Facebook


It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a naturally skeptical person such as myself, when hanging around on Facebook, tends to become somewhat unpopular with their friends. This is because it is simply in our nature to feel obliged to point out hoodwinkery when it is being deployed and propagated. And on Facebook, that’s a daily occurrence.

Seriously, I just can’t help it. It’s in my blood.

Today, we are going to dissect one such incident, and attempt to determine why it bugs me so.

If you are a frequenter of Facebook, you cannot have failed to have been inundated over the last few weeks with pictures of the so-called ‘blood moon’ (a phenomenon which used to be simply called an ‘eclipse’). The blood moon gets a shitload of mileage on Facebook whenever it occurs, with people sharing-on dozens of photographs of it, occasionally even without the anguished wails of imminent apocalypse.

The following image is one such example which drifted through my feed, with a caption that read something like “A beautiful photo of last night’s blood moon!”

Except that this is not ‘a beautiful photo’ of any such thing – you can immediately see that it’s fake. You can see that, right? Not only is it fake, it’s a particularly poor fake. In this age of incredible powers of photo manipulation, there is no excuse for such a major fail, and even less excuse for anyone to fall for it. But SO many people did fall for it (it was shared some five thousand times off the link that came to me, with comments that were almost universally in the manner of: “WOW, that is so beautiful. God is amazing!”),(i) that I feel compelled to record here, for all to witness, a forensic deconstruction of this image.

I want to say from the outset that you don’t need any photo manipulation skillz to see some of the things wrong with this picture. All you need is to have actually taken the time to observe how things look in real life. First of all – and MOST egregiously – the moon is sitting so low that it appears to be in front of the horizon. It’s entirely unnatural looking. We can make that easier to discern by racking up the image’s midrange values:

You can clearly see that the very defined lower edge of the moon is sitting a little in front of the far edge of the ocean. This enhanced image also shows you another thing: except for a little fuzziness around the moon, the luminance values of the sky are exactly uniform, right across the image. This screams fakery. That kind of thing never happens in photos of real skies. It tells you that there was something else there, and that the person who manipulated the image took it out and replaced it with fill. It also explains why the overall image is so dark – it’s much easier to hide that kind of trick if you crush the black areas right down.

Aside from this hocus-pocus, the moon in this image just looks wrong. It is way too round. If the moon was really that close to the horizon, it wouldn’t look anything like that – it would appear distorted and squashed, due to its light travelling obliquely through the atmosphere. The moon we see here is a moon that should be high in the sky, away from atmospheric refraction.

Another indicator that something funny is afoot is that to get a moon to appear to be that big on a horizon, you need to use a very long lens. A very long lens and an image taken by moonlight means a very shallow depth of field. We know that the DoF is not shallow, though, because the waves in the foreground are in focus.

That creates something of a paradox; if the image was taken on a long lens, the waves would be out of focus. If it was shot on a wide lens, then the moon would be tiny in shot. A single photograph simply can’t have both.

Also, because there is very little movement blur on the waves, and they are backlit (as opposed to a flash from the front) they give us another clue: the exposure is quite short and that means the shot was therefore most likely taken in reasonably bright light. Sunlight, for example. In other words, the moon does not belong to the same image as the bottom part of this photo. It’s just been amateurishly glued on.

For an experiment, let’s take that cropped image of the waves and do a reverse image search… hmmm… lots of shots of the blood moon photo and then, after a few pages of results, a hit on a page on a photo aggregator called Scoopers, containing this:

Well, what a surprise! I believe that is a fairly resounding QED. I suspect also that the ‘blood’ moon used in the shot is also just a normal moon with the colour altered, but, even though there are ways we could examine that hypothesis, it’s entirely unnecessary so I won’t bother. The supposed ‘blood moon’ photograph is, I think you will all agree, a complete phony.

