Monday, May 30, 2005

Danish clairvoyant has not applied to Randi's One Million Dollar challenge

One of the most popular and discussed TV programmes the recent years in Denmark is "The power of the spirits" (Medium ship spotlighted on Danish TV) and "Sense for murdering" (Danish website) with Marion Dampier Jeans. It deals with people who have had supernatural experiences with ghosts, poltergeists and creepy stuff like that.

Marion claims to have become "one of the acknowledged mediums in Great Britain".

She is working with ectoplasm:

"In physical medium ship, the Spirit operators use this abundance of etheric energy, ectoplasm, and matter in order to produce the various manifestations. Through the directed use of mind, they release this energy-matter from the physical medium's body and use it. "

There's no solid evidence to prove the exists of ectoplasm. Photographs published in the early twentieth century claiming to show ectoplasm were false. Ecto mists in photos are probably caused by breath on in cold environment, car exhaust, and steam from any source and smoking. I don't know what else ecto mists could be. Still many people hold out faith that ectoplasm exists without any evidence.

Is the (non)existence of ectoplasm her proof of life after death or is it a series of messages received from a clairvoyant or trance medium? Or is it seeing an apparition of someone you know to be dead? - or does extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof?

The six reasons I wrote about here are close parallels to what is paranormal in Marion's claims.

Marion Dampier Jeans has offered one million dollars to any skeptic who can rebut the evidence for the existence of the afterlife. She has not applied for Randi's challenge to see whether a psychic can really do what he claims to be able to do. Randi makes all conditions as favourable as possible to the psychic and she will in cooperation with the JREF set the requirements of the test. If she has paranormal, supernatural or occult power abilities there's 100% chance of winning.

If not she might have a series of lucky guesses....

Science should not be treated as a belief system, and using things like magic and psychism as evidence is not acceptable.

From The Haunted Museum: Tricks of the Fraudulent Mediums

Saturday, May 28, 2005

How long will it take to become a (un)qualified homeopath?

Skeptics Circle
Homeopaths take 8 years to qualify for the job as a Homeopath in Pakistan. Two to four years in BHMS course in India. Three years of course in Malaysia. Two years to four years in UK. It takes just 5 days to become a qualified homeopath in the U.S.

Just 5 days and you're every bit as justified in calling yourself a homeopath in America as a Pakistani with eight years of "education". At $199 I'd say it's overpriced.

If you visit this fairly well known "paper degree" site you can also get bachelors in just about anything. It also does not need any "real life experience" to correspond to the degree. It is just as easy on THAT SITE to get a degree in Computer Science (5 days, shipping time) as it is for Homeopathy. There isn't any "classes" or "training" or "books.

The point you were perhaps trying to make is there isn't an official certification for Homeopathy?

Though, I am sure there is "real" (LOL) classes somewhere...

In spite of this easy approach - practicing homeopathy must be licensed by the state homeopathic licensing board, and licensure appears to vary from state to state. Then what are the penalties for practicing homeopathy without being properly registered? It strikes me that "basic medical science" is required to practice homeopathy, when basic medical science tells us that homeopathy is unmitigated nonsense. Has anyone ever been prosecuted for practicing homeopathy without proper credentials?

Friday, May 27, 2005

What is the paranormal in homeopathy?

Skeptics Circle
Paranormal can be defined as events or abilities beyond or above normal human powers or senses with no suitable explanation in the context of a specific body of scientific knowledge.

Homeopathic claims are alike to paranormal claims, for these six reasons of similarity and the close parallels they illustrate:

1. Supporters claim that the phenomena are real, but no real evidence exists to verify that claim.

2. The phenomena are said to "work" by means that are not possible, based on what we already know with great certainty, about the real world.

Many homeopathic remedies have been diluted to the point where on average they contain less than one molecule. Any remedy of greater potency than 24X and 12C will contain less than 1 molecule on average. This is due to Avogadro's number. This means that almost all high potency remedies will contain no original material. Those that do will contain it at such a low levels (single molecules) that it is impossible for it to have a biological effect. The "Remedies" Are Placebos.

There simply is "nothing" in the remedies. I mean nothing = zero, NOTHING, no remedy substance, nothing but plain old water.

