Thursday, June 30, 2005

Excellent Scientology information is fighting againt The Church of Scientology and I think it's an excellent Scientology information site. Read The true story of L. Ron Hubbard and What Scientology Won't Tell You.

What is Scientology?

Scientology has its roots in a maverick form of psychological counseling that rejects the principles of modern psychiatry. In 1950, L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. (He founded the Church of Scientology a few years later.) The book outlined a philosophy of mental and physical illness and a method for treatment. Hubbard rejected the notion that psychiatry could provide lasting cures for psychological problems and condemned psychiatric treatments he deemed inhumane, like electroconvulsive therapy.

The extent of the feud might stem from the immediate backlash that Hubbard received from mainstream mental health organizations. Dianetics was published in May 1950; by September, the American Psychological Association had advised therapists to avoid it. Not long after, the board of medical examiners in Hubbard's home state of New Jersey pursued legal action against him for practicing phony medicine.
Scientology uses brainwashing techniques and there are many different tactics they use on their people. They call them techniques to help "better" the lives.

I am not saying that Scientology isn't a cult, but Scientology is definitely about money. "The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion." And of course it's about control, but the sole purpose for controlling its members is to ensure the flow of money. It's unlikely that the people at the top of the organization believe any of its "teachings" any more than any of us here. Money is first and foremost and this is Hubbard in his own words:

- L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 9 March 1972, MS OEC 384
Scientology is possibly the largest and most widespread scam ever.

The 31st meeting of the Tangled Bank Society

A very nice-looking and well arranged Tangled Bank is up over at Science and sensibility.

The categories are:
-Ecology and Natural History
-Physical Sciences
-Science and Scientists

Great design. Great post.

I somewhat got messed up in the announcement of the date and next host of the 31th Tangled Bank (11th Skeptics Circle).

To explain what happened you must read "Tangled up in the Tangled Bank". There's a revised schedule up at Tangled Bank.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Continued Myth about Cancer

Is it true that when you have surgery and air hits the cancer cells it causes the cancer to spread rapidly through out the body?

This is what everyone tells me and about 41 percent believe in this myth as published in Cancer Myths Abound, Survey Finds from HealthDay News, Monday - June 27.

While cancer is less likely to be talked about today in the hushed tones of yesteryear, Americans still hold many misconceptions about the disease, a poll of U.S. adults has found.

For example, among 957 U.S. adults polled, about 41 percent believe that surgical treatments for cancer actually spread the disease.

Another 27 percent believe scientists have already found a cure for cancer, but that this cure is being withheld by the health care industry because it makes more money treating the illness...
People seem to imagine that "Treating cancer with surgery can cause it to spread throughout the body" but it's false. Visit the American Cancer Society to get the true facts on cancer.

Myths About Surgery for Cancer

Myth: Treating cancer with surgery causes it to spread throughout the body.

Respondents Who Agreed: 41%

Origin: This myth may have started many years ago when most patients already had very advanced cancers by the time they sought medical care. Doctors may have operated to find the cause of a patient's illness and found an advanced cancer that could not be treated successfully. When the patient died a short time later, observers thought the surgery caused the cells to spread and killed the patient.

Reality: Specialists in cancer surgery know how to safely take biopsy samples and to remove tumors without causing spread of the cancer. In many cases, surgery is an essential part of the cancer treatment plan.

For a few types of cancer, surgeons take extra precautions to prevent any chance of the cancer spreading. For example, in testicular cancer the entire testicle containing the cancer is removed, so no cancer cells are dislodged. Doctors who perform surgery for cancer are specialists and are highly trained in the intricacies of cancer and anatomy.
Another myth mentioned in the poll is that drug companies are withholding the cure for cancer because they would lose the money that they get from treating patients with today’s drugs. This conspiracy theory is also nonsense but very common. Cancer is not one disease but many and it is unlikely that any single "cure" would work for all of them.

Over at Directory of Acoustic Neuroma Myths they have listed some of the misconceptions about cancer and surgery.

Another myth that I heard lately was that sugar "feeds cancer".

I made a Google on this and realised how popular this myth is.

I know that all cells use glucose/sugar and cancer cells need a fair amount, I would expect. The body also regulates sugar levels in the blood and if you don't eat sugar or carbohydrate your cells will convert protein into sugar and from your own muscle if necessary. So anyone who tells you "sugar feeds cancer" is making the claim that if you eat less sugar, your cancer cells will "starve". The body regulates sugar levels closely, so how will that help?

The main thing with that myth is there's no proof it is true.

The reasons for these myths are historical; some of them used to be true but no longer is. At other times, the reason is that doctors and patients speak different languages and misunderstandings arise. In yet other cases it's just wishful thinking on the part of patients.

Legal Myths May Prevent Comfort Measures for Dying Patients

Myths and Half-Truths About Cancer

Top 10 Cancer Myths Quiz

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tom Cruise attacking Psychiatry and Science

Tom Cruise was on the NBC morning show to talk about his engagement to Katie Holmes June 24.

The interview took a bizarre turn when Lauer questioned Cruise on critical comments he's made about Shields and her memoir about overcoming postpartum depression.

He flipped out about the "evils of psychiatry" - and scolding actress Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants.

He insisted there's no such thing as a chemical imbalance and argued that mood disorders can be cured with "vitamins, exercise and various things."
Plenty of people may actually take this nonsense serious. People are much more willing to listen to his rantings on psychiatry than to someone who actually might KNOW something.

Interestingly, in the Matt Lauer interview, Tom Cruise insisted that though Scientology was a religion (because it deals with "spiritual things") you could be a "Christian" and a "Scientologist" at the same time.

Is Scientology compatible with Christianity? Let's ask L. Ron Hubbard. This would probably have come as a shock to L. Ron Hubbard.

He was on another interview with Peter Overton a few weeks back:

PETER OVERTON: This boy from a broken home set himself a deadline to achieve success and he didn't have to wait too long. In 1981, in his first film, Taps, the director was so impressed with the young Cruise, he gave him someone else's part. He never looked back. In more than 30 films, he's given us some of the most iconic movie moments of the past two decades. But off screen, Cruise has devoted much of his power, influence and substantial wealth to the Church of Scientology. It's a controversial religious philosophy based on the teachings of L Ron Hubbard. Scientologists believe we are spiritual beings in control of our own destiny and that therapies like psychiatry wrongly label individuals. The message struck a chord with the young Cruise at a time when he was struggling with dyslexia.

TOM CRUISE: I had absolutely what they defined as learning disabilities, dyslexia.

PETER OVERTON: That is what you were diagnosed that you had?

TOM CRUISE: Sure, absolutely. That's what they do. "You've got ADD, ADHD." You go, "What is the solution to that?" "Well, there isn't a solution." And today it's take drugs. They actually wanted to put me on drugs. My mother wouldn't let them, back then. And then a friend of mine gave me this picture book about suppression and social and antisocial personalities and I was like, "What is this?" He said, "Scientology." I said, "Oh, I'm very interested." That's when I became a Scientologist, about 20 years ago.