But why does this bother me so much? Well, the thing is, it’s just another example of the insipid crap that pollutes the reality of the world. It’s the Photoshop version of religion; a thing that’s completely fabricated in order to create the illusion of wonder, when in fact it’s entirely superfluous because reality is MUCH MORE WONDERFUL. Here, take a look at some actual photos of last week’s blood moon:

Some very talented and dedicated photographers got you those images, and they are real, and they are WAY better than the miserable cut & paste of some lame hack. Mr or Ms Hack’s efforts dilute the value of proper creative people. And they get away with it – and are even rewarded for it – because of the credulity of the undiscerning.

When I pointed out, to the friend who posted the image, that it was fake, her reply was ‘Well, it’s a nice picture anyway.’ NO IT’S NOT. It’s a crummy, ham-fisted Frankenstein’s-monster-of-a-picture. Someone spent five minutes on it while waiting for midget porn clips to load. It belongs in a folder called ‘Failed Experiments’ on a fifth-grader’s computer. It’s too lousy to feature on a peeling poster on a tar-stained wall in a Chinese brothel. This is the 21st century, people. If you’re going to fake an image, there is no excuse to be less competent than a 1950s Russian propagandist.

In the next TCA post, we will examine another of these cheap pieces of social buffoonery. And one that involves science, so you can really expect we’ll have fun with it. Stay tuned.

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Footnotes:

  1. That’s an actual comment []

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Over the last few days, the following interview with comedian Russell Brand has been doing the rounds on Facebook. I’ve lost count of how how many people have posted and reposted it, mostly with the addition of a ‘Yeah, right on brother!’ sentiment. I recommend you watch it to get the flavour of what’s happening here, before I chuck in my two cents.

Before I start, I will first proffer a disclaimer: I didn’t really know much about Russell Brand until recently. My awareness of him was limited to that of seeing him do a few bit parts in films and as the voice of Dr Nefario in Despicable Me. But I do read the Guardian frequently, and New Statesman sometimes, and I started to see articles by him pop up now and then. He’s an excellent and intelligent writer, with a clearly better-than-average knowledge of politics and social economics. And yes, he’s pretty funny too. So I have a reasonable amount of respect for him, all things considered.

But the video above really annoyed me. Or, I guess what really annoyed me was the way it has been waved around on the internet as if this man is demonstrating some level of profundity in it.

Now I know some of the people who I’m criticizing for doing this might well be reading right now, so I just ask you to set aside your ire for a minute (because I know you are undoubtedly angry with me right now and champing to kick my bollocks in the comments) and hear me out.

Mr Brand is colourful and voluble in the interview with Jeremy Paxton, but if you actually take the time to think about what he’s saying, it’s actually nothing at all. Worse than that, he says things that are counter productive and possibly even stupid.

He is plainly unhappy with the way things are in politics and in our world. There’s really nothing to add to that sentiment: so am I. Brand gestures and shouts and pontificates with righteous indignation, but he actually says nothing more than ‘things are fucked and we should fix them‘. He stops short of suggestion a revolution (and Paxman prods him on it, because that’s what Paxman gets paid to do) but focally, offers not even the faintest whiff of any idea for a solution to this situation. Worse, when Paxman takes him up on this, he bails (in my view extraordinarily pathetically) by claiming that it’s not his job to offer solutions because he’s just an entertainer.(i) Just prior to this, he tells us that he doesn’t vote, and exhorts all those who are disenfranchised to do the same.

I can’t tell you how much this infuriates me. Anyone can say there’s a problem. This a NO BRAINER. Just as I pointed out on my piece on the Occupy Movement over a year back, a great many people (myself included) are unhappy that things are broken. But I said it then, and I say it again: spitting the dummy is not the way forward. Just as millions of people watched the Occupy [Wherever] demonstrations on tv and raised their fists in solidarity, a similar gesture here in support of Mr Brand is entirely without any utility at all. And just as the Occupy Movement has come to absolutely no productive outcome (as I predicted it would), so Russell Brand’s colourful invective-fuelled pantomime is sound and fury signifying nothing.

What takes me to a level of even greater frustration is that apparently if I voice any of the disagreements I just have, then I am somehow on the side of the status quo. In other words, because I say Russell Brand makes no sense in this particular instance,(ii) suddenly I am a right wing corporate arse-kisser. Or something. Why does there need to be this extreme polarisation? I’m a moderately smart person – shouldn’t I be able to offer a thoughtful analysis?

