Saturday, August 30, 2008

I suppose it isn't that hard to believe that a psychic would use a whale calf starving to death to grab some publicity. After all they do it when people have been murdered and children have gone missing.

A whale calf was euthanised in New South Wales this week after it was separated from its mother. Several radio news segments I heard in the days leading up to the calf's death mentioned offers of help from psychics. I assume they would use their powers to ask the calf if it knew where it lived or where its mum worked. It's a great example of how psychics will interfere when time is of the essence.

There was a far greater uproar from normal people than there was from the psychics though. People seem to like whales a lot and the thought of one dying upsets a lot of people. There were countless calls to "do something". What options are available though?

  • Use a spotter plane to find some more whales and lead the calf to them in the hopes that there is a lactating female in the group that will adopt the calf. Possible but not very probable.
  • Feed the calf by hand and release it into the wild at some stage. Also possible but the calf would have no social or survival skills, at best it would just postpone its death.
  • Feed the calf and keep it in a tank for the rest of its life. Do we really need more animals in cages to dance for our amusement?
The kindest option, although not the easiest to watch, is to let things take their course. It happens every day where we can't see it and we do nothing. There is no reason to feel guilty now just because it is in range of the television cameras.

Or, if you aren't happy with that you could do what some other folks have done and
blame Kevin Rudd for the whole affair.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

I saw an interesting product on television this week. The Derma Wand. It makes you look all pretty if you rub it on your face. The technical specs are non-existent on the sites selling the devices. As far as I can ascertain it's basically a vibrator.

It claims to oxygenate your skin, which confuses me because people spend hundreds of dollars on creams and moisturisers containing anti-oxidants. It also has no source for this oxygen, which could be why it is called a wand, because it would have to be magic to actually work as claimed.

It can shrink your pores, get rid of the sags and the wrinkles and the lines. I think a better bet would be to just stop fucking with your face so much. Stop poking at it and smearing so many ointments on it. It's not helping.

If this device does have any effect I'd bet you'd get the exact same benefit from a simple face massage. Plus you have the benefit of not wasting a few hundred bucks.

this YouTube video a woman mentions that she likes to take it home and give herself some "critical attention every day". So it could actually be a covert way for shy housewives to buy themselves a vibrator.

But then maybe is does work, after all, would an esthatition lie?

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I put this product on my list of things to post about quite a while ago and never got around to it. When I was checking to see if they had added anything new to their scam I was pleased to see that the site no longer exists. You can check it out here via the Wayback Machine.

It's nice to know that there is one less crappy product making bogus claims on the net. A hundred have probably taken its place and I'm sure it won't be long before someone else is pushing the exact same thing.

The product is, or was, water extracted from fruit that contains O
18 instead of O16. It can sooth razor burn and make you look pretty if you squirt it on your face. Reduce wrinkles and keep you refreshed for longer if you drink it. These claims are demonstrated by scientific research, but for some reason they forgot to show the research on their website.

Also, they claim the product is pure, then they list the impurities it contains, contradiction much?

  • Chloride 1.2
  • Nitrate 0.05
  • Potassium 0.66
  • Magnesium 0.05
I guess calling a product 'nearly pure' doesn't sound as good.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A visitor commented on a post about Don Tolman from a while ago that "it'd just be nice to see people post that have done a bit of research and really stepped into the teachings before blindly bashing based on a sound bite". By this I assume that they are implying that my criticism of Don Tolman is based on me taking things out of context.

Here are a few direct quotes from Don's website:

A person who has had over 40 skin cancers already, so of course they should get more sun.
Q: “I have skin cancer on my nose. I already have scars from previous operations – over 40 from my neck up. So I don’t want another operation. Which are the best foods to eat and which are the best to avoid to support self-healing?”

Don’s Answer: A raw food diet is the answer. Every night and every morning smear a layer of extra/extra virgin olive oil all over you especially your face neck and shoulders. Get 20-30 minutes of sunshine with no sun screen every day and watch it all heal. Apply onion juice or garlic juice to the sites of concern each day for 2 weeks the n switch to fresh lemon juice for 2 weeks.

Yellow foods block electromagnetic fields. Seriously?
Q: “What is the effect of EMF radiation and mobile phones etc and how do we strengthen ourselves against its effect?”

Don’s Answer: Always use ear phones whenever you can. Yellow foods block EMF radiation. Even yellow clothing assists in this. Technology is getting better and better in these areas so upgrade when ever you can.

Yes, stay away from surgeons, fruit and vegetables will fix those leaky heart valves. In many instances of congenital heart defects
diuretics are prescribed to help eliminate water and salt, so recommending more water and salt without knowing this persons individual details seems very responsible.
Q: “We have two children who were born with congenital heart disease and were told they would not survive without the 7 open heart operations they have had between them. What more can we do for their future good health? ”

Don’s Answer: Stay away from surgeons. This sounds harsh, but if you had seen the things I’ve seen you’d understand. Fear is too much with us and I pam thankful that your children are still alive and with us. And for the skills the doctors displayed by all appearances you need to be thankful, but water, salt, vegetarian diets (or mostly so), walking, playing, jumping rope are the things to do now because life is movement. It can’t be stressed enough that health comes of a happy heart. Hug them, smile with them, play with them and feed them lots of red yellow and orange foods.

