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Apr. 1st, 2010


The medical benefits of clay foot massage

[As I was typing this, Singh won. Well, he won the right to use the defence of "fair comment", anyway. I dunno whether that amounts to the same thing.]

OK, everyone's giving Simon Singh the Big Up today because he's finally got his day in court, where the BCA is suing him for being rude or something. And, hitherto, I'd pretty much gone along with what appears to be a herdlike consensus of his being the rational voice in the wilderness speaking out against the quacks and snakeoil peddlars. Fine. Indeed, most of the coverage has given exactly that impression: that the test in this case is whether the BCA's claims are in any way supported by scientific evidence.

But, according to Wikipedia (usual, tedious and so-fucking-obvious-it-pains-me-even-to-have-to-mention-it disclaimer applies), that's not actually, technically, actually what it's about, apparently. The issue is whether Singh accused the BCA of deliberately misleading its members clients. Here's what he wrote:

"The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments".
OK, that seems pretty straighforward to me. And it seemed pretty clear, too, to - your friend and mine - Mr Justice Eady, that Singh was explicitly saying that the BCA was FIBBING, like a big bag of FIBBY FIBBING people with extra FIBS on top.

Now, Singh's statement's a bit of a stretch. You could argue, say, that the BCA should have known that these claims were bogus, which would at least leave it with the defence of stupidity (much as one might do with, say, claims of WMDs in Iraq). But no. Singh maintains that he didn't mean to suggest that the BCA was dishonest at all.

"If we go to trial it's almost impossible for me to defend the article, because it's something I never meant in the first place."

Well, fucksake. If you didn't mean it, you shouldn't have written it, should you? Because any argument that that is not what you wrote is, at best, disingenuous, and, at worst, FIBBING.

It's at about this point that I expect people to start muttering things like, "Well, psychonomy would defend the BCA. He's been advocating chiropractic ever since he went in a cripple and came out able to walk like something out of Life of Brian". And, yeah, I have advocated chiropractic. You would too.

I would also, however, point to the abstract for this, which makes what can be claimed for chirpopractic quite clear, and the basis upon which those claims are made ("Spinal manipulation/mobilization is effective in adults for: acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain; migraine and cervicogenic headache; cervicogenic dizziness; manipulation/mobilization is effective for several extremity joint conditions; and thoracic manipulation/mobilization is effective for acute/subacute neck pain").

The BCA is clearly wrong. It is, whether wittingly or through some complex, bizarre process of self-delusion, peddling snake oil. And it's obviously made a huge miscalculation in suing Singh. But that doesn't mean that he wasn't a bloody fool to phrase his article as he did, and an idiot to maintain that he meant something else.

If Singh wins the day today - and part of me hopes that he does, mainly because the consequences of the BCA winning are less palatable - let's not dress this up as some sort of victory of science over supersition, or free speech over draconian libel laws. It's a collection of people in the wrong suing someone else who was in the wrong. He might have been in the wrong for the best of reasons, but I've no doubt that the BCA would say the same of themselves.

It's like watching a bad movie, in which all the characters are so unsympathetic that you don't care who's left alive at the end. They're all as bad as each other.

Chief source.

Apr. 23rd, 2009


Thank you, Darling.

And thanks to ver Stannid for offering us this indispensible advice on coping with the rigours of the Current Economic Crisis TM outside Richmond Station this morning. It's pretty much what I was planning to do anyway, but it's nice to know I have the Nation's support.

Vodka Red Bull - official sponsors of Her Majesty's Recession.

Mar. 4th, 2009


Pakistan steps up hunt for gunmen

Because, if they're honest, they weren't really trying all that hard yesterday?

Feb. 1st, 2009

abnormal psychology

First Kiss

'Take this,' he said, proferring me a small sky blue bottle.

'What is it?'

'The ecstacy of a true love's first kiss.'

Below us, we heard the clatter of a small troop climbing stairs to the landing outside my bedroom. Forgetting his offer, he flipped the top off the bottle and, in one smooth movement, threw its contents down his throat.

As the door splintered, he drew his sword and hurled himself, fearless and invulnerable, towards it. The madness of saints shone about him.

He'd thought he would find out, some day. Thought he would have the time to enquire as to whose ecstacy was in the bottle, whose lips had brushed against heaven.

He still did, we realised as he fell into the melee, his smile beautific and merciless. But we knew better. He would never find out. The time for idle enquiries had passed. None of us were walking away from this, and him least of all.


Jan. 31st, 2009

abnormal psychology

Sarcasm in bus advertising

Oct. 22nd, 2008

abnormal psychology

Sarah Palin sighted!

On my Facebook profile.


The weather's fine, but there may be a meteor shower

M' part-time colleague alerts me to these Morrisisms. File under 'Why do I even bother trying to make this stuff up?'. (Not that I have this year, but really, with stuff like this, who missed it?)

All to be found right this minute on the front page of bbc.news. Among, I have no doubt, many, many other fine examples of the subeditor's art.

News Comedy

I was reading an article over the weekend - I forget where, possibly the Observer - suggesting that the supposedly edifying TV viewing of documentaries and current affairs was actually worse for your health and emotional wellbeing than comedy and 'reality' TV. I have to admit, my predilicition for current affairs may not be entirely unconnected to my habitual grumpiness, disdain for my fellow man and occasional sociopathy.
However, how to classify the video clip in the following piece? I may be biased - "may be" being a euphemism for "am absolutely" - but Osborne's unconvincing bravado and floundering here are wonderful, especially the cutting off of Channel 4's Gary Gibbon.

(Here's ITN's YouTube version, to which the comments immediately following sadly do not apply:

Best of all is the nice edit at the end. It doesn't fade to black, just cuts Osborne off mid-sentence. You can almost hear the editor spluttering in disgust as he realises that anyone with half a brain knows exactly how that sentence is going to continue. After all, it's all George has been trotting out in response to a variety of different questions. Or rather, all he's been trotting out to the same question phrased in a variety of interesting new ways.
Rothschild is apparently a contemporary of Osborne's in the Bullingdon Club. The same club at which David Cameron and Boris Johnson were contemporaries some five years earlier (well done, chaps - go to the top of the classless society). I cannot help but imagine that this little spat has its orgins in some sordid early-'90s university intrigue. Did George whisk Nat's girlfriend off somewhere? Did Nat whisk George off somewhere? We should almost certainly not be told.

And Andrew Feldman, the Tory fundrasier who happily happened to be happily staying close enough to drop in for a chat on the yacht, was in David Cameron's Uni tennis team. I would go on, but I've just puked up a little bit in my mouth.

Sep. 11th, 2008


It's like Chris Morris never happened

Kudos to Sandford for the sign-off of the decade.


Aug. 12th, 2008


What gave it away, do you think?

BBC: US President George W Bush said it seemed "efforts might be under way to depose" the Georgian government.

It's good to know someone's keeping an eye on these things.

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