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August 29, 2015
Look at the numbers (29/8/2015)
I'm working up an article on how misunderstanding numbers can lead to wrong conclusions, and how these wrong conclusions can be exploited by those with agendas to push. (I've written about the innumeracy problem a couple of times before (see here and here) but it's a problem that never goes away.)
I was prompted this time by people spreading hysteria about the drought in California. I should start out by saying that as an Australian I am well aware of the threat caused by drought. There is a ghost town in Queensland that used to be the centre of a wool industry with twenty million sheep until a few consecutive years of drought wiped out the flock, the farmers, and the town, One piece of hysteria has focussed on water extracted by Nestlé for bottling. Now while I consider buying bottled water for ten times the price of petrol and fifteen times the price of milk to be a form of voluntary taxation, people should be free to waste their money as they see fit. (One of the largest distributors of bottled water in Australia is Coca Cola. They sell plain water for at least twice the price of water plus flavouring.) The horror was Nestlé paying $542 for 27,000,000 gallons of water.
Now, 27 million US gallons is a lot of water. To use the standard unit of measurement used in the media it is about 36 Olympic swimming pools. It is also about 67.5 seconds of California's average water consumption. That's right - if Nestlé stopped extracting water, California's drought would last for just over a minute less. I live in a small country town (population about 2,000). The local dam supplying the town's water can deliver about 190 million US gallons per day for all uses (domestic, agriculture, manufacturing, river quality) but never gets near that. In times of flood, the spillway can release about 56,000 million US gallons per day without water overtopping the dam wall. 27 million gallons is not really a lot of water.
The other misuse of numbers is the assumption that the energy used by electric cars comes from nowhere. This seems to be a blind spot for those who think that all pollution from transportation will stop when everyone has a Tesla. (Tesla are currently in the process of installing charging stations on one of the main roads between Australia's two largest cities. I live about a full battery charge from the nearest likely site to my place, but I do pass 59 wind turbines on the way.) I'm putting together the numbers to see how many wind turbines or coal-fired power stations it would take to produce the energy in the volume of petrol used in passenger cars. I know people are talking about electric semi-trailers but right now it seems that the weight of batteries needed to tow forty tonnes from Sydney to Melbourne might leave little over for the actual paying freight, so I'll leave diesel consumption out for the time being. Initial impressions are that the number of wind turbines would be "lots" and the number of coal plants would be "fewer but still quite a lot".
Here is a picture of the place that supplies the electricity to my place (and to Tesla charging stations).
I've got mail! (29/8/2015)
The mail alarm keeps on pinging, so I must pay attention.
Apparently someone wants me to attend court.
Subject: Notice to appear in Court #0000840164
Notice to Appear,
You have to appear in the Court on the September 01. Please, prepare all the documents relating to the case and bring them to Court on the specified date. Note: If you do not come, the case will be heard in your absence.
The Court Notice is attached to this email.
And I get a reminder.
Subject: Notice to Appear
Notice to Appear,
You have to appear in the Court on the September 06. You are kindly asked to prepare and bring the documents relating to the case to Court on the specified date. Note: If you do not come, the case will be heard in your absence.
The Court Notice is attached to this email.
But it's not the same date, and September 6 is a Sunday so it must be a super urgent matter. I think I will wait until a constable or sheriff's officer delivers a summons. And I'm wondering why court officials don't have official email addresses. (And no, I wasn't silly enough to open the attachments.)
How do sensible people fall for such obvious spam?
This was a mystery, as the body of the email was completely empty. I am glad, however, that I could provide Carl with some comfort in what must have been a trying time.
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2015 04:01:35 -0700
Apparently I can appear in a prestigious publication (after paying a suitable fee, of course). The problem is that I need a new car so I don't have enough spare cash for the operation.
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2015 11:55:00 -0700
Which reminded me of this highly offensive, totally inappropriate and hugely funny picture that did the rounds on Facebook.
And someone has the cure for what ails me. Actually, they don't, so I won't be bothered following it up.
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2015 09:49:57 -0700
New information has just surfaced revealing a mysterious "super starch" that could be the miracle diabetics have been hoping for.
Sounds bold, I know. That's what I thought too...
Until I saw the overwhelming amount of research that actually proves that it's true!
See for yourself here:
=> The shocking cure for diabetes?