3. The evidence for the phenomena presented is anecdotal, not scientific, and none of the "scientific" findings made by supporters have been independently replicated.

Homeopathic claims could be tested like this outlined in the papers below:

Individualised homeopathy as an adjunct in the treatment of childhood asthma

4. When attempted independent replications of the phenomena fail, supporters invoke special conditions and exceptions for their claims, and often state that these cannot be tested by "ordinary" science.

When they say that testing is very expensive, that is not a valid argument - if you have to prove the cost is what it is. It is no valid reason to claim that testing is very complicated (more than I figured out first). Some homeopathic supporters are wedded for some reason to the idea that homeopathy requires an entirely new paradigm for evaluation, quite underestimating the creativity of conventional scientists. They have the full right to propose new methologies (is there any or is the old magic enough?)

5. Supporters of the claims invoke such words as "vibrations", "memory", "quantum", "spiritual" and "infinite" without knowledge of, or respect for the actual meanings of such terms.

Another paranormal in homeopathy is the theoretical "energies" that aren't measurable.

Here it says: Some physicians, dentists, and chiropractors use "electro diagnostic" devices to help select the homeopathic remedies they prescribe. These practitioners claim they can determine the cause of any disease by detecting the "energy imbalance" causing the problem. Some also claim that the devices can detect whether someone is allergic or sensitive to foods, vitamins, and/or other substances.

But there is no remedy substance or measurable energy in dilution and no energies that can be measured (Quack "Electro diagnostic" Devices).

6. The claimed discovery is of such a nature and scope, that if true, it would have radically changed the face of science, our way of life, and our perception of the real world: that has not happened.

That means that a great deal of what we think we know about how the physical universe works is likely to be wrong or at the very least incomplete. Physicists and chemists would be all over this if it really happened. Regarding homoepathy and science, consider the lack of serious interes by physicists and chemists. Nobody is interested.

As to homeopathy, here is the UK's NHS's view: Homeopathy according to the NHS.

Despite the inability to reproduce the anecdotal evidence in clinical trials, homeopathy remains one of the most popular complementary therapies in the world.

If there is an effect on homeopathy, then it's quite unknown to science.

(Those 6 points have served to challenge the quacks and pseudoscientists for years and they was found on JREF, I don't know the name of the person who authored this.)

Add 8. June: No miracle cure for junk science and Ads warns about alternative medicine

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Conspiracy Theory Spreads Polio

Daniel Pipes wrote an interesting article stating the problem that Muslims are refusing Western vaccinations because of a Conspiracy Theory.

Muslims are opposing vaccination because Dr. Ahmed, an Islamist, accuses Americans of lacing the vaccine with an anti-fertility agent that sterilizes children (or, in an alternate theory, it infects them with AIDS).

The polio-vaccine conspiracy theory has resulted in recent months reported outbreaks of the disease in twelve countries in Africa and four in Asia.

If you like reading The Amazing Randi, then you must read the Ninth edition of The Skeptic's Circle.

St. Nate got some great posts on how to apply critical thinking on Ghosts, Aliens, Psychics and Stars, Bad Medicine, Pseudoscience and more.

The rules have tightened since previous editions of The Skeptic's Circle (you can read why here and here), but we still have good reading on skepticism and critical thinking. And I highly recommend you to read it all.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The twenty most popular herbal medicines

Skeptics Circle
This is a slide show from a course given at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, with the twenty most popular herbal medicines.

See also Prof. Ralph Blomster's warning on Herbal toxicities and side effects.

Professor Blomster tells us what an herb is "used for" but that does not tell us what it is "useful for".

If you read the notes for St. John's Wort: used as a standardized extract, three times a day, with meals for a minimum of four to six weeks you will be given the impression that it is a prescription. Then how much of what is being prescribed? "Standardized extract" implies that the same amounts of active ingredients are in the same number of caps each and every time.

He also warns against "large doses" of ephedra, but does not say what a large dose is, and when he mentions the bad effects of large doses of ephedra, he completes the list with "etc", leaving out the effect that finally got ephedra banned: death.

Almost nobody common people has any idea what homeopathy really is, so the simplest question about "herbal medicine", homeopathy and other popular things must be repeated over and over again. Answering what homeopathy really is, once in a while someone will answer "natural" or "herbal" and maybe have a vague idea that it is "very diluted herbs" and "like a vaccine, but safe". Ask someone the most basic questions about how true homeopathic remedies "work" (i.e. cannot work) they will say phrases like "I have seen it work", and so on.