PETER OVERTON: It's obviously had a massive impact on you.
In case you wonder just how much Scientologists really hate psychiatrists and
psychologists, here's a little more information: Scientology Versus Medicine

Although Scientologists claim that they are not in competition with medical fields, much Scientology energy has been devoted in the past few years to attacking doctors, and especially psychiatrists. Hubbard and Scientology have never been too fond of the medical profession. Eric Barnes, Public Relations Chief of the New York Church allegedly told writer Howard Eisenberg about a boy whose broken leg had healed in two weeks instead of six through Scientology . Barnes was said to have claimed that doctors were so skeptical, "they broke it again to investigate the phenomenon."{2}

Scientologists are not permitted to take aspirins before auditing,{3} or "receive any "treatment" "guidance" or "help" from anyone in the "healing arts" i.e., physicians or dentists without consent,"{4} except in extreme emergencies when no one in the Church can be reached.{5} But Hubbard's feelings toward doctors and psychiatrists are a bit ambivalent, because while railing against them, he offers a fifty percent reduction to any doctor or psychiatrist taking a Scientology course.{6} Since Scientologists are not supposed to "mix Scientology with any other practice," his goal appears to be to get them to become Scientologists.{7}

Hubbard is convinced, actually obsessed with the delusion, that psychiatrists kill or torture their patients with electric shock treatment, use them sexually, and never ever help them. Hubbard wrote, "We have never found one person cured by psychiatrists, not one. If they call, as they do, anyone who disagrees with them insane, then those who agree with this human butchery should wear a swastika arm band so we can recognize them."{8}

Hubbard's hostility to the medical profession was apparent in the first story he wrote for Astounding Science Fiction in the late 1930's. The story told about a man who had the two halves of his brain sewn up by doctors. At the beginning, with one glance the man could heal anything. Later this miracle of surgery boomeranged and the man could kill with the same glance. In other words, the doctors had given him an evil eye. This hostility also goes back to his first book.
Check out the scandalous things they say about the psychiatric community.

Here's another good rebuttal: Scientologists call psychiatry a fraud? What nerve!.

Notice the link to Consumer Alert: Scientology and experience What Judges Have To Say About SCIENTOLOGY

Over at I found a link to how "Tom Cruise Kills Oprah" - a quicktime video, that has become very popular.

Besides they have pretty good links to Cruise's war on psychiatry and anti-depressants.

And one more thing to add in case you need a giggle from Tom Cruise's medical forum:

Tom Cruise:

You know, you get to a point where you say enough is enough. People are being misled, badly cared for, and needlessly damaged by the attitudes prevalent in American Medicine, movie actors among them.

Like whom?

Well, take for example Christopher Reeve.

Who suffered massive spinal cord injuries in a riding accident.

Exactly. Now here is a man, and I care about Christopher Reeve because I think he is an incredibly talented man. But look at him; where has his career gone?

I, uh, hate to be the one to tell you this, but Mr. Reeve passed away last year.

You're kidding.

I wish I were.
Read the rest here: Tom Cruise on the Universal Efficacy of Vitamins in Treating Every Medical Problem Known to Man

Scientology is rather weird and Tom Cruise carried on with a lot of nonsense about the evils of psychiatry. His tactics with regard to Brooke Sheilds make him look very bad and even people who might agree with his message will think he is making a fool of himself.

Cruise's attack on Shields and well-established science could be risky business to his popularity.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Video of Placebo in Action

You should download an view this video of placebo in action.

Take a look into the Chiropractic Byzantium, it's got it all.

While you do so, I'll be off-line a couple of days celebrating my birthday.

11th Skeptics Circle

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The 11th Meeting of the Skeptics' Circle

Skeptics Circle
Welcome to the 11th Skeptics' Circle that has become a wonderful tradition of skepticism and critical thought.

Anne’s Anti-Quackery & Science Blog is proud to host this wonderful carnival.

The hottest topics this time around are quackery and especially anti-vaccinationism, then creationism, other pseudoscience, religion, history, and with a few others to round out the list.

Table of Contents

- Quackery and Medical Misinformation
- Intelligent Design and Creationism
- Other Pseudoscience
- Urban Legends
- Critical Thinking
- Religion
- Astrology
- History
- Science and the Scientific Method

Quackery and Medical Misinformation

This Skeptics' Circle provides useful information in the battle against quackery and for people just wanting to find out more about how real medicine works.

Quackery is not confined to individuals who fit the popular image of a quack. Significant numbers of well-trained physicians have strayed from science into "fad diagnoses" and unproven treatments that lack a rational basis.

Quackery often leads to harm because it turns ill people away from legitimate and trusted therapeutic procedures.

Many people are turning to "alternatives" such as chiropractic, homeopathy, "organic" foods, vitamin supplements, herbs, chelation therapy, and occult "healers" because of superstition and wishfull thinking.

As Orac pointed out flushes its credibility down the toilet by writing an article so one-sided and uncritical about the supposed link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism that is being promoted by antivaccine activists as an indictment of the government and pharmaceutical companies.

Ali at Blendor commented on the article too in his Relegating Salon to the Dustbin of Irrelevance. His take on the thimerosal distortions is that the evidence wasn't sufficiently conclusive, or the data was too correlative to risk releasing information to the public that would result in mass abstention of vaccination. As he mentioned, cases of autism in Denmark continue to rise though thimerosal was banned in 1995.

Josh from Thoughts from Kansas made his Prescriptions to the autism/thimerosal flap. He looked at the value of skepticism and the importance of the government as an independent arbiter of facts.

Then Richard at Skeptico took apart Robert F. Kennedy Junior's completely dishonest thimerosal article. He actually read the 286 page transcript of the meeting Kennedy refers to and found the meeting is nothing like Kennedy describes.

Josh from Thoughts from Kansas took a slightly technical look at some ways the Heritage Foundation and other dishonest people lie with statistics.

Paul at Confessions of a Quackbuster pointed out in his Placebo Illusion that the placebo effect influences the mind, but cures no real illness. He made the connection between placebo tricking the mind and sCAM tricking the patient. They are both frauds.

Kylie Minogue's alternative cancer therapies gives her "the good feeling of placebo" but it will not help her to beat breast cancer. She can afford paying, but it's rather annoying to see all these quacks taking money from people by claiming medical benefits which simply don't exist.

Orac followed up and pointed out that Kylie Minoque will be Another Suzanne Somers in the making. Suzanne Somers decided to opt for injections of the mistletoe extract Iscador rather than chemotherapy after her surgery. Olivia Newton-John turned Kylie on to therapeutic touch. Both have become a "testimonial" for alternative medicine, and it looks as though Kylie Minogue may be heading down that path, Orac said.

Ali at Blendor saw 60 Minutes from CBS and experienced how Anderson Cooper did a great job of exposing a bit of alt-medicine quackery called hydrogen peroxide therapy. Ali doesn't think a Bachelor's degree in business from Southwest Texas State and a chiropractic degree will qualify Dr. James Shortt to evaluate the efficacy of an unapproved treatment and I certainly agree.

Paul from Confessions of a Quackbuster made it clear to us that State medical board suspends license of Dr. James Shortt. Doctor James Shortt is an alternative medicine doctor and a "serious threat" to public health.

Rich from Evolgen wrote a short piece in Clone me a pony about the new breakthrough in cloning from South Korea (a British team has been doing so too). Of course the religious will freak out because of goofy ideas about the sacredness of eggs. Like Bush's position on stem cell research and cloning is based on faith and religious doctrine, the horse racing community is adhering to its traditions without understanding the science behind racing performance.

Intelligent Design and Creationism

Bora aka Coturnix at Circadiana indeed has no problem dealing with a creationist's circadian rhythm argument, that 24 hour rhythms have been programmed initially into all biological life forms by the Creator (Jesus Christ) himself. Here it is answered: Reverend William Paley's Circadian Clock. If William Paley knew about the existence of circadian clocks, he would not have got it all wrong.

Lord Runolfr from The Saga of Runolfr commented in his Appreciation for the Ancestors on our historical legacy of scientific research and innovation and how Creationists attack the foundations of modern civilization. Thinking of the scientific method in recent days, he tied some of his SCA experience to the subject and then he made a simple response to "scientific Creationists" and ID-ers who demand that we treat them like scientists. See if they're up to the challenge in his Ask for a Prediction.

Paul from Aurora Walking Vacation made a long defence of evolution. He was surprised by a friend who touted young earth creationist propaganda in an e-mail. His answer is not an attack on religion. It is merely a defence of science.

Other Pseudoscience

Judging the credibility of extraordinary claims we have to think wether it is possible to scientifically prove or make probable that the purported phenomenon actually exists.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan

If the claim is not testable at all it's probably mere speculation or fantasy.

If the claim is testable, we have to ask if it's been tested? Which methods were used? Are the results reproducible in a way that makes them statistically significant? Is there a complete (i.e. trustworthy) documentation available to the public?