The very worst thing for me, though, is that the urging people not to vote thing is just profoundly wrong. If you have the right to vote, then you should use it. Not voting at all is plain stupidity.

I ran through this idea in that previously-mentioned article about #occupy, but I’ll paraphrase the pertinent points again:

1. If you think there should be a revolution, then you should also have the acumen to realise that you need to define the outcome of that revolution and how you are going to make that outcome work better than the current regime, otherwise you’re just looking at a great big clusterfuck in which the disenchanted plonk their arses neatly onto the warm seats of the recently beheaded (tell me that hasn’t happened in almost every angry revolution that’s ever been). So good luck with that – wrangling that problem has been grist for the social philosopher’s mill for the last four millennia at least. Brand has written elsewhere of what he thinks such a system should embody, but not how it could ever be achieved. Once again, his ideas are admirable (peace, love and everbody respect your neighbour), but it seriously does not take any skill to come up with admirable hopes.(iii)

2. Democracy is the best solution we humans have been able to come up with so far(iv) in several millennia and when it works, it creates the best possible outcome for the largest number of people. The problem with democracy is that it’s at its most effective if everyone involved is actually involved. And educated. As I’ve said many times before, a dumb democracy is only as effective as the smartest people on the highest part of the bell curve. If you have a badly educated democracy, then wily, smart, wealthy people will quickly find ways to control it, and that, my friends, is pretty much where we stand.

Russell Brand says that by voting, you are complicit in the system, and in the status quo. Well, of course you are. That’s what democracy is. By not voting, though you are simply copping out of the problem, unless you have some better idea – and let’s be clear here: a revolution is seriously not a better idea. What seems to me to be shockingly obvious here is that there IS a way to fix things, but few people want to acknowledge it: you vote out the status quo. If you’re unhappy, vote the fuckers out. You can do it – vote for anyone except the major entrenched parties. In pretty much all major democratic elections of the last half century, there has always been an option that presented a better and more people-centric outcome than the party that got elected – but not enough people voted for that party. Why? Because people are, by and large, fearful, narrow-minded, self-centred and venal. Brand seems to think there is something stopping such a democratic action from happening – he stops short of invoking a conspiracy, just – but really, it’s not like the elections in the UK, or the US or Australia are rigged or something (well, not to that degree, anyway). People vote these fuckers into power. YOU voted them into power unless your vote went to an independent or a competing small party. This need not happen.

To put it simply, things would change if the priorities of the democracy were values, human decency, fairness for all and generosity, indeed, all the things that Russell Brand espouses. But they plainly aren’t for the great majority of people, and we can’t simply blame ‘the Capitalist System’ for that, as Brand quite simplistically does.(v).

I believe that we could change things by using our vote if we had the will, and that changing them in such a way would be constructive and useful and far less damaging than some kind of ‘revolution’ with an unspecified aim except for general ‘niceness’. It seems to me, though, that not enough of us do actually have the will.

No-one has encapsulated this problem in fewer words than the great John Lennon:

War is over, if you want it.

We can have a good society. If we want it.

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Footnotes:

  1. Being an entertainer apparently doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion on the problem and spout it for all and sundry – just that you can’t have any constructive ideas for progressing. []
  2. Brand makes reasonable sense much of the time in his writing. He just turns into a clown in front of cameras, in my opinion. []
  3. I do take great humbrage to him bundling ‘atheism’ in with ‘materiality’ as part of what’s wrong – why do religiously-inclined people always do this? I’m an atheist. I can understand how to be kind to, and tolerant of, my fellow human travellers. The two things are not mutually exclusive. The fact that Brand disses atheism in this way really grates on me. Talking about being all ‘spiritual’ about the solution is a flashback to the Age of Aquarius (which Brand says it’s not, but seriously…) – and that worked out great, didn’t it? []
  4. Aside from benign dictatorship which is way preferable if you have an excellent leader, but any halfwit can see the problems inherent in that idea. []
  5. Let me be quite clear: I’m no great fan of Capitalism. I think capitalistic endeavour has fucked much up, no question about it. But unlike Brand, I don’t plonk that blame into the laps of a wealthy few: I think it’s an endemic trait of humans to exploit one another. Dealing in the debunking of pseudoscience has taught me that this tendency is quite nicely vertically integrated, thank you very much []

