Sunday, March 10, 2013

I bought a meter.........

Reading the Sunday paper should be a relaxing occasion, but sometimes there are articles that just make you shake your head and wonder if the journalist is just regurgitating a press release.

March 10th, The Sunday AGE, page 4 of the Domain section had one of these articles, a piece entitled "Might not mite, the growing field of building biology finds and deals with hazards around the home". What is this growing field of building biology I hear you ask. Which university has this course? Where can I sign??
It is one of a set of courses that is run by The Australian College of Environmental Studies, a school started by Nicole Bijlsma. This school also offers a course in Feng Shui. It's located in a business park in Bayswater, surrounded by such scholarly institutions as "Door Repairs", "Prolux Electrical" and "Computer Call". I'm surprised at this last one, considering the article's main thesis is that magnetic and electric fields are bad for your health. Yet she is willing to have a computer company, which you can presume has wi-fi, as neighbours????

There of course is a photo that accompanies the article which shows Nicole holding an i-phone in one hand and an EM meter in the other. The caption reads, "Nicole Bijlsma shows how wireless devices can cause pollution". Um, no.... this picture shows that an EM meter (a device that can detect signals transmitted by phones, etc), wait for it, has detected that the i-phone has a wireless signal!!!!!! It says nothing about pollution.

Now according to this website, Nicole has the following qualifications, ND, B.H.Sc.Ac.(HONS), Grad Dip.OHS, Ct.IV in Feng Shui, Dip.Building Biology. I'm always skeptical about people who put lots of letters after their name. Usually it's done by people who want to seem more important than they really are. Anyway, the ND stands for naturopath, but trying to google the B.H.Sc.Ac.(HONS) only returns entries with her name in it. Does that mean she is the only one in the world who has this esteemed qualification? And no institution came up either. The Grad Dip OHS is an occupation health and safety course that is done in about a week. And the last two are certificates in courses she runs.

OK, so let's look at at the Building Biology course. Here are the subjects:

Core Subjects (six)
Subject Costs
Correspondence Available
Yes (AP)
Yes (EF)
Elective Subjects (two only)
Subject Costs
Correspondence Available
Yes (BM)

 Browsing through the Electricity Fundamentals course description:

"This subject introduces the basic concepts of electricity including the scientific units, terminology and its underlying principles (volts, current, resistance and circuits, Ohms law, Power law and magnetism). Students will learn about the various bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and more specifically which frequencies impact the built environment. A detailed theoretical knowledge of how electricity is produced and conducted through the power distribution network and ultimately through a building will be described."

A DETAILED THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE OF HOW ELECTRICITY IS PRODUCED???  What are the chances that Maxwell's Equations are studied in detail, as well as the photoelectric effect? These are essential if you truly want to know about the theory of Electromagnetic waves and their affect on human tissue.

Also, another link in the article points to the website Looking through this I found the following article on Electromagnetic Radiation ( EMR ) And Potential Adverse Health Affects. Here is the intro blurb:

"This very well researched paper takes a look at the public health trends in 2007 and their possible links to EMR exposure. The paper has a strong focus on Australia and is well referenced. The paper makes reference to many studies that have demonstrated strong links between electromagnetic radiation exposure and adverse health effects. Cancer clusters and phone masts are discussed in some detail."

Well researched it says, so let's look at one of the quotes mentioned in this article:

"I have no doubt in my mind that, at the present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth's environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields." Dr Robert O. Becker, Nobel Prize nominee

Nobel prize nominee, hey,..... well..... the Nobel prize committee doesn't release nominations till at least 50 years after the awards are given.So I went to the Nobel nomination database to find his name, guess what, there is Angell Becker and a Coudenhove-Kalergi Becker, but no Robert Becker. Well there goes that "well researched paper".

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Folks are dumb where I come from......

Another year gone in which again we were shown that the human race is not as smart as it thinks.Here are my top examples for 2012.

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink
 What if I told you that someone has an arrest warrant out for him basically because he said that a trickle of water was caused by clogged drainage pipes? Not only is there an arrest warrant out for him, but he received physical threats. Well, welcome to India.

