Unemployed? Here’s Training, and a Free Toss to a Job Application!

Unemployed? Need a Job? Fear not! Your financial success is at hand!* You’ll have the opportunity to go on Television and entertain millions of people! The Glitz! The Glamour!

All ye need do is spend 10 minutes watching this engaging educational video to learn the tricks of the trade! You’ll learn to be able to make people feel connected – and they’ll pay you handsomely for it!

* No guarantee of job satisfaction; people with moral integrity need not apply – unless you’re delusional.

Training Video

Watch the following Educational Video about how you can be right 84% of the time without any skill at all! Hosted by Brian Brushwood (From Revision3).


“I’m sensing that the murder victim was a child or possibly an adult, whose name starts with a consonant or possibly a vowel.”

If you want to learn about OTHER tricks of the trade, you can see the entire video here.

Career Opportunities!

With the Training Video out of the way, now you get a job as a psychic!

Get Employed

By far the most preferred route (who wants to deal with the ATO, Credit Card Systems, and supplying TFN’s anyway) for the MILLIONS of GIFTED entrepreneurs get yourself listed on the PSYCHIC DIRECTORY! Just by sticking to the training video, you’ll be 84% accurate!

Where’s that promise about a job application? Well! You can go be a phone operator at PSYCHIC JOBS AUSTRALIA! Just fill out the form, and viola!

You may even feature on Psychic TV!

You could try your hand at..

Stage Shows!

You can perform Live-Psychic Medium Stage Shows at clubs, social events, birthdays – just like a clown! The likes of Mitchell Coomes, Silvia whats-her-name-vulture woman, and John Edwards!

People will turn up to see your performance and ACTUALLY Believe you have paranormal powers! However, to really excel in this field you should take a secondary course in Cold Reading!

Psientific Researcher

That wasn’t a mistake, you can be like retired Victor Zammit – AFTERLIFE RESEARCHER! All you need to do is reject reason and rationality, succumb to a myriad of false presumptions, then embrace the positive energies of logical fallacies!

If you’ve worked in a profession that’s legitimate, you can even make that a reason for people to believe you – regardless of the evidence! A wonderful example of an Appeal to Authority!

Career Development!


It's on again!

The National-wide Search for THE ONE is ON …. again!

The search for “Australia’s Best Psychic” is getting rolled out for a second time. The “reality” show “The One” was first produced in 2008 and judged by psychic Stacey Demarco and sceptic Richard Saunders (from Australian Skeptics and The SkepticZone Podcast).

This years’ show is yet to name a host, but production starts in June!


Not for you?

That’s OK. It’s probably for the best.

As a reward, enjoy this trailer for a new show to be premiered on ABC1 on June 15.

Hosted by Lawrence Leung – UNBELIEVABLE!


SensaSlim Assets Frozen over Bogus research

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has won an order to freeze SensaSlim’s assets after a continuing investigation found evidence of fraud for  the research for their weight-loss spray. SensaSlim, which is allegedly an intercontinental research institute based in Geneva, claimed they had strong weight-loss results from 11,000 voluntary users of its spray.

The ACCC made its first move last week without notice to SensaSlim, effectively freezing the company’s account while it contained $282,000 after it demonstrated strong evidence of fraudulent conduct being engaged in by SensaSlim; including the allegation that the Geneva-based ‘Institute’ that had reportedly conducted the study was fictitious.

Australian newspaper “The Age” questioned SensaSlim about photographs that were allegedly SensaSlim executives – After the discovery that they were in fact medical practitioners at a Minnesota Lung Clinic, and questioning by The Age the photos were later changed.

The ACCC contends that it appears that SensaSlim has perpetrated a calculated fraud and had to date extracted some $6 million for ‘area managership’. As a result, SensaSlim’s were refused their cross-application for release of part of the funds.

Since the action taken by the ACCC against SensaSlim,  The Age has also revealed that law firm Slater and Gordon would also bring legal representation against SensaSlim, which could see SensaSlim facing a $4.2 million class action by more than 70 people for misleading them in to buying a franchise to sell the bogus “weight-loss” product.

A Brief Timeline

A more in-depth look at this time line is viewable at the Victorian Skeptics website.