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When the maker of some web app or another doesn’t know how to make money out of a popular idea, the go-to concept is of course to somehow shoe-horn advertising into the user experience. Those of you who have a Facebook account will be familiar with the little panel of ads that runs down the side of the page – a little panel that seems to increase in length every time you log on. Personally, I think it’s completely daft way for an advertiser to spend their bucks – I must have ‘seen’ several thousand of those damn things displayed on my Facebook page and I hardly even notice them. Someone has convinced advertisers otherwise, though, or they wouldn’t be paying for them.

If I do notice one, though, it’s usually because it has an overly-high annoying factor. An offering that popped up this morning was a shining example. Ladeez and Gentlemen, I bring to you today…

The AMAZING TINNITUS MIRACLE™

Ah yes. Your flim-flam detectors just went ping, right. If they didn’t, get off my blog!

Now, I must confess that until this morning I didn’t really have a great deal of insight into tinnitus. Well, not of a scientific kind, anyway. I know what it is, of course, being a professional sound person & all, and I’ve even experienced it myself in my youth when I was much less careful of my hearing, but I’ve never known much about it physiologically. After reading the Tinnitus Miracle™ website, though, one thing of which I was entirely certain is that you need absolutely no knowledge of tinnitus to get the feeling that this site is designed to fleece easily-deceived and desperate folks of their money by convincing them that it has the absolute, failure-proof, 100% guaranteed cure for their affliction.

And, as a prospect for a scam – for a scam it surely is – it makes sense. Tinnitus is a medical condition with all the requirements that make it ripe for the pickings of those who would greedily make money from exploiting others: it’s a poorly understood, highly subjective condition with diffuse symptoms, and it can have dozens of causes. It’s distressing, persistent and can even be painful, but it’s not life-threatening. Best of all for the woo merchants, it’s a sad fact that science-based medicine doesn’t offer much in the way of relief for many sufferers of tinnitus.(i)

Even though I did go on to spend a little time reading about the condition, you really don’t need a lot in the way actual knowledge to get a strong sense that the Tinnitus Miracle™ ‘phenomenon’(ii) is decidedly fishy.

Skimming down the MASSIVE landing page starts the alarm bells ringing fast.(iii) The amazing Tinnitus Miracle™ is an eBook that you can buy for the handy dandy price of $39, and which unequivocally offers to ‘give you the secrets to eliminate virtually all types of Tinnitus within 8 weeks.’ It’s the enterprise of one Thomas Coleman,(iv) who purports to have suffered from tinnitus for 14 years and to ‘have tried every tinnitus treatment known to science and natural health’, including, but not limited to, ‘herbal remedies, Cellfood Oxygen, tonics, habituation, detox diets, vitamin therapy, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, macrobiotics, reflexology, Chinese Medicine, vegetarianism, the Wai diet, magnetic therapy, the mucus-less diet, the blood type diet, psychiatric treatments and whatnot.’

The outcome is that none of these (not even ‘whatnot’) were effective. Even surgery didn’t help the poor chap, nor did ‘dietary’ advice nor white noise CDs. Eventually we learn that the unflappable Mr Coleman was cured after discovering ‘a simple holistic system [that] opened the door to my new and much brighter Tinnitus free life.’ The site spares no effort to attempt to impress upon us exactly what a MIRACLE this discovery was. There’s the familiar liberal use of exclamation marks, copious underscoring, oodles of hyperbolic claims, excitable slashes of yellow highlighter and then… THE SCIENCE. Well, no, I lied. There’s no science. None. Nada. Nuttin’. What we have is that ol’ reliable science substitute though: testimonials! Everyone KNOWS a testimonial is MUCH better than science. Let me show you how it works:

Tetherd Cow Ahead is the best blog in the universe, bar none. I read it once and it completely cured my cancer! ~ Landon from Illinois

I used to have trouble keeping it up, but thanks to Tetherd Cow Ahead I can now go all night! Tetherd Cow rocks! ~ Raymundo

I purchased the Tetherd Cow Virtual Glass of Water and I’ve never had a computer virus since! Awesome work TCA! ~ Kofi Anan

Now brace yourselves, Acowlytes: those are not real endorsements, and they hold no credibility whatsoever! I just made them up! I know it seems shocking that someone should do such a thing, and I know you wouldn’t, dear friends, but the internet is, alas, not completely populated by good honest folks such as yourselves.

The point is of course that a fistful of internet testimonials is worth about as much as the paper they are printed on. Unfortunately there still exist out there a substantial number of people who seem to think that if something is written down in words, why, it must be true! Or something. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the endorsements could easily be as phoney as the names attached to them.(v) What’s more, it seems that such people of limited perspicacity are unable to infer that fifty fake testimonials are no more persuasive than one. I could’ve written dozens above had I been so inclined – it’s not exactly difficult to make that shit up.(vi)

But it’s not until you try to find some more information about Tinnitus Miracle™ that you begin to see the real depth of this racket. Performing a Search™ on the term returns a veritable truckload of spew. Hundreds, maybe thousands of links that duck and dive through the tinnitus world, inevitably making their way back to a site selling Tinnitus Miracle™.

And not even the merest hint of proper science on a single one of them.

Searching for tinnitus+miracle+scam is an even more enlightening experience. Now we see dozens of hits in the vein of this site, returning search abstracts like ‘There is no basis for the tinnitus miracle scam’ and Is Thomas Coleman’s Tinnitus Miracle Book A Scam? My Opinion … – all couched in such a manner as to appear to be a critical appraisal of the product. If you click through, though, they all go on without exception to overwhelmingly promote Tinnitus Miracle™ in some way or another, often with direct links to the main TM™ site. There are pages of these duplicitous offerings – I clicked through a few dozen and I couldn’t find one that wasn’t some kind of endorsement of Tinnitus Miracle.(vii) In fact, try as I might, I couldn’t find any negative critique of the Tinnitus Miracle at all. Lest you think that might be because the thing actually works, let me add that I also couldn’t find a single site that looked like it was a genuine unsolicited recommendation of the product either. To my eye, these sites all look like part of the Tinnitus Miracle empire – a vast and comprehensive attempt to stake a presence wherever anyone with tinnitus might search for some help. Now, there are two reasons I can think of that negative (or even mildly critical) reviews aren’t returned high-up in the search results. The first is that Coleman’s strategy is simply to super-saturate the SEO so that other links are just pushed way down, and you won’t easily come across adverse criticism, and the second rather more sinister one is that Mr Coleman is actively litigious and has aggressively quashed any unflattering press.(viii)

Another frustration I had was in attempting to find out exactly what might comprise the substance of the Tinnitus Miracle. After reading pages of mind-numbing verbiage, I was concluding that the book offering the wondrous Tinnitus Miracle was probably just a mish-mash of anything and everything that might pertain to tinnitus, with not much ‘miracle’ content at all. This site (another TM™ promotion, despite its efforts to appear to be something else), supposedly penned by one ‘Britni Dorman’ gives some support to that conclusion:

Here are some things you can learn from Tinnitus Miracle:

• Eight food items that are best for you in this condition
• Ten foods you must learn to avoid like the plague since they can worsen your condition
• The name of a powerful herb used in homeopathy that can reverse the condition quickly
• The 100% natural secret vitamin supplement that can impact your condition dramatically in just a few days
• Medications that can worsen the condition
• How you can diagnose your condition with the help of a multi-dimensional approach
• Effective breathing techniques and strategies that allows your body to begin the process of healing

Ah, right. Good foods, bad foods, vitamins, homeopathy and Evil Big Pharma drugs that you can blame. Uh-huh. And some yoga & meditation thrown in for good measure (‘cos it certainly can’t hurt, right?) As miracles go, this is looking about as impressive as producing a coin from behind a kid’s ear.

