Posts Tagged Pseudoscience

The Boy Who Might Be Magnetic (Or, More Likely, Definitely Isn’t)

Reports in multiple sources at the moment, from the Guardian to CBS, have been telling the tale of a young boy in with what’s said to be an unusual talent.

Taking up the story from CBS:

“Six-year-old Ivan Stoiljkovic appears to be able to attract metal to his chest – including silverware, coins and even a frying pan.

His family says Ivan possesses extraordinary strength and even healing powers.”

“It started as a joke,” said his grandmother. “I said, let’s try this and things just stuck to him. The heavier things actually stuck more strongly to him.”

In total, his family says Ivan can carry up to 55 pounds of metal on his torso.

His upper body appears to be more magnetic and his family says his wounds heal very quickly and leave no scars.

Family members told Reuters that Ivan also has “healing hands” with which he alleviates his grandfather’s stomach pains and has soothed the pain of a neighbor who hurt his leg in a tractor accident.”

The story comes complete with a video of Ivan demonstrating his talents:

Avid magnetic-child-watchers may have heard this tale before, and indeed this isn’t the first time a child from Eastern Europe has been heralded as possessing extraordinary magnetic powers. In fact, just this February a seven year old Serbian boy called Bogdan was filmed demonstrating his own extraordinary skills. Read the rest of this entry »

, ,

3 Comments

Scientologists* Are Criminals! (*I Mean The Ones Already In Prison, Obviously)

Scientologists are criminals.

Don’t worry, that’s not a wild assertion made to martyr myself as the next cause célèbre of the libel reform campaign (although that’s not a bad idea – I mean who’d heard of the Simon Singh fella before he pointed out the happily bogus claims of the BCA? That’s right: nobody. And now look at him – front page of the BBC, on every skeptical podcast going, and standingly-ovated every time he leaves the house. I think the only way, therefore, to get big in the world of skepticism is now libel martyrdom. Fuck it – Dereck Acorah eats babies and Rupert Murdoch is a first-class cunt).

Anyway, as I was saying, scientologists ARE criminals. Or, at least, some of them are – according to the cult themselves. In fact, more scientologists are criminals than we previously thought, if the cult is to be believed (which, of course, it probably isn’t – because lots of scientologists are criminals, as I say).

I’ll explain, or rather, I’ll let the Telegraph explain:

Scientology ‘has branch in every English prison’

Scientology has obtained a foothold in every prison in England and Wales, a spokesman for the religion claims, despite official figures which show only three prisoners acknowledge following the religion.

Essentially, the crazy cult (who were convicted of activities listed as ‘fraud in an organised gang’ in France last year) have been targeting prisoners across England and Wales, in an attempt to help them see the error of their ways, go straight, expunge their thetons, audit their woes and generally do all that fun scientological stuff that keeps Tom Cruise bouncing on couches and keeps the creepy, sinister smile on Tommy Davis’ face. You see, their organisation has an entire programme dedicated to the rehabilitation of lags (does anybody other than The Sun use the word lag? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used. Other than, you know, jet lag – but I think that’s a different context. Is someone who gets jailed for hijacking planes is known as a jet lag? I’d like to think so). Read the rest of this entry »

, , , ,

2 Comments

Dowsing For Danger: Is The ADE651 Still On The Market?

A little while ago, our good friend and past guest speaker Trystan Swale covered the ADE651 – the so-called bomb detector that didn’t, well, detect bombs. The story had been widely reported, with prominent skeptic Bruce Hood working with the BBC to expose the inefficacy of the devices, culminating in the arrest of ATSC CEO Jim McCormick. James Randi, of course, had long since identified the ADE651 as little more than a dowsing device, having slapped the $1million challenge on the table if McCormick were able to prove him wrong – an offer which was, unsurprisingly, refused.

All this is well-known, and can be found in greater detail elsewhere on the web, so I won’t bore you by re-hashing the details. However, there is something I can add to the story – we here at the MSS were recently contacted by a journalist wanting to know a little more about the device, specifically if it’s still on sale. Always happy to oblige, I got to doing a bit of digging, and having found – unsurprisingly – the ATSC’s website down ‘for repair’ (I can only assume it’s the company’s morals that are undergoing repair), I was kindly pointed in the direction of the online trade outlet ecplaza, and specifically the page for the ATSC ADE 651.

