Jun 282010
 

It’s been brought to my attention that MP David Tredinnick has recently tabled some Early Day Motions (EDMs) supporting the pseudoscience known as “homeopathy”. Intrigued, I looked further. This is what I found:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Tredinnick_(politician)

  • He was once a Parliamentary Private Secretary, but was forced to resign and was suspended for 20 days after he was found to have accepted a £1000 bribe to ask questions in Parliament, popularly known as the Cash for questions affair.
  • He is a supporter of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), speaking in Parliament on homeopathy (making claims for its effectiveness), chiropractic and the influence of the Moon on blood clotting. In this same debate he characterised scientists as "racially prejudiced".
  • He tried to claim the £125 cost of attending a course on "intimate relationships" through his Parliamentary expenses. He was also found to have used expenses to purchase astrology software, claiming it was for a debate on alternative medicine
  • He was among 98 MPs who voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, ending the compulsory legal requirement for MPs to disclose their expenses.[9] The move was later overturned by the House of Lords.

Skeptical Voter at http://skeptical-voter.org/wiki/index.php?title=David_Tredinnick has this to say about him:

David Tredinnick MP is perhaps the worst example of scientific illiteracy in government. His questions in parliament have promoted homeopathy, radionics (healing via a kind of psychic remote control) and astrology. He has been involved in campaigns to promote herbalism. He has been described by some MPs as the "Right Hon. Member for Holland and Barrett".

People voted for this guy?

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 272010
 

News from skepticblog at http://skepticblog.org/2010/06/26/brits-do-something-about-phony-mediums-three-cheers/ that the United Kingdom is considering tougher laws to protect against fraudsters such as psychics, mediums, and spiritualists.

Good. We’ve lived far too long in the Dark Ages and in the clutches of liars. Time to break free from these shackles and move forward.

One of my previous posts that’s particularly relevant is Mediums – true, deluded or criminal? at http://www.metalvortex.com/blog/2010/06/20/409.html.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 232010
 

DC’s excellent article “Hot and cold herbal nonsense from Napier University Edinburgh: another course shuts” scores again for science against nonsense “degrees”.

I laughed when I read this quote from Gerry Webber after he refused to supply information to a Freedom of Information request for details of what was actually taught on one of their “degree” courses :

“On public interest grounds, I have therefore concluded that, in respect of the commercially sensitive information requested, the public interest is better served in withholding the information you have requested than in disclosing it.”

What’s he hiding? Embarrassment, perhaps?

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 232010
 

In my previous post Mediums – true, deluded or criminal? at http://www.metalvortex.com/blog/2010/06/20/409.html I asked if those people who claim to be mediums and the like should be prosecuted for making claims that they cannot prove and for deliberately misleading and lying to people.

So, thanks to a pointer from Michael Marshall versus ‘psychic’ Joe Power, I read with interest to what appears to be Joe Power making unwarranted allegations to the police that The Merseyside Skeptics Society had made threats to himself and perhaps also to his wife.

The full story is in the article Joe Power, non-Psychic non-Detective: A Clarification at http://www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/2010/06/joe-power-non-psychic-non-detective-a-clarification/

Read the article. You can decide if the actions of Joe Power are criminal.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 212010
 

Why Evolution Is True does a deconstruction of a flawed BioLogos article. Having read the rather desperate arguments in the BioLogos article I thought “Why did BioLogos even bother?”. Then I realised, BioLogos is nothing more than a religious forum, heavily slanted towards Judeo-Christianity, where people interpret scientific evidence with a God slant, where people cast doubt on scientific evidence that doesn’t suite their beliefs, where people believe in a God who interacts with us. I think Richard Dawkins blew these people right out of the water in his book “The God Delusion”. Knowing what BioLogos is provides insight into the question posed by Why Evolution Matters:

“isn’t BioLogos embarrassed to have this kind of stuff on its website, which purports to accept the findings of science?”

No, they’re not embarrassed; they’re a religious group, not a scientific group. That’s why they don’t matter.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 202010
 

skepticblog summarise the story at http://skepticblog.org/2010/06/19/one-down-thousands-to-go/ of Ramon Volz and his approach to ABC with regard to “medium” Kelli Faulkner. Great stuff. But it got me thinking about the role of “mediums”.

Do mediums really believe in the stuff they peddle or are they deliberately lying to gain benefit for themselves? Regardless, whatever they sell must be provable, surely? If they are unable to provide credible and verifiable evidence should criminal proceedings be taken against them? As no such evidence has been provided despite all the vast sums expended on research and the vast sums of money on offer, I can only surmise that these people are deluded or criminal; I think the consensus is that most are the latter. Why has society become so tolerable to these fraudsters? These people (society and the people making such claims) need to be challenged. So the approach taken by Ramon Volz was brilliant; I’m impressed.

