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Goodbye, cancer quack. You won't be missed. (5/2/2011)
Occasionally there is a win for the good guys. Unfortunately this crook will stay out of prison, but these types never give up so maybe the next time he gets caught he will end up where he belongs.
Here is the media release from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission:
Cancer treatment found to be misleading
The Federal Court, Brisbane has found that Darryl Jones, principal of the Darryl Jones Health Resolution Centre, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to certain cancer prevention and treatment claims.
The representations were contained on the Darryl Jones Health Resolution Centre website (www.darryljoneshealth.com.au) and in an electronic book written by Mr Jones and sold through that site entitled The Truth About Overcoming Cancer.
Some of the claims included that the treatments offered by Mr Jones:
Mr Jones' treatment program included reducing or eliminating glucose from the diet and ingesting high levels of Laetrile (also known as Amygdalin) that is sourced in such foodstuffs as apricot kernels.
The program cost $2,900 for the first three months and $1,500 for every three months thereafter.
The court found that Mr Jones' claims were untrue, that he had no reasonable basis for making the representations and possessed no reliable current scientific evidence or expert medical opinion to support them.
According to an expert oncologist engaged by the ACCC, whose evidence was accepted by the court, taking high levels of Laetrile can result in cyanide toxicity and glucose elimination can cause weight loss and imbalanced metabolism.
Justice Logan made final orders which included:
In his judgment, Justice Logan found that: "the nature of the proven contraventions and the public interest tells decisively in favour of the granting of injunctive relief" and that such broad relief was appropriate as "Anything less would not offer adequate protection to the public in general and those suffering from or whose loved ones are suffering from cancer."
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said the ACCC acted in the public interest to protect vulnerable people who are fighting serious or terminal illnesses.
"The treatment promoted by Mr Jones was not only without a reliable current scientific or medical basis, but it was potentially dangerous as well. The ACCC urges anyone suffering from cancer to seek advice from a suitably qualified medical practitioner.
"The ACCC could not seek penalties in this case as the conduct occurred prior to the introduction of the civil penalty regime which began in April 2010," he said.
On 1 January 2011 as part of Australian Consumer Law amendments the Trade Practices Act 1974 was renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Release # NR 026/11
Issued: 7th February 2011
A very transparent fraud (5/2/2011)
Here is an email supporting one of the most disgusting medical frauds I have ever come across.
From: Kathryn Hodges
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2011 12:03:14 -0500
Your site happened to come up on a search and I read the story about the man with spinal surgery whose outcome was poor("CRA"). Though uncertain about your medical training, contracted fingers is a sign (Dupuytren's Contracture) is a sign of spinal cord pressure which can be from nicking the cord or bleeding around the cord. The surgeons would likely have been very busy for 4 hours and it is not uncommon to have to schedule emergency surgery to go back in and correct this problem.
They didn't schedule emergency surgery. They scheduled another operation a week later. In any case, as the entire story by the CRA saleswoman is so full of holes, lies and inconsistencies there is no reason to believe anything about the operation. If the operation ever took place, of course.
I personally observed this happen and though the nurses missed the sign when the surgeon saw it post-op, he ordered immediate imaging and surgery less than 24 hours after the procedure. Perhaps you would have commented differently if you were commenting on a procedure you understood better.
As I said above, the second surgery was scheduled for a week later. The only reason they operated sooner was that there was a sudden availability of an operating theatre. Except that the whole story is a lie.
Sometimes things don't work out well and stimulation and diligence can be the vehicle which best heals the nervous system, though optimal nutrition is most helpful and food is a challenging source of nutrition.
Food is the only source of nutrition, although occasionally supplementation might be necessary. For example, if a drastic diet change happens there might be a need for supplements until the effect of the change is known. This is what happened to me after I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes - I took vitamin supplements for a few weeks because suddenly I was eating half as much food.
And here is why I do what I do:
Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2011 21:35:07 -0500
From: "John E. Mellick"
Subject: New Visitor to your site
I just ran across your site this evening. A friend had told me he was using CRA, felt healthier, and said I should try it. I didn't even know what CRA stood for. Some googling, and I found several sites, both for and against. But yours kind of blew me away.
No problem, my wife won't let me go there, she knows the doc (Chiropractor) and doesn't like him. His wife died, and my wife blames him, for not letting her get treated for her cancer.
