Scripture Science

Posted in Evolution, Uncategorized on December 1, 2009 by youtubeskeptic

I came across these series called Scripture Science,which desribes itself as “…a series of one minute TV programs in support of the accuracy of the Biblical account of creation.”.

Boy,do they cram a lot of evidence for Biblical Creationism in that one minute. I mean,look at this gem of scientic scholarship they have to offer. QED!

UPDATE ON WHERE I’VE BEEN

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2008 by youtubeskeptic

So,Basically,for whatever reason I couldn’t log into wordpress for a long time.Finally it’s decided its going to accept my user name and password,so I’ll be updating this blog again.

Sweet!

Child Molester Claims Big Foot Raped Him

Posted in cryptozoology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2008 by youtubeskeptic

There really isn’t much to say about this. I heard about this story a while back when listening to The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, podcast.

This guy Gene Morrill, decided he was going to claim that the reason he was a child molester is because he himself was molested by big foot when he was a child. Some have brought up that perhaps he was indeed molested by “big foot”,where as big foot has taken the place of maybe a family friend or someone that really did molest him growing up.Its not uncommon for people to disassociate themselves from traumatic experiences,especially as children,and claim that the offender was some mythical creature like the Boogie Man or Bigfoot. I however feel this is very unlikely in this case given the time of the revelation of supposed Big Foot abuse.

Personally I find this really to be a non story and just another example of how the news is really just part of the entertainment industry now as opposed to being an important vehicle to distribute important information to the public.I mean,they even asked some local Bigfoot hunter his opinion about it.Its of no significant importance to the general public either politically or socially, other than being a time filling fluff piece-any jerk off the street could have done this “story”.

Table Tipping

Posted in paranormal powers with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2008 by youtubeskeptic

I decided to do a table tipping entry due to the fact that I signed up to attend a seance this weekend,which will be including table tipping. I’ve decided that it would be interesting,to say the least,to start going to local paranormal events or classes to experience them first hand.A couple months ago I attended a ghost hunting “class” which was…..well,interesting. I took a look around on Meetup.com and found a local paranormal “investigation” group that is having a table tipping seance to contact spirits that they are sure are present due to numerous “investigations” they had done in the location.

Table tipping is one of the ways spirits are supposed to be able to make contact with the living,and originated when the modern spiritualism movement really started to take off in the early 1850’s.A group of people either sit or stand around a table and place their hands on the table near the edge,which are to be used as a conduit for spirit energy to move the table about,tip it,or even cause the table to levitate. Proponents of the method claim that all members in the session are not moving the table with their hands and that the hands of the participants are barely touching the table making it impossible for them to move the table through regular means such as pushing. Count de Gasparin and Professor Marc Thury of Geneva,concluded after their investigation into the phenomenon,that a force they called the “ectenic force” -a spiritual energy emitted by the spiritualist medium- was responsible.

I choose this video in particular because the person posting it claimed that it was a “controlled test” of table tipping that was being conducted. I found this a little strange as it looks no different from the multitude of other table tipping videos I could have chosen from,so one wonders exactly what controls are supposedly being applied to the participants.

One of the first controlled tests to eliminate the question of weather people were moving the table with their fingers,was conducted by Michael Faraday,who was made famous by his discovery of electro magnetism. Faraday’s simple device was two boards with glass rollers between them,held together with rubber bands. The ability of the spirits to move the table disappeared when this device was used and it was showed that it was the hands of the mediums or participants moving the table. While some might rationalize that the hands must be on the table surface and not on the device for the table to tip,there is also other controls that can be applied. James Randi has conducted many tests of table tippers and applied controls such as just placing wax paper under the finger tips of participants which will simple slide along the table if a directional force is applied. This is also used in conjuncture with placing the hands away from the edges of the table and toward the middle of the table making tipping due to downward pressure impossible.One must also take into account that many table tippers have also used their feet and legs to tip or levitate tables,so having participants sit in a chair with their feet down by the back legs of the chair helps to eliminate the leg and feet factor. To no ones surprise,table tippers also lost their abilities to move or levitate tables when such controls were applied.

In the video I see a small table that one might use to eat in front of the TV,which wouldn’t exactly take a whole lot of effort to move.The legs of the table are of the type that they cross,which is far more susceptible to downward manipulation as opposed to a table where the four legs come directly down from each corner.Also the hands are not in the lightly touching finger tips,propped up position that proponents will usually claim was used. Instead,everyones hands are almost laying down flat on the table,making it much easier to push or pull the table in any particular direction.

So,one can reasonable conclude that table tipping is not a true phenomenon and that it is either purposeful trickery of a dubious medium or participant,or that it is a result of the ideomotor effect;where ones muscles move subconsciously when the movement is an expected one.All the corroborative evidence points to it;exposed as trickery directly from the start and the inability for it to occur when simple controls are applied.Still,in spite of the evidence,one can never take away the need to believe,by some,in such things.

Tong Ren Therapy

Posted in Alternitive Medicine with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2008 by youtubeskeptic

This has got to be one of the most disturbing videos and some of the most irresponsible “reporting” I’ve ever seen in my life.

