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.

Neutralise Them

The last few times I’ve been to the Amazon homepage there’s been an image by the Launchpad section that intrigued me as I didn’t know what the object was and it looked as though it was cool tech. I was initially quite excited when the launchpad started because it seemed a good thing – plenty of tech solutions to mundane problems – but now it just seems to be an area of the store for products which don’t really do anything different to the items elsewhere. The early excitement left me pretty quickly as the Launchpad filled with the mundane.

What Is It?
What Is It?

Clicking on this image just took me to the Launchpad homepage which I then browsed but found nothing interesting. Maybe that is the purpose of the image. Getting people like me to browse new areas of the website so that I end up buying something. It’s been about a week of seeing this image and so I have finally given a little more effort into browsing to see what it is.

It turns out this thing is a sleep aid device. I will try and avoid using brand names but I will link to the product website once. According to the Amazon information this device has a metronome light that will help you fall asleep naturally 2.5 times faster than normal [average]. Apparently lots of people use it. Other information on the product description has science words with a photograph of a doctor and a description that you align your breathing with the light emitted and this will bring your body into a natural sleep condition. My interest was piqued. My default mode is scepticism and while I’m not dismissing their claims I am going to cover some of the red flags. I hope that towards the end of this article I will find evidence that the product works well.

Problematic Claims

Listing the claims made on their website with comment.

76% positive reviews – those who thought this product worked bothered to let the company know that this product worked in their opinion.

2.5 x faster – people claim that the time taken to fall asleep has dropped by 61%. People are terrible judges at what really happens. That’s why we have developed the scientific method. I will look for a published peer reviewed paper to see if the claims can be backed up.

100 days money back guarantee – This, may at first, seem like an honest option for a company to offer. If this doesn’t work then send it back. In reality this is using a human memory trick to appear honest but people forget that they bought something or have the chance to send it back. This is common among devices that don’t work. How often have you bought a TV and Sony say, hey if you don’t like it return it after three months and we’ll refund you.

Testimonials – user testimonials are a problem, especially for medical / health devices. People don’t know what works. We need a scientific method to investigate these things. Just think how many people you know who use acupuncture / chiropractic / osteopathy when all the science evidence is none of them work. User testimonials are a problem.

Already in excess of 500,000 users – this is an appeal to popularity. If we’ve sold this many then it must work. This is not true. If you remember Mr Blobby was the Christmas number one a while ago and that song was utter shit.

Scary Graphic
Scary Graphic

This is an amazing graphic. Look at all the details. Sleeping pills cause death. Yoga costs money. Therapy is good but expensive. This product is the best, natural and cheap, doesn’t take much time and green which is definitely the best. Also, the number of stars increases to the best product which is the breathing light. This is amazing. Such balls to design this.

The whole front page of their website is full of lovely modern graphics with plenty of advice and explanation. Whether this is true or works is something I will investigate but it’s worth noting that so far nothing I have seen really strikes me as anything other than “all the comments on our website are this works”.

Who Is This For?

The page on the website which covers who can use the device mentions almost everyone. Therefore everyone is free to buy this product with the knowledge that it will help to improve their sleep patterns. The list is:

  • Chronic insomnia
  • Night awakenings
  • Stressful life
  • Thoughts running through your head
  • Daily or one-off troubles
  • Insomnia and pregnancy
  • Noisy environment

So, as you see. It works for everyone. We all have times when sleeping is difficult. We all have lives that seem stressful. We all struggle at times. In part, that is the human condition. So, this product could help everyone.

Science Stuff

The science page is pretty well written compared to many such sites I have seen. They make claims along the way. At the beginning the company explains that sleep deprivation can be caused by autonomic nervous system disorders and there’s a link to a published academic paper. This study was performed on 11 insomniacs, not a great number of people. There was a control group which is a good thing. The outcome of this is that to help insomniacs there should be an aim to reduce emotional arousal along with methods for improving sleep. Nothing about how to do that yet.

The next linked study performed on just 8 people seems to suggest the same thing: “These results support the aetiological hypothesis of physiological hyperarousal underlying primary insomnia.” So far these two studies don’t really say anything about this product. All they say is that being stressed/emotional could lead to insomnia. There are three more studies link on the “why” section of the science page and my favourite is the last one which tries to link acupuncture as a treatment for insomnia: “Our review indicates the necessity for further research in the relationship between the effects of acupuncture on insomnia and autonomic regulation, which might guide better selective use of this treatment modality for insomnia.” What this study doesn’t do is say it works. What the study says is that more study is needed. This is precisely the method used by TCM proponents when they find no link in their results. They just say that more study is needed.

