Nothing Like Political Ads…


…for misleading content.

Marijuana legalization is on the ballot here in Arizona. Not surprisingly, this is generating some pushback. Here’s an ad.

So let’s take some moments here to think about this and similar ads. Always be thinking when it comes to political ads.

For example, in this one it says that money was promised to schools in Colorado, but that “Denver schools got nothing.”

So…did other schools get money? Maybe the schools in Denver didn’t get any, but what about schools in Boulder, or other cities? Maybe they really needed the money, but Denver schools were doing ok.

I saw another one saying that Colorado had the highest rate of teen marijuana use in America. Ok, so if that’s true, what was the level of use among teens before it was legalized? Is the level down, but still very high?

There’s another set of ads airing here in Arizona focusing on the re-election campaign of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I can’t find the ad in question on YouTube, it tells us in breathless detail about how his competitor’s wife had accused him, the competitor, of abuse and gotten a restraining order. The competitor’s guns were taken away, we’re told, and how can we trust such a monster?

Of course what they don’t bother to tell you, but rather put at the bottom of the screen in very small, nearly transparent print, is that the case was dismissed. I don’t know what the details of the case were, but I know it was dismissed, and is therefore irrelevant.

Don’t ever allow yourself to be swayed by a political commercial. Go out there and learn the actual facts. That’s a much  better way to live.

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Oh, Discovery…


Remember when the Discovery Channel was about things sciencey? Yeah, that was some time ago now. It used to be that they had programs about science, but then, as often happens with networks, they moved onto other things, like shows about monsters in garages and monsters in houses and people gathering seafood. They do still have Mythbusters, which is something to their credit, but otherwise? No, Discovery is basically a joke, and their digital cable channels are even worse. True, they have the Science Channel, but everything else is pretty much anti-science, or pseudo-science, and almost all of it is total dreck.

And this leads us into a new show of theirs, Cell Block Psychic. Yes, what could be better than a TV show about a con artist who goes around convincing the families of murder victims that she has magical powers that let her communicate with the dead? Why, if that isn’t science, I don’t know what is!

For more details on this unmitigated crap-fest, click here. Suffice to say that there is nothing, at all, even remotely good about this show. Everyone involved should be ashamed, and this fraud who goes around claiming she has magic powers, should be investigated and shut down; possibly even prosecuted. That’s the only way to stop con artists like her from continuing to bilk a gullible public.

A Total Bastard Gets Convicted of Fraud


So, you know dowsing, right? That’s where you use a stick to detect water. I’m not talking about, say, looking for a green tree in an area of brown grass and concluding there must be water at that location. No, I’m talking about using a stick to point at things until the stick, somehow, tells you that it found water. Because sticks can totally do that.

Good for stickin' it to the Man, but not for bomb detection.

Good for stickin’ it to the Man, but not for bomb detection.

Actually, they can’t. They also can’t detect oil. You know what else they’re useless for? Detecting bombs. Yet somehow some total bastard of a man managed to convince various governments to buy his magic sticks and use them to “detect” explosives. I’m sure this would work if someone poked an explosive with the stick and it went off, but otherwise, not so much. And even that outcome would be of limited use.

People occasionally ask about the kind of harm that belief in the occult, and a wider belief in religion, as well as other things that can’t be scientifically prove, might cause. They say there’s no harm, really, that it’s just a cute, charming little pass time. Well, no, it isn’t. At best they’re fooling themselves into believing something that’s not true. At worse, they’re buying into crap like this. Crap that could get someone killed.

So at least one total bastard is now in all sorts of trouble. Good. That’s one down, with an unknown number to go.

Gavin Menzies: Pseudohistorian and All-Around Liar


Quick test! How do you tell a real historian from a pseudohistorian? A pseudohistorian will almost certainly tell you Atlantis was real!

Zheng He (which, for some reason, is pronounced but not spelled as “Jung Huh”), was by all accounts a pretty impressive fellow. He traveled with a large fleet around the Indian Ocean at a time when that was the major trading area of the world. He charted new lands, increased trade and expanded China’s influence in the world. All this was largely undone later on by an emperor who decided China didn’t need the outside world, but it was still pretty damn impressive.