Birthday party (5/2/2011)
Saturday, February 12, will be the time to celebrate Charles Darwin's birthday. As I live near one of the places he specially mentioned in his diary when he was in Australia I am going to celebrate by retracing Darwin's steps when he walked past the end of where my street was going to be in the future. Everyone is welcome to join in, and here is the proposed agenda:
Meet at 12:30 in Station Street near Wentworth Falls station, the location of the Weatherboard Hotel where Darwin left his horses on January 17, 1836. Follow Darwin's steps along the Charles Darwin Walk to the top of the falls, where we can admire the magnificent view of the Jamison Valley that Darwin wrote about in his diary. There will be a toast to Darwin, sipping Primordial Booze (a cocktail created just for the occasion), then a walk back to the Grandview Hotel for refreshments.
Wentworth Falls has several excellent eating places, so there might even be some social activity in the evening.
The walk is about 2.8km each way and requires no special equipment beyond sensible shoes and something to protect against sunburn. There is no climbing involved that is harder than going up a flight of stairs. If you don't want to do the walk but still want to join the fun, follow the #DarwinAtWF hashtag on Twitter on the day to see where everyone is, then meet us at the Grandview.
You can see more information including a map here
The Atheist Cartoons site disappeared in 2014.
10:23 follow-up (5/2/2011)
I managed to successfully survive the mass underdose of homeopathy (as was expected), and the experience reminded me of this.
Homeopathic Emergency Department
And here's a report on the Sydney event.
"Reputable homeopath"? Whatever was I thinking? You can go here to see something about the sugar tablets everyone (except people with diabetes, like me) were swallowing by the handful.
I don't think so (5/2/2011)
What sort of clever spammer volunteers to be noticed here?
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2011 21:01:24 -0500
Subject: TYPE ll DIABETES
Kangen Water will treat Diabeteas better than the traditional Insulin. It will also relieve the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gout, Arthritis, Asthma and many other diseases. I know this from personal experience.
Kangen Water is produced by a machine made by the Enagic Company, located in Japan. Product is very new to the USA and not yet widely known. It doesn't heal Diabetes just as Insulin doesn't but it does a better job of maintaining a NORMAL blood sugar level.
Please check out my website www.LivingNaturallyWithWater.com and .net.
I know a couple of Chiropractors in my area who use the Water in thier practice. I will be glad to provide you with more info if you like.
Kangen Water Distributor
No thanks, Ron. I'll stick with what works.
I confuse the confusable (5/2/2011)
My latest article for Yahoo!7 News has created much consternation among people who can't read. The point of the story was to illustrate the fact that you can't always believe what you read and that checking all the facts in anything you read can be very difficult and time consuming. Unfortunately many of the people adding comments to the article had failed to understand the first two paragraphs they read, and then there were the ones who saw the word "vaccines" and had an immediate Pavlovian response that caused them to talk nonsense. The article was not about vaccines. You can read the article.
Whither the weather? (5/2/2011)
During the last week the weather has not been behaving itself. Blizzards in North America and a mighty cyclone in north-east Australia have been causing much inconvenience and damage, and Australia is just getting over some of the worst floods in recorded history. For those unfamiliar with Cyclone Yasi which hit Queensland, here it is with something to compare to for size.
While Queensland was cleaning up after the cyclone, another weather event came close to Ratbag Castle. We are too far south to be worried by cyclones and too far on top of mountains to go under a flood, but we are in the middle of a very large national park full of explosive eucalyptus trees. Here is the Jamison Valley, just a short distance from the back door.
I immediately prayed for protection, took two doses of homeopathic flight-or-fight preparation and changed into my lucky red underpants. As the fire was put out without any damage to life or property I can now declare that prayer, homeopathy and talismans all work as effective preventions against bush fire assault. Or something like that.
[Serious note: I would like to thank the Rural Fire Service for the excellent work they do. This was a minor emergency, but one day there will be a big fire in the Blue Mountains and these volunteers will selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect others, and ask for nothing in return. As I doubt that prayer, homeopathy or red underpants are sufficient protection, I will be updating my survival plan. Step 1 has already been taken - leaves cleared from the house guttering.]