The burden of proof lies upon the claimant. That's the rules.

Jeff and the team at The Two Percent Company's Rants is "Calling All Psychics: Help Natalee Holloway". They simply couldn't resist when a commenter on a previous post demanded that psychics help authorities to find the missing girl in Aruba. They transformed that plea into a full-fledged challenge to all psychics, mediums, dowsers, or whomever - anybody who claims to be able to know first-hand facts and events they haven't observed with the normal human senses. Unsurprisingly, no "real" psychics have responded yet.

In his article called "Remote possibility", Richard at Skeptico (inspired by the Two Percent Company) gave Allison Dubois, Sylvia Browne et al the ideal opportunity to prove their powers to the world, and do some good to boot, by finding the young girl who has sadly gone missing in Aruba. It's about the remote viewers at PsiTech - an analysis of how they "remote viewed" the murder of a young girl in the US a couple of years ago AND the perpetrator. The girl was later found alive and PsiTech removed the report from their website, but Richard found it on the Wayback Machine. He emailed them to ask if they could help find another missing girl (Skeptico knows of course that they can't). I would expect more in that case from Skeptico if I were you.

Kelly from Time to Lean was sure that nursing schools and hospitals had stopped teaching energy-field based treatments. But actually in 2003 Kelly was required to attend a laboratory seminar on TT, reflexology, and other pseudoscientific practices. This was before she heard of the JAMA study, before she wrote her debunking of Therapeutic Touch. And as you can see apparently the large, unnamed hospital hasn't read the JAMA article yet.

Kelly encourages the University of Minnesota to check in with the James Randi Educational Foundation first to make sure they could get their hands on the one million buckaroos they are offering for a good scientific study showing benefits of Therapeutic Touch.

There is no scientific evidence that the "energy transfer" postulated by proponents actually occurs. Any reactions to the procedure are psychological responses to the "laying on of hands", nothing else.

Richard at Skeptico thought so too, and now he wonders why the Therapeutic Touch training facility won't respond to his questions and why they won't touch that $Million.

I can't think of anyone not interested in collecting an easy $1 Million. What are they waiting for?

Mark over at Be Lambic or Green discovered that Psychic surgery is a crime in Canada. Mr Orbito uses the old and oft-debunked trick of pretending to push his fingers into the bodies of his victims and extracting blood and tumors. The trick has been debunked so often but it's still in use.

Alex Orbito calls himself one of the world's "top psychic surgeons" but it's all an illusion and even an amazing skeptic will be able to perform a "psychic surgery". I will give you some alternative ways to look at the different kinds of "surgery" offered by sCAM.

Urban Legends

Urban legends are stories that are either funny and/or contain horrifying content that may or may not be true. They spread quickly, and often have many different variants.

Most urban legends are false -- but some are true.

Nate at Saint Nate's Blog set up the Tales of the Trail after coming down from the mountain. It's got ghosts, bigfoot, true crimes and faked ones and urban legends all set in a 2,150 stretch of America. There will always be more amusing stories and there's really nothing anyone can do about it. We aren't going to let a few dumb stories sway us.

Critical Thinking

The key to critical thinking is teaching how science works, and not just what science has discovered:

"Science is a way of thinking, much more than it is a body of facts." - Carl Sagan

If you don't learn how science works you are not able to apply your scientific knowledge to evaluate pseudoscientific claims.

Phil from Bad Astronomy Blog saw The Amazing One performing what is called "psychic surgery" and it inspired him to become a skeptic.

I, the Hostess, watched the psychic surgery performed by James Randi and it (he) was really Amazing! The link can be found at Phil's blog.

In Mystery investigators Phil pointed out that we should teach kids what science really is. Show the kids where thinking goes wrong in a funny way and they'll listen, just like the team of Alynda Brown and Richard Saunders do.

Brian from Animal Crackers educates us in PeTA: Indoctrinating Kids, Encourging Harrassment, Exploiting Staged Brutality, by explaining the fundamental difference between indoctrination - useful for producing cult members - and enlightenment, the better to produce thoughtful, skeptical citizens. Read about one of the more odious tactics used by PeTA.


Pamela from Atlas Shrugs wanted to share a photo taken with the aid of NASA telescope. It is called the eye of G-d and it only happens every 3000 years. Most people think the eye of G-d (i.e. the eye of God) is symbolic of the watcher. This picture is revealing the meaning of the symbol of the eye of God. Gaze upon this and make a wish, even if you do not believe in it - with God all things are possible, aren't they?

Joseph from The Rest of the Story pointed to the flaws in the US government's position in his President Bush and Heritage Foundation Say Religion is Not Necessary, that abstinence-only sex education is effective. Here he shows how the use of science to promote a moralistic position is the same as saying that science can be used to reach morally proper conclusions.

Richard over at Skeptico commented in his article Stressed by Scientology how "auditing" with the E-Meter is the hook to get someone to purchase the Scientology book. The book will suggest Scientology training courses. These are free until it is revealed you need more advanced courses that have to be paid for. The idiotic "E-Meter" is their way to determine what is wrong with you.


Astrology is believed by millions of people and it has survived for thousands of years - but this is completely irrelevant to its "truth".

Ryan from Rockstar's Ramblings signed up for a free week of "personalized" horoscopes to be e-mailed. He compared what the "predictions" said to what really happened the next day in a diary-style format. The end came when she seriously tried to sell Ryan a magic pendulum.

The only planet of real importance to humanity is the earth. I can't find a single good reason for believing any of this astrology and horrorscope-shit.

But I am a Taurus and we all know how stubborn I should be (ha ha)!


If someone's promoting a crooked timeline to try to deny or ignore a major event in history or forcing an incorrect view of the past, we have to prove them wrong:

Holly Aho over at Soldiers' Angel - Holly Aho wrote the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Email - Beware because the history of this tomb, and the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard) deserves an accurate history. We don't need feel good stories to learn facts through retellings that aren't actually true.

Alun encountered the Black Pharoahs and asks why some people think a black Tutankhamen is necessary and what we stand to lose if genuine black history is ignored.

Science and the Scientific Method

The scientific method is the "tool" that scientists use to find the answers to questions. It is the process of thinking through the possible solutions to a problem and testing each possibility to find the best solution.

William Connolley from Stoat is Betting on climate change, or is he? He mentions Jamen Annan as the "king" of the bets and he linked in particular Jamen Annan, who wrote an extensive RealClimate post.

William also did some speculation on The need for science. He pointed out it's a problem pushing away the bit of science that does not fit within the rest.

Bill Adams from Idler Yet analysed the Head Games and concluded that a videogame brainscan experimenter has his own problems with reality.

Jeff Shaumeyer at Bearcastle Blog has written a short piece about "Faith-Based Fear of Flying" in an attempt to mock the idea of "faith-based science", suggesting that it could be dangerous for People of Faith to fly in airplanes.

Thanks for visiting

This brings to a close the eleventh edition of the Skeptics' Circle. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to contribute and help me make this session of Skeptics' Circle a success. At least that is my hope.

I had a wonderful time reading your entries. Thanks to St. Nate for letting me host the Skeptics' Circle. This has been a wonderful experience and I highly recommend hosting the Skeptics' Circle. I may even volunteer to do it again all by myself. If you’ve never hosted a Blog Carnival before, give it a try, you won’t regret it.

If I somehow forgot anyone's article, e-mail me and I will, besides apologizing, take care of it as soon as possible.

I feel rather old right now and my shoulder is hurting, after having to pull together all those links and I am going to have a well-deserved rest.

If you find skepticism to be of interest, here is a collection of related weblog entries that are coming up next week:

On June 26, The Carnival of the Godless will be held at Positive Liberty. Send links to jason AT positiveliberty dot com.

On June 28, Grand Rounds, a carnival of medicine, will be held at Health business blog. Send links to Mr. Williams dwilliams AT mppllc dot com.

On June 29, The Tangled Bank, a celebration of science, will be held at Techno-Gypsy. Send links to kevin AT technogypsy dot net.

