We all know that "millennium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "annus" and means a thousand years. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "anus" and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don't deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal - we are offering them a stool.
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December 13, 2014
Where has he been? (13/12/2014)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures.
(Actually, I wasn't at the convention - I came down with some sort of plague and spent the weekend coughing, wheezing and sleeping. Possibly Man Flu.)
It can't hurt you. It's natural. (13/12/2014)
Imagine that you sold a product which caused the death of a child. What would your reaction be? Would be to apologise, withdraw the product from the shops and promise to try to do better in future, or would your response be that the product is perfectly safe, had a label on it which said "Not for human consumption", and was obviously therefore never intended to be drunk? Would you package it so that it appeared to be identical to a safe product and encourage retailers the place it on shelves next to the safe product?
Well, a few days ago a child died in Victoria as a result of drinking raw milk, and several other children were made sick by drinking the same product. The milk was packaged in two litre containers, just as pasteurised milk is, but was labelled "Bath Milk" and promoted as supposedly being only for cosmetic use. The dairy farm that produces this stuff has denied all responsibility and has continued to claim that it was obvious that the milk was intended for washing in not for drinking. The health food shops which sold the rubbish have been silent. Supporters of pseudoscience have been carrying on about the healthy aspects of raw milk and how pasteurisation affects the nutritional quality of milk.
Have I mentioned that raw milk killed a child?
There are very good reasons why raw milk cannot be sold to the public, but the scoundrels who produce, package, distribute and sell this stuff had managed to get some good legal advice about how to get through loopholes in the law. One of these ways is the way the milk is labelled. They can then claim it is totally the responsibility of the end purchaser to keep the milk in its standard milk packaging away from children and only store it in the bathroom in the same secure cupboard as the bleach for cleaning the toilet. Oh, and keep it refrigerated. Another loophole in the law allows dairy farmers to drink unpasteurised milk from farms that they own, so the charlatans have set up a facade of a cooperative where people buy shares in order to pretend that they are part owners of the dairy. The fact is that this concession to dairy farmers is only supposed to apply to drinking milk within a very short period following milking, not several days later when the pathogens in the milk have had time to reproduce. And, of course, there is the obligatory lying with the truth – the dairy farm makes a lot of noise about how their cows are "grass fed", relying on the ignorance of consumers who may not be aware that all dairy cattle on all dairy farms are fed on grass. But as the young folk say: "Liars gonna lie".
I have seen people who should know better try to put all the blame on the end consumers and the parents of the dead child, but the people who make, distribute and sell this product know exactly what they are doing. They know the product is dangerous and they have obviously spent money with lawyers to find legal ways that they can continue to sell it. I have also seen people expressing sympathy for the parents of the dead child, saying that they have suffered enough. These parents might be ignorant of science or the truth, but I'm not sure that the same sympathy would be shown if they had harmed the child in some other way. They fed their child with something that every rational person knows is dangerous; they fed their child something that is labelled "Not for human consumption"; they didn't for a moment think that the label "Bath milk" meant that they should wash the children rather than feed them the milk.
It is almost obscene that someone can use a loophole in the law to sell a dangerous product to the public, particularly when it is obvious that they know the thing is dangerous and they do not care. If Mountain View Farm Share were to decide to go into a different line of business and convert their milking shed into a laboratory for the manufacture of methamphetamine the police would be all over them like a cheap suit and labelling the plastic bags "Bath Salts" and "Not for human consumption" would be ridiculed if offered as a defence in court.
I have no real problem with people charging a little bit more for "organic" products because it is just a form of voluntary taxation (organic homogenised and pasteurised full cream milk sells for $4.15 per litre in my local health food shop, and is nutritionally and chemically identical to the milk sold for $1 per litre in the local supermarket), but when the naturalistic fallacy is used to promote dangerous products it is time for action. The sale of raw milk, however it is labelled, should be totally banned, and people who produce, package, distribute or sell it should be treated in exactly the same way as people who do these things with illegal drugs.
The dairy has the following statement on their web page:
"Voluntarily"? Pull the other one. Here is what the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has to say, and here is the official government announcement of the recall. They volunteered after they were told to. And that web site address in the recall notice and on the bottles of milk? It has been "fixed" so that it no longer works.
Mountain View have now closed their Facebook page because they didn't like the comments. It will be a better day when they close their web site selling raw milk and close the business as well.
"Ethical"? They wouldn't recognise an ethic if it jumped up and bit them on the face.