That said, I'm surprised chocolate isn't on the list since I use this drug regularly.

Chemicals in chocolate (caffeine, phenylethylamine, or theobromine)
Used as a stimulant.
Should not be overdosed.
Most common side effect is high amounts of sugar and fat and extra calories or fat.

And the absolutely most popular herbs like tea and coffee - aren't listed either.

Coffee and tea
Caffeine is a substance that exists naturally in certain plants.
Used as a stimulant and for pleasure.
Possible side effects are (if excessive caffeine intake) fast heart rate, diuresis (excessive urination), nausea and vomiting, restlessness, anxiety, depression, tremors, and difficulty sleeping.

More herbs to be added?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I have done some rearranging and some Spring cleaning on my blog

My sidebar with all your blog links are increasing, and I don't want it to be confusing. So I have made an attempt to rearrange the links in different categories. Please email me if you think I have classified something incorrectly. Categories may change from time to time.

Something else I want to do is to separate the sidebar in two pieces, a left and a right sidebar. Is there anyone out there willing to help me with the code?

What can be done to make it better? Let me know what you think - thumbs up or down?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The ultimate Starwars personality

I'm really not sure how I feel about this, this test must be inaccurate, since I am not what they are telling me.

I should have been Queen Amidala or maybe Yoda - but not Anakin Skywalker. I must have been in the aggresive mood, when I took the test.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Is chiropractic really complete garbage? I was under the impression it was a legit medical thing

It is a common misunderstanding that chiropractic is a legit medical thing.

Chiropractic is not only garbage but potentially dangerous. Rapid movement of the neck that chiropractors do to you can tear the vertebral artery.

From the the Quackwatch site:

Chiropractic's Dirty Secret: Neck Manipulation and Strokes

Stroke from chiropractic neck manipulation occurs when an artery to the brain ruptures or becomes blocked as a result of being stretched. The injury often results from extreme rotation in which the practitioner's hands are placed on the patient's head in order to rotate the cervical spine by rotating the head. The vertebral artery is vulnerable because it winds around the topmost cervical vertebra (atlas) to enter the skull, so that any abrupt rotation may stretch the artery and tear its delicate lining.

The rest of this article can be found here.

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I have to admit that I have used the services of a chiropractor once in my life. The practitioner placed his hands on my head in order to rotate my head. And seconds after he did the manipulation with my neck I fainted. I actually didn't know what happened, but I wouldn't have fainted if he hadn’t manipulated my neck. I will never let them mess with my neck again.

In the Dangers of alternative medicine they warn against ever letting a chiro manipulate your neck or manipulate anything from the shoulders and up, there could be serious side effects (stroke).

CMAJ: Sudden neck movement and cervical artery dissection

Canadian Stroke Consortium: What about a Chiropractor?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Misleading the patient for fun and profit

Here is a place where you can have fun with homeopathy.

Just type in your particular disease in the Online Remedy Finder, fill out a symptom form, and they will recommend a special medicine. I chose a simple one: sharp headache and got that the homeopathic remedy which best matches my symptoms is Nitricum Acidum.

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It is like falling in love. As in any romance, current talk about homeopathic remedies is usually marked by uncritical acceptance, blind commitment and magical thinking.

Never ask if this is true (i.e. are there good grounds for believing this?). To ask questions about evidence and reasons for believing is to reveal an annoying and pernicious bias in favor of rational ways of knowing and western science. It is to show a disregard for the kind of validation that can come from people's subjective experiences. It is to give offense to those who have strong beliefs about the effectiveness of a treatment.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Tangled Bank #28: "Alternative" to a Healthy Mind is up at Medical Mad House

This is indeed a wonderful carnival with great submissions. Some of the post have highlighted potential side effects, this is really original.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What is worth knowing about the Chiropractic profession?

I am interested in understanding the nature of chiropractic.

