Sunday, 29 July 2012

Pseudoscience stuff from the week 23-29/7/12

You might recall that, a couple of weeks ago, i cajoled you to notify Holland & Barrett that they were breaching MHRA rules.
It seems Head Office have decided to ignore those complaints, and have judged that pushing quackery within their stores is perfectly fine!
H&B love to push a 'friendly, family, greeny' image -- but they are nothing other than hard-nosed entrepreneurs - willing to make money by any product, no matter what the cost to their customers' health.

See last week's Pseudoscience section for the BBC's Panorama programme exposing sports products
'Study busts sports-drink myths'

'I’m balancing my chakras with a didgeridoo. You too? Yes, woo.'
Classic peusoscientific batshittery:
"“Chakras”, “balance”, “energy”, “vibrations”, “qi”, it’s all in here."
It's great that they've found a technique by which to *relax* but do they have to shit all over reality, and everything we've learned about it, in the process?
I suffer from depression and anxiety, too -- but i give credit to medicinal modalities when it's due - and not before.
Feeling better is not an automatic validation of the terminology -- remember the Ocean Dilemma.

'Are couch potatoes 'as fit as hunter-gatherers'?'
The Daily Mail has reported that exercise plays no part in body weight -- this is totally untrue.
A study of the Hadza tribe, in Africa, compared to 'Westeners', found that they use the same amount of energy, per day, as 'Westeners'.
However -- the Hadza are significantly thinner, because they exercise more, and so should be expected to burn more energy per unit weight.
(Think of Tour de France cyclists - all incredibly thin, so despite travelling 200 km per day, they don't need to eat a whole barn at breakfast!)
This is how 'Westeners' use the same amount of energy, but are less fit, and increase in weight (they consume too many calories)
"Media coverage of the study overstated its results, implying that obesity is not caused by lack of exercise. Although the authors state that their study challenges current models of obesity that suggest Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure, their study did not address the issue of what does cause obesity or what can be done to reduce it."
"It is worth pointing out that this research, which looked at energy expenditure rather than energy intake, had nothing to do with the popular 'hunter-gatherer diet' (or 'caveman' or 'paleo' diet)."
"The authors emphasize that physical exercise is nonetheless important for maintaining good health. In fact, the Hadza spend a greater percentage of their daily energy budget on physical activity than Westerners do, which may contribute to the health and vitality evident among older Hadza."

A WWF report says the Asian demand for bits of animals, for pseudo-medicine, is the main driver of poaching across Africa
"WWF said Vietnam was the top destination for rhino horns illegally imported from South Africa."

'Monday's medical myth: Blame it on my sweet tooth'
"Humans can be loosely divided into two types. Those who like increasing levels of sugar up to a mid-range concentration, but then reach a point when it things get too sweet and liking falls off. The second group also like increasing levels of sugar up to a mid-range of concentration, but as sweetness increases, enjoyment rises – or at worst, levels off. For these people, there is no such thing as too sweet."
"Sugar preferences are influenced by age and gender. Men generally prefer higher concentrations of sweet compared with women. And children have more of a sweet tooth than their parents. In fact, sweetness turns out to be the most important features that determine what children are willing to eat. But the liking for concentrated sweetness fades rapidly during adolescence."
"How well you taste sweetness doesn’t predict how much you like it or whether you will eat lots of sweet things. So the sweet tooth is neither super-sensitive nor overcompensating because of lack of sensitivity."

Is this another Montauk monster?
Nope -- it's the decaying cadaver of a dead raccoon -- just like the last one

Why would aliens travel millions of light years to write the web-address of a crop circle 'research' organisation in a farmer's field?

Yet more evidence (as if it was ever necessary) that crop circles are made by people - not by little green men!
Crop circles can be fun, though (especially for the Wiltshire-folk who do them):

The lechuza - a giant bird that looks like a barn owl - and doesn't exist.
It's another one of those myths, where an animal is made up, for whatever poorly-fathomed reason, and then people set about faking pictures of it.
This one's a clear fake - but it's good practice for anyone who wants to 'get their eye in':
- the men aren't straining to hold it
- the men are uniformed, but didn't report it
- the primary feathers, which it's held by, wouldn't hold its weight
- the head is missing!?
- there are editing errors (not photographic) around its edges

Another howler from the Daily Fail (excuse the pun... please?), with a story about a dog that gave birth to puppies... and a kitten.
There is no theoretical way this could happen, and they have gone to no effort whatsoever to establish a causation that would demand a rewrite of biological theory.
"So, perhaps this is an odd looking puppy or a hoax. Did he SEE the animal being born? Maybe it’s a real kitten the mother dog picked up or was placed with her and she accepted it. That’s not SO odd."

What's the harm in mind-body dualism (the belief that the mind and the brain are distinct and separate entities)?
Recklessness with behaviour pertaining to health.
People primed with dualism are more reckless when it comes to exercise, and eat less healthily, than those who are not primed with dualism.
"These findings support the researchers’ original hypothesis that the more people perceive their minds and bodies to be distinct entities, the less likely they will be to engage in behaviors that protect their bodies. Bodies are ultimately viewed as a disposable vessel that helps the mind interact with the physical world."

'Revealing: 80 psychic tips in a case, none are the same'
If they could actually do it, they would at least converge on a similar answer; but no - they're all different!
"Psychic help has ONLY been shown to be a drain on resources because they have NEVER directly helped solve a crime or find a body. They are never that direct and clear but they like to say they are after the fact."

'Ask the lucky… log? Superstition rules in Cambodia'
"A large log dug up in Cambodia has drawn thousands of visitors who believe it possesses healing powers and can predict winning lottery numbers...
Some 4,000 to 5,000 people have already been to see the 13-metre-long log (42 feet) that was discovered earlier this month when a family excavated a pond in western Pursat province"

'Anatomy of a propaganda press release: Fluoride and IQ'
If you want the real low-down on fluoride in tap water, C0nc0rdance has done a video on it:

The homeopaths are *still* on the rampage:
Despite homeopathy being nothing more than shaken water/sugar pills, they are claiming that it not only can but *does* treat Hepatitis.
This is serious charlatianism -- people have and will die because of homeopathic beliefs - it is simply not moral to subject people to contentless 'treatments' when they could be having something that actually works.
Incidentally, there is news of a real treatment for Hepatitis C:

'The color of pseudoscience: Aura photography'
"The subject puts his or her hands on sensors that read biofeedback (temperature, electric signals, etc.); the camera then translates those data as color."

'What can Chirokinetic Therapy treat?'
"If you’re guessing that the correct answer to the title question is ‘nothing’ then congratulations, you have the correct answer but please permit me to elaborate a little further."

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