can learn to not change them, but to simply work with them for a shared purpose. But first, we must understand them. [STQH NATURAL= un-effected by human interference OR expectation! Not trained or altered by humans!]

It's not just in this dimension that her amazing skills apply

But this website doesn't just skim the surface of horse training issues. No, it plummets deeply into the madness and paranoia of the truly committed newager:
Doctors are not trained to get to the cause issues. They treat!

As suspected, for years, additives placed in our food, have been causing a multitude of problems in human behavior. Observe the learning scale within the school systems, in behavior -acted out, and in the rate of juvenile delinquency. Of course, this leads to elevating crime. Let's not forget the MASTER PLAN of BIG BUSINESS! [...] NOTE: Fluoride is a poison. What is chlorine? Look them up for yourself! Our government has no other way to get rid of this chemical/factory waste, other than to dilute this garbage into our water system, so our human kidneys can filter and eliminate this poison.

And just what does this phrase actually mean?
Work toward the energy expansion for both horse and the self -to accept the infinite connection.

Sadly, that's just scratching the surface of this very deeply disturbing woman's ravings.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Science Meets Woo. Woo Wins. Part Two.

Becca Green (BSc Veterinary Biology) runs the delightful Cherished Creatures website.

EoR is fascinated by how someone who has completed three years of a five year veterinary degree (students who can't cope with the full course can leave after three years and claim the BSc Veterinary Biology title) can offer such advice as:
Flower essences have been used since the 1930s when Dr Bach discovered that flowers have individual energies. These can be used to remedy various negative emotional states. As with all living things flowers contain vibrational energy, which can be transferred to water. Crystal and flower elixirs assist healing on all levels, from spiritual to physical, mental and emotional. They have the ability to realign the body’s energy fields and restore balance. Bringing the body back to balance can aid many physical or mental states. [...] There are hundreds of different crystals from all corners of the globe, which all in their unique way have healing properties. Crystals have connections to specific body parts and can be used either directly on that area or internally as an elixir.

EoR doesn't know where to start, there's so much unproven wishful thinking in that paragraph. "Flowers have individual energies" to begin with. How? Where? What "energies"? How are they "individual"? Someone who has studied science should know better than to make a patently absurd and sweeping statement like that, but then to go on to assert boldly the unproven claim that these unspecified "energies" can be "transferred to water" takes it to a higher level of fantasy. And then she brings in the crystals... And "levels" of healing... And "energy fields" (aka auras)... EoR is screaming in agony by this stage. Maybe he needs emergency Crystal Spiritual Energy Field Healing.

EoR suspects the real reason for the "calming" essences is the brandy they're mixed in. As Ms Green admits
After studying four years of Veterinary Medicine, I decided there is something else out there besides conventional medicine and chemical medications.

Well, yes. It doesn't mean there's any evidence for it though. Or that it works. Or that it cures anything. EoR is surprised she actually made it through to fourth year. If you trust in the scientific efficacy of such beliefs, then products such as these are obviously for you:
Floating Fear: For the difficult to load horse. Includes essences from calamity calmer to decrease the anxiety of floating [for international readers floating = boxing or trailering]. Also includes Smokey Quartz for grounding and unnecessary fear. [...] Geriatric Guider: For the older companions who suffer sleeplessness and restlessness. Amethyst and Carnelian to remove fear of death, assist grounding restless nights, and Citrine for comforting degenerative disease. [...] Flea Frightener: Available in spray can be used after a bath and on bedding to frighten off fleas.

Of course, EoR may be approaching this in entirely the wrong direction, expecting the purveyor of these powerful potions to believe in their efficacy. The single purpose of this enterprise could just be to make money. In which case all the claims are potent indeed.

PS: Ms Green, no matter how cute you think pictures of cute kittens frolicking in flowers are, 500KB images on web pages are simply excessive and over the top. Oh, hang on, that describes the whole site...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Science Meets Woo. Woo Wins.

EoR is always pleased to advance his knowledge and, in order to do so, he feels it is always best to seek the advice of those qualified to do so (rather than self-educated, tripping hippy types). The West Boulevard Veterinary Clinic therefore warmed the cockles of his heart, with its scientific approach to acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropracty.

He was, for example, fascinated to learn that
It is said that veterinary acupuncture was first discovered when lame battle horses were found to become sound after being hit by arrows at distinct points.

EoR had never heard this theory of origins before, but it makes him wonder why vets don't just shoot arrows at horses today. He guarantees that any lame horse, shot with arrows, would suddenly suddenly become sound and race off. There may, however, be a certain attrition rate.
There is evidence that veterinarians practiced acupuncture during the Zang and Chow Dynasties around 2000-3000 BCE.

Ah yes, 'evidence'. EoR wonders which veterinary school the Ancient Chinese Woo Vets graduated from.
The placement of needles causes very little, if any, discomfort. Once situated they are painless. During a treatment most animals become very relaxed, they may become sleepy and yawn.

As EoR feels compelled to point out again, such a reaction is normal behaviour for a relaxed horse, needled or not.
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian.

It's also pretty safe when administered by untrained individuals, assuming necessary infection controls are maintained. That's the beauty of the placebo effect - anyone can do it (though the effect is usually stronger when a white-coated individual with letters after their name practices it).
Occasionally an animal will appear to be worse for up to 48 hours after treatment and some will be drowsy for up to 24 hours after acupuncture.

So absolutely any reaction is a sign the magic is working? This is such powerful stuff, it's no wonder there's no need for evidence - the results of any studies are already predetermined.

Acupuncture points seem to exist pretty much everywhere on the horse. You can give specific anatomical locations, and even mix them up with magical "wood", "fire" and "ting" descriptions, but they're still imaginary.

Homeopathy, also, is extremely dangerous, playing as it does with hugely 'potentized' medications, and must be approached very cautiously.
In order to be ensure safety and effectiveness, Homeopathy, should be practiced by well trained veterinarians.

EoR would suggest that well trained veterinarians would understand that there is no basis to magic and/or homeopathy. He also disputes that you should take your animal to a vet just to give it a drop of water or a sugar pill. You could do that at home and ensure exactly the same level of "safety and effectiveness".

