News From Around The Blogosphere 8.21.11

1. Bionic leg gives amputee natural gait – Once again, science achieves where gods have failed, creating a practical prosthetic leg that closely simulates the function of a biological one. Now unfortunately, the article was unclear whether the leg comes with a Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman sound effect option.

2. A pro-science GOP candidate? – Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman has come out in support of both evolution and climate change. It began with a Twitter post where they tweeted: ”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming.  Call me crazy.”  He then went on ABC’s Sunday morning show This Week and came out even stronger in support of science. And in doing so, he’s proven to be the only GOP candidate who seems to have graduated from elementary school and has immediately moved up to the top of my list of who I’d like to see running in the general election against Obama…at least out of the options that are currently on the table…which admittedly doesn’t say much.

I'm pretty sure this is the right Rhett S. Daniels

3. Science blogger silenced by quack’s lawsuit – Fortunately, U.S. libel cases are notoriously hard to prove and Rhett Daniels doesn’t seem to have anything even resembling a good case. But at least for the time being, René Najera has been successfully silenced by this intellectual coward’s bullying tactic.

4. Can science engineer a human with bulletproof skin?

By mixing the genomes of spiders and humans, researchers say they can create genetically altered human skin that could withstand a bullet fired from a .22-caliber long rifle.

They just better make sure this spider-man is taught that with great power comes great responsibility. This story sounds pretty far-fetched but it still makes for an interesting read.

5. JREF targets famous ‘psychics’ following Nightline episode – Last week’s episode of Nightline looked at the world of alleged psychics. It did a pretty decent job of representing the skeptical side, featuring guys like Banachek and James Randi himself voicing their criticisms and mimicking standard mentalist tricks. And now the James Randi Educational Foundation is following up the piece by issuing personal invites for several of the famous psychics featured in the show such as James Van Praagh to apply for their Million Dollar Challenge. Of course, one doesn’t have to be psychic to predict they’ll either ignore the challenge or refuse to take it with a silly excuse.

6. Psychic family caught in fraud case:

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4 Responses to News From Around The Blogosphere 8.21.11

  1. Michael Douglas says:

    I just wanted to drop you a line, since I recently read your “article” on quantum jumping. I just needed to say that as far as research goes, you, and the people who allow you to think for them are garbage. You did NO research. Your ‘justifiable ridicule’ is contempt prior to investigation, and prior to reading your article and discussion, I knew nothing about you. Well now, this has changed, and your credibility is shot with this reader. I have nothing to say regarding ‘quantum jumping,’ aside from this: several of those who participated in your discussion claimed to have purchased the product and used it, or researched the topic themselves and experienced a variety of results, which you snidely and, again, I repeat with much contempt you dismissed offhand, demanding they provide your intellectual superiors with scientific proof for a review board. You sir, are pompous, and a disgrace to any so called ‘scientific community’ you claim to have ties with. You should be ashamed of yourself. When others, who have actually done hands on research by being unbiased and experimenting with the methods offered for ‘quantum jumping’ and claim results. Not just one or two either mind you. Yet you have the nerve to mock and ridicule those who have done their homework and presented you with information contrary to your uneducated findings. You are not a researcher. You are a lout and a fraud. I will also be posting a copy of this to my own personal site to inform my own readers that you are nothing but a blowhard with no facts. A player with no chips. Go home son. And don’t come out until you’ve done your homework. No supper for you.
    Little regard,
    Michael Douglas
    Dark Geometry

    • mjr256 says:

      Michael, you’re hilarious!

      Unlike Bert, I don’t make any attempt to think for anyone. In fact, I value rational disagreement quite highly and strongly discourage anyone from just taking my word for anything. But while I’m not a professional quantum physicist, on the topic of quantum physics, I value their insight and expertise because they ARE well-researched in these matters. That is why I only argue the position held by the consensus of experts in the relevant field. So it’s not me who demands everyone think as I do but rather, it’s YOU who seems to not tolerate dissent, going so far as to call such dissent “garbage.”

      Quantum Jumping in fact has not been demonstrated to do as Bert claims and it CAN’T do as Bert claims. If you disagree, all I ask is that you prove it does under proper scientific conditions. As I’ve repeatedly stated in the comments to that piece, it’s NOT my job to disprove his extraordinary claims but rather it’s HIS JOB to prove that he actually can perform the service for which he charges money. He has not met even the most basic burden of proof and so no “investigation” is required, just like one is not required to conduct a formal investigation to disprove Santa Claus before dismissing Santa Claus as just a fairytale character. What can be asserted without evidence can be just as easily dismissed without evidence. Period.

      “and your credibility is shot with this reader. ”

      Well, that’s a tragedy. [Note: since you seem to lack any form of critical thinking skills, the previous sentence was intended as irony.]

