Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Notification 3 - Anniversary 1

Today, the 27th of May 2013, marks the 1st anniversary of Tapejara blog, and i notice i've passed 4500 hits! So with 232 blog posts and ~600 tumblr posts on the board, i thought i'd mark the occasion with an article round-up and some pictures of my family.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have read my posts, from the bottom of my heart, as well as those of you who've read them from somewhere else... heck, i'll thank you from even further down... from the heart of my bottom!

...or maybe not :-P

All my non-topical mini-essays:

An Example Of Homeopathic Charlatanry And A Quote-Mining 101 ||| What to do with libraries? ||| Flower Porn (?) ||| Lumosity And The Brain-Training Bunk ||| The Pseudoscience In Spam Mail ||| Our Expectations Of Cranks ||| Why Homeopathy CAN'T Work ||| Fraudulent Entertainment ||| I Get It (Religious Beliefs) ||| "Because it's there" ||| Claiming The North Pole ||| Mars Curiosity Lander special ||| Why I Hate The BBC's Foremost Science Program - Horizon ||| Open Access Science ||| Say Goodbye To All The Fish ||| Higgs Boson special ||| 'The Ocean Dilemma' - a scientific tool ||| GCSEs and O-levels ||| Tax Avoidance (Jimmygate) ||| 'Sustainability' ||| GM food and the raid of Rothamsted Research ||| 'The Taxpayers' Alliance'

All my entertainment articles:

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/5/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 13-19/5/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 6-12/5/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 29/4-5/5/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 22-28/4/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 15-21/4/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/4/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 1-7/4/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 25-31/3/13   |||   Entertainment stuff from the week 18-24/3/13   |||    Entertainment stuff from the week 11-17/3/13   |||    Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/3/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 25/2 - 3/3/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 18-24/2/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 11-17/2/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/2/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 28/1 - 3/2/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 21-27/1/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 7-13/1/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 31/12/12 - 6/1/13 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 17-23/12/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 10-16/12/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 3-9/12/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 26/11 - 2/12/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 19-25/11/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 12-18/11/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 5-11/11/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 29/10 - 4/11/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 22-28/10/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 15-21/10/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/10/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from 1-7/10/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from 24-30/8/12  ||| Entertainment stuff from 27/8 - 23/9/12 |||  Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/8/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 13-19/8/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the fortnight 30/7 - 12/8/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 23-29/7/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 16-22/7/12 |||  Entertainment stuff from the week 9-15/7/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 2-8/7/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 25/6 - 1/7/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 18-24/6/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 11-17/6/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/6/12 ||| Entertainment stuff from the week 28/5 - 3/6/12 ||| Entertaining stuff from the week 21-27/5/12 ||| Entertaining stuff from the week 14-20/5/12

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/5/13

Hi, geniuses!

Firstly, i'm going to slap myself on the back, because tomorrow (the 27th of May) marks the 1st anniversary of Tapejara blog!

I've managed to do 232 posts (including this one) and received more than 4,500 pageviews. It's only a humble blog, but i hope you've appreciated it :-)


There's been a minor shitstorm in the world of Physics, this week, regarding a man called Weinstein, who claims to have found a Theory of Life, The Universe, and Everything. The Theory.

It's completely bonkers - as Science advances, theories specialise, not generalise - a theory of everything would be horrendously complicated or too vague to be useful... like a prophecy.

But people claiming to have done batty things is not odd. The aforementioned 'minor shitstorm' has come from the fact that Marcus du Sautoy, the University of Oxford’s professor of the public understanding of science, no less, endorsed and publicised the man's claim with an article in the Guardian.

At least two people made mistakes, here, who should not have done - du Sautoy, for endorsing a man on the basis of a neat idea but no evidence (they're both mathematician's - not physicists - cue snide remark about mathematicians not bothering with real-world evidence) and the Grauniad employee(s) for thinking that a hedge-fund manager who left maths behind 20 years ago, who claims to have the answer to life, the universe, and everything, might possibly have something to offer!!

Thank you, Tony Padilla, for tweeting the article from which this quote came:

"Admittedly, it’s a very seductive narrative. Who doesn’t thrill to the idea of an obscure unknown genius toiling away in the shadows, snubbed by the stuffy, closed-minded academic establishment, who defies the odds and manages to achieve what all those brilliant scholars failed to do, thereby ensuring his or her scientific immortality? I love a good story! But this is science, not Good Will Hunting, and that narrative just isn’t true — or rather, it’s too simplistic."

If Weinstein were a 21st century Ramanujan - an unknown who found the limelight and made massive metaphorical waves, he wouldn't have worked in economics for 20 years (the 20s are widely considered massively important for the development of a mathematician's mind) and he wouldn't have made the mistake of giving his talk to a bunch of non-physicists, while all of the physicists who could have understood him were in the room next door, talking about a new source of CP violation in charm physics and its implication for the unitarity triangle!

This is not even the story of an obscure genius - it is the story of a man who is trying to make a buck (probably from a book he's about to release - that's a ploy played by many) while bucking attention from serious scientists who are experts in the claim's field.

The Gaurnaid should feel embarrassed for picking the story to run with. (maybe the 'w' in 'weinstein' was all it took to trick them)

Du Sautoy should feel embarrassed for the same reason; but also for apparently abandoning the scientific method, and lowering himself to the standard of a crank - a move encapsulated in the statement "I'm trying to promote, perhaps, a new way of doing science. Let's start with really big ideas, let's be brave and let's have a discussion".

Um... discussion's what scientists do. Just because it doesn't get in 'papers, doesn't mean it's not happening. But check this, Marcus:

Science stands on evidence. And you've been publicising claims from 'research' that hasn't been published yet, and thereby might as well not exist.

Anyone can write a cheque for "the universe", but unless the drawer has a bloody good account, it's a cheque that's going to bounce.

I leave you Andrew Ponson's closing remarks from his New Scientist piece:

"Grand claims like Weinstein's would – in the normal course of science – be accompanied by a technical paper explaining their foundations. We could then take a deep breath and puzzle over whether they're consistent with the vast knowledge of nature arising from centuries of experiment and observation.
At what point during this long and difficult process does it become legitimate to proclaim a breakthrough? It's a line in shifting sands, but that line has certainly been crossed. Du Sautoy – the University of Oxford's professor of the public understanding of science, no less – has short-circuited science's basic checks and balances. Yesterday's shenanigans were anything but scientific."