There’s lots more of the same on this site, which purports to be a tinnitus ‘treatment advice’ hub, but which is revealed by even a cursory exploration to be crammed to the gills with links to the main Tinnitus Miracle site. Perhaps the most hilarious part is the the ‘Pros & Cons’ section. Breathless raving about the pros, but the cons, well:

• Cons – When it comes to the cons, I have to admit that Tinnitus Miracle barely has any.

Mr Coleman may as well have appended his signature to that one.

I did turn up one comment on a tinnitus relief discussion group from someone who seems to know what the book entails. The main thrust of this thread is another tinnitus scam called Quietus,(ix) but several sufferers ask if anyone has tried the Tinnitus Miracle. Well, someone called MissionCMD has done so, and had this to say:

I have purchased the book and read it twice. I have tried numerous things in it, but there is no ‘miracle’. There are numerous sections in the book that are duplicated (copy and paste) from one chapter to another… not to mention numerous spelling mistakes. Perhaps the ‘e-book only’ option was because the author could not get a publisher to edit? Overall, there were a few good suggestions, but there was no ‘miracle cure’ if that was what you were trying to ask. Essentailly just ways to try to manage the noise. I did a detailed search for almost three hours to try to find a reputable review before I purchased anything, and could find none. I could find many websites that had supposed reviews, however it looked much like the similar advertisement off of the original site. Suprisingly (or not) none of those sites were accepting comments anymore due to spam… hmmm. I did purchase the book anyway. You do have to keep in mind it does state ‘holestic’ in the sub-title. So the book did what it said… mentioned everything under the sun you can try to manage the tinnitus. That means recommendations ranging from therapy sessions, to extreme detoxification, to accupuncture. I personally did not find anything close to a ‘miracle’ though.

And that’s about as succinct a wrap-up as you could ever expect; the Tinnitus Miracle™ eBook appears to be nothing more than a diffuse hodge-podge of vague suggestions and both conventional and speculative treatments offered as options to address an affliction with multiple possible causes and a wide range of diverse symptoms. It seems to me, in fact, that Thomas Coleman is offering the very same solutions in his book that he says he tried in vain to cure his own tinnitus, just re-heated and served with a sprig of parsley.

A miracle, not so much.

I guess some of you are saying at this stage ‘It’s not really selling anything bogus – what’s the harm here?’

Well, this is the kind of scam that irks me for numerous reasons. First and foremost, it’s targeting vulnerable miserable people and offering them a ‘miracle’, when by any reasonable reckoning that’s not what they’re going to get when they fork out their money. ‘Eliminate Your Tinnitus Within 2 Months!’ the site declares, a promise that, as far as my reading indicates, is unlikely to be fulfilled for the majority of tinnitus sufferers. Tinnitus Miracle ‘…gives you the power to Cure Tinnitus permanently’, we hear: weasel language that deftly transfers any failure to deliver a result from the product itself to a responsibility for the sufferer to be capable of harnessing the supposed ‘power’. The site is full of such duplicity.

Another tactic that I find highly questionable is Tinnitus Miracle’s liberal us of scare tactics, another staple of scamdom:

WARNING: TINNITUS CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS IF LEFT UNTREATED

Well, no, for most sufferers that’s unlikely, despite the blood red fright caps. It is completely true that tinnitus can sometimes herald other more serious problems, but one thing is for sure – buying this book is not the way you’d want to handle that particular circumstance. As with most medical problems, if the symptoms persist, the most sensible thing you can do is to promptly see your doctor (and that information I’m providing totally free of charge).

Elsewhere:

One should only consider surgery for tinnitus if you were diagnosed with a tumor, osclerosis, or fistula . Even so the success of the surgery is 50%, with the inevitable consequence of irreversible deafness.

