Professional Recovery Doubt

I recently went to Bluewater to buy some socks. I could have gone to other places but I needed to be out the house for a couple of hours until it was time to go to the cinema. I didn’t really want to buy anything else but I figured that I could see what the world looked like and wander the halls of capitalism a few times. Too many people were without masks in my opinion and so I am not sure I’ll be heading out to busy places anytime soon. The CV-19 situation right now in the country is not good even though everyone is treating it as though the world is back to normal. Anyway, while wandering the halls of Bluewater I saw two products being sold by pop-up stalls that sparked alerts in my head. One of these was a Bosch odour remover that has really piqued my curiosity, it’s £250 if you are interested. I think I’d rather just wash my clothes and not be a sticky arse. The product I’m going to write about here is the Recovapro.

A centre-of-the-aisle store had a bunch of massagers and some staff ready to demonstrate how they work. I wandered past initially but I did wonder if they make any unrealistic claims when speaking to people or in their literature. On the second pass I took one of the leaflets, more to remember to write about them and see what claims they make.

From the leaflet the Recovapro will relieve aches and pains. It is passionately used and trusted by athletes and sporting professionals who take wellness and recovery seriously[I wasn’t aware that athletes aren’t sporting professionals but there you are]. The benefits are:

  • Encourage blood circulation.
  • Relieve muscle soreness and stiffness.
  • Promote muscle warm up and recovery.
  • Naturally relieves chronic and acute pains.
  • Relaxes the body for better sleep.
  • Improves range of motion and flexibility.

All of these things seem to be vague claims about self limiting situations with regards to the body. Aches and pains go away by themselves. If you think you have better motion then you will report better motion whether you really do or do not. People consider this the placebo effect but in reality the placebo effect is just a scientific way of saying no real effect but self-reported results are boosted due to self-delusion. I have no idea whether the Recoverpro does or does not do any of the things claimed. Apparently this product is “clinically proven” and I will investigate that a little later.

The leaflet has a section on why it works. All of these five statements are more about how the device works in a mechanical sense rather than how it actually affects the body and so I’m writing off that page of the leaflet. Next section is about the benefits which is really a list of parts of the body and descriptions of what those bits of the body do. This page sounds quite sciency too. More information about how to use the product which is really a list of screen shots of YouTube videos showing how the device can be placed upon your body. The YouTube videos seem to claim that the device will “treat” particular areas of the body but I’m pretty sure it’s just how to contact the device with your skin.

The next page in the leaflet is a bunch of reviews on Trustpilot and I couldn’t give a shit about what other people think their device does. Testimonials are the worst kind of evidence possible and so this page is ignored and always should be. Recoverpro then answer the question “Why are we the best?” with a list of technical specifications compared with the competitors. There isn’t really anything here to explain why they are the best, just a bunch of numbers. These things cost GBP229 which seems a lot of money to me.

There isn’t really anything in the leaflet that makes enforceable claims. They mention wellness which isn’t a legally defined term and anyone can claim they can improve wellness. The other claims are all rather vague and have no scientific meaning. The use the work “treat” on the YouTube videos but then make no claims as to what they are treating or how it works and so there is a legitimate claim that they aren’t claiming they can treat actual diseases and injuries. This is all rather worrying really for a device that costs, what I consider, a lot of money.

I emailed the company and said I was interested in their product [true] but wondered what actual clinical evidence they had for it working. This is what I wrote:

I'm interested in your device but would like to see the clinical proof that you have. Could you send me a pdf [or similar] of what evidence you have that shows this device works as you claim? I'm super interested but it's quite a bit of money for me at the moment. 

I got back a response and I was hoping they would have some decent clinical trials or science to back up their claims. As I said earlier the worst kind of evidence entirely is anecdotal and so I wanted something a little more formal. The whole reason science developed is that humans are very good at misleading themselves and so we have methods for ascertaining what is really going on. These methods, called science, remove all the human factors when done well. Don’t get me wrong there’s plenty about science that isn’t great but overall and in the long run it is a process that works and self-corrects. The response from the company was this:

On our website you can find a varied array of blogs, articles, stories and reviews showcasing how the Recovapro can help muscle tightness, aches and pains. Likewise, it is utilised by many physiotheraposts, masseurs and athletes.

So, on the website there are stories, blogs and reviews. None of this is good evidence to back up what the company claims. I was hoping for a little more. It’s a shame that all they have is anecdote. The fact that people use this device is not evidence that it works. The fact that people have spent over GBP200 on a device and think it helps them is not a surprise. I have spent money on amplifiers in the past and the more I spend the better quality the sound. It’s a bit like wine really, the more things cost the better the person thinks they are. I’m doubtful as to whether this device is a revolutionary as the company claims. I think it is just an expensive Hitachi Magic Wand with better marketing. Next time I am in the shopping centre I might see what health claims the people selling this actually make but this would also require me to get past my fear of actually talking to people.

Hitachi-magic-wand.jpg
By The Medical Center for Female Sexuality (MCFS) – GFDL, Link

This is communication number 1919 and so, in keeping with a recent trend on this site, here are some of the things that happened in that year:

  • The great molasses flood killed 29 in Boston.
  • There are riots in Glasgow over working hours.
  • Amanullah Khan becomes King of Afghanistan.
  • There’s a race riot in Chicago.
  • The 1918 flu pandemic officially ends.

