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January 7, 2012

See more Lola here

Vaccination saves lives (7/1/2012)

Photo of the banner was taken by my friend Phil Kent.

It really does, and that's what the sign said that appeared in the sky as Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network took the stage at Woodford Folk Festival. It was on a banner towed behind a small plane, and its appearance at exactly that time wasn't a coincidence – it had been carefully planned that way. The sign was paid for by a small group of people, a subset of the Stop The AVN Facebook group, and had been kept a well-guarded secret in order to maximise the look of surprise and horror on Ms Dorey's face. To her credit she immediately recovered enough to blame Australian Skeptics Inc for the banner (ASI had nothing to do with it) and then said that it was advertising for her position, although how she equates "Vaccination saves lives" with "Vaccination kills" (her true position) is a mystery to the rest of us.

Ms Dorey had originally been scheduled to give a talk about the link between vaccination and autism. To most thinking people in possession of the facts this would be a very short talk: "There isn't any", but nobody expected this from Ms Dorey. Following much media attention focussed on the Festival and its organisers a compromise was reached and the talk was replaced with a forum, where Ms Dorey would have to share the stage with someone who actually knows something about vaccinations, in this case Professor Andreas Suhrbier from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

OPPOSING VIEWS: Meryl Dorey (left) from the Australian Vaccination Network, an anti-vaccination group, and Prof Andreas Suhrbier from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. Pic: Glenn Barnes Source: The Courier-Mail

I like the fact that in its report, The Courier-Mail described the AVN as an "anti-vaccination group" in its caption to the photo above. At last the media are realising what the AVN stands for – not freedom of speech, not informed choice, but absolute and total opposition to all vaccines.

Professor Suhrbier spoke first and gave the capacity crowd some real facts about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. Then Ms Dorey got up and gave then what everyone expected – the anti-vaccination party line. I have given her PowerPoint slideshow the yellow highlighter treatment (to mark "inaccuracies"), and you can see it by clicking on the picture below. My comments on each slide are included.

Thanks to radio station 4ZZZ in Brisbane, here is a recording of Ms Dorey's talk. I have given the player a yellow background for reasons that should be obvious.

As an aside, I decided that if I am going to continue marking up Ms Dorey's work with my yellow marker I need to speed things up, so I have written to Logitech and asked them to make me a special keyboard with a yellow key just for that task. This could save hours each week.

A bit more about Woodford (7/1/2012)
Episode 4 of the Radio Ratbags podcast has interviews with Chrys Stevenson, who did the lion's share of the PR for the Stop the AVN's Woodford campaign, and Dan Raffaele, founder of Stop the AVN.

Child abuse (7/1/2012)
How would you feel if you heard someone laughing about how they had physically abused a child? How would you feel if you heard someone laughing about how they had sexually abused a child? Once you have considered those, how would you feel if you heard someone laughing about how they had exposed their child to a disease that still kills children around the world and sentences others to lives of pain and disability?

That was a message posted to the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page on November 30, 2011. It was not challenged or criticised by any of the members of the group. You will notice that Ms Elphinstone expresses amusement at the thought of her son getting chicken pox, caught because she "did deliberaltey (sic) expose him". See the "lol"? That means "laughing out loud".

My friend Ken McLeod was so offended by this admission of child abuse that he did what any responsible citizen would do – he contacted the authorities in Western Australia, where Ms Elphinstone runs an online business selling magic potions and nostrums. His first point of contact was the Minister for Child Protection. This would seem to be the logical place. I spoke to a friend of mine who used to do crisis intervention for the NSW Department of Community Services, and she said she would have no hesitation in taking action if someone was deliberately exposing a child to a dangerous disease. It would be treated in exactly the same way as a child in danger of physical or sexual abuse. Apparently things are different in Western Australia, and Ken received a letter saying that this particular form of protection for endangered children was not a concern of the Child Protection Department and the complaint would be flicked to the Health Minister. (You can see the Minister's reply here.)