September 2010

  • SensaSlim is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

January 2011

  • The CRP receives an anonymous complaint about SensaSlim.

March 2011

  • The CRP meets to consider the anonymous complaint lodged about SensaSlim. The determination is not favourable, but the CRP gives more time for SensaSlim to respond despite their attempts to contact them and subsequently does not publish their determination.
  • Dr Ken Harvey lodges a complaint with the CRP about SensaSlim.
  • The CRP publishes their determination on the anonymous complaint on their website. Within one hour the determination is removed from the CRP website after receiving representations from SensaSlim claiming that they had not received an invitation to respond to the allegations.
  • The CRP decides to withdraw the determination and give SensaSlim more time to respond.
  • SensaSlim demands that Dr. Harvey makes no further comment against them and threatens legal action.

April 2011

  • The Supreme Court of New South Wales acknowledges receipt of a Statement of Claim by SensaSlim Australia Pty Ltd against Dr. Harvey.
  • The CRP sets aside making determination on the Dr Ken Harvey complaint against SensaSlim as the CRP is unable to make determinations for products if there is current legal action.
  • A recent newsletter from SensaSlim to its distributors discusses the legal action against Dr Harvey:

Peter O’Brien didn’t accept such a fate but together with his lawyers found a way to defend the company. This defamation action, which could be in the courts for a year or two or even longer, basically gives an iron clad protection that nobody can raise a complaint against SensaSlim to the CRP and hurt us.

The Streisand Effect

The recent scrutiny of the company stems from a Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. SLAPP‘s are intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost and time of a legal defence until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Because of the SLAPP, SensaSlim has invoked “The Streisand Effect“, so named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence (amongst 12,000 other residences) and sue the aerial photographer inadvertently generated further publicity – and as a result 420,000 more people visited the website.

A notable occurrence of libel abuse was in 2008 by the British Chiropractic Association against Simon Singh who criticising their activities in a column in The Guardian. The result was a filing of formal complaints of false advertising against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24 hour period, with one national chiropractic organisation ordering its members to take down their websites; and in April 2010, Simon Singh won his court appeal for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment. Two weeks later the BCA officially withdrew its lawsuit, ending the case.

While initially, SensaSlim had sanctions imposed against them after an anonymous report about their product,  recent legal representations by SensaSlim and against Dr. Ken Harvey to gain their product more shelf time have led to further investigations – and a lot of negative publicity.

Instead of accepting their demise for their fraud, SensaSlims’ insistence has now led to further scrutiny, their assets frozen, and legal action against them. It is likely they will lose more than they have made.

Australian Skeptics are taking pledges of financial support for Dr. Harvey, should that need arise. The latest information is made available at Australian Skeptics.

I highly recommend reading.

Reproductive Health in the Philippines

The Philippines has had the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill in the news for quite some time now. While the majority who read this will NOT be in the Philippines, you may at least have an understanding of the issues after reading this – But, for those who are in the Philippines, and for those that are against it – I implore you to at least read the document for yourself; take some time to think about it; read it again – and reconsider your stance.

RHBill.org put together their top 10 reasons for passing the bill (the full text here):

  1. Protect the health & lives of mothers
  2. Save babies
  3. Respond to the majority who want smaller families
  4. Promote equity for poor families
  5. Prevent induced abortions
  6. Support and deploy more public midwives, nurses and doctors
  7. Guarantee funding for & equal access to health facilities
  8. Give accurate & positive sexuality education to young people
  9. Reduce cancer deaths
  10. Save money that can be used for even more social spending

RH BillYou can read it (15th Congress – House Bill 4244 (full text, final consolidated RH bill, HB 4244) here, broken down in easy to manage sections.