The introduction to the story sends up one of the biggest red flags that what you’re about to hear is 100% crap.

“From chronic illnesses to late stage cancers; one Massachusetts man says he has come up with a therapy that can heal almost any ailment”

One of my rules of thumb when considering a claim of a medical treatment is that if it claims to be a universal cure all then there is pretty much a 100% chance of it being garbage. Of course,just about every woo woo “therapy” claims to be able to cure cancer.

So,what exactly is Tong Ren? Apparently it’s a acupuncture/voodoo hybrid that this guy,Tom Tam, just made up out of thin air. You just tap the “energy” points on the doll with a tiny hammer and somehow this is supposed to heal you. I noticed that when they did close ups of people who were supposed to be tapping a specific point,that they were tapping randomly all over the place almost.You would think that if it actually worked the way its claimed then the accuracy of the tapping would be of the up most importance since you have to make sure the healing “energy” is directed to the correct point.I mean,if I had a brain tumor I wouldn’t want to lose all that healing because people were tapping the back of the neck or the upper back.Here is the “Theory of Tong Ren from Tam’s website.

“For any healing system, there has to be a supporting theory, no matter where the theory comes from or whether it makes sense. The theory of the collective unconscious is the basis for Tong Ren Therapy. Without proof all theories are merely conjecture. Proof may be found in research or empirical data. Tong Ren has not been proven by any expert research. This type of research involves financial support, political support, development of modern science, and case studies by a qualified practitioner. The proof for all of my theories is only through the experience and results of my patients and myself. Of course I have no doubt that Tong Ren Therapy works. No one can deny the work we have done or the results we have achieved or argue about it.”

Need I say more?

The anecdotal evidence is pretty typical of alternative medicine techniques. The patient is undergoing standard medical treatments for their disease and doing the alternative techniques on the side,but if they start to get better all the credit goes to the alternative “therapy” and not the chemotherapy or whatever standard treatment they were involved in.

Doing some research I found that the Tong Ren proponents are already trying to parade around the fact that Harvard Medical/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have initiated a pilot study. Here is what they are doing:

“The purpose of this study is to obtain preliminary evidence of the efficacy of the Tong Ren Healing System in improving symptoms from treatment or disease through an anonymous cross-sectional survey of participants of Tong Ren Healing sessions. We will collect self-report surveys from attendees at 6 different sites for Tong Ren Healing group sessions in Massachusetts. A self-administered survey has been developed for this study to assess the following: conditions for which people seek treatment; duration of treatment; other treatment modalities sought for condition; reports of changes in symptoms and conditions; for those who report improvement, extent of improvement. Although the primary population of interest is patients with cancer, we will collect surveys from all attendees to assess impact of Tong Ren on other chronic conditions. Approximately 300 participants will take part in this study. Results will be used as preliminary evidence for future research in this healing modality.”

So basically,its just a survey of people who at least already believed enough in it to go to a session and to self evaluate the effects-anecdotes.This is hardly anything in the way of proof of Tong Ren. The sad thing is that usually the public only hears about the results of pilot studies such as these which are almost always positive,especially a survey study which does nothing but help to establish the claimed effects of a treatment so real studies can be formulated,but then the public never hears the results of the actual conclusive studies which come out to be dead negative.Name me one time you’ve turned on the news and heard them say “remember the positive pilot study on (insert treatment) we told you about 10 years ago? Well the phase four conclusive studies have come out and the results were negative”. I know I sure haven’t!

At the end of the story they tell us that Tom did not want to be interviewed for the story.Strange. I looked up other news stories about Tong Ren and he declines being interviewed for them all. Mr.Tam cites his reason for not being interviewed on that be feels “critics have made unfair accusations”. What kind of nonsense reporting is this? If someone makes fantastical claims but refuses to be interviewed for a story on it then DON’T DO THE STORY! Whats the point of this other than to do an easy fluff piece which does nothing but harm to people who need real help?

For more on Tong Ren straight out of the horses mouth you can go to TOMTAM.COM. There you can find the Holy Trinity of woo woo with “Tong Ren Astrology” . Acupuncture,voodoo and astrology combined? Sounds reasonable to me. You can also sign up for the upcoming training course….only $300! Or,you can buy a “TENS machine” and give your Tong Ren doll electric shock therapy for only $85. Think of all the illness you might have caused when you were a child blowing up G.I Joe action figures with a M-80.

“Dr. David Berlinski Destroys Evolution In Under 5 Minutes”

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , on May 18, 2008 by youtubeskeptic

There is one main point about this video that I wanted to address,but first I want to quickly respond to the remarks made in the first minute.

The first point Berlinski tries to make is that we should doubt evolution because some mathematicians doubt it and tries to make an argument from authority by saying that famous mathematician John von Neumann “laughed at Darwinian theory”.I couldn’t find anything quickly looking around for any quotes of von Neumann knocking evolution,but he did do a considerable amount of work in Automata Theory which dealt with the idea of systems reproducing themselves and tried to answer the question of how a system could improve upon itself.After several years Watson and Crick discovered DNA,the instructions for living automata. So,it’s not hard to imagine someone questioning evolution since the mechanism for reproduction was unknown,but even Darwin didn’t know at his time,and asking questions and finding the answers is just how science is done.Another quick point is that mathematicians are not biologists or geneticist,so it’s not really a relevant field.

