Is There any Power in Power Balance?

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I was visiting a friend of mine recently and I noticed one of those rubber bracelets I see all the time sitting on his table. I didn’t know what group or organization it was for so I picked it up and started looking at it. That was when my friend told me it was a power balance bracelet that he got as a gift. He told me it was supposed to work by pressing a magnet against the veins and arteries in the underside of the wrist to improve strength and balance. I don’t even know how to transition from this because just typing it has killed a few brain cells so I’ll just say that my friend thought it sounded kinda stupid but that he also saw a demonstration that seemed to back up the claim and asked me for my opinion.

I was shown this demonstration and I knew that the Power Balance Bracelet was a hoax and how they made it look real before the video ended. The demonstration had the sales man take a volunteer from the street audience and showed them the balance improving powers of the bracelet. This was done by having the volunteer hold their arm out straight and the salesman pushing down on their arm to throw them off balance. The volunteer then puts on the bracelet and repeats the test, only this time they can resist the salesman and keep their balance.

The New Snakeoil

Now before I tell you how this was done and why the Power Balance is a hoax I should tell you how I know what I know. I have always had a love for illusions and “magic.” As a result of this, I have learned alot of little tricks about the human mind and body that can make a person seem magical. One of these tricks is balance manipulation. The salesman of this bracelet used this trick to make the product look like it was working.

When the volunteer, who can be an actual volunteer and not a plant in the audience, puts their arm out the first time the salesman applies pressure to their arm down and away from the center of mass. This guarantees that the person will tip over. After they put the bracelet on, the salesman pushes down and towards the center of mass. This motion pushes the salesman’s weight onto the center of mass of the other person so well that they can genuinely put alot of strength into the push and not topple the volunteer.

The Power Balance is just one more medical hoax out there. So always remember to think critically and learn as much as you can about any new product that makes promises that seem too good to be true.

Edit: I just found out that the bracelets don’t have anything to do with magnets.  It’s actually supposed to work on some kind of energy matrix built into the silicone.  I didn’t think it was possible, but they are even dumber than I thought.

An Interesting Look at the Parenting Instinct… And Stuffed Animals

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This isn’t so much of a look at science or philosophy, well maybe a little bit. This is more of a humorous story that I may be able to relate to some basic human instincts because my brain seems to link simple events to complex scientific and social theories.

The story goes like this; I was with my girlfriend, who I’ve been with for a few years now. We were picking some stuff up at a local drug store when she noticed a display near the toy isle of the store. The display was of a newish line of beenie babies that are designed to mimic baby animals. She was imeaditly drawn to the rows of giant eyed stuffed animals looking eagerly for loving parents. I, being the cinical person that I am, lovingly poked fun at her for having her heart melted by these toys; she tends to do this alot recently. She then told me that she wasn’t like that until we started getting serious in our relationship. At the time I didn’t understand how that could work. And then she picked up the baby penguin and asked me how I could say no to its face. I bought the little guy along with the advil and vitamins that I picked up that day.

How could I say no to this?

This got me thinking about my girlfriend telling me that she didn’t used to get weak at the knees at the site of cute things until we became serious. What if the parenting instinct has a trigger of some kind? I think this because I never would have bought my little baby penguin before I entered into a serious relationship. So now I understand both what my girlfriend meant, as well as the parenting instinct.

But now I have more questions about human instinct than I did before.  How did my parenting instinct know that I was in a serious relationship?  It can’t be physical intimacy because people all over the world have one night stands and that doesn’t make them suddenly parental.  It could be that I just ignored this protective part of myself until being in a relationship.  This got me thinking about the parenting instinct, and human empathy in general, and I think I have an idea about how parenting instinct may come about.

When I was researching the parenting instinct I found many different views on this phenomenon.  Some people believe that parenting and love in general are learned behaviors, the nurture over nature view, other people seemed to believe that there is a distinct chemical signal that triggers instincts like parenting.  Neither one of these really gripped me since I don’t believe in extremes.  I don’t favor nature over nurture or the other way around but rather that nurture works with nature to create our personal and social behaviors.  Then I found some research that made sense to me.

This article got me thinking about the potential connection between nature and nurture when it comes to the desire to be good to other people, including children or babies.  The one part of the article that shows this comes when a study by Emory University neuroscientists, James Rilling and Gregory Berns is mentioned.  This study found that helping people activates the pleasure and reward center of the brain.  This got me thinking about my situation with my little baby penguin and how I wouldn’t have been so taken with the little guy before I met my girlfriend.  What if the phenomenon that people call parenting instinct comes from the reward center of the brain being activated by having a significant other?  Maybe the social rewards of being with a person for a long time turn on the parts of the brain that prep us to reproduce and pass on our genetics?  We are an animal that mates for life after all, well most of us are anyway. 🙂

But this is just my opinion.  Chime in and let me know what you think.

