Must-have products

The inflight sales catalogue, handed around on a need-to-have basis by the cabin attendants (who are bizarrely all wearing their hair in a bun style, if they are female. ) Blimey. Some of these items are magical. An ear vacuum cleaner?

A brand new and innovative way to safely clean your ears.

Just what I was looking for. I was getting so bored with the boring traditional methods of ear cleaning.

The Easy Ear Cleaner – It’s Easy.

Well, obviously, it’s just as well they repeated the easy word because I had initially assumed the Easy Ear Cleaner would be difficult to use but they pre-empted my concern.

There’s not much that could outdo that product. However, I am still impressed by the electronic bookmark.

This hi-tech bookmark and light is ideal for both avid and occasional readers alike!

Well, you can instantly see why you’d need an electronic bookmark. I mean, old-style low-tech bookmarks – involving actions like putting your bus ticket between the pages – were OK for expert readers who had mastered that tricky bookmark technology but occasional readers were often put off by the lack of an operating manual.

I am confused by this bit.

You can set the Bookminder to record the amount of time spent reading and it can even log which page you are on! Ideal for travel, sewing, hobbies or for encouraging children to read with the timer function

Obviously, it’s so important to log the amount of time you spend reading. You never know when the cosmic reading police will demand a full account of your time, of course. But, how exactly do you bookmark sewing?

Encouraging children to read with the timer function? Well, that is so obvious. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve heard primary school teachers complaining that their schools are starved of the budgets for those encouraging timer functions that will bring about literacy.

This is quite impressive on first glance. Dream On – 5 pack I’m mentally transported to the world of Total Recall. Bah. There’s only one dream in it, as far as I can see.

Dream On! from the toxic twins, is a 5 night sleep on it detox program. Based on the principles of eastern medicine, it uses foot patches aka “sap sheets” that when applied to the soles of both feet at night, work to excrete excess toxins from the body.

That’s the dream of “detoxing”.

I love this product. Put plasters on your feet and the excess toxins will just ooze out of you. (Avoid the distracting thought of how a toxin can not be excess.) How does it achieve this miracle?

They contain all natural ingredients – known detoxifiers, including bamboo vinegar, tourmaline bio stone, eucalyptus tree vine & agarikus mushroom specifically blended to help boost the metabolism. They are non-invasive, discreet & work while you sleep. Clear in colour going on, they will change in colour depending on your levels of toxicity

What fantastically natural things. Bamboo vinegar. Tourmaline bio stone. Eucalyptus tree vine. Agarikus mushroom. And, luckily they are all non-invasive. Not surprising really, because I can’t think of a non-magical or non-nanotech way that they could invade the body through the soles of the feet. Otherwise, we would be constantly battling toxins from the dirt that would be burrowing in through the soles of bare feet. And having to undertake really heavy duty foot detoxing on a constant basis.

Hmm, what if you decide to err on the side of caution and wear them all day? (They are, after all, discreet. So, you could probably get away with wearing them without your co-workers asking embarrassing questions.) Would they be too effective and start making you shed toxins that aren’t excess? Would the toxins build up to the level that you have to vacuum them out of your ears. Or would you suffer the ill-effects from not being toxic enough?

Aha. I see a marketing opportunity. Fit them with a timer. Better yet, connect them by wifi to your bookmark timer. (Patent pending.)

Assault on Science

As I write this, it is the end of an interesting week where the western worlds decline to pre-enlightenment understanding of science has continued. Obviously, when I said “interesting” I meant sad…

The really annoying leader of this decline has to be Mary Midgley, as Heather previously addressed, who seems to think that “Science” is some dark art that has no relevance on any other aspect of society. Oddly she seems to be calling for the implementation of social policies, laws and the like without any scientific input. Obviously the idea that laws should be formulated without any experiemental reason to think they would ever work – I mean we are innundated with such laws now… Who cares if it can be demonstrated that Law X doesn’t work, as long as we “feel” it is a good law… Well done Mary.