New Levels Of Crazy But I Shouldn’t Be Surprised

Last night I was waiting for the cricket highlights on BBC2 and I got the stream going a little bit before 19:00. This meant that I saw the last five minutes or so of some nature programme [Animal Park] covering koala bears at some sanctuary. I didn’t pay enough attention to know where it was set. The gist of this bit of the programme seemed to be wondering whether any of the female koalas were pregnant or at least feeding a joey in the pouch, let’s go with “with child”. To help figure this out and rather than manhandling the koalas they got someone in who had an infrared camera to remotely measure the body temperature of the bears [not bears]. This person was introduced as an “animal osteopath” and I was suckered in to everything that person said.

I’m going to write this communication “live” in the sense that it will be a diary of the next hour as I have a look at whatever the fuck an animal osteopath is. Firstly, let me tell you that human osteopathy is mostly bollocks and doesn’t do anything. I have looked into this along with reading many books concerning osteopathy. I wrote a communication about it in 2014 where I explained what osteopathy does and does not do. TLDR – it does very little except remove money from people. Now I’m really curious about animal osteopathy and what that might be so it’s time to get googling and see what stuff comes up. My initial heuristic is that it’s bollocks, but if I am wrong I will say so later on.

Let’s look at what the “animal osteopath” brought to the television programme. They had a IR camera and could measure temperature of the koalas remotely. The first temperature reading was taken from a male [who couldn’t possibly be “with child”] and the temperature was noted. As far as I can tell this has little to do with female koala temperatures and while it seems quite reasonable it really isn’t. Who is to say that male and female koalas have the same body temperatures over the surface of their bodies? Who is to say what the normal range of temperatures of koalas is? Why was this introduced as though it was scientific when it absolutely was not? Oh, it makes good television I suppose but it was not good method.

Next a couple of the female koalas were temperature measured remotely and the “theory” was that if they had a joey in the pouch then maybe the temperature would be higher in that area of the body. This was not even backed in science. They didn’t announce that we “know” that temperatures are higher where joeys are feeding. This was a first and therefore any differences they find might be down to koala physiology rather than anything else. What sort of temperature difference would be enough to convince the show that a koala was pregnant? All of this reeked of “made for TV” rather than any groundings in science. I’ve just looked up how big joeys are and they are initially the size of a jelly bean and therefore any temperature difference wouldn’t be measurable through the skin and fur of the pouch.

So, the entire process covered on television to decide whether the koalas are pregnant was utter theatre. I doubt very much that this is a valid method and it quite clearly wasn’t standard as the presenters were very much explaining this was a new thing. This brings me to the “animal osteopath”. You don’t need to be an osteopath to operate a IR camera. You don’t need to be anyone specially training. You point the thing and take spot measurements. Why an animal osteopath was introduced I don’t know. They could have had Geoff who lives next door and uses his IR camera to spot couples in flagrante in the bushes near his house. This did not require an animal osteopath.

Human osteopathy is bollocks and so let’s see what animal osteopathy is like. I honestly can’t imagine it’s going to be more evidence based. I somewhere suspect that they make shit up like other osteopaths, but let’s see. A quick google search brings me results for general osteopathy but I’m going to see what courses there are to learn animal osteopathy first and then look over the website of a practitioner.

The first animal based advert within Google was for the above people who train osteopaths and are actually linked to the European School Of Osteopathy which is down the road from me. The website seems to offer courses in horse and dog osteopathy and not much else. It’s a well designed website and offers many courses for people who are interested in animal osteopathy. Their courses are accredited by the ESO so I think I’ll have a look at what they say about animals and shit.

The ESO website is mostly about human osteopathy but they mention a little about animal osteopathy and link to the Association Of Animal Osteopaths. This website design looks very much like AOI and so it’s time to investigate who governs who and whether they are independent and also, it’s time to remember that just because there’s a national association it doesn’t mean that it’s regulated or even science. There’s an international association of osteopaths and that’s bollocks for humans. The top two names in the AAO are also the top two names in AOI and so there’s an overlap there of who checks the work for who. One organisation looks as though it checks the work of the other but they are the same people.

I doubt very much that animal osteopathy has any real effect on animals. Wikipeida doesn’t even link to anything about animal osteopathy, you just get linked to the page for normal osteopathy and so the conclusion is that it does very little. We know that the “placebo” effect operates on those humans who have animals treated with alternative medicine [ie not medicine] and I don’t think there’s any real documented scientific evidence to claim that animal osteopathy is a real thing. I suspect that with people appearing on television and being given credence by that appearance this thing will continue and people will pay money to experience a thing that is not real. Oh well.

This is communication 1912 and so here are some things that happened in that year:

  • First presentation of continental drift theory.
  • Airships used in war for the first time, by Italy.
  • Lawrence Oates says “I am just going outside and may be some time”.
  • Vitamins are identified.

Doubly Penetrated

Today I am officially vaccinated against Covid-19. Two weeks and one day ago I had my second injection. I can report that I had no side-effects and was able to carry on. I was happy to get vaccinated. I don’t really read a huge amount of social media and I certainly am not affected by all the claims of vaccine-conspiracy. If I was in charge then vaccinations would be mandatory. But I’m not in charge and the socialist authoritarian in me lies dormant.

We should be clear about what the vaccine does. It minimises the risk of you suffering greatly and being hospitalised if you catch Covid 19. It doesn’t stop you from getting the disease it just gives you that extra boost so you don’t get it too bad. Our current government policy is placing an awful amount of hope on the vaccine that hospitalisations remain low and deaths remain low while they can open the country economically bit by bit. It turns out that people “want” their summer. I have found this attitude incredibly amusing and I think the autistic spectrum part of me doesn’t get it.

