Article Archive for December 2007

SciencePunk 2007 Roundup
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 31 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

It’s been an absolutely cracking year for SciencePunk, which was the first full calendar year of operation and a jam-packed one at that. The site gathered pace for the first half of the year, breaking the million-hit mark in June. Then, rather splendidly, some like-minded cats saw my site, and decided to give [...]

Homeopaths show Arsenic 45x is indistinguishable from water
By David Colquhoun
Posted in , , syndicated on 31 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Happy new year. not least to the folks at the homeopathy4health site .  They are jubilant about a “proof” that homeopathic dilutions could produce effects. albeit only on wheat seedlings. But guess what? After some questioning it was found that they hadn’t actually read the paper. Well I have read it, and this is the [...]

Gold, Frankincense and Mirazid
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 31 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

I do find the Bible disappointing in one or two areas. For a work supposedly divinely inspired, it is remarkably lacking in handy life enhancing tips like how to cure nasty diseases and relieve common aches and pains. There really is little in the way of pharmacology and medicine in the Bible. Not even basic lifestyle, exercise and nutrition tips. “Do not smoke” should have made it into the

Something Else That Doesn’t Add Up
By apgaylard
Posted in syndicated on 30 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Ben Goldacre’s review of his 2007 ‘Bad Science’ stories prompted me to check up on Ecowatts and their preposterous Thermal Energy Cell (TEC).  The claims made for this device range from violating the first law of thermodynamics to tapping in to an unknown source of energy within hydrogen atoms.  Either way, if true, someone should [...]

Detoxing for the new year: the holistic approach
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 30 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

In the run-up to the new year, Prof Patrick Holford of Teesside University has been promoting his “9-Day Liver Detox”. More on that later, but I thought it would be nice to start with some holistic health advice - advice that treats the whole person, instead of just targeting particular symptoms or organs in [...]

Belief by Numbers
By jdc325
Posted in , , syndicated on 28 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Are we dumbing down? Do we believe more readily now than in the past? Are odd beliefs more prevalent in the US than the UK?
According to the CBS news website in 2005, a poll found that that “Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in [...]

Cat in zero gravity
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 28 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

In the 60s, space travel fired the imagination of the planet. People envisioned exploring new worlds, holidaying on the moon and commuting through the asteroid belt. Now, forty years on, where have we got up to? Answer: a group of scientists throwing a cat in zero g. Really struggling to see [...]


By What the hell is this?
Posted in , syndicated on 27 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

It seems that Lionel R. Milgrom, “scientist, writer, homeopath,” has replied to my eLetter. He addresses only the point about what happens to the three-way entangled wavefunction when one of the three components collapses, and I will reply when I’ve had another look at Greenberger et al.

But first I want you to image a normal pack of 52 playing cards, and that I deal them out half to you and half to me. Neither of us look at the cards we’ve been given so neither of us know which 26 out of the 52 we have. But if you pick up your cards an examine them, you’ll know not only which cards you have but which cards I must have. Our hands of cards are entangled, in the sense that whichever ones I have are the ones you don’t have. However, if I had another pack of cards under the table and was cheating then I could break the entanglement. Now this is a classical physical system in which the cards all have definite values even before you look - in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics the first card would be a superposition of all 52 until you look and collapse its wavefunction. All the other cards’ wavefunctions would then instantaneously reduce to being a superposition of the other 51, and so on until you’ve collapsed all 26 of your cards and you know which 26 are left for mine. Nobody seriously believes that playing cards can exist in superpositions of values but this is at least a vaguely workable analogy for quantum entanglement. It can’t really get to explaining the possible violation of the Uncertainty Principle present in the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought experiment but it’s the best I’ve thought of so far.free hit counter javascript

Spam and Spammers
By jaycueaitch
Posted in syndicated on 27 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

I’ve just logged on for the first time since Christmas and discovered that the spammers have been busy. Because on a couple of occasions legitimate comments have been caught in the filter I had to skim through the haul.
What struck me was the total sameness. Every damn one of them was chock full of links [...]