It seems that deliberately endangering the health of children is no more important to the health authorities in WA than it is to the child protectors. You can see the Health Minister's reply here, but this paragraph bears repeating:

I have been advised by the Western Australian Department of Child Protection that this is not a child protection issue. The WA Department of Health believes that the existing approach of providing the public with accurate information on vaccine preventable diseases is the preferred strategy. Fortunately, people with extreme views on immunisation, such as those attributed to Ms Elphinstone, are in a small minority.

So there you have it. parents can freely abuse their children in Western Australia by putting them at risk of death or permanent injury provided they do the endangering by following an idiotic, anti-vaccination agenda. I assume the authorities aren't so cavalier with parents who refuse to put their children in approved car seats or who give them alcohol or other drugs. I hope that they take things more seriously if Ms Elphinstone decides to treat any serious illness her child acquires by using the useless products she sells off her web site.

How many children have to be put at risk, or be damaged or killed by preventable diseases before the health authorities recognise anti-vaccination campaigners for the dangerous, deluded fools they are and treat them like any other group that defies the rules and conventions of civilised society? I'm not laughing out loud, and neither should anyone else.

How good are those psychcs? (7/1/2012)
Last January I made some psychic predictions for 2011. I decided to compare my predictions with some from professional psychics, and the results ended up in the Yahoo!7 News blog. I think I did rather well, but I don't think I'll take prognostication up as a career. I probably could be very good at it, but there's that conscience thing. Then again, having seen how generally pathetic the competitors were on the television show The One, which was supposed to identify "Australia's top psychic", perhaps I should take it up for a living. There's an enormous vacuum in the expert psychic business and I could use some extra income. Since all we Big Pharma shills have been exposed the money for loving vaccines and hating homeopathy has been a bit scarce.

You can read all about it here.

See more Wumo here

January 14, 2012

That free speech thing (14/1/2012)
Someone once said that the price of free speech is eternal vigilance, and if nobody did then someone should have. Freedom of speech is the fundamental human right, because without it no other rights can be asserted.

Welsh teenager Rhys Morgan was one of the people targeted recently when cancer quack Stansilaw Burzynski tried to shut down criticism of his expensive and useless activities. Rhys has found himself in trouble again because he offended some Muslims by displaying a cartoon from the Jesus and Mo collection on his blog. There were the usual complaints and threats, but what is really worrying is that his school leant on him to remove the "offensive" image from the blog. This had nothing to do with the school, and was purely a private matter. Here is the "offensive" image.

Jesus and Mo

It isn't just Rhys who has come under fire. The Student Union at University College London had a whine about the institution's Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society using the image on their Facebook page to advertise an event. To show solidarity with Rhys and the ASHS, I will publish at least four Jesus and Mo cartoons here during January. And while stupid, easily offended Muslims are waiting they can look at this:

Jesus and Mo
See more Jesus and Mo here

I'm being talked about (14/1/2012)
I'm not allowed to respond to anything posted on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page. This does not stop the denizens of this cesspit from discussing me. This was posted by an anonymous page administrator recently.

AVN talking about me behind my back

Tim Bolen – spokespustuleThe article she (there are hints to the identity of "B52") is referring to is by none other than our old friend Tim Bolen, spokespustule to the quacks. Here is what he had to say about me, with my comments in italics.

(5) Peter Bowditch (Ratbags) – isn't really important in and of himself. On a personal level he isn't much. His activities are those of a minor kiss-up. Professionally, like most pseudo-skeptic leadership, Bowditch is a loser, and doesn't seem to have an income outside of "skepticism."  I have the distinct impression that Bowditch is in love with, and will do anything to impress the character who calls himself James Randi (Zwinge).

Tim's incredible research ability (the same one which has apparently found that almost all of the people who contribute to the Usenet newsgroup are me, addressed by Tim as "poor peter") doesn't seem to have turned up my business web site, although a Google search for my name brings up my personal web site and my LinkedIn entry on the first page of results. My business also has an address which is not a PO box, unlike Tim's. Tim also seems to have difficulty grasping the concept that if someone legally changes their name then the new name is their legal name.