You will notice, in that Wikipedia article I’ve linked to, that it has a comprehensive list of the journeys he made. No where in there is a visit to the Americas, but according to pseudo-historian Gavin Menzies, that’s exactly what happened. Of course he also claims that Zheng and his crew made it to Italy, and that Atlantis was totally thing (cause, as we all know, there’s no way that Plato could have just made that shit up), so…yeah. Cum grano salis, and all that.

Menzies, who appears in a “History” channel special I am watching as I type this, has been on my annoyance radar for quite a while. He’s published three books so far, and gotten farther and father off the rails each time. Now, to be fair, I haven’t read any of his books, nor do I plan to. I don’t need to read the Book of Mormon to know that Joseph Smith was a liar. I don’t need to read Dianetics to know that L. Ron Hubbard was a money-grubbing scam-artist. I don’t need to read Chariots of the Gods to know that Erik von GermanName is a lying publicity hound. Likewise I don’t need to read Menzies’ books to know that he’s basically making all this crap up to sell books and make money.

With this his first book, he claims that Zheng discovered America, despite there being absolutely no evidence to support this. Oh, he pretends there’s evidence. He claims that there is, for example, a submerged Chinese drydock off the coast of Bimini. It’s something called the Bimini Road, and it’s a neat natural phenomenon. In the special, he dismisses any claims that it is natural, saying that if you asked 100 people what it was, 99 of them would think it’s man-made. Yes, Mr. Menzies, but what if you asked 100 geologists? He offers up a few other things, as evidence, but from what I can tell, they’re all of the Bimini Road level.

The sad part is that in doing this, Menzies’ takes away from the legitimate, actual accomplishments of Zheng He who did indeed do an impressive amount of traveling. The other sad part is that while it is good to look at possible accomplishments of other explorers and people who aren’t European, making up shit does not help the cause at all.

So I guess the take-away from all this is that he’s a lying liarpants and I really should stop expecting real history from History.

Reincarnation – What a Stupid Idea


Sikh and ye shall find.

I spend a lot of time on here picking on Christianity, as well as bashing Judaism and Islam. This is because these religions are the ones I am most familiar with. However I’ve been known to tear other religions a new one from time to time, like I did with Wicca. So I’ve decided it’s time to beat up one of the main tenets of a number of Eastern religions: reincarnation.

For those six people who don’t know, reincarnation is a concept that holds that when people die they are later reborn into new bodies with no memories of their old lives. The idea here is that each time they die the soul knows what happened in the previous life and can make better choices in the new one.

Well, this is just a dumb idea.

For starters simple math precludes this notion. If there’s six-and-a-half billion people on the planet and there were less in the past, where did all the “new” souls come from? Ok, maybe they came from animals, but there’s more of those than there were in the past, too.

Second, what proof is there of this? None. We don’t have any at all. Basically someone sat down one day and made it up. Some people like to say past life regression is proof, but it’s only proof of an active imagination. We don’t even have any proof that souls themselves exist.

Third, how are the mechanics of this supposed to work, exactly? Who decides what you’re born back into? People like to claim that Buddhism isn’t a religion (it totally is), but if that’s the case, who is it that says that, for example, George W will be reborn as a slug?

Fourth, the fact that you don’t remember your previous lives doesn’t really make any sense. If you don’t remember what mistakes you’ve madein previous lives, how are you supposed to apply those lessons to your current life?

Fifth, why is this desirable? I’ll admit, it’s better than going to Hell for all eternity, but come on. An endless cycle of death and rebirth broken only by merging with the Godhead or whatever? No thanks. I’ll stick to oblivion.

This life is the only one you get, folks. There’s absolutely no proof otherwise. None. I don’t care if 99% of the people in the world believe in an afterlife, there’s no proof one exists. Accept that this is the only existence you get and live accordingly. You’ll probably enjoy yourself a lot more. 🙂

Homeopathy: Use Your Dilution


Ripped from xkcd.com!