Speaking of floods ... (5/2/2011)
Coming soon (5/2/2011)
I suppose you could call this a sort of a joke, but it's serious when people believe things that are obviously crazy. I'm writing an article about how the animals could have spread out across the world from Noah's Ark, and here is something to give you a taste of the sorts of things I will be addressing.
Brevity Alert (12/2/2011)
It will be a short update this week because I'm going to Charles Darwin's birthday party, but I also have to do a lot of accounting work and I have just been reminded that I only have until Monday to do my annual recertification examination for the software that I sell and support for a living. It's a nuisance when real life gets in the way, but sometimes I have to consider what pays the bills and allows me to have some spare time to spend here. And of course this was the time that my computer decided to suffer from memory parity errors and waste a lot of my time. That's a good law, that Murphy's Law. It's the best there is.
Some people never learn (12/2/2011)
Our old friends at Allergy Pathway (née Advanced Allergy Elimination) don't seem to be able to understand what they are told, so they keep getting into trouble. Here is a media release from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission detailing their latest problems.
Firm fined for testimonials by Facebook "fans" and tweeters
The Federal Court has fined Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd (formerly known as Advanced Allergy Elimination) and its director, Mr Paul Keir, $7,500 each for contempt of undertakings made to the court.
In August 2009 Allergy Pathway and Mr Keir gave undertakings to the court following successful Australian Competition and Consumer Commission action for false, misleading and deceptive conduct.
Justice Finkelstein has found that Allergy Pathway and Mr Keir made prohibited representations about Allergy Pathway's purported allergy treatment on its website and on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in breach of those undertakings.
The representations included testimonials written and posted by clients on Allergy Pathway's Facebook "wall" and testimonials written by clients and posted by Allergy Pathway on its website and Facebook and Twitter pages.
In his judgment Justice Finkelstein held that: "while it cannot be said that Allergy Pathway was responsible for the initial publication of testimonials (the original publisher was the third party who posted the testimonials on Allergy Pathway's Twitter and Facebook pages) it is appropriate to conclude that Allergy Pathway accepted responsibility for the publications when it knew of them and decided not to remove them. Hence it became the publisher of the testimonials."
In responding to the judgment, ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said: "Many corporations now use Facebook "Fan" pages and Twitter accounts to promote their businesses. This outcome confirms that any business that decides to leave public testimonials or other comments on their Facebook and Twitter pages will be held responsible if they are false, misleading or deceptive."
In August 2009, Allergy Pathway undertook not to represent that:
Mr Keir undertook not to be directly or indirectly involved in the publication of any of these representations.
In addition to the fines, the court ordered that Allergy Pathway and Mr Keir be restrained from engaging in similar conduct for a further period of three years and to publish corrective advertising. Allergy Pathway and Mr Keir were also ordered to pay the ACCC's legal costs on an indemnity basis.
Release # NR 028/11
Issued: 11th February 2011
There's been a bit of behind-the scenes work going on around here. All the pages have had a "Share" button for a while, but now they also have explicit buttons to allow quick messaging to your friends at Twitter and Facebook. Also, a small change has been made to the way pages are published onto the server which might make them load a little bit faster. It's not much, but multiplied by several thousand pages each day it will ease the load on the server as well as improving performance for visitors.
Another scam gets a slap on the wrist (12/2/2011)
I've known about these ridiculous magic wands for some time, because every alternative lifestyle, quackery and woowoo publication seems to carry large advertisements for them. Unfortunately the Australian operation has managed to con Layne Beachley, seven-times world surfing champion, national sporting hero and generally well-regarded person and has encouraged her to endorse the scam. I realise that Layne has to make a living somehow now that she has retired from professional sport but I wish she would go back to endorsing muesli bars or whatever it was she was promoting the last time I saw her on television. I really hate it when scamsters tarnish the reputations of celebrities by attaching their names to the celebrities' achievements.
And is this a scam? The Complaints Resolution Panel of the Therapeutic Goods Administration thinks so. Here is the advertisement that caused all the fuss. You will note that it is full of testimonials from people who may or may not exist, plus a list of famous sports people who might have waved a magic wand over themselves at some time or other. And two chiropractors! Now THAT is convincing.
And here is the notice that Scenar were supposed to run on their web site but have apparently been too busy to get around to showing yet.
An advertisement for the Scenar device, which we published on this website, should not have been published.