While there is general agreement about its provisions on maternal and child health, there is great debate on its key proposal that the Filipino taxpayer and the private sector will fund and undertake widespread distribution of family planning devices such as birth control pills (BCPs) and IUDs, as the Philippines government continues to disseminate information on their use through all health care centers. (wikipedia)

The stated purpose of the RH Bill, according to the Explanatory Note, is that population of the Philippines makes it “the 12th most populous nation in the world today”, that the Filipino women’s fertility rate is “at the upper bracket of 206 countries.” It states that studies and surveys “show that the Filipinos are responsive to having smaller-sized families through free choice of family planning methods.” It also refers to studies which “show that rapid population growth exacerbates poverty while poverty spawns rapid population growth.” And so it aims for improved quality of life through a “consistent and coherent national population policy.” (wikipedia)

With reason, and rationality, the Philippines can advance towards being a prosperous nation; one that is sincere in its approach to the health and well-being of its citizens. But, it takes informed citizens to make good choices about what they support; hopefully this helps.

More can be found from FilipinoFreethinkers.org under the RH Bill Tag, which includes:

Lying for a Cause” – covering some of the vehement propaganda used to scare Filipinos in to voting against the RH Bill;

Fudging Numbers” – A look at the false representation of numbers by Anti-RH Groups ;

Accusation of black propaganda boomerangs on CBCP” – A look at an announcement that was posted on Facebook, asking pro-RH Catholics to avoid receiving Communion until they have confessed their sin of being pro-RH Catholics.

Aljazeera features RH debates in the Philippines — again” – A brief look at Media Coverage of the RH Bill, and it’s 16 year delay; and

Women’s Day: 11 more women will die today” – A look at how Eleven women die each day from maternal complications; when most do not even want to get pregnant, and from those who do, certainly have no wish to die while giving life.

The Government is Lying about Vaccines again! .. or not.

A commenter on this mother-based website’s article noted that she didn’t care for information that comes from the Government, or from any of its arms.

It seems she won’t accept the data, not on the basis on the accuracy of the data – she doesn’t care if it’s right or wrong. Apparently, it’s automatically wrong BECAUSE it’s from the government:

Reduced symptoms & Increased Mortality Rate vs Reduced Mortality Rate: A hard choice, apparently

What I’d be interested in is just where she, and others like her are getting their “facts” from?

The concept is quite odd, given that Governments are generally the only one in a position to gather the rich data sets – and it’s often quite easy for someone to say “Government” and disassociate the idea of a collective from the vast number of people that work towards the running on a country – many of which would need to be implicated in such a conspiracy.

Most, if not all private institutions don’t have the capacity to gather statistical information as rich as the government can – so, on what reliable, statistically significant DATA is she acting upon? I suggest none.

It’s cynicism.

I suppose, like all conspiracy theorists – there are only two options available when they refuse to believe that others are correct. Either everyone is wrong, or everyone is lying. It’s often too far fetched for them to believe that they themselves could EVER be wrong – and it’s that kind of willful ignorance that gets people infected, and killed.

So, kudos to the parents who vaccinate! – It’s sensible, rational, and responsible.

A Dummies Guide to The Rapture


For those that aren’t aware, The 2011 End-Times Prediction made by Christian radio host Harold Camping states that the “Rapture” (in premillennial theology, the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will take place on May 21, 2011 at 6 p.m. YOUR LOCAL TIME (the rapture will sweep the globe time zone by time zone) and that the end of the world as we know it will take place five months later on October 21, 2011.

Camping, president of the Family Radio Christian network, claims the Bible as his source and says May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment “beyond the shadow of a doubt”. His followers claim that around 200 million people (out of everyone who has ever lived) will be raptured.

Astonishingly, I found out that were advertisements in Australia for this exact same event! While I didn’t get a picture at the time, it looks quite similar to this:

May 21st - RAPTURE

Awesome Skeptic & Atheist BastardSheep was able to provide “A Dummies Guide to “The Rapture”.” quite quickly over Twitter:

Starts off at Kiritimati (GMT+12) at 6pm their local time, then rolls around the world striking each location at 6pm.

The steps are:

1. chosen will ascend.

2. earthquakes globally.

3. earthquakes will open the earth and everyone who has died ever (including those fully decomposed) will rise again.

4. chosen zombies (ie, those who were raised from the dead and are also chosen) will ascend.

5. unchosen zombies will die out and “litter the land”.

6. hellfire on earth for 5 months.

7. Life goes on until end of world/universe on October 21.

Bastard Sheep notes that those who are “Chosen” get to enjoy zombies in Heaven FOREVER, while those on Earth only have to put up with it till they die off.