…which is a piece of negligent generalization bordering on criminality. The success of tinnitus surgery depends entirely on the circumstances of any individual, and the reasons for their problem. To scare all people who may be facing tinnitus surgery with the spectre of the ‘inevitable consequence of irreversible deafness’ is highly irresponsible, and demonstrates clearly that Thomas Coleman cares not one whit about your wellbeing – he just wants your $39.

My reading about tinnitus over these last few days has shown me that for an unfortunate few of those afflicted, the condition is utterly debilitating, and for the greater number it is, at the very least, distressing and uncomfortable. What these people really need to be doing is consulting knowledgable health care providers and getting the best help available. What they don’t need is a whole lot of baloney about the ‘wrong’ food and homeopathy. Even if some of what the Tinnitus Miracle book offers might be helpful (there are indications that meditation, for instance, may be of some benefit to some sufferers, depending on the cause of their tinnitus) it looks like it’s wound up with a lot of crap that’s irrelevant, of arguable efficacy or just plain hogwash.

Aside from that, the marketing campaign for Tinnitus Miracle™ is plainly full of misdirection and flimflam. As a ‘Small Sample Of What You’ll Learn When You Download Your Copy Of The Tinnitus Miracle™ System Today’, the site reels off dozens of specious claims, lame observations and tips such as these:

• Discover EVERYTHING you need to know about tinnitus, EXACTLY what causes the noise in your head. [Caps are theirs]

No-one knows EXACTLY what causes tinnitus. It can be the result of several different pathologies – physical hearing damage, biochemical interaction, neurological damage or problems, or the effects of other illness. In some cases it has a psychological component. Thomas Coleman is promising to give sufferers something that no doctor on the planet can. Why on earth should anyone believe him?

• What Personality characteristics do tinnitus sufferers share?

Oh, I dunno? The same star signs? A morbid fear of hummus? This is a stupid and irrelevant question, and is so wide in its scope that you could factor just about anything in here.

• The most powerful homeopathic herb (that can quickly reverse most tinnitus conditions) that the Tinnitus and drug industries hope you will never find out!

Of course!! The ‘drug industries’ WANT you to have tinnitus because they are EVIL. Mwahahahaha!

Please. Even the dimmest of the dim can see that this is complete rubbish. If such a ‘homeopathic herb’ even existed, only one altruistic tinnitus sufferer would need to publish its name on the net and the whole world would know. BAM! Take that Evil Big Pharma Mad Scientists. But guess what? No-one has. They obviously all feel so indebted to Thomas Coleman for revealing it to them that they don’t want to see him lose any of the money he would otherwise make on his eBook!

• The cardinal sin of every tinnitus treatment almost every tinnitus sufferer is guilty of, which instead of curing your tinnitus, weakens and destroys your body’s natural ability to defend itself, thus putting your health in serious risk and making your Tinnitus worse in the long run (and more than 92% of tinnitus sufferers are doing it!)

And you thought that masturbation just made you blind!

It’s all smoke & mirrors designed to deflect anyone from asking the question: ‘But what, exactly, am I getting for my $39?’

Which is, by all indications, nothing that’s likely to help you much, and certainly nothing that can compare to the advice that you will get from a good medical practitioner. If you have tinnitus, you have my immense sympathy. Having only experienced it as a fleeting annoyance brought on by my own carelessness, I can only imagine how awful it must be as a chronic condition. I hope that this post has helped you avoid spending money on something that would probably offer you little in the way of relief.

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Footnotes:

  1. Something that people who advocate ‘alternative medicine’ seem not to understand this situation too well, and you’ll often hear it put forward as a criticism. Science-based medicine never pretends that it has all the answers, because sometimes it doesn’t. There are some things science doesn’t understand very well. That doesn’t make science faulty – it just means that a complex world is not easily understood all at once. It’s a process. And the fact that science doesn’t have an answer to a complex problem doesn’t lead logically to the proposition that ‘alternative’ medicine does. Having no solution to a problem sometimes means, quite harshly unfortunately, that we don’t have a solution to the problem. We simply don’t know everything, and there is no imperative says we should. That’s not an easy thing to tell someone who is in pain, or who has a chronic debilitating condition. Unfortunately, as much as we don’t like that reality, reality really doesn’t care what we like. []
  2. Because that’s the way it’s promoted WIDELY across the interwebs. []
  3. Of course, if you have severe tinnitus, maybe the noise in your head might drown out said alarm bells. Perhaps this is what the makers of the Amazing Tinnitus Miracle are counting on… []
  4. Coleman may or may not be a real person. For the purposes of this post, I will accept that he is, although I did discover a number of things that made me suspect that he may be a fictional concoction. []
  5. I’ve long pondered why this should be so. I mean, I totally understand how you might buy a product that was recommended to you by a close friend. I can even stretch to understanding how you might buy a product endorsed by someone who you don’t know personally, but whose opinion you respect for some reason. But I can’t for the life of me even remotely comprehend why you would trust the opinion of some anonymous (and probably fictitious) name from woop-woop! []
  6. It is vaguely possible that the testimonials are written by actual people, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are genuine. Lots of people are willing to lend their name and photo out for a fiver. And, being extremely generous, even if the people are real, and the testimonials unsolicited, it still doesn’t mean that the information in them is necessarily accurate, nor representative of most tinnitus sufferers. Tinnitus does, in many cases, clear itself up spontaneously. If you have a few thousand people reading your book, it is quite likely that a small few will have spontaneous natural remission of the symptoms, and attribute it in some way to your magical cure. You only need a handful of those kinds of ‘miracles’ to make something look impressive… []
  7. This in itself is an intriguing indictment of the Tinnitus Miracle™ It shows clearly that the people behind it are completely aware that what they are promoting has every indicator of being a scam to those searching for tinnitus relief, and have shaped their marketing strategy accordingly. They are, in essence, predicting that they will be called on their scam, and then flooding possible criticism with noise. []
  8. I’d like to think this is not the case, but I guess we will see if that speculation has any substance if he finds this post. []
  9. Another sure marker for scams of this kind is the appearance of other players on the field. You can bet that where there’s an opportunity to bilk vulenerable people, there’ll be more than one opportunist with his finger in the pie. []

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Ah, you gotta love the combination of the internet and the tendency for people in large numbers to suddenly lose all capacity for coherent thought. The Guardian reports today that, probably due at least in part to a Facebook group called 11 Maggio Terremoto a Roma, thousands of people in Rome believe that the city is destined to be destroyed by an earthquake tomorrow, May 11.

And it is, supposedly, all because of the predictions of a self-styled ‘geophysicist’ by the name of Raffaele Bendandi.

It will not surprise you to learn that Bendandi, who died in 1979, was not any kind of proper scientist. Despite being awarded a knighthood by Mussolini, he had no formal scientific training and none of his research was ever supported by independent corroboration. The many ‘theories’ that he advanced in his lifetime were not inhibited by actual factual content. Among other things, Bendandi advanced an hypothesis for the flooding of Atlantis and believed that he had discovered a planet in an orbit between the sun and Mercury.

But here’s the best part – the rising panic in Rome appears to be the result of some idiot somewhere getting his wires crossed. Bendandi didn’t actually ever predict an earthquake for May 11, 2011. According to Paola Lagorio, the president of an organization who looks after Bendandi’s legacy, there is no such indication in any of the the writings attributed to him. Someone just pulled that right out of their ass (Paola Lagorio didn’t say that, you understand, but I bet she was thinking it).

But hey – Rome is the where the Pope lives, right? Why don’t the people who think there’s going to be an earthquake just pray to God that it won’t happen?(i) Oh, yeah, right. I guess they will, and that’s why it won’t happen. Silly me.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow Faithful Acowlytes, in order that we might comprehensively ridicule all those Romans who took their kids out of school and fled to the countryside. You know you want to.

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Thanks once more to Atlas for bringing this to the attention of the Cow.

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Footnotes:

  1. I’m betting that the Venn diagram of People Who Are Very Religious in Rome and People Who are Very Gullible in Rome has a pretty big area of intersection… []

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