Thursday, December 17, 2009

Skepticality, Quackcast, Skeptoid, Super Soup an ancient Asian secret

Mueller redux

Skepticality featured a second interview with Dr. Robert Mueller, author of “Evolution Rx.” This time the interviewed focused more on the brain-centered aspects of his book, rather than on the physical disease and body health aspects of his book as discussed in the first interviewed. The discussions on ADD/ADHD and its evolutionary origins, the ability to focus, and on how large of a social circle people are evolved to handle all seemed to be interesting speculations, but usefulness of the speculation is suspect. Generally, my comments of my earlier blog post stand for this second interview. While Dr. Mueller does not claim to be doing original research, the interview seemed to be a lot of speculation and hypothesis that are in part based upon research and part just Meuller's opinion.

Skeptoid #184

This week Brian Dunning discussed the Antikythera Machine, which was a bronze mechanical instrument discovered in a ship wreck found off a small Greek island in the early 20th century. Dunning goes through the evidence that instead of being a device used by time travelers, Atlanteans, or the ever popular aliens, this was a complex mechanical clockwork calendar to track various celestial bodies. At the end of the segment, Dunning shoe horns in a pitch that the discovery of a device that is more complex than was thought possible for a given time is evidence that science craves previous knowledge and is evidence that science is not closed minded as some woo advocates argue. While I agree with the sentiment, the entire pitch to me seemed to be forced.

A few weeks ago on either the Discovery or Science or whatever nerd vision channel I was watching, a show aired on the Antikythera machine and how various teams of historians, engineers, and scientists went about figuring out just what the heck this bronze mechanical did. It just seems to me what an opportunity was lost to have recorded sounds for much longer than Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1876. Edison did not make a huge leap in technology, he “simply” placed the correct clockwork bits together that had existed for decades to record sound. I always thought of what we would have today had Ben Franklin invented the phonograph in 1760. We’d have his voice record, Washington, Napoleon, Lincoln, and a record of an 1820 London accent, etc. It seems to me that a similar technology apparently existed in the first century BCE. Just imagine having Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, Christopher Columbus voice on record or knowing how people actually spoke during Chaucer or Shakespeare time. It boggles the mind.

The healing soup?

Mark Crislip did a Mesotherapy episode, which is the injection of various substances from real drugs, to artichoke extract, to homeopathic preparation to the middle layer of the skin in the pursuit of weight loss, body sculpting, curing diseases from HIV to autism. Although when listening to the show at first I thought Crislip was saying miso therapy as in miso soup. All I could think in the car is if enjoying a bowl of miso soup can allegedly cure gout or some such claims, why not at least try it? The worst thing you’ll get is a nice meal. No. Instead, it is a quack therapy that uses two or three millimeter long needles to inject the substance into the skin. What you can get is not a finely sculpted thigh, but instead a nasty infection. Infections are not any fun, so I will start to push for my miso therapy. Make some miso soup and eat it for weight loss, mental alertness, support the immune system, increased virility, add nutritional value to balance the humors, and cure stomach hunger pains. I will know I have made it when some kook is pitching it on Oprah, and six months or so after that Crilip is debunking it.

On a personal note, I have educated my wife that ear candling is bunk.  She actually believed that "vacuum" theory.  Now, if she ever gets wise to me being bunk, I'm in trouble. 

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