Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Invisible Gorillas

EoR has previously noted the invisible gorilla (via the invisible bear) effect. The gorilla seems to have preceded the bear and so Professor Bradshaw was correct in referring to the gorilla as the animal exemplar of this selective perception effect.

There's a bunck of videos available, including the original, but Dan's "Monkey Business Illusion" is also well worth watching, even if you've seen the bear version and think you know what's going on.

There's also a whole book on the subject.

This experiment reveals two things: that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and that we have no idea that we are missing so much. To our surprise, it has become one of the best-known experiments in psychology. It is described in most introductory textbooks and is featured in more than a dozen science museums. It has been used by everyone from preachers and teachers to corporate trainers and terrorist hunters, not to mention characters on the TV show C.S.I., to help explain what we see and what we don't see. And it got us thinking that many other intuitive beliefs that we have about our own minds might be just as wrong. We wrote The Invisible Gorilla to explore the limits of human intuition and what they mean for ourselves and our world.

This has a wider importance than simply scientific research though. As a sometime bicyclist, EoR is well aware of how invisible he is to drivers.

Most people believe that unexpected or unusual events draw attention, perhaps even more than typical events. Why? In part, the belief is based on our experiences. When, on occasion, we happen to notice something unusual or unexpected, that event is remarkable. We take mental note of it and remember it. When we notice a typical or expected event, that’s unremarkable. Critically, we are, by definition, unaware of any events we don’t notice. If we fail to notice unexpected events more than expected ones, we won’t be aware of those probabilities. (...) A 42 year old bicyclist was riding down Highway 18 in the Town of Summit (in Wisconsin) when he was struck from behind by a 20 year old driver. According to the article, police are still investigating why the driver didn’t see the cyclist, but Officer Dana Hazelton noted that bicyclists rarely ride on the highway because “There’s actually a bicycle trail that’s just south of Highway 18 that’s probably 20 feet off the road that’s made for bicyclists.” In other words, people don’t expect to see bicyclists riding on the side of the highway, so they are less likely to notice them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Homeopathy is a Religion After All

Andy points EoR to this report: Victoria tries to dilute homoeopathy problem.

A red-faced Victoria (New Zealand) University is distancing itself from a homoeopathy course offered through its continuing education programme.

"Homoeopathy: increasing your health awareness" will teach participants about the "internationally recognised, scientific medical system" in a one-off lecture.

The lecture is being given by "Art Buehler, the senior religious studies lecturer". Well, EoR can certainly see the link between religion and homeopathy. Faith in the face of all evidence to the contrary. The ritual gestures (succussion). The ritual text (Hahnemann's Organum).

EoR can also imagine just how the lecture is going to go:

Then there's this slightly older gem that EoR has discovered: Increase your height.

Forget about growth hormone injection or limb lengthening operation. They are way to expensive and dangerous for you. What you need is a safe, effective and affordable way to grow taller naturally and easily by using homoeopathic medicine

EoR loves seeing homeopathic 'doctors' arguing with each other. It reminds him of Edward Lear's and Lewis Carroll's (rather better) efforts. One advises:

I think, Baryta Carb 30 on alternate days is much better than to give it three times a day. Dr.D.Sharma, please don't mind.

So, taking the correct variety of (identical) water on the correct days is really important.

The full debate (which EoR admits he has not read beyond the first page) goes on for 33 incredibly mind numbing pages. At least it keeps them off the street.

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
And the Beaver, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of its tail,
For the daylight was nearly past.

"There is Thingumbob shouting!" the Bellman said,
"He is shouting like mad, only hark!
He is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
He has certainly found a Snark!"

A Bunch of Bankers

Security of your financial data when using online banking is extremely important. This is why JP Morgan Chase bank is limiting access to its website to only those browsers which meet their rigourously high security standards. From July 18, 2010 if you use the wrong (insecure) browser you may not be able to access their site.

Why are some browsers not supported?
There are two primary reasons—security and popularity. There are dozens of browsers in use today, but not all offer the minimum levels of security that we require while others may not perform well with our site. The security of your accounts and private information is one of our highest priorities and some browsers, especially older versions, are simply higher security risks to use with our site.

As for popularity, we continually monitor the types of browsers that customers use to access our site. Based on that information, we know that supported browsers are used by more than 95% of our customers. If a new browser begins to grow in popularity, we will assess and test its security and performance with our site to determine whether or not we should support its use.

Why do I get a “Page Not Found” error now when I go to your site?
You may be using an outdated browser that we don't support. There are dozens of browsers in use today, but not all offer the minimum levels of security that we require while others may not perform well with our site. We strongly recommend that you upgrade your existing browser to one that we support. We strongly recommend that you upgrade your existing browser to one that we support.

So if a browser is blocked from their site, how will they be able to tell it has increased in popularity? And while some browser statistics (a notoriously arcane and inaccurate art) indicate some browsers have a lower percentage of users, on the internet that can still be millions of people, and thousands for any particular popular site. It's like a business excluding customers because they are wearing the wrong colour shirt. The only effect is to reduce clientele and damage the business's bottom line.

So, which particularly secure, popular browsers are the select few to meet the high standards of the Chase bank? Safari 3 or higher, Firefox 2 or higher, and Internet Explorer 6 or higher.

Internet Explorer 6? Perhaps the worst browser ever and the oldest, least compliant, browser still in use? A browser full of security holes? A browser even Microsoft doesn't want you to use?

There are also issues of accessibility since disabled users require specific browsers that have such low usage they don't even appear on the statistics, and mobile access (it seems no mobile users access JPMorgan Chase).

EoR feels that the JPMorgan Chase bank may, like so many before them, suffer the Streisand Effect (and many, many more sites).

This is not an approach taken by other banks. EoR's bank is quite happy to work with a browser considered 'insecure' by JPMorgan Chase. Another, PNC Bank, states:

PNC uses Extended Validation Secure Socket Layer Certificates (EV SSL) which works with high security browsers (Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.0, Opera 9.0, Safari 3.2, and their next generation browser versions, as well as Flock, Google Chrome and iPhone), to help you recognize when you are at the legitimate PNC site and not a "spoofed" site.

Oh, look! They're all those browsers JPMorgan Chase don't want to know about.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Somewhere in Perth...

In a homeopath's consulting rooms, a woman is having her cancer 'treated'...

Google shows 108,000 results for homeopathy cancer treatment perth (excluding as many of the Dingle links as possible).

Of course, as Michelle Hookham, President of the Australian Homeopathic Association reminds us, It is against the code of conduct for homeopaths to claim that they can cure or treat cancer.. It may be against the code of conduct, but it appears it doesn't stop them from doing it.

Clearly the Australian Homeopathic Association is just as effective in controlling its members absolute lack of standards as the treatment they promote is effective in curing or treating cancer.

World Homeopathy Week at Dr Boli's Celebrated Magazine

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Art of Anatomy

Gunther von Hagens is the sometimes (okay, often) controversial anatomist and showman who developed the process of plastination to preserve bodies. His work has been displayed in his Bodyworks exhibition, and in such television shows as Anatomy for Beginners. His latest exhibition moves from humans to animals and, while his work is certainly confronting, it can also be incredibly beautiful. Like this giraffe soaring up into the light in its sectional majesty:

More images here (caution: if you find the wonders of anatomy revealed not to your taste you may wish to go elsewhere).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thistle Thoughts

EoR, having accidentally sat on some thistles, ponders the Nature of Things...

If homeopathy can cure anything can it cure a belief in homeopathy?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The True Way to Cancer Freedom

Dr Dingle has recently been the subject of much opprobrium for the death of his wife from cancer. His wife chose to use homeopathy and special nutrition to attempt to treat her cancer, and refused conventional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

This is clearly the way to treat cancer, at least in animals, and it is clearly not breaking the law for an Australian company to be selling products claiming this.

