Archive for the ‘Bad Science’ category

Mystic energies, holograms and more unicorns: Part 1 (or why you shouldn’t blog when hungry)

July 2, 2010

Not so long ago, I blogged about Powerbalance bracelets- incorporating holograms treated with special frequencies to improve peoples’ energy flow, balance, athletic performance, and all-round well-being. I took a fairly scathing view, since to most scientists it’s clearly nonsense salad served with a garnish of pseudo-scientific parsley.

Parsley is not actual food, but it makes it look like you’ve made an effort. Actually it sits alongside celery in terms of gastronomic value. It’s not obvious to a lot of people that the salad isn’t a proper meal, and that we really need is some proper scientific meat.

Like veal calves, researchers have suffered in the darkness for the delicious benefit of the greater body of scientific knowledge. But for someone raised on a diet of leaves and twigs, the suffering has been in vain.

What the hell am I talking about? Ah yes… powerbalance… (more…)

Power Bollocks: holograms, unicorns, and Shaquille O’Neal’s magic underpants

June 1, 2010

This week I was alerted to Power Balance. Basically, bracelets and pendants with holograms in them. From the website’s “how it works” section;

“Most everything has a frequency inherent to it.  Some frequencies react positively with your body and others negatively. When the hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it allows your body to interact with the natural, beneficial frequency stored within the hologram. This results in improved energy flow throughout your body.”

The official website is vague on details as to how it is supposed to work.

“The Mylar material at the core of Power Balance has been treated with energy waves at specific frequencies.  The resulting Mylar is believed to resonate and work with your body’s natural energy flow to help enable you to perform at the best of your ability.”

Energy waves at specific frequencies basically means they either shone some light on it or played it some sound. This is a slightly higher technology version of a homepath shaking water to help it remember. It’s still just a hologram, just a very expensive one. (more…)

Here come the spiders: the importance of imagery

May 14, 2010

Imagery is a hugely important aspect of science communication. This is especially true when the language used to describe a scientific breakthrough is largely unfamiliar to a lay audience.

We remember images, generally, far better than we do words. Anyone can describe a scene from their favourite novel, but very few will remember the words. The image is what lasts.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail ran a story entitled “Meet the nano-spiders: The DNA robots that could one day be walking through your body”. Now, to me, the combined imagery of: (a) spiders, (b) robots, and (c) things inside my body equals a bad thing. (more…)

A good week? Homeopathy, plus Simon Singh vs BCA

February 24, 2010


It’s been a good week so far for science.

First, we had the crushing verdict of the Science and Technology Select Committee on homeopathy. In fairly unambiguous terms, their report confirms the vacuum of evidence to support any claims that homeopathy is effective, and recommends that NHS funding should be ceased.

Second, yesterday saw the much anticipated court showdown in the Simon Singh/ British Chiropractic Association libel case, covered by Jack of Kent and Crispian Jago. Although there is yet to be a ruling on the case, my impression from the coverage is that it couldn’t have gone much better for Singh.

Both are heartening. My only reservation is that either was necessary. Why, in 2010, is homeopathy taken seriously enough even to ask the question as to whether it should be funded on the NHS? Its underlying principles are so plainly, obviously and painfully silly that it’s hard to find the words to describe. (more…)

What the Bleep?

February 12, 2010

This isn’t exactly topical as it’s a few years old now, but I only just heard about this at the weekend. What The Bleep Do We Know? is a documentary film “serving up a mind-jarring blend of quantum physics, spirituality, neurology and evolutionary thought.”

It’s an interesting concept, with a dramatic narrative featuring a deaf, mildly-emotionally-traumatised photographer who, through a series of strange encounters, has her mind opened to… well I’m not sure what exactly.

The drama is interspersed with clips of authoritative-looking figures explaining aspects of some genuine scientific ideas and some genuine bullsh#t lumpily mashed together with a spiritual interpretation.

(more…)


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