Doing a few searches on the web to see what kind of evidence the Internet has to offer for the sake of chiropractic, I found several interesting links about chiropractic:

Confession of a Quackbuster describes here how the founder of chiropractic D.D. Palmer, considered his creation a religion. His conclusion is that chiropractic is a true religion masquerading as a science, and reading this excellent links I must agree:

D.D. Palmer's Religion of Chiropractic - D.D. Palmer, DC

This letter clearly shows that D.D. Palmer considered Chiropractic a religion.

Chiropractic Health Care: Science or Religion? - David Mills

David Mills mention the misconception about chiropractors that they are "medical doctors" specializing in diseases and treatment of the spine. The general public uncritically accepts their credentials as equivalent to an M.D., but factually many chiropractors practicing today are not even college graduates.

He also argues and explains why Chiropractic is a Pseudoscience, I will only mention few of them, but recommend you to read the whole article:

The chiropractic theory of disease was "discovered" by Daniel David Palmer who claimed that his hands were magnetic.

Chiropractors claim to be practitioners of the scientific method and members of the professional scientific community. But no article has ever been published in a peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal substantiating the chiropractic theory of disease. Publication and peer-review are the scientific method.

Since chiropractors are forbidden by law to prescribe medicines, they hawk all forms of potions and elixirs. Such tablets as "Spine Align" and "Nutra-Disc" are sold routinely in chiropractic offices.

Chiropractic Ethics - Professional Religion - Linda S. Elyad, DC

Linda S. Elyad, DC wrote: Chiropractic philosophy is the part of chiropractic that is actually our own special religion.

And we have more here:

The following link is to the Palmer College student newspaper (The Beacon)
and this is the winning essay on Innate Intelligence, it came up with this explanation:

By definition, innate intelligence is the indecipherable process in which the human body engages with the forces of the universe to promote healing, restore balance and achieve health. Innate intelligence does not think or doubt as we, humans, tend to do. Innate intelligence constantly and silently creates and organizes. Its creation, eternal by nature, takes the body out of confusion and havoc. Its creation is healing, strength and harmony in the body. As we ask for answers in our thirst for knowledge, the meaning of innate intelligence unfolds mysteriously.

And another one in the same issue of The Beacon: ChiropracTIC PhilosoPHY describes that ChiropracTIC’s first principle is that there is a Universal Intelligence. Some people may call it God and others are scared of this word.

It also seems that Scientology is deeply entrenched in the Chiropractic profession especially in the practice management side of the business. If you want more on Scientology go to Lower level members in Scientology don't know about Xenu and the space aliens that they say control people and need to be audited out. Prior to this they are led to believe that auditing is a psychological procedure like counselling.

So what is worth knowing about the Chiropractic profession: Chiropractic is based on the philosophy of innate intelligence. They use homeopathic remedies, they believe that the body engages with the forces of the universe to promote healing and Scientology is deeply entrenched in the Chiropractic profession.

More good information here:

Dangers of alternative medicine

Chiropractic: A Skeptical View

ChiroWatch Hot-links

Monday, May 16, 2005

What does astrology do if anything? and why you can NOT test astrology

There have always been deceptions amongst people and astrology is one of the biggest.

The very essence of the astrological paradigm is a subtle and intuitive one, and that vagueness makes it impossible to falsify.

If someone finds that astrology works in guiding their own life, it will be a positive result, and validate the hypothesis for them. But if someone finds it doesn't work, it doesn't refute it, it merely fails to confirm it.

To get an absolute result to disprove/prove astrology, you'd have to couch any piece of essential astrological theory as an absolute general and testable rule. If you can't come up with a falsifiable hypothesis regarding what astrology can do and if you can not formulate hypotheses, there is no measurable effect and then it is pretty useless.

If astrology has any real substance, even on the individual level, then it shouldn't be that hard to find test criteria that a) all could agree upon, believers as well as skeptics, and that b) is possible to test.

Astrology claims that natal chart interpretation yields valuable insight in the personality for anyone. There are no persons excluded from this according to the claims of natal astrology.

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That makes me wonder what a man born on South or North Pole should do. Concept of houses that determine a persons ascendant is based on longitude, and on the Poles, it is undefined. And what if a man were born on the Moon?

Gauquelin investigated more traditional natal chart interpretation, and his conclusions were:

"It is now quite certain that the signs in the sky which presided over our births have no power whatever to decide our fates, to affect our hereditary characteristics, or to play any part, however humble, in the totality of effects, random or otherwise, which form the fabric of our lives and mold our impulses to action." (The Scientific Basis for Astrology)

Gauquelin didn't find any correlation.