Holistic Animal Medicines Pty Ltd state quite unequivocally:

Most types of cancers can be treated with natural medicines although the success rate can be much higher when the pet has had no, or minimal, chemotherapy or surgery prior to commencing natural therapies. This is because toxins in chemotherapy have serious side effects, surgery is both invasive and traumatic, and the routine drugs associated with cancer treatment can a seriously detrimental effect on the animal's immune function.

Strangely, they also state

This Cancer Support mix can be used in conjunction with other alternative medicines also, or with orthodox medical treatments including radio and chemo therapies.

But wouldn't that lower the powerful 'supporting' powers of the homeopathic water?

Readers will notice that while there are some weasel words on the page, such as 'cancer support', the page also clearly claims these are 'cancer treatments'. Indeed, the solution for bladder cancer, for example, boldly claims that it will reverse the growth of cancer, and bring about remission. Only $A120 (excluding GST — an advertising method the ACCC frowns upon).

If your dog has leukaemia, there's a treatment for that as well (though it's a little more expensive at $A150 — EoR presumes it's a little harder to treat).

Notice how the images of all the different treatments look exactly the same. Of course, this can't be true, since they've each individually come into contact with a molecule or two of their powerful active ingredients once, long ago and still remember the incredible healing power of their vibratory emanations. Either that, or it's all just water. Or alcohol. Anyway, we know you can easily tell homeopathic remedies apart, because they have different labels. Otherwise they're completely identical.

Promote Homeopathy: Stop This Crazy Thing!!!

Perth homeopaths

In Which EoR Refrains From Making Any Prick Jokes

It's not uncommon for people to be jailed on shonky evidence. One such questionable case has recently been highlighted in Vietnam.

There are some damning inconsistencies between witnesses and police statements, alibis have been ignored and, most tellingly of all, they couldn't have raped anyone because acupuncture proves they're all virgins!

However, it was not until Doctor Pham Thi Hong from Ha Dong General Hospital stepped in, submitting appeals to related agencies, did the procuracy review the case, VnExpress reported.

Hong, who has spent many years studying traditional medicine, especially acupuncture points and meridians, told Hanoi-based newspaper Dang yeu that her involvement with the case began in 2006 when she met Loi, who came to the hospital where she worked for a health check-up, another news website Vietnamnet reported.

Loi kept crying and telling her that he didn’t commit the crimes and that he had never even had sex with a woman. Hong checked a meridian under his earlobe, which, according to traditional medicine, can identify whether a man is a virgin or not, the news source said.

According to Hong, the meridian breaks after a man has sex, as it’s penetrated by a “flow of yin air” from his partner. Hong's check showed that Loi’s meridian was still intact.

However, as only those who study traditional medicine know about the meridian, Hong said it couldn’t act as convincing evidence.

She then researched the case and found various details to be unclear with conflicting information, Vietnamnet said.

The doctor sent hundreds of appeals to related agencies, and threatened to burn herself to claim the young men’s innocence.

Traditional medicine. So wonderful. So incredible. So.... unbelievable.

Arctic Circle

Arctic Circle

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gathering Moss

Dr Peter Dingle is currently doing the media rounds, including this interview on ABC radio in which he mentions how he knew nothing about homeopathy, and in fact downloaded 'the Moss Report' which informed him that homeopathy didn't work to cure cancer when his wife was diagnosed.

EoR is not questioning Dr Dingle's recollections, since that is clearly how he remembers it, but he finds the conclusion reached regarding homeopathy's non-efficacy puzzling.

There appears to be no actual 'Moss Report' but rather a whole slew of them. Dr Moss is described as

a leading author and consultant on cancer treatment, The Moss Reports provides you with a detailed, yet very readable, explanation of your particular cancer diagnosis. Bear in mind that Ralph Moss is not a medical doctor, and his information and advice are not substitutes for competent medical care.

EoR wonders why anyone would seek reputable health information from someone who isn't a (medical) doctor?

More information about him states

Moss is the author of such books as Antioxidants Against Cancer, Cancer Therapy, Questioning Chemotherapy, and The Cancer Industry, as well as the award-winning PBS documentary The Cancer War. He also wrote the first article on alternative medicine for The Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook and the first article on complementary cancer treatments for a medico-legal textbook, Courtroom Medicine: Cancer (Matthew Bender). He is co-editor of the first medical textbook in English on non-conventional treatments for cancer, Complementary Oncology (Thieme, 2005).

There seems to be a certain slant to the treatment approach he deals with, but EoR will withhold judgement. Though he does note that Alternative Cancer Treatment Protocols strongly urges

THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMODITY is knowledge. If you've perused this site, you already know that I am skeptical about any miracle cures, many of which you have no doubt seen advertised on the internet. Most of it is sheer manure, and the vendors are shamelessly profiteering on the misery of the afflicted. On the other hand, I've had two friends die this year of cancer. Both elected to absorb the full barrage of chemotherapy (one had a stem cell transplant). Both died after suffering terribly from the treatment. If they would have had the right knowledge, one might have lived, and the other could have had a more humane passing. Having said all of this, let me cut right to the chase. The most knowledgeable person I know of when it comes to ALL the issues is Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. A Biography of Dr. Moss is at the end of this section. Not only is Dr. Moss knowledgeable about the scientific aspects of cancer, he has a profound empathy and unique insight into the psycho-spiritual dynamics as well.

Well, EoR is prepared to believe that a Classics PhD knows more about cancer than an oncologist. After all, a Classics graduate knows more about climate change than climate scientists.

So what does Dr Moss (not a medical doctor) actually have to say about homeopathy?

2010: A landmark paper on homeopathy and cancer has appeared in the February 2010 issue of the International Journal of Oncology. Scientists at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDA), led by Moshe Frenkel, MD, have confirmed the ability of four homeopathic remedies to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast cancer cell lines in the laboratory. The scientists in question were from the Integrative Medicine Program, the Department of Molecular Pathology, and the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology of MDA. Their two Indian collaborators were from the Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, Kolkata, India, where these same remedies are employed clinically with apparent success. The four ultra-dilute remedies in question were Carcinosin, Phytolacca, Conium and Thuja.

2010: There is no end of critics of homeopathy on the Internet and elsewhere, who consider homeopathy to be quackeryand believe it is their bounden duty to expose this fraud whenever possible. They have trouble stretching their minds and imagining that there are other possible explanations for the action of homeopathic remedies—in other words, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their philosophy.


MD Anderson is ranked (by U.S. News) as America's number one cancer center and so it will be particularly interesting to see if the professional skeptics will try discredit this study with their usual sort of personal attacks. I hope that this outstanding paper will be a tipping point, wherein conventional science is finally forced to re-evaluate its rigid opposition to this puzzling but fascinating mode of treatment.

2006: If you are not familiar with Ode, you should be. It began publishing in Holland in 1995. Because of the magazine's success in Europe the publishers launched a US version in 2003. (There is also a Portuguese version.) In recent years, the magazine has earned an increasingly wide readership and a respected place in investigative journalism. Ode maintains a gratifyingly open-minded position towards non-conventional developments in medicine. For instance, last month's issue carried a generally favorable article on homeopathy. I urge you to subscribe to both of these excellent publications.

2005: Dr. Brodie had an eclectic practice. He continued to use Laetrile, but often combined his treatments with those of more conventional oncologists as well. His methods included the use of many natural substances, including herbal preparations, homeopathic treatments, intravenous vitamins and minerals, biological response modifiers, and a number of non-toxic materials, designed to activate and enhance the immune system. These were sometimes given in combination with chemotherapy and radiation, when appropriate. He believed that this combination could almost always reduce the adverse effects of conventional therapies.

2004: So, what about unconventional practitioners who spout strange theories and sport obscure degrees? There are certainly some of those, and part of the reason for their continued existence is that there is little or no organized credentialing apparatus in place for many kinds of complementary and alternative medicine. On the one hand, there are genuine schools of naturopathy, homeopathy, hypnosis, acupuncture, etc., which require long, rigorous and expensive courses of study before they will grant a well earned degree. These schools turn out skilled practitioners who offer valuable services to the community, usually at reasonable prices.