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fundamental Advice

Filed, appropriately enough, on the 1st of April, the Telegraph gives this advice from a celibate religious leader, bestselling author and jetsetting media star.

On marriage:
Too many people in the West have given up on marriage. They don't understand that it is about developing a mutual admiration of someone, a deep respect and trust and awareness of another human's needs. The new easy-come, easy-go relationships give us more freedom - but less contentment.

On homosexuality:
It is wrong. [...] A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife - astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong.

On sex:
[A] friend asked me what harm could there be between consenting adults having oral sex, if they enjoyed it. But the purpose of sex is reproduction[...]. The other holes don't create life.

On abortion:
I see women who have had abortions because they thought a child would ruin their lives. A baby seemed unbearable - yet now they are older, they are unable to conceive. I feel so sorry for them.

In praise of George Bush:
He is very straightforward.

No, it's not a fundie Christian preacher, it's the newage idol and pinup boy, the Dalai Lama. At least he makes the Pope seem laissez faire.

Of course, if you think these attitudes are medieval or worse, it's your own karmically induced fault. You probably did something unspeakable with a wrong hole in a past life.

All together now: "One hole good, three holes baaaaad".

Saturday, April 15, 2006

And Now A Message from the Pig Farmer

As some of EoR's more credulous readers might suspect, he is secretly funded by the megaglobalopistic Pig Farmers (at least, that's what he thinks they keep saying - he might have got it a bit confused). As part of this pact with the devil he is forced to recommend certain expensive medications regardless of any efficacy studies that may or may not have been undertaken.

Imagine how relieved he was, then, to find a single medication that could solve all the world's illnesses: fukalthanol eutopiata, the "all purpose lifestyle pharmaceutical".

But will it calm down the antivacc brigade?

Friday, April 14, 2006


EoR recently had a muscle cramp in his shoulder when he woke up one morning, which got worse over a few days, and which was so severe that he couldn't turn to look to the right. A number of options presented themselves to him: book an appointment with the doctor and get some drugs, see the bowenist to realign his muscles, have needles inserted in magic points to release the stagnant qi, phone up the distant healer to sort out his aura and chakras, take some magic water to cure just about everything, or a whole plethora of incredible biomachines.

Instead, EoR chose to rest it and get a good night's sleep. Next morning, the pain was gone.

Now, if EoR had undertaken one, or more, of these therapies, he might be inclined to attribute the recovery directly to the therapy. Clealy, however, it was not related to any therapy whatsoever. So why is EoR's anecdote about an apparent miracle cure worth any less than all the open mouthed testimonials about every alternative cure?

EoR is thinking of starting up a website promoting Restology™ or possible Q-Nothing® (as in quantum nothing) where he will spend time discussing the woes and worries of the afflicted, and then charge them large amounts of money for sending Healing Rest-Waves or Q-Enhanced Energetic Nothing Particles to mend them. There's probably a fortune in it.

32nd Skeptics' Circle

There's poo flying in all directions at the 32nd Skeptics' Circle as a mysterious device that first surfaced in the spare parts section of the BBC Special Effects Department is rediscovered.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Talk to the Trees, That's Why They Put Me Away

EoR has previously considered the miracle of pranic healing, but enjoyed an article he found on the Living Now website entitled PRANIC HEALING: Does a No-Touch System Really Work? (gentle reader, can you guess what the answer is before reading further?).

EoR wonders why we bother with doctors at all. Pranic healing is definitely the way to go. Never mind years of study. Or even weeks to become a bowen therapist. Or a week to become a reikiist.
I learned about specific techniques which can correct the imbalances that cause symptoms of disease. There were additional benefits: some dormant clairvoyant, clairaudient and healing abilities were awakened during the two-day course! [...] I was even more impressed when, after the first day's instruction, most of the participants, with no previous training in health care, went home and treated successfully ailing members of their families. Most of them reported that symptoms of musculo-skeletal pain subsided instantly.

And never mind prohibitively expensive hospitals, diagnostic equipment, or even overpriced drugs:
It was demonstrated how we can recharge ourselves by standing beneath a tree and asking its permission to partake of some of its vital, reinvigorating energy. It is important to ask permission of the tree and afterwards to thank it. If this permission is not requested and the tree is 'assaulted' in this manner, then it eventually dies from having absorbed sick energies of people.

As opposed to what happens when the tree absorbs "sick energies" of people when it's asked nicely.

This is repeatable, testable, provable, and not just claims of magic:
Pranic healing is a system which makes instant healing possible for certain conditions. I would like to share a personal experience about this. While cutting a chestnut, the knife slipped and my finger had a deep gash. I asked our son to use the techniques for the instant healing of wounds, so that we could test if the system really worked. It did. The wound stopped bleeding instantly and the skin healed over completely within a few minutes.

And EoR thought stuff like that just happened in the movies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

EoR Becomes Confused

The April 2006 issue of Living Now offers "Tips to nurture your qi while working in the modern world".

Tip one is washing your hands to remove "perverse energy", ensuring the water covers the "important acupuncture points" on the wrist so that "toxic energy from the qi body" can be excreted. It is also helpful to ensure your are "breathing out the perverse energy down the arm". EoR dreads to think what would happen if you breathed in the other direction. You should probably also consult Emoto-san before disposing of the tainted water.

Tip two is to have a bath. This will "revive the qi body" and "flush toxic energies". Having a bath also "allows an expansion of the mental faculties".

Tip three is the most powerful tip and involves "developing the centres of energy above the head." At first, EoR thought the author was referring to overhead powerlines, but the requirement to "build the ability to function a kind of energetic muscle" had him thoroughly confused.

After all that confusion, it was good to find a sensible article written by a BA Dip Health, entitled "How intelligent is your food?"
Food contains intelligence. A food's intelligence can be loosely translated as nutritional value although it also includes the quality, freshness and degree of life of the food. [...] By consuming the food we also absorb that protecting intelligence thus contributing to the health of our physiology. [...] One of the dangers of genetically modified food is that it confuses the body. Our bodies have evolved with the food we eat over thousands and thousands of years. When it comes down to a new type of food such as an apple spliced with a fish gene, it cannot properly digest and assimilate it. The alien substance remains in the body and creates havoc with the system. Instead of providing intelligence it provides confusion.