Happy Birthday to the imaginatively-named VLT, though - the Very Large Telescope - 15 years old, this month :-)

It's given us some wonderful pictures of the universe we're a part of:


And so has the Kepler Space Telescope which, unfortunately, might be facing an early retirement.


For the want of a wheel, 3 years of data might have been lost. NASA hasn't given up hope though - they think they might be able to nudge it back into action.


We have another trailer for 'The World's End' - the new Wright/Pegg film to complete the Shaun/Fuzz/End trilogy... that was probably the wrong three words to pull out of the film titles!


And if you're a Dead/Hot/World geek, and want to hear some people whitter on with slow-mo analysis of what the trailer might suggest about the film, then you can watch the second video on here:


Wright/Pegg films are always full of references to things. And i think i might have spotted one - at one point three shops are seen, all with the name 'Martin's'. My imagination easily stretches to a Hobbit trilogy reference for Martin Freeman... whad'ya think, huh? :o)

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'I Deleted YouTube // Bad Teeth'
This is the funniest thing i've seen all week! And is that Antony Head as the trololo man? Yes - it is! :-D

'GOLDEN SHOW - On dit que tu t'enc...'
Many attempts to learn new languages must have been stifled by fear of this... :-D

'The Kissing Me Song - Brian May and Kerry Ellis'
The official video - we've been waiting 5 months for this, since the live preview at the 'Make A Wish Ball' in December!

'The Ball' - Richard Wiseman
A brilliant trick. I <3 Richard Wiseman :-D

'The Tea Chronicles' - charlieissocoollike
A psychological comic horror by Charlie McDonnell and Khyan Mansley. It's quali-tea!

'Pubs - A Geezer's Guide // Bad Teeth'
"Always order the Guinness last. They love that!" :-D

'Base Number Jokes Explained - Numberphile'
These are going to get me so many drinks, down at the pub! ...all over my head :-/

'Why 381,654,729 is awesome - Numberphile'

'Suricate - Se loger à Paris'
Beware: macabre humour

'Googol Song - Numberphile'
Helen Arney tries to sing a googol, and then a googolplex...

'When The Uncertainty Principle Goes Up To 11...'
Who deosn't want this guy to teach them Physics?! :)

'What kind of Asian are you?'
"Mind the gap!" Hahahahaha... i think my people's fish and chips are alright, too. One omission, though - she didn't say "bollocks" once :-D

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

News Headline Of The Week: "Big rig carrying fruit crashes on 210 Freeway, creates jam"

Word Of The Week: phosphene -- the flashes you see from sonic and physical stimulation of the retina (not caused by light)

Etymology Of The Week: carnage -- through Old italian's 'carnaggio' meaning 'murder/slaughter', from latin 'carnem' meaning 'flesh', hence carnivorous meaning 'meat-eating'

Quote Of The Week: "I was bullied at school, called all kinds of different names. But one day i turned on my bullies and said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me". And it worked! From then on, it was sticks and stones all the way." - Harry Hill

Fact Of The Week: The terms 'Eau de Parfum', 'Eau de Toilette', and 'Eau de Cologne' are rule-of-thumb descriptors of the pungency of perfume, although differences between manufacturers will result in some overlap. Parfum is the strongest, and Cologne the weakest

Acronym Of The Week: PDQ -- Pretty Damn Quick

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'27 Things Posh People Like'

How do scientists move baby pandas without domesticating them to humans? They wear a panda suit, of course:

'The world’s most powerful artificial tornado'
Follow the link to see a video of it in action.

Beware, internet fakes!
This picture is actually from this art gallery:

An innumerate quack? Who saw that coming?
"age is just a number... Weight is not"
Also available, by the same author....
"UNCONDITIONAL LOVE... i prefer avg, slim, petite, lil extra... If you [use my profile pictures in any form] it will be considered a violation of my privacy and will be subject to legal ramifications"
Woah, dude - tone down the unconditional love!!!

"That's right - turn your back on me when i'm talking to you - do you have any idea how long i spent raising those chicks? Well do you? Why don't you just go back inside and play with a string? Go on, and stop sulking - the cat-flap's that way..."

"did this broccoli just flip me off?" :-D

Awwww... hahahaha :-D

'Why Science teachers should not be given playground duty'

This is pretty-much how all Science v. Superstition conversations go :-D

Photographic-quality paintings by Anne Middleton

Diego Koi does some pretty-awesome photographic-quality drawings, in pencil this time, too

'Pocket Blu-ray laser kills 100 black balloons in a row!'
Aha - the LASER is absorbed by each of the dark balloons quickly, in turn, causing them to pop, revealing the next balloon, which absorbs all the light, causing them to pop, revealing the next balloon...

'Baby's First Baby' - the doll kit :-D

I suppose this goes down as 'pseudoscience', LOL:
'What your coffee says about you'

'Reporter terrified of rooster'
Best comment: "To be fair most white guys are terrified of big black cocks all up in their faces" - darthalba

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 13-19/5/13

Hi, criminals

...if you're from Romania, that is. And i'm not talking about their Eurovision performance... that will come later.

Another conservative arse in the UK has made a stupidly xenophobic statement in Parliament.

Because it involved a number, it got dealt with by the BBC's 'More Or Less' team - an island of liberal competence in a sea of Radio-4-style conservatism.

{Listen out for 'Marsh' of the 'Skeptics With A K' too - on a dodgy stat by Michael Gove - the most boring buffoon in Britain}

They presented a 'statistic' (i.e. a number attributed to something, completely without evidential warrant) that Romanians in Britain are all criminals.

You won't be surprised to hear that it was a fatuous statement.

And now... on to the 'Big Escape'... Eurovision.

{You can hear all the acts, if you follow the link, and go to 'Participants' and 'watch video', under the song name}

I did warn you, last week. And i did watch it... well, listen to it... i glanced over my shoulder, to the TV, occasionally. It's a musical show, right - visuals distract from the music.

...and that's how i missed the lesbian kiss at the end of Finland's performance [sad trombone sound: mwa-mwa-mwaaaa]

But anyway... because i bothered to watch hear it, i had to keep my mind active somehow... so i scored them all. And naturally, my score is a more perfect assessment of musical value than anybody else's could possibly be :-P

{Such is the wonder of being an Art critic}

It's certainly better than a score achieved via a populist democracy's race-to-be-the-blandest effect.