I have met James Randi on three occasions – in Sydney in 2000 and 2010 and Las Vegas in 2004. I am so ashamed of Tim's outing of me that I will not let anyone see the photograph below, taken in Sydney at TamOZ 2010. Please don't look at it.

Randi and me at TAM

Bowditch recently shut down an organization he created years ago called "The Australian Council Against Health Fraud," an affiliation with Stephen Barrett and bobbie baratz,

ACAHF had absolutely nothing to do with either Dr Barrett or Dr Baratz. Tim has this unfortunate habit of making things up to fit with his fantasy view of the universe.

to spend his time working directly with Zwinge, managing the "The Australian Skeptics."

I assume by "Zwinge" Tim means the person with the legal name of James Randi. (It is ironic that Tim likes to be called Tim even though his first name is Patrick and the use of Tim upsets members of his family. Also it is beyond ironic that someone who hides his address behind a PO box should have anything to say about who calls themselves what.)

James Randi has nothing whatever to do with running Australian Skeptics Inc. I'm surprised that someone with Tim's super investigative powers couldn't find the names of the current committee members. (I am one, James Randi is not.)

Bowditch, himself, is not important. He is just one of the, what I call, the Offshore Defamation Locations (ODL). What Bowditch is typical of is the pseudo-skeptic's use of offshore websites to defame individuals in the US, knowing it is almost impossible to sue someone that far away, and in an entirely different court system. The pseudo-skeptics in the US then quote someone like Bowditch, or link to his site, hiding behind (they think) the shield of internet protections against Defamation (Barrett v Rosenthal).

Oh yes, Barrett v Rosenthal, where a court ruled that it is not defamatory to repeat defamation that you read on the Internet even if you know for certain that it is not true. I read on the Internet that Ilena Rosenthal could not make a living as a prostitute in San Diego despite it being a huge naval base even when she offered free samples. Ilena was not happy when I first said this so I referred her to Barrett v Rosenthal. The defamation that she republished was written by none other than Tim Bolen. I read on the Internet that Bolen is in default of state taxes, has several liens out against him for non-payment of debts, has had his business registration cancelled and is a general all-round douchebag. I can say this with impunity because of a court case – Barrett v Rosenthal.

In more irony, Tim apparently thinks that he is immune from defamation action by me because he lives in the US (although he keeps his address a secret) and I am in Australia. The man could not be more pathetic if he tried.

There are quite a few of these Offshore Defamation Locations (ODL). However, it is easy to tie them into the pseudo-skeptic conspiracy, centering them in a US Court jurisdiction.

So sue me, Tim

Couldn't have put it better myself

In other Bolen news ... (14/1/2012)
Here is a statement about cancer from the book The Cure For All Cancers by the late and unlamented cancer quack Hulda Clark.

For many years we have all believed that cancer is different from other diseases. We believed that cancer behaves like a fire, in that you can't stop it once it has started. Therefore, you have to cut it out or radiate it to death or chemically destroy every cancerous cell in the body since it can never become normal again. NOTHING COULD BE MORE WRONG! And we have believed that cancers of different types such as leukemia or breast cancer have different causes. Wrong again!

In this book you will see that all cancers are alike. They are all caused by a parasite. A single parasite! It is the human intestinal fluke. And if you kill this intestinal parasite, the cancer stops immediately. The tissue becomes normal again. In order to get cancer, you must have this parasite.

Here is a statement from the web site of cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski:

Antineoplastons (ANP) are peptides and amino acid derivatives, discovered by Dr. S. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D. in 1967.

Dr. Burzynski first identified naturally occurring peptides in the human body that control cancer growth. He observed that cancer patients typically had deficiency of certain peptides in their blood as compared to healthy individuals. According to Dr. Burzynski, Antineoplastons are components of a biochemical defense system that controls cancer without destroying normal cells.

Chemically, the Antineoplastons include peptides, amino acid derivatives and organic acids. They occur naturally in blood and urine and they are reproduced synthetically for medicinal use. The name of Antineoplastons comes from their functions in controlling neoplastic, or cancerous, cells (anti-neoplastic cells agents).

