Quack Miranda Warning

In case you aren’t aware, the Quack Miranda Warning takes the form of:

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This statement is required on health products when the manufacturer and seller either are unable or unwilling to show the product is useful the way normal health products show their usefulness. It provides the manufacturer/seller some immunity from legal liability. So to protect your health and/or prevent wasting money on useless products all you have to do is avoid buying any product that bears this warning. Be aware that, like all fine print meant to protect undeserved profits, this warning will be in a tiny font in the most obscure location of a page.

It used to be that you’d only see this warning on diet pills, weird vitamins and other things you’d ingest. This warning has worked so well at limiting liability that pretty much all useless products relating to health in any way shape or form now include the warning. Case in point, xZubi, the warning is in the smallest font at the bottom of the home page.

I find the easiest way to check for the warning is to search any suspect page for the phrase “evaluated by the FDA” (Firefox & Internet Explorer, press Control+F to search a page) .  I hope this information helps you avoid wasting money or damaging your health, Happy New Year 2011.

The Most Important Documentary of 2010

Last night Frontline aired what I feel may go down as the most important documentary of 2010, The Vaccine War. An extremely well made documentary that is as unbiased and factual as possible, this is what I expect and nearly always get from Frontline. On the rare occasion I’ve seen where Frontline messes up, they quickly and thoroughly correct the mistake.

I feel this documentary is important not because it will likely end the problem of the anti-vaccine movement, although I really hope it will. It is important because if we keep heading down this road eventually the avoidance of vaccinations will cause unnecessary illness, pain and death. It may be twenty or more years from now but if it happens we’ll have this documentary to review and see who caused the problem. Then we can rightly blame the irresponsible parties (I’m looking at you, McCarthy, Handley, Fisher, Kennedy and the other out front denialists).

Check your local listing for re-broadcast times, watch the documentary online at PBS.org.

New Strategy for Wireless Service Operators

iBurst (Pty) Ltd. a wireless ISP in South Africa has tried a new strategy in overcoming tower installation objections due to claims of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. They turned the tower off completely without telling the neighbors for over a month and observed as the complaints of EHS continued. This proves conclusively, to anyone capable of the most basic critical thinking, that the tower is not the cause of the reported symptoms.

Unfortunately the neighbors still want to try to have a court shut down the tower showing that the neighbors aren’t thinking logically. The company did what is considered the gold standard in EMI/EMF effect testing by every regulatory agency, standards organization and decent engineer. Once you turn off the power to any transmitter, bringing the power output to zero, anything still happening is clearly not from that transmitter.

This incredibly simple and essentially infallible disconnect test is about as good as it gets. Many people should be familiar with this type of test from their own experience. The most common example I can think of is when you’re sitting in a parked car and hear a noise that seems to be coming from the engine. You turn off the engine and if the sound goes away the engine is the culprit, if the sound remains it’s not the engine. No functional human being should be able to deny the results of this test and the radio transmitter variation is just as reliable.

It is clear that EHS is a very real disorder but it is also very likely to be a psychogenic illness. Many studies and tests of EHS have been made over the past decades and the evidence points squarely at this being psychogenic. Sadly, as this iBurst case so clearly demonstrates, no matter how good the evidence is, some people refuse to believe and instead fall back on standard pseudoscience tactics.

Links to some full free access journal articles on this topic:

Billy Corgan wants his own body count

Billy Corgan is spouting total nonsense that is likely to lead to more deaths just like Jenny McCarthy :-(. Orac has the breakdown of his nonsense from a medical perspective. I wanted to point out that he is falling in with the lying conspiracy mongers on the Massachusetts health emergency law update.

The state of Massachusetts here in America is about to sign into law (if it hasn’t already) for a mandatory vaccination. The state will have the power to come into your home and incarcerate you for being unwilling to comply with a vaccination order. Didn’t you hear? Soon, you won’t even have the choice to live OR die as you wish!

No Billy, this isn’t about your own life, it’s about the government not allowing you to choose to kill others, would you like us to legalize manslaughter for you Billy. I pointed out back in September this is simply an update to existing laws and the scary quotes are the product of quote mining the legislation. Billy wants the government to not stop him and other jerks like him from making others sick and causing deaths. It is truly sad that Billy has no critical thinking skills and science knowledge and it is leading him down the path of causing undo suffering and death in others :-(. How many more people, mostly children, need to die from H1N1 before the celebrities wake up and stop pushing their pseudoscientific, conspiracy ranting.

EE #4, The Good the Bad and the Crazy

First we have The Good, a very rational tolerant engineer, the kind that makes me proud of my profession rather than embarrassed to admit it.

Some people believe that at the end of the ride it’s, whew, that was fun, can’t wait to get in line and do it all again.

Some people believe that our little fun park is a frivolous waste of time and that the real good stuff happens after the amusement park closes.  I would say, what a waste, but it’s their choice to make.