And there you have it, all you need to know! You’ve got less than 12 hours folks! 😉

Should I mention his last prediction was for 1994? …

Gravity Probe B scores an end-of-year ‘F’, but scores an ‘A’ in the exam!

Back in May 2008 a New Scientist article outlined a NASA Review that almost meant the end for Gravity Probe B, a project conceived in the 1960s to measure how the Earth warps the fabric of nearby space-time, and if it did indeed do so.

Imagine space-time as a large piece of fabric. If you imagine a ball placed on that fabric, this can be thought of as the geodetic effect – the fabric bending around the ball.

Now, consider the ball as being slightly-sticky. If you spin that ball, the fabric will be “dragged” along with the ball, this twisting of the space-time can be considered “Frame-Dragging“.

Einstein theorized that because our Sun warps the space-time surrounding it, the objects around it travel in a curved line (a circle). It is this theory that explains why Earth orbits the Sun. This distortion was first measured in 1919 by Sir Arthur Eddington (and his collaborators) during a total solar eclipse as they noted the position of stars passing near the Sun, but no one has ever measured this effect for the Earth.

Enter Gravity Probe B.

GP-B had two goals:

  1. Demonstrate that Earth has the hypothesized geodetic effect: The warping of Space & Time around a gravitational body; and
  2. Demonstrate the amount of Frame-Dragging caused by the Earth: The amount a spinning object pulls space and time with it as it rotates

Gravity probe B’s total cost was around US$750 million and was another project that almost never was because of dwindling funding for scientific investigation. Back in 2008, 15 experts commissioned by NASA doubted further analysis of the GP-B results would produce any significant new information, and as such they recommended that Gravity Probe B receive no additional funding after September 2008.

Despite this, GP-B secured alternative funding from King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology. Thanks to that funding, the Stanford-based analysis group and NASA announced on May 4, 2011 that the data from GP-B confirmed the two predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

NASA’s Gravity Probe B (GP-B) mission has confirmed two key predictions derived from Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which the spacecraft was designed to test. The experiment, launched in 2004, used four ultra-precise gyroscopes to measure the hypothesized geodetic effect, the warping of space and time around a gravitational body, and frame-dragging, the amount a spinning object pulls space and time with it as it rotates. GP-B determined both effects with unprecedented precision by pointing at a single star, IM Pegasi, while in a polar orbit around Earth.
NASA’s GP-B Mission Page

It may not seem like much up front, but this concludes one of the longest-running projects operated by NASA, and as a result of decades of research has led to many technological marvels.

GP-B awesome array of groundbreaking technologies were applied to NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer mission, which accurately determined the universe’s background radiation – The measurement that is the underpinning of the big-bang theory, and led to the Nobel Prize for NASA physicist John Mather.

Additionally, Gravity Probe B has led to advancements in Control Technologies:

  • Aerodynamic Drag
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Thermal Variations
  • and GPS Technologies allowing planes to land unaided.

A Christian, A Muslim, and an apparently Immoral Atheist…

This morning featured a very unproductive “discussion” with both a Christian and Muslim this morning regarding the evidence of a Yahweh-based God, in which it ultimately ended in a stonewall against logic and reason, a denial of science-based evidence only when it comes to “God”,  and the staunch view that focused two main statements – And I quote:

“We’re better than you because you’re an Atheist”


“You should read more of the Bible, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Both sentiments were specifically from the mouth of the “Atheists don’t have Morals” Christian, where as the Muslim was – until interrupted by the Christian, open to discussing the topic civilly, albeit with liberal use of erroneous logic and reasoning.

I reasonably suggested and advised said Christian that the Bible was written by Men, open to corruption by Men, and contained a number of passages that, if he wanted to pursue the “The bible is infallible” argument, are contradicting and was of questionable content. Pointing out, that if The Holy Bible were divinely inspired by God, there would be no mistakes. As there are clearly contradictions, it must be acknowledged that his would be attributed to Man’s “tinkering”, But then — on what basis can one investigate the legitimacy of each claim? How does one know what is “divinely inspired” and what isn’t?

No answer.