How do Antineoplastons work?

Antineoplastons act as molecular switches, which turn off life processes in abnormal cells and force them to die through apoptosis (programmed death of a cell). While they trigger the death of cancer cells, they do not inhibit normal cell growth. They specifically target cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

It is generally known that the cancerous process results from increased activity of oncogenes and decreased expression of tumor suppressor genes. Antineoplastons "turn on" tumor suppressor genes and "turn off" oncogenes restoring the proper balance in gene expression.

You don't have to have much command of science, or even the English language, to see that there is no area of overlap or compatibility between these two statements about the cause and cure of cancer, except that both treat all forms of cancer as the same thing.

Now here's the thing. Until her death, Tim Bolen was the spokesman and PR consultant for Hulda Clark, someone he described as a humanitarian who was suppressed and oppressed by the FDA and the orthodoxy. She had the cure. She was right. Everyone else was wrong. She was also his very best friend in the world. Tim has now announced that he is rushing to the defence of Burzynski who is apparently a humanitarian who is suppressed and oppressed by the FDA and the orthodoxy. He has the cure. He is right. Everyone else is wrong.

Do you see the problem? If Clark was right then Burzynski is wrong and vice versa. As we are talking altworld here, though, this doesn't matter. Bolen can go from one to the other without a twitch, as one lie is as good as another. Those of us with working consciences might suffer a little cognitive dissonance making the change, but when you work within a structure, cancer quackery, that is based solely on lies then that problem goes away. The dissonance is replaced by doublespeak, where two mutually exclusive ideas can be held to be true at the same time. The only thing that matters is the money.

Jesus and Mo
See more Jesus and Mo here

Friday the Thirteenth (14/1/2012)
Radio RatbagsYes, it's that time of the year again. The day that is so rare and unlucky that it only happens in 25% of the months this year. To reverse the bad luck I knocked on wood with my lucky rabbit's foot (it's the foot that's lucky, not the three-legged rabbit) and made a special edition of Radio Ratbags.

Someone will be disappointed (14/1/2012)
I received the following email. It refers to someone who used to claim that he could increase breast and penis size using hypnotism. As I said at the time, just saying "I think mine is bigger than yours" isn't enough. I don't think I'll be changing anything around here.

From: Laurie Straub
Subject: from HypBody owner
Date: Wed, 04 Jan 2012 01:05:25 -0500

I just saw that you bashed my site, (Penis and Breast enlargement) 11 yrs ago. Why didn't you contact us and ask about the product?

We were on the Howard Stern Show and had to Prove that our product worked before we were invited to be on. We proved that it worked on Gary--one of the winners of the small penis contest who They sent to work with us.

We also had to Prove that it worked for Blitz (out of Germany) before they did a story on us. The product was also on Dateline, as well as other TV and radio programs.

We were one of the first to do penis enlargement back then. Not many believed that it worked, but at least they tried it and/or talked to me. As far as breast enlargement goes, there were clinical studies out even back then. Now the mind/body connection is much more accepted.

FYI: There was a full money back guarantee if the program did not work on someone. I spoke with many of the clients personally to ensure its success.

It really is not right for you to tear us a new asshole without even checking with me or trying the product. I can certainly get you copies of the shows in which we had to prove ourselves...or get you the program.

I would appreciate it if you would take us off your site.

Thank you,
Laurie Straub

He writes (14/1/2012)
Australasian ScioenceThe January/February edition of Australasian Science magazine is on the newsstands and in subscribers' hands right now. It's full of excellent articles written for a lay audience without assuming that the audience is too dumb to understand science and how it works. The articles cover a wide range, with this issue having stories about the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds, how gene changes might have driven primate evolution, dark matter, bionic eyes and much more. Plus my Naked Skeptic column, which you can read here. Something for everyone.

January 20, 2012

Burzynski gets some bad news (20/1/2012)
Finally someone has decided to confront cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski about his useless, expensive cancer "cure". Here is a story published on January 19, 2012 in Courthouse News. You can read the original here.