The unsinkable rubber duck (29/8/2015)
Authorities have been trying for years to shut down a scamster outfit called Advanced Medical Insitute, purveyor of medications promising better sexual performance. They used to run very unsubtle advertisements with puns based on the words "longer" and "harder" which offended everyone, not because of the sexual innuendo but because the jokes had been worn out by the time most people had finished their first year of high school.
Here is the latest media release from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
ACCC takes contempt action against Advanced Medical Institute
24 August 2015
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against NRM Corporation Pty Ltd and NRM Trading Pty Ltd (together, NRM) alleging contempt of court. NRM owns and operates the business known as the Advanced Medical Institute (AMI).
“The ACCC alleges that NRM has breached orders made by Justice North on 22 April 2015, in earlier proceedings brought by the ACCC. In those proceedings, Justice North found that NRM engaged in unconscionable conduct and used unfair contract terms in the way that it promoted and supplied medical services and medications to men suffering from sexual dysfunction,” ACCC acting Chair Delia Rickard said.
Justice North made orders against NRM that permanently restrain NRM from making representations to consumers regarding:
“The ACCC alleges that NRM has breached Justice North’s orders by statements or representations made on the AMI website and in television and radio advertisements,” Ms Rickard said.
NRM has appealed from the judgment of Justice North. The appeal is scheduled to commence before the Full Court of the Federal Court on 16 November 2015 in Melbourne. Following the appeal being lodged, NRM sought a stay of Justice North’s orders, pending the outcome of the appeal. This stay application was refused. A directions hearing for the ACCC proceedings alleging contempt will be listed in the Federal Court in Melbourne.
The ACCC instituted proceedings against the companies formerly known as Advanced Medical Institute Pty Ltd and AMI Australia Holdings Pty Ltd (together, the AMI companies) and Mr Jacov Vaisman in December 2010. At that time the ACCC was concerned that the AMI companies had engaged in conduct that took advantage of vulnerable consumers. When the AMI business was subsequently sold to NRM, the ACCC remained concerned that the conduct was continuing and, as a result, NRM was joined to the proceedings.
On 22 April 2015 the Federal Court found that the AMI companies and NRM, by operating the AMI business, engaged in unconscionable conduct and used unfair contract terms in the way it promoted or supplied male sexual dysfunction products.
The Court also declared that Mr Vaisman, who was a director and CEO of the AMI companies, then subsequently NRM, aided and abetted and was knowingly concerned in the unconscionable conduct by the AMI companies and NRM. Mr Vaisman was restrained for a period of seven years from having a role in connection with training, supervising or counselling or terminating employees, agents or contractors of NRM.
Something to think about. (29/8/2015)
Save me! A conspiracy believer says that conspiracies exists because when you do a search of legal case law databases using the word "conspiracy" you get lots of hits. The fact that there are eleventy thousand judgments for crimes named "conspiracy to commit ..." is evidence that Big Pharma controls medical schools, Tesla's patents were suppressed, 9/11 was an inside job, the cure for cancer is known but suppressed, the Port Arthur massacre was staged to allow the government to seize guns, fluoride was invented by the Nazis for mind control, etc.
Moron - the densest element in the universe.
Coming Soon (29/8/2015)
I'll be busy over the next two weekends.
On Saturday, September 5 I will be attending the Australian Paranormal and Spiritual Expo at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, located, not surprisingly, at Casula. I'll be there with a contingent from Australian Skeptics and apparently I will be giving a talk or presentation of some kind. If you can get there I encourage you to go. We had a great time there last year, and I expect to do so again. It's relatively harmless fun (there is none of the medical quackery you find at places like the MindBody$pirit Festival) and it only costs $5 to get in (it costs more to see some of the talks). Highly recommended.
The following weekend I will be participating in the Out of the Shadows and Into the Light walk to raise awareness of suicide and the effect it has on families and the wider community. This is another event I attended last year, but there are events all across Australia, so again I encourage you to participate.
August 15, 2015
Not much here (15/8/2015)
I've been travelling and doing other time-consuming real life things so this week's update is brief. One thing I have done is tidied up my hate male collection. I haven't been receiving many threats and complaints lately, so I will have to lift my game. Similarly, nobody has threatened to sue me for a while, so I definitely need to get out more and annoy more people.