I have an idea for how to manage your budget. It’s a very simple idea and bound to work. Here’s what you do: take your money and divide it in half. Keep one half and toss the other half into a fire. Then do it again with the half you kept. Repeat this process thirty times. Say that you started with $10,000. After thirty times of this, you’d wind up with 0.00001862 dollars but, here’s the amazing part, your spending power would be through the roof!

Or better yet, say that you wanted to build a bomb. Now a normal explosives-type person would start with, say, 100 lbs of fertilizer and 100 gallons of fuel oil. But, ah! I know a way to make that bomb even more effective. Dilute both of those with water until you have only the merest trace of the explosive, say several parts per trillion. Then you shall have the mightiest bomb in the world!

Oh, here’s the best example of all! Take some sort of beneficial medicine and dilute it with water. Then dilute that water. Then dilute that water. Repeat this thirty or so times until you end up with something that’s 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999% water. At that point you should have one amazingly powerful medicine indeed! Hey, it worked out when Harry Lime did it, right?

All of this is what we get when we do budgeting, explosives and importantly medicine using homeopathic principles. They’re part of what some people call “alternative medicine”, but what I simply call “utter bullshit”.

For those who don’t know, homeopathic “medicine” involves taking something that can be effective and diluting it however many times. Somehow this makes the medicine in question stronger, though I have no idea how that’s supposed to work as anything other than a placebo.

Needless to say, removing most of the active ingredient in some sort of medical treatment is not the best way to make use of said ingredient. That anyone would think otherwise completely astounds me.

What’s even more astounding is that this “medical practice” actually has some credibility within various groups. It’s even been covered by the National Health in the UK, though that may change thanks to some action by people who are actually, you know, doctors and stuff.

You know, I was going to turn this into a big, thousand word rant against homeopathy. I was going to provide a lot of facts and figures backing up the notion that it’s something very stupid that doesn’t actually work. But then I read something from this article in Wikipedia, and I think I’ll just wind up this rant of mine by quoting the passage in question, which I think tells you everything you need to know about homeopathic “medicine”. It gives you some examples of how much of the allegedly beneficial product you get after various levels of dilution.

Critics and advocates of homeopathy alike commonly attempt to illustrate the dilutions involved in homeopathy with analogies. The high dilutions characteristically used are often considered to be the most controversial and implausible aspect of homeopathy.

Hahnemann’s joke: 1 bottle of poison in Lake Geneva

Hahnemann is reported to have joked that a suitable procedure to deal with an epidemic would be to empty a bottle of poison into Lake Geneva, if it could be succussed 60 times.

1 Pinch of salt in the Atlantic Ocean

Another example given by a critic of homeopathy states that a 12C solution is equivalent to a “pinch of salt in both the North and South Atlantic Oceans”, which is approximately correct.

1/3 of a drop in all the waters of the Earth

One third of a drop of some original substance diluted into all the water on earth would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C.

Duck liver 200C in the entire observable Universe

A popular homeopathic treatment for the flu is a 200C dilution of duck liver, marketed under the name Oscillococcinum. As there are only about 10^80 atoms in the entire observable universe, a dilution of one molecule in the observable universe would be about 40C. Oscillococcinum would thus require 10^320 more universes to simply have one molecule in the final substance.

Swimming pool

Another illustration of dilutions used in common homeopathic remedies involves comparing a homeopathic dilution to dissolving the therapeutic substance in a swimming pool. One example, inspired by a problem found in a set of popular algebra textbooks, states that there are on the order of 10^32 molecules of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool and if such a pool were filled with a 15C homeopathic remedy, to have a 63% chance of consuming at least one molecule of the original substance, one would need to swallow 1% of the volume of such a pool, or roughly 25 metric tons of water.

30C: 1 ml in 1,191,016 cubic light years

Yet another illustration: 1 ml of a solution which has gone through a 30C dilution is mathematically equivalent to 1 ml diluted into a cube of water measuring 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 metres per side, which is about 106 light years. Thus, homeopathic remedies of standard potencies contain, almost certainly, only water (or alcohol, as well as sugar and other nontherapeutic ingredients).

I think that sums it up completely. Homeopathic “medicine” is really stupid and just doesn’t work.

The Vaccine Song


Enjoy!