Cancer Patient Says Doc Used Her as ATM

HOUSTON (CN) – An elderly cancer patient claims a doctor used his clinics and pharmacy to bilk her of nearly $100,000 by persuading her to undergo a proprietary cancer treatment that "was actually a clinical trial," and charging her $500 per pill for drugs she could buy elsewhere for a fraction of that price.

Lola Quinlan sued Houston-based Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and his companies, The Burzynski Clinic, the Burzynski Research Institute and Southern Family Pharmacy, in Harris County Court.

"Ms. Quinlan is an elderly, stage IV cancer patient living in Florida who defendants swindled out of nearly $100,000.00 by using false and misleading tactics," the complaint states. "Defendants convinced Ms. Quinlan to under a proprietary cancer 'treatment' in Houston, Texas in lieu of traditional chemotherapy and radiation. Specifically, defendants failed to disclose information about the drugs used during the proprietary cancer 'treatment' with the intent to induce Ms. Quinlan into purchasing the drugs at a highly overinflated price."

She claims Burzynski also "provided false and misleading information about 'gene therapy' which allegedly lacked the negative side effects associated with traditional cancer treatments. In reality, the treatments were wholly ineffective and caused even more damage to Ms. Quinlan's body."

She claims that Burzynski and his companies "coerced Ms. Quinlan to purchase certain prescription from Southern Family Pharmacy Inc. at outrageous prices. She was not allowed to fill the prescriptions at any other pharmacy. Southern Family Pharmacy is owned by Stanislaw Burzynski, a fact also not disclosed to Ms. Quinlan."

Quinlan claims the pharmacy charged her $500 per pill, though she did not discover that until her "treatment" ended, and that the pharmacy charged it to her credit card without her knowledge.

The litany of complaints goes on: "The Burzynski defendants pushed a noninvasive yet effective cancer 'treatment' with antineoplastons that would last two to three weeks. The 'treatment' was actually a clinical trial, a fact never disclosed to Ms. Quinlan. The Burzynski defendants billed Ms. Quinlan's insurance carrier for some of the 'treatments,' but never told her a majority of the costs would not be covered by insurance.

"Treatment of cancer with antineoplastons has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, leading cancer researchers have not found any beneficial effects of antineoplastons on cancer patients."

Quinlan says the treatments gave her a host of nasty side effects including "weakness, infections, vomiting, fatigue, mouth sores, dizziness, affected taste buds, joint pain and skin sores."

The complaint continues: "After 'treatment' with defendants with no sign of improvement, Ms. Quinlan sought reputable cancer treatment from M.D. Anderson. She was informed by M.D. Anderson doctors that defendants' 'treatment' prevented them from diagnosing Ms. Quinlan's cancer because defendants' procedures and drugs damaged too much of her internal tissue."

Quinlan seeks punitive damages for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, deceptive trade and conspiracy.

"All defendants conspired to defraud their customers, with an emphasis on defrauding the elderly and cancer patients," the complaint states.

Quinlan is represented by Jason Gibson of Houston.

I don't think this needs any further comment by me. I've known that Burzynski was a crook for more than ten years. I'm just sorry that it has to take theft from an old lady to get this criminal into a courtroom.

You can see the court filing here.

Ms Dorey on the radio (20/1/2012)
Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network, was interviewed on radio station 4BC in Brisbane during the week. The station actually had a real doctor on as well to provide balance, although why any discussion about vaccination needs to have to pretend to balance is a mystery. There is no "other side", and giving an anti-vaccination campaigner air time is like having a Holocaust denier on to provide balance to a story about the history of the Second World War or having a moon hoax believer on to balance a story about planetary exploration.

Here is a transcript of Ms Dorey's interview. It has been given the yellow marker treatment to show "inaccuracies". I hope I got all of them, but I can never be sure.

Why is Australia in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic?