I brought to his attention that Deuteronomy 25:11-12 stated along the lines of:

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

I suggest that he surely he didn’t believe that was appropriate! But what could he believe? Was this God saying he must cut off a womans’ hand? Or was it Man? How did he know the difference? To no surprise, he ignored the question and said “Atheists are why we have wars in the world today. The Bible Predicted it! It’s all happening as it says in The Bible! It’s a Fact!”

Hey, who was I to argue with such strident and unsupported remarks about confirmation bias and the horrendously poor method of “The Bible Code”. Oh wait! A Skeptic! However, a True Believer is not interested in stupid things like “Reason” or “Logic”, rather they are only interested in information that supports their worldview.

I moved on and asked what about raped virgins? Does he believe that the Bible should be followed in accordance with Deuteronomy 22:28-29?

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Not surprisingly he no answer to the question and simply offered more rhetoric that atheists have no moral compass and “you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

I then asked how, if the Bible is infallible, that three separate accounts of the same event – the birth of Jesus Christ, could be so horribly misaligned.

Again, no answer.

Instead, he went on a tangent and insisted that Democracy was the work of the Christians; he was very adamant that this was a “fact”. I’d be interested to know what sources he wants to cite to support this claim, given that the notion is factually incorrect – Alas, none were offered. It should be noted that democracy was suggested to have existed in non-literate tribal societies – long before Christianity.

Why politics was brought up, I’m not quite sure, but it seemed like he felt he was making a logical point about something – though it did not make any sense as to what exactly that point was.

This actually reminds me of an excellent 2-hour video featuring Harris and Craig:


So, rather than take a page out of the close-minded Christian who denies evidence and refuses to use logic and reason as a means to argue his case effectively, I will look more at the Bible, and just what things are advocated in this “Holy” book of violence, slavery, sexism, and historical inaccuracies.

First of, in Deuteronomy 2:7, 8:2, 29:5 –  It took the Israelites 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, yet such a journey, even at that time, would have taken no more than a few weeks.

Secondly, in Deuteronomy 18:10-12, it is quite clear on occult practices. Yet, this doesn’t stop MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY people claiming to have seen OMENS from “God”, or who render the services of a someone who “consults the dead”!

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,  or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.

A couple of run-through quotes.

Stone Rapists – Oh, and the victim, even she was too scared to scream:

If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her,  you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
Deuteronomy 22:23-24

Sexism in the bible:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
1 Timothy 2:12


Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22

Yahweh Instructed Genocide:

This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
1 Samuel 15:3

Witchhunting – yet many Christians choose not to follow this apart of the Bible. Selective much?

Do not allow a sorceress to live.
Exodus 22:18


Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
Psalm 137:9

The Ill-treatment of women:

So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.”
Judges 19:25-28

Human Sacrifice:

Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.
Genesis 22:2


Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.
1 Peter 2:18

And, finally we have an interesting act of rape and violence, and of justice being sought in Genesis:34

  1. A girl gets raped. (Not good.)
  2. But, the rapist loves her. (He’s still a rapist.)
  3. The Rapists’ father tries to smooth things over with a mass wedding to merge the two tribes. (Not the logical thing to do)
  4. The girl’s father lies to get all the males in the rapists’ tribe to cut off their foreskin. (To set them up)
  5. While the males are sore, the girl’s brothers slaughter every male and raid their stuff and their daughters. (There’s the revenge)
  6. And the brothers’ sum it up basically telling their father “Ain’t no body gonna treat our sister like a ho!”

Name that Fallacy: The “Dr. Oz” Edition!

First of all, it’s apparent from asking friends of mine, not many know who Dr. Oz is — So if you want to know – Google him. 😀

That being said, Steven Novella from the SGU Podcast (and of course the Neurologica Blog) was invited on to his show recently. And what WAS the video being from that show on YouTube was removed due to Copyright Violations.

And so, I will post what I completed as my draft when I WAS going to play “Name that Fallacy!”


00:00-00:15 – Fallacy of Presupposition

The Introduction comprises of rhetoric that includes “Why your doctor is afraid about Alternative Health!”. This is a Fallacy of presupposition as it is not proven, or agreed to that Doctors are afraid of “Alternative Health”.