In the advertisement we made a large number of misleading, unverified, and unlawful claims. These included unlawfully made claims that the Scenar device could have benefits in relation to abdominal pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, chronic pain, broken bones, dysmenorrhoea, groin injuries, knee damage, headaches, allergies, scoliosis, kyphosis, shingles, tinnitus, viral infections, whiplash, and many other health conditions.
A complaint about the advertisement was recently upheld by the Complaints Resolution Panel. We provided no evidence to support the claims we made, and the Panel found that the claims were unlawful, misleading, and unverified and breached the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.
The Panel therefore requested that Scenar Health Pty Ltd publish this retraction.
The full text of the Panel's determination can be found at: www.tgacrp.com.au/complaints
One day the government is going to give the TGA some teeth so that they can do more than just suggest that charlatans put notices on web sites, suggestions which can safely be ignored.
Why I do what I do (12/2/2011)
I don't usually publish the nice emails I get (I get a lot more of them than I do complaints and hate mail), but I thought I would make an exception in this case. Quacks aren't just a nuisance, they kill people and damage relationships.
May I congratulate you on your site. I have found such valuable information from your site that I would not have found otherwise.
My sister, whom we lost in 2008 aged 43 was a patient of Mr Darryl Jones.
I live in Brisbane and my sister lived in Sydney at the time. She was undergoing chemo for about 6 months but after encouragement from her husband and his "psychic healer" my sister decided to give Darryl Jones a go even though her chemo was working well. We knew that the cancer would not be cured but at least we knew that we would have her for an extra few months. Not so - once she started her treatment with Mr Darryl Jones we lost her some 8 weeks later!!!!! Our family was very skeptical and we were the ones who drove her up and down the highway to Nambour, helped her with her exercise regime, cook and prepare her food and watch our poor struggle with his treatment plan. She had to literally starve herself. It was cruel, cruel, cruel and very unfair. He gave her and us false hope.
Since we lost our sister her husband has cut our family from him and her three young children. Very upsetting considering we were a very close family. You see her husband was also "brainwashed" by his "psychic healer". His psychic healer actually referred us up to Nambour to see this dickhead Darryl Jones. Her husband believed that we did not push our sister far enough and helped in her demise because we did not "meditate" alongside our sister to help her.
What a sad situation it all was and so hard for someone on the other side to believe this can actually happen. Hard thing is is my sisters children will also be brainwashed. What respect did he have from my beautiful sister?? None.
I cannot thank you enough for your website and hopefully you will educate others and they will not have to experience what me and my family have.
Writing time again (19/2/2011)
I've been busy writing things this week. There was the regular column for Yahoo!7 News, which has again attracted a coterie of commenters who either can't read or don't bother to understand what it is that they are reading. Why an article that talks about how television programs which tout their "investigative journalism" seem to not even do basic investigation would attract comments relating to my income in bribes from Big Pharma is a mystery, but perhaps the very first comment gives a hint. When someone admits that they suffer from impairments of both intellect and attention span by offering no comment beyond "tldr" (too long, didn't read) you have to wonder about the quality of the audience. Still, not everyone who reads what I write feels compelled to respond with non sequiturs and foolishness so I guess I will just keep on writing. You can read the article here.
The other regular writing gig is my Naked Skeptic column for Australasian Science magazine. This week saw me at the word processor again churning out the article for the April issue, although a strange weather pattern pattern causing days to alternate between hot and cold made it hard to decide on the level of nakedness I should adopt while writing. I suppose I could average things out and work half-naked, but then I would have to decide which half to put clothes on - the top or the bottom. I polled the family but they all just giggled a lot at the thought of either option (Cody The Religion Hating Dog abstained from the vote. He knows which side his kibble is buttered on.) Perhaps I should get a special writing outfit that just covers the right-hand-side of me so that people walking past my office door will see clothes. Perhaps not.
Getting back to the point of all this, I won't put the April article (about the way quacks lie about real doctors only treating symptoms) up here until the print edition appears on the newsstands. In the meantime, you can see the March column here. It is a potted history of the medical fraud perpetrated by Dr Andrew Wakefield.
