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Here is a rundown of the top stories in oddities and pseudoscience news from the past week courtesy of Doubtful News.
http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swi ... -news.html
There was a flurry of news related to skeptical personalities on Sunday. JREF fellow Dr Karen Stollznow reported that she received a death threat in reference to a piece she wrote for the SWIFT blog critical of Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo.
Skeptics being rational people are not noted for such activities.
We mourn the loss of two great skeptics. Paul Kurtz, one of the founders of the modern skeptical and humanists movements passed away at age 86. Writer and editor Leon Jaroff, who wrote a column called “Skeptical Eye”, died at age 85.
Psychic fails were all over the news this week.
One psychic tells a family a missing student will be found alive. That was, tragically, wrong.
Another psychic claims to be in contact with Steve Jobs, the iconic founder of Apple. Her story contradicts as least one other psychic who describes what Steve is doing in the afterlife.
The Merseyside (U.K.) Skeptics challenge famous psychics like Sally Morgan and Derek Acorah to show their stuff for the good of the world. Other psychic are encouraged to be tested with the results to be revealed on Halloween.
Can't pass this opportunity up to showcase one of those laugh out loud psychic moments as the Psychic Friends Network state outright that they can't predict their own success or failure. That's business.
In other stories about people from which you should NOT be taking advice, Jenny McCarthy, promoter of much nonsense like Indigo children and a supporter of disgraced anti-vaccination proponent Andrew Wakefield has her own parenting advice column.
Academics band together to call out Dr. Oz for his misleading medical information.
Proposition 37 for labeling genetically-modified food in California is being promoted with material that just drips half-truths and pseudoscience. That tactic may be working.
The flurry of news reports and health claims about dangers of Wi-fi and electromagnetic waves all around us prompted me to collect many of the latest studies on this topic. The problem is not as clear as we would like it to be but there is NO good evidence that there are physical health effects from EMFs.
In another case of misplaced big worry, a German woman fails to stop the Large Hadron Collider.
Some good news: A mass suicide was averted in Brazil.
And, there were encouraging results about American's views on global warming.
But, we end on a sobering note: A volunteer administering polio drops in Pakistan was gunned down. Factions in that country believe the vaccination efforts are a conspiracy.
There is much harm in mistaken beliefs.
On Thursday I'll be at CSICon in Nashville, TN. On Sunday, I'll be giving a talk about weird news and how Doubtful News has chronicled the year in paranormal, oddities and the unbelievable. Also, we're working on some year-end wrap-ups of the best stories of the year. It's been a wild one and it's not over yet. Stay tuned!
At 23:59 every day (Eastern U.S. time), we post the Leftover Links of the day, just in case you are still hungry for some news. These posts feature links to stories of interest that didn't make it onto the Doubtful News main page. Check them out and comment. Send us YOUR tips. Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Doubtful News for more stories, updated every day and follow us @Doubtfulnews on Twitter
Sharon Hill runs Doubtful News, a unique feed of news stories about the paranormal, pseudoscience, the weird and the unexplained with questioning commentary.
Again discuss if you like
A very interesting article on the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex from Eisenhower until now.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/opini ... h_20121105
As interviews with Andrew show, he was actually shut down by vested interests when he demonstrated that safety studies for vaccines were woefully limited or misleading. His work still stands. He was only 'disgraced' by a smear campaign run by big pharma, as interviews and evidence attests. It is actually defamatory and actionable to continue to call him 'disgraced' when he is not.
GM food is untested in a long time frame on human beings, and has been shown to be dangerous. Again, it's vested interests like Monsanto at work, the company who brought you the 'terminator gene' to rip off farmers. Farmers are increasingly turning their backs on giant agri-businesses like Monsanto as monopolists, parasitic leeches and restrictors of free trade and personal enterprise, and peddlers of dangerous and toxic untested products with unknown long-term consequences. Apparently the pseudosceps who endorse this article are happy to promote such anti-trust and anti-health activities. Regular foodstuffs have been tested on human populations effectively for thousands of years, these products are going through the same faked up 'safety trials' that brought you Vioxx and other toxic drugs with hidden deadly side effects.
