Stupidity


From the people who brought you ‘The early bird get’s the right size’…

Before we start on today’s observations, Faithful Acowlytes, I want to remind you of the century in which we currently find ourselves. It is, of course, the 21st Century, where humans have walked on other worlds, routinely fly in marvellous metal contraptions from country to country on a daily basis and communicate instantly with other humans on the other side of the planet.

Got that? Good. Try and keep it in your mind as we move on.

Now.

The Australian reports this week that people who live near Saint Thomas Rest Park, on the North Shore of Sydney, are demanding that the local government install floodlighting because the park is ‘spooky’ at night.

Saint Thomas Park is the site of one of Sydney’s oldest cemeteries and residents who are accustomed to walking their dogs there “are quick to scurry home at sundown, when the area becomes a bit eerie”, according to Australian correspondent Leigh van den Broeke. They scurry, dear Cowpokes, not for fear of the threat of muggings or attacks from dropbears, but because “There are rumours the park is haunted”.

The Daily Telegraph, another of Sydney’s stellar media outlets decided to investigate the claims, and did what any good journal should do and called in some rational, level-headed folks with scientific training who quickly dispelled the stupid rumours.

Hahahaha. No they didn’t! I’m just joshing! But I had you for a moment didn’t I? The Telegraph is a scurrilous and worthless rag, so what they actually did was consult a ghost hunter, of course. At the invitation of the Telegraph, Janine Donnellan from SOul Searches Paranormal Investigations(i) turned up at the park with her ‘electromagnetic energy measuring equipment’ and pronounced (surprise surprise) that there was a restless spirit hanging about a particular cluster of gravestones.

Said Ms Donnellan:

“It’s a male in his 30s or 40s. I saw him at one stage crouching behind one of the graves and then over to another. He noticed me and I was trying to get him engaged in conversation but he was very reticent to do that.”

Personally, I think Ms Donnellan has gotten a bit overly-excited here by her first encounter with your average garden-variety Sydney goth.

Ms Donnellan, according to the Australian, has ‘a certificate of Advanced Achievement in Parapsychology from the Australian Academy of Applied Parapsychology’. You know how fond I am of an accreditation, loyal Cowmrades, so I thought I might just look up the AAAP (as is fairly easy to do with the 21st Century internet-type technology available at my fingertips). Unsurprisingly, the only online presence I can find for the AAAP is a Facebook page which has exactly no information on it, other than offering a claim to be a university. A university? That should be very easy to check. What’s this – they don’t appear to be on the register of universtities kept by the Australian Qualifications Framework, but that’s surely an oversight, right?

The Sart Local business directory has a page for the AAAP though, even if it does give a street address that resolves at the same premises as the Australian College of Hypnotherapy, an establishment that offers courses in a veritable treasure trove of woo (including NLP and EFT(ii)) Parapsychology doesn’t appear to be on the listing.

So far Ms Donnelly’s credentials are looking about as impressive as her goth detection skills.

Continuing down the Australian article, which is as brainless as it is vague, we find that one of the local residents, a Ms Sue Hamparsum, claims that ‘phantom children’ also inhabit the park: “Three different families have taken photographs of their children at the playground and two little girls appeared in the photographs, but they don’t remember them being there.”(iii) Because we always remember everyone who appears in photographs we take, right?

Thankfully, the local council has comprehensively quashed the call for the park to be floodlit (citing, rather disappointingly, the impact on nearby properties instead of simply saying ‘Please stop tying up council staff with your superstitious hysteria you dimwits’).

There is a kind of breathtaking stupidity behind the request in any case. I wonder if you spotted it? That’s right: unless Ms Donnelly’s ghost hunting antics and the families photographing their children all took place at night (and it doesn’t sound to me like that’s very likely), then the ghosts mentioned in this article all appeared in the daytime. WHAT MAKES ANYONE THINK THEY WOULD THEY GIVE A TOSS ABOUT FLOODLIGHTING?!!!

