Aug 242012
 

The bombshell; this is Lance Armstrong’s statement from 23 August 2012…

AUSTIN, Texas – August 23rd, 2012 – There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.

I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA’s motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.

If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?

From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own 8-year limitation. As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges. The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA’s improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority. And as many others, including USADA’s own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process. USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honor its obligations. At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach. On top of all that, USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today.

The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced. The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It’s an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It’s just not right.

USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.

Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.

I’m still trying to understand what this means. Armstrong backing down? That’s a first. As others have noticed, he doesn’t actually say that he didn’t dope; I feel compelled to read between the lines but I’m afraid that my imagination may let me down and that I may end up speculating beyond reason.

I’m still waiting for the USADA proceedings against Armstrong to take the next step, but it seemed to me that the writing was on the wall a couple of months ago when I first started looking at the USADA allegations. At first I was angry, that there was a witch hunt against a superb athlete and one who had done so much for charity. But the more I looked the more unsettled I became; there was a growing realisation within me, as the evidence began to mount, that there may actually be substance in the allegations against Armstrong. That was difficult to accept, I didn’t want it to be true. But the logical and rational part of me asserted itself. So now I am expecting a day in court (or whatever process the USADA use) where evidence will be formally provided. That day is almost upon us, and I would like to see the formal evidence myself.

If the evidence does show that Armstrong cheated, does that matter? Well, some people are already arguing that doping should be allowed especially as “everyone does it” and that doping is “no big deal”. I beg to differ. Yes, cheaters should be given a fair chance to redeem themselves, to admit what they’ve done, to serve a suitable punishment, to condemn cheating, and to educate others that cheating is immoral. The British athlete Dwain Chambers is a case in point of someone who has rehabilitated himself although some people still refuse to accept him.

However, Armstrong has consistently and ruthlessly gone after anyone who crossed him, ruined some of them, and has continually denied cheating. Well, if Armstrong is found be a cheat then he has likely lost his window of rehabilitation, despite his charity work, and I won’t be able to forgive him; he has burnt too many people. But I suppose it depends on the manner of his confession, his humility, and any restitution done to heal and mend everything that he has destroyed.

So, let the USADA present the evidence and let the chips fall where they may.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

Oct 082010
 

You can decide what kind of person Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is by having a read of Bad Astronomy article The global warming witch hunt continues at:

c_10062010

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Aug 062010
 

Barbarity in India.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Feb 042010
 

Quackery such as homeopathy need to be treated as such; quackery. Endorsement for quackery from the government, NHS or the meddling Royal family need to be challenged. Additionally, silence or inaction can be interpreted as an endorsement for quackery. It is a hard battle fighting nonsense, but we do need to get away from these witch-doctors., to get out of the darkness of backwards thinking and move into the light. I do still find it astonishing that seemingly intelligent persons can delude themselves into believing in such magic. But I expect that this is a result of the recent cultural trends to avoid conflict and not to “offend” anyone; such behaviour soon assigns critical thinking to a dwindling few. What an insane way to live! Everyone should be practiced in the skills of critical thinking as this is the way to cut away the nonsense, the chaff and get to the truth.

But is that the whole picture? No, because there are others out there who gain financially through the promotion of nonsense and quackery. Witness Boots, who continue to sell homeopathic solutions as if these things were real medicine and refuse to acknowledge that all credible trials have evidenced that homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo.

A few months ago, there was the UK Parliament House of Commons Select Committee (Science & Technology) “Evidence Check: Homeopathy”. A YouTube video is here:

 http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=5C1A092C32F5C971

I was disappointed to see Paul Bennett of Boots evading questions and not giving a straight answer. He did eventually admit that he/Boots had seen no evidence that suggested that homeopathy had any effects beyond the placebo effect (although he started to bandy the word “efficacious” around which seems to me to be a deliberate ploy by him to avoid using the word “placebo” whilst discussing the topic of homeopathy because placebos can be “efficacious” ie have an effect within certain confines). But despite his admission, the lack of supporting evidence, he stated that he (or at least Boots) did not believe or disbelieve that homeopathy was a real effect [my words here]. That is a very strange statement from him. He is well aware that all the evidence indicates that homeopathy is a placebo…and such evidence is getting stronger, not weaker. He is obviously afraid of saying it…that Boots sells products that are shown to have no effects beyond the placebo. It was most sad to see Paul trying to get out of this difficult position…he was trying not to lie but at the same time he also had to protect Boots shareholders and probably his job. But you know, he did come out as a nice bloke. Perhaps if this had been a private session without the shackles of Boots, he would have felt freer to express himself.

And then we come to Robert Wilson. In my opinion a most disagreeable person who misled that session. And with his attitude a dangerous person who is culpable for the dangers that homeopathy brings. Let’s be clear…most homeopathy pills (ie sugar pills) in themselves are not dangerous but the entire fabric of homeopathy can delay the diagnoses and treatment of serious illnesses. And as much as Paul Bennett seems like a nice bloke he needs to realise that he also contributes to the falsehoods and witchcraft that Homeopathy brings. That’s why I was disappointed with him.

But what can be done about homeopathy? There was the recent 10:23 campaign at http://www.1023.org.uk/ which should bring some awareness to some people. One particular message at 10:23 that did strike a chord with me was that homeopathy had abused its placebo privileges.