This must also mean never eat fish and apples in the same meal since, once chewed and broken down by gastric juices, all those apple genes and all those fish genes will be swilling around together, intelligently confusing the poor old digestive system hopelessly.

EoR suggests it would be best just to eat an apple and wait a few days to ensure it has been thoroughly digested. Then eat a fish. And so on.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ramtha's Create Your Wealth

EoR has been watching the "Ramtha's School of Enlightenment" DVD presentation.

Ramtha, for the two of you who haven't been in touch with his magnificence, is the ancient (he lived 35,000 years ago) warrior conquerer from Lemuria who, though immortal, "ascended" and now channels his witticisms via the personage of J Z Knight.

The DVD consists of three sections. The first, and longest, is "Ramtha's School: A Look Within". In it, J Z Knight describes how, on the 7th of February, 1977, Ramtha appeared as "The Enlightened One" and informed her "I have come to help you over the ditch". This immediately brought to EoR's mind composer Simon Jeffes' explanation of how he came to form the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (a far more worthy institution, in EoR's opinion, than Ramtha's money spinning exercises):
In 1972 [...] I went to the beach. As I sat there a poem came to me. It began 'I am the proprietor of the Penguin Cafe. I will tell you things at random'. [...] The proprietor went on to explain his cafe. He said that the random, chance element in life is absolutely vital.

Perhaps Ramtha was having a cappucino at the cafe, and felt the urge to chat to someone, though EoR wonders if Simon Jeffes' visions were related to the brain tumour that ended his life.

Chanelling through J Z Knight (in a pseudo-Teutonic accent) Ramtha says:
I must plant in your mind outrageous concepts.

According to Ramtha, there are four principles to learn:

  • God lives within each of us

  • Consciousness and energy create our reality (so if someone is not conscious that a truck is bearing down on them, it will do them no harm?)

  • We are here to make known the unknown (how Rumsfeldian)

  • We are here to be god in human form (doesn't principle one mean we already are?)

Most of the exercises at this school seem to involve being blindfolded (how allegorical). For example, crowds of people wander around blindfolded in a paddock to locate various cards pinned to the fence. One such card reads "I relinquish the emotional body".

Then there's blindfolded archery. "Sometimes they hit the target. Sometimes they don't." EoR bets the insurance premiums are high for that one. Those of you who have read Eugen Herrigel's "Zen in the Art of Archery" will of course be familiar with the section where Herr Herrigel argues that his master should be able to hit the target blindfolded, and his master proceeds to shoot arrows into each other unerringly in the darkness. EoR suggests you would get more spiritual enlightenment (and far more cheaply) from this book than from attending Ramtha's School of Wandering Around in Paddocks.

Also shown is the labyrinth in which the crowd must locate the centre ("the innermost divine self") blindfolded and without touching the walls, using only their mind. This may well be an effective metaphor for life (though in real life, you're allowed to touch the walls - ie reality - to locate yourself) but it's hardly godsent enlightenment).

EoR enjoyed the nice paddocks. They could have been put to good use as a horse stud. Though there's probably less money in the horse business.

Also shown is Stanley Krippner, PhD, Psychological Researcher, who states
I do not believe this is deliberate role playing or fraud.

So, is it then real, or is J Z Knight schizophrenic, or is Dr Krippner wrong? So many possibilities, but not all of them equally likely.

The second section, "Cracking the Code to the Extraordinary" is a short (two and a half minute) video of J Z Knight presumably channelling Ramtha on stage. EoR says "presumably" since he doesn't have an accent this time. This is simply a revivalist style meeting.
You're the observer collapsing energy into forms, so that reality is held together by the realism in your brain.

EoR isn't really sure what that actually means (though he's sure Deepak Chopra could try to explain it to him), but who's observing your brain? If no one is, doesn't that mean it doesn't exist?
Even Christ said that the kingdom of heaven is within you, and the things that I do, you can do greater! Have you ever thought about that statement? That means you can OUTDO CHRIST!! HELLO!!!

This segment ends with J Z Knight/Ramtha leading the congregation in a prayer and response, accompanied by images of Ramtha/J Z Knight moonwalking (or is it an ancient Lemurian folk dance?).

The final segment, "Ramtha's Create Your Day" is a one and a half minute straight to camera session. With the accent here swapping between American, British and Teutonic.
Waking up every single morning is a gift, don't you know? Life is a gift.

EoR feels sure he read that on a desk calendar once.

So, ultimately, all Ramtha can say are fairly lame platitudes, and probably exactly what the audience wants and expects (but that's what successful marketing is always about) rather than uncomfortable statements about the universe, or newly rediscovered secrets of the Lemurian Way of Life.

Also, for an ascended divine entity whose sole purpose is to spread his message and raise the consciousness of humanity, why is everything copyrighted, incorporated and trade marked, and why does it all cost money? Wouldn't it be more sensible to make it freely available to propagate it more widely? If Ramtha were real, of course.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Holy Trinity

If only Father Bob had a church near EoR, he'd almost be tempted to go along... Particularly after Father Bob's reflections on the most holy Christian festival of Easter.

Father Bob is one of a triumvirate of EoR's favourite priests (the others being Fathers Dan and Ted).

I See Dud Police

As we all know, the only way law enforcement agencies get any results ever is through the benevolent, generous assistance of psychics. Unfortunately, this information doesn't seem to have permeated to Australia, where the Federal Police doggedly insist on standard procedures of information gathering and detection (and all the time that takes, when a Real Life Rooly Trooly Psychic Wingdinger could solve the crime Just Like That).

Luckily, this closeminded attitude appears to be waning, when a senior officer of the Australian Federal Police approached a clairvoyant to find the culprit making a death threat against the Prime Minister.

Unfortunately for him, the hierarchy are too hidebound to see what an amazing cost cutting measure this could be, and have suspended him from duty pending an investigation into his actions. Perhaps they could consult a psychic to assess his case - but they'd need to get a Real Psychic. The officer in this case seems to have erred by revealing confidential information to the psychic. EoR would never accept that psychics work by extracting information from their marks - sorry, clients - and parrotting it back to them...

Which just leaves two unanswered questions: why did the policeman consult the psychic, and not the other way around (surely, the psychic already 'knew' about the crime, the perpetrator, and the policeman); and why didn't the psychic tell the policeman he was about to be suspended?