Here I tread lightly, but I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.  We could debate in a friendly way how each of us has decided to make our lives better, and learn some things along the way.  That’s a Good Thing(tm).  No, it is the other stuff that worries me.  And not in a paranoid way, but in a very real and “fear for my life” way.  This one wants to cut off my head because I don’t believe in flying horses, and that one wants to beat me to death over a disagreement about a cracker.

I would like to believe that no one on this list would wish me harm for anything I’ve said, and if someone did, they wouldn’t dare say it publicly.

On the other hand, there are too many places in this world (including the southern state where I grew up) where if I said, “Sorry, I don’t happen to believe your fairy tales to be literally true”, then I would fear for my safety and my life.

Hey, I see a Pharyngula great cracker incident ’08 reference in there, an engineer who reads PZ is always a good sign. Of course one of the embarrassing engineers had to reply with The Bad:

But if that is so, why would you say something like that? I guess I see the point (or a point): it should be possible to say what you want, to disagree how much you want, without fear. But that’s one of the conditions here: nothing is perfect 🙂  So we have to accept that things we say have consequences, and they are not always easy to predict.

Wow, he thinks it’s to be expected that people will hurt or kill you over ideas and that’s acceptable. I know he is not from the US but I think even in Germany and Brazil it’s against the law to cause physical harm to others and killing over words is murder. He does not grasp the concept of freedom of conscience but I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. His previous posts have shown me he doesn’t grasp the fundamentals of science or critical thinking either.

Next I bring you The Crazy:

Can’t help on sci journals, but I did wire plants up to bio-feedback circuitry & got some fascinating experimental results…

The device was a wheatstone bridge detecting changes of resistance from electrodes attached to stems of Foxgloves & houseplants.  Output created a rising needle & rising audio pitch if resistance rose, & the converse if resistance reduced..

With Foxglove, once the needle stabilised I tried talking to it, no difference or a small fall.  Tried torturing a leaf, slight rise.  Then a motor cycle passed by noisily, & the needle & pitch shot up, then slowly went down again. Then a gust of wind blew, & the needle fell.

With a houseplant wired, I tried talking to it, small fall.  I tried torturing a leaf, barely discernable rise that quickly fell.  Then I asked a colleague to have a go.  He wasn’t interested but with cajoling he turned & looked at the plant -from 15 feet distance the plant screamed!  Needle & pitch went off the scale & I had to turn down sensitivity & readjust.  He thought I was taking the piss.

I gave it a few minutes, there was a small fall, stabilised, then I stepped away & asked Phil again to try.  Once again from several yards away he simply looked at the plant, & the plant’s resistance shot up & a scream came from the loudspeaker.  This time there was no fakery possible from me – I too was several yards away.

I make no attempt to publish ‘findings’, & instead invite that others also experiment…

Typical pseudo-scientist, won’t document or publish any of his alleged results so that others can try and replicate his experiment. Instead he simply insists it works and tries to get others to start from scratch. When you see this crap you just have to call it for what it is, Bulls Hit!

A Good reply to some more Crazy:

And sometimes we progress by going back to old ways.
Medicine comes to mind.  We used to think using leeches was crazy stuff from older times.
Now we’ve found them quite useful.

That’s true, but not quite.

Why they were using them in the middles ages is different to why they’re used now.  You could say we found a new use for something that was supposed to be useful but wasn’t.  (You might need to take a deep breathe first.)

An engineer who has appeared here before, showing a Bad grasp of reality (emphasis mine):

It comes as no surprise that the majority of people will trust CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News, NPR, NY Times and Washington Post as though they publish truth.  But they all publish the same story, the same way from the same source and it is always flavored with a left political bias.

Wow what planet is he living on, I have lots of problems with FOX News but a liberal/left bias sure as heck isn’t one of them. In the past year this guy, as far as I can recall, hasn’t gotten one technical detail correct and evades owning up to the errors when called on them. Thankfully the list is inhabited by many excellent engineers so, his technical mistakes are always corrected. I thought this guy was just a classic BS artist, you know the type who pretends to be knowledgeable and can talk his way out of trouble when he’s caught having no knowledge. Now that I’ve seen his utter failure to grasp reality twice I’m beginning to think he’s just nuts.

Interesting stuff and blog roll updates

A Skepchick post pointed me to this article, BlackLight Power has buyer for ‘magical’ energy source. I hope the Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative doesn’t loose too much money on this scam scheme. I know New Mexico is loaded with pseudoscientific research centers but before they invested their communities cash they should have taken advice from some of NM’s real scientists.

Mike of Hyphoid Logic pointed out that the Royal Society Digital Archives are free until 2/1/09. Here’s the main search page and a search for articles by one of my favorite Royal Society scientists.

Skeptico’s post about DECT lead me to adding another blog to my reading and now my blog roll, Techskeptic’s Data Daily. These posts, DECT scares, Platinum Free Fuel Cells, Class 1M radiation are samples of recent work by Techskeptic that I feel are excellent.

Robert X. Cringely’s time with PBS has come to an end but I can keep reading him at his new home, the blog roll link has been updated.