In other talking activity, I recorded a session of Diffusion Science Radio. This will go to air on Radio 2SER in Sydney on Monday, February 21, at 6:30pm. You can listen to it live from the 2SER web site or at 107.3FM on one of those old-fashioned wireless things, and the program will be available for download from the Diffusion Radio site a few days after it goes to air. You can also subscribe to this excellent series and download episodes into your favourite MP3 player by clicking here. I hope to be a regular contributor to the program, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in science
I found this on the web - if anybody knows who made it, please let me know so I can do the acknowledgment.
A child died from pertussis, a disease which is almost completely preventable by vaccination. Various people mentioned this tragedy. Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network thinks that talking about dying children is "Like a broken record". And by the way, the statistics have been explained to her many times, although speculation about her source of the "ONE HUNDRED TIMES" increase in incidence risks impugning her honesty.
Could it get worse? (19/2/2011)
There is a New Zealand-based anti-vaccination liar outfit named "Vaccination Information Network", shortened to VINE, run by a man named Erwin Alber. It seems to only exist as a Facebook group, but Mr Alber is certainly in New Zealand and presumably pretends to have some influence in that country. Like most (all?) anti-vaccination liars, Mr Alber buys into every conspiracy that comes along and occasionally branches out from lying about vaccines to declare his status as an AIDS denier, 9/11 Troofer, fluoride opponent, medicine denier, etc. I haven't noticed him being a Holocaust denier, but that could just be that I don't see everything he writes. I could guess his position on climate change. It was Mr Alber who notified me of the coming antipodean tour of überarchkook David Icke, he of the "royal family are lizards" and "H1N1 vaccine is designed to microchip the world" fame.
Here is Erwin Alber saying that parents should just let handicapped children die because they are expensive to raise and you can always have more (just don't vaccinate the replacements).
And here is Erwin banning someone who threatened to contribute peer-reviewed science from reputable journals. (Perhaps John Best should tell his friends in anti-vax land that MMR doesn't cause autism, because they all seem to think it does.)
Putting me in my place (19/2/2011)
Those cards and letters just keep rolling in. Here is a suggestion that was posted on YouTube as a comment about a video showing me committing homeopathic suicide by taking some magic pills.
Sir, try homeopathic medicine KALI CYNATUM 1X, for sucide ok, bite and break the tongue and allow the medicine to mix with your blood , it acts fast... HOMEOPATHY WORKS AND IS THE MOST ADVANCED SCIENCE OF HEALING.SCIENCE HAS PROVED IT RECENTLY, GOOGLE SEARCH-IIT BOMBAY HOMEOPATHY
I like the kooksign way that ALL CAPS gets an airing, but I really like the suggestion that I consume 1X sodium cyanide. I suppose you could call this a death threat, although I am supposed to do the killing to myself rather than have someone else do it. I don't think I'll bother.
In other death threat news I have again come to the attention of David Mabus (real name Dennis Makuze), one of the world's most crazy and persistent 'net kooks. His correspondence has a certain style to it, and here is the latest example.
Subject: Judgment Day
you talk about wanting to hear and see both sides, but that is all BS... here is the other extreme - the absolute negation of the atheist position
BIG TIME, f*ckers...
my challenge for sh*t for brains james randi:
JUST A GAME!
nothing will save you!
TORA! TORA! TORA!
Dear PZ... I spoke with God yesterday.... Do you want to know what he told me?
dawkins - got you...
who's the WINGNUT?
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION - JAN 1, 2011
OMENS OF DEATH:
the end of atheism - only the blind and deaf can deny it...
an example and warning of the fate of those who try to divide people....
At least we're on the same page...
Serves Em Right, eh, Randi....
Just for you, little traitors…
WHAT IS *WRONG* WITH HENRY?
we're this far from nuking all of you....
the X-MAS vacuum cleaner for the atheists....
shermer, randi, myers, pz, dawkins, harris
why does everyone always want to PUNCH you, shermer?
take your meds, you little fckers...
now we are going to bury you...
And the lesson from all of this? DOUBLE!
What do you want, you little ****ers?
more of these idiots
HOW N WON ALL THE PARANORMAL PRIZES!
pz myers does not exist…
atheists, we're gonna cut off your heads…
THE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTION
let them have a GOOD LOOK at the CORNFIELD....