Here's an example of an Australian scientist tinkering with peas to make a toxic new pea:
CSIRO scientist’s GM letter campaign ‘backfires’
http://www.crikey.com.au/2008/07/21/csi ... backfires/
CSIRO abandons research into GM peas
Scientists are just trying to make paid work for themselves and justify their existence, and in the process enable wannabe monopolists like Monsanto -- guilty of triggering the suicide deaths of thousands of Indian farmers in the name of taking profits.
Here's a particularly bad case of bacterial GM that cause shocking immune reactions in people taking L-tryptophan supplements produced by a new GM process -- attributed to a 'bad batch' that was actually an unapproved new GM strain of producer bacteria -- killing many and disabling others horribly for life:
A Deadly Epidemic and the Attempt to Hide its Link to Genetic Engineering
http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gm ... ugust-2005
Lastly, vaccines that are KNOWN to be dangerous and have been banned in first world countries go on to be peddled in third world countries where they are not yet banned, in order to squeeze more profits for big pharma.
I can't be bothered going on and pulling apart every other piece of pseudoscep BS in that article, to be honest -- it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Pseudosceps are clearly either happy to be shills for vested interests, or are unwitting dupes who really know nothing, masquerading behind a misplaced belief in 'science' that is really just venal economics and opportunism. So yes, it really does seem to be extremely 'doubtful news' coming from the author -- they are about half right on about half the things they're railing about, and having a 25% accuracy rate on such important matters is extremely dangerous. Once again, pseudosceps are happy to go on killing and maiming people under the banner of vested interests masquerading as 'good science' which is actually corrupted junk science twisted to suit profit-taking activity.
The documentary film "David versus Monsanto” details the groundbreaking victory of a lone farmer against one of the most powerful companies on the planet
The world’s first lifetime feeding study discovered that rats fed a diet containing 11 percent GE corn developed massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage and other serious health problems in the 13th month of life.
To put this into human perspective, if the average lifespan of a person is 80 years, these health problems would start rearing their ugly head somewhere during the 43rd year of life, provided your diet contained just over 10 percent GE foods and you began eating them in early childhood
According to a report released by the Environmental Working Group, Americans are eating their weight and more in genetically engineered food every year—an average of 193 pounds of GE foods annually
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/artic ... 1_SNL_MS_1
David vs. Monsanto—The Story of How a Lone Farmer Prevailed Against One of the Most Powerful Companies on the Planet
Monsanto has long been trying to establish control over the seeds of the plants that produce food for the world. They have patented a number of genetically altered food crops, which can only be grown with proper license, and the seeds for which must be purchased anew each year.
Alas, genetically engineered (GE) crops cannot be contained. And rather than being found guilty of contaminating farmers' property, Monsanto has successfully sued hundreds of unsuspecting farmers for patent infringement when unlicensed GE crops were found growing in their fields. Many farmers have subsequently, quite literally, lost their farms.
Percy Schmeiser of Saskatchewan, Canada, is but one of Monsanto's victims, but contrary to so many others, he refused to quietly tolerate the injustice. In a classic case of David versus Goliath, Schmeiser fought back against one of the most powerful businesses in the world.
David versus Goliath
It all began in 1998, at which time Schmeiser had grown canola on his farm for 40 years. Like any other traditional farmer, he used his own seeds, saved from the previous harvest.
But, like hundreds of other North American farmers, Schmeiser ended up being sued by Monsanto for 'patent infringement' when more than 320 hectares were found to be contaminated with Roundup Ready canola—the biotech giant's patented canola, genetically engineered to tolerate otherwise lethal doses of glyphosate.