      I absolutely did not dismiss Bert’s fraudulent product “out of hand” as you claim but quite IN HAND. I know enough about quantum physics to know it when I see it and know when someone just shallowly exploits science-y sounding terminology that bares no resemblance whatsoever to the very science they attribute to their claims. It’s as though someone were to claim they could predict the lottery numbers geometry and then proceeding to throw around words like “hypotenuse” and “cosine” even though it has no connection whatsoever to what they’re talking about. Bert’s scam is pure pseudoscience. And if you want to convince me otherwise, you’re going to have to prove it isn’t scientifically, not with ad hominem attacks about what a piece of garbage you think I am because I’m not as supremely gullible as you are. Prove it works beyond reasonable doubt w/o merely citing anecdotes and I and the rest of the scientific world will happily change our minds. That simple.

      As for your claim that applying the scientific method makes one a disgrace to the scientific community, that is hilarious. You quite clearly don’t even know what science even is or how it works. And for someone who has the audacity to call me “pompous”, you quite clearly are proud of your scientific ignorance. But if you ever do decide to get off your high horse, stop behaving like a pompous, arrogant asshole, and actually want to EDUCATE yourself, I highly recommend the book, “The Demon-haunted World” by Carl Sagan. I also recommend the following websites full of articles explaining the scientific process and useful critical thinking skills:

      • Michael Douglas says:

        Check it out mj,
        First, I apologize for going off half cocked yesterday. I shouldn’t have called you and those who take your word at face value garbage. I was in a bad mood anyway, and when I took the time to read your article, I was pretty miffed. You are not garbage and you certainly have the right to speak your mind. I was a journalist in the military for five years and served in OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom.) Not that I necessarily believe in that conflict, but I signed a contract to serve so you could have the right to speak without being oppressed. 911 just happened to occur while I was serving.
        This being said, I never said I believed in quantum jumping. It’s not my job to look into it. I am not a subject matter expert on the issue, and I don’t care that much. What disturbs me is that you are speaking about something you know nothing about, as though you have some kind of authority. Apparently it isn’t your job to thoroughly look into a topic before you make an ex parte decision as to whether or not something is worth investigation. This attitude is what I take issue with and I do believe IT IS garbage and not you. I will look into your recommended reading. However, I do know enough about scientific method to know your approach on THIS SPECIFIC topic is far from scientific. I will go as far as to say, your opinion on the matter is no more educated than the proverbial man on the street. That being said, if you feel this is acceptable to your readers and they agree. Well, then all is well. Enjoy your day.

  2. mjr256 says:


    First of all, I appreciate the more civil tone you’re taking and appreciate your willingness to admit mistakes. Most people can’t do that. Further, I apologize if my own tone was harsher than was warranted. Since I get a wide range of responses to my articles, my general rule is to treat commenters with the same level of respect they treat me. So if you’re civil, I’ll be civil.

    Now I already feel I’ve said about all I have to say about QJ in the comments section of the aforementioned QJ piece I wrote two years ago. I’ve read the scientific claims made on Burt’s website and they simply do not correspond to any known science currently understood by any expert in any relevant field, and certainly not by any quantum physicist. That’s not my opinion but a verifiable fact.

    Now science is not just a body of facts or just a bunch of random things that so-called “experts” say but refers to the rigorous process on which claims are tested and vetted for reliability. And not only does Burt’s claims defy our current scientific understanding of the universe but it simply has never been demonstrated under proper scientific conditions. This is a massive red flag, especially since he’s already selling a product based on this unproven science. That’s why I call it fraud. Any layperson who reads his QJ website would be given the impression that his claims are backed entirely by mainstream science when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. He cannot claim mainstream science agrees with him and then suddenly take the position that mainstream science is in denial about his remarkable discoveries whenever it’s convenient. Those are mutually exclusive positions and it demonstrates dishonesty.

    I may not be a professional physicist but I do understand fundamental physics and it simply does not work as he claims. But if I can be said to be an expert in anything it’s how frauds exploit people’s scientific ignorance and invent pseudoscience to scam the public out of money. And Burt’s given me every reason to believe that that’s exactly what he’s doing. And he has no shortage of opportunities to prove me wrong. He can undergo peer-review, contact the Nobel committee to look into his claims, apply to the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge. But despite how much it’d be in his best interest (provided he’s telling the truth), he’ll do none of that because it will only expose him as a fraud to the entire world.

    I have not now nor ever denied that some of Burt’s customers have genuinely claimed to have been helped in some way by QJ. The best scams are the ones where the victims don’t even know they’ve been taken advantage of and Burt would hardly be the first con man to keep his victims believing he’s helping them long after ripping them off (see: Bernard Madoff). But the placebo effect is well understood at this point and testimonials and anecdotes alone are not sufficient evidence for his claims. The fact is people’s awareness that they’re victims of fraud does not determine whether the fraud is a crime or not. If I rob someone and they never notice, it’s still a crime. And by selling product or service dependent upon alleged science that at best can be called dubious without disclosing just how on thin ice it is…is fraud.

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