In addition, the next edition of the Skeptics' Circle will be hosted by Unscrewing the Inscrutable on July 7, which is a mere two weeks away. So start getting your posts ready and send them to Brent immediately.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Excellent skeptical websites, while you wait for the upcoming Skeptics Circle

I will give you some links that are very much on the subject of skepticism and the consequences of rejecting it.

Here's an article Mike Combs wrote in the midst of witnessing a homeopath's attempt to claim the Randi Challenge prize. No matter how different the claims may be of those who say they want to be tested by Randi, it seems they all use the same rhetoric, objections, and dodges. If you've seen one claimant, you've pretty much seen them all. His summary is titled "Anatomy of a Claimant".

This article also appeared in the February 2000 issue of The North Texas Skeptic

Mike Combs also examined a future world where the skeptics have lost. It's called "Condemned to Repeat It".

Curtis Wolf from Skeptically Thinking did an original research that he called Better Living through Sound and Light. He attended a lecture on meditation that turned out to be the New Age movement at its zaniest. Go read the interesting article and you will know why you don't need to waste a Saturday afternoon the way Curtis did.

Curtis also has previous quarterly issues. Read about how he experienced The Amazing Randi in Jacksonville!, when he gave a rousing call to arms for skeptics to fight pseudoscience and promote reason. For more information about James Randi, take a look at his website.

Skeptics Circle will be up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The final calling

Skeptics Circle
I am finally Calling for submissions to the 11th Skeptics Circle:

The Skeptics' Circle will be out Thursday, and I will accept entries until Wednesday at midnight, Eastern Savings Time.

Submit your post to amr2you at if you have something skeptical in mind that you want to share with the rest of us.

Alternative ways to look at the different kinds of "surgery" offered by herbal, magneto, acupuncture and homeopathic therapies

Surgery is described as the medical specialty that treats diseases or injuries by operative manual and instrumental treatment.

I have seen the claim that Surgery is the part of all therapies including herbal, magneto therapy, acupuncture and homeopathy etc.

I assume they mean Psychic Surgery as described here:

Psychic "surgery" is a type of non-surgery performed by a non-medical healer. The healer fakes an incision by running a finger along the patient's body, apparently going through the skin without using any surgical instruments. The healer pretends to dig his hands into the patient's innards and pretends to pull out 'tumors'. Using trickery, the healer squirts animal blood from a hand held balloon while discarding items such as chicken livers and hearts. The patient then goes home to die, if he or she was really dying, or to live if there was nothing seriously wrong in the first place.
Alex Orbito is that kind of person. He calls himself one of the world's "top psychic surgeons" and finally he was accused of fraud in Toronto, read the article: Psychic surgeon a heel, not a healer, police say

How Alex Orbito did the psychic "surgery":
During the sessions, Mr. Orbito appeared to open patients' abdomens and pull out diseased tumours and "negativities" in the form of blood clots. After these "psychic surgeries," patients found only a few drops of blood on an unscarred body.
But it's all an illusion by hiding animal organs and a balloon filled with fake blood in their hands, that’s that.

Even an amazing skeptic will be able to perform a "psychic surgery".

I can't imagine anyone applying the title of "surgeon" to an acupuncturist, herbalist, homeopath, magnet waver. Not with a straight face.

May I suggest some alternative ways to look at the different kinds of surgery:

Herbal Surgery - Appendectomy with a twig.

Magneto therapy Surgery - Inject iron-filling into the gall-bladder and rip it through the abdomen with powerful magnets.

Homeopathic Surgery - Lie patient in a completely empty room and wait outside. (You have to shake him a few times, too. If it's a complicated surgery, you put him on a vibrating bed for an hour or so).

Acupuncture Surgery - Use tattoo stylus to burrow into patient.

Feel free to add some of your own.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

More news on Dr. Dino, oh I meant Kent Hovind

Maybe you've been reading about the debate between Michael Shermer and Kent Hovind.

Kent Hovind was at the crypto conference in Conroe, Texas on June 18 presenting information concerning dinosaurs in the Bible reflecting his extensive study in the field of cryptozoology. He thinks there may still be some living dinosaurs in remote corners of the world. (I wonder where would that be?)

Kent Hovind has built a dinosaur-filled theme park in the Florida panhandle and claims to prove that evolution is bunk by filling it with Stupid Dino Tricks. A visit there obviously shows that it is definitely a fantasy land.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How often do you hear of a cure for AIDS?

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a fatal disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV infects several types of cells and inserts a copy of itself into their genetic material (DNA). This "tricks" the cells into treating the virus's genes as their own. The virus is then safe from attack by the body's immune system and is reproduced each time the host cells reproduce.

First time I heard of this disease was in 1983 and no cure for AIDS has been found yet.

Obviously no disease is too tragic to be taken advantage of by criminal scammers and AIDS-Related Quackery and Fraud are all over the net.

As an example I bring you this scam letters from Dr Sadiq Harrison:

From: Dr Sadiq Harrison []
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2005 12:30 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am Dr.Sadiq Harrison, a Trado Medical practitioner,From India. I have over the years carried out extensive research to find a definite cure for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which has eluded scientific research.

I am happy to announce that i have Succeeded in finding a permanent cure for the dreaded AIDS, through natural Herb. Clinical test Carried out with some of the patients i treated showed Significant improvement after one month and after one Year of treatment, there was no trace of the virus found in them.

We therefore encourage victims or their relations to get in touch with us for treatment and cure. I want to assure you that we will treat your identity with the highest level of confidentiality, Please don't hide your face in shame due to the social stigma, it could happen to any body.

A trial will convince you and If after one month of treatment you did not record an overwhelming improvement, feel free to take legal action.

You can reach me through our alternative email:
Dr.Sadiq Harrison

It was found at and if you're searching for more scam-letters you can also go to Scamorama.

At Scamorama you might have a laugh or be saved from being scammed, or both.

Friday, June 17, 2005

LIFEWAVE Energy Patch, what are the credentials?

I received a comment from Susan on the topic about wearing the Lifewave Patches:

Susan said: I have indeed worn them. Frankly, your opinion is just that ... opinion. Mine comes from personal experience and the patches have made a huge difference in my life. I am not a pushover, or one of those "poor seniors" you so willingly underestimate. I am an open-minded person that is willing to look into things and form my own opinion, rather than just dis them with no real experience. You probably have problems with all kinds of "out of the box" healing methods. A healing is a healing ... and I experienced new found energy and healings in ways you wouldn't even understand, and with that a new lease on life. I am glad there are Lifewave patches. In fact, while I never do mlm's I did this one because of my personal experience. So if there are any open-minded people out there ... come to my website, which I am proud to say is

Are you trying to say that your belief that they work somehow constitutes proof that they do? Here's how things work: When someone asserts that something that violates the known laws of physics works, the burden of proof is on them, not the people who say, "I don't believe it."

The people who are selling these things have to prove that they do work.

An internet search of Google turns up hundreds of hits on "Lifewave Energy Patches". I did not have time to check every one, but almost all the first hundred were from people who sell the product. They all praised the product with different combinations of promotional material (apparently supplied by Lifewave) citing the same studies and the same testimonials. Very suspicious.

I came to Susan's website to explore her information about "Studies and Scientific information" and here are some:

An Introduction to the LifeWave™ Technology by inventor David Schmidt

David Schmidt is the inventor of the Lifewave Patch technology and President of the company. I didn't succeed in providing his curriculum vitae (Is there anyone out there able to provide his curriculum vitae?), it remains a mystery. But worldwidescam have uncovered an interesting version of Mr. Schmidt's early years in an article called: Lifewave History - This is the story of how the LifeWave technology came to be.

When David Schmidt and his pals at Lifewave decided to chicken out of the $1,000,000 challenge offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation, Mr. Randi took a closer look at the Lifewave patches and posted some comments of his own on the JREF web site:
A New and Exciting Applicant.