Additionally, Dr. Oz asks Dr. Novella a question, which he answers. Right after Dr. Oz answers, the introduction cuts to a scene where two women are nodding. To me, they appear much more surprised than what I would expect given Dr. Oz’s statement – So, what I am suggesting that the clip was not an actual reaction to Dr. Oz’s disagreement, but to a different statement all together.

02:27 – False Attribution

“You’ve Shown You’re not Afraid..” – The audience’s opinion – the public in general – is irrelevant; The General Public is not qualified, nor an authority on Alternative Medicine, or Medicine.

02:28 – Appeal to Antiquity

“Time honoured Traditions of Alternative Medicine” – Asserting that Alternative Health is correct because it was long held to be true.

02:37 – Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Gender

In practice rather than rhetoric, the very fact that Dr. Novella is juxtaposed against a FEMALE Cardiologist who uses Alternative-Medicine will appeal to the emotion to some women. Dr. Novella will be portrayed as oppressive – As is a common notion in this segment. I’m giving it the name of “Appeal to Gender”.

03:55 – Fallacy of Composition / Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well / False Analogy

Dr. Guarneri stated that “And certainly, I don’t think today we could call Nutrition, Alternative Medicine; or Exercise, Alternative Medicine”. By phrasing her argument in this way, Dr. Guarneri invites the audience to commit a circumstantial Ad Hominem on anyone who considers Nutrition or Exercise Alternative Medicine. However, this is largely irrelevant — because it is a false analogy.

Neither Nutrition or Exercise are considered Alternative Medicine. However, two of the other modalities she mentioned are – Acupuncture, and Prayer.

So, what does Dr. Oz say: “Well, that was a pretty compelling argument”.

Seriously?! – That wasn’t an argument at all, Dr. Oz. Dr. Guarneri made a statement about her job, said she suggested Alternative Therapies to her patients, and implied Dr. Novella thought that Nutrition and Exercise was Alternative Medicine.

If anything, I should be adding a Fallacy of Composition to her list, as it is fairly evident that she believes that because most of the advice she passes to her patients is, hopefully, is good & evidence-based advice, that ALL advice she gives is good & evidence-based advice – Actually, I will.

04:52 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Pragmatic Wishful Thinking

Dr. Oz makes it clear why he uses Alternative Medicine:

“it gives folks, my patients, me – a customized tool, that I can use, that benefits me.”

It is crystal that Dr. Oz uses Alternative Medicines on the basis that he, and his patients BELIEVE they gain something from a “customized tool”, not that they ARE gaining efficacious results from doing so.

07:13 – Straw Man

Dr. Oz responds to Dr. Novella with “I totally disagree  – that these have not been studied, and some evidence found to support them”.

This was not the position of Dr. Novella.

Dr. Novella make it clear that his opinion was with the evidence, and that the evidence demonstrated through research (studies, trials, etc) that many oral Alternative Medicines do not work for the ailments they are commonly suggested use.

07:30 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Motive.

Dr. Oz changes the topic from evidence of Oral Alternative Medicines towards what he considers to be the “bigger” problem Doctors have with Alternative Medicine. The way Dr. Oz frames the statement implies that doctors feel they do not have complete control over their patients healthcare and therefore is this is their motive for being against Alternative Medicine.

10:28 Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Dr. Guarneri concludes via Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc that because her patients used Acupuncture and reported feeling better that acupuncture needles were causal in her patients’ relief.

10:40 – Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well

Dr. Guarneri completes her statement that Poisons the Well “That’s the Hippocratic Oath”. Again, anyone opposing her viewpoint is implied to not agree with this statement where this is not necessarily the case.

10:42 – Oz Just being an Ass.

I found it unnecessary for Dr. Oz to pass the commentary on to Dr. Novella, only to AGAIN interrupt his response.

11: – Strawman

Dr. Oz (never got to finish due to removal of video)

11:45 – False Attribution

Chinese Medicine (never got to finish due to removal of video)

12:00 – Strawman

“Can’t Possibly Work” (never got to finish due to removal of video, though from memory Steve Novella gives an awesome fallacy-smackdown to Dr. Oz, making the point that he DID NOT SAY that alternative medicines CAN’T POSSIBLY WORK, and continued pointing out that he said he had carefully reviewed the evidence.)