AFP to investigate officer's 'psychic consultation'
Federal Police to deal with psychic claims, Govt says

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bahlaqeem Schmalaqeem

Sometimes EoR thinks he should just give up the fight, and join the enemy. After all, it's easy money deluding the suckers. Of course, you need a consulting room. And a fancy certificate. Probably a model of the spine. Some white sheets and a few instruments. Maybe a receptionist. Then there's all the laying on of hands and touching all those bodies.

If only you could just chat to someone on the phone and pretend to lay on the hands. Think of the savings in time and money.

Via Insolitology, it appears James Burda had the same thoughts.
Bahlaqeem is a long distance healing service (not a product) to help increase the quality of your life that can be performed in the privacy of your home or other personal space. There is no need to come to my office.

Mr Burda (he appears to have no qualifications other than his amazing psychic abilities) offers "vibrational adjustments or manipulations". EoR is opting for the latter choice ("manipulations").

Mr Burda also provides some "Wonderments" of the human body on his website, such as
I notice that when I look at a picture of the skull, it has a lot of little squiggly lines all over it. What are they for?
This is a good question. What you are seeing are joints between numerous bones that make up the skull. This construction allows for protection of the brain as well as its breathing. Yes! The brain breathes. It expands and contracts. So if the cranium (skull) were a solid bone the brain could not do what it does. The important idea here is flexibility. The construction is also so unique that it will not allow anything to enter the brain area through those joints.

Breathing bones. Now there's a novel idea. It's so effective it apparently doesn't allow common sense to enter the brain either.

Mr Burda can make amazing, incredible, never seen before, changes to your body over the phone:
Now for the difference of what you get with a typical chiropractor and what I do. I can make manipulations to every single bone and joint in the body, including the ear bones. Most chiropractors focus on the pelvic and spinal areas. [...] I can do these manipulations anywhere at any time, even when you cannot get in to see your favorite chiropractor. [...] The manipulations that I do can be done while you are in the privacy of your own home or office. You do not need to go anywhere special. [...] Something else, my adjustments of the body raise their (body) vibrational rates. In other words the body vibrates higher. I do not sense that regular chiropractic does this, because they (most chiropractors) work on lower physical levels. My work is on a much higher level. It is very subtle. The subtler, the more powerful. There is a chance that when a body is vibrating at a higher level, disease processes may not be able to survive in such an environment. This is in theory only at this time because what I am doing is so new and revolutionary. Even the terms adjustment and manipulation are not really proper for what I do, but they are the closest to what I do that people can understand. The increase in vibration is also helping people prepare for the changes that will be coming and are happening now. These changes are being manifested by the increase in all the earthquakes, killer storms, volcanoes, hatred, anger, terrorism, etc. Finally, there are things that I can do that I cannot mention here. To say the least, I can work on other levels of healthcare.

EoR considers that the word "manipulation" is perfectly adequate to describe what Mr Burda "does", which is so "subtle" he's willing to bet there are no detectable changes whatsoever.

Bahlaqeem is as meaningless as what Mr Burda purports to do:
The name Bahlaqeem (pronounced baalakeem) came to me during a period of inspiration. It is a madeup word and, to my knowledge, has no known meaning except for this intended purpose. It does, however, have a soothing vibrational influence and contains the very special number of nine letters.

Con-artist has nine letters as well, but is possibly not as soothing.

Strangely, the most common phrase on his website, and which recurs again and again (even on the same page) is
The following ideas expressed by James Burda are his own and may or may not reflect the ideas mentioned in the current scientific or medical journals.

Again, EoR is opting for the latter choice ("may not").

If, after wasting your money on this scam, you're still in pain, don't blame Honest John. It's your own fault you no good loser:
Right now there are two reasons why this treatment may not work and they are 1) you really do not want to get better and / or 2) the pain or other symptom is there so that you can learn a lesson, which comes from the highest of sources.

Option "3) Mr Burda is a con-artist" is not a possibility. Of course, the "lesson" might just be "don't fall for conmen's outrageous scams".

Odd John's incredible superpowers are making him famous. Specifically, the Ohio State Chiropractic Board has become interested in him, but not in a friendly way.
The Ohio State Chiropractic Board, in a notice of hearing, has accused James Burda of Athens of being "unable to practice chiropractic according to acceptable and prevailing standards of care due to mental illness, specifically, Delusional Disorder, Grandiose Type."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Alein Implants

EoR has been watching a DVD of a 90 minute interview with Dr Roger Leir ("MD, Podiatrist, Author and UFO Researcher") conducted by William J Birnes ("Author, Publisher and UFO Researcher") entitled "Alien Implants" (or "Alein Implants" as the opening titles claim), in which Dr Leir's "fantastic experiments" are described.

The interview opens with Dr Leir relating a memory from his childhood the day Something Landed at Roswell (when Dr Leir was "12 or so"). His father bought the newspaper home with the amazing headlines about the capture of a Flying Saucer. A few days later his father brought home the paper with the headlines now saying "It's A Weather Balloon". Apparently this set his father off on a tirade about how stupid did the government really think the people were etc etc which had a profound effect on the young ufologist.

EoR applauds Dr Leir's efforts to always independently verify his fantastic claims. For example, for X Rays which he cannot handle (apparently anything other than hands or feet) he will refer to a specialist - in this case a chiropracter.

There is some discussion of "implants" which is fairly standard until the interviewer (who is much more rabid and nonsensical than Dr Leir - EoR felt the roles should have been reversed) suddenly asks about
a whole package of electonics in the human cells [...] cellular alignment going on on the basis of some magnetic package [...] to protect the implant [...] like a magnetic coccoon.

Dr Leir doesn't bat an eyelid, and replies
These are all within the realm of feasible scientific possibilities.

He also states how these devices don't operate in the electromagnetic spectrum, but rather in the "neutrino spectrum", which seems to confuse two different uses of the word "spectrum". No evidence or explanation is offered, and this contradicts later discussion and "video evidence" showing that the implants have a magnetic field (completely unremarkable considering they seem to be made of iron).

Dr Leir was very unclear throughout the discussion, but it appears he has only removed four implants surgically (he certainly said this, but the number of tales of implantees approaching him and devices removed would seem to require a plethora (at least) of such cases).