Let’s be clear about what is happening right now. The daily cases are going through the roof and people are being told to isolate all over the place. Yes, this makes sense. If you get the disease you should minimise the risk of passing it on. It’s called being SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND A GOOD PERSON. I will accept that some people will be struggling financially and that isolation isn’t the best thing for them. But if we had a caring government you would hope they would help. Ultimately, everyone is going to get the disease and we have to manage the outcomes of that. If we can maintain the low death rate then we are doing well. The whole point of lockdown is to ensure that the health services can work. We’ve seen what happens when that is not a possibility.

What we should remember is that this government’s response to the pandemic has been an utter shambles and fucking terrible. They are a pathetic bunch of idiots. I’ve written about this before. Their choices have meant this country has had one of the highest deaths rates and one of the highest case rates in the world. Sydney, Australia recently went into lockdown because there were 40, yes 4-0, cases. There were 48,000 in the UK yesterday alone.

July 2021 Covid Cases
July 2021 Covid Cases

This graph shows quite clearly how terrible certain countries around the world have done. The worst ones are:

  • USA
  • Brazil
  • UK
  • India
  • Hungary

What do all those countries have in common during 2020? Shit-speaking arsehole leaders. Idiots who are in power for the power and unable to empathise or even consider anything other than themselves. There needs to be an extensive public inquiry into the responses of the UK government and there should be court cases after that. There needs to be legal ramifications about preparedness because the next pandemic, and it fucking will happen, could have a higher death rate and truly fuck everyone over.

July 2021 Deaths Covid
July 2021 Deaths Covid

Given how rich this country this the above graph is a fucking embarrassment. Fuck this government and their response to this pandemic. What a bunch of twats.

Covid App Isolation

This headline just shows how widespread the virus is. It shows that the cases are rocketing. It is very clear that the easing of restrictions over the last few months has caused widespread infections and it’s going to get worse. The government’s hope is that the death rates stay low. I hope that is the case too, but we don’t know. We need to remember that death rates run two weeks behind infection rates.

Given that many places are still going to insist on masks and the government is hoping that people are “sensible” we know it’s still bad. The issue with the the Tories hoping that people are sensible is that people AREN’T sensible. That’s why we have rules in place. If there were no speed limits and we let people decide for themselves then road deaths would increase massively. It would be terrible. This is the same as that. Many people aren’t going to be sensible and they might kill themselves and, more importantly, they might kill plenty of other people. We are led by fucking idiots.

I’m Just Disappointed

I do know that it’s wrong to use your mobile phone while driving but I just had to in this case. Fortunately I was in a traffic queue and just after I spotted this advert there was serendipity. Given the hurry I was in and the distance of the bus from me I’m quite pleased with how the picture turned out.

Education Kind Of
Education, Kind Of

What surprised me about the advert was partly that Fashion History should have been something starting with a T to match the tarot part of that sentence and I think KAE missed the point of how those literary devices work. The main surprise in this advert was to see KAE advertising courses in Tarot. I don’t think they should.

Tarot is either the name for a pack of cards used in Europe for about 400 years or tarot refers to the practice of conning people with bullshit, from Wikipedia: “the late 18th century, some tarot decks began to be used for divination via tarot card reading and cartomancy leading to custom decks developed for such occult purposes.”. I’m guessing that this reference to Tarot on this advert isn’t just about the design of the cards but more likely to be about the spooky divination of said cards. Let’s see.

As I type this I’ve got another tab open [actually it’s a whole browser on my other screen] and I am going to look through the tarot information on the KAE website. The first thing I noticed in the search results is that there are two course and they don’t cost as much as I thought they would, but the socialist in me does think that if people want to further their education then it should be free of cost, however I do understand the modern world.

KAE Search Results

In a moment I am going to click on the more information hyperlinks and see where that takes me. Le Boutillier. Hmm. Le Boutillier. Very sensible choosing a name that sounds like it’s from New Orleans or of French descent. It gives you a certain credence in this realm of tarot. It could be that Le Boutillier is their birth name but I suspect not, I will try and find out.

Understanding the Tarot is an online course run out of the Tonbridge part of KAE. It’s a basic course for anyone “wishing to understand how Tarot reading can be commonly used to measure potential outcomes and evaluate influences surrounding a person, an event, or both.” So this is a course in nothing. There’s a little bit about understanding the 22 Major Arcana cards but the rest of it is absolute nothing. Oh well.

Creativity and Inspiration with Tarot is an online course [sensible in a pandemic] and it is basically learning how to make up shit in story form from the cards that you have. So I guess it’s about using your imagination. There isn’t anything about telling the future or past but just the story aspect of the cards. The tutor for this course is Martin Laya Rey. Almost definitely not their real name and made up to sound exotic. I’ll see what they say about themselves shortly.

Ally Le Boutillier. Her biography on KAE says “a Reiki Practitioner, Hypnotherapist, Bereavement Counsellor and Numerologist.” Of those things there only one is actually a real thing to do and even then, given her other practices I wonder if she can counsel people without resorting to after-life souls stuff. Now to google and see what happens. Oddly she does not have her own website, there’s some things on Linkedin and Facebook but I’m not trawling through those sites. It does appear that Le Boutillier is her last name, she mentions her late father and his name is the same. Perhaps I was harsh about that. She does have a YouTube channel and she has a playlist called Deepak Chopra. That is all you need to know. Deepak is a man who utters such vague rubbish that those who believe the supernatural love him.

