Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Energy Myths

From Forbes, Five U.S. Electricity Myths DeBunked
  • Myth 1: Wind and Solar Will Displace Coal
  • Myth #2: Fossil Fuels Get More “Subsidies” Than Renewables
  • Myth #3: Americans Will be Using Less Electricity
  • Myth #4: Only Renewable Energy Systems are Evolving
  • Myth #5: Europe is the Example to Follow

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where Has Global Warming Gone?

Ka-Kit Tung, a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a Professor of Applied Mathematics, and an adjunct professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington writes,
For the last quarter of the twentieth century, the average temperature at the surface of the earth edged inexorably upward. Then, to the surprise even of scientists, it stopped. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere continued to rise; indeed, it is higher today than it has been for centuries. And yet, for the last 15 years, according to the conventional way of measuring global warming, the planet does not seem to have become any hotter.
It is significant because NO ONE expected the pause and NO ONE can explain what has happened.  It means all the computer models forecasting global warming alarms are wrong.  It does not mean that climate change is not going to happen.  It does mean that climate change is NOT SETTLED science, contrary what the "alarmists" try deceptively to promote.

Author of Dsicredited Research Paper Resigns

     In January 30, 2014, Haruko Obokata, a stem-cell biologist at RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, caused a sensation when she reported in Nature the artificial creation of Stem cells. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7485/full/nature12968.html .
     In July the article was later retracted when critical flaws when discovered in her work.
     A few weeks later, one of the paper’s co-authors, Yoshiki Sasai, took his own life..
     On December 19'th Obokata resigned her position at RIKEN.
We at Nature have considered what lessons we can derive from these flaws. When figures often involve many panels, panels duplicated between figures may, in practice, be impossible for journals to police routinely without disproportionate editorial effort. By contrast, image manipulation is easier to detect. Our policies have always discouraged inappropriate manipulation. However, our approach to policing it was never to do more than to check a small proportion of accepted papers. We are now reviewing our practices to increase such checking greatly, and we will announce our policies when the review is completed.

No claims have been made that the authors of these paper intentionally manipulated data to achieve the desired result, but the errors resulted from sloppy procedures.  This is an another example how the scientific method is self-correcting.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"MOHR" or maybe "MOORE" About Christmas

. . On December 24,1818 the most popular Christmas carol of all time was performed by its author Father Joseph Mohr at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach river. It has been declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011.
. . On December 23, 1823 a poem was first published anonymously as a "A Visit from St. Nicholas", also known as "The Night Before Christmas" and " '​Twas the Night Before Christmas" from its first line was written by Clement Clarke Moore . It has been called "the best-known verses ever written by an American" and provided some of the early conceptions of Santa Claus . Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Christmas Myth

     It's that time of the year when Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus, although it is generally understood by non-children (and those who do not think like children) that Jesus was not born on December 25'th and most likely not in Bethlehem. Both his birth date and birth place are lost to history.  Furthermore, there are those who argue that Jesus was a myth.
With relentless advances in fields like archeology, linguistics, forensics, and pattern analysis, most scholars, including mainstream Christian theologians, have come to agree that the Jesus stories in the Bible are woven through with legend. Over the last 200 years more than a few have devoted their life’s work to trying to excavate the “historical Jesus” behind the myths.
Was there a man behind the myths? Most scholars say yes. Bart Ehrman has done as much as anyone to make modern biblical scholarship accessible and interesting to ordinary people. In his 2012 book, Did Jesus Exist?, he comes down firmly with the majority:
As I have repeatedly noted, most scholars in both the United States and Europe over the past century have been convinced that Jesus is best understood as a Jewish apocalyptic preacher who anticipated that God was soon to intervene in history to overthrow the powers of evil now controlling this world in order to bring in a new order. . . . establishing a rule of peace and justice here on earth, sometime, Jesus thought, within his own generation.
We particularly like the way Valerie Tarico, author of the above referenced article, concludes her post
My friend understands the Jesus she seeks to be a matter of hope, not history. The power of her Jesus comes not from whatever tentative facts scholars can glimpse in the fog of history, but from yearnings of the human spirit that are as relevant today as they were in the Ancient Near East. Perhaps the centuries of desperately seeking Jesus are best thought of as a quest to find and define ourselves. Perhaps that is enough.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tech Service Scam

We are frequently requested to repair both corporate and private computers that have been infected with malware.  In the last three years the most prevalent problem has been the "Tech Service" Scam.  It is where some alarm appears on a computer that warns that it is infected and to call a certain tech service company with assistant to remove the infection.  Surprisingly, sometimes these warnings arrive by a telephone call from people claiming to be from an ISP or from Microsoft.  The warnings often are so dire that the "pigeon" reacts without thinking.
     The Anti-Malware Company that produces free and subscription Malwarebytes discussed this risk in greater detail in their post Beware of US-based Tech Support Scams found here

Friday, December 19, 2014

The 97% Fallacy

"Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”
So it is alleged that Barack Obama tweeted.
The only problem is -- that statement is not true.  It propaganda; a pure fabrication.
"The '97% consensus' article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country [UK] that the energy minister should cite it."

- Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia (UEA)
The following link lists of 97 articles that refutes a poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed "consensus" study. The fact that anyone continues to bring up such soundly debunked nonsense is an embarrassment to science.

Study Shows Dr Mehmet Oz is Not Credible

In an earlier post we warning about claims made by Dr Mehmet Oz.  Now a study by British Medical Journal confirms our claim.
We could find at least a case study or better evidence to support 54% (95% confidence interval 47% to 62%) of the 160 recommendations (80 from each show). For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%. For recommendations in The Doctors, evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%. Believable or somewhat believable evidence supported 33% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 53% on The Doctors. On average, The Dr Oz Show had 12 recommendations per episode and The Doctors 11. The most common recommendation category on The Dr Oz Show was dietary advice (39%) and on The Doctors was to consult a healthcare provider (18%). A specific benefit was described for 43% and 41% of the recommendations made on the shows respectively. The magnitude of benefit was described for 17% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 11% on The Doctors. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest accompanied 0.4% of recommendations.

Annoyed by Cell Phones? Jam Them

     Florida man, Jason Humphreys allegedly used a jamming device in his car to prevent commuters from using their phone behind the wheel.  This vigilante might deserve an award since using a cell phone while driving is a major cause of traffic accidents, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was not amused.  They slapped him with a $48,000 fine for using the device for two years.  It seems that using a cell phone jammer is a against the law.
    In fact it is against the law even to advertise to sell these devices in the U.S. as CTS Technologies found out.

The FCC has file a $34.9 Million dollar fine on this company for selling 285 units.

Fake Peer-Review and Fake Scientific Papers

Detective work at Scientific America has discover papers submitted to prestigious scientific journals with research that either was never done or referenced reviews that never happened.  The trail led to "paper mills" in China where those interested generating a list for themselves of articles published in peer-reviewed journals can buy "fill in the blanks" research. 
The price depends, in part, on the impact factor of the target journal and whether the paper is experimental or meta-analytic. In this case, the MedChina rep offered authorship of a meta-analysis linking a protein to papillary thyroid cancer slated to be published in a journal with an impact factor of 3.353. The cost: 93,000 RMB—about $15,000.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Medical Insecurity

CSO Online put together a slideshow with 9 data security breaches that cost someone their job.  More than half were healthcare related.  Suspect that is understated participation.  Most doctors and medical offices have jumped into put huge amounts of medical info online with line to no security instruction. http://goo.gl/P9CXi0

Lima Climate Meeting Ends with Promises and No Commitments

Only pledges were made in the Global Warming Talks in the 2014 Lima meeting. Nothing prevents any of the participating countries offering to reduce CO2 emissions from failing to keep any promise. Shame would be the only punishment.

Policy Riders in Budget Bill Block Enviro Actions

A lot of 11th-hour mandates in the $1 Trillion Budget Bill will affect environmental policy. The EPA got its smallest budget since 1989 - $60 million less than last year's $8.1 Billion. The NIH kept its current budget and received increases in funds for Alzheimer’s and Ebola research. DARPA received a 3.4% increase. And NASA received $500 million more than it initially requested.

The Bill include policy riders that
1) The EPA cannot use funds to
    - Require farmers to report greenhouse gas emissions from “manure management systems,” although agriculture is a major source of atmospheric methane.
    - Regulate farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act.
    - Require farmers to obtain permits for gas emissions from cow belches and farts, which the EPA says is a major source of methane.
2) Obama may not honor his pledge to give $3 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund.
3) USDA must speed up permits for companies developing GMOs, like disease-resistant rice and soybeans.
4) U.S.’s export credit agency must reverse a previous ban on building overseas coal-fired power plants and loan construction funds to companies.
5) DOE cannot develop and enforce new standards for more energy-efficient lightbulbs.
6) DOT cannot fund most of its current light-rail projects.​


Wednesday, December 17, 2014


The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise. A leading researcher on the psychology of human wrongness sets us straight.


     Chemical imbalances are known to effect our mental state such as in the case of depression and bipolar disorders.  It is certainly reasonable to expect that the reverse is true. Thoughts do increase stress levels which negatively effect health. A recent article in Scientific American, Changing Our DNA through Mind Control? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/changing-our-dna-through-mind-control/?WT.mc_id=SA_MB_20141217 suggests meditating cancer patients are able to affect the makeup of their DNA.
     This might explain some of the effects seen in the placebo effect or the claims "energy medicine."