November 22, 2014
The Energizer Wakefield never gives up (22/11/2014)
On September 19 ex-Dr Andrew Wakefield had an appeal rejected by the Texas Court of Appeals over his ridiculous attempt to sue people and businesses in the UK in a court in Texas. It was obvious from the very start that the Texas courts had no jurisdiction in the matter and this has now been ruled at two levels of the Texas court system. Never one to give up, because ongoing legal action against people is always a way to defame them by implication, Wakefield has appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. He had 45 days from the original ruling to lodge an appeal which meant that it had had to be lodged by November 3, however following his usual practice he missed that deadline and two weeks later on November 17 requested an extension of time until December 3. I am not a lawyer but I can see no reason why the Supreme Court of Texas should allow this appeal, or if they did to uphold it and rule that any Texas court has jurisdiction over people in the UK.
This is been Wakefield's modus operandi for many years. In 2005 he was ordered by the England and Wales High Court to get on with litigation because it had become obvious he was merely using deliberately introduced delays to drag out the proceedings. I have experienced this myself, because it is often useful for people attacking someone else on spurious legal grounds to have a court case dragged on forever so they can continue to pretend that the person they are attacking has somehow been in breach of the law. It also increases the costs for the attacked party.
For a description of what is happening written by a real lawyer, you can read this article in Skeptical Raptor by Dorit Reiss, who is an actual Professor of Law at a real University.
As our old friend Patrick Timothy Bolen was so vociferous in his support of Wakefield, predicting his total victory in Texas, he has promised further comment on how Wakefield is yet again about to achieve supremacy. I eagerly await his prediction.
Speaking of Timmie Bolen ... (22/11/2014)
Patrick Timothy Bolen, spokesparasite to the vilest of quacks and contender for World Champion dead horse flogger, has issued another of his foam-flecked diatribes about the going-nowhere court case by the clowns at Doctors Data against Dr Stephen Barrett. This nonsense is been going on for some years because Doctors Data were not happy that Dr Barrett should have told the truth about their activities. The really hilarious part however has been the commentary on the case by Tim Bolen over the years. A few years ago he announced that Doctors Data were going to seize the ratbags.com domain name and I would be gone like "a fart in an elevator". I am still waiting.
Bolen, who likes to call everyone who posts to the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative "poor peter" whether he is replying to me or not, has several times declared when I have asked him when this action is going to start that I am not important enough for them to worry about. When I asked him why, in that case, he continues to talk about me the only answer I get is more "poor peter" and references to cupcakes and "homoskeptuals". Sane people have long been aware that Bolen is incapable of backing up anything he says.
His latest spray is a classic of the genre. Under the heading "Suing Captain Screwloose - It Has Always Been an "Alter Ego" Case..." he has posted another collection of his fantasies about how the court system works. You can read in all its glory at the link below, but I really have to quote the part where he talks about me.
I imagine that Doctor's Data's contractor for "restoration" of Doctor's Data's reputation has already made a plan on how they plan to use Orac David Gorski's blogs as their own. The internet is based, whether the "skeptics" like it or not, in the US - under the jurisdiction of the US Courts. It would be a simple thing to get a court order seizing ANY and ALL "skeptic" sites, anywhere in the world. If, for instance, Doctor's Data decide that Australian "skeptic" nitwit Peter Bowditch was part of the cabal, they could EASILY get an order taking over his internet names, websites, and probably even the thirty (30) fake identities he travels the internet with. If they set up the legal attack right they could even get the "skeptics" permanently banned from the internet.
Seize all skeptic web sites? Remove all skeptics permanently from the web? Whatever it is that Tim is smoking at the place he doesn't remember living at must be the most powerful hallucinogenic product known to man.
I have asked him on several occasions to name the 30 identities I'm supposed to have used, but for some reason he seems to be incapable of providing the list. In a recent m.h.a thread he responded to everybody who posted by saying that this brought down the names to be revealed. This is despite the fact that a simple examination of IP addresses would have shown that the people lived in several continents widely dispersed across the world. Timmie claims to have access to a world-class program for tracking people, but even a cursory examination of the ranting at the link below by anyone with the faintest knowledge of how the Internet works will see Tim's knowledge does not even come up to the level of "faintest". I will admit however that Tim Bolen actually does have value – as an endless source of amusement.
The Food Babe. Stupid or just a moron? (22/11/2014)
Sometimes someone comes along who is so impenetrably stupid that you feel that their brain could be used in place of depleted uranium in anti-tank weapons. Then you find someone who is so stupid that their brain would cause light to bend as it passed around their head. Such a person is Vani Hari, the "Food Babe". The amazing and terribly discouraging fact about her is that she manages to be accepted as an expert on nutrition. She appears in the media, she charges large fees to speak at conferences and exhibitions, her knowledge of science is less than that known by my dog (and he wouldn't be offended if I said that he doesn't know very much at all).