14:10 Ad Hominem

Dismissive (never got to finish due to removal of video)







Vaccinations, The Flu, and You.

Winter is on it’s way, and with it the encouragement for the public to get Flu Vaccinations. Many higher-risk public-sector workplaces are offering the service free to their staff, such as Public Transport Services and Hospitals.

Importantly, everyone should have a clear understanding of Herd Immunity. I found as video that demonstrated it well, although the introduction is a bit boring as it has more to do with the USA rather than Australia. The video can be found here at a previous post.

Sydney’s Northern Beaches recently experienced the effects of a reduction in Vaccination rates (The Manly Daily), which I wrote about at the time. It’s a topic that needs to be frequently covered, as anti-vaccination propaganda that gets passed around eventually finds someone who will take it as fact.

It’s worth nothing that some anti-vaccination websites promote “natural” immunisation methods .. such as simply allowing your children to get sick; sometimes herd immunity or germ theory was rejected all together, usually both, and more often than not they dismiss any documentation without reading it. Anti-science rhetoric is common.

Let’s look at some of the common themes of Anti-Vaccination Groups:

Ingredient Misinformation

Ingredients are generally the first “line of attack” for Anti-Vax proponents. The information they give ABOUT their claims is generally factually incorrect and is often recited verbatim without any fact-checking performed. It is because these concepts are so ingrained it is often difficult to demonstrate through evidence that their knowledge is incorrect.

Anti-Freeze – FALSE!

The “antifreeze” error comes from a misunderstanding of the ethylene chemical compounds – all that is ethylene is not antifreeze.

Formaldehyde – TRUE!

Vaccines utilize formaldehyde that is identical to the substance found naturally in our bodies as a metabolic byproduct of methanol. It is commonly excreted in our urine as waste or converted into formalin.

Formaldehyde in our bodies = H2CO (natural)
Formaldehyde in vaccines = H2CO (synthetic)

Formaldehyde has other uses and is changed to be used in conjunction with other synthetic chemical compounds. These compounds, solutions, gasses, or resins can be, and often are, toxic.

Formaldehyde in embalming fluid = H2CO+CH3OH+CH3CH2OH+solvents
Formaldehyde in plywood = H2CO+NH2CONH2+CH3OH+HCOOH+H2O

Thimerosal – Depends! (On which Vaccine)

Thimerosal is a preservative that is used in the manufacturing process of some vaccines and other medicines to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which could otherwise cause illness or injury.

Most anti-vaxers will claim that the amount of mercury that used to be in vaccine exceeded EPA exposure guidelines. However, Thimerosal metabolises into ethylmercury, not methylmercury. The guidelines are specifically for methylmercury, as ethylmercury has a half-life of only a few days to about a week, thus is not considered dangerous enough to regulate. You will literally get more exposure to mercury from a 6oz tin of Tuna.

In addition, Thimerosal has not be used in the MMR vaccine since 2002 and was removed due to political pressure as part of a recommendation, not a regulation. Despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, resulting in exposure levels lower than anytime in the past, autism rates have not declined, suggesting that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism.

Baby Foetuses – False!

This was simply scare-campaigning and not true in the slightest.

Aluminium – True!

Vaccines contain aluminum in a salt form. Anti-vaxers claim this is toxic, and some will cite that 4ppm will cause blood to coagulate. However, individuals are not exposed to such amounts of aluminum in a single vaccination visit. Below are the vaccines containing aluminum, with the corresponding parts per million (ppm) for an infant (~251 mL of blood in the body) and an 80lb. child (~4000 mL of blood); note the two numbers for DTaP represent extreme ranges of aluminum content.:

ppm (w/v) = (weight in grams of sample/volume of sample in mL) * 106
Vaccine ppm in infant ppm in child age received (in months)
DTaP (170mcg) .677 .043 2, 4, 6, w/ final ~4-6 yrs
DTaP(625mcg) 2.490 .156
Hep A .996 .063 12 w/ final ~6 mo. later
Hep B .996 .063 birth, 1 or 2, final at 6+
HiB .896 .056 2, 4
HPV .896 .056 11 or 12 yrs., then 2, 6 mo.
Pediatrix 3.386 .213 2, 4, 6 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and Hep B)
Pentacel 1.315 .083 2, 4, 6, 15-18 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and HiB)
Pneumococcus .498 .031 2, 4, 6, 12-15

Safety and Effectiveness

Measles, United States 1950-2001

After false claims about ingredients, the argument often falls towards Safety and Effectiveness. Essentially stemming from a lack of knowledge in statistics – specifically, gathering, analysis, and interpretation.