Martin Laya Rey has two google results and that is the page at KAE and an advert tweet for a cook at a cafe in a cinema. This is super odd. Maybe I’m the odd older person as I have a number of google results for my name. It seems odd that no one else is called that also. So, I have no other information on this person. I could go to Facebook but I don’t like making myself busy on that site, they are immoral. In terms of names I have no idea from web results if it is their actual name so let’s go with a yes.

My conclusions. This stuff seems harmless enough. Tarot is a giggle if you take it as a bit of fun. I guess it’s like a Ouija game – which is a game and the science of it is well known – the problem is when people take these things seriously and start taking the advice of the cards. There is a false hope in the idea that there are super natural things and even more false hope that they are communicating to us through vague symbols and other people. The legitimacy provided to tarot by it being an official course on an adult education platform does not help and is one of the ways that practitioners are able to claim that they do a real thing. It’s a bit like the reiki poster up in the doctors surgery. Reiki is rubbish but gets condoned because it has a poster up in a place of goodness.

I Don’t Mean To Ruin The Party

I don’t mean to be the asshole even though I am probably being that person. I have been super impressed with the scientific breakthroughs and vaccines that have been made for the SARS-Cov-2 virus. The whole effort by governments and private enterprise to secure a hopeful future for the world is certainly worth celebrating. I also do not mean to slag off the NHS. I have never cared more abut the state of this country’s health service than now but I have always been a defender of the public health system we have in the UK. I don’t mean to have a moan at the BBC and while there are many communications in these pages which moan about news and headlines from the BBC I chose to moan about them because they hold the highest standards of journalism in this country [just look at how shit the print media are].

NHS Delivering 140 Jabs
But What Does This Really Mean?

This was the headline yesterday. The NHS is delivering 140 part one vaccines a minute which sounds very fucking impressive. As a mild aside, who the fuck calls these things “jabs”? They are inoculations or at least the first part of it, can’t we use grown up language to describe the things that matter? FFS. Back to the numbers because that’s what we should be looking at and bear in mind that I will defend the NHS and science – I am not having a moan about them.

140 Vaccinations [part 1] per minute.

Assuming there are twenty million people who really need to have vaccinations before we can get back to something that resembles normal and feel safe again that is going to require:

2,380 hours of constant vaccinations or just about 100 days -that’s THREE months – assuming twenty four hour access and every appointment filled.

Even if we manage to keep the centres open for 18 hours a day it will require 132 days to vaccinate twenty million people.

There are 66 million people in this country.

Here’s to another three months of lockdown.

Testing The ‘Rona

I have spent the last few days angry and I expect it will continue. This government was, until yesterday, insisting that schools return for education and school stuff in the new year. This is while this country is ravaged by Covid-19. The numbers do not look good. The virus is rampant and the spike after christmas jollities will occur in a week when, once again, the government will act as though they don’t understand a two week delay to everything they introduce. They are incompetent and have always been. They lack the balls and empathy to do the right thing. I hear people say it must be difficult for people in charge and while I agree with that sentiment I feel those people are largely trying to find an excuse to forgive the tories from their utter ineptitude. The current bunch of politicians in charge of this country – and voted for by most of the country – are selfish pricks who don’t care about anything other than themselves.

There has been an insistence that schools must stay open whatever is happening and that education is really important. Wow. Given the lack of investment in schools and education over the last twelve years I’m surprised at this attitude. Maybe tories just don’t like their children and do everything they can to get them out of the house. I haven’t had a real term pay rise for over twelve years. Education has been underfunded for over twelve years. Just like the NHS the tories haven’t invested because of their policy of austerity over the last fucking decade.

So we should keep schools open but we don’t get the funding to do so. It’s like there is a belief that we should teach a fixed amount to the children and then test that “learning” or the whole system will fail. I don’t understand this rigid thought process. I can solve this now. Let teachers grade their pupils over the next two years. Cancel public examinations. Remove all forms of accountability by exam results. Let teachers give realistic grades to their students as a measure of how they have progressed and learnt over the last while. This removes the need for examinations, removes the need for all pupils to have learnt the same things and removes the need for keeping schools “open”. To be clear, when schools are closed the education is still happening. Teachers have upskilled immensely over the last year to do their best to deliver their passions and subjects online. Pupils motivation and parental support are always the biggest inhibitors to education – not what the schools or teachers do.

So, I’ve “fixed” education for you. Now you can put in policy to maintain the health of the nation and ensure that we work together to end this pandemic and get the disease under control. It is criminal that the number of deaths is as high as it is. The sheer ineptitude of the government should be enough to cause a revolution but that won’t happen in this country and that makes me sad. I don’t think there will be any accountability of this government for the deaths and illness. I think in four years when we have the next election there will be enough selfish people in this country to vote the tories back in. I am largely ashamed to live in such a selfish and racist country.

So, to testing. That is the point of this communication. I’ve read about testing for covid and I’ve decided to write this to get some handle on what it all means. This writing in my way of processing the information. So, some things to say first. There are different types of test and they aren’t all the same. If you test and get a positive it is likely you have the disease. If you test negative though it does not mean you are clear. Let’s see why. Testing relies on the virus replicating in your body enough so that there is lots of it in your saliva or snot. When you breathe or cough you expel tiny droplets and these are then absorbed by someone else, this is how this virus transmits. Also, we could leave virus particles on surfaces and other people then touch those surfaces and their mucus membranes. The current tests rely on either swabbing to see if your viral load is high or blood tests to see if you have developed blood cells that fight the disease.