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Footnotes:

  1. That link to the SOSPI Facebook page is really worth following if you want some awesome #headdesk #facepalm lulz… []
  2. Emotional Freedom Therapy. Yes, it’s a new one for me too. []
  3. I bet the phantom children were creepy twins. Phantom children are always creepy twins. []

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The last year has veritably flown by, Faithful Acowlytes, and we find ourselves once more at the beginning of our favourite festival: World Homeopathy Awareness Week. At this time we remind ourselves that it is our responsibility – nay, our duty – to make sure the world is aware of homeopathy, and today on TCA I will be doing my bit, because I believe everyone should be aware of homeopathy. Specifically, I think everyone should be very aware of what a total crock of shit it is.

Over at World Homeopathy Org we learn that this year is a very special year in which we are focussing on homeopathy for trauma and disasters.

Via a series of rotating banner images, World Homeopathy Org is giving us some idea of just how awesome and amazing homeopathy truly is with its many and varied uses. The image above, for example, tells us that homeopathy is surely your first stop after being struck by lightning – something of which I was unaware, but there you go.

Homeopathy is a sure-fire prophylactic for bad weather in general as we see in our next slide.

Yes, the debilitating effects of stormy seas can be addressed by homeopathy – remember, we don’t mean merely seasickness here, because this is Trauma and Disaster Week. No, my friends, we’re surely talking about the medical aftermath brought on by massive storms and tsunamis. Homeopathy is a veritable life preserver for such events…

As it is in the case of cyclones and tornadoes…

I know it’s the first thing I’d think of after my house was ripped to smithereens by a 400 mile per hour wind.

“Goodness, that was terrifying. Better take some homeopathy to help with this severed artery.”

Homeopathy also comes into play in the tragic circumstances of awful graphic design.

In this case, we see a graphic designer almost at the point of suicide after depicting himself quite badly as being almost at the point of suicide. He really needs homeopathy.

Homeopathy is also what you should turn to in the traumatic event that you discover you have freckles and have been processed with a crummy Photoshop filter.

Well, it can’t hurt, right?

But seriously folks, back to the war zones.

If you should find yourself being on the wrong end of a policeman’s truncheon whilst simply attempting to carry out your job as war correspondent, why not pop some Arnica 30c? It’s also good if you get tear-gassed. Fumbling around to find the bottle will surely take your mind off the excruciating acidic blinding sensations for, oh, a nanosecond or two. And if you’re really bolshie, maybe you can smear a little Natrum Phosphoricum ointment on that thug attacking you – he really looks like he needs some calming down.

But the next slide is getting down to the nitty gritty.

Here we see a young girl who has plainly lost everything she has, and is in the depths of despair. If there is something she really needs here, it’s homeopathy. Am I right?

And should the disasters get even more terrifying – we’re talking about world scale cataclysms brought on by wayward asteroids – homeopathy will really come to the fore.

When I look at the above image, I am seriously hoping that the people in those houses have dosed themselves up sufficiently on Calcarea Carbonica and Arsenicum. It’s surely the only way they’re going to survive ten million tons of water crushing them into a soggy bloody pulp.

The last slide in our presentation gives us an overview of the incredible range and depth of possibilities that might be addressed with homeopathic insight:

My goodness! Terrorism, droughts, volcanoes, landslides, nuclear radiation, bombings, blizzards, avalanches and locusts! Is there nothing that can’t be made better with homeopathy? That’s a rhetorical question, because no, there isn’t.

Homeopathy! The cure that’s so effective that nearly two centuries from its inception no-one can provide a single incontrovertible example of it actually working.

Let’s close with our favourite video of homeopathy’s most persuasive spokeswoman because, well, because I know you want it. Happy World Homeopathy Awareness Week, y’all!