A short synopsis of LifeWave™ patches by Dr. Steven Haltiwanger, MD CCN

Next I found a link to this putative study website, a study done by a Dr. Steven Haltiwanger, MD CCN (the CCN is for "certified clinical nutritionist").

This is what Mr. Randi discovered about Dr. Steven Haltivanger:

Curious about the qualifications of Dr. Steven Haltiwanger, MD, CCN (the latter a nutritionist degree), listed by LifeWave, I found that he'd studied under Dr. Hans Nieper, a German doctor/oncologist who described certain varieties of cancer as the result of "tachyon field turbulence of the geopathic zone," and ran on endlessly about "energy fields" and "harnessing useful energy from space," which he referred to as the "tachyon field." Dr. Haltiwanger prescribed extracts of mistletoe and Dionaea muscipula as remedies to treat cancer; that last substance is the Venus Fly Trap plant....

Looking for the accompanying photo of Dr. Nieper, I went to the site, where I found him in such esoteric company as Harold Puthoff and Andrija Puharich (both sponsors of Uri Geller) and Eugene Mallove, Tom Bearden, Evan Soule and Jean-Louis Naudin — these last four deeply involved in "free-energy" machines. I'm sure you can find many other quack-artists in that population.

I also found the doctor is "Adjunct Professor of the Capital University of Integrated Medicine". An institution that is, according to, a "nonaccredited school headquartered in Washington, D.C., .... Its offerings include "Doctor of Integrated Medicine" and "Master of Integrated Health Science" ... It appears to have closed in 2003. "

And Dr. Steven Haltiwanger seems to Google up on any web pages that have something to do with Lifewave products.

A Real World Study by Joseph A. Goodson, MS, ATC

Even more suspicious is the "study" done by Joseph A. Goodson, Head Athletic Trainer, Moorehouse College, Atlanta, GA. Moorehouse College, according to their website, does not have a Physiology Department. Further searching reveals Mr. Goodson is not head of the Athletic Training Department since there appears to be no such thing. Goodson is listed as Head Trainer of the football team and only because there is an Assistant Trainer. The basketball team has its own "Trainer". So we are left with a "study", done by someone with no academic credentials using only 44 subjects and of course the "study" does not appear in any peer reviewed journals.

Common people might say even if they don't work, and they are just a placebo, what's the harm? But if they are placebos, as I think they are, and then they are sold under false pretences. There may be people who have legitimate medical problems who are foregoing REAL medical care in lieu of using these things.

And guess what...It's an MLM! We can all get rich by selling this and (most importantly) getting others to sell it for us! We will we be super athletes and rich too!

To everyone with an "open mind" about these patches I say...*Save your money*

More Lifewave Drivel at Randi's website.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

30 th edition of Tangled Bank is up at The Geomblog

Over at The Geomblog the 30th edition of the Tangled Bank is up with the best blog writing on science and medicine. Since The Geomblog is about Ruminations on computational geometry, algorithms, theoretical computer science and life you must expect there to be some mathematically inclined posts. Some of the links might be a lot more technical than usual. But after all it is the Geomblog.

Read the Tangled Bank here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Chiropractic War on Public Health is still going strong

Over at Chirowatch Terry Polevoy, MD has excellent stuff about chiropractors that encourage their patients to stop vaccinating their children. Tedd Koren and Martha Collins are big supporters of the anti-vaccination movement.

You can read the transcript of a broadcast called Shot in the arm: the chiropractic dispute over childhood vaccinations or you can visit CBC News and watch the video (only 15. minutes and still available).

From the broadcast:

Collins says while her opinion may be not to vaccinate, she can't tell her patients that. But they may understand that's how she thinks.

Collins: And maybe those are the people that are attracted to wellness care anyway.

Wendy Mesley: But maybe there are going to be more and more of these people encouraged by people like you and maybe it will get to a stage where a disease like measles does come back, because kids aren't vaccinated.

Collins: And if it did, what would happen?

Mesley: A lot of kids would die!

Collins: If it did, what would happen as far as - I don’t think it’s going to happen. I really don’t, Wendy. I really don’t.

Collins simply believes vaccination is dangerous, but she has no evidence (watch the movie and you'll realize how she thinks).

Back in Quebec City, Tedd Koren wraps up his presentation to a conference of chiropractors, with a sale pitch: buy his lecture kit for $400 US. Koren says the kit will quickly pay for itself because using it to deliver just a few anti-vaccination lectures will bring in more patients.

He finds six takers - more chiropractors ready to join the anti-vaccination lecture circuit.

Tedd Koren seems to be deeply involved in the anti-vaccination movement and he's earning a lot of money telling other chiro's how to get more patients by joining the anti-vaccination lecture circuit.

Over at CBC they have excellent articles about Vaccine misconceptions and Tips for evaluating vaccination websites.

I decided to do a little Google-search on Tedd Koren:

He was sued by the FTC for false advertising because he is the leading distributor of flyers that chiropractors use to mislead patients into thinking that chiropractic adjustments are substantiated for treating many conditions which are either debunked or unsupported. He circumvented the false advertising issue by fighting back on jurisdictional grounds arguing that his pamphlets were protected as doctor-patient communications not advertising. In that way he made the counterargument that the FTC didn't have the authority to regulate the flyers.

FTC dropped the charges and by doing this they made a victim of him and damaged their own credibility. The courts were used to legalize quackery and debunked methods and he won this case on technicality.

Why would he wish to do that?

He also defended a DC who was eventually convicted of health care fraud in the death of a patient by treating her using "subluxation care" in place of effective medical treatment for epilepsy.

Tedd Koren deserves to be mentioned in the hall of shame.

Updated August 31. 2005

Calling for submissions to the #11 Skeptics' Circle

Skeptics Circle
It will be my honor and pleasure to host Skeptics' Circle here at Anne's Anti-Quackery & Science Blog on June 23.

The Skeptics' Circle is dedicated to subjects like Quackery and Medical Misinformation, Pseudoscience ID / Creationism, Pseudoscience in general, Critical Thinking, Astrology, UFOs, Urban Legends, Paranormal and Science and the Scientific Method. Guidelines for submissions are explained here.

Please help me - I need your post - to make the next Skeptics' Circle another great one. Send in your submissions as soon as possible to amr2you at with the subject "Skeptics' Circle", and a link to your article, along with a sentence or two of descriptive summary. There is no limit to the number of submissions you can make.

I will accept submissions up to midnight Eastern Savings Time on Wednesday June 22, although I would be grateful if you didn’t all leave it that late.

Don't hesitate, don't be shy, don't wonder if your work is good enough — send it right to the Skeptics' Circle.

Future Hosts are still needed: Send an e-mail to saint_nate at if you want to host an upcoming circle.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Countless studies have cleared fluoridation beyond doubt

Article by by Jason Armfield, 11 jun 05 - in The Australian:

IN 1985, Michael Easley, a dentist and chief of dental health in Ohio, wrote that probably no medical or scientific advance has been the victim of as much abuse of the scientific literature as community water fluoridation.

Unfortunately, after two more decades of research vindicating both the effectiveness of water fluoridation and its safety, Dr Easley's comment is as relevant today as it was then. There is now no scientific doubt that adding a small amount of fluoride to our water supplies is effective in reducing children's experience of decay in our country. One study after another, in Australia and overseas, has shown this to be the case. It is, therefore, always disappointing to read continued anti-fluoridationist rhetoric on what is now acknowledged as one of the 10 great public
health achievements of the 20th century.

The rehashing of anti-fluoride rhetoric was recently showcased by Ross Fitzgerald in his piece, Trading Tooth Decay for Cancer, on The Australian's opinion page on May 26. His style of argument for opposing water fluoridation follows a well-worn path: First, anti-fluoride activists oppose the idea of fluoridating on the basis of not doing what "everyone else is doing", but then use instances of other countries not employing water fluoridation as an argument for why we shouldn't fluoridate our water. Second, they object to any research that shows water fluoridation to be effective, pointing out any possible flaw, real or contrived, but then twist the findings from the very same research to make an argument that favours their
position. Third, they ignore the hundreds of studies showing either no health detriments, or showing health benefits, of water fluoridation, but then handpick studies that show a negative association and assume that the results are universal and causal – even when there's no evidence that this is the case. Fourth, they offer up a couple of supporters with university degrees to prove their legitimacy, and that
they're not "nutcases", but then decry the vast majority of the scientific community as an "orthodoxy" to be challenged and fought against.