And a 2004 article in which he berates the establishment for ignoring such cancer treatments as laetrile, and Rife machines, ending with the rousing injunction

When the public and the Congress rise up against this intolerable situation — and they will — short-sighted oncologists will have no one to blame but themselves.

There's nothing there from the period when EoR imagines Dr Dingle might have been searching for information, so it may be that Dr Moss has changed his opinion of homeopathy since then, though it is more than abundantly clear that he certainly (now) believes homeopathy (among other alternative treatments) is very effective and not to be ignored at all in the treatment of cancer.

Addendum: Dr Dingle, in a post on his blog, comments

The Moss report, the most definitive report on rectal cancer also said have an operation as did the information we got from the National Institute of Health in the US when the cancer was first diagnosed.

EoR is no kind of medical expert, but he feels that Dr Moss's reports are not 'the most definitive'.

Guest Blogger

The highest power in our State has been forced to declare, through the workings of over-legislation, that the allopathic system is the only one at present recognized by the State, and so has reinstated in his position a noted allopathic physician in the Health Board. Before this decision of the Governor's was made known, there was a war of lancets, and many hard pills to swallow were administered by the rival homeopaths and allopaths. Among arguments used were those founded on the questionable statistics of the number of patients who recovered while being treated by the rival systems. Some sarcastic people, justified by the saying of the well-known Oliver Wendell Holmes, may be of the opinion that more people get well in spite of the doctors than by their help, and that a doctor is as likely to be famous from the number that he kills as from that which he cures. Something like this might have passed through the Governor's mind, for evidently he was undecided under which king death to speak or die, and showed that he is like most laymen, inclined to be eclectic; for immediately after the appointment of the allopath to that Board which will authoritatively recommend the kind of physic good for the public bowels in the event of the spread of an epidemic, and which poor patients will be forced to swallow, whatever their medical code may be, the Governor paid the high but rather sarcastic compliment to homeopathy of appointing one of its disciples to a place on the Board of Commissioners for the new State Lunatic Asylum to be located at Poughkeepsie. No doubt, the Governor thought that people divested of reason could offer no reasons against the appointment; and that if the lunatics were not improved by sugar pills, they would at least die sweetly -- a lunatic more or less being of little account. Thus it is officially settled that allopathy is good for the sane and homeopathy for the insane.
Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

H is for Homeopathy and Hoodwinking

EoR doesn't pretend to understand the way homeopathic associations are structured, nor their precise links to each other, but the Australian Register of Homeopaths Ltd links to, among others, the Australian Homeopathic Association, of which Madeleine Innocent is the WA President. As the Register notes:

Click Here to see links to the home pages of member associations, all of whose professional members are accredited by AROH

Therefore, EoR must presume they support Ms Innocent's assertion that homeopathy cures everything. She is, after all, accredited and a President of a topnotch reliable homeopathic association.

Yet another association (how many of these things are there? why so many?) linked to (and therefore its members are also 'accredited') is the The Australian Association of Professional Homeopaths Inc. (presumably, the other associations are for nonprofessional homeopaths). Here is the front page, just as EoR encountered it (click to enlarge):

While a Coronial Inquiry is taking place in Perth over the death of a woman who used homeopathy to attempt to cure her rectal cancer, the Australian Association of Professional(!) Homeopaths Inc. is touting a cancer cure on their front page, and not just any cancer cure, but a colon cancer cure! The front page links to an even more delusional page.

The foetus in the womb can be treated homoeopathically to minimize the likelihood of inherited diseases. (...) Always drink at least one litre of pure water a day, even though you may not be thirsty. Water is the most vital of all nutrients, which is critical for temperature regulation, kidney function, and to prevent constipation and colon cancer.

Oh, if only Penelope Dingle had drunk some water every day, things would be very different today...

Thistle Thoughts

EoR, having accidentally sat on some thistles, ponders the Nature of Things...

Which is more offensive? Blasphemy, or disco?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

H is for Homeopathy and Hocus-Pocus

Some excerpts from the Australian Homeopathy Association Code of Conduct:

1.5 Members shall refrain from employing, offering or undertaking work or advice beyond their professional competence.
2.4 Patients whose state of health is deteriorating shall not be attended indefinitely without the member in charge suggesting or insisting upon a consultation with at least one other practitioner to confirm the assessment and treatment.
2.7 Where there is evidence of a problem or a condition with which the member is not competent to deal, it is essential that this be made clear to the patient and that the patient is referred to an appropriate practitioner.
2.9 In announcing homœopathic services, members shall state no more than the place and time of their practice, their qualifications and the services they are offering. The information contained in such announcements shall be factual and explanatory, not in the form of emotionally persuasive advertising, not claiming superior competency or implying cure of any named disease and not offering guarantees of a particular outcome as an inducement.

EoR is confused, and wonders how claiming to cure cancer, depression and autism does not contravene these points.

The Code provides a longwinded method to process complaints, but EoR also wonders how any complaint can also be reconciled with the following point:

3.1 Members shall not criticise the skill and judgement of any practitioner, nor make any remark or statement that may undermine the patient’s confidence in that practitioner.

EoR doesn't, however, have to wonder how this might be relevant to the current Coronial Inquiry into the death of Penelope Dingle since, even before the Inquiry has handed down its findings, the Australian Homeopathic Association is already shoring up its defenses (since the filename includes 'Bingle' EoR doesn't know whether this is an editorial comment, or the AHA just can't get any of its facts right):

The AHA is not privy to the full details of the case. However, it would appear that the coronial inquiry is about the management of the case by the husband and the practitioner, not the efficacy of homeopathy. The AHA takes this matter very seriously and awaits the outcome of the inquiry to understand the nature of the allegations made.

Homeopathy is a complementary medicine. It can be used in conjunction with mainstream medicine and other modalities. It is against the Code of Conduct for Homeopaths to claim that they can cure or treat cancer. However, homeopathic medicines can be used to support and help to relieve symptoms in cancer patients, in conjunction with other treatments. An integrated health care approach is the most appropriate in cases of severe pathology.

People seeking homeopathic services should ensure that the practitioner is registered with the Australian Register of Homeopaths. AROH registered practitioners meet the government endorsed competency standards and are bound by Codes of Conduct. These codes state that practitioners need to refer on or seek a second opinion if the case is not responding to treatment.

Empty words indeed, when the WA President of the Australian Homeopathic Association claims homeopathy can cure "everything" including cancer. The efficacy of homeopathy is, indeed, in question, since it was the failure of homeopathy that led to Penelope Dingle's death. Or do the AHA believe homeopathy cured her cancer even though she died?

It seems to EoR that the AHA Press Release is basically saying that homeopathy can't cure anything, doesn't work, and if you're going to use it, make sure you use it with real medicine (because that's the bit that might cure you — unlike homeopathy, real medicine doesn't actually claim to cure "everything" everytime).

A complaint to the Therapeutic Goods Administration would also seem to be pointless. While not a toothless tiger, the TGA continues to keep its mouth firmly closed, purring softly occasionally when disturbed by someone lodging a complaint before returning to its gentle dozing state.

STEVE CANNANE: Dr Ken Harvey made a complaint against Homeopathy Plus! to the Complaints Resolution Panel. They review potential breaches of the advertising code in relation to therapeutic goods.

DR KEN HARVEY: The complaint resolution panel agreed there was a breach of at least nine sections of the Code and one sections of the Therapeutic Goods Act, including very serious sections such as promoting to the general public the treatment of serious diseases for which there was no evidence of efficacy.