The PCR test is the most accurate but takes time and money. They are almost 100% accurate if you have the disease. The false negative rate is low as long as you have some symptoms. It could be that you are infected but in the early stages and we know that it can take UP TO fourteen days for symptoms to first show. Therefore any negative doesn’t mean you are clear. All other types of Covid test are compared to PCR testing as it is highly accurate.

The Lateral Flow quick test has been hailed by the government and I suspect is the one being rolled out to schools for some fucking reason. Let’s look at the numbers involved with this test. Because it all comes down to probability and getting the numbers correct. The sensitivity [detecting the virus if you have it] ranges from 79% to 49% when those administering the tests range from laboratory scientists to tests performed by self-administration. We will use these numbers shortly.

The specificity of the lateral flow test [telling you that you are infected when you aren’t] runs at 0.4%. More accurately the specificity of the lateral flow test is 99.6%, it is a measure of how accurate the test is at being doubly wrong. So, if you aren’t infected there is a very good chance that you will get a negative result and only 0.4% of people who aren’t infected will be told they have the disease.

However, if you do have the ‘rona then the probabilities look far worse. The lateral flow test will miss around 50% of those people and declare them negative. This quite clearly shows that a negative result doesn’t mean you are negative. It doesn’t mean you can go visit grandma and it doesn’t mean you can go out. I’ve just read from UCL that up to 86% of carriers of SARS-Cov-2 virus might be asymptomatic. You need to have symptoms for the lateral flow test to work (ish), the lateral flow test will miss half of those infected and the rate is even worse if they are self-administered. This is not good news.

I’ve done some number crunching and it looks as though the probability of you testing negative even though you have the ‘rona could be as high as 25% [50% in some cases]. Oddly, maybe, this is an example of probability I teach sixth formers although I have to say I normally use the concept of a “terrorist detector” to show how immigration policies are bullshit. So, this all means that the government policy of using Lateral FLow Tests in large scale population preemptive testing is bollocks and won’t work. Just like everything else they have done this virus reaction won’t do what they think it will and be a waste of time and money and lives. If only they had paid attention to the Italians, Koreans and such like in the early days.

We all have a right to be very angry about the government’s response to this pandemic. We can acknowledge that it must be tough at the top but we can also acknowledge that they are doing an amazingly shit job of it. We are suffering and people are dying [500 a day] because the British public voted in a bunch of self-obsessed selfish losers who think it is their right to govern when, in reality, they are the worst possible group of people to lead us through this crisis. Fuck them.

I read a few articles to get this information but these were the main ones. Horizon Magazine of the EU research centre and also this one from UK Patient Site along with this one from the BMJ.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

I guess I feel slightly bad as over the last four months I have added 8.5kg of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. I did this by mostly eating less and exercising. I also added 1.5kg of water into the world’s system. Both of these measures should be carbon neutral I think. The carbon I ate over the last few years and the water was drunk – I mean how else is that stuff going to get into my system? The tricky thing now is to maintain my input-output balance and get clothes that fit me, once we are out of lockdown.

Carbon Output
Carbon Output

Broken Black Magic Mirror

Every now and then I go through the process of making sure that all the devices in the house are up-to-date and running the latest software. It takes a while, especially some of the more esoteric devices I have, but by the end of it I am happy in the knowledge that everything should be working on the latest standards.

I recently did this with the two Raspberry Pis that I have in the house. One is in the loft and it runs a simple ADS-B receiver sending data to an aggregation site where I am able to track aircraft. The other Pi is in the dining room and was running some Magic Mirror software which took a long time to sort out. I wrote some communications about it. It was good fun doing that coding and trying to get it working how I wanted.

The update I performed on the Pi in the dining room failed. I don’t know why. When I performed a restart the Pi gave me its equivalent of the Blue Screen Of Death and then asked which version of OS I would like to install. Somehow the update screwed up the Pi enough for it to decide to reinstall its OS. This wiped out all the MagicMirror programming I had completed and now I’m lost.

Do I go through the process of the MM again? Do I try to search for a back-up [which I can’t remember doing] and then just install that again or should I start from scratch? Maybe I should try to find something else for the Pi to do? The MM project was fun but not something that I really used a lot. The TV in the dining room is rarely turned on. Maybe I’ll try and find another data aggregation program to install. I don’t know. I just know I want to do something.

Bioresonance

People like simple answers to complicated questions, it’s part of how our brains work. We would much rather be told one thing rather than having to learn about a multitude of different things. For example, as I’ve been reading in The Angry Chef book recently, a diet where you cut out carbohydrates is a simple answer to a simple question. The real answer of eat everything in moderation and exercise is harder and less simple. A simple answer, even when it is wrong, will stick in your heads more than any nuanced argument which takes everything into account. It’s a bit like the world at the moment. Economies around the globe are crashing due to lockdowns and so governments are trying to open up the economies again. This means encouraging people to do normal things, go shopping, eat out, go away on holiday, buy houses etc. But, governments also know that this will lead to an increase in the infection rate and people’s deaths. Every government is now weighing up the balance between deaths and poverty due to economic collapse and deaths from this disease. The infection factors are going to be quite complex but the UK government keeps coming out with short phrases designed to confuse, sorry help, us remember what to do. There are no guarantees that will stop us getting ill. All we can do is minimise risk. Wash your hands, wear a face mask so you don’t infect others, keep your distance etc. Because humans like simple answers products which make stupid claims exist and make money for their lying owners.