It's easy to believe in, or at least play along with a conspiracy theory. We might speculate that Elvis is still alive, or that aliens are being stored at Roswell, without it doing any real harm. More insidious conspiracy theories may, however, have darker consequences. In the 1964 Stanley Kubrick classic Dr Strangelove , General Jack D. Ripper set in motion a nuclear attack on Russia because he believed
the communists were trying to steal his "manliness" by adding fluoride to the water, an explanation for his sexual impotence.

While the plot of Dr Strangelove may seem far-fetched, it is also far-fetched to claim that controlled community water fluoridation causes cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, mental retardation, arthritis, AIDS or any other of the grab-bag of conditions blamed on water fluoridation. There is simply no consistent evidence for these claims.

For example, despite the sensationalist title of Fitzgerald's article linking fluoride to cancer, the Cancer Council refutes this claim and reviews of studies have consistently found no link between cancer and water fluoridation.

Yet, such false claims are perpetuated by anti-fluoride campaigners as part of their various conspiracy theories with the consequence that in some areas of Australia, often those with some of the worst childhood tooth decay, children are denied the benefit of fluoridated water.

Fear is a big motivator of human behaviour and the anti-fluoride contingent therefore uses an incessant campaign of fear-mongering to prey on people's lack of knowledge of the relevant scientific literature.

Unfortunately, for most people, weighing up the various claims and counter-claims frequently proves difficult. The truth is often arrived at only through reading and understanding the hundreds of relevant scientific studies conducted in relation to fluoride and water fluoridation. It is here, however, that "experts" derided by people such as Ross Fitzgerald can serve a useful purpose.

Contrary to Fitzgerald and other anti-fluoride conspiracy theorists who would have you read only anti-fluoride propaganda, I would encourage people to seek out valid and impartial information.

Although people should ideally turn to relevant original articles such as those published by researchers at the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health at the University of Adelaide , it will be more convenient for most people to access the small number of very comprehensive scientific reviews of water fluoridation such as those published by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the University of York or the Ontario Ministry of Health. These reviews, often commissioned by government agencies, are based only on scientific research, look at both benefits and potential concerns, and clearly underline both the effectiveness of water fluoridation and the lack of any consistent association with the litany of diseases and conditions thrown up by anti-fluoride campaigners.

Ironically, the anti-fluoride call for us to rebel against "orthodoxy" is, in the end, merely a desire for us to believe without question. And the price we pay is often the poor dental health of both children and adults in those remaining non-fluoridated areas of Australia. Jason Armfield is research officer at the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, based at the Dental School of the University of Adelaide.

A Systematic Review of Public Water Fluoridation 2000 is available to download from this web site free of charge: University of York

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Among the people I know, no one has really heard much of creationism

I have a very horrible feeling this is going to change over the next 5-10 years - and also coming to Europe.

When someone like Ken Ham has spent 11 years in Northern Kentucky creating a museum to answer one of the most debated questions of our time: How and when did life begin - it must be taken serious, though it's nonsense.

Visitors to Ham's still-unfinished Creation Museum will experience his view: that God created the world in six, 24-hour days on a planet just 6,000 years old. This literal interpretation of the Bible runs counter to accepted scientific theory, which says Earth and its life forms evolved over billions of years.

Read the article Ministry uses dinosaurs to dispute evolution by John Johnston, Enquirer staff writer.

Ken Ham runs the AiG (Answers in Genesis) ministry dedicated to bringing the claimed truths of Genesis and Creation to millions around the country. I think you should check out this dishonest AiG article, making a fabricated case that al opponents of AiG are atheists, materialists, and humanists.

It seems that AiG likes to portray itself as a David against the Goliaths, but it's a religious and political organization, not a scientific one, and its major opponent is the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

Along the same lines, Observer has a piece about the Museum of Earth History in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas: Would you Adam 'n' Eve it ... dinosaurs in Eden

The destruction of the dinosaurs is explained, not by a comet striking the Earth 65 million years ago, but by the Flood. This, the museum says, wiped out most of the dinosaurs still alive and created the Grand Canyon and huge layers of sedimentary rock seen around the world.

Some dinosaurs survived on Noah's ark. One poster explains that Noah would have chosen juvenile dinosaurs to save space. An illustration shows two green sauropods in the ark alongside more conventional elephants and lions. The final exhibit depicts the Ice Age, where the last dinosaurs existed with woolly mammoths until the cold and hunting by cavemen caused them to die out.

Scientists dismiss such claims as on a par with believing in Atlantis. Yet the museum is unlikely to be seen as a major threat to mainstream science. It was put in the heart of an area where Christian attractions are a mainstay of the local economy.

The thing about dinosaurs surviving on Noah’s Ark reminded me of some excellent post over at Pharyngula: Why is it called biblical literalism, Please, sweet lord, nooooooo!, Pinkoski Part 1: Danged know-it-alls and Pinkoski again. PZ Myers is really having fun with the creationist comic book by Jim Pinkoski that purports to explain all the flaws in evolutionary biology.

It was (not) the FLOOD that killed the dinosaur

The picture was found from: The weirdest book I ever got

Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up. John Rennie wrote 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense, that still exists in the public imagination.

All this ID/creationism is entirely contrary to what I've learned about evolution in biology classes: There are variations within populations, and the variants that are most successful at coping with local, short-term conditions are represented at a higher frequency in subsequent generations, but there is no intelligence behind changes.

The massive evidence from palaeontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields have established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt.

All this creationist nonsense isn't science. It's a glorified version of the "goddidit" explanation for why things happen.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Kylie Minogue's alternative cancer therapies

Kylie Minogue has turned to alternative therapies to help her beat breast cancer, it says here.

(don't click the photo until you have finished reading, you can't click back)

Well, she can afford paying someone to give her "the good feeling of placebo".

But it's rather annoying to see all these quacks taking money from people by claiming medical benefits which simply don't exist.

They should honestly say: I'm offering you something relaxing to occupy you while the medicine does its work.

Some would say that it's fine that she is using CAM in addition to standard treatment if it helps ease her mind.

I think it's sad that Kylie had the problem in the first place, but more sad that she gives credit to ridiculous "therapies".

Turning to alternative cancer therapies she gives a message to other ignorant who cannot afford it.

And then the real cure gets erased from the picture.

In a few year uncritical reporters will be talking of Kylie (or Olivia Newton John) and how she used "bio-energy healing" to overcome her disease.

Some would say it is good to try to keep a positive mind when going through this.

Studies (Optimism No Help In Surviving Lung Cancer) have shown that this stuff about people doing worse if they have a depressed or angry attitude during cancer therapy isn't true. Blaming people because they haven't managed to keep a cheerful front going, and imply that's why they died - is wrong.

The "positive attitude" thing is one of the classic excuses used by sCAMmers: if you don't get better, it's your own fault for not having a positive attitude.

At least she has sense enough to do the alternative in addition to standard treatment, and not instead of.

(If someone put this story up that would probably be?)

Friday, June 10, 2005

My Colored Lightsaber should be green

I might as well take this test, it seems like anyone else is doing it too:

Green is your Lightsaber's color.

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth,
harmony, and freshness. Green has strong
emotional correspondence with safety. Green is
also commonly associated with wealth and
happiness, so someone with a green lightsaber
like yourself is a fortunate soul.

What Colored Lightsaber Would You Have?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Skeptico welcome you to the 10th Skeptics’ Circle

Go visit Skeptico and read all the wonderful stuff there. As expected the hottest topics this time around are critical thinking and pseudoscience, but also great writing about quackery, the paranormal, Urban Legends and historical revisionism, with a few others to round out the list.