These implants are apparently alive in some way, since they form a "symbiosis" with the human. Amazingly, if the removed implant with its adhering tissue membrane is left under studio lights it will shrink while, if rehydrated, it gets larger. That's an incredible finding. EoR really can't think of any other explanation for that happening, such as the normal properties of heat and rehydration, other than that the object must be a strange alien implant with amazing sci fi properties.

The interviewer continues with his off the wall and unsupported assertions:
this is a passive signalling device. Assume for a moment they're alien. Are they radio tagging, specimen tagging or surveillance mechanisms?

Hang on, let's sort out the "signalling" claim first. What sort of signals? How has this been proven? By whom? How was it determined it was a "signal"? But our interviewer is in full flight:
They give out symbiotic magnetic signatures coded to the individual.

Again, Dr Leir is the picture of restraint in the face of this bad 50's science fiction:
That's a possibility.

These implants have other amazing properties: all but one fluoresce under UV light. So that's three that fluoresced then? Meaning what exactly?

Dr Leir repeatedly points out how he was a skeptic for a long time, until the evidence became overwhelming. Apparently that's why he attended MUFON conferences on a regular basis, and also wrote a column for his local MUFON group. And how in 1973 he had a "nonfatal" light plane crash over a secret naval base (and saw "wonderful equipment" in their dispensary covered in mysterious sheets - EoR wonders how he could tell what was under the sheets). And there's also the tale of how he saw two flying saucers in the space of a few days in 1976 (along with all the usual implied government cover up/secret experiments paranoia).

Dr Leir gives an amazing (EoR is forced to keep using that word) tale of a woman with a strange implant in her big toe. Even though heavily anaesthetized, when he touched the implant the woman leapt into the air. Video of this surgery is shown. The incision. The probing. But no incredible and impossible leaping. Why not? EoR would have loved to have seen what happened when the patient suddenly and violently moved while a scalpel was inserted into her. According to the video, there was absolutely no damage. That Dr Leir is one damn fine surgeon...

Incredibly, there is no inflammatory response to these implants (Dr Leir conveniently ignores the cysts that form around them - apart from implyng that these membranes are somehow Part of the Alien Device itself) nor any sign of entry wounds (this contradicts later discussion of "scoop marks" on alien abductees). Given the tiny size of these objects, any discernable scar would be unlikely.

Again, Dr Leir discusses the incredible (EoR got tired of saying "amazing") results obtained by totally independent laboratory testing. He sent the objects off to the National Institute of Discovery Science (and any scientific organisation that has subjects such as Astrobiology, Consciousness Studies and Best UFO Cases on its home page must be totally independent and completely unbiased).

The test results came back with findings that Dr Leir seems to think were both incredible and amazing (hyperbole is starting to fail EoR):
Further tests should be done.

Funnily, EoR would have interpreted that as no finding. Not proof of alien livestock tracking technology.

So, the further tests were done. According to Dr Leir, the tests came back saying the closest thing to the implant were meteorite samples. This later becomes "this comes from a meteor". Our interviewer gasps
Not of this earth!

Indeed, meteors are not of this earth. Unfortunately, being similar to meteorites doesn't exclude the very remote possibility that the objects did, in fact, have a terrestrial origin.

There is a "Letter of Opinion" on Dr Leir's website which states, in part,
The first theory on the origin of these samples was initiated due to the relatively high hardness value obtained for the iron core of sample T1,2. It is well known that very hard iron alloys can be found naturally in meteorite samples. In fact, several characteristics of the specimens are similar to certain meteorite-type materials. [...] Based on my examination, the samples in question could possibly fit into this framework. [...] An altogether different hypothesis can be formulated based on the fact that these specimens were extracted from an human body. An iron sliver, embedded in human tissue could possibly cause a calcification reaction. This would explain the presence of calcium and phosphorous on the surface of the samples. It must be stressed, these are only theories as to the origin of the specimens in question based on preliminary data and information. More in-depth studies would be required to prove either one.

Well, that certainly indicates the only possible - indeed, the only obvious and likely - explanation is alien implants.

Dr Leir then postulates at some length (without mentioning any studies or proof to support his assertions) about "supposing" they have an instrument they can scoop keratin out of the skin, create a gel with it, reinsert it, and emit UV light to seal up the wound.

EoR feels he's back in the land of scientifiction again.

Dr Leir is also at pains to point out how these implants self destruct, quickly disintegrating if not stored in the patient's own serum. Unfortunately, he later pulls some samples (which he states had already undergone "numerous" tests) from a plastic bag in his jacket pocket and shows them off. They must be the more durable Mark 2 Impants.

EoR also wonders why the aliens haven't visited him. Aren't they a little confused by all their tracking devices moving around as a unit?

Dr Leir concludes that his Quest is to obtain more data and release this knowledge to the World. EoR would be grateful if he could obtain any evidence.

Oh, and Galileo gets a passing mention. EoR would have been disappointed if he hadn't.

Dr Leir continues his selfless efforts to uncover the truth. An example is here where the good doctor solicits donations of cash and "cars, planes, boats or other items" to conduct "scientific physical abduction research". For the life of him, EoR can't work out what multiple cars, planes and boats would contribute to the already dubious "science" of Ufology.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Blakean Sex

Given William Blake's idiosyncratic visionary writings, the world of Blake scholarship is open to many approaches. Marsha Keith Schuchard has recently published "Why Mrs Blake Cried: William Blake and the Sexual Basis of Spiritual Vision".