I write and get recycled (15/8/2015)
The latest edition of Australasian Science magazine will shortly be on newsagents' shelves and in the mailboxes of people smart enough to subscribe. As usual it contains my Naked Skeptic column (I had a paradox during the recent snowstorms - it was too cold to get into character properly for writing but I didn't need to wear clothes anyway because I couldn't leave the house). The article includes an admission of a personal failure that could inevitably be exploited by anti-vaccination liars and other quackish lowlifes, but it's always better to be honest.
In the January edition of AS I wrote about the placebo effect. The word "placebo" comes from the Latin meaning "I will please", and is a psychological condition which causes people to respond favourably to medical treatments which actually have no active component. It is based on the expectation that something good is happening, and actually applies to real medicines and treatments as well. Clinical trials are designed to separate real effects from placebo.
The latest edition of The Skeptic includes modified versions of two articles I had written for Australasian Science in the past. You can read the originals at "Confirmation bias, denialism and Morton’s Demon." and "Words have meanings".
The vileness of me. (15/8/2015)
It seems that I have upset someone on Facebook. Judging by the other people who received similar messages it might have something to do with the egregious quack Stanislaw Burzynski.
And I'm blocked (15/8/2015)
An anonymous anti-vaccination liar who can't spell and who claims that vaccination is equivalent to rape threatens to block me on Twitter. I weep copiously. No, I don't.
I replied, and as promised I was immediately blocked.
August 8, 2015
I am guided in several directions (8/8/2015)
I am always open to learning new things or having my misconceptions pointed out. This email educated me on many matters. I am still ignorant, however, of the relevance of the subject line "Butterflybag".
From: Martin Jones
Didn’t agree with your view on Royal Rife, deriding him, and I guess as you would many others who wish to practice Homeopathic medicine instead of the Allopathic poisoning we are asked to accept as "standard practice"
The nonsense attributed to Rife had absolutely nothing to do with homeopathy, and according to the person who invented the word Rife was an allopath.
Wait until you see those you love die at the hands of so called medical experts who place poison into your veins and watch it slowly kill them. Barbaric and useless despite the trillions spent on "the cure for cancer", what a joke.
Are you seriously suggesting that doctors don't care about the outcomes of the treatments they provide?
Of course this is still "current" best practice and we are told to shut up get treated and then die. All the while oncologists still get paid whether you live or die , the Health juggernaut keeps on going.
Do you think that oncologists should only be paid if their patients live? For how long after treatment? One week? One month? One year? Five years? Fifty years? Forever? Are you going to apply the same rule to the charlatans who offer alternative "cures", or is it acceptable for them to charge large amounts of money up front?
Yes we have come a long way in the field of medical trauma , but we are still in the dark ages with our treatment of diabetes, arthritis and cancers, most caused by what we eat and what we breathe in , but I wont mention Monsanto or roundup etc etc.
I'm glad you didn't mention Monsanto or Roundup because they have nothing to do with the causes or treatment of disease. I'm rather surprised to hear that people in the dark ages had access to insulin, metformin, paracetamol, codeine and tamoxifen but I like learning new things.
I am not some raving purist , having worked in the health industry in major teaching hospitals for over 35yrs, HEALTH is a business , the "do no harm" has gone out the window, and has been replaced with "ensure we profit"
Whereas suppliers of "natural" or "alternative" medicines either give their products and services away or operate only at break-even? According to the latest financial reports from Blackmores (Australia's best-known purveyor of snake oil), in the six months to the end of December 2014 there was a profit of $18,615,000 made on sales of $206,361,000. That's a profit rate of just over 9%, a figure that would make most companies very happy indeed.
Get the feeling that I am sick of apologists for those who think because they have a Medical Degree that this somehow infers the title of God upon them ?
Be assured many are waking up to the deception.
Unfortunately not enough people are waking up to the deception of so-called "alternative medicine", which is more correctly called "alternative to medicine".
Try telling your doctor that your not going to take your cholesterol lowering drugs ( another scam), anyway I could, as you probably can go on and on.
Your doctor can't force you to take any drug. Make sure that when you tell your doctor that you are not going to take the cholesterol lowering drugs that you also provide him with a notarised statement that makes it quite clear that he must refuse to treat you if you suffer a stroke, a heart attack or kidney failure. It would be hypocritical of you to accept any intervention but you need to cover the doctor in case someone accuses him of acting unethically.