The ever resourceful Quackometer has an interesting article relevant to homeopathy. Check it out at:

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2010/02/dispensing-with-homeopathy-proposal.html

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2010

Blair Witch

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Sep 142009
 

Tony Blair Thanks to http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2009/09/tony-blair-on-faith.html, we see yet more evidence of the warped logic of the ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He’s eagerness to jump into the clutches of the religious, and his condemnation of atheism both indicate that he is a person who has taken a path in which religious dogmas will sustain and prosper his delusions at the expense of critical thinking. He now only hears what he wants to hear.

It’s rather sad as I once admired him. As well as the disappointment that I feel for all his lost potential, I also believe that he is a dangerous individual. He has already condemned atheism. He will soon start talking about carrying out God’s will…the God in this case is that imagined by the superstitions of Roman Catholicism and, despite what religious accommodationists may say, is not compatible with other other religions such as Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. They are not all different paths to some common truth. They are fundamentally different. Blair’s failure to see this is one of his greatest weaknesses and is an indication that there are other things that he does not recognise. He therefore cannot be relied upon and should keep out of the issues afflicting this world. He should sort his own mind out first!

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

In the sack!

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Jul 242009
 

Fantastic! This has already been posted at a number of other blogs recently, and I think that this was originally on the BBC. Dara O’Briain explains, with humour, what he really thinks of pseudo-scientists, preachers of woo woo and other modern witch-doctors. Great line "homeopath horseshit peddler". And "psychics, astrologers and priests" all get the same treatment; I would add acupuncturists in that list too.

 

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Jun 072009
 

skull The are numerous examples at http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html showing why homeopathy is dangerous. And now two parents have been convicted in Australia for causing the death of their child through application of homeopathy. This is a sad story and I felt pain reading about the suffering that the child experienced. I am sure that the parents are suffering too.

Further details can be found at http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/05/homeopathy_kills_a_child.php

The parents obviously believed that homeopathy was real. And that is why I feel passionately that people need to be educated on the falsities and dangers of homeopathy and the other pseudosciences. We don’t need witch doctors.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Jun 042009
 

My view on chiropractic is simple…it has been shown that chiropractic is based on non-scientific ideas, and various studies and trials reinforce that position. In other words, trials indicate that chiropractic is "bogus".spine

The recent situation with Simon Singh has rattled my cage, so to speak, and I have included some links here regarding the current situation…which I see very much as a fight of reason against superstition and nonsense. Much like homeopathy and other pseudosciences, we need to be on the guard against the new witch doctors.

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth – never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key. – Carl Sagan

Simon Singh: principled and brave
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/simon_singh_principled_and_bra.php

The Law Has No Place in Scientific Disputes
http://thinking-is-dangerous.blogspot.com/2009/06/law-has-no-place-in-scientific-disputes.html

Singh the blues
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/03/singh-the-blues/

Simon Singh to Appeal Bogus Decision
http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/06/simon-singh-to-appeal-bogus-decision.html

Simon Singh is appealing!
http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/585-simon-singh-is-appealing.html

Simon Singh to appeal libel decision
http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/simon-singh-to-appeal-libel-decision/

Chiropractic – as modest today as in 1913?
http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/chiropractic-as-modest-today-as-in-1913/

Simon Singh will appeal! Keep the Libel Laws out of Science
http://www.dcscience.net/?p=1630

Silenced, the writer who dared to say chiropractice is bogus
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/silenced-the-writer-who-dared-to-say-chiropractice-is-bogus-1696408.html

Review of libel law called for by comedians
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article6426195.ece

Science writer will appeal libel case ruling
http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090603/full/news.2009.542.html

Singh plans to appeal ruling in libel case
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=406872&c=1

Britain Chills Free Speech
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124406714025182743.html

Chiropractic: a bogus treatment for bedwetting?
http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2009/05/21/chiropractic-a-bogus-treatment-for-bedwetting/

Simon Singh and the Bogus Chiropractic Association
http://www.mediawatchwatch.org.uk/2009/05/19/simon-singh-and-the-bogus-chiropractic-association/

Simon Singh loses first round in chiropractic fight – May 08, 2009
http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/05/simon_singh_loses_first_round.html

Singh Case Update: A Real Pain in the Neck!
http://godknowswhat.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/singh-case-update-a-real-pain-in-the-neck/

How I Really Feel About Chiropractors
http://www.rebuildyourback.com/chiropractic/myopinion.php

Chiropractic Health Care: Science or Religion?
http://www.geocities.com/forbidden_area/chiro.html

ChiroWatch
http://www.chirowatch.com/

free debate

Mar 232009
 

QuackeryThe Quackometer has an interesting article about the financial state of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) humorously known as Ofquack:

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/03/will-government-bail-out-ofquack.html

It shouldn’t have surprised me but, in hindsight it now seems obvious, Ofquack is very much dependent upon fees from particular practitioners of pseudoscience…the dreaded witch-doctors known as homeopaths.

Ofquack is a meaningless entity, regulating meaningless practices. Well, that’s not actually true. Some of these practices are dangerous, and I somehow doubt that this council can regulate these practices…rather the council is all up for actively promoting such nonsense.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Mar 162009
 

Article by Greg Lukianoff over at http://richarddawkins.net/article,3656,n,n

There’s something not quite right within Oklahoma’s legislature. Next thing you know, we’ll be seeing a return to witch-hunts, the Dark Ages, and to ignorance.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009