Kahomono - It Means Lucky

Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy that day.

Category: Pseudoscience and other BS

SOS – Save Our Sun!

Such is the state of education in the American South.  And if you are wondering, the source of this story is not The Onion.

The town of Woodland, NC voted down a zoning variance that would have allowed a solar energy farm to be built.  Furthermore, they instituted a complete moratorium on all solar energy development.  Because of the solar farms, Woodland is becoming a ghost town and young people are leaving for lack of opportunity, said Mary Hobbs at the town council meeting.  (Note from the reality-based community: there are no solar farms in Woodland.  The one that was voted down would have been the first and only.)  Ms. Hobbs also said that her home is surrounded by solar farms and is no longer worth its value because of those facilities.  (remember – there are none there, at least not in the universe of observable reality that you and I occupy).

Jane Mann, a retired science teacher (!), noted that photosynthesis depends on solar energy, and if the farm were allowed to be built, no sunlight would remain for the plants to use in this critical process.  Won’t someone think of the children plants?  She also observed, probably truthfully, that nobody could tell her solar panels do not cause cancer.  The high number of cancer deaths in the Woodland area (which, remember, lacks any solar farm) are therefore a solid reason not build a solar farm.

Her husband, Bobby, noted that communities dried up when I-95 came along.  And of course a solar farm producing clean electricity is obviously exactly like a new highway routing traffic away from your town.  He went on to note that a solar farm would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.  Being a man, of course, he had less concern for frippery like green plants than did his wife.

It’s easy to be snarky at these idiots, but think: that woman was a science teacher.  How do you suppose her former students are doing at evaluating this issue or others?  Scared is not the right word for how I feel about this, because part of “scared” is, you are not sure what will happen.  But I have no doubt what will happen.


VennDiagramOfBSMaking a selection today from the Venn Diagram of BS, representing the Quackery category, Acupuncture!

The delightful website Science-Based Medicine recently summed up a plethora of studies on this scam, and found that as a whole they establish clearer evidence of its untruth than any one of them could.

For example, acupuncturists noted that real medical studies hypothesize a mechanism for why a treatment might work, then perform tests to see first, if the effect occurs and second, if the effect and the therapeutic benefit are correlated.  Acupuncturists perform a quick sleight-of-hand with this sequence: first they measure what happens in skin when needles (with or without electric current) are stuck into skin, then they propose that the mechanism for acupuncture’s effect is whatever they measured in step 1, and then they correlate that with the therapeutic benefit.  It’s pretty subtle, and lay people will mostly not notice the switcheroo, but it’s absolute crap as far as science is concerned.  You don’t get to observe what happened and then, ex post facto, say that it’s what your theory predicted!

Another damning bit of evidence against any reality to the claims of acupuncture is a meta-study that found that acupuncturists’ training… or lack thereof, their adherence to the exact points of insertion… or lack thereof, in fact, whether they inserted needles… or merely poked the surface of the skin with toothpicks.  In fact, none of these correlated with improvements in symptoms.  What did correlate with improvement?

A nice person being concerned about your symptoms and attending to them.  

I suppose this means, being a nice person and being attentive to the issues people bring to you is all the qualification required to be an acupuncturist.  Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t mind “being nice and attentive” being requirements for a number of other occupations.  But none of those things should qualify for a plugged nickel of healthcare money, and sadly, acupuncture does.


Venn Diagram of BS


click through for the source 

In periodic installments to come I will be giving you my analysis and opinions on many of the entries here.

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