Friday, February 4, 2011

He's not a doctor

Creation Science Evangelism (aka Kent Hovind Enterprises) is giving away a free DVD—except to atheists:
Sneaky Eric put up a redirect to intercept any visitors arriving from Pharyngula to his fake out-of-stock page. He could have been honest, and done exactly the same thing, but have the page say something like, "Please, we are making these DVDs available to our Christian customers..."

For those of you who may not be familiar with Kent Hovind, Here's Michael Shermer's account of "debating" him:
The moment Hovind spoke the debate was over. “I am here to win you over to Christ,” he began. “And I’m here to win Michael Shermer over to Christ.” With that, Hovind lost the debate. He was not there to debate evolution v. creation, or natural v. supernatural explanations. He was there to witness for the Lord (what we used to call “Amway with Bibles” when I was an Evangelical Christian at Pepperdine University).
It is impossible to actually debate Hovind as he is not there to debate. Like all good Creationists his task is to reassure the believers in the audience while painting his adversary as Old Scratch himself, or at least a pitiful clown. Hovind has a singular gift: the ability to spout so many things so fast that no one can keep up with him, let alone respond. The fact that all of it is ultimately complete and utter crap doesn't matter; if you can't argue with him—and he won't let you—he wins by default. His followers gape in rapturous awe at his sheer mastery of the subject; pity the hapless opponent who comes to the stage na├»vely mistaken that this is an actual debate on the facts in question. The outcome is as predictable as a Passion Play. No one on either side is dissuaded, the entire event is a charade. The Hovindists leave in triumph, everyone else is left in a semi-dazed condition, not yet aware that the "debate" is over.

Not all such debates are quite so polarized. Some people are actually civilized about it, believe it or not. But Hovind is the Young-Earth Creationist who embarrasses other YECs and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Dinosaur Adventure Land used to be in his backyard in Florida. I think they've bulldozed it by now. All because he didn't bother to get a building permit.

Reading Hovind's bogus "doctoral thesis" is a rather tedious experience and it seems to have disappeared from WikiLeaks, anyway. Fortunately, there remains a far more hilarious critique on-line. Laugh yourself silly.

Update: here's Karen Bartelt, Ph.D.'s devastating analysis of said "doctoral" thesis with a link to the original. Read and weep laugh till your guts bleed.

I just looked at it for the first time since originally posting this. Christ is it awful.

Our Wacky World—2/4/2011

In the SUV, Nattrass found Sanchez's lifeless 6-year-old son Carlos on the front seat. "She told me they walked 10 miles but couldn't find any help (and) … had run out of water and had been drinking their own urine," Nattrass wrote.
"She turned down a wrong road," Nattrass said in a recent interview. "She said she was following her GPS unit."
Sacramento Bee

Charles Manson has been caught with a cell phone—again.

Wacky stuff is happening in India. First, the Bombay High Court has ruled that astrology is a science.

For a man serving a life sentence for murder, Pradeep Deburma has a slightly unlikely dream: to work in a call centre like hundreds of thousands of other young ambitious Indians. Even more improbably, he has every chance of realising it while still behind bars.

Meanwhile, in China...
The two were rescued May 14, 2010, after a man surnamed Du visited his friend's electronics repair shop and found a note in a partially dismantled television. It read: "Help. I've been held prisoner underground for more than a year."
The Times Of India

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Death by sucker

It's an old story. Somebody slaps together a box with some dials or an antenna on it. They make all sorts of incredible claims about it—it diagnoses/treats all forms of disease, enables you to talk to aliens or prevents your ass crack from growing shut. It finds drugs, explosives, Jimmy Hoffa. And some sucker will buy the damn thing. Hook, line, and sinker.

Recent incarnations have included various "bomb sniffing" devices such as the Sniffex and the ADE 561™, hi-tech versions of dowsing rods. Some idiot in the Iraqi military fell for the latter in the worst way (I wonder if he got a kickback?) James Randi openly challenged the manufacturer to put up or shut up. Jim McCormick, "inventor" of the ADE 561, was arrested and charged with fraud in the UK. 

Today the British government issued a mea culpa:
The government has admitted that the Army and UK civil servants helped market so-called "bomb detectors", which did not work, around the world.

I wonder how many people are dead now because of this shit?