Here is something she published just recently and I don't think it needs any comment beyond the words she wrote herself to indicate how incredibly stupid she is. This is not just an ignorance of science, it is an ignorance of common sense, and ignorance of things which should be obvious to a small child.
I’m on the plane to LAX, the first leg en route to our first stop – Tokyo! I can’t think of a better time or place to write this article.
Airplane travel, is unfortunately (and fortunately!) a big part of my way of life. I’d be surprised if you added up the amount of travel I have conducted for work and personal if it didn’t end up being a full year of my life. For this reason, I set out to find out exactly the best strategies to keep your body energized, free of aliments, and flying high when you are on the bird!
A few facts about what airplanes do to your body -
When your body is in the air, at a seriously high altitude, your body under goes some serious pressure. Just think about it – Airplanes thrive in places we don’t. You are traveling in a pressurized cabin, and when your body is pressurized, it gets really compressed!
Compression leads to all sorts of issues. First off your body’s digestive organs start to shrink, taxing your ability to digest large quantities of food. Secondly, this compression reduces the ability for your body to normally circulate blood through your blood vessels. Sitting down for long hours while this is happening, exacerbates these issues, leading to what they call “Economy Class Syndrome.” Economy Class Syndrome results the action of sitting in a cramped space for a long period of time, thus resulting in blood flow loss to the legs. A unhealthy person or someone who eats a poor diet, smokes, has heart disease, diabetes or an auto-immune disorder has a larger risk of developing DVT, which basically causes a blood clot in your one of your large veins in your leg and you risk death.
Additionally, the pressurized cabin reduces the humidity by 40% of what humans typically thrive at. The Sahara Desert has more humidity at ~25% than your airplane does at ~10%. Remember your body is made up of 50% water, if the humidity is reduced by 40%, your body becomes very dehydrated, very quickly and usually without you feeling the effects until after you get off the plane. Dehydration causes all sorts of issues from fatigue, headaches, constipation, light headedness and even death in extreme cases.
The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through. The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%. To pump a greater amount of oxygen in costs money in terms of fuel and the airlines know this! The nitrogen may affect the times and dosages of medications, make you feel bloated and cause your ankles and joints swell.
Did you know certain countries require that airplanes and even passengers be sprayed with pesticide before they take off? This means if you are visiting one of these countries you are breathing in these fumes potentially all flight, especially if they were sprayed on board. Horrific!
Ok enough horror facts about airplane travel (especially while I am flying right now!)…Here’s my Food Babe tips on what you can do to avoid and/or protect yourself of all the facts I mentioned above.
Food Babe’s Tips: First Class Airplane Tips for your Body
Before you Fly:
After your Flight:
Do you see what I mean? No comment could do this drivel justice.
Does atheism imply asense? (22/11/2014)
Before I go on, I need to make something clear. I am an atheist but that is not all of who I am. It just happens to be a part of me. Also it simply means that I live my life without a personal god, not that I'm totally opposed to all forms of religion or that I see atheism as something which needs to be necessarily proselytised at every opportunity. I object, as do most sensible people, to the excesses of religion or when religious beliefs and practices harm people, including members of the religious groups themselves of course.
I participate in several atheist forums online, mainly because I often see things there which are interesting. What I also see are statements which make no sense at all and make the writers appear to be bigots or fools.
As examples, over the last few weeks I have seen people complain about how offended they are when someone says "Bless you" when someone sneezes, whining about the BBC using a rerecording of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" in an advertisement (if they had listened to the words they would know it is a cultural cliché and has nothing to do with religion), someone objecting to the fact that there is a Bible in a public school library (as the Bible is a fundamental part of the canon of English literature it should be in every educational library – what it teaches is irrelevant, what matters is the language that it is written in), and the latest is someone who is no longer going to let his children to listen to the Wiggles because they sing a song call "Uncle Noah". That's the long-running and internationally popular Wiggles children's entertainment group who appear on stage with a yellow spotted dinosaur, a huge dog, a purple octopus who wears a straw boater hat and a kilt, and a pirate with a feather for a sword. All of these were apparently acceptable to this parent before but his antireligious bigotry says that if they are going to sing songs about a fictional person called Noah then the show is unsuitable for his children.
