Alternative Does Not Make It Right

January 19, 2010

While I was playing the game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, a very fun, hilarious visual novel/videogame about a rookie defense attorney, I found the following amusing scene:

While fiddling around the “Ace Detective” Luke Atmey’s room (ha! get the name? the series is filled with puns) to gather evidence for a trial, I examined the chemistry set. What follows is the funny dialogue above. She asks, “Did you know?” and say that water is made of carbon and hydrogen. Phoenix responds that it is oxygen and hydrogen. And then, you can see  what happens in the next two dialogues up there, ending with Phoenix’s sarcastic thought:

“If by alternative, you mean the ones you make up inside that head of yours.”

I find this funny and at the same time, I can relate to it. And you probably find it funny too. Now, you might laugh at them, but have you ever considered that they are poking fun at some of us too? After all, real people do come out and tell you things that seems without substance on the premise that it is alternative, and that there are multiple points of views. *cough*alt-med*cough*

I wish I could show that joke to everyone who tells me about alternative whatever. Because really, these people end up looking as silly as Maya does up there when she tells us that water is carbon and oxygen. Those people, then, would kind of understand why I don’t think what they are saying is true. They would know that A: Their claims are unsubstantiated and B: They made it up. Whatever they told people were not based on prior, existing knowledge or, and I know it is redundant, the facts were not substatiated. See, if they would have had the evidence, they wouldn’t look silly.

I tell you, this joke teaches us more lessons than an entire day in high school. 🙂


I Made It in 123rd Skeptic’s Circle

November 5, 2009

That’s right, I have a post linked in the carnival. Yay! I took my first baby step towards blogosphere domination. ^_^ Now, competition for blogosphere domination is tough, so I don’t know if I will make it. Of course, you should go and see all the other enlightening posts too, and they are probably better than mine.

Homeopathy: The Stupid Strikes Back

October 31, 2009

Fear the stupid, fear it:

Stupid has no limits. It especially burns when you know something. And indeed, the following video is like showing a cross to a vampire, except this one is with science and educated people:

Just in case you don’t know, homeopathy basically says that if you imbibe something that caused harm in small amount, it will cure you of whatever you had. I know, it is like saying if you rub feces on you, you will get cleaner. Just doens’t make sense. Orac does a good job deconstructing these things (and hat tip to him for providing this entertaining and painful show). Of course, he focuses in the medicine, but he can also tell something is horribly wrong in her “physics” lecture. He covers the physics part pretty well, but I will go in more details in the physics side of things.. Even if I become Patrick Star stupid after this, I will at least have provided entertainment, so here I go. *gulp*

Note: I am not an expert in physics, but I did make as much as I could with what I knew, and a little research. Any errors, feel free to correct me.

And heh, she says at the beggining that she will “explain” things, heh, “explain,” followed by asking if anyone had chemistry classes. Probably none of them had it, and if they did, they must have failed horribly, or it is the suckiest school ever because as you watch the rest of the tape, you will start wondering what part of all of these were part of physics and chemistry classes. 

Notice how she begins by throwing in a famous name? Makes everything seem a little bit oh so credible, doesn’t it. Immediately after mentioning his name, though, she begins to screw with physics and what he actually said. Okay, not so much, it is more of me nitpicking. C squared is speed of light squared, not speed of light. If it were speed of light, then you wouldn’t need that square, would you? But now the mental stuff begins. She claims that if you put all the mass in the universe so that there is no space in between the matter, that it would be the size of a bowling ball. Well, if she means by all the spaces an atom has because of electrons, you only need to look at neutron stars. Neutron stars are so massive that electrons are absorbed by the proton, turning into neutron. It happens to 1.5 solar mass core of  even more massive giant stars. So you see, if the whole universe is squeezed like that, it would certainly be much larger than a city sized neutron star, and then, it would squeeze into a black hole, which is mathematically infinitely small. Of course, mathematics does not reflect reality, but it is super small definitely. If you take account of the event horizon, that is a different story.

But no, the fact that she was wrong on that fact was not why it bothered me. Uh uh. If you keep playing the video, she is implying as if having small volume means that the amount of mass is small. That is incredibly stupid. Look, we are mostly empty space, all right? Because an atom’s size depends on the very small, very far apart electrons. I still weigh 70 kilos regardless! I would weigh 70 kilos even if I shrunk enough so that I become a neutron star. I would weigh 70 kilos even if I became a black hole, albeit a super small black hole. If you squeeze a cotton ball, there is  still the same amount of cotton. Volume doesn’t matter, only the amount of stuff matter. You still have to take account of the stuff.