As I said, this is an old story. In the early 20th Century the king of the blackbox quacks was Albert Abrams, M.D.:
According to ERA, all diseases have there own "vibratory rate" which can be measured and treated with his electronic boxes. He began publishing the journal Physico-Clinical Medicine and invented instruments for diagnosis and treatment by the ERA method. Abrams went on to perfect his technique so that only a drop of blood or even a sample of the patient's handwriting would suffice as a specimen for his machine. Once diagnosed, the patient required several weeks of treatments with appropriate vibratory waves from the oscilloclast, at a cost, of course.
3500 practitioners were using Abrams machines at the height of his popularity, in 1923. The oscilloclasts were leased for $200 down and $5 per month ($250 down if for DC current). The oscilloclast was sealed and the lessee had to sign a contract not to open it.
Abrams' diagnostic equipment consisted primarily of a variety of simple resistance boxes, often called Reflexophones, wired in series. A typical setup included the "dynamizer", which was a sample holder with 3 electrodes. The patient's blood sample on paper was placed on two electrodes to ground and the third electrode was connected to the "rheostatic dynamizer". This, in turn, was connected to the "vibratory rate rheostat", which was connected to the "measuring rheostat". The final connection was to an electrode on the forehead of a healthy third party.
The healthy stand-in, called the "reagent" would face west with an electrode on his forehead, and standing on a rubber mat. The quack then percussed the "reagent's" abdomen to detect areas of resonance or dullness. Exactly where this dullness was detected and at what "rate" (as measured in Ohms by varying the resistance in the system) determined which disease was diagnosed. This technique allowed diagnosis of all diseases. Abrams began to make other astounding claims for his rheostat boxes - he could tell the religion of a person from one drop of blood by percussing someone else's belly. If a drop of blood was not provided, he could also use a slip of paper with the patient's handwriting or a strand of hair, or even a photograph.
To cure the patient, he would set the oscilloclast to the same rate as the disease diagnosed and the vibrations from the machine would annihilate the disease vibrations. For this reason, the oscilloclast was sometimes referred to as the "wave smasher". Several serious diseases were usually diagnosed for each patient - but - no problem - the oscilloclast could cure all.
American Artifacts

Dr. Abrams now claims that, for the drop of blood, he can substitute the autograph of an individual, living or dead, and subject it to his tests and declare whether or not the individual is or was a sufferer from syphilis, etc. He has, in fact, reported the results of subjecting the autograph of Samuel Pepys to his "electronic reactions" and finding that this famous diarist suffered from congenital syphilis; of finding the same for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and also for Edgar Allen Poe and, in the case of the latter, adding that he also got the "reaction of dipsomania." The autograph (written in 1775) of that stern old moralist Dr. Samuel Johnson gave the "reaction" for acquired syphilis and tuberculosis...
Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

The purpose of the lights would be a mystery, were it not for this page of US patent 6684108 issued in 2004 for a box that looks startlingly similar. After reading the patent, the purpose of the lights is even more a mystery, but they look cool.

The Lindan Collection

Same song yesterday. 

Truth in film advertising

Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

The Shiznit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Comic Sans = woo

Today I learned of yet-another self-published exercise in woo:
So, one fine day Lucy awakes. Observing her peers acting more or less like monkeys, she probably thinks something like: "“Who on Earth are these fools, what the heck am I doing here.” . It must have been very tough indeed to be the first, and only, intelligent person around, but at last, probably she must have abandoned herself to her primordial brain, mated and passed on her double brain to future generations
This may sound like nothing more than the run-of-the-mill,  grammatically-challenged drivel that passes for written english these days, aided by a poor translation from the original italian. From a scientific standpoint it's a complete dog's breakfast but any doubt as to the book's sheer wooticity is confirmed by the simple fact that the entire exercise is typeset in Comic Sans...

Click to enlarge
Pharyngula (enjoy the comments)

In other woo news, television's Dr. Oz continues his spiral into the same old, and I do mean OLD, shit:

Dr. Oz then immediately asks Yogi Cameron about tongue examination. Now, there's one thing you need to know about tongue examination. When an Ayruvedic practitioner talks about tongue examinations he is not talking bout what they teach us in medical school about tongue examinations, where we look for turgor, moistness, plaques, and a variety of other physical findings that might indicate disease. No, the Ayruvedic art of tongue diagnosis is very much like reflexology in that various organs are claimed to map to various parts of the tongue.
Having this knowledge can help describe the current state of a person's health, as well as his or her genetic tendencies. It is a diagnostic technique, and it can reveal an existing disease process and disclose many things about a person on many levels. Much like reflexology, all the organs and the entire body can be located on specific regions of the tongue. As a mirror of the body's digestive system, the tongue can reflect what minerals and vitamins may be deficient and can reveal the health of other various organs in the body.
Respectful Insolence

Meanwhile, woo captures yet another psychologist unable to resist its siren call:
Through nine experiments at the University involving more than 1,000 students, Bem confirmed his hypotheses in all but one of the experiments. This signified that evidence of psi exists, since “the odds against the possibility that the combined results are merely chance coincidences or statistical flukes are about 74 billion to 1,” according to Bem.
In the 100 sessions, the hit rate for those shown erotic stimuli was 53.1 percent, while the 49.8 percent hit rate of those shown non-erotic pictures did not deviate from chance. This shows that on average, given that the erotic image shown to the participant made a considerable impression, that participant’s ability to foresee the future is statistically higher than chance, according to Bem.
FAIL. Next time consult a statistician—and a magician. They've seen this done many times before.