STEVE CANNANE: The Complaints Resolution Panel asked Fran Sheffield to remove the claims about immunisation, and to publish a retraction which included the statement:

(Excerpt from Complaints Resolution Panel request)
VOICEOVER: We did not provide adequate evidence to support the claims made in the advertisement, and the Panel found that the claims were unlawful, misleading, and unverified and breached the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.

STEVE CANNANE: But Fran Sheffield has refused to publish the retraction. She says she wasn't advertising - merely providing information, and sufficient evidence to back up claims about homeopathic immunisation.


STEVE CANNANE: Fran Sheffield is not alone. In 2009 a third of those found to breach the code failed to comply with the panel's recommendations.

If a failure to comply is reported to the panel, it goes back to the Therapeutic Goods Administration or TGA. But what happens next is a mystery. The TGA does not publicise what action it takes.


STEVE CANNANE: But in the meantime, practitioners are able to continue to make questionable claims about various remedies without fear of sanctions.

A recent Homeopathy Plus! email alert was headed "Homeopathy as Good as Chemotherapy for breast cancer."

H is for Homeopathy and Horror

Madeleine Innocent, WA President of the Australian Homeopathic Association, is a prolific health researcher. She has 1,100 important articles full of factual information and life-saving advice at ezinearticles. You can tell they're true because she's an 'expert'. Clearly, homeopathy is the best magic around.

It can cure broken bones. Injured in your home? Don't call an ambulance, whip out the magic water drops instead!

3. Homeopathic treatment is fast when the appropriate treatment is used. Pain, inflammation, limited movement can all improve dramatically within minutes.

4. Homeopathy does not mask or suppress the symptoms. It either works extremely well, or does nothing (when inappropriate treatment is used).

Yes! Homeopathy is so effective that it both stops pain within minutes, but doesn't mask the symptoms! It also works or it doesn't! Hint to Ms Innocent: this actally applies to anything at all ever anywhere. It can probably also think of six impossible things before breakfast!

It's also well known that homeopathy can cure eczema. It can totally heal back pain. Head injuries are another success story (a sign that the homeopathic woo fairies are working is that you may start feeling sleepy — call EoR stupid, but if he had someone with a head injury who was falling asleep, he'd be rushing them to Emergency at a real Hospital). EoR has already noted that homeopathy also cures depression, but it also cures diabetes, arthritis, and it can reverse autism:

According to the history of evidence in homeopathy, vaccinations are the main cause, if not the only cause, of autism, ADD and ADHD. Vaccinations, as well as the vast majority of medical drugs, work by depressing your immunity.

Eor's immune system must be lowered, since he's feeling depressed by now. Ms Innocent: given that 'evidence in homeopathy' is an oxymoron, there is no truth in your completely wrong and inaccurate understanding of autism and ADHD at all.

Ms Innocent's illogical thought processes are also clear when discussing why homeopathy is the best all-round health modality:

Homeopathic treatment is based on 'doing no harm', not only in its treatment, but also in the production of its medicines. Although some animals have lost their lives in the production of the medicines, almost exclusively insects, most are based on plant and mineral origins. Due to the nature of homeopathic treatment, this occurs only once. It does not need to be repeated.

Killing is acceptable, and harmless. And what about all that careless bandying about of antimatter?

With such a conflicting mindset, is it little wonder that you get one homeopath claiming that homeopathy can cure everything and that no homeopathic medicine* has ever been withdrawn for any reason, while another homeopathic organisation has withdrawn homeopathic treatment for malaria because it doesn't work.

EoR has, so far, only looked at the first page of articles listed by Ms Innocent. He doesn't have the strength to continue at this stage. Clearly, his immune system is depressed, his qi is stagnant, and he is probably surrounded by negative thoughts. Time for some drops of water — sorry, homeopathy.

*Another oxymoron, of course.

Monday, June 21, 2010

H is for Homeopathy and Hyprocrisy

According to the West Australian:

Homeopathy can be used to treat serious illnesses such as cancer and heart conditions, according to a leading practitioner of the alternative medicine in WA.

This practitioner is Madeleine Innocent, WA President of the Australian Homeopathic Association. It does seem rather a rigid, hierarchical, one might say almost patriarchal and paternalistic structure for such an anti-establishment belief system, but EoR has never noticed that consistency or insight has been a particular strength of homeopathic adherents.

According to Ms Innocent:

(Homeopathy) worked in many cases for all ailments, including potentially life-threatening conditions. (...) homeopathy could reverse serious symptoms, such as clogged arteries. (...) There actually isn't anything that homeopathy can't treat.

Of course, in some rare, tragic cases, homeopathy fails. This is clearly not due to any failing on the part of the magical art of homeopathy, but the patient's fault:

It can get to a stage where homeopathy can't help because you've left it too long and then homeopathy can only palliate.

As Ms Innocent has stated, homeopathy can cure anything. Depression for example, where the implication is that drugs for depression are bad, and homeopathy (ie water drops) are much better. As Ms Innocent so tellingly states:

treating your depression homeopathically may cost you in the short term

Especially if suicidal ideation is not treated, EoR imagines. What are Ms Innocent's qualifications for dealing with such issues?

Cancer of course, is a doddle for homeopathy to cure. If this makes any sense to you, you're doing better than EoR:

Life's piano can only produce melodies of brother- and sisterhood when it is recognised that the black keys are as basic, necessary and beautiful as the white keys.

Ms Innocent also urges you to consider your cancer your 'friend'. Barbara Ehrenreich, a cancer sufferer (not a cancer friend) would strongly disagree.

Ms Innocent's methods for dealing with your cancer — sorry, your friend, sounds horribly like the way Penelope Dingle hoped to cure her cancer, which would seem to indicate a pattern of bizarre beliefs across all homeopaths:

Next decision is, who do you tell? My suggestion is that you only tell those people who will be positive and support you whatever you decide to do. While most people mean well, some will be negative or judgemental and you need your strength for you, not for others.

Her website is full of links to other equally bizarre sites including, of course, the 'fact' that vaccinations are the work of the Big Pharma Devil (the quality of her links is evidenced by the fact that her very first one is to a Natural News Report about ex-Dr Andrew Wakefield. Clearly, Ms Innocent fails to keep up her scientifically accurate research to take into account new information — which is hardly surprising, since the whole basis of homeopathy is an unchanging belief in a 200 year old hypothesis). Cell phones cause cancer and they can cook eggs! This is a supposed 'health' practitioner who is happy to publish a disproved urban legend on her site for people concerned about cancer! This was shown to be nothing more than a joke in 2006, but Ms Innocent (the President of WA's Homeopaths) still has this entirely fake claim on her website. How do these people get away with it? EoR can only say this woman is no kind of reliable source of information and if she is the best WA's Homeopaths can offer (as her position would seem to indicate) then EoR is stunned.

Her claims about how homeopathy is such a wonderful, spiritual, fairy-dust laden journey of lightness and joy seem like a mockery in the light of what happened to Penelope Dingle:

When you start to use homoeopathic treatment for all your health concerns, the process subtly changes your perspective on life. Over time you relax more, shift your focus, let things go more easily, naturally move towards a healthier approach to life. Materialism becomes less important. Inner peace becomes your focus. Relationships improve. People can no longer easily push your buttons.

This is in perfect natural balance. Ill health is more about the unresolved emotional energy that creates physical ill health as a result, than apparently appearing out of nowhere.

Enjoy the journey. The destination will take care of itself.

Penelope Dingle's 'destination' was death.

Gloria Sam's 'destination' was death.

Bradshaw, Bears, Biases

Here's John Bradshaw, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at Monash University, discussing perceptions and how easy they are to fool.