This is how i scored them:

1   2/5 France
2   1/5 Lithuania
3   3/5 Moldova
4   4/5 Finland
5   3/5 Spain
6   4/5 Belgium
7   3/5 Estonia
8   2/5 Belarus
9   3/5 Malta
10 4/5 Russia
11 2/5 Germany
12 1/5 Armenia
13 2/5 Netherlands
14 4/5 Romania
15 4/5 United Kingdom
16 2/5 Sweden
17 1/5 Hungary
18 3/5 Denmark
19 3/5 Iceland
20 3/5 Azerbaijan
21 4/5 Greece
22 2/5 Ukraine
23 2/5 Italy
24 1/5 Norway
25 2/5 Georgia
26 3/5 Ireland

And this is how i ranked them (with hypothetical points), compared to how many points they actually got:

1 Russia
12 Denmark 281
2 Finland
13 Azerbaijan 234
3 Greece
18 Ukraine 214
4 United Kingdom 7
25 Norway 191
5 Belgium 6
1 Russia
6 Romania 5
3 Greece
7 Malta
20 Italy
8 Iceland
7 Malta
9 Estonia
19 Netherlands 114
10 Spain
23 Hungary 84
11 Ireland

5 Belgium 71
12 Denmark

14 Moldova 71
13 Azerbaijan

6 Romania 65
14 Moldova

17 Sweden 62
15 Belarus

21 Georgia 50

15 Belarus 48
17 Sweden

8 Iceland
18 Ukraine

24 Armenia 41
19 Netherlands

4 United Kingdom 23
20 Italy

9 Estonia
21 Georgia

22 Germany 18
22 Germany

26 Lithuania 17
23 Hungary

16 France
24 Armenia

2 Finland
25 Norway

10 Spain
26 Lithuania

11 Ireland 5

And as you can see --  Europe was mostly wrong.

...oh, and btw, Romania's entry was fantastic. Not criminal at all! A baritone singing falsetto? "That's entertainment!"

Greece's was entertainingly stereotypical. I mean, don't we all imagine Greeks as bouzouki-playing alcoholics? Um... i didn't.

And Belgium's entry was not a cover of Freddie Mercury's 'Love Kills'; although that would have been fun to hear!

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Space Oddity' - Chris Hadfield
This is the video that everyone's talking about - the one recorded by a NASA astronaut before coming back down from the ISS.

'"The Faucet's On Fire!" by Roy Zimmerman'
Want a song to relieve your fury about fracking? This is the song for you!

'Illegal Numbers - Numberphile'

'"What I Mean" Tales Of Mere Existence'

"Don’t like how your car is running? In China, some luxury car owners decide to have their unsatisfactory vehicles smashed to pieces in public."

'Dicking Around with Pinocchio // Bad Teeth'

'Father Ted: ALL The Drinks // Bad Teeth'

"Short but great" - 'Raf's perfect girlfriend' via Richard Wiseman

'Maker vs Marker'
In a world where real hands have to fight marker-pen drawings to survive... um, they do this:

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Un-quotes (this week from the 'Things Yorkshire People Don't Say' Facebook Page. Sorry for the provinciality)

"Hey - what's all this head doing on my pint!?"

"Wow go steady with the brown sauce there, love."

"The roadworks on the M62 have gone."

"Oh, you're here on holiday - go to Scarborough, you'll get a cracking tan there!"

"Nah, I don't mind being mistaken for a Geordie. Us Northerners are all the same, right?"

"Yes, your attempt at a Yorkshire accent is so accurate, please do keep going."

Word Of The Week: jactitation -- falsely claiming you're married to someone

Expression Of The Week: "Christ on a bike!" -- an exclamation of surprise, of unknown origin

Quote Of The Week: "Die? That's the last thing i'm going to do!" - millions of people's 'last words'

Fact Of The Week: You die more than 100 billion times every day. Cell death is called apoptosis; this is done to renew the efficacy of your overall body; and 100 billion red blood cells (erythrocytes) are replaced, every day of your adult life. 100 billion is also the average number of stars in a galaxy. A galaxy-worth of you dies every day - and that's red blood cells alone!

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'NASA Johnson Style (Gangnam Style Parody)'
Top comment:
"I remember the first time I saw this, I thought to myself "wow, this is an old meme. Did NASA just get out-nerded?"
Then I remembered that when Gangnam Style came out, they were still busy trying to land a car on Mars. Using a rocket-suspended skycrane. That got there by being strapped to the top of an explosion.
I am sorry NASA, I should never have questioned you. I am unworthy."

'You won’t believe your eyes...' via Richard Wiseman
It's another one of those dastardly illusions, guys! We've seen this one before, on Tapejara, but it usually only works through the slow frame-rate of a video camera. For people to see it in person? I think that means they must be seeing it under strobe lighting - the saccades of the brain are too short to do this otherwise.
I think that strobe lighting is being used to prevent the spectators from seeing enough of the motion, so that they can perceive a negative phase velocity. The waveform, of course, is caused by sending a vibration down the oil arc.

"Meanwhile, in Britain..."

"How to manipulate a pianist......"

An inexperienced composer learns a lesson, the hard way:

I must get myself one of those...

How 'Modern Classical' composition works:

What pianists do:

Precision in music:

Precision in count-downs:

Foxes are weird...

Japanese ice-creams and their flavours:

More weiiiiird ice-creams from around the world, including more from Japan:

'George Osborne's First Twitter Photo Gets Photoshopped, Becomes A Meme (PICTURES)'
George Osborne's the Chancellor of the UK. He has no degree in maths, economics, or even politics (not even a law degree!); but he did go to the same school as the Prime Minister - David Cameron. That's go to count for something, hasn't it? It doesn't even count as nepotism!

Some monumental mistakes... in a manner of speaking ;-)

Friese-Greene colour footage of ol' London town in 1927
Things to note: no road-markings; very slow traffic; lots of cloth caps; lots of bobbies; how little everything looks different, even though it's actually changed immensely.

'Men Throwing Rocks With The Other Hand'
Surprisingly entertaining :-D

'Harrison Ford's Broccoli Joke'
It's not a great joke, really - you have to be a good actor or it falls flat

A condom advert (they're always good for a LOL) - Trojan Pure Ecstasy Condoms "Feels like nothing is there" (completely SFW btw)

...and from a standard condom ad to...

'Sexual Chocolate Wine'
"Goes great with some casual S&M"

And that is what i'm going to leave you with, this week.


Monday, 13 May 2013

Sign up to the AllTrials campaign!