The next few parts on the science page try to link breathing to emotional state, which seems fair. They then take the view that this will help sleep, which initially seems fair. There’s a link to a study which has around 40 participants, which is still pretty low, especially once you split them into different treatment wings. So, they asked people to breath at a rate of six breathes per minute and then recorded they blood pressure after five minutes. Would you believe it? After five minutes of being told to relax the participants were relaxed. Wow! How this links to a stressful life I’m not sure yet. All we’ve established is that slowing your breathing can help you feel relaxed. We’ve also established with some poor quality studies that being relaxed helps you sleep.

Next is a link to a study that says concentration can help you sleep. This study is from 1974. I’m not saying it’s wrong but when the last sleep/concentration study you can find is from nearly fifty years ago then maybe you need some more investigative work. Science has moved on since then and we have corrected a lot of the early work. There are a few more links to different studies through the last few paragraphs and there are some amazing charts but none of this so far has convinced me. The science page concludes:

Dodow tackles one of the main obstacles to achieving a sound sleep. It is easy to use, harmless, non-addictive, affordable at can be used at any time of night. Our goal is to democratize its use and create a solution referenced by physicians.

Dodow Site

Easy to use, harmless, non-addictive, affordable at can be used at any time of night” all these are red flags. These are warnings that it’s possible it doesn’t work. Do you know what sort of things have zero side effects? Things that don’t work. “Affordable” is relative. £50 seems like quite a bit of money to me. But if I was struggling to sleep then I would probably think it’s worth it. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. I was suffering from poor sleep last November. This device wouldn’t have helped because my sleep issues were caused by stress. I had to sort out the causes of the stress. This is not easy. A blue light to stare at seems easy.

The People
The People

There are lots of other pages under the heading of “blog” which gives plenty of reasons why certain types of people should buy this product. I’m not going through all of them. But I did see the above graphic which tells us about the people who started this company. Greg is, apparently, rational and studied at Stamford. Nice appeal to authority of education there. Gui is into mystic shit and worked for a massive company and so must be ok. Pierre found that he had trouble sleeping because he was thinking too much, he’s emotionally invested in such a cure for sleep. Alex cured his insomnia with yoga, not this system. Look how “respectable” they appear – young, white, intelligent. There is a problem with society when you look at these people and think “oh, they must know what they are doing”.

The Doctor

Dr. David O’Hare has his picture on the science page and is apparently a specialist in cardiac coherence. Whether this doctor has any financial connections to this company I do not know. I tried to Google this person. There were only responses on the French Wikipedia page about cardiac coherence and so I looked at that. My French isn’t great and so thanks to a live web-page Google translate I was able to read this section. The very first paragraph on this web-page explains that this heart coherence technique is founded on poor studies and is considered pseudoscience. This means there isn’t really any good scientific evidence to back the claims that are made.

 the effectiveness of cardiac coherence is not recognized: AFIS, which fights against scientific disinformation, considers it as a pseudo-science among others and denounces its promotion

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coh%C3%A9rence_cardiaque

So, it took a little digging. But we eventually got to the point where we know that the doctor recommending this product on their page promotes a modality considered pseudoscience and shouldn’t be promoted. There isn’t evidence to suggest his area of study is true. When your product is backed by someone who makes money from something that doesn’t work you have to question the validity of all the claims on the website and about the product.

My Conclusion

In this communication I have investigated what looked like a pretty cool product for sale on Amazon launchpad. I wasn’t sure what it was at first but it looked cool, although a dust trap. This device is meant to help you sleep and all the claims it makes are plausible. They have lots of science words and diagrams and seem to be endorsed by a doctor. The content of their claims had red flags, the sort of thing that is common with lots of products that don’t really work. So, I investigated this product. I looked at the red flags and the information on their website. I have concluded that it is unlikely that this device does what it claims. While it seems plausible all the evidence go to show that it is unlikely to do what it says. If I have problems sleeping in the future I won’t be heading to buy this device I will use one of the more proven methods for aiding sleep. These are harder and take more time but will have longer last real effects.

A side discussion would be whether Amazon should stock this product or have it on their website. My initial thought would be that they should not. A company should promote things which do not work. A quick search for homoeopathy on the site provides many results and homoeopathy is the most ridiculous of all bullshit non-medical treatments. Currently Amazon is a platform for people to sell their stuff. It’s almost like eBay in some cases and selling items with vague claims isn’t illegal. I mean there are loads of osteopathic practices around where I live. So, morally, I think Amazon should not have these products. But it is up to them I guess. It’s also impossible to police if they maintain their current model. Much like Twitter and Facebook could not possibly moderate every comment or post I reckon Amazon couldn’t do that without massively impacting their business model. Maybe that is where the problem lies ultimately, societies reliance on capitalism. I’ll leave that for another day.