I reported on the debate between Michael Shermer and Kent Hovind. As I don't live in the USA - it's harder to understand why somebody takes creationism seriously, but I realised they have reason to do.

And then Skeptico introduced "goddidit", - a phrase used by theists to express the idea "I don't know". It differs from the common usage of "I don't know" in that it implies that "I don't wish to find out, either."

So now I know why Skeptico think that "Goddidit" is much easier to explain. It’s not science, it’s nonsense, and it is easy to explain.

(You could also say God did it, but "how did God do it?")

Well as Skeptico wrote, one of my favourite subjects is definitely Homeopathy, because I consider Homeopathy as this century's quackery (hopefully nobody will get tired of this - except for the homeopaths). I still wonder why homeopathy remains one of the most popular complementary therapies despite the inability to reproduce the anecdotal evidence in clinical trials. If any effect on homeopathy it is quite unknown to science.

I haven't read everything yet - but I will soon - and I encourage everyone to check the 10th Skeptic's Circle out. It's a great one.

I'm really looking forward to putting the next edition together in about two weeks from now.

Another great website debunking the paranormal

Andrew A. Skolnick is a Science and Medical Journalist.

He runs this excellent website that is debunking the paranormal.

He spotted Victor Zammit's web site, that is in cooperation with the Danish psychic Marion Jean Dampier.

He also has some audio clips with Dr. Jacque Benveniste, Dr. John Maddox, Dr. Walter Stewart, and James Randi, produced for American Medical Radio News here and you can also hear the "Indubitable Duarfa" perform "100% Accurate" psychic readings over the phone.

I'll add this web site to my sidebar.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Articles on Quackery

Black Triangle made a reference to this interesting article from The Sunday Times - Ireland.

Simon Singh is one of the good guys, and in his article No miracle cure for junk science he is debunking alternative remedies (i.e. they should be subject to the same scientific testing as other drugs).

Another article from the Sunday Times - Ireland, by Richard Oakley, Ads warns about alternative medicine shows that when people are ill, they are vulnerable and they will clutch at anything they can:

The need for tighter control was brought into focus by the case involving Mineke Kamper, a homeopath in Co Mayo. Kamper, 72, told two patients she was treating not to attend doctors. Both patients died from curable conditions.

Jacqueline Alderslade, 55, from Hollymount in Mayo, died on July 2001 from complications relating to asthma. An inquest was told she had recorded in her diary that Kamper had advised her to give up the medication she had been taking, except for a Ventolin inhaler. Kamper denied the allegation, but refused to attend the hearing.

In the second case Paul Howie, a 49-year-old picture framer from Ballinrobe in Mayo, died in April 2003 when he was suffocated by a treatable cancerous tumour in his neck. His inquest heard that Kamper had advised him and his wife that he should not seek conventional care.

Kamper also stayed away from this hearing and it has since emerged that, although she was practising homeopathy, she was not fully qualified to do so. An analysis of the treatments she gave to Howie showed that they contained no active ingredients.

In the UK Quackery will be offered to prison inmates:

Holistic massages and aromatherapy to soothe away the stresses of life behind bars are to be offered to inmates at Britain's newest prison. To a chorus of protests, the managers of Peterborough Prison are advertising for two part-time holistic therapists to "offer treatments such as reflexology, aromatherapy, acupuncture, Indian head massage, reiki and shiatsu alongside general relaxation and other health promotion groups.

Living in UK (and other places?) you are indirectly supporting Quackery by paying your tax bill.

Michael Shermer and Kent Hovind debating Evolution vs Creationism - it should have been "The Science of Creationism" instead

Skeptics Circle
Nothing to do Saturday night - I decided to watch the debate between Michael Shermer and Kent Hovind, that took place April 29, 2004, Physical Sciences Lecture Hall on the campus of the University of California, Irvine.

(Over at Hovind's site you can download the creationist-evolution debate between him and Shermer at UC Irvine - if you don't mind - and be patient, it's a large file).

My first thought was, you can't be serious. No one takes creationism seriously. It's just another fringe belief like Atlantis right? But I have realized that Bad Beliefs Don't Die and that Intelligent Design / creationism are a real threat to our education systems as the following links may indicate: School attacked over evolution teaching, Evangelicals see flaws in Darwinism, Creationism, With New Name, Is Taught in Schools, School science debate has evolved and Wis. City's Schools Allowing Creationism, The school of creationism.

It is shocking that a college crowd mostly seemed to support Hovind. I am not sure they were all college students, most probably they were supporters coming on purpose. The debate was organized by one Christian campus organization of California U, therefore the audience couldn't be representative.
Fortunately each and every court case has been thrown out and cre-ID proponents have been defeated every time. They are not allowed to peddle religion as science in science class, which is what all this is about. Last case was the hearings in Kansas that was held to help deciding how science should be taught.

I did a little investigation on Kent Hovind and if you are unaware of Hovind's "education", tax evasion, and anti-evolutionary rants read it here and read also "A Review of Kent Hovind's Thesis".

Here is a quote from the very front of Hovind's web page:

Welcome to Creation Science Evangelism. Here at CSE, our goal is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard, and to strengthen your faith if you are already a believer. We do this by showing how Science actually gives glory to God by supporting the Biblical account of creation.

Check these out:

Weblog: IRS Raids Home and Business of Creationist

He's also had trouble with the law, having been charged with assault, battery, and burglary (the charges were dropped), and faces other charges over his refusal to get building permits for his properties.

Now Hovind, who goes by the name "Dr. Dino" and runs Dino Adventure Land, Faith Baptist Church, and Creation Science Evangelism in Pensacola, Florida, is being investigated by the IRS for tax evasion.

He declared bankruptcy in 1996: The Hovind Bankruptcy Decision

Now we have an indication of his credibility.

In my experience anybody who wants to confront creationists should know as much as possible about the question about the eye, because it has turned into their favourite argument.

If you google "evolution of the eye", you get a lot of very good links, the best of them illustrated.

Hovind (and other creationists) say that the eye is an example of an irreducibly complex structure, i.e. something that could not have evolved because its constituent parts confer no advantage on the larger organism of which they are part. If evolution occurs through gradations, the critics say, how could it have created the separate parts of the eye (the lens, the retina, the pupil and so on) if none of these structures by themselves would make vision possible? In other words, what good is five percent of an eye? Creationist also recourse to the missing links in any explanation. If there is one little step that isn't covered in evidence of evolution, they use this as positive proof of creationism and miracles.

Quote from Evolution of the Eye:

Biologists use the range of less complex light sensitive structures that exist in living species today to hypothesize the various evolutionary stages eyes may have gone through.

Some scientists think some eyes may have evolved like this: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper. At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.

You can find more at Talk Origins

In the debate Hovind said: "No fossil gives any evidence for evolution because you can't prove that thing had a kid!", well here they do (it's even some of his own). And if evolution didn't happen the fossils wouldn't go from simple to complex, so apparently Hovind has never heard of "inference".

Evolution is merely a change of allele frequency over time. An allele is one of the alternate forms of a gene, a hereditary unit that is passed on from one generation to the other. The gene pool is the set of all genes in a species or population. Different alleles of the same gene usually produce different effects on the phenotype (i.e. your external appearance).

A summary is provided by palaeoanthropologist Milford Wolpoff in his "Paleoanthropology" (1999: 31-2) where evolution is defined as:

"the genetic transformation of populations through time, created by alterations in the genetic makeup of populations from generation to generation. The consequences of this process are changes in the adaptations and diversity of populations. This mechanism of descent with modification is responsible for the pattern and variety of life on earth: a tall order for so simple a concept. The theory part of the "theory of evolution" is concerned with how these changes in genetic makeup occur and what effect they have on populations. Evolutionists have critically examined the mechanisms causing genetic change, the problem of whether these mechanisms need to be viewed at the level of the gene, the individual, or the species, the issue of whether changes are gradual or episodic, and the extent to which evolution is directional. However, these is no question about two facts:
1. The process of evolution is an actuality, a hypothesis more than 100 years old that has not been disproved. For there to be no evolution, every generation would have to be exactly the same genetically as the previous generation.
2. Evolution if the singular explanation for the history of life on our planet. It is not a hypothesis about how life came to be, but rather an explanation and description of the processes governing its changes over time."

