Archive for June, 2008

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”.

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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.