(M)y mother, in her final years living in the family home, regularly claimed that all the neighbours, and in fact everyone in the street, had left, either permanently or on vacation, and that she was some kind of survivor in an otherwise empty world. And indeed, that was probably how it was for her. When we showed her the neighbour on one side washing his car, and the one on the other side mowing the lawn, she would rationalise that they must have come back for a while, though in a few minutes she would again have forgotten that she'd seen them, and return to her solipsistic and lonely world. Thus confabulation involves the generation of 'fabricated' accounts of events or experiences, not necessarily deliberately, or with conscious intent, to compensate for and make sense of the paucity of retained information in memory. As a form of 'honest lying', it illustrates the constructive nature of autobiographical memory - something which, in this era of 'recovered memories' in the context of possible child abuse, we should always be aware of from a forensic viewpoint.

This, sadly, reminds EoR of all the anecdotal reports that homeopathy (and a plethora of other implausible therapies, such as reiki, faith healing, bowen etc etc) works because people claim to have "seen" an improvement. Professor Bradshaw also relates an interesting experiment where participants were told that the brightness of a background would change with a rising and falling tone (in fact, it didn't). Nonetheless, participants' pupils dilated as if it were.

Alternative practitioners (and their patients), because they want to believe, see what they expect. Even if you're ostensibly looking at it independently, aware of possible perceptual biases, Professor Bradshaw discusses some of the errors we are prone to. How much more so when we disregard those possibilities completely, in favour of a prejudicial outcome?

Professor Bradshaw also has some interesting remarks on the placebo and nocebo effects, and also mentions this famous advertisement:

Which rather begs the question, in a talk dedicated to the fallacies of perception and memory, why does Professor Bradshaw remember a gorilla instead of a bear?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guest Blogger

Global warming's story begins with a diabolical bastard named Karl Marx.

Born in Germany in 1818, Marx lived sixty-five years during which time his twisted mind conceived an atrocious plot to infect the world with his godless philosophy of "organized collectivism" — a.k.a. communism, or, for the more politically correct, socialism.

Since his death in 1883, the global carnage wrought in his name by committed devotees is unfathomable. Commencing with the Russian Revolution in 1917 to the present, Marx's blood-red ideology has been responsible for the documented deaths of over 110 million individuals around the world. Hundreds of millions more have been forced to live in oppressed societies, void of the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Finally, after decades of stealthy determination, the quixotic conjectures of Marx have seeped into the framework of the United States, with the most effectual being the supposed environmental crisis known as global warming or climate change.

p ix

Hitler's rise to power was unparalleled, and surrounding countries soon were concerned about the dangers of Nazi expansion. After a highly publicized meeting between Hitler and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of England, Chamberlain heralded to the world, "I believe it is peace in our time." Soon after the prime minister's words were gobbled up and then regurgitated by the press, Hitler unleashed a ferocious campaign of terror upon the European continent and beyond.

Niemoeller later famously lamented that he didn't do enough to stop Hitler's reign of evil: "Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

If good people, like Niemoeller, wished they had vehemently spoken out as the most horrific lie in the history of the world was being carried out before their eyes, do we have any excuse for not confronting those promoting this shameful scam of man-caused global warming?

No, we don't. Our country is in the throes of change, evil change designed to dismantle us and force us into a global political and economic system with unprecedented speed and on widespread levels not seen in this country since the days of America's Revolution. Perhaps we're past due for another. Personally, I refuse to remain silent about the literal betrayal and destruction of our still great nation, albeit a nation crippled by its own government.


Sussman, B. (2010). Climategate: a veteran meteorologist exposes the global warming scam. Washington DC: WND Books.

On the Application of Homeopathy in the Treatment of Serious Diseases Including Cancer (3)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Andrew Bolt Reveals Stupidity Again. Millions Unsurprised.

EoR recently noted how Andrew Bolt loves to cherry pick and quote mine to support his contention that global warming was created by a sinister cadre of only a handful of scientists.

EoR noted how a single, out of context sentence, had gone viral on the denialosphere and how, in actuality, it didn't support the deniers' plaintive wailings at all.

Now the author of that in-press review has now issued a 'correction and clarification':

Three things should be clear from this. First, I did not say the ‘IPCC misleads’ anyone – it is claims that are made by other commentators, such as the caricatured claim I offer in the paper, that have the potential to mislead. Second, they have a potential to mislead if they give the impression that every statement in IPCC reports is ‘signed off’ by every IPCC author and reviewer. Patently they are not, and cannot. Third, it is the chapter lead authors – say 10 to 20 experts - on detection and attribution who craft the sentence about detection and attribution, which is then scrutinised and vetted by reviewers and government officials. Similarly, statements about what may happen to the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) of the ocean are crafted by those expert in ocean science, statements about future sea-level rise by sea-level experts, and so on.

The point of this bit of our article was to draw attention to the need for a more nuanced understanding of what an IPCC ‘consensus’ is – as I say: “Without a careful explanation about what it means, this drive for consensus can leave the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism.” The IPCC consensus does not mean – clearly cannot possibly mean – that every scientist involved in the IPCC process agrees with every single statement in the IPCC! Some scientists involved in the IPCC did not agree with the IPCC’s projections of future sea-level. Giving the impression that the IPCC consensus means everyone agrees with everyone else – as I think some well-meaning but uninformed commentaries do (or have a tendency to do) – is unhelpful; it doesn’t reflect the uncertain, exploratory and sometimes contested nature of scientific knowledge.

Mike Hulme, Norwich
15 June 2010

It would be curmudgeonly of EoR to note that all climate deniers appear to agree with every single faked 'fact' promoted by people like Andrew Bolt. So he won't. And why are they ignoring the real threat to humanity?

On the Application of Homeopathy in the Treatment of Serious Diseases Including Cancer (2)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God Kills Son Again. Hilarity Ensues.

As the Washington Post reports, it appears God is trying to slay his son again:

A bolt struck a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ on Monday outside a church in Monroe, Ohio, and the statue erupted in flames. All that remains is a charred steel skeleton, its spindly arms stretched toward heaven, a gesture that once earned it the nickname "Touchdown Jesus."

But perhaps God was simply avoiding a terrible tragedy?

Darlene Bishop, co-pastor of Solid Rock Church, says she's simply relieved that the lightning hit Jesus and not the home for at-risk women next door.

Which rather begs the question as to why He bothered sending the bolt out of the blue at all.

The article sadly resorts to the unproven, faith-based explanation promoted by the Church of Science that tall objects are likely to get hit by lightning. Clearly this is not a reasonable explanation. If it really were true, how can it be that no statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has ever been hit by lightning?

Actually, EoR suspects that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was actually aiming at Russia. In stark contrast to the unproven 'theory' of evolution, there is abundant evidence of His Noodly Goodness in the wonderful miracle that is creation. How else to explain the worldwide existence of pasta?

The Circus Comes to Town (Again)

Well, after the scientifically challenged Monckton whirlwind tour of exaggeration and disinformation, it's time for the second rank performers to strut their stuff. Anthony Watts ("A former television meteorologist"), David Archibald ("An Australian scientist operating in the fields of climate science and cancer research") and David Stockwell ("Former U.S. scientist") will be coming to a (cooling) town near you.

EoR wonders why they're charging for their tour, when it's apparently dissimulating climate scientists who are only in it for the grant money. Surely Big Oil and Big Mining have a few dollars lying around to help them out?

Andrew Watts appears to have made it his life's cause to photograph meteorological recording stations, thereby disproving the whole of the lie that is climate science. The NOAA have published a response to these claims. To which Mr Watts bleats:

They borrowed (and I use that term loosely) some of my early data that I had published up to the website to help my volunteers locate stations. We had 43% of the network surveyed at that point, and I had never published any other data beyond that, and I advised them when they started doing this work that that data that they used had not been quality controlled yet, it was there just for the purposes of locating stations, and the data contained in it hadn't been quality checked, and it was far from complete. It had biases in it related to the spatial representation in the US, those holes that I tried to fill in, for example, in the middle of the country, in rural areas in the middle of Texas and Oklahoma and Idaho, away from cities. That data didn't have those things. And so what they ended up with was a set of data that was mostly urban, mostly around cities, not quality controlled and not complete, and they used that data because they were so keen on discrediting our work that they rushed to get that out.