I had intended to push you into supporting this campaign, in a 'Medicine' section post, but seeing as delays have pushed it far too late, i'll just have to write a tiny article, separately, exhorting you to do so...

Sign up to this!!!

We need to have as many signatories as possible by the 20th May. I know - short notice - sorry. But "every little helps".

The AllTrials campaign is spearheaded by Ben Goldacre - he of this book fame, and author of this one - and is intended to push for a system that effectively compels pharmaceutical companies to release all the data they have, regarding the drugs that they market.

Like Ben says - if i lose half the evidence, like drug companies do with their research, then i can convince you that any coin has two 'heads'. This is unacceptable.

People's health is at risk - we can not afford to have dud drugs on the market; and we must not have the real-medicine market tainted by similarity with the quack markets. We must have quality control that ensures the drugs actually do something!

"...it is very important that you sign up to the AllTrials campaign, to ensure that it stays firmly on the agenda for government, industry, and professional bodies. If you’ve already signed, make the person next to you sign, send an email to a friend, or contact your professional body / patient group and ask them to sign.http://www.badscience.net/2013/03/im-on-the-one-show-talking-about-missing-trials-tonight/

'My evidence to the Science and Tech Select Committee inquiry on missing trial data'

From a campaign e-mail:

"[The] 20th May is International Clinical Trials Day and by then we need to have every organisation that should care about this issue signed up to the campaign. On 30th May there is an important vote in the European Parliament on amendments to the clinical trials regulation and we need to show MEPs there is support across Europe for openness about research results. If you know or work for an organisation that is considering signing up please ask them to do it before 20th."

"(On Tuesday the 30th April, the European General Court issued an injunction, stopping the European medicines regulator from releasing information from clinical trials conducted by two pharmaceutical companies, at the request of those two companies. The ruling pertains to two particular cases but it has ramifications for all. The Court’s decision puts the European Medicines Agency into conflict with its own stated policy to proactively release clinical trial data for all medicines being used in Europe. More importantly it puts it into conflict with patient’s interests. We need to let the EMA know how much support there is for their stance on transparency.)"

FYI: Roche - the company that manufactures Tamiflu and refuses to release full evidence regarding whether it works or not - has not signed up to this campaign. GSK, however, has. Infer as to the respective behaviours of those companies, what you will.


Secondarily, for UK residents, the Nightingale Collaboration has been working hard to ensure that the CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council) or OfQuack as it is pejoratively known, is treated fairly by the PSA (Professional Standards Authority) and that they actually enforce some kinds of standards, in the pseudo-scientists who are registered with them!

It seems the CNHC, although willing to tidy its own web-site (which supposedly regulates CNHC-registered SCAM proponents) is showing little ability to cause traders to follow suit.

All the NC asks, is that you look down the CNHC's register, find quacks local to you, check their web-sites for claims (links will be provided on the CNHC site) that breach regulations, and fill in the details to the Nightingale Collaboration's form, that it's kindly made for you, to save you effort.

Here is the necessary link:

A pile of official complaints will be evidence, to the PSA, and to Health Ministers, that the CNHC is not a competent regulatory body, and so should not be given the power to regulate SCAM industries in lieu of competent, Medicinal regulators.

I have found several CNHC registrants in my area, and they all breach the regulations in several ways. Please do your bit. It doesn't take that long - you can afford to be terse on the form.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 6-12/5/13

Hi, badgers

Firstly, some notifications:

Happy Birthday, David Attenborough :-)


And Happy Birthday Richard Feynman... he would have been 95


But unfortunately, so long and farewell to Ray Harryhausen. Thanks for all the plasticene monsters. Your movies were are awesome :)


For those of the masochistic persuasion, it should be noted that the coming week will feature the 'Big Escape'. No, not 'The Great Escape', the 'Big Escape' - the 'ESC' - the 'Eurovision Song Contest'. And yes, that joke was a reference to the qwerty keyboard :-P

Anyone who doesn't have the good fortune to be born European, or a man, or a woman, will unfortunately not be aware of this competition. You, are the lucky ones.

'Beginner's Guide To Eurovision Song Contest'

They didn't mention the best act of all, though - Frida Boccara - philistines!

She was woooooonnnnnderful... [dribbles onto lapel]

'Ohe O Ohe'

'Le Whisky De Papa'

'Cent Mille Chansons (Live)'

'Un Jour, Un Enfant'

''Monster' Carcass Washes Ashore in New Zealand'

But what was it? It turns out that the huge, semi-rotted carcass, was actually the remains of an Orca (a 'killer whale')

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright promised us a third film to their trilogy of two amazing, classic films, some time ago: Shaun Of The Dead, and Hot Fuzz.

It looks like this is it:

'The World's End - Teaser Trailer'

Apparently, the film was shot in the beautiful garden cities of Hertfordshire (pronounced "heart-fdd-shuh", as in the-thing-that-pumps-your-blood, the-sound-of-a-drunk-person-falling-over, and half-of-a-"shush") - Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City.

Unfortunately, Hertfordshire's also going to be home to the filming of the new Star Wars film. Anyway, let's not linger on such things...

Hertfordshire's the real 'Garden of England' by the way - not Kent. 'The Garden of England' is a term coined by Thomas Fuller in 'The History Of The Worthies Of England' in 1622, because Hertfordshire is so beautiful, and because it's just up the road from London - the Capital of England.

Kent's more of an allotment, really - all apples and hops - Hertfordshire's a proper garden; with trees, and flowers, and greenery, and herds of Friesian cows. And who doesn't have cows in their garden? Don't you? :-P

...or maybe it's more of a 'Father Ted'-style pronunciation 'mistake' :-P

'Study: Amusement rides injure 4,400+ kids a year'

"Researchers found that from 1990 to 2010, 92,885 children under the age of 18 years were treated in United States emergency departments for amusement ride-related injuries for an average of 4,423 injuries each year."

Not so amusing! And that's the USA alone.

Maybe that parents' taunt needs changing:

"If your friends went to an amusement park, would you follow them? I don't think so! [wags finger]"

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Quickfire Science - World's Tiniest Film'
IBM - famous for creating an SEM image of its logo, made in atoms - has created this movie, of 'A Boy And His Atom'
Here's the explanation behind the welcome:

If you're wondering whether this is a rip-off, it's not - it's a collaboration. All i can say is "badger, badger, badger, badger, save the badgers!"
'The Badger Song by Queen's Brian May'

This skit's so funny! It's about aesthetic insecurity products (cosmetics), or 'personal care' products, as the industry calls them! That makes them sound so much more important than they really are, doesn't it.