Then what does astrology do if anything? and can somebody measure its effect?
In fact astrology does something besides fun:

(1) Believing in nonsense like astrology is waste of time and waste of money.
(2) By teaching people to accept anecdotal stories astrology promotes the worst thing in the world: uncritical thinking.

Nobody denies that all life on Earth is influenced by the gravity and light and heat from the Sun. The fact that all life on Earth is very dependent upon light and heat from the Sun is no "verification" of the "astrological paradigm.

Further reading:

Bad Astronomy

The Mars Effect in Retrospect

Is There Really a Mars Effect? by Michel Gauquelin

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The following film will come as a real shock to anyone who thinks chiropractic is safe

I picked this up from Confessions of a Quackbuster:

Do you want to see a chiropractic leader squirm while he attempts to distort and downplay the evidence against lethal chiropractic neck manipulations? His face just reeks of delusional (dare I say deceptive?) denial as he desperately attempts to avoid admitting the truth. Well, Hagan McQuaid, International Vice-President of the Chiropractic Association of Ireland does just that in this excellent exposé.

There are extensive interviews with key players, including injured patients, doctors, researchers, etc. It is well worth taking the time to see it in its entirety.

Links to: Dangers of alternative medicine, presented by Donagh Diamond, Prime Time - 05 may 2005.

You can watch the entire show, or watch individual reports using the menu below.

Dangers of alternative medicine

Donagh Diamond explores the fascination with alternative medicines and the dangers of chiropractic therapy.

You need RealPlayer for it to play: RealPlayer

There is another interesting film at

My comments:

Few people realize the dangers of chiropractic (that is amazing!!).

Did you, for example, know that:

1) Chiropractors treat almost any condition, not like most people think (only orthopedic problems), but they treat anything that will be payed.
2) Chiropractors are making unsubstantiated, cure-all claims
3) Chiropractic philosophy is based on a deep religious conviction that believes average is normal. It you are not average, you are not normal.
4) Chiropractors are using homeopathic remedies
5) Most chiropractors have a blind devotion to neck manipulation and are unwilling to acknowledge its risks
6) Chiropractors believe the body has the innate ability to heal itself. But that gift doesn't extend to the backbone, only chiropractic can do that.

Victims of chiropractic neck manipulation mentioned in the film:

Laurie Jean Mathiason
Lana Dale Lewis
More death cases

Chiropractic and spinal manipulation is considered to be totally safe, but a serious sideeffect is stroke.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A theory cannot be scientific if it does not admit consideration of the possibility of its being false

I see the word falsifiability appear often in debates, usually when pseudo-science and creationism are involved.

Searching Wikipedia I get this:

Falsifiability is an important concept in the philosophy of science that amounts to the apparently paradoxical idea that a proposition or theory cannot be scientific if it does not admit consideration of the possibility of its being false.

"Falsifiable" does not mean "false". For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be possible in principle to make an observation that would show the proposition to be false, even if that observation has not been made. For example, the proposition "All crows are black" would be falsified by observing one white crow.

What if there was a hypothesis (not a theory) that some very useful phenomenon may be possible, but nobody could think of any experiment that would potentially falsify it?

If the experiment cannot falsify the hypothesis, then this means that any result the experiment gives is consistent with the hypothesis. So we would have no more reason to think the hypothesis is true after doing the experiment than we did before.

A negative result leaves several possible explanations. That means several possible hypotheses. You have stated that a positive result will rule out all but two of these hypotheses, namely the one that says the device should work, and one other. That means that a positive result falsifies some of the other alternative hypotheses.

What if your experiment did not test your hypothesis, but instead some set of alternative hypotheses. You are still making use of the falsification principle, though. The appropriate interpretation of a positive result will depend on whether you are really justified in claiming that only two possibilities remain, or on whether those two possibilities are just the only two which you have considered.

Another way to look at it is that the point is not really to confirm or reject hypotheses, but rather to acquire new knowledge. In order for an observation to provide us with new information about something, it must be possible for that observation to rule out one or more of the current possible explanations. This narrows down the list of possible explanations, bringing us closer to the correct one. In those cases we are not trying to falsify a particular hypothesis, but nevertheless every new piece of information we gather narrows down the set of possible explanations.