I know there are no direct death threats in there, but he didn't mention Depeche Mode either, another of his obsessions. Mabus has been around for many years, getting crazier almost by the day, but he has recently been discovered by some new people because he has himself discovered Twitter. (He has polluted Usenet and email for more than a decade to my personal knowledge.) The unfortunate thing is that some of these newcomers to Internet life seem to think that he is a problem which requires more than simple blocking and ignoring. For all his faults though, how could anyone not appreciate his major contribution to society's memes? That was the day that for no apparent reason he shouted "GOATS ON FIRE!" in an email. That sort of kookiness should be (and has been) celebrated on a t-shirt.
Briefness again! (26/2/2011)
Yes, it's a short one again this week. I had everything planned out from Thursday morning until Sunday night. About the only thing that happened as it should have was a memorial service at Sydney University for computer pioneer Professor John Bennett, who worked on the first practical stored-program computer at Cambridge in the 1940s and later gave me my first job as a programmer. What was supposed to be an afternoon writing followed by recording a Diffusion Radio segment then a few beers with Sydney Atheists turned into a "short" problem-fix for a client that became a get-home-after-9pm effort. Friday was supposed to be the day for submitting three job applications through the NSW Governments online jobs system. This turned into another all-day-and-half-the-night session as the online application system crashed in at least four different ways. That's right - at least four different problems, each requiring a start from scratch with the process. ("Sorry, applications closed" message for a job which was still open, database error message giving no details but saying "try again later", message saying that documentation uploaded only once had been uploaded three times, multiple time-outs.) Luckily I was able to get some email addresses and email the stuff in before the deadline, but I will be on the phone early Monday morning to make sure things have ended up in the right place. Sometimes I hate technology.
The less said about Saturday the better and on Sunday I awoke with a sore throat, so there went any plans for recording some radio programs and podcasts.
But that's enough whining and excuses ...
One down (maybe), hundreds to go (26/2/2011)
It's a really good feeling when you wake up in the morning, brew a coffee and check the email and one of the first messages to come in is a media release like this from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Unfortunately, the ACCC has nowhere near the resources it needs to hunt down all the crooks, charlatans and quacks out there stealing people's money, hopes and lives by offering useless treatments for serious illnesses. At least now, with a recent change in the legislation, the ACCC can ask the courts to impose financial penalties on these criminals. In the past all that could be done was to order them to stop, but even then sometimes they managed to keep on going. Sometimes, when a quack actually kills someone, the criminal justice system can step in and maybe get a conviction for manslaughter, but it would be preferable if regulatory authorities had the will, the resources and the power to step in early before the damage is done.
ACCC takes action over cancer cure claims on the internet
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted legal proceedings in the Federal Court, Perth, against Gwyneth Graham alleging that she has falsely represented that she and/or others associated with her can and have cured cancer.
The ACCC alleges that from at least January 2011 Ms Graham, who is associated with The Spiritual Healing Association of Western Australia and the Australian & International Peace Operations Limited, promoted the cancer cure services on a number of websites, including:
Ms Graham charges a fee to provide the cancer cures.
The ACCC alleges that Ms Graham's conduct breaches sections 18 and 29(1) (g) of the Australian Consumer Law (Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010). Section 18 prohibits conduct by persons that is misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive, and section 29(1) (g) prohibits false or misleading representations about the performance characteristics, uses or benefits of services.
In these proceedings, the ACCC is seeking:
The matter has been filed in the Federal Court's fast track list and is next listed for mention in Perth at 10 a.m. on 4 March 2011 before Justice Siopis.
Release # NR 035/11
Issued: 25th February 2011
Small earthquake in New Zealand, lots of people dead (26/2/2011)
Before the dust had settled over the devastation of Christchurch, New Zealand, by the earthquake this week, bets were being taken about which religious idiot would be the first to claim that the deaths and property damage were caused by God showing his displeasure at the sins of the locals. A early short favourite was Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, but he was distracted by a denial-of-service attack on the God Hates Fags web site by the Internet action group Anonymous (Motto: Supporting freedom of speech, one closed web site at a time) and was removed from the list of runners. There were early reports that a web site in Utah, USA created on February 20 (http://www.christchurchquake.net) was claiming that the earthquake was God's vengeance on homosexuals in Christchurch and that the quake in the same city in September 2010 had been a preliminary warning. The site has now disappeared so it might very well have been a hoax. It was pointed out by several people that it was strange that God would want to destroy a city named Christchurch and that one of the badly damaged buildings would be the iconic Christchurch Cathedral, one of the most famous buildings in the city. I suppose it could be put down to him moving in mysterious ways.