So we come on to Bioresonance Therapy. Or rather the claims made by a UK website about the product that they sell. I’ve printed out their homepage and have it here, just in case one day the website goes away and I can’t get links to their pages and comments. I can’t remember how I found this page, this has been a draft on this site for about two years and the website still exists so let’s go through the text shall we? I shall be referring to SCAM quite a bit and you should know this stands for Supplements, Complimentary and Alternative Medicines [thanks to Dr M Crislip for the term].

“Bioresonance” – a term that sounds sciency and you know the word bio and you know the word resonance. You probably have some vague recollection of these terms in school or people using them to describe proper science effects.

“Therapy” – SCAM artists love the word therapy because it sounds like something real is happening and they won’t use the term medicine because it’s regulated and if you claim to have a medical benefit then you have to prove it properly.

“Energy medicine” – what? This is a nonsensical term which isn’t protected by law and can be applied to anything. It’s also vague enough that people will interpret it and use their own definitions. If you want energy then you eat food. There isn’t any other way you can get energy into your body. Unless you are thinking radiation energy which is likely dangerous.

The first paragraph on this page says that you should have normal medicine as well as getting treated by this thing, whatever it is. Apparently bioresonance has benefits and the device has been used since the 1970s. I do think that if it worked then it would be available in doctor surgeries and maybe even in hospitals but I must be mistaken in thinking that those places want the best for their patients. We are then told that this device was featured in a documentary with Ty Bolinger. The documentary was called “The Truth about Cancer” – I can assure you without even looking that this is a dangerous claim to make and the documentary probably goes on to explain that you can help improve your condition with lots of bullshit stuff that doesn’t work. I’ve looked at two things; their website and their twitter feed. The website is horrific and I didn’t even scroll all the way down to bottom of the home page. Search for Ty Bolinger for yourself and see. The following tweet is on the timeline and if you want to take medical advice from a company that doesn’t understand medicine then it’s up to you I guess. They are killing people. This endorsement isn’t the best, I’m surprised that Bioresonance mention it on their homepage.

Then there is a claim that 18,000 BICOM devices have been sold worldwide. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t really seem that many for a product that is meant to work. Unless they are super expensive. This is an appeal to popularity. The idea that lots of people use these things and so it must work or be useful. This is bullshit. Here are some handy little reminders for you: some people are stupid, Mr Blobby was a Christmas number one – never trust popularity.

And we are on to paragraph two. There’s some general stuff about bad things like disease and parasites. Apparently parasites are a large cause of many conditions that people suffer. I honestly wasn’t aware of this. It’s bullshit. But the words PATHOGEN and PARASITE sound super scary don’t they. The BICOM device uses “energy medicine”, literally not a thing, to eliminate these invaders [another scary word] without the use of drugs – now I’m curious what other claims they are going to make. Apparently these devices have been around for over 35 years [appeal to longevity] and so they must work. The devices are made by Regumed???? I think this is a contraction of Regulated and Medicine but I prefer to pronounce it to rhyme with legume.

Paragraph Three doesn’t really say much. It just says that we will learn more by looking through the website. And that is what we shall do. Next is the video which I broke down in March.

I just looked at the product page for this website and I am in shock. A quick glance down the rest of this front page shows me that all the language is vague. There are no concrete claims within and saying things like “help the body help itself” is literally meaningless. It sounds as though it’s a good thing but it doesn’t mean anything from a marketing point of view and so we could say that eating an apple with help the body help itself. Just breathing does the same thing. The page goes on to say that we feel run-down or tired or suffer from electrosmog [whatever the fuck that is]. Everyone feels like that sometimes and it’s a natural part of life. The causes are going to be very vague and there’s not a lot we can do about it. I am actually overcome but the sheer amount of crap on the homepage of this product. When you have a homoeopath inventing new stuff you just know it’s bullshit. I honestly feel sorry for people who read this page and think that they will benefit from the information within. This is a SCAM product.

Now, here’s the thing that shocked me. The “product” page. There are four “popular” products. I’ll list the first and the last.

What the fucking fuck. This is a lot of money for something that doesn’t work. No wonder they’ve only sold 18,000 around the world. I guess you also get training in the bullshit. You get to understand how it all works and then I suppose you have to charge the people you want to treat. It’s going to take quite a bit to make this money back. If you are willing to spend this much money on a device that doesn’t work then you are going to be bought into everything it has to offer. I like to think my home cinema kit sounds nice, but I don’t really know, I just know how much I spent on the amplifier and so I do my best to think it sounds better than it possibly is. I also do the same with wine. If I spend a lot of money on a bottle of wine then I believe it tastes better – it doesn’t, there are plenty of studies that show that wine tasting is bullshit – it’s best to buy a cheap bottle and get drunk.

For £15,000 you can have a B32 Bicom Prevent! The very first sentence on this product description says it uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can see what I know about TCM in this communication. You don’t need to read any further, you already know that this is a crock of shit.

As a device it looks nice but I can assure you it doesn’t do anything real. For GBP27,000 you can have the following device of gizmos that doesn’t actually do anything for your “patients” or for you and is based purely on un-scientific principles. I give you the “BB324/B32 BICOM optima® Therapy Device with EAP Test Part”. I am seriously in shock at how much this stuff costs and I worry about all those people who have bought into this crap.