Formulating and testing hypotheses is just a useful methodology. The falsification principle goes much deeper than this simple methodology, though. The central point of the falsification principle is that our observations must provide us with new information to be useful, and the only way they can provide new information is if they could potentially rule out one or more possibilities.

Intelligent Design

I have seen the claim that the universe was intelligently designed can be falsified by demonstrating how the universe can come to be in the absence of a designer. The problem here is that you have to have some type of phenomenon to falsify the hypothesis, not just a rival theory. That would be like saying that Natural Selection can be falsified by demonstrating how a divine being could have directed evolution.


Creationism cannot be falsified, so it is pointless using it as a theory. No matter how much you try, you can never prove that an all-powerful being did create the entire world. Creationists are constantly presenting the false dichotomy that if evolution is wrong, then their beliefs must be right. Creation can never be tested, it is a faith, not science.


The key to astrology is the idea that the positions of the planets and constellations in the sky when a person is born can influence their personality. But astrologers can not make predictions which if unfulfilled would lead them to give up their theory, because they can't prove wrong. There is no evidence to support the claim. Concluding astrology isn't falsifiable, astrology is unscientific.

You can read more here:

Karl Popper's Falsification Principle

Karl Popper.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The eighth skeptic's circle is up and it's a great one

Another great Skeptics' Circle is up. Visit Pharyngula and read the good stuff about quackery, pseudoscience, astrology and science.

Pharyngula asked for submissions to the Skeptics Circle yesterday and he received what he asked for.

I submitted Natural is not necessarily safe about people using herbal remedies. Herbal remedies are not really medicines and eating herbs is not the same as just eating a salad.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Dealing with design

The idea of intelligent design is being promoted in schools and universities in the United States and Europe. Rather than ignoring it, scientists need to understand its appeal and help students recognize the alternatives. Intelligent design tries to use scientific methods to find evidence of God in nature.

What can scientists do to counter the appeal of intelligent design?

1) talk to students about how they personally reconcile their beliefs with their research.
2) talk to others in order to understand how faiths have come to terms with science.
3) scientists should familiarize themselves with some basic arguments as to why evolution, cosmology and geology are not competing with religion.
4) be prepared to talk about what science can and cannot do, and how it fits in with different religious beliefs.

There is more: Dealing with design

Published in nature april 28, 2005

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Hearings in Kansas on evolution is not about science

Starting this week in Kansas, the State Board of Education is holding hearings to help deciding how science should be taught.

Both sides of this week's evolution hearings are represented by lawyers.

Calvert, the retired corporate lawyer who runs the Intelligent Design Network in Shawnee Mission, and Irigonegaray, the Topeka trial lawyer who volunteered to defend evolution.

Two of the men that are pushing the anti-evolution crusade in Kansas are William S. Harris and John H. Calvert.

They wrote Intelligent Design: The Scientific Alternative to Evolution, an essay published in The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly's special issue on the theory of evolution.

The essay starts by posing the central question, "Where do we come from?", and the obvious follow-up, "Are we here for a purpose?" And their answer is intelligent design, which bends science to the will of religion. In their essay, Calvert and Harris wrote that intelligent design is not religion, but immediately added that "there are profound religious, ethical, and moral implications associated with each origins theory." That is a contradiction.

The idea of the new definition is that you keep "continuing investigation" until you find an answer that is suitable to you and your prejudices, rather than stopping when you find the truth. Any scientific theory will hold no water unless the creationists feel it is "adequate".

Science observes what is, then seeks to understand how thing works. Intelligent design starts with the explanation and then they ask why.

The hearings have nothing to do with science and the hearings seem to be of no importance unless they come up with some state standards that defy logic and sense.

Kansas Science Standards 2004: Will It Be 1999 All Over Again?
Creation "Science" Debunked

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Natural is not necessarily safe

The nations have become increasingly health-conscious but also vulnerable to "quick fixes." We are turning more and more to so-called "natural" remedies, including some dangerous supplements.

Everyone knows that pharmaceuticals can be harmful in overdose, but the whole herbal industry is based upon the absurd notion that the complex cocktail of chemicals in any herb can be presumed safe because it is natural.