Reviewed in The Guardian:
Marsha Schuchard has found that grail of researchers - original documents that confirm suspicions about her subject. In this case they are surviving records of the unworldly Moravian Chapel in Fetter Lane showing how William Blake's family were worshippers at this shrine of eroticism. The Moravians raised prayers to the side-hole of Jesus, the spear wound which was depicted with a vulval shape and was the subject of hymns and ecstasies. "At the love feast our Saviour was pleased to make me Suck his wounds," the woman here identified as Blake's mother wrote in the documents Schuchard has uncovered. [...] The head of the chapel, Count Zinzendorf, had a pioneering policy of sex-education for young marrieds, including texts to recite during climaxes, such as "when my dear husband lets his oil sizzle in me, this grace is a sacrament". Zinzendorf argued that the Old Testament commandment against adultery was out of date because it was based on a time when polygamy was common. He himself had an open relationship with a 14-year-old girl whom he made an eldress of the church. [...] Blake, Schuchard says, learned such manoeuvres as withholding orgasm in order to retain seminal fluid to nourish the brain, putting his wife under the pressure of "enabling her husband to achieve the prolonged erection necessary to the visionary process". It is clearly supposition that Mrs Blake was so beleaguered, though a man who wrote "The lust of the goat is the bounty of God" doesn't seem the sort to compromise on his conjugals. Schuchard also traces Blake's journey through the mystical underground of the supposedly "enlightened" 18th century, a world rich in knowledge of the Jewish Kabbalah, Muslim sensuality, Tantric yogis and Chinese love-texts. She shows an (arguable) association of some of Blake's early work with people on the sexual scene of the day, including the quack Dr James Graham, with his virility-enhancing "celestial bed", and the mesmerists, who were accused of erotic titillation in the guise of therapy. It adds up to a fantastic miscellany of sex and mysticism, though sometimes Schuchard seems to be working hard to make the pieces of her jigsaw fit.

Of course, the key phrases here are "suspicions", "supposition", "arguable" and a "fantastic miscellany".

EoR hasn't read the book, but the review gives the impression of possible link on possible link, though it certainly sounds entertaining, and Blake certainly believed in the free expression of human emotions and desires.

In one case Ms Schuchard links Swedenborg's visions (and there is no doubt Swedenborg was a direct influence on Blake's pantheon) with Blake's "Milton":
Swedenborg's belief that "the great toe communicates with the genitals" is demonstrated by Blake's self-portrait "William", showing his body flung back while a flaming star descends toward his left foot.

Of course, symbolism by its very nature does not contain a single correlative idea. David V Erdman in "The Illuminated Blake" interprets this as
Spiritually interpreted the star entering Blake is like the lightning striking the son of Job while plowing. Knowing it is impossible to receive the full inspiration of Milton by the mind alone, Blake has to go and catch a falling star. The torch of bardic prophecy is transmitted in consuming fire, burning the selfhood from foot to head, with black smoke rolling over Europe. The divine imagination's entering Blake's tarsus and his falling upon the garden path configure the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to Paul, a seizure totally annihilating the self/body.

This particular plate is also mirrored later in "Milton" by an image of Blake's deceased brother, which would make one wonder further about the sexual symbolism, if any.

So, there may well be a sexual metaphor to this image (again, Blake was not averse to such images) but it may not be the primary meaning. Nonetheless, EoR feels it's time Blake's poetry came back into fashion, and this might be the book to do it. Maybe someone will make a film of it?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jackboots Return

Back at the beginning of March, EoR applied his psychic powers to the disappearance of white supremacist Jack van Tongeren who had failed to appear at a court appearance.

Well, Herr van Tongeren has finally been located. EoR made four predictions:

  • Herr van Tongeren is alive (a hit: he was found alive)

  • He is near water (a hit: he was found in Boddington, which is located on the Hotham River)

  • Something about trees (a hit: he was found in bushland)

  • Possibly someone named Arnold, or Andrew, or Adolf, or... (a probable hit: there wasn't enough information in the news report, but EoR is certain there's someone in the police group with that name, or on Herr van Tongeren's father's side with that name, or a name like that, or someone he knew with a slightly similar name, or someone he passed in the street once, or... Might as well just call it a hit as well.)

So, EoR's psychic prediction rate is 100% (without even asking questions and parrotting them back) and is much higher than Mr Grzelka's claimed 60% or so. Yah boo sux.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

An Alternative Therapy That Works

Bruichladdich has developed a traditional all-natural herbal supplement with potent pain killing effects:
The world’s most alcoholic single malt ever made has been revived by the ancient tradition of quadruple distilled single malt. More than 300 years ago the legendary traveller Martin Martin recorded his impressions after encountering a similar whisky on his visit to the Hebrides in 1695. In his travel book, The Western Islands of Scotland, Martin refers to a quadruple distilled whisky known as "usquebaugh-baul" - the Gaelic for ‘perilous whisky’ [...] and wrote what is probably the world’s oldest whisky tasting note: "... the first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life."

The resulting product is around 90% alcohol, and apparently manufactured according to time honoured homeopathic principles:
The more it was distilled, the purer the alcohol, the better the extraction of the active agent.

Also worth listening to is Douglas Laing's folk protest song:
There's a secret installation on the Western seas,
Cunningly disguised among the Hebrides.
It might seem innocent to those who are naive
But this could bring a superpower to its knees.

So be careful how you're stepping round this deadly lethal weapon,
Tell all the patriots it's time to enlist.
We've got to take some action against this Weapon of Mass Distraction,
Oh, we can't let Al Qaeda get their hands on this.

Now I am a US internet spy,
And I've seen what they're up to with my own eyes.
They say it's only whisky, but I'm telling you,
They tested it on the local folk and I've seen what it can do.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Grzelka: Psychics Real, Skeptics Cynics

Mr Grzelka made his regular radio appearance and purveyed his cold reading talents again. Even though his act consists of mainly questions and (frequently baffling and wrong) guesses, nonetheless his opening statements today put skeptics firmly in their place.
I remember John Edwards saying one day, and I totally agree with him, it doesn't matter that, that, that's the case - sometimes we're wrong, the fact is we're getting it. We're getting the information, that's the important thing. We're getting information from the spirit realm - it's there. [...] It gives it all meaning. It gives it some understanding on what are we doing here, why are we - you know, why do, why do so many things go wrong for us, and why do some people have so many things go right for them. [...] The fact that we have a spirit realm, and I honestly, I cannot understand why it's so hard to believe that. [...] But, you know, what I will say to skeptics is, look, be skeptical, it's important that you are skeptical, just don't turn into a cynic because once you become cynical then nothing makes sense

John Edwards as a credible reference? EoR isn't even going to comment on that one.

Mr Grzelka also raised the old chestnut that psychics are never 100% correct (why not - they're in touch with the ultimate information source, if only they'd upgrade to the broadband spiritual connection so they could work out who "R" is), only 60% or so. But he's still getting "information from the spirit realm". Just not the right information. Which is different from cold reading skills deliberately performed in exactly what way?