Statistically, the information from numerous data-sets demonstrates that vaccines are, in fact, effective in reducing the incidence rate of infection.

Improved socioeconomic conditions have undoubtedly had an indirect impact on disease. Better nutrition, the development of antibiotics and other treatments have increased survival rates among the sick; less crowded living conditions have reduced disease transmission; and lower birth rates have decreased the number of susceptible household contacts — all factors accounted for.

The only suspected issues Vaccines occur if a child has a rare, hereditary, mitochondrial disorder that pre-disposes them to a reaction – and even for this, the supporting information is not currently conclusive, nor strong. There is a test available that checks for this disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Interestingly, the published speculation about a link between Vaccines and Autism was made specifically about the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine; this information was lated investigated and found to have been manufactured by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues.

The Paper was initially published in the respected medical journal The Lancet but later retracted after an investigation found Dr. Wakefield had several ethics breaches, including failure to disclose financial compensation from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR cause their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.

On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield was found guilty of professional misconduct and should be erased from the Medical Register in the U.K. (meaning that his license to practice medicine in the U.K. has been revoked).

And again, to date, no rigorous, controlled study has shown a causal link between vaccines and autism.

Vaccines are injected into the bloodstream  – False!

This claim stems from a lack of knowledge about anatomy, specifically – the lymphatic system. Vaccines are either injected subcutaneously, injected intramuscularly, given by mouth, or squirted up the nose.

Since subcutaneous and intramuscular vaccines are injected directly into the body, and antigens and other components are taken into the bloodstream via the lymphatic system (in order to spur antibody production through hyperstimulation of the Th2/humoral response) without passing through our ordinary immune defences.

At this point, no vaccines are recommended for injection into your bloodstream via the intravenous method. The CDC Pinkbook includes a Vaccine Administration section (Appendix D Page 5), which demonstrates the correct route of administration for each vaccine.

Conspiracy Theories

By the time Anti-Vax proponents get to this stage they have already exhausted their Ingredient & Efficacy arguments; arguments that are subsequently used  time and time again, despite being proven to be false. Usually, it is clear by this point that they have these beliefs because they have been personally affected by some infection, serious disease, or death and are looking for Agency. (Something/someone to blame).

Generally, it starts with the allegation that “Big Pharma” is poisoning your children, or you. The “evidence” cited is often not evidence at all, rather it is rife with innuendo and references to “consumerism”, or “corporate america”.  The claim involves everyone from manufacturers, governments, regulators, and health professionals.

Most challenges are met with ad hominem attacks of “You’re a Big Pharma Shill”, or claims you’re part cover-up of the information.

Ironic, given the names of some of these “informed choice” advocates. One, calling themselves the “Australian Vaccination Network” or AVN was ordered by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission to clearly identify themselves as Anti-Vaccination based on the information that the AVN was:

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

I am willing to make it clear that there are justified concerns with Big Pharma. However, the allegation of a deliberate attack on the public isn’t supported by anything; most importantly, the statistics. It is purely a tactic – a Red Herring – something to take the argument towards how “terrible and greedy” pharmaceutical companies are, as if that was enough to proven that vaccines were dangerous.

Regardless of the conspiracies, the statistics demonstrate vaccinations work.

Additionally, Anna Kata in the Department of Anthropology of McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario released a paper, A postmodern Pandora’s box: Anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet set out to examine and analyze antivaccination websites. In which she analysed information contained in Eight-Antivaccination sites, selected through Google searches that were used to identify the highest-ranked anti-vaccine sites using typical search strategies.

Her paper can be found here: http://resources.cpha.ca/CCIAP/data/1700e.pdf


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