Well, what better way to find out if this disgraced and disproven device is still on sale, than to call up the manufacturers directly? Luckily enough, ecplaza lists the phone number for the sales department of WooBombDetectorsRUs as +44 207 681 2036… which is a number out of service. Presumably, the phone lines are also down for repair. Still, on the page there’s this lovely, shiny, inviting orange box titled ‘Inquire Now’… so I did. Presumably, I thought, if the website is down and the CEO under investigation for fraud, then the email enquiries would either bounce back an auto-reply saying ‘this device is no longer on sale’ (or word to that effect), or it would simply disappear into a black hole.

As it turns out, I was wrong Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

7 Comments

Mature Couple Seek Strangers To ‘Wand’ (Timewasters Need Not Apply)

The Amega Wand - not a sex toy

The Amega Wand - not a sex toy

As we all know, there are few things more scientifically-robust than a good ‘It cured me!’ anecdote. They’re well known to be ineffable when it comes to such amazing healing modalities as homeopathy, chiropractic, reiki, transcendental meditation, ear candles, colonic irrigation and all that other good stuff. They’re like the gold standard, when it comes to woo. Which is why my eyes lit up when one of our Skeptics in the Pub attendees alerted me to this story in his local paper:

Great Sankey couple invite people to try wand in bid to cure aches and pains

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and no – they don’t mean THAT kind of wand. Get your mind out of the gutters, we have skepticism to do.

A FORMER snooker champion believes his rheumatism from years of bending down over tables has been cured after his son introduced him to a wand which has been growing in popularity across America.

Robert Quinn, originally of Stockton Heath but now retired and living in North Wales, suffered rheumatism pain for 30 years and shingles for three years but since using the Amega product says that he has not felt any sort of ache.

Robert, aged 77, said: “I will try anything so when my son said about giving it a go to see if it would help I thought ‘why not?’ “We had a successful snooker and billiards team but I’ve been in a lot of pain since then.

“My wife is much more sceptical than me but it cured the pain in her arm which has been troubling her for years.”

There we go – not one anecdote, but two. This wand must be super good. I for one always like to take at face value testimony of a 77 year old man who admits he’ll try anything. Wait, we might be heading back to THAT kind of wand again. Read the rest of this entry »

, , ,

8 Comments

The Healing Powers of Ringtones

Japan has a reputation for originating new and pointless technological novelties, and its latest youth fad doesn’t disappoint.

The youth of Japan are apparently currently obsessed with a new selection of ringtones created by a company called the Japan Ringing Tone Laboratory. This isn’t another ‘Crazy Frog’ though.  If it was, I would have shot myself rather than write this post. No, it’s something altogether more interesting, although just as moronic. These ringtones are “therapeutic ringtones”. Yes, forget acupuncture, hypnotherapy or the pleasures of a good sit down: simply play the ringtone on your phone and all your cares and health troubles will float away down the winding river of easy cures, along with your wallet and your self respect. Only in Japan. Well, for now. Read the rest of this entry »

, ,

3 Comments

Evidence Check Evidence Check (or; What The Papers Say)

Over the last couple of weeks, the Commons Committee on Science and Technology held a couple of their “evidence check” sessions, looking at homeopathy.  Sessions such as this are held to examine whether there is evidence to support government policy.

The oral hearings take the form of witnesses with relevant backgrounds being quizzed by committee members.  Witnesses for the first of these sessions included the legendary Ben Goldacre, Edzard Ernst from the University of Exeter, and Tracey Brown from the charity Sense About Science.  Speakers in favour of homeopathy included Paul Bennett from Boots, Peter Fisher from the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, and Robert Wilson from the British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers.

The big thing that came out of this hearing, from a rhetorical point of view, was the admission by Paul Bennett that Boots did not believe homeopathy to be effective – but they sell it anyway because of consumer demand.  This lead to us here at Merseyside Skeptics drafting An Open Letter to Alliance Boots, calling upon them to withdraw the product.  If you haven’t done so already, or even if you have, please check out the letter.  Digg it, tweet it, repost it, write about it.  Help up make some noise!

Ahem.

The pro-homeopathy witnesses, when challenged, mentioned a number of studies which they claimed supported the idea that homeopathy has strong effects beyond placebo.  So I thought I’d look up a few of the studies mentioned and see what those studies actually say.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , ,

11 Comments