EoR has never said it's difficult to believe in a spirit realm. Or God. Or homeopathy. Or fluffy blue rectal fairies. What is hard is finding any evidence for all these fantasies. Believe what you want, just don't claim that your magic communications are real. Mr Grzelka not only believes, but charges money for his beliefs.

EoR would also deny that all skeptics are cynics (though there may well be an overlap of the sets) but, more importantly, who cares whether a skeptic is a cynic or an extroverted optimist? What utter difference does it make?

EoR also feels very sorry for all the cynics out there who, apparently, are now living in a world where "nothing makes sense". Must be very difficult for them.

Skipping over Mr Grzelka's Hits and Misses Show (more of the same as last time - EoR won't bother you with the same tired examples) EoR wants to focus on the last caller, John of Kardinya, who asks about the presence of "non human life on the other side". Mr Grzelka expounded at some length, amazing EoR with his understanding of life, biology, and Everything.
I often, I often pick up animals, um, animals, um, if that's what you're just talking about, animals, um, I pick them up all of the time. [...] Primarily it's cats and dogs. [...] It's because they, they live with us that they sort of assimilate to our vibration, um, and, some of them actually communicate with me just like a human being would from the other side and I talk to them and I communicate directly with them. Quite often, they need to come through, um, with somebody else, to help them talk but most of the time, um, they come through quite clearly and I don't have any problems with them.

So, "quite often" they need an intermediary spirit, and "most of the time" they don't. Isn't that having it both ways? Mind you, given Mr Grzelka's difficulty in identifying human correspondents, how can you tell whether Puss's meow should be translated "R" or "M" or "X"? Or, more probably, "Feed me". EoR is also disappointed that "non human life" wasn't aliens. Surely the aliens who have crossed over after their years of rectal probing finally come to an end, are out there just wanting to chat about their adventures?

In response to a vaguely newage religious interjection from his caller, Mr Grzelka continues
The one thing I will very quickly say on this is that the, the nature spirits or the natural world evolves slightly differently to human beings. Where human beings spiritually evolve as individuals, nature, the nature world and animals in general, um, with the exception perhaps of, of cats and dogs though they do fit into this same category, evolve as species and as a group of animals. So, there not many individuals in there that do but as a group they do evolve and are very very aware of themselves.

EoR is thoroughly confused now. Should he "believe" (in order not to become cynical and have to exist in a meaningless universe) in Evolution, or Intelligent Design, or Grzelkian Design? He much prefers Grzelkian Design, since it doesn't seem to really have any rules or principles, with its fiercely religious view of human supremacy over the "nature world" (EoR thought the psychics were the caring sharing newage types, but apparently not) mellowed by its species shifting cats and dogs. It's a bit like Spiritual Apartheid, where cats and dogs, while they're not Pure White, at least aren't Pure Black like all those other animals, and can be allowed in with the Whites occasionally.

Monday, April 03, 2006

True Lies

Truth, according to the Collins English Dictionary, is
the quality of being true, genuine, actual or factual [...] a proven or verified fact, principle, statement, etc [...] a concept or system of concepts, regarded as accurately representing some aspect of the world, the universe, etc

According to Eric Harrison, writing in Nova magazine (topic for March: Truth) in an article titled "Choose Your Truth":
Truths are disturbingly mortal. They grow and die. They decay from their excesses, or fracture through rigidity. They are killed off by young, rampaging, alpha-male truths. New gods enslave the old gods, and starve them to death. Scientists demolish their predecessors. Newton dethrones Aristotle, and is dethroned in turn by Einstein. Even our personal truths are fluid. What was absolutely true for me at 20 is not true now at 55.

Where to begin? The histrionic metaphors? The confusion between "truths" and "knowledge"? Knowledge progresses and, sometimes, supplants earlier knowledge though, generally, it enhances and clarifies it. The subtle antimale message in this newage journal? Where are the alpha-female truths? Bonding in the forest somewhere? The linking of "truth" to "religious belief" in the "gods" analogy? How many scientists actually "demolish" their predecessors? Newtownian physics certainly isn't dead; it's used every day in countless applications while, on a personal level, relativistic calculations are next to pointless. Most of us don't travel at speeds approaching that of light. And what about the confusion between "truth" and "belief"? At least, that's what EoR thinks Mr Harrison is referring to as "personal truths". Or maybe it's just the postmodernist fallacy that anything that is called "true" automatically becomes "truth".

EoR agrees with Mr Harrison's statement that
True believers are often narrow-minded and intolerant

except that it's a statement more about faith than truth. Faith demands absolute devotion, and cannot sanction questions, contradictory evidence, or change. Yet, most often, it is the most bigoted and staunch believers who cannot see themselves in that description.

Mr Harrison holds up Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini as exemplars of those who believed in an Absolute Truth. Yet, here again, he confuses truth for something else, in this case ethics and morality. Fundamentalists of any colour are believers in Absolute Truth. It doesn't mean they actually possess it. In fact, a refusal to investigate those truths is a dead giveaway of their shaky foundations.

Of course, the whole article is an espousal of fundamentalist Alternatista Theology:
The Truth is a fiction - an archetypal symbol rather than a reality.

In other words: Truth = Lies. Can anyone else see the logical fallacy in that statement?
Yet absolute truths do exist. These are the truths that are absolutely true for you at this time and place in your life.

In other words, anything you want to believe is true.

EoR wonders when truths such as "2+2=4" and "rain is wet" were supplanted, since, as Mr Harrison makes clear, no truths are eternal. Perhaps "2+2=George Gershwin" and "rain is ambidextrous" are the new paradigm?

The rest of the journal continues in a similar vein. For example, Jenny Albertson, Jungian psychotherapist, in her "Dreams" column writes
The Sacred Feminine is everywhere, as old as time itself.

EoR tends to disagree. The Sacred Feminine, by definition, could not exist until the advent of sexual reproduction (a tiny fraction* of the total time the universe (and hence, time) has existed). Of course, if you consider spiritual concepts such as the Sacred Feminine solely human constructs, then they have only existed for 100,000 years or less.