Why Evolution Is True

Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Wacky World—1/31/2011

"It brings a lot of happiness," said Silicon Valley resident Nguyen Tuong Tam ... He likens a good ear picking to good sex. Indeed, fans of ear picking gleefully talk about "ear-gasms."

Creepy children's playgrounds in Russia (pictures)

English Russia

A UK Border Agency official  has been sacked after putting his wife on the terrorist watch list to prevent her from flying home


Two teenagers went on BB gun shooting spree out of boredom. Bonus—it's Pinellas County

China's state broadcaster caught repurposing footage from the movie “Top Gun” for use in a news story about an air force training exercise

China Realtime Report

A former Miss Canada finalist has become the first person in the world to graduate with a Masters degree in Beatles studies


Woman who objects on religious grounds to introducing anything into the body to prevent disease or treat illness denied custody of child

Dispatches From The Culture Wars

Seventh Circuit Court rules that (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons is a threat to prison security

Dave Mustaine repels wolves—no comment from former bandmates who are much more famous and really suck now

RIA Novosti

How to recognize explosives from a long way away

The Register

Fox News fails at geography

Yeah, this is on everyone else's blog today. Fuck it, it's too damn funny not to post. Notice anything wrong with this picture?

Looks like someone got the Tigris and the Euphrates mixed up with the Nile.

Next we'll be told that "a staffer downloaded this from the Internet."

John Barry dead at 77

Film composer John Barry has died at 77:

Chicago Tribune

There are three film composers who have had the greatest effect on me. The first was Ennio Morricone, partner in crime with director Sergio Leone, who remains one of my favorite directors. The second was John Williams, who wrote several ear-catchers up until Star Wars (Episode 4). But it's The Empire Strikes Back that's my favorite. Unfortunately, the best of all the Star Wars films doesn't do his soundtrack any justice; they sliced and diced his cues horribly. Watching the film and listening to the soundtrack remain separate experiences for me.

And the third was John Barry, who scored 11 James Bond films.

Dr. No is credited to Monty Norman. The question of who wrote what has been the subject of debate and litigation for years. Here's the entire list, cribbed from Wikipedia:
  • Dr. No (1962) — James Bond Theme used on main and end titles and Bond's arrival in Jamaica 
  • From Russia with Love (lyrics by Lionel Bart) (1963), Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Song in a Motion Picture 
  • Goldfinger (1964) 
  • Thunderball (1965) 
  • You Only Live Twice (1967) 
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) 
  • Diamonds Are Forever (1971) 
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) 
  • Moonraker (1979) 
  • Octopussy (1983) 
  • A View to a Kill (1985), (Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score - Motion Picture & for Best Original Song - Motion Picture) 
  • The Living Daylights (1987) 

The first eight I like. The rest I could care less about. Thunderball and You Only Live Twice are my favorite scores. Goldfinger is overrated.

Legend has it that Tom Jones almost blacked out from lack of oxygen on the final note of Thunderball. Great stuff.

Midnight Cowboy wasn't too bad.

I glanced around YooToob but couldn't find decent copies of any of the other opening credits. Fuck it. Check someone else's blog.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Wacky World—1/30/2011

"How can this government criminalise the release of intestinal gases?"

Afrik News

A woman has filed a $1 trillion lawsuit against Diddy (real name: Sean Combs), alleging that he caused 9/11, put her child in the hospital and stole a poker chip worth "100 zillions of dollars."

A retired Maryland cop has filed a $17-million lawsuit claiming that his superiors forced him to shave in front of colleagues ahead of a visit by President Obama when he was running for office back in 2008, an incident that caused the officer “tremendous humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish”

Pat's Papers

Five year old boy drops loaded handgun inside pre-kindergarten class

A Brazilian man has been arrested on suspicion of keeping his wife locked in a squalid cellar for 16 years while he lived with another woman in the same house

Woman charged for keeping more than 100 dead cats in a freezer says she is being persecuted because she practices the Wiccan religion

LaCrosse Tribune

If you've been on the lam for over 30 years don't get a driver's license in your real name


"Drug cartels go shopping for their war weapons here in Arizona."

Stolen car hits house and exposes cannabis farm