A House Divided
By apgaylard
Posted in , syndicated on 26 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

 ”…Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand“.
Matthew 12:25 (King James Version)
This piece of ancient wisdom has made its way into common usage.  It nicely expresses the observation that for any group to endure, let alone progress, unity is required.
This theme runs through [...]

The Do No Harm Initiative promote ignorant harmful advice
By gimpy
Posted in , syndicated on 26 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

You may remember that Sense about Science and Newsnight exposed some homeopaths as being willing to prescribe homeopathic vaccines, homeoprophylaxis, for malaria and specifically stated that it was better than conventional vaccines. The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) was quick to condemn such claims and indulged in some untruths to avoid taking responsibility while prominent Faculty [...]

Morals in high places: leadership from Anderson and Chisholm.
By David Colquhoun
Posted in , syndicated on 26 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

We here a lot about leadership these days. It has become one of the favourite buzzwords of those who do neither research not teaching. Quite what it means is never clear, but one thing it should include is setting a good example in ethical behaviour. So what’s going wrong?
We’ve seen the case [...]

Formulaic Christmas nonsense
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 26 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

It was too much to hope for to get through the season without someone, somewhere, attaching their name to a bogus scientific formula and calling it news. Ever since McVities paid Dr Len Fisher to come up with a formula for biscuit dunking, advertisers have seen the “perfect formula” story prove irresistible to [...]

Electric eel-powered Christmas lights
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 25 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Because it’s Christmas Day, a little festive science for you. Merry non-denominational winter solstice festival, everyone!
From the Mainichi Daily News:
KAKAMIGAHARA, Gifu — An aquarium filled with exotic fish here is using an electric eel to power lights on a Christmas tree.
Each time the electric eel at the Aqua Toto Gifu aquarium touches [...]

Quantumtesticles
By What the hell is this?
Posted in syndicated on 24 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

From SciencePunk, some top-quality quantum nonsense at NaturScience.

“Science tells us that all matter is energy in motion.”

No it doesn’t. That has to be one of the most useless summaries of the De Broglie hypothesis. Anyway, matter waves aren’t the same as electromagnetic waves (i.e. photons). As anyone who has done a quantum mechanics usually learns on the first day, macroscopic objects have tiny De Broglie wavelengths when moving at any visible speed just because they have so much mass compared to individual subatomic particles.

“Computers can capture the ‘frequency signal’ of matter…”

What frequency signal? The vibrations of bonds in the infra-red, the rotations of small molecules in the microwave? The electronic transitions in the visible and ultraviolet? The alignment of electronic spins in the magnetic field of the nucleus, or the precession of the nuclear spins themselves at radio frequencies? And how can computers do this without having some sort of measuring equipment attached?

“These signals are known as ‘nano-waves’.”

Only to you cretins.

“This is similar to an EKG machine measuring the electrical output of the heart.”

No it isn’t, etc…

Gimpy has already commented there that nanometre wavelengths correspond to x-ray radiation. I will just comment that ‘Quantumceuticals’ is a big pile of testicles.free hit counter javascript

“Quantumceuticals” - a new class of pseudoscience
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 24 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

For some time now we here at the bad science frontline have been seeing adverts for “cosmeceuticals” - a portmanteau that promises all the effectiveness of clinically-trialled medicine, in your make-up. Of course, medical products are strictly controlled and licensed, so cosmetic companies tread a thin line - if their anti-wrinkle creams are too [...]

D’oh!
By jdc325
Posted in , , syndicated on 23 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

The Department of Health (DoH) has responded to my query on homeopathy with the following:

Brighton rocks: Tarot, GSK and a lovely war
By David Colquhoun
Posted in syndicated on 23 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

A merry christmas to one and all (or, depending on your mood, possibly bah humbug).
After the last post (and the next one), here’s something a bit lighter.
Last week I was in Brighton at the British Pharmacological Society Winter meeting in the Hilton Metropole (the less said about that hotel [...]