Clearly I was wrong to doubt Don's skills as a healer. I'm now going to go and paint my friends mobile phones yellow so they stop working.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My parents recently received a copy of the David Rhodes chain letter in the mail. This is the second one they've gotten. It's the usual thing, send ten dollars to the first name on the list, then add your name to the bottom of the list and send copies to other people.

To make it really enticing there is a five cent piece taped to the letter. Wow, five whole cents, this couldn't possibly be a scam, do you accept cheques?

There are some distinct warning signs in the letter. It instructs you to not tell your friends or family about it, they won't understand, just trust your feelings and post off your money. Write a note saying that the ten dollars is a gift so that it's all nice and legal. Of course a scam is a scam no matter if you have a note from your mum or not. There is also some dodgy maths to show how much money you'll make.

Like any pyramid or ponzi scheme it might make money for the instigator, maybe even for the second person on the list, but it will soon collapse. For everyone involved to make money, as the scam claims, there would need to be an infinite amount of new gullible people available to send letters to.

The only foolproof way of making money from this scam is to go to the first address on the list and start stealing all their mail. Or put your ten dollars in the bank and earn some interest. You won't get fifty thousand in thirty days, but it's guaranteed.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

No, I didn't think so. Nor am I turned on by people killing Rhinoceros for their horn.

I was shocked a few weeks ago to see a television show refer to the use of rhino horn in Chinese medicine as bogus. I'm not shocked to hear that it is bogus, just that it would be called such by a television network with a reputation for shilling quack health products. In fact I saw two new scamish looking devices on the same station this week that I hope to post about soon.

Rhino horn is mostly keratin, the same as your fingernails. So a great market exists for someone to grind up their fingernails and start selling I Can't Believe It's Not Rhino on eBay.

Rhino horn is used to treat fever. I could only find one study, on rats, that showed a positive effect. You'd think if it was such a good remedy for fever, so good that it's worth hunting and killing a rhino for, that there would be some better evidence by now. It can't be that hard. Bunch of people with a fever, divide them into three groups, aspirin, horn or placebo depending on group and tot up the results.

Hopefully calling a scam a scam and a quack a quack will one day become the norm instead of the exception.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Still on iridology from yesterday. I was reminded of a question I've asked, but never received an answer to, on a few iridology blogs and forums. The question: How can iridology and iris recognition technology both exist?

The two concepts are mutually exclusive. Iridology relies on the iris reflecting changes in the body. Iris recognition relies on the iris being stable in appearance.

I can buy an iris recognition access control system from companies like LG or Panasonic. It will work. I could buy some iridology books and charts, stare into peoples eyes for fifty dollars a session and tell them lies. It won't work.

If the iridologists were smart they'd redefine the scam. Claim that the iris doesn't change but that because of quantum all of a persons maladies are fixed in their iris during gestation. You have to keep your scam fresh or you'll never make the big bucks. It's not science if it doesn't have quantum.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

It occurred to me today that iridologists are missing out on a new income stream. They could apply the techniques of iridology to cameras.

A customer brings in a broken camera, the iridologist has a look at the lens and then diagnoses the fault. Bit cloudy in the NE quadrant, must be a flat battery. Smudge just below the centre, obviously a misaligned film take-up spool. White spots around the circumference, the camera has absorbed too many souls.

Guaranteed to be just as effective as regular iridology, i.e. useless.

This post, like one a couple of days ago was inspired by one of Bronze Dog's excellent Doggerel posts.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Dr Karl was joined yesterday in his regular Thursday slot on radio station Triple J by Michael Shermer.

As you would expect with the founder of The Skeptics Society on the show topics such as the recent Bigfoot find, the Moon landing hoax, and the World Trade Center conspiracy were brought up pretty quickly.

Even though these topics have been around for a while there are still plenty of believers out there. For that reason it's always interesting to hear someone like Shermer talk about them, you never know what new arguments and points of logic you'll pick up. Every idea helps when debating and discussing hoaxes with believers, or more importantly with people who are undecided on such matters. They are usually far more receptive to a logical argument than a true believer who sees facts and science as part of the big cover up.

They covered plenty of other topics as well so have a listen if you get a chance. An
MP3 of the show is always available to download for a couple of weeks.

Michael Shermer is in Australia at the moment for National Science Week, go and see him speak if you have the opportunity.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

I love Bronze Dog's series Doggerel. A recent entry about cameras mentioned a spray paint product that claims to obscure your car number plate from traffic cameras. It got me thinking about all the dodgy products, scams and myths targeted at motorists:
  • Paints and plastic covers to hide your number plate from traffic cameras.
  • Radar detectors and LASER jammers to avoid speeding fines.
  • Fuel pills and hydrogen systems to increase fuel economy.
  • Ultrasonic devices to scare away kangaroos.
  • Eating mints to beat breathalysers.
  • Opening cars with a mobile phone.
Some of these products may work but do you really need a LASER jammer when the only possible reason for having one is so you can exceed the speed limit. Many drivers have an inflated sense of their own skills behind the wheel, couple that with a false sense of security provided by the belief that you can't be caught by the police and you have a fine combination for causing accidents.

A fuel pill scam conducted by recently collapsed company Firepower took many hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors. Some of those conned were high profile professional sportsmen, hopefully they'll use their public position to raise awareness of such scams.

I don't think there is anything special about cars or motorists that attracts scams. There are simply so many millions of them that frauds are bound to target the industry. So instead of buying that magic fuel saving police eluding magnet system for your car it would be wiser to just obey the road rules and be courteous to your fellow road users. Except the pricks on bikes of course.

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