My Little Rant on Homeopathy…

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While I know that the issue of homeopathy has been talked about to death, I started thinking about it again when I mentioned it in my previous article. So I decided to write about the topic here.

for those who may not know, homeopathy is a pseudo science created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann. The theory behind homeopathy is that like-cures-like and that water has a kind of “molecular memory” that is enhanced by dilution. Or to simplify it, if something is making you sick, all you need to do is dissolve a small amount of the thing that made you sick in water, then dissolve that solution in water and repeat until statistically there is about a one in a million chance of even one molecule of the original substance being in the solution and drinking that solution will cure you. I know, it was just as confusing to me when I first heard it. Let me go on and see if I can make it clearer.

Let’s create a hypothetical situation here. You’re a homeopathic “doctor” and you want to make an antidote for arsenic. So far so good, it’s always good for someone practicing medicine to have antidotes on hand. But because you’re a homeopath, you’re not going to use western medicine. You are going to use homeopathy. So what you do is take one milliliter of arsenic and mix it with ten milliliters of water before shaking the solution. You now have what homeopaths call a 1X solution. You then take one milliliter of that solution and mix it with ten milliliters of of water before shaking that new solution. You now have a 2X solution. But according to homeopathy, that solution is too weak to be effective. So you take one milliliter of that solution, mix with ten parts water and shake. You then repeat this process upwards of 30 or 40 times. By the time you’re done, the dilution is so mixed that there is most likely none of the original compound in the 30X solution. Now it’s potent enough to cure arsenic poisoning.

Now naturally, there are many things wrong with this practice. The one question that I always had personally was why couldn’t homeopaths just give people a drop of water from the ocean to cure anything? I makes sense, just about every substance on earth has made it into the ocean at some point, it’s always moving around and being shaken up, and if like-cures-like when diluted so much then shouldn’t ocean water be able to cure everything from the common cold to cancer and AIDS? But no, if it was that easy, then they would go out of business wouldn’t they. So you might be wondering what the harm is in a couple of crazy people believing in complete nonsense. The harm is that these people are actually pretty influential. Did you know that many homeopathic “medicines” are sold in major drug stores like Walgreens and CVS? Yeah, that scared me too. In fact, the “cold remedy” Zicam is a homeopathic medicine. Many people have died because they themselves or their parents were homeopaths. Many people have become sick or stayed sick because they bought homeopathic medicines without knowing what they really were. As someone who knows many people in the medical field, including doctors and pharmacists, I find this pseudo scientific alliterative to medicine very offensive and even more dangerous.

If you want to know more about homeopathy, and you should at least know what brands to avoid during your next visit to the drug store, I would recommend visiting The James Randi Foundation website. In addition to exposing homeopathy, the foundation is dedicated to exposing and debunking a wide variety of junk science and superstition.

The Global Consciousnesses Project…

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I was recently made aware of a little “science project” called The Global Consciousnesses Project. The basic idea is to see if humanity has a paranormal connection of some kind. This is done by collecting the data from several random number generators and seeing if the data points line up or form patterns that correlate with major world events.

Now the idea of testing for the paranormal isn’t so bad. No idea should be dismissed for testing as long as the theory is solid. This project however doesn’t sit well with me.

One of the biggest flaws I have with it is the lack of connection in the testing method. How does a random number generator get effected by some global psychic energy? So right off the bat this project is too far removed from any real science for me to take it seriously. The other problem, and the big problem with the real scientists I’ve heard from, is what this project does with the data collected.

The way this project connects the data collected to the idea of a global consciousnesses is by trying to find the events that led to any patterns found in the data collected. Now anyone who even took basic science in school should be cringing at this method. Proper science should never take data and then try to make it fit into a theory. It also doesn’t help that they can’t even pidgin-hole their data properly. The big find that the project uses as evidence is a pattern found around September 11 2001. They claim that this pattern shows a collective moment of grieving that was able to effect the random number generators. The big problem with this is that the numbers show little to no pattern until about 12 hours after the event.

I hate it when this pseudo science gets big enough to begin influencing people, don’t even get me started on homeopathy. Hopefully the fact that these people can’t even fake their results that well will discredit them enough that they won’t be able to do too much damage. If you want to know more, here is a link to an analysis of the project and the 9/11 data that I found really well done.

www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/library/sep1101.pdf

Offering Support From a Fan

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I’m a follower of the YouTube user Thunderf00t. Recently he has been under some attack from another user who was angered at Thunderf00t’s attacks on the Islamic faith. Because of these attacks, this other user has begun spreading the DOC’s of both Thunderf00t and a member of his family around.

This is clearly a way to induce an attack on Thunderf00t and his loved ones. I for one find this act deplorable. Even though I don’t have any followers yet. I want to show my support, and encourage anyone who may follow this blog in the future to show any support you can.

The problem has gotten so bad that for the safety of his family, Thunderf00t has revealed his identity in a recent video.  

I wish you luck and hope that you stay safe.

An Introduction

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Hello everyone. If you’re reading this then you either know me personally or I’ve commented on your blog and you wanted to know who I am. This blog is mostly a way for me to get all my thoughts out without annoying my friends and loved ones. 🙂
The basic themes that I plan to cover involve sociology, technology, psychology, and some random philosophy that may cross my mind. Hopefully people will enjoy my musings and will chime in with their own thoughts and ideas.
I would love to get to know any followers I may get and will try to respond to as many comments as I can. So feel free to discuss, agree, disagree, or just say hi.

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