And I made complaints with the journal saying that the use of my data to publish a paper that I hadn't even finished yet was wrong and it violated professional standards, and they went ahead anyway and did it. So I think that their methodology speaks to the credibility of the results.

In other words, the claims made were based on incomplete, unverified 'data'? His 'paper' isn't finished or peer-reviewed yet, but he's touring the country to promote his findings? And EoR won't even point out the irony of the dummy-spitting of "They stole my data!" when the climate denialists berated the Climate Research Unit for refusing to release data under FOI. EoR trusts that the Watts circus will have a sufficiently large black pot with them.

One popular skeptic argument has been to cast doubt on the surface temperature record. Skeptics claim thermometers are unreliable because surroundings can influence the reading. They reinforce this by showing photo after photo of weather stations positioned near warming influences like air conditioners, barbeques and carparks. [How climate skeptics mislead]

Archibald, who is so widely experienced he appears to be an expert in the closely linked fields of climate science and cancer research, is not above fiddling the inputs in order to get the result he wants. Which seems to be a favourite exercise among the deniers.

If anyone is interested in his groundbreaking powerpoint presentation or his Nobel quality booklet they are available from the Inquiry into the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy website (and anyone who needs the 'help' of Christopher Monckton, as he notes in his acknowledgements, is really in desperate straits). Strangely, one of his slides is based on "A Rural US Data Set". Yes, those same weather stations that his performance partner, Anthony Watts, claims are providing corrupt data. Oh, irony, where is thy sting...

In his booklet he states (Solar Cycle 24, p. 45):

2009 is the eleventh anniversary of the recent peak on global temperature in 1998. The world has been cooling at 0.06 degrees per annum since then. My prediction is that this rate of cooling will accelerate to 0.2 degrees per annum following the month of solar minimum sometime in 2009.

Science is, of course, tested by making predictions based on observations, and testing those predictions. How does Archibald fare?

First five months of 2010 [are] second warmest on record

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

Nonetheless, never let it be said that a failed hypothesis will prevent him touring the country with his failed hypothesis. Unless the intended purpose of the tour is so Archibald can explain that he got it wrong.

Of course, much of his data is no longer current. Nor, apparently, are his current affairs since here is Archibald at the beginning of this month rambling on about Climategate while blissfully (or ignorantly?) completely ignoring the reviews that have been conducted into that little denier fiasco.

Though EoR certainly admires anyone who starts his argument by referencing his own book in the very first sentence as evidence of his claims:

If the data and forecasts in this book are correct, then the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO in Australia are all wrong.

Ah yes, but there's that 'If'...

EoR is also amazed at the paranoid world he seems to be living in:

The Chief Scientist’s statement is idiotic and patently false, more worthy of a Chief Shaman. There is no physical evidence anywhere on the planet that “disastrous global warming” will start by 2014, or any time at all. The position of Chief Scientist should be the last line of defence of the Australian public from the depredations of any rent-seekers and carpetbaggers. Instead she has joined the chorus that wants to condemn the Australian nation to penury. The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have failed the Australian public dismally. That is putting it mildly. In truth, they have conspired against the Australian nation.

It should be noted that EoR fully supports the contention that the Chief Scientist should not be swayed by 'rent-seekers and carpetbaggers'.

David Stockwell is a little more obscure (most Google hits for his name relate to the upcoming tour - of which he's only supporting the Queensland leg) though he seems to specialise in statistical modelling. Could it be using those disproved computer modelling methods that we all know are completely unreliable and only prove what you want them to show? If Archibald brings the Pot, EoR hopes Stockwell will bring the Kettle. It would seem he should not be confused with a Heartbeat character of the same name:

David Stockwell appears sporadically in the early seasons of Heartbeat; it's not until later that he becomes a regular cast member. "Not quite the full quid", David is a useful off-sider for Claude Greengrass.

EoR is, however, interested in his claim that

In general, precipitation increases on the weekends, and temperature and sunlight hours decrease.

Stockwell links to a paper on this topic from which EoR reprints the Abstract. Note that the paper is about Meteorology, not Climate. Certain points have been emphasised by EoR to indicate that what the paper is saying is not actually what Stockwell is claiming (another common denier tactic is to claim support from published papers, but then fail to represent the findings of those papers accurately).

There have been many reports on the subject of weekly periodicity in meteorological variables; they are an indication of anthropogenic influence on (short term) climate.

For Europe, it was found that, for a period from 1946 to 2006, the beginning of the week is warmer than the end of the week. Divided across Europe, this pattern is not as uniform though; the end of the week is the coldest period of the week across Europe, but the warmest period of the week varies; an indication of a regional pattern.

Over time, there is a shift of the general weekly pattern of the warmest period at the beginning of the week to the end of the week (and vice versa for the coldest period of the week). For the different areas in Europe there is also a shift visible, but not as clear as the general shift. The reasons for this shift remain unclear.

Over time the influence of maximum temperature on the weekly pattern seems to have decreased, while the influence of minimum temperature has increased.

In sunshine and precipitation it is harder to distinguish a weekly pattern, due to the different mechanism influencing these variables.

These results indicate that weekly periodicity is present in Europe, and is most likely to be influenced by anthropogenic emissions. A change in these emission patterns seems to also have influence on weekly meteorology.

More research is necessary to get a clear idea of the connection between aerosols and meteorology.

People might be better off attending this public forum instead.

On the Application of Homeopathy in the Treatment of Serious Diseases Including Cancer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Climate Change - The Science

EoR has previously commented at length regarding the WA Skeptics and Dr John Happs and their denialist attitude to climate change, including Dr Happs' letter to Australia's Chief Scientist.

Well, EoR is always happy to correct the record, and it appears that the letter has, indeed, influenced Professor Penny Sackett, the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, and the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (at least in part). Well, at least in urging them to address the issue of how to promote the message that global warming is happening.

The science itself is quite basic and quite straightforward, and that's why within scientific circles you often hear people say that there's no debate within the science about the enhanced greenhouse effect and the reality of it.

Psychic Names Murderer

EoR's return to blogging featured psychic Chris Roubis and the solving of the disappearance of Hayley Dodd.

Mr Roubis had identified the culprit as a man, 40+, who was both Aboriginal and White, who lived in a duplex or flat, and "Hayley Dodd is buried under an oak tree near a creek".

Regardless of the fact that there appear to be no duplexes, flats or oak trees in the area (and very few people who are Aboriginal and white), this didn't deter Mr Roubis's followers, chief amongst them 'Sir Laughs-A-Lot'.

After a brief explosion of angst caused by a skeptical blog post commenting on these findings and the overall success rate of psychics in solving crimes, the search continued for a while, and the thread has now been hidden behind a password (EoR's getting an 'A' or 'M' word - I hope they change it before he manages to login...).

On June 2rd 'Kimberley' joins the discussion. Kimberley is an 'empathic reader' who apparently 'reads faces.' She presents her own psychic revelations:

Followed/watched by man on foot. Aboriginal in 40's at the time

That she identified an Aboriginal as well (though not a 'white' one) is remarkable. Clearly independent verification of the criminal. Though his age doesn't seem to agree. Was he in his forties at the time, or is he 40+ now? Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive, just vague and unhelpful.

She also does a Google Maps search, as Sir Laughs-A-Lot had previously done, and 'sees' a face in it which indicates where she believes Hayley is buried. EoR hastens to add that he is not making any of this up.

Sir Laughs-A-Lot, meanwhile, appears to have abandoned Mr Roubis's revelations, and is now taking 'a very good psychic' (Chanty) to the area to solve the mystery and who

confirmed the widely held belief by both police investigators and other private operators that Hayley was abducted near the areas shown on the Badjingarra - Moora road, in posts here using google earth pics.

It is, of course, only psychic powers that would enable someone to confirm a widely held belief.