And the reason? A statue of Jesus in a Catholic Church began seeping water, the local clergy declared it a miracle (a weeping Jesus), our protagonist went to investigate it and found that the seeping was caused by clogged drainage and capillary action. And for this, Sanal Edamaruku was charged under India's Blasphemy Laws.Why is he being charged for a natural explanation? Maybe because you can't make as much money from "Look, Capillary Action at Work!" compared to "Look, a Miracle!"? But who knows, I'm only guessing. It's not like there is money to be made from miracles, is there?

You might want to change your doctor
 Ah, politicians. Just more proof that the human race is a bit loco. I'm not blaming them, par se, it's more about the fact that they were voted in. What does that say about those that vote? Anyway, some US Republicans really showed us their (lack of) scientific knowledge. The winner was definitely Todd Akin. I'll let his words speak for themselves:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."

 This is crazy thinking in itself with statements such as "legitimate rape" and "female body shutting the whole thing down". But there is a scarier thought. This man was (he was voted out during the 2012 elections) on the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. It is frightening to think that this man's opinion may have contributed to US science policy. Who else on the committee may have such thinking?

Non-prediction of the unpredictable
Not only are politicians not well versed in science, we can also include the law fraternity. An Italian court found scientists guilty of not being able to predict an earthquake, which are well know to be unpredictable.What I'd love to see are courts charging and sentencing economists for not being able to predict economic outcomes. Now there is a class of professionals that make predictions in the media about the economy and they hardly ever get hauled over the coals when (and it happens with regularity) their prognostications don't eventuate. But the funny thing is, even if their predictions fail, they are invited back on TV and treated like the oracle at Delphi.

The Un-expert
Last but not least, there are those that I call the "I know less than you in your field of excellence, but my opinion outweighes your expertise so you are wrong" types. They are everywhere. Mostly they can found giving their opinions on TV or in newspaper columns. Examples are cartoonist talking about climate, particle physicist talking about earthquakes and social commentators talking about anything.

Here's my advice to you all. Next time you have a health problem (presuming you are not a doctor), diagnose yourself, medicate yourself, and if necessary, operate on yourself. Remember, your opinion trumps the medical knowedge of a doctor.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The numbers game

It's been a while.....
First off, the results from last years Deadpool competition.

It was close, myself on 27, Andrew on 25 and Ms Dodo on 21.

Now for some other numbers.
This Kony meme has gone ballistic. I'm always skeptical when things go viral on the net. Sure Kony is one bad guy, but what about the group who created the video? Well they have been asked questions by some about their fund raising and how much of their cash goes to helping kids in Africa. Their response was to release this graphic.

This is a very, very misleading graphic. Compare the sizes of the "Central Africa Programs" section and the "Management & General" section. The areas of the these two aren't in proportion with the numbers. Visually is seems that they spend about 7 times more on the Programs than on Management, whereas in fact the numbers say it's around 2 times as much. Dodgy. This is deceptive. So would I give to these guys? I can't trust them to be honest, so no.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quantum Scalar Resonance Vortex Transmutes: If only they knew what these words meant

Here is an idea to make shite load of money (no ethics please, we're new age followers); take a stack of words that sound impressive, take them out of context, foster them on an scientifically uninformed public, and watch the money roll in. Take this as an example:

EarthCalm Quantum Cell: $99.00

This sticker is supposed to transmute the electromagnetic energy from a phone into a beneficial field that can surround and protect your family. They claim it contains "circuits that utilize Scalar Resonance Technology are comprised of multiple sets of circuits that mirror the structure of the earth's electro-magnetic field". There is so much to dissect in this short paragraph. Beneficial field of what? Mirror circuits? Scalar Resonance Technology? $99? The sticker would cost about 2 cents to make. Smells like powerband all over again.

So what the hell is Scalar Resonance Technology? Let's look at their description.

Scalar Resonance Technology is the process whereby each EarthCalm circuit is matched to its mirror circuit, which exponentially increases resonance to the earth.