While we were waiting for the religious nutters to make an appearance we forgot about the conspiracy nutters. But they didn't forget about us, and just had to tell us why all those people had to die and all those buildings had to come down. Last week I mentioned anti-vaccination nutter Erwin Alber and I noted that he was into all sorts of conspiracy theories. He excelled himself this week with the following:
I won't punish you by linking to the video, but there is enough information in the text to give the flavour of Mr Alber's madness. In a nutshell (how appropriate), the earthquake was caused by the New World Order's Illuminati-controlled HAARP weather control system, designed to destroy the world's economy in preparation for the installation of the One World Government. Or something like that. Why Christchurch was chosen is puzzling the best students of international affairs, as the city does not seem to offer any threat or impediment to world domination. Perhaps it was a test run to see if the system worked before starting on the real targets. And if you are wondering about the word "Chemtrails" near the picture of the crushed bus, Mr Alber went on to rant about the vapour trails behind aircraft, although the connection with the earthquake was tenuous.
Someone opened the cage (26/2/2011)
The Internet service named Usenet has been around for a very long time, and still provides a very useful service for people who want to carry on discussions. I participate in about ten newsgroups out of the tens of thousands available. Posts to Usenet newsgroups are captured and archived in many places, but the most dominant is Google Groups. It is so dominant, in fact, that many people seem to think that Google owns the system and the only means of access for reading and writing posts is through the Google Groups web interface. In reality there are many ways to participate in Usenet and all you need is someone to provide access to a news server and a client program. Many ISPs offer news groups as part of their service, and you might already have the programs (Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, ...). I use two ISPs (in different places and with mobile broadband accounts) so I use a commercial newsserver (APN from Forte Inc) and I have used Forte Agent for years as my news client.
Earlier this week the traffic on the newsgroup misc.health.alternative suddenly dropped to a trickle. All the people who usually posted through the Google Groups web interface were missing, and a check of the Google Groups web site showed that the group had been blocked for violating Google's Terms of Service. As well as preventing people from posting, the blocking removed access to more than 15 years of archives. There was no apparent way to contact Google to ask why, but a message to Twitter about the problem came to the attention of a Google Groups product manager and the archive was back on the air soon after, although now for some reason it carries an "Adults Only" warning.
Because I was using a real newsreader my participation in the group was not impaired, although I believe that the archive is a valuable resource and I was glad to see it back.
Then the fun started. Our old friend Tim Bolen, spokesturd for the quacks, decided to announce why misc.health.alternative had been killed. As usual he got almost everything except the date wrong. Here is what he posted to his web site, complete with my comments when I posted the whole thing to the supposedly-closed newsgroup. (Note: I refer to Bolen as "Pat" because his cousin Tim does not want people to think that the clown is him. Also, the Ilena mentioned is Ilena Rosenthal, famous for getting a court to agree that it is not defamatory to publish defamation if someone else wrote it and you read it on the Internet. You don't even have to believe it is true. It is no coincidence that the defamatory material she republished was written by Bolen.)
Google Shuts Down Quackbuster Discussion Group...
Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Google, the owner of the famous search engine, also runs a series of Discussion Groups, called "Google Groups." For as long as anyone can remember there has been a Discussion Group called "misc.health.alternative." But no longer. Yesterday, Google shut it down, claiming the group violated Google's Terms Of Service."
It doesn't appear to be shut down now, Pat. Oh, and Google dropping it from their archive didn't shut it down.
It was never known who started the group, nor who managed it.
Nobody managed it. It is and was an unmoderated Usenet newsgroup, with nothing whatsoever to do with Google. You can see who started it here. I don't think Google was around in 1992.
But it was always clear that it was a forum for bashing cutting edge health care, for the most part by posters using a fake name, and more often than not, those posters viciously attacked, using the most offensive language and suggestions of odd sexual preferences.
Are you talking about Ilena, the fourteen sailors and the billy goat?
Some of the internet's nastiest posters got their start here. "Orac the Nipple Ripper," for instance, reveled here, belittling his betters until, of course, his identity was revealed, and
That identity only being a secret to ingorami like you, Pat.
the attack on him was reversed. Avoiding the sting, he ran for his own Blog, where he could control the posted comments about his writings.