Say what you will about the various social media, there is one thing at which they really excel: providing a brand new platform for the endless circulation of the kind of inane and poorly informed pop ‘wisdom’ that we love so much here on TCA. Just recently, for example, I’ve been sent the same exhortation about five times to sign an Avaaz petition against Bayer for being responsible (via their manufacture and marketing of insecticides called neonicotinoids) for bee Colony Collapse Disorder. Now, while I don’t particularly hold with the use of Bayer’s products, and don’t even particularly like Bayer as a company, this irks and frustrates me. What Avaaz is doing here is piggybacking an agenda on top of an emotionally-charged issue to give the impression that CCD is being caused by one simple mechanism, and that Bayer should be held responsible. As I’ve written before, it is far from being quite that simple.(i) Unfortunately, very few people who get the link to the Avaaz petition will know much, if anything, about bee Colony Collapse Disorder, and not bother to take the trouble to research the Avaaz claims. And so the ‘OMG! The Bees Are Dying Sign the Petition’ suggestion will no doubt circulate for another few weeks, etching into people’s minds the notion that Evil Bayer is Killing Bees (supplanting the previously-etched notion in most of those same people’s minds that the culprit was mobile phones).(ii)(iii)

Anyhoo, that’s all really just a way of introducing the real subject of today’s post, which is another wonderful social media ‘advice’ epidemic which also concerns honey. Honey and cinnamon, in fact. It’s very lengthy, so I’m not copying it here, but you should really go have a look at it so you can witness the true scale of its stupidity (you can find it linked just about everywhere across the net, so ubiquitous has it become).

Synopsizing, it begins with a warning that ‘Drug companies won’t like this one getting around!’ and goes on to list ways in which the combination of honey and cinnamon will cure EVERYTHING. Well, I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

Here are just some of the troubles that you will no longer have if you imbibe and/or smear yourself liberally with honey and cinnamon:

•Heart Disease
•Arthritic pain
•Bladder infections
•Colds
•Weight gain
•Stomach ailments
•Gas
•Cancer (oh yes)
•Pimples
•Aging (!)
•Hearing loss.

I’m totally sure the drug companies would be mightily pissed off if there was even a grain of truth in any of it, but there ain’t so they happily continue with their business of converting their piles of cash into cocaine and snorting it off stripper’s tits.(iv)

The long list of cures ends with the folksy signoff: ‘Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real butter and cinnamon sprinkled on it! Re-post!’

Because, you know, we never had any of those problems when we were kids, right? Except for the poor tykes with cancer who obviously didn’t eat their cinnamon toast.

The thing that really ticks me off is the completely undiscriminating way in which this stupid piece of internet diarrhoea is pooped all across the various social media platforms even by those who should know a LOT better. This is the internet, people. It should be the work of moments to find out the bona fides of this gob of banal hogwash.

And moments it takes. Less than thirty seconds of Searching™ turns up the original source of the Cinnamon and Honey gumpf:

That’s right, Space Cadets. The provenance of this piece of 21st Century wisdom is an article published in 1995 by that veritable shining bastion of scientific respectability, The Weekly World News. It’s travelled down almost two decades unscathed. What’s that you say? What other scientific discoveries has WWN delivered up? I’m so glad you asked.

I mean, for fuck’s sake. Who’s going to believe Dick Cheney is a robot? We all know perfectly well that he’s really a lizard!(v)
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Footnotes:

  1. As we have seen time and time again here on TCA, human beings just lurve to fall for the most simplistic solutions to complex problems. Our brains shy away from complexity. We are not made to cope with it, and we deal with it badly. []
  2. What’s actually killing bees, my friends, is that voracious, deadly scourge of the planet Earth – human beings. Our demand for cheap honey (and for cheap fruit and flowers and grains and all the plants that the bees rely on to make that honey) is creating a population pressure on the bees that is just not something that they cope with well. We’ve made bees into something they are not, for our own purposes, and while that works to an extent, it is truly not surprising that it is not a sustainable prospect. []
  3. One friend commented to me that surely the fact that Bayer was not necessarily responsible for CCD is irrelevant if they’re doing something environmentally irresponsible – an ‘end-justifies-the-means’ argument, if you will. That’s all well & good – maybe the petition will get one environmentally undesirable substance out of the way BUT the bees will still be dying. It deflects the view of the public away from addressing the actual problems, and so is, in my opinion, doing more harm than good. []
  4. This is a colourful metaphor, intended to provide humour. It is not meant to imply that drug companies make huge swodges of profit at the expense of our health. Because we know that they are all doing it for the love of humankind. []
  5. This QED really is SOOOO much better than I could ever have hoped for. I wish all rubbish of this kind was so easily slapped down. []

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I have often said, Faithful Acowlytes, in my many long rants, that if someone provided evidence of some daft contentious claim or other I would, like any good scientest and skeptic, be completely prepared change my mind.