Then, the really scary part:

The name of ONE of the 2 perpetrators is KNOWN by me, and the family, and was provided by a psychic. That doesn't mean we can provide it to police YET, because quite simply we have ZERO proof, that will stand up in a court of law. To do so would be highly irresponsible as yet, because the person has the presumed right of innocence until PROVEN guilty, and putting someone under police suspicion because of a psychic response, is NOT how our judicial system works.

Yes, someone's name has been given by a 'psychic' as a murderer. EoR isn't surprised the thread is hidden. Defamation comes to mind as a very real possibility.

EoR also notes, in passing, that the single perpetrator of the other psychics' visions is now two people. Make enough guesses, eventually something will match. Sort of. Maybe. Oh look! There's a creek over there!

Regardless of her ability to give a full name for the culprit, Chanty can only locate the body within a 20 mile radius (psychics apparently still operate under the Imperial measurement system). Sir Laughs-A-Lot notes:

However - is it necessarily fair on the psychic Chanty to have media cameras in her face while trying to do something that takes a peaceful and quiet environment to do well?

Might not better progress be made by having the psychic in the search area -with No disturbances from searchers and media, while she just does her thing - hopefully further narrowing the search area parameters such that foot searching becomes achievable / viable within a relatively small physical search area?

That's the outcome I would like and that is not possible with a full on 20 person search contingent and media with their cameras, reporters, sound technicians and helicopters all gathered around the psychic waiting for her to "perform for them on cue like some trained circus monkey. In my opinion that's just not fair on the psychic.

I would honestly like to be left to my own devices with one or two helpers (Chanty included) to conduct discreet searches of the identified area without all the hoopla of the press.

EoR wonders how long it will take two people to search a 20 mile radius area at weekends only.

The rest of the thread, up until it was hidden, discusses arrangements for organising a search, as well as various obstacles, including:

I'd like to take the psychic along with us - & being a woman she won't be "comfortable alone with 2 men" thus I was thinking to take my wife along also, who she knows already...

But she's psychic! She'd know there's no problem! Or else she would, and she'd know not to go with them!

So, someone has been marked as a killer with no evidence other than the word of a 'very good' psychic, the area has been narrowed to 1,257 square miles(!), and we're no further along than before.

There the thread rests, and it's perhaps best for everyone that it has been removed from public view.

How (climate change) deniers work

All deniers have a small set of tools to maintain their worldview in the face of the incongruity of that worldview with reality.

Cherry picking data is a favourite. Here's Andrew Bolt proving the IPCC are a failure because a reputable sounding Professor of Climate Change has shown how little support there is for climate change, and how the IPCC are driving some evil agenda without any evidence at all. Look, there's even a link to the paper! And this is the damning proof:

Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.

The paper itself is an, at times, rather dense somewhat postmodernist investigation of the IPCC. It has a number of legitimate criticisms in terms of the structures of knowledge and power within the organisation, knowledge hierarchies, the geographies of expertise and so on. It does not at any time claim that climate change is faked or wrong. Here is the full paragraph Mr Bolt selects only half of:

Without a careful explanation about what it means, this drive for consensus can leave the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism. Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields. But consensus-making can also lead to criticism for being too conservative, as Hansen (2007) has most visibly argued. Was the IPCC AR4 too conservative in reaching its consensus about future sea-level rise? Many glaciologists and oceanographers think they were (Kerr, 2007; Rahmstorf, 2010), leading to what Hansen attacks as ‘scientific reticence’. Solomon et al. (2008) offer a robust defence, stating that far from reaching a premature consensus, the AR4 report stated that in fact no consensus could be reached on the magnitude of the possible fast ice-sheet melt processes that some fear could lead to 1 or 2 metres of sea-level rise this century. Hence these processes were not included in the quantitative estimates.

So the quote relates to a specific aspect of 'knowledge hierarchies' in the IPCC. The conclusion that things might be worse than we expect is not palatable to Mr Bolt or the dozens of rightwing sites on the internet that repeat this particular quote out of context.

And here is the full conclusion of the review (EoR's emphasis):

During its 20-year history, the IPCC has been examined critically from a number of different standpoints: dissecting its 1980s origins; revealing its norms, practices and modes of self-governance; debating the role of consensus in its assessments; policing characterizations of uncertainty; and tracing the relationship of its institutional function and knowledge claims to emerging ideas of global environmental governance. But other questions about the status of climate change knowledge synthesized by the IPCC remain less widely investigated, questions which emerge from the agendas raised by the new geographers of science (e.g.
Powell, 2007; Finnegan, 2008). As Sheila Jasanoff has shown in many of her writings (e.g. Jasanoff, 2004a,b; 2010), knowledge that is claimed by its producers to have universal authority is received and interpreted very differently in different political and cultural settings. Revealing the local and situated characteristics of climate change knowledge thus becomes central for understanding both the acceptance and resistance that is shown towards the knowledge claims of the IPCC. It is a task for physical and human geographers to take seriously, and to do together.

There's probably a whole paper in how a single quote from this review is being used to bolster the deniers' claims.

Another denier tactic: lie. Repeat the lie. Even if disproved, repetition will eventually make it true. So Bolt also goes on to point out the evil clique of lying scientists whose sordid activities were exposed by Climategate. Even though it's been disproved again and again. If fact, it was always so flimsy that the deniers seemed to even psychically know what the outcome of the reviews would be before they were finalised (and more on the author of that article soon). A whitewash! Of course. Which leads to another denier tactic: the conspiracy is never disproved, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Evidence? Review? Proof? All too troubling for the deniers. The rant is far easier (EoR's favourite denier troll was someone who replied to yet another Bolt rant against the ABC's science report Robyn Williams by demanding she be sacked immediately for her mendaciousness).

EoR does, however, find agreement with Bolt on one point:

The man is utterly shameless.

It's just which man we disagree on.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bible Right. Science Collapses.

On today's Radio National Breakfast James Carleton interviewed Dr Don Batten, of Creation Ministries International. Dr Don Batten, as the interviewer notes, is a PhD in Horticulture Research.

Dr Batten gives some amazing arguments why Darwin is wrong and the Bible is literally true.

"As a scientist I find that there's abundant evidence of the fact that God created things."

Evolution (and Intelligent Design) don't "add up".

"There has to be a cause outside of matter which is eternal."

This is, as Dr Batten assures us, clearly not a matter of faith but of science. Dr Batten then goes on to argue that because Jesus believed in creation we should as well. There! No faith required at all!

And anyway, there are tree trunks running through coal seams!

The only historical 'eye witness' record we have of history is the Bible, which is God's Word.

His defense of a global flood is a brilliant piece of distorted and fallacious reasoning. There are stories of a flood in many cultures. There are animals around today. Therefore there must have been some way they survived the flood (come on down, Noah!).