And then she makes an even a larger leap of logic. She then claims that since mass occupies a small volume, the term mass(m) of e=mc^2 becomes infinitely small, and what is left is e=c^2! Ow, ow, I got brain fever. What a horrible abuse of math and physics. Firstly, as I said before, mass does not change! Secondly, if you make the limit of mass to zero, then it might as well become zero value. And if you multiply 0 value by c^2, guess what? E=0! Also, how does the unit m^2/s^2 makes sense? That is speed squared, not energy. Energy has the units kg*m^2/s^2. What e=mc^2 do say, though, is that if, say, you turn a paperclip into pure energy, it will probably explode with the power of a nuclear bomb. Tiny little mass=BIG BOOM! And even if there were a gazillion times more energy in the universe (well, there is dark energy, but that is a different story) than energy stored as matter, it doesn’t change the fact that those matter exist.

Then she mentions the fact that vision is important because energy=C^2. I don’t get it. More importantly, of course having “vision system” is important! We would die without the ability to sense our way around. We evolved that way. Life adapts to nature, and natural selection did the best it could by selecting genes for eyes. I don’t know who “Hanneman” is, but I strongly suspect I know why scientists didn’t fall in his camp (clue: he was wrong). 

Afterwards comes another abuse of physics, this time throwing unceremoniously the name Stephen Hawkings. Can someone go to her and tell her to research things at least a little bit, or consult with a physicist, a little, at least, or something. Stephen Hawkings did not invent string theory, funnily enough (check year 1970). He is known for his work on black holes and Hawkings radiation, so I don’t know how someone came up with that connection. Anyways, string theory doesn’t say that there are whole other particles out there that are like strings. It states that those particles are made out of those strings, which vibrate at certain frequency (or was it wavelenght?). Different frequencies corresponds to different particles. And no, those strings are subatomic, so it doesn’t affect the macroscopic except the fact that normal matter is made of them. When she mentions that strings vibrating is energy, e=c^2… More research, ma’am, more research. The internet is awefully convenient for that, you know.

Then she goes on to the connection of physics and biology. Again, she makes the statements which I addressed before, cells are still made of mass, even if it is mostly empty space! And the fact that atoms are mostly empty doesn’t matter at this large scale either. She then talks of breaking the cells into energy, like protons, electrons, neutrons… Wait a minute… That is what atoms are made out of, and atoms are matter! *facepalm* With that logic, she says we are made of energy. Physics class indeed, physics class. With that comes the most incredible piece of stupid in the video yet, just when I thought it couldn’t get stupider. She declares we are energy and that diseases are caused by changes in energy state, like turning chemical energy into heat or something, except something else. Well, there goes germ theory of disease. People, I present to you a most puzzling and curious specimen, a germ theory denialist in the 21st century. Of course, she isn’t denying the germ theory only, since not all diseasees are due to germs, she is ignoring the basics of all biology, pretty much.

Okay, here comes the apex (or nadir, the bottom, if you will) of illogic of the whole piece, which doesn’t make sense even if all her other premises were true: We are energy, disease is caused by energy change, so to cure disease, you have to change it into a prevous state… by using the same stored energy that caused the bad thing to happen. All of it with the analogy of throwing a bomb to a neighbor’s house because a dog pooped in your home. Yup, even if her bad science were true, it doesn’t make sense. It is like saying that you can quench thirst by drinking salt water because salt water causes thirst. And all of that comes along with bad analogy. She is holding no punches back.

The rest is just the whole vibration/energy bull, along with an anecdotal story. If you know anything about standards of evidence, anecdotes are bad evidence. Primarily because human judgment and memories are unreliable. Which is why in a court of law, if you only have eyewitness, but no material evidence, you are screwed.

Oh, and one last comment on energy. You can’t just use energy as if it were something. It exists, that is for sure. Matter turns to energy, energy turns to matter. But mostly, energy is in a form like motion, stored due to position, or as light itself, all being work due to force. So saying we are all made out of energy is… Well, in a way we are because matter is basically condensed energy, but other than that, energy is an abstract concept relating motion with a number, and in case of light, wavelenght with a number, the numbers being energy. And using that number, we can calculate all sorts of things about that motion, and that number is conserved throughout the whole thing. Indeed, this is something that physicist Richard Feynman explains very well.

Now that this mega piece of deconstruction is done, I will end with one last note. “Dr.” Werner, I have never heard so much nonsense concentrated in such a short amount of time. I believe she deserves the accolade of, as the young people say these days (yikes, I am 19 and I already feel old 😉 ), “ignunt” of the month.