It appears that today is that day.

You may remember my post Hunting Unicorns, in which I talked about my personal path to my current rationalist and skeptical view of the world, and in which I stated that if one wanted to prove the existence of unicorns, then all one need do, is provide the unicorn.

Time Magazine reports that North Korea has finally done so.

Yes, North Korea, a bastion of logical discourse in a world beset by superstition and irrationality, tells us that they have not only confirmed the location of the burial site of the unicorn ridden by King Dongmyeong, the founding father of the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo, but that they have reconfirmed it!

The proof is unassailable: the unicorn grave site is indicated by a rock carved with the words ‘Unicorn Lair’. I mean, how much more does anyone want?

Also, Tetherd Cow researchers have uncovered a picture of North Korea’s current Glorious Leader riding a descendant of King Dongmyeong’s wondrous mystical steed:

Let’s see the skeptics refute that, right?

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Thanks Atlas!

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s science news pages are currently carrying a story about the discovery of a ‘rogue’ planet(i) ‘wandering all alone through deep space without a host star’. As far as such stories go, it’s an interesting astronomy tidbit, evoking, in the words of Philippe Delorme from France’s Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics, a ‘striking image of orphaned worlds, drifting in the emptiness of space’.

The editors of the ABC science pages(ii), however, have taken the view that readers will not have the wits nor imagination to be able to conjure up the striking image for themselves, and so have helpfully provided an artist’s impression to help them along.(iii)

I am not a big fan of the artist’s impression.

How much does this ‘impression’ tell you about the reality of the event in question? Would you say that it’s reasonable to expect that, should you be able to hop in a fast spaceship and fly off to planet CFBDSIR2149 (as it is catchily named), this artist’s impression would give you a vague idea of what you might see? This romantic milky sapphire marble swimming in a luminous sea of misty cerulean stars? Well, my friends, you’d be mightily disappointed. CFBDSIR2149 does not orbit any sun, and so does not reflect any light. In addition, it does not emit much, if any, visible light of its own either, being detected as it was by M. Delorme, via infrared radiation. The Wikipedia entry on CFBDSIR2149 has this to say:

In visible light the object is so cool that it would only shine dimly with a deep red colour when seen close-up.

All things considered, here is a better artist’s impression of what you might see should you ever be in the close proximity of CFBDSIR2149.

Yep. It’s never going to feature on the ’10 Most Visually Impressive Planets You Must Visit Before You Die’ list, that’s for sure.

So what use, actually, is this artist’s impression? It tells us nothing at all about the reality of CFBDSIR2149,(iv) substituting actual facts with a whole lot of visual speculation and even just plain old untruths. Why not paint a picture of the Death Star or a Borg Cube – ‘impressionistically’ speaking, either would be just as informative. Worse still, whatever mental image we might have formed of a darkened planetary body drifting forlornly across the unimaginable dark nothingness of the interstellar void is now indelibly replaced by the fantasy of an azure Xmas bauble that has no relation to anything.

Here is an artist’s impression of what I believe should be the fate of editors who indulge in artist’s impressions.(v)

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Footnotes:

  1. Is it just me, or does the term ‘rogue planet’ automatically conjure for anyone else Wagnerian-type music and sinister intentions? I mean, it’s not like it set out to storm the universe and take no prisoners. Why is it not simply an ‘orphan’ planet, or a ‘lost’ planet? What’s actually rogue about it? []
  2. Along with just about every other outlet carrying the story… []
  3. It is worth noting here that when the story first went up, the image was presented without the explanatory caption. []
  4. C’mon! Astronomers! Where are the days of imagination when planets had names? Are we to expect that if you were doing the solar system anew we’d be living on 3 and sending little rovers off to 4? How BORING is that? []
  5. Yes, I am aware of the recursive nature of what I did there. []

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