Click on the image to see what conditions they aim to improve. Number 469 is “nose bleed”. FFS. This device can help you if you have a nose bleed. I think I need to get out and go for a run. There’s only so much of this horrifying quackery I can take. I am terrified that people make money out of this. I can’t stand the idea of people using this device to take advantage of the ill. The problems with this particular website are legion. I’ve just thought about sending information about the claims on this website to the Advertising Standards Authority but using a Whois service this website is run in Germany and so the ASA have no power over this site. Now, they do have a UK address so I might see what recourse I have to get them to prove any claims. I have to look for specific claims on the site. These might not exist. There are certain phrases that don’t really mean much and so a carefully written website can imply a lot of things but be legally acceptable. I’ll look into this later. I need a break from this SCAM. I had hoped to discuss more of their claims and pages I am honestly still in shock at the cost of the devices.

Will Not Do What It Says On The Tin

Since the end of May I have been trying to lose weight [more formally – mass] and I’ve been doing this using methods which have worked in the past. Namely, logging all my food and doing plenty of exercise. It’s the only way I am able to do this, by keeping to a decent calorie limit and burning the fat by exercise. Reducing my food intake will only lose so much weight. I think the body gets used to the reduction in food and so initially there will be mass-loss but over time this effect dies down and I’m in the stage now where the reduced calorific diet maintains me but exercise is the only way to burn the fat. I’m doing my best to do this in a healthy way. I’m eating a decent mixture of foods, some fruit and lots of fibre. I understand that if there’s one thing everyone could eat more of to improve health it’s fibre. Yes, I get bored and some days I hate it. Sometimes I cheat and order pizza or kebab but I accept that and know that I can get going again and be on my way to my goal in a week or so.

I have met a friend and eaten out, I have also been quite drunk and done all the normal things I would do in my life. The main thing is to try and keep going. Losing mass is a mental battle and not really a physical one. I know. When I’m feeling unhealthy I try to feel better by eating, which makes me feel more unhealthy and so on. If losing weight was easy then everyone would be doing it all the time. There wouldn’t be any obesity. But, to coin the Ben Goldacre phrase, I think you’ll find it’s more complicated than that. I’ve been lucky that the lockdown has happened and by the end of May I had reached a rock-bottom level and was willing to try and change my habits. I have no idea how long this will last. It’s a mental health issue more than anything else. I have lost 7KG since the beginning of June. So, roughly a stone for you Daily Mail readers. It’s taken three months to lose that. Three months of mostly boring food and being good, three months of plenty of exercise, three months of not having to be at work. I don’t know where the motivation came from. I don’t know how to keep it.

BMI End May
BMI End May

So, at the end of May the NHS was encouraging me to lose 4.6kg. This isn’t something I looked at then, I’ve just used the site now as I wanted to know what my BMI is. I do understand that BMI is an imperfect measure but it’ll will do. Now, at the end of August, the NHS is still wanting me to lose 4kg, even though I have lost the original 4kg. Maybe they are using sensible targets which are achievable for people?

BMI End August
BMI End August

So, the purpose of this communication isn’t to brag or go on about mass-loss. It’s more about this next level of bullshit I’m about to discuss. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to record my food intake and keep my food energy to a sensible level over the last three months. Now, I don’t pay for the extra version of this app, I use it for what I want and I don’t need other features, much like the Strava app that I use to record my exercise. The MFP app has adverts on the “front page” and also what it calls blog posts. These are mostly easy to ignore but every now and then something will catch my eye and I can’t help giving it a read. The advert that prompted this communication was about some form of bullshit but my interest was piqued.

I have been and looked at this website. The above image is just that, an image and so if you want to watch the video you’ll have to go to the website. As you can see I’ve watched 55 seconds and I nearly punched the monitor when he said that his name was Eli rather than pronouncing it Eeeli. So, there are red flags without having to go too far into this bullshit.

Red Flag – Qi. Sometimes called Chi. This is a massive red flag. Qi is meant to be the flow of energy around the human body. When this energy flow gets interrupted you will get ill. To know where this energy flows is important and balancing your energy will mean making sure that your energy flows correctly around your body. The important thing here is that Qi doesn’t exist. There aren’t secret channels of energy flowing around your body. This is an entirely made up mode of biology from a time when the human body was a mystery. If you have any form of literature or people talking about Qi the safest thing to do is to throw it in the bin or walk away like Homer hiding in a hedge.

Red Flag – Immune Health. You can’t boost your immune system and generally it works without any external interference. If your immune system doesn’t work properly then it is quite likely you will already be in hospital and undergoing amazing treatment from proper sciency stuff.

Red Flag – protect against COVID. Fuck this site for using this to make you think you can protect yourself using “ancient” wisdom. The best thing you can do is wash your hands, wear a mask and stay away from other people.

Red Flag – supercharge your immune system. Literally not a thing you can do. We don’t have any real control over our immune system. It is just there. This is a wank statement.

Red Flag – ancient wisdom. This is the best of all. Ancient Wisdom is not a thing at all. Things were not better in the old days. People died all the time of curable diseases. Here’s some things we’ve done recently; germ theory is about 150 years old, immunisation is about the same age, antibiotics are about 80 years old, small pox is eliminated, leprosy can be cured. Science bitches – it works.

Slightly further down the page I can sign up for acupressure hints and tips. Acupuncture is based on the understanding that sticking needles into your skin and help unblock the flow of Qi and help you recover to full health again. What mechanism does this use? It doesn’t. Acupuncture doesn’t work. It doesn’t do what it says.