It's a foot long but it's not; it's a fillet but it's not; it's organic but it's not; it's secure but it's not; vitamins are not good for you but they are; and fruit is fruit except when it isn't. Welcome to the wonderul world of marketing!
'WHAT'S IN A NAME? | The Checkout'
{How the hell can water be organic, anyway? It's just H2O!}

Poor Jules - he's bought the marketing bunk that it being yoghurt necessarily means it'll be good for him!

'Clive Palmer - Funny as Hell (Mad as Hell)'

'Suricate - La Terre : Le Film / Earth : The Movie'
If you can't understand French, just click on the envelope symbol and turn on English captions.

Is it me, or is this guy obsessed with bacon?? :-P
'A bag of flour and a bucket of water - Swede Mason'

'The Checkout - Episode 8'

'Judge Judy Goes Senile'
"Woman obsessed with wearing glasses uses tampons to buy a man falsely advertised as a dog (who subsequently attacked her with a sofa) from a woman who stands accused of being a man by a highly paranoid Judge Judy, and uh... oh yea, Bert's some kinda pervert."

'6 Horrifying Animal Kills Science Didn't Think Were Possible'

'Virgin's Sir Richard Branson turns stewardess after losing bet'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: superfecundation -- where a female carries two zygotes, fertilised by different males. 1 in 40 non-identical twins are heteropaternal from superfecundity; it's more common in cats and dogs

Expression Of The Week: "salad days" - the time of one's carefree youth

Etymology Of The Week: pretender -- one who claims something that is not available e.g. a throne; from latin "praetendo", meaning 'to stretch out before', as in a claim

Quote Of The Week: "They say you shouldn't say anything about the dead, unless it's something good. Well, they're dead, and that's something good"

Fact Of The Week: Sheldon Cooper - the character on The Big Bang Theory - is named after the film actor and producer Sheldon Leonard, and Leon Cooper, who won the 1972 Nobel Prize for Physics for his theory of superconductivity. The Big Bang Theory's executive producers are CBS - Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, Steven Molaro - and CBS is also the acronym for the surnames of the authors of the Nobel Prizewinning work already mentioned: Cooper, Bardeen, and Schrieffer

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

This is just too awesome. I happened to stroll over it again, and it had to be reposted:
'THE DARKNESS - I Believe In A Thing Called Love [Hammersmith. Nov 2011]'


Awesome perspective work:
Click on the "source" link to see the video

And here to see another aweseome perspective video:
'Tetris Stop Motion 3D Chalk Art'

And i don't even like candyfloss!

It's the Andrex puppy, you barbarian! LOL

Star Trek. In this episode, the crew all got stoned off their faces, and spent the majority of the episode staring at each other and giggling :)

'"Weird Al" Yankovic - Polka Your Eyes Out'

'"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bohemian Polka'

'Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable Of Rolling Eyes And Texting, To Be Euthanized' - The Onion
{If they really did this, no-one would make it through adolescence!}

'Audience Member Farts During Snooker Match'
"I don't know what that sounded like; it sounded a bit strange". Um, yeah.....

'Peniplus: For Men Who Only Have One Penis'

'Umbilical Brothers - Zippers'

Doing a Rubik's Cube blind, with only a few seconds' preparation? Uh, yeah, it seems you can do that...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

An Example Of Homeopathic Charlatanry And A Quote-Mining 101

Date started: 26/3/13
Date Completed: 8/5/13
Date First Published: 8/5/13

OK - let’s not beat about the bush. I’ve already pointed out, on this blog, that homeopathy is not medicine – it’s medical fraud – it’s pseudo-medical superstition.

Homeopathy regularly gets mentioned by Rationalists as such:

‘The Honest Liar - Homeopathy: Money for Nothing’

This article will not be about whether homeopathy ‘works’. It doesn’t.

The reason for this mini-essay is that i have wandered across an example of homeopathic proselytisation; and as far as the depths of superstitionistic deception go, it’s a damn good example.

The propaganda herein is compiled by a ‘Dr.’ Nancy Malik - a homeopath – not a proper doctor (and not a medical doctor). They call themselves ‘doctor’ but a degree in homeopathy is really no more valuable than a degree in ‘Goldlilocks and the Three Bears’... which means, they’re not a doctor. Because i don’t know whether they’re married, i’ll just title them with “Ms”.
Incidentally, i found her site when she commented on this article by ThinkWell – an organisation seeking to educate the public so that they can make medical decisions more effectively.
They’re good people. If you have the time/expertise, they’re worthy of your support.

Their own article seems reticent. This one will not be.

Following through to Ms Malik’s site, this article was top (at the time of writing). As the 'review' is long, i shall comment on it as we read through. All writing from Ms Malik's article will be in grey. My apologies if you're struggling to read it - i wanted good contrast.

‘Meta Analysis and Systematic Reviews Meta Analyses, Cochrane Review, Randomised Controlled Trial’

1. 19 studies does not include studies on benefits of homeopathy for plants and animals
2. 19 studies does not include ‘positive but statistically non-significant’ studies.
3. Out of 19, 1 study is on in-vitro and 2 studies are on combination remedies.
4. 14 journals comprises of 7 integrative, 1 homeopathy and 6 CAM journals

Ahem - “does not include”? Leaving the egregious grammar aside -- why say what they don’t do?? Considering that they have set their web-site up specifically to propagandise in favour of shaken-water superstition, the semantics of points 1 and 2 seem mal-formed! Surely they want to say that they do include studies of benefits through homeopathy!?

This is not a good start!

And 14/19 studies come from quackery-based journals? Puh-lease! That’s Religion-grade integrity – “You must worship this deity, just like this. Why? Because i just wrote down in this book that you should. That’s why! <s>”. Referencing them is as pointless as referencing 'War Of The Worlds' or 'Captain Scarlet', for the existence of life on Mars!

Here are the referred-to studies, one by one:

1. British Medical Journal
Clinical Trials of Homeopathy (1991) FULL TEXT // 81 (77%) out of 105 RCT (1943-1990) shows statistically significant result for homeopathy and 15 out of 22 best quality studies are also statistically significant.