A constant obsession with fundamentalist atheists is the existence of Jesus, and these people apparently believe that the entire edifice of religion rests on the existence of Jesus and if he didn't exist then all the following two millennia of belief and teachings can be disregarded. To people who might not be believers but who like better arguments against religion it's a diversion. We only know of Socrates through the writings of a few others, and there is even a school of thought that says he was invented by Plato to provide a vessel for conveying Plato's thoughts and methods of philosophical investigation. People who say that the teachings attributed to Jesus have to be rejected unless there is proof of a real historical person must apply the same principles to the teachings of Socrates.
Plato (and even Socrates) would understand this.
There are real battles to be fought against religion, but behaving like childish, obsessed, and virtually illiterate fools just provides ammunition to the other side. How can anyone be taken seriously when criticising people like Ken Ham or Ray Comfort if they make the same sort of idiotic and uninformed statements themselves?
As if that isn't enough silliness, I was notified today of a Kickstarter campaign to produce an atheist children's book. The promotion of this fundraiser says the following:
Like many of you, we grew up on fairy tales, fantasy stories and religion. But there really isn't anything out there for nonbelievers to share with their children. The books that are out there are boring. They aren't the sort of thing a child would ask to be read every night.
Children love fantasy, and they are quite capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality. Perhaps the author of this book thinks there is something bad about Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, books by A. A. Milne and Lewis Carroll, or any other of the almost countless books that children have been reading and enjoying since printing was invented. But that's what happens when you see the world through glasses distorted by ideology.
Whole lotta writing going on (22/11/2014)
In September I mentioned that I'd been featured in three different magazines in the one month. In December I'm only featured in two magazines but I have two articles in each and therefore I'm being featured four times. The media empire is growing vertically not sideways.
As usual I have my Naked Skeptic column in Australasian Science, this month talking about both the wonders and abuses of stem cell transplantation. There is also a longer article there based on an interview I had with James Randi in advance of his coming tour of Australia. The other two articles are in the Skeptic, the quarterly journal of Australian Skeptics. One of them is about my adventures at a paranormal exhibition and the other is about the placebo effect. (They will be published here after the print edition has come out.)
I recommend that you go to the websites for Australasian Science and Australian Skeptics and subscribe to their magazines. Both are excellent value for money and never fail to be less than informative. Of course, some might say that I only say this because I write for both of them, which may very well be true. The part about the writing for them, not the fact that I am biased.
Australasian Science is also supporting the 2015 tour by Bill Nye, but unfortunately the logistics broke down and I wasn't able to conduct an interview with him in time for publication before he arrives next February. I was able to attend a telephone press conference and what came out of that might be the makings of an article in a future edition of the magazine.
Some good news (22/11/2014)
The operators of the pyramid scheme Herbalife have agreed to pay $15 million to people who had been deceived into joining on the assumption that it was some sort of legitimate business opportunity. The wonderful thing is that the lawyers for the scam claimed that they did nothing wrong and are only paying out the $15 million so that they can get on with business as usual. It is a rare company which has $15 million that they can simply throw away to avoid a nuisance lawsuit. Still I suppose if your business is stealing money from unsuspecting people and providing nothing in return there should always be some spare cash in the till. The real reason they settled of course is that had the action gone to court the true nature of their deceptive business would have been revealed.
In summary someone said Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and Herbalife said "Stop saying that. Here is a truckload of money to go away with". What they didn't say, of course, is "Yes, you are right and we will compensate you for the losses you have made by believing our lies".
You can read about the case by clicking on the image at the right. And here is a suggestion for the sign Herbalife distributors should stick on lamp posts in the future to attract new business.
And some more good news (22/11/2014)
The Parliament of New South Wales set up a Committee On The Health Care Complaints Commission, and they have issued a report headed "The promotion of false and misleading health-related information and practices". Some of my good friends contributed submissions to the committee (I didn't submit anything because I felt it was being said well and often by others.)
I'm not going to provide a full analysis of the report right now because there is quite a lot to read and quite a lot to absorb. I will however point you towards Chapter 2 which deals largely with the Australian Vaccination (-sceptics) Network, Australia's premier source of anti-vaccination lies.
It has taken many years and a lot of lobbying and campaigning to get the government to finally start doing something about the quacks who prey on the sick and concerned (but scientifically uninformed) members of the public. The last time a committee like this was set up in NSW it was ridiculed and denigrated by the alternative "medicine" industry, and finally hijacked by getting representatives of the industry onto the committee (one such committee member worked for a company which had been prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). I can only hope that the results of this inquiry produce better results and make the state safer for its residents.
Where I will be next weekend (22/11/2014)
The Australian Skeptics National Convention will be held in Sydney on November 28-30. There is still time to book, and you can find out all the exciting details about speakers, bookings, and everything else you need to know here.
Here are the thousand links to places I don't like
and these are the sites added or changed recently
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