You can post there, Pat. Why don't you?
But Google shut it down, quite ceremoniously...
No, Google did not shut it down. Google has no power over Usenet.
"Ratbags," Peter Bowditch, a man of no particular importance, but a nasty mouth, wallowed here Bowditch is the head of the so-called "Australian Skeptics, and clearly VERY CLOSE to
I love it when people say "so-called", as it indicates a losing argument. Australian Skeptics Inc is registered as a corporation in Australia so there is nothing "so-called" about it. And I am not the head of the organisation, something which can be checked in about 30 seconds by going to the Australian Skeptics web site.
James Randi, the Skeptic' s originator. Keep this in mind for future articles about the quackbuster organization.
Oh, we will keep it in mind. And Randi was not the originator of the organisation, but why should something as useless as a fact enter anything written by Pat Bolen.
I always strongly suspected that it was here, on this Discussion Group, that the quackbusters (and there are not that many of them) perfected their technique of adopting multiple fake identities to bolster their crude arguments against cutting-edge health care. Bowditch, who, I believe, has the easily recognized writing skills of an over-sugared fourth-grader, appears to have used up to thirty different identities.
Name them, Pat. Name them, or be proven as the liar you are.
More, it was here that Ilena Rosenthal challenged this nasty operation, and got sued for her efforts by Stephen Barrett and Terry Polevoy. As you know Ilena Rosenthal cleaned their clocks in the California Courts, and at least one of the group still owes her over $450,000 in attorney fees awarded by the California Court.
Has Ilena managed to revive her hooker career in San Diego after the humiliation of not being able to attract customers in a naval port even when she gave it away for free? I know the facts here because I read them on the Internet and a court case in California (Barrett v Rosenthal) established the precedent that there is no defamation in repeating something read on the Internet, whether you believe it to be true or not.
For years the so-called misc.health.alternative Discussion Group was a dueling ground between the clearly-of-lesser-intelligence quackbuster/skeptics, and supporters of cutting-edge health care.
Those supporters were very thin on the ground, Pat.
You could always tell when, and this always happened quickly, the quackbuster/skeptics became mentally overwhelmed, for they would resort to the multiple identities, sometimes cross-gendering, and the over-the-top sexual innuendos.
I know a lady named Pat, Pat. Are you pretending to be a woman?
What Could Have Happened...
It is very possible that Barrett's support network, through whomever was actually running it as a bashing service, petitioned to shut it down, for it contained about fifteen years of evidence of quackbuster online activity. A few years ago, I recall, Barrett erased all the archived back years of the so-called "Healthfraud Discussion Group," I suspect, as soon as they realized that, there too, was a repository of evidence that could be used against them.
Well, Pat, whoever petitioned to have it removed from the Google archive didn't get what they want, did they? It's all back.
Of course, the people over at Doctor's Data v Stephen Barrett Federal Court case, are EAGER to get into Discovery - and, it is also obvious, that Barrett and company are desperate to keep evidence away from them.
How is the case involving those crooks at Doctor's Data going, Pat? Have you managed to attach yourself to the teat yet, or are you still hoping for some sort of fee?
And, no matter what, of course Google keeps a copy of the archive...
Yes, and they put it right back up for public use, just where it always was.
I love it.
I love it when you are shown to be such a fool, Pat.
Tim Bolen - Consumer Advocate
Another joke (26/2/2011)
Well, it would be if it wasn't so serious. Here is something posted to the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page by ex-President Meryl Dorey. Pay particular attention to where she says "There is NO mention that this baby was unvaccinated".
Then look at the first two paragraphs of the news story she linked to and commented on. Read the last sentence and tell me that Ms Dorey can read.
Actually, I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt here and assume that she meant to write "There is NO mention that this baby was vaccinated and chances are, she was". This is much more consistent with the lie she told in the post where she provided the link to the article - "Infant gets polio from vaccine". No, Ms Dorey, the infant got polio from a virus, a virus that would have been wiped out of its human reservoirs years ago if people like you hadn't been spreading fear and lies about the danger of the vaccine. Like smallpox, polio requires human carriers. One day the last case will be gone, but until then children will die and be crippled because of the actions of people like you. Are you proud of that?