Best quality, yes; but if you actually read the paper (and i will nudge you toward the fact that it was published 22 years ago!!) you will find that they consider the general quality to be “of low methodological quality”.
Some whole quotes: (emphasis added for a reason that will come clear, later)

“Most trials seemed to be of very low quality, but there were many exceptions. The results showed a positive trend regardless of the quality of the trial or the variety of homoeopathy used... Conclusions – At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.”
We now know that there is a humongous amount of publication bias in the world of magic shaken water. We've learned a lot since 1991. “Further evaluation of homeopathy” has already been done.

Out of 81, 5 out of 5 of the clinical trials for hay fever showed a positive result and 8 out of 10 trials looking at mental or emotional problems showed a beneficial effect, while 6 out of 7 trials for infection showed that homeopathy could effectively relieve the problem.

No – they found a slight positive result – that’s not the same as “effectively [relieving] the problem”. By the way, the description says “81 (77%) out of 105 RCT (1943-1990) shows...” but this report says many of the studies brought into the meta-analysis contained no control group, and sometimes the control was just more, but differently magic, homeopathy! Meta-analyses cannot erase the flaws in their component parts - they are just sums of other studies.

“Based on this evidence we would be ready to accept that homoeopathy can be efficacious, if only the mechanism of action were more plausible” and “the evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homoeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications……..a conventional method would have been acknowledged with this amount of evidence”, the results are mostly favourable for homeopathy regarding the quality of trials.”

“Based on this evidence” and “presented in this review” do not refer to the BMJ article linked, which would be a self-reference, and would support the homeopath’s claim that a BMJ article supported homeopathy. These quotes refer to a hypothetical study that had not been done, back in 1991. The authors were suggesting a future study that might, hypothetically, support homeopathy, because the evidence mentioned in this meta-analysis did not support it! Here is the full quote:

“The weight of the presented evidence will probably not be sufficient for most people to decide definitely one way or the other. The question arises, What further evidence would be needed? Investigations in animal or plant models may increase the belief of sceptical people before they have read the evidence from clinical trials, but if no positive results are found homoeopaths may claim that homoeopathy only works in humans. We did not assess the evidence from such investigations; Scofield concluded in 1984 in a comprehensive review article that "despite the great deal of experimental and clinical work there is only little evidence to suggest that homoeopathy is effective. This is because of bad design, execution, reporting or failure to repeat experimental work."'If more (well performed) controlled trials in humans are demanded, cooperation between sceptical investigators and homoeopaths is likely to make the trial results more convincing for many readers. The question is how many of such trials would be needed to draw definitive conclusions? The evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homoeo-pathy as a regular treatment for certain indications. There is no reason to believe that the influence of publication bias, data massage, bad methodology, and so on is much less in conventional medicine, and the financial interests for regular pharmaceutical companies are many times greater. Are the results of randomised double blind trials convincing only if there is a plausible mechanism of action?  Are review articles of the clinical evidence only convincing if there is a plausible mechanism of action? Or is this a special case because the mechanisms are unknown or implaus-ible?
In our opinion, additional evidence must consist of a few well performed controlled trials in humans with large numbers of participants under rigorous double blind conditions. The results of the trials published so far, and the large scale on which homoeopathy is brought into practice, makes such efforts legitimate.”

This is something that i have little patience with. As someone with a strong physical sciences background, i have learned that there are certain avenues of study that are complete wastes of time. Medicinists, however, have an embarrassing record of rejecting good Science (e.g. handwashing in hospitals!) so they have come to consider everything as potentially feasible! Just look at a site like phys.org and its sister-site medicalxpress - there's a whole load more bunk on the latter than there is on the former! Shaken water as medicine, though? I’m tempted to say that the authors should have been wiser, but then, if they had been, they would probably not have bothered to do this meta-analysis at all! Pseudo-science is often not worth researchers’ time.

Quoting, in present meta-analyses, studies of such little worth, from 22 years ago, is bordering on facetious!

Item 1 contradicts the claim of shaken water’s efficacy as a medicine.

2. Lancet
Are clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? (1997) FULL TEXT // 74 out of 89 RCT (1966-1995) showed homeopathy statistically significantly superior [2.45 times more effective and positive at 95% confidence interval (CI)] to placebo, 26 out of 89 studies were of high quality for which odds ratio reduces to 1.66, still significant.
The main conclusion was that the results “were not compatible with the hypothesis that the effects of homoeopathy are completely due to placebo.”

Right, so, considering Ms Malik’s tendency for quote-mining (If you skipped all that text, up ^ there, you’ll want to go back and see the naughty stuff for yourself) you’ll be expecting this to be a mis-quote too, right? Actually, it is a complete quote. But the very next line is:

“However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single condition.”

Did you just facepalm? I think you should have done.

What this says, is that nothing (homeopathy) beats another nothing (placebo) but not by far enough to have the phrase ‘it works’ applied to it.

How come? Because statistical significance is not the same as study strength. A tiny study can accidentally give statistical significance, purely down to systematic error (researcher biases, patient biases, etc). And the bigger this bias, the more powerful the study that is necessary. Quacks won’t do these... surprise, surprise. Statistical significance is not enough!

{That really doesn’t scan well into Arnold/Black’s Bond theme...  never mind...}

Item 2 also contradicts the claim of shaken water as a medicine.

3. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Randomized controlled trials of individualized homeopathy: a state-of-the-art (1998) // out of 32 RCT, overall odd ratio for high quality 19 trials =1.62 (statistically significant) at 95% CI which reduces to 1.12 for 6 best quality trials at 95% CI.

OK – the title gives it away. If it were a reputable study, it would have been published in a reputable journal – not a grotty little pseudo-science rag! I’m not even bothering to read this one; it's not worth my time...

Item 3 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

4. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy (2000) // 11 (65%) out of 17 comparisons in 16 RCT (1967-1998) shows statistically significant results, p= 0.000036. For 16 double-blind RCT, p=0.000068. For 5 high quality double-blind RCT, p=0.082

Full title of the study: “Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy. A meta-analysis of clinical trials. HMRAG. Homeopathic Medicines Research Advisory Group.”

Ah – yes – remember what i said about systematic error, introduced by researcher bias? I think we can expect the quacks to be slightly biased in favour of their quackery... don’t you?

For a great example of how willing pseudo-scientists are, to distort, corrupt, and outright lie, about their claim’s evidence base, read this article, by Steven Novella, about the ‘Swiss Report on Homeopathy’. Two reports – one by epidemiologists – one by homeopaths – both used the same evidence-base – and they came to completely different conclusions.

“Published and unpublished reports of controlled clinical trials....”