OK.......... Mirror circuit?? What do you mean? Define the mirror circuit of a battery connected to a light. You can't, can you? Then you tag on something about exponentially increasing the resonance. What do you mean? Do you know that in a DC circuit there is no resonance? In an AC circuit, do you mean increasing the frequency of the resonance, the width of the resonance, or the peak of the resonance? Where did you learn your electronics? Because you should go and get a refund.

A scalar wave is by definition a wave that is exactly matched by another wave, i.e., it has the same frequency and the same height or amplitude but has the opposite direction, such that one wave exactly cancels out the other.

Ummm, no and yes. A scalar is a quantity that has a magnitude only. But yes, you can take a wave, invert it, and add it to the original wave and they will cancel out. You can do this experiment and it show the exact cancelling out every time.

Imagine in a pond two waves of the same frequency and amplitude, but coming from different directions. When these waves meet in the middle of the pond they cancel each other out. One might see a flat area in the middle of the pond where the two opposing twin waves met. The result however is not zero, but rather that another dimension is accessed.

Everything up to that last sentence is correct. But that last sentence is pure crap. You just told us in the previous section that the two waves exactly cancel each other out. That is, the result is zero. Now you are saying it is not zero? You can't have it both ways. And, you can always tell when stuff is just being made up when out of the blue you just add extra dimensions. Where is this dimension? What properties does it have? Where is the experiment to show this dimension exists?

It’s an interesting and exciting new concept: that when two energy fields exactly balance each other or cancel each other out, a dimension is accessed that is everywhere at once and has the power to heal.

Ahh, the repeat of the contradiction of exactly cancelling out, and, um, not cancelling out. Also, see what they have done here? They have ditched the experimentally verifiable (two waves exactly cancelling out) are now running with this dimension idea that is not verified by experiment and has no evidence for it what so ever. The rest of the text now is based on this flawed idea. No need to read on. Don't think I'll be buying this product.

So the whole idea behind this device has crumbled. This is a classic way to create the illusion that a product is backed by science. Take some science, then twist it every so slightly (or why not twist it so it says the exact opposite) and then make any claim you want. Once the mark customer has gotten past this point, the sell is so much easier.

I was wondering, Can someone buy this product or similar and if this powerful beneficial field does not appear around your family, can you sue them?

Extra: Here is a USB device that can also create this powerful beneficial field. It's only $179.00. Surely a bargain!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

But they said it will make money......

Ken Ham is a creationist from good ol' Queensland who didn't have much success trying to introduce creationism into the science curriculum here so he moved to the USA. This is his logic in a nutshell:

He is now trying to build a theme park based around the story of Noah's Ark.

He already has a creation museum in Kentucky. The motto is "Creation Museum - prepare to disbelieve." Mad Magazine voted it no. 14 on its most dumbest things of the year 2007. Let me quote what they said:

"Finally there is compelling evidence that the theory of evolution is wrong! For proof positive that man's intelligence has not evolved in eons, consider the Cro-Magnon brained imbeciles behind the recently opened Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The museum's exhibits don't merely challenge science, they ignore it completely! It's the only place in the world you can see man riding bareback on a dinosaur — except, of course, in an old episode of The Flintstones."

His Noah's Ark theme park was endorsed by Governor Steve Beshear who has decided to provide $45 million in tax incentives to the project. His reason for this? Because a report said that the park would bring in 1.6 million visitors and $250 million to the state.

Let's look at this report. It was a feasibility study commissioned by Ken Ham and written by his mate Brit Breemer. It's 10,000 pages long. So you would expect the governor or his staff to have read the study, questioned its findings and had independent analysis of the document. Only after such deliberation would you commit $45 million.

An article in the looked at the claims made and questioned the findings of the study. When pressed about the proposed funding by the government:

"Beshear's aides later acknowledged that the state never obtained a copy of the study.

Spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said that wasn't necessary because the governor's staff had met with Ark Encounter staff and knew the study's conclusions."

So this governor just promised them money because they said it would be good for the state. Well, if they believe creationism, they will believe anything. By the way, I've got a bridge that's up for sale.......................