Confabulation and History

     It called confabulation.  That is where so-called remember facts about an observation get modified by subsequent events.  It is a well confirmed human experience.  In his December 17, 2014 issue of eSkeptic, Michael Shermer explores the impact that confabulation has played in eyewitness testimony in Ferguson.  http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/14-12-17/
     He quotes world-renowned memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, in her 1991 book Witness for the Defense—a critical analysis of eyewitness testimony:
As new bits and pieces of information are added into long-term memory, the old memories are removed,replaced, crumpled up, or shoved into corners. Memories don’t just fade…they also grow. What fades is the initial perception, the actual experience of the events. But every time we recall an event, we must reconstruct the memory, and with each recollection the memory may be changed. Truth and reality, when seen through the filter of our memories, are not objective facts but subjective,interpretative realities.
     It is highly likely that such confabulation has played significant role in subsequent report of miracles and paranormal claims especially when such memories have had two of three generations to percolate and be passed hearsay by word of mouth.  There is little doubt that much of the emotion that surrounded the Ferguson riots was a response to eyewitness reports of actions that never happened or reports by people exaggerating their roles.
    Before trying to explain so-called miracles of faith, one needs to confirm that the event occurred as being reported or in some cases actually even occurred at all.  It is more reason why "extraordinary claims require extraordinary (and independent and unbiased) evidence.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Are Healing Codes Credible

     We tried to identify where Alexander Loyd received a Ph.D. and N.D.  So far, after having gone through pages of internet searches, no success.  We were, however, amazed at the almost universal positive support he has been receiving.  In the case of quack procedures usually there are reports that identify the claims for what they are.  We are also trying to be careful not to let our non-supportive opinions bias our analysis and seek credible reviewers.
     Therese Borchard is a popular writer on mental disorders, especially on depression.  With Loyd's wife's depression being the primary impetus for his work in "healing codes," she seems to be a good match for a skeptical review.  She states in her blog post on Beliefnet.com 
I’ll take a pass on buying into the Healing Code as the potential answer to all my health problems, which, I humbly admit, are substantial: A pituitary tumor, thyroid growths, Raynaud’s phenomenon, aortic valve regurgitation, and bipolar disorder.
She adds,
I cringe at simple instructions like the following [see her post] , because whenever — in my disordered history — I’ve turned to easy answers, it almost cost me my life:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Alex Loyd and Healing Codes

     A reader of this blog has directed us to "Cancer Cure" and "Healing Cure" promoter Alex Loyd of Leipers Fork, Tennessee. It is reported that he has a PhD in Psychology and a Naturopathic Doctorate, which we have yet to verify.
     According to the website http://www.naturopathic.org/ , naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. Their role is to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.
      Naturopathic physicians work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. This website also states qualified naturopathic physicians are licensed health-care practitioners.
     On first blush, naturopathic medicine sounds a lot like "energy medicine" which has no basis in science-based medicine, but we have a lot of research to do on this topic and are interested in hearing experience that readers may have had with Dr Alex Loyd, other than the promotion that is plastered all over the internet.

Comments from a retired physician about claims of Loyd

Promoter of Quack "Energy Medicine"

     Energy medicine (aka energy therapy, energy healing, spiritual healing) is a form of alternative medicine professing that a practitioner can channel healing energy into a patient. Recent reviews have concluded that there is no evidence supporting clinical efficacy. Furthermore, there is no valid theoretical basis for such healing.
    That has nevertheless discouraged otherwise notable spokesmen, such as Dr Mehmet Oz, from advocating this form of pseudo-medicine. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=8450292 . It is hardly his only attempt to misguide the populace.
     During a Senate hearing on consumer protection, Senator Claire McCaskill stated that by airing segments on ineffective weight loss products that Oz perpetuated scams. She, like us, was concerned that he was offering medical information in a way that harms consumers. Mary Engle of the Federal Trade Commission criticized Oz for calling green coffee extract "magic" and a "miracle", stating that it is difficult for consumers to listen to their inner voices when products are praised by hosts they trust. The FTC filed a complaint accusing promoter Applied Food Sciences of false advertisement.
     The James Randi Educational Foundation has awarded Oz with their Pigasus Award, an award intended "to expose parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds that Randi has noted over the previous year." Oz has been given this award on three separate occasions, more than any other recipient:
  • In 2009 for the promotion of energy therapies such as Reiki.
  • In 2010 for support of faith healing and psychic communication with the dead, among other controversial practices. Oz became the first person to receive a Pigasus Award two years in a row.
  • In 2012, Oz won "The Pigasus Award for Refusal to Face Reality" for his continued promotion of "quack medical practices, paranormal belief, and pseudoscience".
For further info on OZ and Energy Medicine check out posts on Science-Based Medicine such as http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/dr-oz-revisited/