These people have studied and learnt well from Big Brother.
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. [...] Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.
George Orwell: 1984

*Does not include Young Earth Creationists.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Surrealistic Extravaganza

Insolitology recently featured RV Science.

The site, and its many subdomains, is an absolute hoot. Paranoid psychic stoner ramblings of the first order. EoR felt like he should be listening to Hawkwind's Space Ritual and smoking naughty cigarettes while browsing these pages. And there are so many. So so many. Madness takes its toll. Just click randomly (after all, the thoughts expressed therein all seem random) and you're sure a gem (literally: apart from the lunacy the main purpose of the sites seems to be to sell "psychic" crystals at huge prices).

From EoR's own explorations:

Psychic Warrior Shaman
Tim Rifat is the world's leading expert on matters Psychic, regularly predicting major government plans in advance of their release or instigation [...] Since the dark energy matter parasite that latches onto your mind is energy it can be drained, shredded or expelled. The 7 Psychotronic Crystals (PCs) do this by blocking all 7 dark energy matter dimensions simultaneously and sucking your personal dark energy matter parasite into a dark energy matter black hole so it's load of light energy matter can be passed to you. This frees your Awareness to begin exploration of Psi-Space. It also supplies you with a way of producing psychotronic Fuel (PF) to power your Awareness's journey into Psi-Space. [...] The Psychic Warrior Shaman is now ready to manipulate the Earth energies, the most powerful aspect of old/ancient Shamanism. The Six Grail BPCs/PCs manipulate the dragon Earth, tellunic, ley: energies. With the use of the Grail Stones the Psychic Warrior Shaman begins to drain the Earth energies in his/her city that sustain the Matrices of the: ADR: Matrix: Over-Matrix. As more Earth energy is take out of the Matrix Grid the city becomes a hole in the Archon's Matrix enabling the Psychic Warrior Shaman to step out of the Matrix at will or slip non Matrix energies, powers...

Psi-Lord Tim Rifat (how's that for modesty?)
The key powers of a Psi-Lord are complete control of the binding force that agglutinates energy filaments of the megaverse into seperate energy bodies, defining them as bubbles of infolded filaments. [...] Since all humans are zombies controlled by dark energy/matter archons, the Psi-Adept is faced with a totally hostile environment. [...] The energy centres on the midsection left side for Lucid Viewing, right for Lucid Dreaming can then be super-energised for shifts of the assemblage point using the Power Ring PCs or moreover using the Simarillion Power Orbs. [...] I have found biophysical augmented intelligences (BAIs) very useful as Psi helpers. These are made from your own micro-organisms. My RS and RV Courses (advanced) show how to utilise these BAIs for defense and offense. The same organisms that kill us can be tuned to help us so our physical bodies become immune to pathogens, a useful strategy in the time of bird flu....

RV Science
Tim Rifat is Europe's leading expert on remote viewing, psychic spying and Psi-warfare. As the only independent scientist in the field, he has had numerous articles already published, in Nexus Magazine, Alien Encounters, the X Factor...

Psychic Power Sex
Psychic Power Sex Crystals and other aids use the hollow cavity of inanimate objects to store sexual energy which has been inputted by turning the crystal into a PC using 4th dimensional klin bottle technology derived from Lucid Viewing the far future; and from Lucid Viewing the far past to explore alchemical marriages, grayal states and the fusion of male/female and all male/male female/female energies to produce more sexual energy than was there before the union.

Sex Engine
Having had Psi-sex with non human Blue Pulsar Princesses I can attest it is real and much more intense than human sex, one can even have children with the Pulsar Beings if one has a huge energy body able to withstand being expanded to 7 dimensions to enter their realm. [...] The Sex Engine consists of a Fate Engine coupled to a very exotic type of Bad Luck-Good Luck Engine. The first Fate Engine is a Kline Simulacra BPC/PC consisting of two quantum entangled Kline simulacra PG designed to psychokinetically bring about one event: your ultimate sexual partner brought to your Psi-space for sex, a simple A to B event. [...] The Zionist Illuminati have created psychic lifeforms called Golems to act as servitors, psychic servants to carry out their will; black magic that has made the Zionist Illuminati owners of the West. [...] Israel intelligence uses these Golems to psychically attack arabs and keep the West in line, the Zionist Illuminati use them as their personal demons to use to keep politicians in line and remotely influence enemies to destroy themselves.

Unfortunately, someone else seems to have "stolen" his technology:
All customers who have purchased products from RV Magic owned by Paul Hughes Barlow should be aware that he has been counterfeiting my products, as he was advertising I manufactured crystals for RV Magic which was false. Anyone having RV Magic crystals should be aware that their use with my protocols reverses their effects - you have been warned. I have received numerous reports of counterfeit crystals and psychotronic products causing illness, mental problems, possession and catastrophic bad luck. If you have bought any of these dangerous counterfeit items off conmen, please destroy and be sure to bury the remnants in running water or salt lined pits in the soil.

Mr Rifat, not being a conman of any kind, but rather a scientist published in all the big name scientific journals, and a philanthropic sort to boot, offers remedies for these soul destroying counterfeits at only $80 (what exactly do you call a counterfeit of a fake object anyway? now that's an idea Philip K Dick loved).

This is brilliant stuff. This guy must have spent hours writing what can only be described as the internet equivalent of Kurt Schwitter's Ur Sonata. This is performance art of the highest order. And as meaningless.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prayer: Handle With Care

A study on prayer has received some mention in the blogosphere recently (notably from God is for Suckers, Skeptic Rant and Hokum-Balderdash) so EoR won't rehash ground already covered, but he does find the newspaper reporting of it interesting.

As we know, newspaper headlines usually bear little if no relationship to the material covered in the accompanying article. For example, a study that shows acupuncture has no effect any different from sticking needles randomly into a person for headache relief (that is, all this woo about "meridians" and "acupuncture points" is total gibberish) can be reported as Acupuncture Eases Headache Pain, Study Shows. No. It doesn't.

This particular study is headed "Study: Praying Won't Affect Heart Patients" but includes the following result:
The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent of those who were told it was just a possibility.

To EoR this contradicts the headline. A more appropriate headline, surely, would have been "Prayer Harms Patients" or "Prayer Dangerous"?

Personally, EoR suspects the nocebo effect. Or it could just be that they prayed to the wrong god.