Unpublished? You mean unverifiable? Bad practice.

“Trials were selected using an unblinded process by two reviewers.”

Why select the studies in an unblinded way? You can’t corrupt them by reading them. Read as many as you can! This makes no sense, to me.

“The selection criteria were randomised, controlled trials in which the efficacy of homeopathic treatment was assessed relative to placebo in patients using clinical or surrogate endpoints. Prevention trials or those evaluating only biological effects were excluded.”

Again, we’re seeing shaken-water compared to nothing. This is bad practice, even for proper, chemical medicine (you know – the stuff that’s actually got stuff in it). We want to know whether it’s better than a currently available alternative – not nothing at all!

On the matter of deception (which, if we’re honest, is what they’re trying to do, here) it’s much easier to draw false positives from comparisons with nothing, than comparison with something that clearly works well!

Item 4 contradicts the claim of shaken water as a medicine.

5. Homeopathy
The 2005 meta-analysis of homeopathy: the importance of post-publication data (2008) FULL TEXT

This isn’t even a study into whether homeopathy works. What a waste of time.

Item 5 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

On to the next section:

1. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Homeopathy for post-operative ileus: meta analysis (1997) //6 trials, 776 patients, 4 out of 6 trials are of best quality

Where done?

“Department of Complementary Medicine, Postgraduate Medical School, University of Exeter, United Kingdom.”

And what did they do?

“We therefore performed meta-analyses of existing clinical trials to determine whether homeopathic treatment has any greater effect than placebo administration on the restoration of intestinal peristalsis in patients after abdominal or gynecologic surgery.”

Again, they’re comparing shaken water with nothing. And all to maximise their chances of getting a false positive.

“Studies of high methodological quality were more likely to be negative than the lower quality studies.”

Of course they were.

Item 6 contradicts the claim of shaken water as a medicine.

2. Forschende Komplementärmedizin und Klassische Naturheilkunde(German ) meaning Research in Complementary and Classical Natural Medicine
Homeopathic Galphimia glauca for hay fever: meta analysis (1997)

More ‘research’ by quacks. Refer again to the Swiss report. My German isn’t good enough to read the report directly, but i wouldn’t waste my time anyway.

Item 7 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

3. British Medical Journal
Homeopathy for allergic rhinitis: meta analysis (2000) FULL TEXT // 4 double-blind randomised placebo-controlled (DBRPCT), n=253, p=0.0007

Yet another comparison with nothing! I expect better from the BMJ. Plus, this study was funded by homeopaths, and the researchers clearly started with a pro-homeopathic prejudice:

“we conclude that this study has failed to confirm our original hypothesis that homoeopathy is a placebo”

This is a contorted way of concluding that it failed to support the claim of homeopathy working. But in the blurriness of the data, an unscrupulous person could claim that it shows... lack of not-workingness?? Hmm...

Item 8 contradicts the claim of shaken water as a medicine.

4. Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Homeopathy for diarrhea: meta-analysis (2003) ) FULL TEXT //A meta-analysis of three studies showing homeopathy reduced the duration of the disease by a quarter.

Again, a summation of three different studies, all comparing.. yes, you’ve guessed it... shaken water to nothing.

Item 9 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

5. Arzneimittel-Forschung(German) meaning ‘Medicines Research’
Treatment of vertigo with vertigoheel (2005)
“Two trials were observational studies and the other two were randomised double-blind controlled trials.”

Two down, two standing. What ya got, kid...

“The meta-analysis of all four trials showed equivalent reductions with VH and with control treatment: mean reduction of the number of daily episodes 4.0 for VH and 3.9 for control (standard error 0.11 for both groups); mean reduction of the duration (on a scale 0-4) for VH 1.1 and for the control 1.0 (standard error 0.03 for both groups); mean reduction of the intensity (on a scale 0-4) for VH 1.18 and for the control 1.8 (standard error 0.03 for both groups).”

Right, so the number of episodes drops the same amount for both, neither effect duration, and the control is better at mitigating intensity. But what are the controls? Not nothing! Yay.

One is betahistine – a drug used against vertigo in Ménière's disease – we don’t know whether those in the study had it, so we don’t know whether to expect anything of it.

The next is Gingko biloba extract, which is a quack product, and so obviously won’t work ;-)

The third is dimenhydrinate – a low-potency anti-nausea drug – we shouldn’t expect much of this, against vertigo, which is usually considered a far more extreme condition than simple nausea.

Ulitmately, this study shows little evidential strength, but it’s better than comparing shaken water with nothing. It breaks the monotony, at least.

Item 10 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.


One thing about interventions that work, is that they show a dose reponse – the higher the dose, the more impact you see. Stub your toe harder, feel more pain. That's how reality works. This should be interesting...

1. Human and Experiment Toxicology
Meta-analysis of serial agitated dilutions in experimental toxicology (1994) // 80% homeopathic medicines shows efficacy

Um... no, it wasn’t. To be honest, i have no idea what this is doing in here. And i barely have any idea of what it’s about. Presumably, Malik didn’t either, and that’s why she’s left it undescribed. It doesn't seem to involve patients in any way.

Item 11 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

1.Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America
Homeopathy and Rheumatic Diseases (2000)

I can’t get past the paywall, so i have no idea what this one says. Open Access Science, please!

Item 12 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

2. British Homeopathic Journal
Homeopathic remedies for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic review (2001) // Zeel superior to hyaluronic acid, combination of Rhus Tox, Causticum and Lac Vac superior to paracetamol

Hmm... quacks writing their own propaganda pieces again. Better than hyaluronic acid, you say? You mean it works better than something that doesn’t work either. Sounds familiar... oh, yeah – they’re comparing shaken water to nothing, again.

Item 13 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

3.Forschende Komplementarmedizin(German) meaning ‘Research in Complimentary Medicine’
Effectiveness, Safety and Cost-Effectiveness of Homeopathy in General Practice (2006) FULL TEXT

[coughs] More quacks writing their own reviews...

Item 14 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

4. Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Immunolgy and Homeopathy-4 PART-1 (2006) FULL TEXT
Immunolgy and Homeopathy-4 PART-2 (2006) FULL TEXT

Contradiction in terms, in the title. Moving on.......

{...maybe wait a while to mock their misspelling of 'immunology'? Alright, we're done...}

Item 15 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

5. Complementary Therapies in Medicine
The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies—A systematic review (2007) FULL TEXT // 73% of 67 in-vitro experiments (1/3 of them replicated) published in 75 publications showed specific effects with high dilutions including 68% of high quality experiments (SAPEH score>=6).Nearly 3/4 of them found a high potency effect. Nearly 3/4 of all replications were positive.