Bill Maher and the Antivaccine Idiocy

October 17, 2009

If you know me, which you probably don’t, then you know that I am a staunch defender of science and reason, and extremely allergic to pseudoscientific idiocy. Especially those that threatens the life of people, and antivaccine woo woo is one of those. And so, I am here to make you aware of one in particular, Bill Maher. Considering that he is a well known liberal comedian, he has an enormous potential for damage. So, I will take you to Orac’s post against Maher, who deconstructs him argument by argument far better than I ever will, considering that he knows on the subject far better than I ever will. And the thing about Maher, while he supports a lot of good liberal agendas, it seems like he doesn’t come to those conclusions in any intelligent manner at all. What I mean is that he is a liberal just for the sake of being liberal. What makes me suspect such a thing is that he supports the HPV vaccine. Now, that is like being against every dessert and pastry in the world, but then coming out and supporting chocolate. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? But then again, chocolate is special.

Funniest Stupid

October 6, 2009

You have to read this, by Orac. Absolutely hilarious. This person was trying to tell the “truth” that vaccines are EEVVVIL, and in the process, messed up horribly. But just wait until you get to the end, just wait. If you know basic chemistry, it will be like a stab in your brain.

EH: Emergency Homeopathy

July 4, 2009

I just found a very funny video making fun of homeopathy and “alternative medicine” in general. (hat tip badastronomy) It is from a British program “That Mitchell and Webb Look.” The sketch is called Homeopathic A&E:

It basically shows how nonsensicall homeopathy is, which is basically water that has been superdiluted. According to homeopathy, diluting water with the same stuff that harmed the person can cure the person. I know, it doesn’t make sense no matter how you put it or twist it around. They also claim that water has memories so it remembers what it diluted, which if it were true, we would all get sick and died from all of the animal excrements dumped into the water. Unfortunately, some people are spreading such nonsense as fact. It is part of the larger problem called alternative medicine, which if it were real, it would just be medicine.

I have always wondered how people can be succeptible to something like that. I mean really, even if some of the alternative stuffs kind of make sense, a lot of them makes as much sense as claiming that the moon is a giant ball of cheese. Alth0ugh I see a pattern in that all of the alternative stuffs basically provide hope, and it is much simpler than reality itself. Think about it. In the dream world in which homeopathy works, all you have to do is drink water, instead of going through remedies, doctors, and annoying or invasive procedures. Personally, I would love it if any diseases I get could be gone just by drinking water. Unfortunately, the world is just the way the world is, and no matter how much one wishes it to be different, it will still remain the same: Medicine is rrreeaaallyyy complicated.

Simon Singh V. British Chiropratic Association (BCA)

June 4, 2009

You might be wondering, what is that new banner of “keep libel law out of science”? Well, I will explain. Anyone who have looked at my previous posts knows that I care deeply about reality and science’s position, especially since it can do out lives a whole lot of good (or bad, if in the hands of evil). Well, in this case, Simon Singh has been sued for libel when he criticized the chiropratic association for being a bunch of baloney (well, he didn’t put it this way, but you get the general idea ^_^), which I showed and linked in this multi layered rant. Well, his initial ruling didn’t go well, but he is appealing, plus, he has the support of a whole lot of people.

Also, JREF has this to say:

We at the JREF support Simon in his quest for justice. It’s clear from his writing that his intent was not to claim that the BCA knowingly commits acts of fraud, but that the BCA is nonetheless incorrect in their claims of the efficacy of chiropractic. Simon is, of course, correct. Furthermore, the ruling, as it stands, would produce a chilling effect on the ability of journalists to question the claims of anyone, including pseudoscientists. Whatever path Simon chooses over this issue, the JREF will be there, and to the best of our ability we’ll have his back.

 As you can see, this is very important. If this ruling passes, then a precedent would be created in which any criticism in the media can be taken as libel, including criticism on bad medicine, which makes this a science issue. Taking a position in an issue in medicine should be based on hard science, based on evidence and tough peer reviewed standards in scientific journals, not the guts and feelings of some random people claiming to be doctors, or in this case, dumb court decisions. I mean really, what is this “energy” that some of those bogus doctors claim? It seems like it has no specific property except  that it permeates everywhere and it keeps your body going. Physics defines it as something that allows objects to move, but to them, it is something that can excuse their brand of idea that they want it to be true. Usually, you can tell something is bogus by the way they just come up with some phenomena that is not specific in its effect and seems unprovable. Even if they genuinely believe it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t made up, because it is.

In the end, if you can’t give evidence for the efficacy of some treatment, then too bad. That is reality, and don’t go around touting it off as if it were an actual treatment.