Ideas. Opinions. Adoxography. Satire. Parrhesia. Skepticism. Terribila meditans. Vox clamantis in oppidum. Now with 50% more snark!
Category: Pseudoscience & Quackery
The dark and dangerous side of the New Age nonsense: people who tout unproven, unsupported processes and products allegedly for healing, but often dangerous and even fatal. When fancy talk is used to fake science to the uninitiated and unsupported claims are made for studies and research that was not done properly or sometimes not done at all.
A 2014 story on Salon, titled 7 things Americans think are more plausible than man-made global warming made its way around Facebook again, recently. It lists seven statistics about things Americans believe in more than they believe that human activity has caused climate change. It got a lot of shares and likes. Climate change is, of course, fact, and as Peter Schickele once said, “Fact is fact. You can’t argue with fact…” If you accept those facts, it seems a scary read: seven signs of … click below for more!
I’ve written about the wingnuts and their mysterious planet Nibiru – the so-called Planet X – in the past. It’s one of the furthest wacky conspiracies on the fringe of wackiness, and fairly recent. It mostly sprang whole cloth from the brain (if I can call it that…) of uber-wingnut Nancy Lieder, whose website, ZetaTalk, has been spewing diaphanous piffle of the most banal sort since 1995. Lieder claims to be in psychic contact with aliens called the Zetas (stop laughing), … click below for more!
While flat-earther might be a metaphor for a certain kid of myopic, political stupidity (think of your local council…), I learned this week that it’s also a thriving online subculture of rabidly pseudo-science wingnuts. A couple of entertaining articles about the flat-earthers appeared on the UK’s Guardian paper site (here and here) this week (and in the HuffPost, too). They surprised, but also disturbed me. I hadn’t actually believed in flat-earthers as a modern reality: while I knew of their former existence, … click below for more!
It’s just one more of those wingnut fantasy conspiracies that popped up on my Facebook feed recently. It’s not a new one: the old aliens-among-us nonsense just gets recycled and re-spewed by a whole new group of ignorati who follow the scam artists, hoaxers and charlatans who in turn make their living off this stuff. This latest group is, apparently, led by two top wingnuts. If there was an army for wingnuts, they’d be five-star generals. One is Corey Goode, described … click below for more!
Homeopathic products often make a lot of outrageous claims. Given that these products are just water, or sometimes water and sugar, anyone with a gnat’s worth of common sense doesn’t believe those claims. Nor are they backed by any evidence. It’s no wonder homeopathy is called the “air guitar of medicine:” It should not be a shock to learn that homeopathy has no basis in scientific fact – should anyone doubt this I invite them to peruse Edzard Ernst’s systematic … click below for more!
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19YGhuORcJk] I found it difficult to read Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (Random House, 2013): it gave me a sense of unease, forcing a frequent over-the-shoulder glance to see if someone was following me just because I was reading it. But nonetheless, it proved compelling – so much so that I dropped all other books and read it cover to cover, uninterrupted earlier this summer. It is by far the most complete, detailled expose of the church … click below for more!
Earlier this month, the Ontario government took a shot at real medicine when it became the first province in Canada to regulate homeopathy. What the government should have done, if it had any real concern about our collective health or our health care system, is ban it. Instead, although it at first seemed an April Fool’s joke, on April 1 the Wynne government announced legislation that will do nothing but legitimize and help spread this dangerous pseudoscience. Clearly this was a political … click below for more!
As the poster for the Centre for Inquiry notes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s a popular catchphrase for the skeptical movement, but should be an intellectual policy for everyone. Regardless of what is being claimed, it requires evidence at the same level of the claim. Anecdote is not evidence, please note, especially personal anecdote even with the corroboration of other witnesses. People often “see” what they choose to see, and interpret events and objects according to preconceived ideas. Seeing UFOs … click below for more!
“Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds,” reads a headline in The Guardian this week. Well, that’s hardly news. But it repeats saying anyway. It’s a story about the latest in a series of studies that again and again debunk homeopathy as a treatment and conclude it is useless. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) “…thoroughly reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy to come up with its position statement,” the paper reported. And on Gizmodo they … click below for more!
A recent story on New Scientist gives a glimmer of hope for those of us who bemoan the swelling tsunami of claptrap and codswallop that fills the internet: THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness. What a relief that will be. Of course it may spell doom for the popularity of pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, … click below for more!
“Have Homeopaths Reached Peak Stupid?” asks the headline on Quackometer.net. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting dumber than a belief in homeopathy (aka The One Quackery to Rule Them All), but apparently there are higher levels within their madness that homeopaths continue to scale. This, however, looks like their Everest of stupidity. The story in question is about the plan by homeopaths to “heal the oceans” last week. Admirable goal, but it’s the implementation that will make you laugh so hard you’ll … click below for more!
Homeopathy. It’s absolute bunk. But you already know that. All those forms of ‘magic medicine‘* are bunk, of course, but homeopathy has a special place reserved for it in the kingdom of codswallop. Codswallop is dangerous to the mind, and often to your wallet, but homeopathy compounds that by being dangerous to your health, too, even fatal, as Penelope Dingle discovered. Yes, homeopathy can kill you, if you take it’s fake cures instead of actual medicine or treatment.** But, you … click below for more!
As medicine, reflexology is bunk. Just like iridology and phrenology. Of course, you knew that. But not everyone does. Reflexology popped up recently in a shared post on Facebook (a popular venue for moving codswallop and cat photos from one user to another at the speed of light…). Coincidentally it appeared right after a post promoting a piece in the New York Review of Books called, The Age of Ignorance. How apropos. (I’ll get to that NYRB piece in another post, along … click below for more!
I know, I know, it’s the proverbial fish in a barrel when you critique creationists. They are just so easy to mock. But how can you help yourself when someone like Ken Ham opens his mouth in public? The media just love to pounce all over him. He must take his lessons in PR from Ann Coulter. And like with Ann, the controversy probably helps sell his books. (And, from what I see, selling books is really what Ken is all about. But … click below for more!