Kelli Faulkner’s website http://www.kellifaulkner.com/ has the headline that her services are:

…to provide emotional help, practical advice and often answers to the families who’s loved ones have gone missing.

When someone goes missing, those left behind find their lives turned upside-down.  Much of my work is supporting them through the very practical problems which result from someone going missing.

So, apart from “answers to the families” this seems to be benign, perhaps even beneficial to the grieving. But dig deeper and you’ll see that she calls herself a “spiritual medium” or “spiritual messenger” and all that is implied in such labelling. Don’t fall for it. We need lives based on truth, not on fairy tales, not on superstitions, and not on other lies. Support for the grieving can be achieved through such truths. Go for it.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 192010
 

Well I finally took the plunge and converted my tyres to tubeless using Stan’s No Tubes Standard Tubeless Kit. In summary, it worked but it was hard work. Here’s the tale…

My bike is a Specialized Stumpjumper which came with custom DT Swiss X420SL (24mm) rims and S-Works Fast Trak LK, 26×2.0 inch tyres but I replaced these tyres with Continental Rubber Queen 2.2 (folding) non-UST with Black Chili compound. I’ve ridden these tyres for a few months with Specialized inner tubes and have had one puncture in the rear tyre.

I wanted a more puncture resistant tyre (who doesn’t!) and originally installed Slime tyre liners which gave some protection against thorns, for example, but offered no protection against pinch-flats or snakebites. After further thought and research I decided to go tubeless and opted for Stan’s No Tubes Tubeless kit as that offered the promise of a lighter solution than UST but, at the same time, I was taking a risk as I had no way of determining if the rim/tyre combo with Stan’s Tubeless kit would be compatible. But it was a risk I was willing to take.

I read the instructions and followed the videos at NoTubes.com – Movies. I did everything as directed. I enlarged the (inside) valve hole to 3/8 inch, retained the factory-installed rim tape (spoke tape) and did not use Stan’s yellow rim tape. But I made life really hard for myself. Firstly, these Rubber Queens are a nightmare to get onto the wheels; lots of force required. Secondly, the rear tyre had a hole in it from a previous puncture. Thirdly, I was using a track (floor) pump and not an air compressor. Let’s just say it took a lot of fast pumping to get enough air flow into the tyre for the beading to seat itself in the rim. I did the normal trick of holding (squeezing) the tyre to reduce air leaks whilst this was going on.

To pour in Stan’s sealant I decided not to release the tyre beading from the wheel because of the difficulty of getting these Rubber Queens onto the wheels. Instead, I removed the Presta valve core and poured the sealant in through that. Luckily, I poured enough sealant to seal the hole from the puncture after I had sloshed it around the tyre. After pumping up again it was the normal “shaking the wheel” routine to seal the tyre sidewalls and any other holes in the tyre. There was a lot of foaming around the tyre sidewalls so I guess these non-UST Rubber Queens have very thin and porous sidewalls. But the process worked.

I’ve only ridden the bike for a brief period to see how it handled. It was interesting; the bike felt quite responsive and “grippier” when cornering at high speed. I’m not sure if that was in the mind or if the effect was real. Further testing required I think!

But, in the meantime, I think that I will invest in an air compressor for the other times when I need to change the tyre.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 182010
 

Science-Based Medicine has done some fantastic research on various medical-based articles and the misinformation that these articles promulgate. The Science-Based Medicine article Medical Voices: Always in Error, Never in Doubt at http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5734 contains the details.

The article begins:

I have discussed two articles from the web site Medical Voices, one with 9 questions, the other on mumps. There are, I think, 18 web pages of articles about vaccines on that web site. I am uncertain as to the true number of pages of information as the navigation buttons at the bottom of the pages do not always seem to function correctly. That such a problem exists suggests that no one has bothered, like me, to go through the web site to read all the essays. Or maybe it is me and the price of using the Chrome browser. Anyway, there are a large collection of essays that serves as a rich vein of iron pyrite to mine for topics. At about 5 entries to a page, evaluating at a pace of about one monthly, it would take years to analyze all the misinformation on Medical Voices.

It occurs to me that at the center of each article is a nut of misinformation (or sometimes as many as nine) that serves as the core fallacy of that article. I want to emphasize that I am using ‘nut’ as a metaphor for seed, not in its other, more colloquial, meaning. So rather than an in-depth evaluation of each article (although some will warrant a future, more through review), I thought it would be interesting to identify the nut in each article and why it is wrong. So, in the spirit, but not the intellectual rigor, of Generation Rescue’s “14 Studies“, let’s sort through the nuts …

There’s quite a lot there but well worth a read.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Jun 172010
 

I posted a blog article on “The police fight against cameras” at http://www.metalvortex.com/blog/2010/06/06/398.html.

Famed security expert Bruce Schneier also posts his view “Filming the Police” at http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/06/filming_the_pol.html. He goes on to explain that banning the filming of police makes us all less secure and references an article that he wrote in 2008.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010