Next he quickly tries so shed doubt by pointing out that there are scientists who don’t accept evolution.This is true,yet the number of those who don’t accept evolution is almost non existent in the millions and millions of scientist. There are more historians who deny the events of the holocaust than scientists in a relevant field who deny evolution-who cares?What evidence to either deniers bring to the table to prove their points? None. Only assertions and hypothesis that when proven wrong are still dogmatically held onto.For instance,I still haven’t heard Michael Behe say that his idea that the bacterial flagellum is an “irreducibly complex system” is wrong.

Next,just quickly,Berlinski tries to say that scientists say that Whales evolved from Cows. He’s making an absurd mis characterization,kinda like how people say “evolution says we came from a rock”.No,Mr.Berlinski,whales came from Pakicetids which in no way look anything like a cow. And by the way,we also have the fossils showing all the “re-engineering” needed to do so;from the migrating nostrils,adapting inner ear and loss of hind legs.

Now,we finally get to the main point I wanted to bring up. Berlinski now wants to skip all the evidence for evolution and just look at it purely from a probabilistic and statistical stand point.He specifically points out genetics as something we are going to over look for a mathematical answer only.Why is this?I’ll draw a simple analogy to prove my point. If finding out how we got the diversity of life on earth as we know know it was winning the lottery;then genetics is the winning ticket. Genetics explains how things are related,how they change,how often they change,etc. So,with that in mind here is what Berlinski would like to do- You bought your lottery ticket,watched with anticipation to see if you won and you did!You go down to the lottery office to cash in your winnings,but there sits David Berlinski. Mr.Berlinski looks at your ticket and says “that’s interesting,but lets look at it purely from a mathematical stand point to find out if you won.My calculations show that the probability of you winning the lottery were astronomical so you don’t win-couldn’t have happened”.Of course,anyone with basic knowledge in probability and statistics knows that post hoc calculations are of no value.Just about anything that happens is statistically unlikely after it has happened and you start to add up every little thing that must have happened prior to it.

Evolution destroyed in under 5 minutes? No,more like “why no one takes ID/Creationism seriously,in 5 Minutes”.

Gua Sha

Posted in Alternitive Medicine with tags on May 15, 2008 by youtubeskeptic

According to Wikipedia, Gua Sha is literally translated “to scrape for cholera” which kind of confuses me since cholera is an infectious gastrointestinal disease.The basic technique is to lubricate the skin and then stroke it repeatedly with a smooth edged object while applying a good amount of pressure.This is supposed to help pull “sha”-toxins- to the surface of the skin,and the sha causes the skin to discolor.

So what does Gua Sha supposedly help?Here is a short list of common things it is said to help:

  • Reduce fever (the technique was used to treat cholera).
  • Treat fatigue caused by exposure to heat (often used to treat heat-stroke) or cold.
  • Cough and dyspnea: bronchitis, asthma, emphysema.
  • Treat muscle and tendon injuries.
  • Push sluggish circulation, fibromyalgia.
  • Treat headache.
  • Treat sunstrokes / heat syncope and nausea.
  • Treat stiffness, pain, immobility.
  • Treat digestive disorders.
  • Treat urinary, gynecological disorders.
  • To assist with reactions to food poisoning

It wouldn’t be true woo woo if it didn’t claim to help treat a wide variety of unrelated ailments!

If you want to see a real good look at the results of Gua Sha,here is another quick video:

I don’t think I’m going to far out on a limb when I say “Sha” is nothing more than superficial scratching-in terms of the first video- and SEVER bruising and bleeding as shown in the second video!Seriously,who wants their body to look like that?It’s just bruising people!It is the hallmark of alternative and quack medicine to take something as common as a bruise and put some type of spin on it.Oh,but wait,they have proof that its not just superficial scratches and bruising.

“Sha rash does not represent capillary rupture as in bruising, as is evidenced by the immediate fading of petechiae to echymosis, and the rapid resolution of sha as compared to bruising.”

Thats right,they just say its not;therefore its not.

Amazing though,how the different colors of “sha” represent the spectrum of skin discoloration exactly the same as superficial scratching and brusing:

“The color of sha varies according to the severity of the patient’s blood stasis — which may correlate with the nature, severity and type of their disorder –appearing from a dark blue-black to a light pink, but is most often a shade of red.”

A good way for them to prove their claim is to have this “sha” tested to see exactly what it is. I mean,if its not bruising but “toxins”,then it should test as such. Have they done this? No,not that I could find anywhere.It’s just mysticism piled onto normal everyday things and since its “ancient Chinese” people think that that means it actually works.

Save yourself some cash and just get into a bar fight or something if you want to look beat up cause thats all you’ll get from Gua Sha.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.