20th Century Boy
By valueaddedwater
Posted in , syndicated on 23 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

I’m not a historian, but I do have an interest in early 20th Century history and society and technology
I especially love all the glamour and artwork and sheer care and joy that went into crafting some of the adverts for even the most mundane of stuff.
This is not done so much today. I and people [...]

Peter Chappell - claims to cure bird flu by MP3 quackery, subjects us to early death instead
By gimpy
Posted in syndicated on 22 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Every so often there is a global influenza pandemic capable of killing tens of millions. The last such severe influenza epidemic was the 1918 Spanish Flu that is thought to have killed 40-100 million individuals and caused severe illness in many more. Experts think there is some risk of avian influenza mutating sufficiently [...]

Christmas Cake
By andrew
Posted in syndicated on 21 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

There’s a shortage of Nintendo Wiis at the moment, because they’re popular and it’s Christmas. This has led to crazy people suggesting that Nintendo have engineered this shortage deliberately, which is true only in the rather weak sense that Nintendo’s objective is to sell consoles rather than horde them in shops. The fact is there’s [...]

Magic Homeopathic MP3 Music is Nothing New
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in , syndicated on 21 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

There is nothing new under the quackery sun…

Vaccine saves lives - homeopath recommends magic water
By gimpy
Posted in , syndicated on 21 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

This via the BBC, apparently over 300 lives have been saved in England alone by the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine a year ago. This vaccine, given to infants, helps protect them against pneumonia and meningitis both dangerous and often fatal diseases. This is a great example of medical science at its [...]

CORH - a quorum of quackery (part two)
By gimpy
Posted in , syndicated on 21 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

At long last here is part two of CORH. This post is primarily to make the public the back stabbing, money grabbing and devious actions of the main contributors. There will be another post over the weekend looking at the fallout, plans for the future and the apparent defection of prominent members of [...]

Deconstructing a Fallen Star
By apgaylard
Posted in , syndicated on 21 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

On Wednesday December 19th Rustum Roy sallied forth to defend the plausibility of a mechanism of action for homeopathic remedies; but not their clinical efficacy.  His apologia, published in the “Comment is Free” section of the UK’s Guardian newspaper focuses on the alleged structure of water.  This, he opines, leads to the memory of water.  In [...]

Registered Osteomylogist, Robert Delgado, Gets Knuckles Rapped by the ASA. So What?
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 20 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

You know, 2008 is going to be an important year for homeopaths as their future is mapped out for them. In particular, the issue of how to regulate their excesses is going to be widely discussed. This past year has seen a total failure of the various UK homeopathic covens to come together and form a unified single register as a step towards their desired aim of voluntary self regulation. Squabbles

Are Google evil hypocrites?
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 20 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

A short break from Patrick Holford coverage (although I’ll come back to the good professor at the end of the post) to look at a much bigger fish - Google. Matt Cutts (prominent on Google’s anti-spam team) recently blogged about selling links that pass PageRank - and thus making search results less accurate. [...]

British ‘girls’ are mingers
By pj
Posted in syndicated on 20 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Really nothing can be added to this little gem from Tad Safran in the Times: “I am a massive fan of British women. UK girls, in my opinion, are the greatest natural beauties in the world . . . when they’re 17 or 18 years old. The girls I was surround…

Muddying the water: Rustum Roy in the Grauniad
By Paul Wilson
Posted in , syndicated on 20 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

For me, Christmas came early this year, in the shape of a Guardian ‘Response’ piece by Rustum Roy, of all people. Roy is an eminent professor of materials science at Pennsylvania State University, but he also appears periodically to try and give s…

Racehorse success in genes … or not
By Poor Pothecary
Posted in syndicated on 20 December 2007
Stats: and Comments Off

Interesting how different news outlets interpret a story. The Telegraph’s High price may not make champion horse reports an interesting result of a study by Alastair Wilson and Andrew Rambaut at the University of Edinburgh finding that stud fees are a…