Next in the firing line is the case of Dawn Page and here “nutritional therapist,” Barbara Nash. In a nutshell Page followed Nash’s frankly crazy advice and suffered major brain damage. Bad Science has an excellent take on this – the media as a whole has ignored the general trend of crazy advice by self appointed “Nutritionists” and focused on Nash as a one-off crank… The sad reality is the western world is inundated with fruitloops like this who go on about Chakras, Detox and the like. The even sadder part is that we fall for this nonsense without having the basic scientific reasoning ability to question their basically insane claims. I am all for sticking it to “professionals” who abuse their position (and I think £801,000 was a trivial sum in this case) but, for Toutatis’ sake, why on Odin’s Earth didn’t Ms Page go to the bloody doctors when she felt sick. When uncontrollable vomiting set in, most normal people (you would hope) would go to the hospital, probably via a 999 call to an ambulance. Not Ms Page, who returned to her nutritional therapist for more advice. As I see it, this is where Nash commited the greatest crime. Rather than telling Ms Page to seek real help, she stuck to her woo. Stupid or greedy? Who knows? Who cares – it still screams criminal negligence as far as I can see.

Closing on the heels of the above, and a strong candidate for the worst abuse of scientific illiteracy is the media’s “feeding frenzy” on the decision by Ronald Herberman (Director of the University of Pittsborough Cancer Institute) to issue a warning to his staff to limit their use of mobile phones due to the risk of cancer. Now, I am going to assume that Herberman is a scientist and aware of the nature of scientific reasearch – and indeed, he did say the “evidence is controversial” that phones cause cancer. The same can not be said for the media vultures that descended on this…

First off, often decisions have to be made on “inconclusive” evidence, so that in itself is not a bad thing. By its very nature a scientific proof is still liable to be disproven at any moment. In this manner, it is perfectly reasonable (there is that word again) for Director Herberman to send a memo to his staff saying that, in his opinion, they should limit their use of phones. Does this count as “evidence” there is an increased risk of cancers forming in users of mobile phones. No. Does this mean the “scientific community” (in as much as one can exist) thinks there is a greater risk today than they did two weeks ago – again, no.

If you were to absorb any news from the UK this week, however, you would think this was fundamental proof that mobile phones are dangerous. New calls are all over about how phone masts cause “electrosensitivity” and similar woo. It seems that people have assumed, that because Dr Herberman has sent out this message it must be true and obviously because Dr Herberman works at a Cancer Institute he must be correct, notwithstanding the fact that Cancer Research UK reported (in February) that phone users were no more likely to get cancer than someone who had never touched a phone. Obviously, as journalists are functionally incapable of reading research they go with what ever seems to have the power to sell as many issues as possible…

The Guardian newspaper on Saturday identifies what it sees as the logic at work here (and sadly this is where Dr Herberman seems to fall down). First off, it explains the problem in trying to find out what is a “cause of cancer” with:

Here’s the thing. Almost everything that causes cancer does so by causing mutations in our cellular DNA that accumulate over years and often decades before culminating in a tumour. So to prove something increases a person’s cancer risk, scientists must often not only wait for years to see a significant peak in the disease, but also be able to rule out any other possible cause. That could be changes in diet, environmental factors, lifestyle, the list goes on.

Yes. It it hard trying to work out what causes cancer, this is one of the reasons we have so many “institutes” around the world looking into it. I don’t seem to recall any of them having solved the problem yet though. The Guardian finishes with: (emphasis mine)

The independent Stewart review into mobile phones in 2000 advised children to limit their use as a precaution. Dr Herberman is following the same logic. “We shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” he said.

Wow. A fail for science there. I think that funding research institutes causes cancer. Rather than wait to see if any study can agree with this, why don’t we withdraw the funding now so we can err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later.

Shame on you Dr Herberman, you have opened the floodgates to woo….