News From Around The Blogosphere 12.4.09

December 5, 2009

1. Sexiest scam I’ve seen all day – DETOX PANTS!!! – Debenhams has launched Peachy Body Pants, the ‘cellulite-busting pants’.  How it works seems to involve green tea as an anti-oxidant and of course the removal of toxins (always with the toxins). The secret of these magical pants is that, like every other pair of pants, they don’t help against cellulite.

Polyamide Meryl Skinlife (whose acronym is the not very attractive PMS) ‘accumulates and transfers moisture to the surface of the filaments [which] allows it to easily absorb and transport perspiration.’ It’s also ‘the first bacteriostatic microfibre’ according to a specialist textile website.

So PMS pants help prevent a nasty sweaty crotch full of tiny living things, which is a blessing if you’re going to be wearing them eight hours a day for 21 days. You really don’t want festive thrush.

But they sure are nice to look at on the model.

2. Scienceblogs and National Geographic merger – The greatest source for science blogs on the web is joining forces with National Geographic. The folks at Age of Autism are going to love that. I just wish I could be there and see their faces when they hear the news. I’d pay real money to see that.

3. The most egg-cellent Jesus pareidolia yet –

Yes, clearly two intersecting lines is far too intricate a pattern to be explained by chance alone. So once again, can Bill “I love child rapists” Donohue and Michael “autism’s make believe” Savage please explain to me again why that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode was so offensive?


News From Around The Blogosphere 7.9.09

July 9, 2009

Since I’m coming on the first birthday of Skepacabra in about 10 days (has it been a year already?), I thought maybe it’d be nice to go old-school Skepacabra and do a “News From Around The Blogosphere” entry like I used too. Also, it saves me a lot of time.

Why does anyone take health advice from Gwyneth Paltrow? Though Paltrow’s “lifestyle” site has been around for awhile, Amateur Scientist did a great little blog about it and her promotion of special the “detox” diet from “detox specialist” Dr. Alejandro Junger:

Why am I putting “detox” in scare quotes? Because it doesn’t really mean anything. Anything you shove down your throat (or up your ass, for that matter) to cleanse toxins from your system does nothing for your health since your body isn’t full of toxins. Like the word “energy”, people with no critical thinking skills use the word “toxin” to mean whatever they want without providing anything like evidence to show what it even is. Regardless, Paltrow just knows she’s full of toxins, so she recently tried out Dr. Junger’s suggested diet of one solid meal a day sandwiched by two liquid ones. Now she says she lost some weight and feels “pure”. I know it seems miraculous that a diet of very little actual food might lead to weight loss, but this is really just science.

Looking for a cheap fuel source? Urine luck

Researchers at Ohio University may have found a cheap and abundant source of hydrogen to potentially fuel future hydrogen-powered cars. Yeah, it’s pee pee. Turns out the primary component of urine, urea, has four hydrogen atoms per molecule, as opposed to water’s two. Using a nickel-based electrode, the urea atoms can be easily broken apart with less voltage than it takes to split water. Which means that urine could be a less expensive and more abundant source of hydrogen.

In another classic case of absurd pareidolia, now believers in Ireland have found the Virgin Mary in a tree stump – The local church’s response is great:

Local parish priest Fr Willie Russell said on radio station Limerick Live 95FM yesterday that people should not worship the tree. “There’s nothing there . . . it’s just a tree . . . you can’t worship a tree.”

. . .

A spokesman for the Limerick diocesan office said the “church’s response to phenomena of this type is one of great scepticism”.

Buyer Beware the Brassage? The Naked Truth About ‘Healthy’ Underwear – ABC News

April 2, 2009

It’s so rare to see an mainstream news source doing a straight skeptical story on a quack medical product that I forgot what it looked like. But thank you ABC News for exposing this total crap! Click the link and watch the video as ABC News tears these frauds a new one.

This is so typical of pseudo-scientific charlatans. They lead potential customers to believe their product has medical benefits and that medical experts were behind making the product but they keep the benefits as vague as possible to avoid a lawsuit.

Then when you express even the slightest bit of skepticism about their claims, they dishonestly try to deflect it by playing the victim card. A classic example is this recent interview with $cientologist spokesman Tommy Davis:

But way to go ABC for sticking to your guns and nailing these assholes with their sham medical product and especially for pointing out that chiropractors ARE NOT REALLY DOCTORS!

ABC, please, please, please do more stories like this where you get interviews with actual doctors challenging the claims and really scrutinize their claims.


Prince Charles is ‘exploiting the gullible’

March 12, 2009

Prince Charles has been a long-time sucker for homeopathy and other forms of bogus medicine. But now he’s selling bogus medicine in the form of a detox remedy. His brand is Duchy Originals and it has produced numerous herbal and detox preparations.

Prof Ernst, the first professor of complementary medicine in the UK, said: “Prince Charles contributes to the ill health of the nation by pretending we can all overindulge, then take his tincture and be fine again. Under the banner of holistic and integrative health care he thus promotes a ‘quick fix’ and outright quackery.”

He said detox is based on the idea that toxins accumulate in the body until it becomes overloaded and that certain products can speed up the elimination of these substances.

Prof Ernst said: “The body has a powerful mechanism to deal with itself and there’s no evidence that dandelion or artichoke will improve these functions.

Scientists dismiss ‘detox myth’

January 5, 2009

Here’s a great article from the BBC about ‘detox’ claims:

There is no evidence that products widely promoted to help the body “detox” work, scientists warn.

Although this generally is old news, the story is justified by a recent review by the charitable trust Sense About Science that looked at 15 products, from bottled water to face scrub. The findings showed that many detox claims were “meaningless”. Here’s one example of the kind of pseudoscience being perpetuated by these companies:

One researcher investigated a Garnier face wash which claimed to detoxify the skin by removing toxins.

The “toxins” turned out to be the dirt, make-up and skin oils that any cleanser would be expected to remove, she said.

They concluded that at worst these products are dangerous and at best, they are a waste of money.  And here’s a great quote to end on:

“Your body is the best detox product you have” – Sense about Science