I consider it ridiculous to claim that any herbal supplements that can be bought by anyone of any intelligence to use in any dosage for any purpose, and that are also marketed as "safe because natural", should be held to less rigorous standards of safety than pharmaceuticals requiring a prescription and usually used under medical supervision.

I find that chemicals used to treat anything are serious, regardless of the source.

For example, is the pill I'm taking really 10mg or 20, or maybe only 5? What is the variance in each pill? What if the strength of the active ingredients in tabletd varies so widely within a package that it is theoretically possible for someone to get no active ingredients, or get an overdose of the active ingredients?

Also a supplement can be bought right off the shelf or over the internet with no guidance whatsoever.

Ephedra is a "natural" product that was used as a natural weight-loss supplement, and marketed without any scientific data about safety. Ephedra was banned by the FDA. They found that it is not necessarily the case that anything present in nature must be healthy.

More information online at:

We also have Senokot, a potentially harmful Senna-based laxative being promoted as a "natural" treatment for "sluggishness" and with the implication that anyone will feel better for taking some..

More information:

Supplements Associated with Illnesses and Injuries

Harmful Effects of Herbs

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Myths of Herbal Tea

The myth surrounding herbal drinks is that since they are not illegal, and sold over the Internet, as well as in stores, they must be safe. Due to the increasing popularity of these products, there is growing research into what these drinks actually contain.

Many brands promise amazing heath benefits, most claims are false and certain herbal tea ingredients can cause serious health problems:

-Lobelia can cause breathing problems and convulsions
-Licorice can boost blood pressure
-Some types of star anise are toxic; they can cause seizures and other neurological problems
-Chaparral can cause liver damage
-Foxglove can affect heart function
-St. John's Wort can interact with a number of different medications

I think ordinary people by ignorance are drinking herbal tea. They don’t realize that most claims are unproven and that these herbs might cause you serious health problems.

More information:

The Myths of Herbal Tea
Unravelling the herbal myth
Beware the Unknown Brew Herbal Teas and Toxicity

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Taking on the anti-fluoridators

The evidence is overwhelming that fluoridation of drinking water is both safe and effective in preventing tooth decay. Floride is not linked to cancer and thyroid disease. There is no scientific proof to that and it's intentionally misleading to claim so.

In Fort Collins, Colorado, this month, the anti-fluoridation forces suffered a crushing defeat.

Though both the city council and a city-appointed task force had approved continued fluoridation, a successful petition drive by a group called the Fort Collins Clean Water Advocates placed on the ballot a proposition to halt the practice. The group was led by a "nutritionist" who, among other practices, prescribes detoxifying foot baths for her clients, and included a high number of acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, nurses and other devotees of alternative medicine—as well as some outright quacks.

But the pro-fluoridation forces were ready to take on the anti-flouridators, some 250 dental and health professionals were mobilized and encouraged to speak out and inform their patients about the benefit of fluoride in their water. Colorado's entire Congressional delegation in Washington was approached and all agreed to endorse fluoridation. This is a victory for the people of Fort Collins and demonstrates that they were able to look past pseudoscience, quackery and scare tactics

By 2-1 margin, fluoride to stay in water

Voters reject fluoride ban

Push to end water fluoridation fails in Ft. Collins

Floridation links

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Look carefully to the new food guidelines and be sure they are not a political parody

Go to and it is a site not quite what it seems.

You have to look at it carefully but if you start reading you will see the difference.

The real pyramid is bannered "United States Department of Agriculture." The spoof pyramid — at — carries the heading "United States Department of Agribusiness."

The real website for the pyramid uses (.gov), not (.org)!

The website is a political statement, said Stephen Eisenmenger, a Minneapolis-based website developer, who created the spoof with co-worker Molly Nutting.

Mock pyramid has a political point

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Homeopathic doctor talks about practice

The Herald-Sun
Apr 29, 2005:

Homeopathy, literally translated as "likeness of feeling," is a system of medical treatment more than 200 years old. It is based on the theory that certain diseases can be cured with tiny doses of medicines that might produce those same disease symptoms in healthy people.

But many people consider homeopathy nothing more than the placebo effect, or "mind over matter."

Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake

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