Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This and That Before Christmas

Ahhh... the Season is upon us. So to all: Merry Christmas!!! Happy New Year!!! Happy Holidays!!! Wesołych Świąt!!! Happy Kwanzaa!!! Feliz Navidad!!! Happy Festivus (for the rest of us)!!!

And a few bits of wisdom from various places on the Net:

First, more interesting news on homeopathy, after a slight increase in chatter from the "believers", here are great responses from the real medical doctors:

More Homeopathy Apologetics - by Steve Novella
Mercola sells the delusion of homeopathy - by Orac

Great scientific minds take the woo-woo apart.

If you are looking for some laughs, try this: The Year in Quotes: Science, a collection of quotes from the "great minds" of Texas (some of them are elected officials!!!).

Best wishes to all!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 Scams of 2009 has the Top 10 Scams of 2009 list on line.

I'm glad to see some of the most annoying woo-woo like:
  • Acai Berry (who still thinks that it slims down anything but your wallet???)
  • Kevin Trudeau - I'm always surprised when I find one of his books in someone's home library, but obviously people still fall for his nonsense.
  • Work-at-home schemes - I see a lot of those, targeted especially at stay-at-home moms. The math is too complicated for a regular person to figure out the scam, and the salespeople are really good at what they are doing. We need to spread the word to make sure people realize you can't make real money this way.
They should also add:
  • Chiropractic.
  • Homeopathy.
  • Acupuncture.
  • ... and all other "alternative" medicine nonsense
to the list. Let's hope it'll happen next year.

Thanks to for the link...

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm a Pig

I got my H1N1 jab today... oink!!! Now, time to get some good pork chops for dinner.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate Change Facts

Great comparison from the always reliable

Climate Change Deniers vs The Consesus (graphics)

You can't make it simpler that that!
That's good and timely info, in light of the current Climate Conference, and some other news from this front.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chiropractic - Calling It What It Is: Woo-Woo

For all, who still think that going to a chiropractor is a good idea for a treatment (ok, maybe short of getting a massage), here is a research paper that came out of the chiropractic community itself:

An epidemiological examination of the subluxation construct using Hill’s criteria of causation

with some excellent comments from the excellent Science-Based Medicine Blog:
As the authors of this paper indicate, the subluxation construct must go. And without the subluxation, the whole rationale for chiropractic collapses, leaving chiropractors no justifiable place in modern medical care except as competitors of physical therapists in providing treatment of certain musculoskeletal conditions.
The End of Chiropractic

A Few Books of Note...

There are two books I've been reading recently that I would like to recommend to anyone with some curiosity and open mind.

First, there is "Trick or Treatment", by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, MD.
I finished it a few weeks ago, and it was a jackpot!!! This is a very well written, popular research book on a number of alternative medicine therapies. Included are: acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and a few others in lesser detail. Since the two authors represent two opposed sides of the equation (Singh being a scientists and a journalist, and Ernst being an alternative medicine practitioner), it gives this piece additional credibility. As the authors proclaim at the beginning, their goal was to objectively evaluate the above therapies, showing their history, scientific background and the state of current research. While I sort of knew what the outcome would be, it was very interesting to learn about the exact historical background of those modalities, and to see what research has been done so far. Not surprisingly, all of the therapies discussed in the book, did not yield any real results in many scientific test, beyond a simple placebo effect. Some interesting outcomes were found for acupuncture and chiropractic, associated with pain management and back problems. Herbal medicine, being what it is: a sloppy, uncontrolled application of real drugs, shows some use, but one must be careful, watching for drug interactions and dosage.

Secondly, I enjoyed "Confessions of an Alien Hunter" by Seth Shostak, which is an incredibly entertaining account of the last 50 years of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), as told by one of the most authoritative individuals of the field. From history of the research, to some politics, and outlooks for the future, it's a pure fun to read. The best part of this book is that it really shows SETI being so much more than most of the people would think: biology, anthropology, physics, and many other fields, make up this broad, scientific approach to finding our neighbors in the Universe.

Some Sad Statistics

If you think A/H1N1 is not that bad, look at these statistics:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Web Trends for 2010

While I usually keep CNN rather low on my list of sources for tech news, they have a very interesting and easily digestible article on upcoming web trends for 2010.
The biggest takeaway from the article in my opinion: your privacy is GONE. We are using portable devices on the go to share our lives every day. Some of them already have GPS built in, and soon all of them will. As soon as the applications are there to take full advantage of this, we will be "tracked" all the time. And we'll do it all voluntarily, just as we've been doing with Facebook, Twitter, and many other applications.
Another trend that's easily spotted is the full convergence of media. Your TV, Internet, personal music and video libraries, news, and many other sources have been slowly mixing up in a single device (XBox and PS3 come to mind). Add some capable mobile devices, and you have all your entertainment in one (or two, if you count mobile separately) place.
If we could only get wireless providers to bundle unlimited, wireless network access with their home offerings for a single price, we would have an ultimate bliss. Verizon is on a good path, with their Fios service, however, paying for 3G network access on top of the home access is too much from my point of view. Let's hope it'll change in coming years.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Roger Ebert - A Skeptic - Who Knew?

I always turned to Roger Ebert for his movie advice, not political, or skeptical views. I guess I was wrong:
New Age beliefs are the Creationism of the Progressives. I move in circles where most people would find it absurd to believe that humans didn't evolve from prehistoric ancestors, yet many of these same people quite happily believe in astrology, psychics, reincarnation, the Tarot deck, the i Ching, and sooth-saying. Palmistry and phrenology have pretty much blown over.
New Agers and Creationists should not be President

He has a great point: for way too many in our society it is easy to bash ultra-religious views, but somehow we do not notice all those "progressive", new age beliefs that are equally nonsensical and can negatively influence our decisions in the same way. In the 21st century, there should be no place in politics for people without rational approach, as this influences their decisions in too many bad ways.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Choprawoo... Nothing But Laughs

You've probably heard of Deepak Chopra, the woo-master extraordinaire. He's been making millions, selling nonsense and feel-good, self-help, new age crap (to say it nicely). His understanding of physics is at the first grade level, as he attempts to use quantum theory to justify all sorts of claims that make no sense if you have any reasoning powers left. That, however, could be a bit challenging, after reading his latest post at the Huffington Post (yes, that bastion of rigorous, rational thinking). His article on skepticism is another proof that he has no clue what it is to think scientifically. No surprise there: his whole "empire" is based on the notion that people accept anything you tell them, without thinking critically, and without any deep understanding. He must fight anyone, who questions his "beliefs", otherwise, there will be no way for him to sell his books, CDs, or whatever else he uses to promote his woo-woo.
The best quote from his blog post:
Worst of all, skeptics take pride in defending the status quo and condemn the kind of open-minded inquiry that peers into the unknown.
Wrong!!! We love peering into the unknown, as long as the unknown does not exist only in your head.