The company sought damages totaling $400,000. Most farmers end up settling, but Schmeiser was angry enough to fight back, and countersued Monsanto for:
•Libel, by publicly accusing him of committing illegal acts
•Improperly obtaining samples of his seed from a local seed plant
•Callous disregard for the environment by introducing genetically modified crops without proper controls and containment
•Contamination of his crops with unwanted GE plants
The case eventually went before the Federal Court of Canada, and after a decade-long battle, Schmeiser won when, in March 2008, Monsanto settled out of court, agreeing to pay for all cleanup costs. The agreement also specified that Schmeiser would not be under gag-order, and that Monsanto can be sued for recontamination. This landmark case is now featured in the documentary film "David versus Monsanto," which you can view in its entirety above.
The Dangerous Contamination Propagating All Around Americans
Sadly, Schmeiser's victory is a rare case. While Monsanto and the rest of the opposition of California's Proposition 37 try to instill fear of lawsuits, which they claim could result if genetically engineered foods were to require labeling, they themselves have no problems suing farmers for patent infringement when their seeds migrate and contaminate neighboring fields.
This despite the scientific evidence (in addition to the common knowledge of every traditional farmer out there) that GE contamination is an absolute given. You simply cannot contain it within a given area. What's worse, we now have proof that GE crops not only spread outside the boundaries of any given field, they're also combining into brand new, completely unintended forms in the wild! According to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE1 last year:
"[W]e conducted a systematic roadside survey of canola (Brassica napus) populations growing outside of cultivation in North Dakota, USA, the dominant canola growing region in the U.S. We document the presence of two escaped, transgenic genotypes, as well as non-GE canola, and provide evidence of novel combinations of transgenic forms in the wild. Our results demonstrate that feral populations are large and widespread. Moreover, flowering times of escaped populations, as well as the fertile condition of the majority of collections suggest that these populations are established and persistent outside of cultivation." [Emphasis mine]
Still, Monsanto gets away with these ridiculous lawsuits, when in fact they are the ones who really should be held responsible for cleaning up the mess when its seeds spread beyond intended perimeters. But contamination isn't the only issue showing up in court. Farmers also sign an "iron-clad" agreement to not save or use the seed for the next planting season. They must repurchase the seed for each planting. This has turned ancient agricultural practices into an outright crime...
This was in today's NY Times. I think the Olsen family is correct. It has always bothered me that Olsen "jumped" out of his window from the after effects of LSD being dropped into his drink while at the farm. Furthermore, the window in which Olsen jumped out of was damaged and did not lend itself to suicide.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/us/fa ... ef=us&_r=0
Interesting legal question though. They were apparently compensated at the time for the death. I'm assuming they signed some kind of release. The damages are the same whether it is murder or accidental (with the possible exception of punitive - wouldn't get it in Canada, maybe in the states in this instance). So they'd be suing for $0 which the courts might not allow.
Whether there is punitive damages or compensation may not be what the Olsen family is looking for. There is a big difference in suicide and murder. Murder would bring into question motive. That motive would mean a coverup in which the CIA would like to keep the "family jewels" hidden. Remember, it was the CIA's Richard Helms who for the most part destroyed the MKULTRA files before testifying. The Church and Pike hearings bore out the extent of some of this activity. Yes, it was only the tip of the iceberg.
Sure, but if I understand the article correctly they were pursuing civil action. That means an action for damages. In a civil case, outside of punitive or aggravated damages the damages portion is a separate question from the wrong done. That is, you have to prove three things: A wrong was done (called a tort), there was damage, and that the wrong caused the damage. Each of the three elements are treated separated - with the exception of punitive damages which do related to the wrong done.
So, punitives aside, the damage to the family from the death of Olsen is the same whether it was murder or negligence. From a legal standpoint at least. Given that they've already been compensated for the loss, and probably signed a release, I'm not sure they have a valid suit.
But there could be something I'm not getting, and of course the article may not be presenting the situation accurately.
The Milner prize, again.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/scien ... ntemail1=y
Interesting article on the world's middle class. Can everyone have a smart phone, computer, automobile, energy and water to name a few? Will there be an unprecedented resource grab with a population projected to be 9 billion by 2050?
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/world ... ?ref=world
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