Following is the transcript of an interview on Gary Hardgrave's Drive programme on 4BC (Brisbane), yesterday afternoon, the 18th of January. This is in regards to the current record levels of whooping cough in Australia (and worldwide) and the vilification by the government and medical community who blame the unvaccinated for the outbreak whilst ignoring the evidence that the vaccine is not working and may itself, be the source of the epidemic.

GH: Doctors are fearing a rise in whooping cough, yet we've been immunising people for ages. Just what is going on here? I thought immunising against whooping cough was supposed to prevent it and there's been a mini epidemic in far north Queensland. I don't know much more details than that. I'm wondering if it's within indigenous communities or possibly within newly arrived migrants. I don't know, but others are saying no, it's a pretty broad cross section of our community that have been called out of that. We'll talk about that in some detail in a moment.

We return with this apparent mini epidemic of whooping cough. I had a touch of whooping cough when I was a young acker and I as far as I know was immunised. It is not a nice thing. Australia's gone from having only 332 cases of whooping cough per year in 1991 to having something like 38,000 cases in 2011. That's the claim. 10,000% increase. I thought we were immunising people against this.

The Australian Vaccination Network's Meryl Dorey joins us, Meryl I know you're not a big fan of vaccination, but something's wrong here.

MD: Well something is definitely wrong here. it's not that I'm a fan or not a fan of vaccinations, but I am a fan of using scientific information to say that what We're doing works and it's not a mini epidemic that's happening for whooping cough. We're actually starting the fifth year of a record-breaking number of cases of whooping cough. When the vaccine was introduced in 1953 we had about 180 cases of whooping cough per 100,000 population in Australia and right now, with our vaccination rate going from 0 to 95%, we have 180 cases per 100,000 head of population. So we've actually seen no improvement in the incidence of whooping cough and what's occurring in Australia is what is occurring around the world. Any place that the vaccine is being used We're seeing this huge increase, an absolutely enormous increase in incidence, 10,000% in the last 20 years in Australia and the vaccine may very well be responsible for it. What the medical community is saying is that in the same way that antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria, well over use of the whooping cough vaccine has actually caused a mutation in the bacteria that causes whooping cough and it's no longer in the vaccine.

GH: Yeah so what you're saying really is we need a bit more science to check out what We're actually vaccinating against?

MD: Absolutely. And right now the medical community and the government are using this outbreak of whooping cough to try and get people to vaccinate more but we are vaccinating more than we've ever vaccinated before and it's not having any effect. Like you said – you thought, I thought, everyone thought – that when they vaccinated against whooping cough, it meant that they were protected. But now, even the medical community is saying, "No, you're not protected. It may just mean that you get the disease milder." and I have to tell you that from my research, there isn't any evidence that that's the case either. We are getting more cases of whooping cough than we've had in decades and it's despite a 24% increase in the vaccination rate against whooping cough in Australia in the last 20 years.

GH: But I was vaccinated when I was a kid because I've been born 1953, I was born on January 5th in 1953 if anyone wants to write that down for my 60th birthday, my point being that I had a mild form of whooping cough when I was a kid, it terrified my parents, it was an aweful time they reckon.

MD: Well that's it. And from the statistics we've gotten from the government, it appears that something close to 80% of all cases of whooping cough are occurring in fully vaccinated people so you know, we have a situation where We're getting a huge incidence of disease and We're being told that the only answer is to get more vaccinations, more vaccinations, but we already have so many people vaccinated and the disease is not declining – it's actually increasing. And what the AVN says is that we have about a 95% vaccination rate against whooping cough right now. If the government wants to increase that even higher, and that's a pretty high vaccination rate, a lot of parents that we speak with are very concerned about whether or not giving their children vaccines is going to keep them healthy. And we have been asking, organisations like the AVN around the world have been asking for decades now, for the governments to do the one study that will actually make parents feel more comfortable about giving their children these vaccines and that is a study comparing the overall health of children who are fully vaccinated with children who are completely unvaccinated but that's never been done.

GH: All right, SOMETHING is out there, I appreciate your time.

MD: Thank you.

GH: We'll talk to you again.

M: Thanks a lot.

