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Posts Tagged ‘steven novella’

The Last Word (hopefully) on the Jerusalem UFO

February 8, 2011 4 comments

I have a Google alert for “UFOs”. I like seeing some of the nonsense that people come up with, and most UFO claims tend to go away within a day.

But this one of a UFO above the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, persisted.

The first video I saw was this one:

Which looks horrible! I was surprised this even got any attention. The blob is clearly CG animated, and the background looked kind of weird.

In fact, as Steven Novella pointed out on his blog, the lights in the video don’t twinkle at all, they are still.

Have a look at this screenshot I took of the above video:

Now, compare that to this photo of the Dome of the Rock, available for free via Wikimedia Commons:

Looks quite similar doesn’t it?

But of course there are a few other videos which “confirm” the UFO, none of which are overly impressive:

Life’s Little Mysteries goes into some detail about why these videos are fakes. First, they point out how illogical it is that someone would report these videos anonymously. People would WANT the attention of discovering something like this, wouldn’t they?

Second, no one else in the area reported seeing this UFO. The Dome of the Rock is a pretty prominent structure. Someone else should have seen these weird lights.

Robert Scheaffer, author of Bad UFOs blog also noted,

Effects of the video processing software are clearly seen. The hoaxer used Motion Tile effects with edge mirroring to introduce camera shake into the video. You can see the mirroring effects along the edge of the video. This proves that the video did not go directly from the camera to YouTube

This ‘motion tile’ effect is illustrated in this video uploaded by HOAXkiller1:

Frankly, the UFO videos weren’t all that impressive to begin with. But the evidence is pretty clear that the videos are fakes.

I do enjoy watching them though. It is pretty interesting to see what new trick these hoaxers will come out with next. I don’t think we’ll have to wait long for the next one…

Homeopathy “Tricks You” Into Feeling Better? *Facepalm*

November 17, 2010 1 comment

Homeopathy is a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine which has been largely discredited by the medical community. At its core, it is the belief that by diluting a substance to extremely small amounts, often until none of the active ingredient remains in the final product, makes the remedy more potent.

It makes no sense, and it doesn’t work. Yet because of tradition and some unfortunate legislation in 1938 in the United States, Homeopathy is still around.

A study was published earlier this week in the journal Rheumatology. Some news outlets are saying that the outcome shows that homeopathy “tricks you” into feeling better. This made me feel like poor Captain Picard here.

The study examined 5 groups of patients suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis. It split these participants into 5 groups:

  1. Those that received consultation and individualized treatment from a Homeopath
  2. Those that received consultation and complex treatment from a Homeopath (complex treatment is giving the patient a group of standard homeopathic remedies which are not tailored specifically to the patient).
  3. Those that received consultation from a Homeopath but given a placebo.
  4. Those that received no consolation and given complex treatment.
  5. Those that received no consolation and given a placebo.

The groups were blinded as to whether they received a placebo or a real treatment, but obviously you couldn’t blind them to whether or not they received a consultation.

I won’t go into all the data analysis or statistics, but the results eventually state that there was no difference between the placebo treatment and homeopathic treatment, which is not surprising.

However, the authors go on to assert that there was a significant difference between those that received a consultation and those that didn’t, and that this is evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy.

From the Telegraph:

Dr Sarah Brien, the study’s lead author, said that while previous research had suggested homeopathy could help patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the study provided the first scientific evidence to show such benefits were “specifically due to its unique consultation process”.

There are a few problems with this. The first is that the study is fairly small, therefore the power of their results is not high enough to make any broad stroke conclusions about the efficacy of homeopathy.

Second, the group which received a consultation was not adequately compared to anything. Comparing a homeopathic consultation to no consultation, and then claiming that homeopathy made these people feel better is not a sound conclusion. The authors should have compared the group receiving a homeopathic consultation to a group which received some other form of personal consultation or experience, like speaking with a medical doctor or hell, even a motivational speaker!

Steven Novella gives a good explanation on Science-Based Medicine about the Hawthorne effect which can have a significant impact on a study. Having the personal experience of speakin to a person may make for a better patient outcome, but it certainly does not prove any efficacy of homeopathy itself.

Digital Drugs Do Not Cure Stupidity by Steven Novella

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I love the blog NeuroLogica. It’s written by a physician named Dr. Steven Novella, who is a neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine and a renowned skeptic.

He also hosts a great podcast called The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, which I highly recommend.

Dr. Novella recently wrote a blog post which so aptly captures my hatred of science reporting in the media, that I’m going to re-blog it here for all of you.

[Update: After a lesson in proper blogging etiquette, I will now have the leading paragraph of Dr. Novella’s article on my site, with a link back to the original article. I am still relatively new to blogging and am still learning the proper way to do things.  I hope no one took this oversight on my part as an attempt to steal content, and I will follow generally accepted procedure from now on.]

Dr. Novella’s posts are always well researched and extremely well written.

Digital Drugs Do Not Cure Stupidity by Steven Novella

I have never been a fan of the local news, where journalistic standards are often annoying. Often the local news is an exercise in insulting the intelligence of the viewer. But at least the local news was local. With the internet, however, local news reports are increasingly being picked up by larger national outlets and amplified manyfold. So now I get to be subjected to the worst of local news reporting from all over the country.

You can read the rest of Dr. Novella’s excellent article about “i-dosing” here.