If you ever get landed with some creationist argument have a look at the excellent resource at, the FAQ section has a dissection of every creationist "argument".

One of his most ridiculous assertions is that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

According to numerous, independent dating methods, the earth is known to be approximately 4.5 billion years old. Most young-earth arguments rely on inappropriate extrapolations from a few carefully selected and often erroneous data points, but how good are those young-earth arguments?

In the debate Hovind tried to knock down the evolution points of debate, yet he didn't provide solid evidence to back up his creationist view. He was mainly quoting from the bible and offering up opinions as to how evolution cannot work, yet no evidence as to how creationism works. Hovind were just reciting what he said over and over again before. Debating him without having studied his lectures seems like suicide. Hovind also tried to create a "role reversal", in which he called himself the skeptic. He claims that he is all for science, whereas Shermer is no skeptical because he is not questioning the evolution viewpoint.

Shermer allowed the debate to be about or include Evolution and that made the presupposition that it was a "Creationism versus Evolution" topic. Instead, the debate should have been on something like "The Science of Creationism", to examine the premises of the subject. In that way, the whole debate would have been forced to concentrate on creationism. Then Shermer could have proceeded to demolish each and every creationist claim with piles of clear, simple evidence in his own style. There would have been no need to try and justify or even mention evolution, provided the debate focused on creationism alone.

The debate between a creationist and an evolutionist will never be fair, the evolutionist will have to explain a complex theory, and the creationist will just have to use some premade simple out of context quote or misinterpreted data to seemingly debunk the scientist’s long explanation with a single sentence.

Here is Michael Shermer's write up of the debate.

Now you must see the debate and judge for yourself.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Excuses for not taking the Randi Challenge

Claus Larsen at Skeptic Report is wondering why nobody has ever passed the test offered by JREF.

Not one single person could actually do what he or she claimed to be able to do, and the one-million-dollar prize is still there to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.

He comes up with - I counted 28 excuses - correct me if I am wrong, that all have been used to avoid the challenge by possible participants.

Another possible way to "avoid" the challenge is to make a challenge by oneself like Marion Damper Jeans did.

Really there are no excuses for not picking up $1 million, except that.....

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Why is homeopathy not acceptable as scientific medical healing system?

Because it has never passed a properly controlled, double blind trial. We normally don't accept things as "pure scientific" without tests.

A scientific test of a claim is fundamentally a means of observing, documenting and measuring the claimed phenomenon while eliminating all other explanations (or at least as many as possible) for it.

First homeopathy has a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting it, it does not pass rigorous replicable scientific tests. As long as there are a number of interfering factors (placebo effect, experimenter bias, etc.), homeopathy "works", but the moment these other explanations are eliminated (double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials), the effect disappears.

Second, because the body is so good at healing itself, it is remarkably easy for any physician to convince themselves that a useless intervention is having a beneficial effect. This is why evidence-based medicine was developed. Objective testing of treatments to see whether the effect is real or coincidental/illusory have led to many cherished but useless therapies being withdrawn.

Third, the mystery thing about homoeopathy is the remarkable tenacity of its adherents in clinging to the belief that there's a real effect going on. Consider the claim is that the effect is so striking that it is obvious even at the level of the clinical anecdote, and indeed many positively miraculous cures are reported. Any effect this strong should be very simple to demonstrate by a controlled trial. Testing homeopathy the best anyone can say is there might be an effect there, but then again there might not. That does not sound like a good basis to be claiming to heal people.

Fourth, homeopathy depends entirely on coincidental recovery and wishful thinking for its effects, and those who believe that the remedies are actually doing something are simply mistaken. Nobody will ever win the Nobel Prize for trying to prove there is science behind a delusion. The history of the Pons/Fleischmann experiment in cold fusion as an example.

There is good reason why homeopathy is not acceptable as a science.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Darth Vader knows nothing of chocolate apparently

Darth Vader wasn't really using the force to read my mind.

It was pretty sad when he just lost hope and started to guess randomly.

"Is it a lap top?"

"Is it a banana?"

and then the list of seven things before finally he gave up. He knows nothing of chocolate :).

Excellent reading about science, alternative medicine

Orac wrote about a very good primer on the warning signs of pseudoscientific quackery. "On-line reading and handouts for a Scientific Look at Alternative Medicine" can be found here.

Join the debate on Spiked-online 15 June 2005

If you are intested in contributing to the spiked/Wellcome Trust online debate "complementary and alternative medice: Why is conventional medicine not enough? it is held in central London on the evening of Wednesday 15 June 2005. Find the online debate on spiked here and online booking here.

As part of the online debate four experts will be joining the event:

DR PETER FISHER, clinical director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, argues that "for some clinical problems, conventional treatments are not fully effective".

MARK HENDERSON, science correspondent at The Times (London), argues that "any perceived benefit of homeopathy or reflexology arises purely from the placebo effect or the regressive fallacy".

CHARLES PITHER, medical director of the RealHealth Institute, argues that "conventional medicine has forgotten the primal aspects of caring".

MICHAEL BAUM, emeritus professor of surgery at University College London, argues that "in the past 200 years we have learnt much about the exquisite mechanisms of the body".

The debate is open to contributions from anybody, and to submit a contribution, click on "Join the debate" ind the right-hand menu at Spiked-online.

Join the debate and knock them down with good arguments.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Chiropractic VS Medical education

The first chiro (Palmer) claims to have cured someone's deafness by cracking his back. Palmer figured the back must be straight to allow for uninhibited energy flow. D.D. Palmer and his son B.J. Palmer believed that all disease was caused by the misalignment of vertebrae, also called "subluxations". So you must straighten the back to cure everything and keep it straight.

Chiros don't attend medical school; they are "D.C." and not M.D. But often they are called doctors and this is misleading to the real MDs. MD's education and knowledge of the human body is so far advanced over those chiros and naturopaths that also take on the moniker "doctor". But that is the reason why most people think chiros are MDs and I used to think so too. I thought they just specialized in the back. It was kind of shocking to find out the truth and everyone I've talked to in real life refuses to believe me. It's not fair that DCs get way too much credit.

It's a fallacy to think that Chiropractors are more educated than MDs, although it says so here.

You will notice that there is no pharmacology, a requirement for M.D./D.O. candidates, listed in the chiropractic curriculum. I know chiropractors don't prescribe drugs, but this should obviously be omitted from a "fair" comparison.

A greater divergence also occurs when it comes to clinical training. For example, how much surgical training does a chiropractor get in school? The answer is none. Again, note that chiropractors don't offer surgery as a function of their specialty, but I'd add that, among other things, because it is a further development and application of previously learned information.

And then comparing "classroom hours" is dubious and incomplete at best. This schedule implies that "book" learning stops once physicians-in-training leave the classroom. MDs must prepare and give, numerous literature searches, keeping up with assigned and independent reading and, most importantly, being responsible for knowing the full spectrum of medical and potential clinical management issues of the patient's. They will also have to pass licensure exams that certify medical knowledge to show they are at least safe and competent. Claiming that DCs have more "classroom hours" is false and made on wrong conditions and I consider the table to be inaccurate.

Another reason not to compare Chiro's with MDs can be found here in the Standards for Doctor of Chiropractic programs and requirement institutional status (PDF) from January 2005. You can scroll to the PDF's pages about 21, 22... etc. and see that one "physics" class that can be taken is kinesiology (considered to be quackery).

This webpage is a great source of chiropractic methods and I think you should watch the very informative film "Adjusting the Joints" too. Use Real player to see this film. I downloaded a free trial and then kept the Real player in a reduced edition. You can do so too.

See who links to your web site.