“In vitro” means “in a dish”. And what about in people? Pointless studies are pointless. Homeopathy is currently used on people – we are beyond in-vitro studies.

And where was it done? At the...

“Institute for Complementary Medicine (KIKOM), University of Bern, CH-Bern, Germany”

Yet another place, set up specifically for the purpose of producing propaganda. This is beginning to get tiring!

Item 16 should not be counted in favour or against the claim of shaken water as medicine.

6. Homeopathy
Placebo effect size in placebo-controlled clinical trials of individualised homeopathy are same as that of conventional trials(2010) FULL TEXT

Compared to placebo. Aaaaaaaargh!!! They’re comparing it to nothing, again! But wait...
They’ve really shot themselves in the foot, with this one.

SCAM proponents (Spurious, Complementary & Alternative Medicine) frequently claim that their products ‘work’ via the placebo effect. Example here.

If the placebo effect for homeopathy is the same as for real medicine, then what benefit is there from homeopathy? They just demonstrated it to be void. Remember: real medicine comes with a medicinal effect, plus placebo effect, on top.

Item 17 contradicts the claim of shaken water as medicine.

Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments (2010) FULL TEXT // 8 RCT with n=664
Homeopathic medicines for the prevention or treatment of adverse effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and menopausal symptoms caused by hormonal therapies or oestrogen withdrawal.
Compared with trolamine, calendula reduced the incidence of acute dermatitis of grade two or above in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer in one clinical trial involving 254 participants.

What they don’t tell you, is that trolamine’s side-effects include “blistering/peeling/redness/irritation at the application site, nausea/vomiting, ringing in the ears.” And now read that sentence again:

“Compared with trolamine, calendula reduced the incidence of acute dermatitis...”

Or maybe it just.... didn’t contribute to acute dermatitis??

“Two hundred and fifty four women with a diagnosis of non metastatic breast cancer who had been treated with either a lumpectomy or mastectomy, were randomised to receive either calendula ointment or trolamine (a topical agent which does not contain corticosteroids that had been used routinely for many years in their institution).”

Calendula is a species of flower, which is popularly used in naturopathic bullshit. Species of flowers are popular, per se, in quackery, but calendula's popular amongst them.

But let’s remember, here, that we’re talking about homeopathic calendula, which means there probably isn’t actually any in the ointment – it’s most-likely pure moisturiser – petroleum jelly, or something like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if that seemed to sooth dermatitis; especially when compared to a product that we know inflames skin conditions!

{Please note: some homeopathic preparations, due to sloppy medical standards, do pose a danger with contaminants and crushed glass, both of which can be fatal. This is a hazard faced by the 10-23 campaign in their public overdoses}

"Based on a single trial involving 32 participants, Traumeel S appears to show promise in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced stomatitis."

And what’s the very next sentence to this one, in the report?

“High quality trials to date provide no evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic medicines over placebo in women with breast cancer suffering from menopausal symptoms.
No serious adverse effects that could be attributed to homeopathic medicines or interactions with conventional treatment were reported in the included studies. No cancer treatments were modified or stopped because of the homeopathic interventions.”

Homeopathy, when tested properly, once again, has failed the test. And of course there aren’t any adverse reactions – there’s nothing in it!

Item 18 contradicts the claim of shaken water as medicine.

The wrap-up:

Right, so, what do we have, at the end of this “scientific*modern*evidencebased” meta-analysis of homeopathic ‘medicine’?

We have 11 meta-analyses that are benign, scientifically speaking – they do not help substantiate either way – they neither support the claim that homeopathy works, nor the claim that it doesn’t.

And we have 7 meta-analyses that substantiate in favour of the claim that it does not work, and thereby in contradiction of the claim that it does.

Unfortunately, for the people who believe in magic water/sugar/moisturiser, no-score draws do not score points in the world of Science i.e. the real world.

The evidence, even in her own review, shows that homeopathy does not work!

7 against; 11 neutral; 0 in favour

The efforts of a Rationalist, such as myself, are to consider ideas on their merits alone, and so we get practiced at extricating their veracity from the nature of the specific person that happens to be airing them at the time.

But all of this data, apparently, has been compiled by Ms Malik alone. What must Ms Malik be like, in character, to produce all of this? There’s a lot of work, here. I don’t know or care whether she likes cats, cheese, Queers, Humanists, or which IPL cricket team she favours, but all of this work presents us with evidence in favour of one character facet - she must be delusional.

She’s gone to all this effort, to present data that flatly contradicts her claims - that homeopathy can treat this, that, and the other. If she were malicious (and not just incompetent) surely she would bother to fabricate some data to agree with her. But she has not - she's left it all in disagreement, and lied about it.

My imagination's saying she’s probably the equivalent of that kindly-but-deluded old Anglican figure, who supports the teaching of Science, in the belief that it will encourage 'faith in Christ'.

It’s nice of her to do all this work – but it shows her to be wrong! And lying, in my book, is not a cause for praise.

I'm not being melodramatic when i say that medicine is a case of life or death - it really is.

People are affected by non-products – claims without content. They need stuff that works.

They are affected when research funding is wasted on avenues that cannot produce anything useful. That money could have been spent on researching something real. And with the same logical basis, the money of the patient could be spent on a product that is real, too.

The danger of this non-medical superstition – this pseudo-science – is that there is no real product.

There is a claim that 'this' will do 'this', but there is nothing there that will actually do it.

Homeopathy is one of the biggest fraudulent money-spinners that is treated as contentious by physicians. It should not be. We know that it does not work. Even the meta-analyses that homeopaths present, themselves, show that it does not work.

Selling something that does not work is fraud. There are too many gullible people who ‘set up shop’ before the claims behind their business are validated. This means they become emotionally embedded in that activity, which makes it much more difficult to be rational about its merits (or lack thereof). As an ex-Religious person, i know how hard it is to escape your own beliefs, when they're superstitious – bloody hard!

The only way to stop ourselves from getting into these positions is to wait for evidence – to be skeptical.

It's not just for the patients - the people who are already ill - who should be skeptical about the treatments they're offered. Everyone should be skeptical, including those who offer treatments to others. After all - would you want to live with the guilt of hurting people through your good intentions?

Stay skeptical, people. Stay skeptical.