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.


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.


On my recent trip to the Lake District I had breakfast in The Filling Station cafe. It’s a lovely little cafe with nice food and a classic soft rock playlist that could shock you.

  • Jack and Diane(John C-M)
  • Jump (Van Halen)
  • New Sensation (Inxs)
  • I come from a land down under (Men at work)
  • Stuck with you (Huey Lewis and the news)
  • Alive and kicking (simple minds)
  • Manic Monday (the bangles)
  • I died in your arms tonight (the cutting crew)

At that point I stopped recording what played. It’s almost the same content as my Hits 4 album from 1986. There is also Now That’s What I Call Music 6. These were my first foray into compilation albums. I expect I recorded them onto tape to listen to on a “walkman”.

So, in the cafe they have a free motorbike magazine and as an ex-biker I perused this rather than spend time staring at the mess and disaster on my phone twitter account. Nothing in the magazine was a particular surprise, it looks as though bike technology has moved on quite a bit since my 2001 Super Blackbird and bikes now seem pretty expensive. They are definitely a middle-class weekend thing. It’s not sensible to have one that is your only form of transport as mine was. Racking up over 12,000 miles a year on a motorbike is expensive in terms of servicing, tyres and depreciation. I digress.

So, in this magazine I spotted an advert for TankChip. It struck me as bullshit almost straight away but I am willing to see what evidence there is. Here’s the advert:

TankChip Bullshit
TankChip Bullshit

The advert seems to claim that by adding this device to the petrol tank you get more power, performance and acceleration along with an improvement in economy. Now these are some pretty impressive claims. I mean, a device that is cheap and can be added to any petrol tank and improves most characteristics of your engine? It’s almost as if it worked then manufacturers would be adding it to your tank anyway. It’d be a pretty impressive device. IF IT WORKED.

It doesn’t.

On the web page about the technology involved there are zero specific claims about the tankchip. There are plenty of claims and sciency sounding things but not one single claim about the chip itself. go and read it and see if it actually says anything about the chip. There are no testable claims.

So, here’s what happens. You see this advert, believe it, and purchase a crappy piece of plastic. Then you put it in your tank. From that point onward you are pre-disposed to see an improvement. You have paid money. You expect it to work. It will work, in your observation. What happens in reality is that it doesn’t work.

It’s like buying a nice wine. You look at the bottles and decide which one will taste nice. Then you pay plenty of money for that and, surprise!, it tastes nice. More expensive wines taste better than cheap ones. Expensive TVs look better than cheap ones because you are bought in to them.

So, riding your motorbike you expect results and so, unconsciously, drive a little more restrained but also it’ll feel like you are accelerating at a better rate, your engine will feel smoother, because you expect it to. You end up believing that this tankchip has made a difference when in reality nothing has changed. Expectation is a powerful thing.

Another clue that this is a scam is that they offer a money back guarantee. So, you buy this thing. Two things probably happen. You convince yourself it does work or you decide it doesn’t work but either forget about it or are a bit embarrassed you bought it in the first place. Either way, it’s quite likely you won’t bother to get your money back.

I have emailed the company for some information about the testing they performed and here is the response.

Can send you a some extracts from recent tank.chip customer emails when in the office.
As far as testing documents I’m not sure what you are looking for exactly.

So, I explained what I wanted. Testimonials don’t tell me shit. People’s thoughts are the worst way of collecting data because of all the biases of the human brain! That’s why we have science.

Since adding a tank.chip to my Royal Enfield 500 Bullet, performance wise it is more responsive and most importantly the engine has much less vibration at speed, which can be an annoyance when riding a single cylinder retro machine. I don’t know what or how it does it, but wow it sure does. An excellent product.
Barry H, Lincolnshire

I have purchased a tank chip, it seemed a small price to gamble! I am pleasantly surprised. Touring Wales on my Street Triple R ABS my average mpg has gone from its usual 56-58 mpg (at touring speeds) to 64.4 mpg (readout from the dash). That gives me at least an extra 20 miles from my 3gallon tank. Many thanks for a product that really works.
Clive T-B, Essex

Here’s what I asked for:

I was after a more serious test, such as some dyno testing or third party test of the product. Maybe something by a magazine?

Here’s the response I got back. It is a bank holiday weekend here so I expected to wait a little while:

Fast Bikes were setting up a dyno test but not heard anything.
Quite a few bike dealers and tuners repeat buy so I guess they have tested.
We won’t send out our data just yet for a number of reasons but will put something on line in the coming months.

I’m happy to wait for the details and if they get sent to me I will amend this communication. I doubt that any serious testing of this device will give any information or evidence that it works. If it did, then all manufacturers would already fit it. I did see one thread that it may actually include some lead which used to be added to petrol in the olden days to help with combustion and reduce “pinking”. Then we knew that lead poisoned people and campaigners worked to get it removed from petrol.

This device is very similar to the fuel magnets my father gave me about 13 years ago and they secured my descent into skepticism and you can read about that in this communication from six years ago!