The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Podcasting

I've been thinking a lot about this site recently. Obviously there has been light posting of late for a variety of reasons, but a main one is that I very much enjoyed doing the eight podcasts a while back. You can still get them via the link on the right, if you like. The thing is, I'm a techno-tard and couldn't figure out how to get them on iTunes for ease of download. Now, I'm reading Podcasting for Dummies and am trying to understand it so I can resume the show in a better, more regular format with, you know, actual segments that will be spectacular. There's always room for one more douchebag with a microphone, right? Stay tuned for some minor changes and, I'm hopeful, a new voice section!

The Pluto Files!

Hey there, everyone (three people counts as grounds to use "everyone", ok? OK.) I've been, once again, incredibly lax in my posting due to an unforeseen illness and just damn life gettin' in the way of my internet life.

That being said, I just read (listened to, actually) Neil deGrasse-Tyson's new book, The Pluto Files. It was a fun book that tells all about Pluto's discovery and subsequent demotion plus all the furor that ensued after the Hayden Planetarium's display which ostensibly "forgot" Pluto. I found it slightly repetitive, but not necessarily in a bad way - there were a couple of times when I was listening when I thought, "did I hit back or something?" Apart from that, though, it was quite fun.

While listening to some of the feedback Tyson received, the main thought I had was, "Holy crap, it's amazing that people seriously have opinions that strong about a subject they have very little knowledge about and that has essentially zero effect on their lives." Much of it revolved around the subject of, "well, Pluto was a planet when I was young, that's how I was taught, and that's how I'm staying."

It was a window into how normal (read: non-scientific) people think. The majority of folks are told/taught something and then that's that. No more thought necessary because the ol' mind's made up. It shines a light on why many - most, likely - people think that the cornerstone of science, the fact that all knowledge is tentative, is a weakness. I believe educators call that a "teachable moment".

This is a good book, although I have to say that I enjoyed Death by Black Hole more. Check either out if you have the means.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin Day!

Happy Darwin Day, everyone! Today is the 200th anniversary or Charles Darwin's birth as well as the 150th anniversary of his landmark book, On the Origin of Species. Have a beer while reading about how species adapt and change based on environmental changes and stimulation via random genetic mutation and natural selection.

Go science!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oprah & Suzanne & Vag Injections

Oprah Winfrey - Fucking up women's health yet again. How can one woman fall for so much outright stupid shit? Did anyone hear Somers talking about injecting hormones into her vagina? How fucking desperate are you to stay young? I thought Botox was terrible and pathetic, but injecting hormones into your vag is just...well, it's as sad as an 80's sitcom star trying to stay relevant by grabbing at straws. Somer-Straws. Let's start that, shall we?

Side note: We should also start referring to secretly gay pastors who rail against homosexuality as "Blow-Haggards". Just a thought.

(hat-tip to the always fab Skepchick)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Just a Little Bit More

In a little local newspapery flyer thing I found in a pizza place a couple of weeks ago, there was a small section entitled, Ask Dr. Susan. I had to check it out because the "Dr." in question was one Susan Walker, ND and the question revolved around the issue of detoxification. Would Ms. Walker buck my expectations and tell the layperson the truth as far as we know it, or would she turn it into a shitty, smarmy, ignorant sales pitch?

If you're reading this on my site, I think you know the answer.

She said the following in her piece:
"...new research is emerging showing that toxins disrupt key mechanisms involved in the regulation of weight and that you could be overweight because you are not detoxifying properly."

"We live in a toxic environment; this is quite clear."

"Toxic chemicals are usually stored in the body in fat tissue, organs and bone and can have detrimental effects on almost every system in the body."

"...detoxification is central to long-term health and effective weight loss.
She referenced the National Human Adipose Tissue Survey as well as a U Weight Loss (a product/process that she offers). In case you were wondering what the "3 Simple Secrets" of U Weight Loss are, well, look no further.

If you'll check out that page quickly and look at secret number one, it says, "free your body of toxins and cravings". What? Both toxins and cravings? That's just craziness. From Ms. Susan's article, you'd think there's a ton of science-based, blinded, peer-reviewed research to back up her adipose studies and such. Sadly, not so much.

The National Human Adipose Tissue Survey (NHATS) only lists the chemicals that have been found in the adipose tissue of cadavers. The U Weight Loss assholes and the "detox" dipshits take that information and assume that these chemicals are at harmful levels, THEN they claim specific health detriments (weight gain, for example) that result from those harmful levels, THEN they claim that their stupid programs can remove the supposed toxins from your body, thus reversing all the ill-effects.