GH: Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network. They say parents have the right to choose. And I am a great believer in vaccination but I get the point that she's making that I'm very, very interested in because whether or not We're vaccinating against exactly the same thing, or the right thing, that we should be vaccinating against.

January 21, 2012

How insane is too insane? (21/1/2012)
Here is a suggestion from a site promoting homeopathy. It goes beyond the usual uselessness of this form of magic healing and crosses over to doing deliberate harm to anyone foolish enough to take any notice. Sometimes I think that they just make this stuff up to see how far they can go before potential customers start questioning what they are being told. Still, when the light from Saturn can be homeopathically captured I suppose that nothing goes too far.

How do you treat a burn? Almost everyone, if you ask them for the first response required in the treatment of a burn, will tell you, "Put it in cold water!".


In my first year of homoeopathic training a general discussion led the lecturer to describe a treatment for burns. He explained that he had been dining with a friend who had burnt herself and had immediately, to his horror, held the burnt area of her hand in the heat of a candle for a little while. The friend had then explained to him that the normal treatment of using cold water was ineffective, but that the application of heat to a burn meant that it would not blister, and although it did hurt more on the initial application it healed far more quickly and painlessly thereafter. This she demonstrated a little while later when he saw to his amazement that the burned area was not even red and she was experiencing no pain.

His explanation was that left alone a burn, 'burnt', as in the vital force would produce heat. By applying cold water this burning effect was reduced and the vital force had to summon even more heat. If instead we assist the vital force by applying heat the job would be done more quickly.

This is really nothing more than elementary homoeopathy: like cures like 'similar similibus curentur'. And yet some in the group were surprised, and some argued that this would be dangerous with anything other than a very slight burn.

You can read more of this madness here.

Speaking of insanity ... (21/1/2012)
Radio RatbagsThis week's Radio Ratbags episode looks at the idea that at least some anti-vaccination liars are actually insane, rather than just misinformed people with a dangerous agenda or outright quacks out to make a dollar by frightening parents.

Jesus and Mo
See more Jesus and Mo here

Ex-Dr Wakefield receives another award (21/1/2012)
The following article appeared on the web site of Time Magazine this week. It was part of a series headed "Great Science Frauds"

Andrew Wakefield

Wakefield and friends – Photo by Shaun Curry/Getty Images
Photo by Shaun Curry/Getty Images

Do vaccines cause autism? Medical experts say no, but we can thank Wakefield for introducing the doubt that won't die in many parents' minds. In 1998, the gastroenterologist at Royal Free Hospital in London published a study describing a connection between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, after he found evidence of these viruses, presumably from the shot, in the guts of a dozen autistic children, eight of whom developed autism-like symptoms days after receiving their vaccination.

Other scientists could not replicate Wakefield's findings, nor verify a link between the vaccine and autism. In 2010, the journal that published his paper retracted it, and its editors noted that "it was utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false." Later that year, the General Medical Council in the U.K. revoked Wakefield's medical license, citing ethical concerns over how he recruited the patients in the study as well as his failure to disclose that he was a paid consultant to attorneys representing parents who believed their children had been harmed by vaccines.

The final shoe dropped a year later, when another prestigious medical journal concluded that his research was also fraudulent, after evidence that some of the timelines of the children's symptoms were misrepresented.

Wakefield maintains his innocence, and penned a book defending his work and his continued belief in a connection between vaccines and autism. Infectious disease experts and pediatricians, meanwhile, routinely confront conflicted parents who question the safety of vaccines, despite immunization's long-standing record of successfully controlling childhood diseases with relatively few side effects.

You can read the article here.

PhD Comics
See moore PhD Comics here

And another thing (21/1/2012)
During the week someone mentioned how people abducted by aliens always seems to suffer the old anal probing. Just to show that nothing is new, have a careful look at this 1630 etching by Jaques Callot, "The Temptation of Saint Anthony". I saw a copy as part of a wonderful exhibit at the National Gallery in Melbourne once

The Temptation of Saint Anthony – Jaques Callot 1630


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