Posts Tagged Pseudoscience

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 »

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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 »

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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!


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 »

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‘Psychic Detective’ Joe Power Rides Again (And He’s Still Not Psychic, And Still Not A Detective)

Last week I wrote about the Dyfed-Powys Police force and their investigation into the death of Carlos Assaf – an investigation which saw them spend £20k following up supposed tips from a so-called psychic. The affair, as well as causing outrage throughout the country, sparked something of a debate on the use of psychics within police investigations, which then played out across the various news outlets after the BBC’s Donal McIntyre investigated the claims of one particular medium – psychic detective (although not psychic and not a detective) Joe Power.

Regular readers, and regular listeners of me on various podcasts or just ranting tipsily in a pub in fact, will be familiar with Joe Power – he was the Liverpudlian supposed-psychic I met at a book signing way back in June. The meeting, as I’ve spoken about before, was somewhat surreal in it’s content – especially when Joe decided to go on a random and pretty vehement rant whereby he likened skeptics (and specifically my good self) to paedophiles. He’s wrong of course, which I guess shows in that particular case his psychic powers were proven to be bullshit. It was actually that very conversation that led to my becoming a host of a podcast, so I suppose I should thank Joe for that. Cheers, Joe. If anyone wants to read a full account of the encounter, they can check it out elsewhere on the blog – or simply Google Joe Power’s name followed by the word ‘skeptic’ or ‘paedophile’ (I’ll let you guys choose which, but I know which I’d prefer. There’s something satisfying about the idea of a load of people typing ‘Joe Power Paedophile’ into Google. A GoogleBomb, I think it’s called…)  Indeed typing ‘Joe Power’ into Google is a pretty popular way of finding this site – looking at the key words for accessing it, Joe-related phrases come in both 3rd and 5th. So again, cheers Joe.

So, with Joe proving himself to be a distasteful, angry and pretty disgusting man on a personal level (ask him anything about his powers and you’ll see what I mean), it’s a real surprise and a real shame the BBC and other news outlets took him fully at his word on his ability to solve crimes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Woo Or No Woo

MSS Skeptics in the Pub regular and professional gambler AJ drops in to offer his take on superstition and gameshows…

Noel Edmonds. Love him or hate him, or dream about setting about him with a claw hammer; one thing you can’t deny is that he has a beard. An immaculate beard. Let’s be honest, it’s a prize-winner. As could you be if you were to appear on his daily quiz show woo spectacular that is Deal or No Deal.

The format is probably familiar to a lot of people by now – the game starts with twenty two contestants, each with a sealed box in front of them containing an amount ranging between 1p and £250,000 that is unknown to them, or indeed anyone bar the independent adjudicator. Each box is clearly numbered on its exterior from 1 to 22 to identify them. A contestant is chosen to start the game, they bring their box to the front of the stage, give a synopsis of their life story to Noel, who nods and emotes in all the right places and then its seatbelts on and we’re off. Read the rest of this entry »



Psychic Healing? My Dog’s Arse!

The Heart-Shaped Dog Patch. Apparently

The Heart-Shaped Dog Patch. Apparently

Sometimes you come across a story so wildy, stupendously, Earth-shatteringly stupid you wonder what actually passes for journalism in the modern media. I tend to have at least three of those moments a week. But this latest is a real humdinger. I’ll give it to you slow:

“MYSTIFIED medics are trying to get to the bottom of how a dog saved her owner from a heart attack – with her rear end” – Source: The Sunday Express

Already, I can tell you’re interested. The ‘doctors-baffled’ angle is always a winner; the ‘dog saves owner’ format is tried and tested; and then pow! – dog’s arse. Right there, sentence one. If any one of you saw that coming, you should get on the phone to Randi immediately.

To continue:

Stricken Piotr Wagner, 50, collapsed with agonising chest pains as he watched telly at home in Kazimierza Biskupiego, Poland. But when his pooch Pearl – a two-year-old Jack Russell cross – turned a heart-shaped patch on her flanks towards her master, he told doctors he felt the pain melt away.

Medics are baffled by the dog’s apparent healing powers, as reported by the Austrian Times. “He certainly had a heart attack but it seems to have suddenly stopped and he is now healthy and back to normal,” said one.

Piotr said: “I want everyone to know about my big-hearted dog.”

Now, this story is quite clearly ridiculous, so I won’t waste your time with a full, wordy, lengthy debunk. Suffice it so say there’s a couple of reasons this is a) utter nonsense and b) completely un-newsworthy Read the rest of this entry »

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