Anyone see a problem? If you'd like to get the skinny on why "detox" programs are silly, just go to Brian Dunning's great site, Skeptoid - better yet, subscribe to his podcast on iTunes or something. Ten to twelve minutes a week to make you a more informed consumer is well worth the time investment. At the very least, it's better than a visit to Dr. Susan who either has no idea how your body works or, more nefariously, knows exactly how your body works but doesn't care and only wants you to empty your wallet.

I hope for the former.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Wide World of Woo!

Please say the title of this post as though you were Ric Flair and you were wearing a robe fringed with a boa-like feather thing and matching spandex manties. Yes, this is going to be a post worthy of that sort of expression. If I may:
Firstly, as you likely know, I'm a massage therapist up here near Toronto. As such, I tend to get lots of pamphlets and shit from a wide variety of vendors selling their wares and peddling the most recent rounds of pseudo-scientific horsepucky. The latest offering from Eastern Currents (in their flyer for January/February 2009) features an absolute howler of a course; I find it difficult to even read the description as it is beyond hokey and delves well into the domain of the fucking ludicrous. Please allow me to quote liberally from the outline of Esoteric Acupuncture with Dr. Mikio Sankey:
The general thinking of people in the West is to consider becoming healthy only after they have a physical or emotional imbalance. The real power of acupuncture is to harmonize and strengthen the body systems before a disease stage. Why try to get healthy only after you are sick? Can the problems of today in the Age of Aquarius be adequately handled by solutions developed in the Age of Pisces?

Complex problems require complex solutions. Esoteric Acupuncture was developed to address the imbalances experienced today on the physical, etheric, astral, mental, casual, buddhic, atmic (sic?), and monadic planes....Esoteric Acupuncture requires that one opens the Heart Chakra to rely on a higher intuitive power of the heart and head chakras, rather than relying solely on the academic left brain.
Tired yet? I mean, jesus christ, I've heard some bullshit in my day - from Deepak to a two-day YEC lecture series, from Hinn to Samraj - but this guy damn near takes the cake. And the candles on the top. And my mom.

But oh my friends, it gets so much better...
You will be taught how to find imbalances in the astral level by using a pendulum, as well as how to build your Antahkarana1, your "Rainbow Bridge" to higher consciousness. There will be a discussion on the energetics of the major acupuncture points used in Esoteric Acupuncture....Everything you eat and think is transferred through yourhands and mind into your needle....After the two-day workshop, each participant should be able to treat chakra imbalances and to align the Qi so it flows smoothly to the Crown Chakra and higher.
Emphasis added by me. Oh, and just in case you want to read the whole thing for yourself - making your brain hate you, jump out of your head and go read about the latest happenings on The Bachelor for some intelligent stimulation - please to here to immerse yourself in the full course details. I'll save most of you the trouble and tell you that the weekend course costs $404.25 or $446.25, depending on whether or not you're an "early bird" or not. Not bad, considering you'll be building an entire "rainbow bridge".

I'd have more jokes about what Sankey is about but he's too much of an easy target. It'd be like slapping a mopey dog. I will say, however, that one of his two Ph.Ds is from American Liberty University, which has been thrown some flack for potentially being a diploma mill. Please see here, in particular, this paragraph:
American Liberty University, a school given a waiver from a full review, set up a “campus" in Montgomery but comes from California. On its Web site, ALU lists that it is licensed by the state but does not inform visitors that ALU is not recognized by the federal Department of Education as an accredited institution. That means its credits will be nearly impossible to transfer to accredited institutions.

The school also gives credit for “experiential learning," defined as “previous life or work experience outside of the classroom, or self-study in some courses and departments."

Giving academic credit for life experience is a red flag, said George Gollin, a professor at the University of Illinois who tracks fraudulent colleges.
Right. So now we're down to one Ph.D, and that's from Honolulu and his fucking specialization was in iridology. Yeah, that iridology. I think we can safely say that Mikio's credibility, if it was the U.S. homeland security color-coded alert level, would be well into the red, if not all out black. At least our good "Dr." can get his colors back into order with a simple adjustment of his pancreatic chakra and a nice fig newton.

It saddens me that this guy will likely make a lot of money off of people that I will eventually have to deprogram. What an ass. Woo!

(1. If you don't know what "antahkaranas" is, check out the weirdly sexist and nonsensical "explanation" found here; mostly this quote: "Use the male if you need more assertive energy. Use the female if you need more compassionate energy." Nice, eh?)