The reason geological science has come to a faulty conclusion is because they "don't have the right glasses on". There are two types of glasses, he tell us, the 'secular glasses' and... He gets sidetracked and doesn't actually mention what the other type are. He rejects the interviewer's suggestion that they're 'Biblical glasses." EoR suspects that they're actually rather like these:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sylvia Browne Explains Physics

From Phenomenon: Everything you need to know about the paranormal by Sylvia Browne with (in far smaller print on the cover and inside) Lindsay Harrison:

Kinetic Energy

You’re in your kitchen, making a meal for your family, when suddenly the cupboard doors begin flying open and slamming shut again on their own. Appliances roar to life as the refrigerator bangs open and the food inside hurtles across the room. You escape into the living room, where the TV comes blasting on all by itself and wildly changes channels. While lights blink insanely on and off, you reach for the phone to call for help. At that same moment it leaps off the end table and falls to the floor, static hissing from the receiver. A mean-spirited ghost trying to chase you out of your house? Maybe. But it’s more likely that you’ve just witnessed a dramatic display of kinetic energy, caused not by some external force but by you or a member of your family who’s either blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it, with kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is the unintentional, spontaneous manipulation of inanimate objects through no obvious physical means, causing its possessor to become kind of a hapless walking force field. There are several theories about what creates kinetic energy. And, of course, there are just as many skeptics who will swear it doesn’t exist at all, which I’d be happy to consider if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes a few thousand times. Some believe that kinetic energy can simply appear in a person from out of nowhere and then vanish just as inexplicably. Others believe, as I do, that it’s a power some people are born with and others aren’t, a power that ebbs and flows in irregular cycles through the course of a lifetime. Kinetic energy is often at its strongest when the body is going through dramatic hormonal changes—during prepubescence or puberty, for example, or in pregnant or menopausal women. But it can manifest itself in young children, too, who have no idea of the chaos they might leave in their wake by simply walking through a room. My granddaughter, for example, when she was only three or four years old, could crash computer hard drives and entire phone systems and cause paper to fly out of giant Xerox machines simply by coming to visit me at my office. Her kinetic energy seems to have calmed considerably in the last few years, but I’m already bracing myself for her becoming a teenager, which is when my son Paul’s kinetic energy hit its peak. In his case, just when he hit puberty, he would inadvertently cause all his shoes to zoom around his bedroom like missiles every night as he fell asleep. Today, twenty-five years later, Paul’s incidents of kinetic energy are virtually nonexistent. All of which I bring up to illustrate why I’m not convinced that kinetic energy is an inherited phenomenon. Paul and my granddaughter, who is Paul’s niece, are the only two members of my family in at least three generations who were born with kinetic energy, and the many other cases I’ve studied support my belief that it’s about as random a gift as it can possibly be. I almost wish it weren’t. If it were more traceable and reliable, it might be more widely understood and not mistaken so often for hauntings, preposterous satanic possessions (emphasis on “preposterous”) or, maybe most insulting of all, overactive imaginations and/or publicity stunts. So if you or someone you know seems to make all hell break loose among inanimate objects by doing nothing more than simply being there, remember, it’s no one’s fault, it’s not a physical or mental illness, it has nothing to do with evil, it doesn’t require an exorcism, and it’s not some perverse punishment from God (as if God has a perverse streak to begin with). It’s only a temporary, passing spasm of innate, purely unintentional kinetic energy.

Oh, if EoR could only write as humourously as Sylvia Browne... Though he hates to think what the household insurance premium must be like.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Biased View

Alternative therapies often rely on the "It works for me" declaration. This, usually proclaimed by the user rather than the vendor, claims that an alternative therapy was used, improvement in the condition was perceived and, ergo, the therapy was the causal factor in the improvement.

EoR's readers will recognise the fallacy in this view, and just how difficult it can be to separate perception from reality. We desire to see an improvement, so we ignore any other issues. We habitually look for patterns, so we see them, often when they aren't there.

Yet separating perception from the real is much more difficult than simply being aware of any errors it might induce.

Here is a hypothetical: You want to travel from City A to City B. City B is located south of City B  A. Which direction is longer: travelling from City A to City B, or travelling from City B to City A?

They're the same! you cry. You're right, but the brain apparently doesn't think so.

Volunteers also estimated that it would take considerably longer to drive between the same pairs of U.S. cities if traveling from south to north, as opposed to north to south, says psychologist and study director Tad Brunyé of Tufts University in Medford, Mass. For journeys that averaged 798 miles, time estimates for north-going jaunts averaged one hour and 39 minutes more than south-going trips, he and his colleagues report in an upcoming Memory & Cognition.

Of course, if you're using an alternative therapy then that's always the shortest distance between a treatment and a miracle. At least, according to the unbiased anecdotal reports.

Edit: Corrected faulty geography.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Homeopathy Advertising Campaign

This is one of the entries in a recent b3ta board challenge to design posters for doctors' waiting rooms (NSFW). EoR hopes to also see these displayed in homeopaths' consulting rooms (whether they treat for cancer or not).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Worst Scandal in Science's History (5)

The final part of EoR's exercise in shooting fish in a barrel

EoR is only halfway through Dr Happs' exaggerated claims, but the rest of his article basically come down to exposing the vast worldwide conspiracy of faked climate change science, essentially based on what has become known as Climategate, and using such emotive language as 'scandal', 'clique', 'conspiracy' and 'criminal'.

Climategate has been investigated by three independent reviews. No wrongdoing has been found (other than criticism of how FOI requests were handled).

Brian Angliss has written a very good summary of just how out of context the Climategate quotes are. This is cherry picking raised to an incredible level, indicating how desperate the deniers are to get any tiny scrap of evidence that might just possibly be twisted to their spurious arguments, and just how empty that argument really is.

A few other points of interest (or despair, given how weak the article is)...

The IPCC is ignoring data sets that do not fit their predetermined views (do you see yet how the deniers claim that scientists exhibit the very faults they seem incapable of perceiving in themselves?), but instead rely on those from the Climate Research Unit alone - the very place those evil lying criminal scientists who wrote the Climategate emails work! How can they be trusted?

Well, perhaps because climate science is based on a plethora of data souces, including Argo which Dr Happs notes as being disregarded.

Dr Happs produces a graph sourced from EoR won't demean anyone by raising issues of how to judge whether a reference source is valid and reliable. There is a difference between using accurate data, and data that you found on a blog that fits your predetermined conclusion.

Dr Happs quotes Monckton as a reliable source to judge the Climategate scientists as not only wrong, but criminal. Remember earlier in his article when he claimed the IPCC shouldn't be listened to because many of the staff weren't scientists? Monckton is increasingly a joke, even to the climate deniers. An eccentric UK aristocrat, a well known serial liar, and in no sense a scientist. Yet Dr Happs, who seems to understand science so well, and the necessity to really verify facts (otherwise, how did he learn that the entirety of climate science was a conspiracy?) describes him as:

Mathematician Christopher Monckton, former scientific advisor to Margaret Thatcher

Monckton is not a mathematician. He was never a 'science' advisor to Margaret Thatcher. If Dr Happs can't get these simple facts right, how much of his argument can be trusted?

Dr Happs' only other points of any substance, other than name calling and unsubstantiated accusations, are that the 'hockey stick' graph is a fabrication, as proven by McIntyre and McKitrick in Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) proxy data base and Northern Hemispheric average temperature series. Climate science is so mendacious that even staunch warmist George Monbiot has been converted, Dr Happs informs us:

British journalist George Monbiot, environmental and political activist and one of the fiercest media propagandists for man-made global warming, has now reversed his position in light of the damning evidence.

McIntyre and McKitrick are wrong. Very wrong.

The 'hockey stick' graph is not a fabrication.

George Monbiot indeed published an article that was severely critical of the Climate Research Unit in the light of the Climategate emails. This was prior to the three reviews. It does not represent his ongoing position on climate change. More cherry picking of data by Dr Happs. Indeed, Monbiot's latest article is on Monckton, one of Dr Happs' authorities. The byline (probably written by a subeditor) seems eerily relevant:

Monckton repeatedly exposes the shallow fallacy of climate denial, dragging down those stupid enough to believe him.

Dr Happs notes at the bottom of his article that Australia's Chief Scientist has not responded to him, even after three months. Since she supports the science of climate change this is hardly surprising. EoR presumes she, also, must therefore be part of the worldwide criminal conspiracy if Dr Happs is to be believed. EoR also notes that, even months after the Climate Research Unit were cleared of any wrongdoing, Dr Happs' calumnies remain uncorrected.

Conspiracy Links

New Scientist on climage change
Scientific American on global warming
CSIRO on understanding climate change
National Snow and Ice Data Center - Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis
NASA - Is Antarctica Melting?

Previous Entries on The Complete and Horrible Truth About The Worst Scandal in Science's History
The Worst Scandal in Science's History (4)
The Worst Scandal in Science's History (3)
The Worst Scandal in Science's History (2)
The Worst Scandal in Science's History