Please open your eyes and see that the emperor really doesn’t have any clothes on.
Most great discoveries came as a result of those who searched and researched differently , otherwise doctors still wouldn’t be washing their hands between patients.
Why should hand washing make any difference if germs don't cause disease? Remember that the big three alternatives to medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture, all operate on the basis that the "germ theory" of disease is incorrect.
But you are entitled to your opinions, but if we don’t search everywhere for cures we are doing mankind a great disservice.
I know several people who spend every hour of their working lives searching everywhere for cures.
Regards & blessings
Chiropractors. Such fun people. (8/8/2015)
"Outrageous!", you say. "Impossible!", you say. But the last one has happened. Several times.
The President-elect of the Chiropractors Association of Australia has been forced to resign from the position because it has been revealed that she had been going into hospitals and "adjusting" new-born babies. She admitted on her Facebook page that she had done it at least once, but since this was revealed several more stories of chiropractors doing the same thing have come to light. Ms Helen Alevaki (who likes to be called "Dr" even tough she is only a chiropractor) works out of a chiropractic business named "chiro4wellness" and apparently specialises in a particular kind of quackery known as "Webster Technique" which appears on the surface to be some sort of obstetric practice which pretends to make birth easier. (Ms Alevaki had her own children at home with a midwife. Of course.) The method of gaining access to hospital patients is to come as a visitor, draw the curtains around the bed, and get cracking on the baby's spine.
If a real doctor did this to someone who was not his patient, in a hospital to which he did not have visiting credentials as a doctor, he would face severe discipline and possibly even loss of his licence to practice. The punishment for a chiropractor is to do two hours of training on record-keeping and the use of social media. And to keep on chiropractising without any further impediment. Chiropractic is, after all, a self-regulated industry, and there is that old cliché about foxes and henhouses.
What is outrageous is that chiropractors are allowed to get anywhere near babies other than the usual interaction allowed to normal parents, friends and relatives. They are not doctors, they are not pediatricians, they have no qualifications to do anything related to babies. (Or anyone else, in my opinion.) That there is an International Chiropractic Pediatric Association should be an affront to all the real doctors who treat children without the need to resort to magic. Oh, did I mention that the ICPA urges caution about vaccinations and suggests that parents ask their doctors such questions as "Where is the scientific evidence showing vaccines are safer than the disease itself?", " Where is the scientific evidence showing vaccines prevent these diseases?" and "Where is the balance on the pro-vaccine web sites?". The organisation that Ms Alevaki heads is a member of ICPA.
You can read a media report of Ms Alevaki's resignation from her position at CAA here.
In that article you will see mention of a group known as Chiropractic Australia. This has been presenting itself to the world as an association of chiropractors who want to practice some form of evidence-based medicine, getting away from the innate energy and subluxations of traditional chiropractic. The founder of this group has recently said that further research needs to be done into pediatric chiropractic, but until that is done it is better to err on the safe side and keep fiddling with babies' backs. Or, put another way, keep doing the things which have no evidential backing. Just like all the other chiropractors. This is a "profession" which cannot be salvaged.
Who is that masked man? (8/8/2015)
Much of the credit for exposing chiropractors' adventures in hospitals goes to my friend Peter Tierney, who has been pursuing these quacks relentlessly over the last year or two. (Peter was the 2014 Australian Skeptic Of The Year.) He does his work through a blog using the rather transparent pseudonym of Reasonable Hank. The name behind the blog is not actually a secret, but this doesn't stop people speculating.
The following exchange happened on an anti-vaccination liar Facebook page.
I am endlessly amused by the constant confusion in quackworld about who is who. One example is the continual claim by Patrick Timothy Bolen, spokescloaca to quacks, that I use at least thirty different aliases when posting to Usenet groups (I use my own name and no other), and another was the clown who said that I was totally anonymous running this site and in the very next paragraph revealed my employer, home address and telephone number. I know and have met both Peter Tierney and Ken McLeod but I can honestly say that I have never met the person in the picture face-to-face, although I have seen him in a mirror.
Sometimes I think that if we could harness the heat of burning stupid we could close some coal-fired power stations.
Here are the thousand links to places I don't like
and these are the sites added or changed recently
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