Having dismissed this site as utter bullshit in the first few lines I then went to the home page to see what claims there are. I was interested to see what else this person thinks they can help you with. I wanted to know how much money it costs.

There is a claim that a newspaper declared Eli the Qi Gong teacher of the year. I mean, sure. If you are the best of the nothing that you teach then I am not impressed. Also, you’ve been named by a local newspaper. I don’t think that counts as anything special.

Through my online Qi Breaks™ Online platform you’ll learn the secrets to self-healing, pain management, stress reduction and higher energy levels with simple, easy-to-follow practices designed for everyone regardless of experience and age.

https://www.qiwitheli.com/

This on the site made me curious. I think much of the site does. There is so much bullshit here that I keep being reminded of the Apocalypse Now! quotation:

Willard: Oh man, the shit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.

I clicked through to the Qi Breaks minisite and was confronted with a lot of stuff about ancient wisdom. I will tell you that some people in the ancient times were clever but then again, some people were stupid. There isn’t really a thing of ancient wisdom. It’s just a clever marketing ploy to make you think that this stuff has been around for so long so it must be correct. In the previous video Eli claims that there is documented evidence that some people lived to be 80 or even 100. I mean, there probably were. But it doesn’t seem to be that great since we live that long nowadays. Some people even live to 120. It would be interesting to chat with this person about life expectancy and explain that it has been generally going up over the last two hundred years as we learn more science. If Eli wants documented evidence why doesn’t he use the bible? It’s got stories of people living a long time. Maybe we should do what they did?

So, Qi Breaks looks like an online video thing that you pay for. It’s meant to help you do lots of non-specific things that are self-reported and not really measurable. This means that it will probably “work” for you. You spend the money. Do as you are told and then you will say that you feel better. If you don’t think it works then you just quit and so the testimonials will always come from people with positive reviews. Are they really any better or have they really boosted their immune system? Unlikely.

Eli claims to have a “deep healing Qi Gong” method that you can pay extra for. Here’s what he says:

Deep Healing Qi Gong™ uses practices known to have specific impacts on the emotional, physical and mental levels – the integrated body’s Qi (life-force energy). It is rooted both in ancient Bhuddist and Taoist systems as well as in modern energy healing methods and supported by science. I helped heal many from chronic health conditions western medicine does not have answer to.
This method not only works to help you heal yourself by clearing Qi blockages and restoring the natural flow of Qi in the body, it also helps you manifest exactly what you want to have in your life.
I developed this method over the last 10 years through my own personal journey, working with many individuals over the years and studied with teachers in the US, Europe and Asia.”

There are a number of things about this that strike me:
Life-force energy – isn’t a thing.
Ancient – who cares? This says nothing about whether it works or is real.
Supported by science – OK, show me the fucking science.
Heal chronic health – unlikely. I would like to see proper documented evidence for this.
Western medicine – this is used to dismiss modern medicine or “medicine”. I’ll take my chances with things that really work thank you.
Qi blockages – not a real thing.
Manifest exactly what you want – this is concerting. Is Eli saying that if you “want” hard enough you can have? Is he using hints of “the secret” here? Is he doing that “ask the universe” bullshit? I’m amazed at this. There’s a real issue with people thinking that illness and other outcomes in life are their fault. Or they think that the universe has it in for them. This isn’t true. What is true is that illness is random and society is actually built to stop you doing the things you want. Unfortunately many people can’t accept that some outcomes in life are just random and they believe it must be the fault of the person.

This whole website is a way of removing you from some of your money. If Eli really has mastered or created Deep Healing Qi Gong then wouldn’t the best thing for him be to give it away to the world for nothing? Shouldn’t he be working in hospitals to help cure everyone? If this stuff works then why isn’t he being hailed in the New England Journal of Medicine? If all these things he says are real then why isn’t everyone using them? If these things really worked then your GP would get you to do them. But, these things don’t work. I’m going to leave Eli and his bullshit for now. But I haven’t quite finished. I want to explain where Traditional Chinese Medicine comes from. The quick answer is China. But the real story is a little more interesting.

In the 1950s China was struggling with population and Communism. Not much different from today really. Medicine was improving in the country and so doctors were issued with a book that gave them treatments and drug listings for specific diseases etc. Because there were problems with the availability of real drugs the back of this book had a load of bullshit cures but ones that were traditional in the countryside. So, when a doctor had no hope of helping someone and the drugs weren’t available they could “prescribe” some bullshit stuff that would keep the population happy and subdued. Nothing was really known about this outside of China.

Then, in the early 1970s there was a US diplomatic mission to China and one of the people got ill. There were operated on but also had some bullshit TCM applied to them and when the western media heard about this they completely overlooked the actual medicine and focused solely on the TCM that this person received. They then claimed it was a miracle and maybe this ancient wisdom has something behind it. Before this time there wasn’t much in the western consciousness about TCM. After this time it exploded and has been here since. TCM doesn’t work and was rooted in a government lying to their own people to cover up the lack of real medicine. Amazing that we have so much of this is western culture now.

You can check this story yourself from the place I got my information. I first heard about this on Skeptoid. A short podcast that looks at things that aren’t real. It covers lots of different topics. I would encourage you to listen to the podcast or read the transcript. It’s worth knowing where this bullshit TCM comes from. Also, there is, of course, a Wikipedia page that covers the Barefoot Doctor.