Safe

There is nothing that is safe from risk of injury or harm. Just living day to day carries a risk of death. You could drop down now from a heart attack or already have cancer. Some illness is random and terrible when it happens and although we know there are things to do to reduce the risk that is all you can do, reduce the risk. Safe really means that the risk of bad stuff is reduced enough for us to accept what we are about to do. Humans are terrible at understanding risk.

Every time we do something then we are accepting the risks associated with that action for the reward. If I go to the supermarket in normal times then I would drive there, I would come into close contact with a lot of other people and I would then drive home. Driving contains the largest risk there but I accept the risk for the convenience of getting to and from the supermarket easily. Danger of disease transmission isn’t something that normally enters our heads but being in a closed building with a few other hundred people who have touched all manner of surfaces with their dirty hands could prove to be risky behaviour if one of them had a dodgy disease [again, talking in normal times].

If I want to get on a train to somewhere then I hope that it won’t crash. That’s not a thought that goes through my head because generally train journeys in this country are quite safe. The risk of bad things happening is low and the reward is good – I get somewhere fast and normally quite relaxed. Flying is another one of those activities where we accept that the risk of death is acceptable for the convenience of travelling somewhere fast and far. We know that aircraft are safer than using the roads but we are more worried about flying because humans are terrible at understanding risk. 267 people died in passenger planes last year WORLDWIDE compared to 1870 killed on UK roads in the same time period.

I did a zip-line-wire-death-slide thing in Cornwall over a quarry lake. Was I worried about doing that? No. The risk was low. I was strapped in. It was run by a reputable company and I assumed that they had met all safety aspects of the set up. While some might worry about it and hopefully overcome their fears, those fears are unfounded. The risks have been reduced to a point where they are acceptable for the outcome. The zip-line was great fun. Last summer I had a flight in an RAF training helicopter. Now, ‘copters are the worst of transport methods for technical difficulties and flying characteristics. Was I worried? No. The risks were acceptable and it was great. The processes behind the RAF are exceptional and the risk was suitably low. I once had a flight over the 12 Apostles in Australia in a R44 [I think], again, the risks were low and I was trusting the regulations that existed for that country.

If we chose to do something then we should be balancing out the risks realistically with the rewards. We trust the regulations. We hope that when things do go wrong that the regulations change to take that into account. We trust that there are organisations out there making sure these things are done properly. This does contradict capitalism a little as companies will moan about “costs” but they get over it and their product gets the boost. There was a time that companies had to be told to include seatbelts in cars. It became law for three-point harnesses to be included in the front seats in 1968. The law to wear them was introduced many times in the 70s but failed [how the fuck?] and wearing front seatbelts eventually became compulsory in 1983. Rear seatbelts became compulsory equipment in 1986 and mandatory to wear from 1991. I mean, how did it take so long? What was the problem? Why are people so stupid?

I’m a qualified shooting range officer and I can tell you that the regulations are immense. The rules are all designed to make the activity as safe as possible. Is all risk removed? No. But the risk is manageable and acceptable. The most likely injury is a small cut to your hand where you are dealing with metal parts on a weapon, but even this is a small risk. I even take teenagers to a shooting range. It is safe. The regulations and environment are built and designed in such a way that the risk of injury or worse is reduced.

If the risks are mitigated through planning and regulation then activities are deemed acceptable. We spend our entire lives running mini-risk assessments in our heads all the time. I’m extrapolating from n=1 there, me. We think about the reality of risks although some people are overcome by the perception of risk and fail to complete some activities. When we talk about something being safe we really mean that the risks are reduced for us. The reward is worth it.

It’s Dying

We all need distractions I guess and maybe laughing at the poor on the Jeremy Kyle show was one of those. It was a way to feel better about ourselves, a way of looking at people who suffer and try but ultimately are just a passing fad for those of us who are OK at the moment, thank you very much.

Perhaps that’s why people watch bollocks like Eastenders and other soap operas where everything happens to everyone because if everyone tried to get along and be nice to each other it wouldn’t be worth watching and it wouldn’t provide escapism.

I’m certainly clear in my head about why I like science fiction. It’s nerdy and requires a little science knowledge but space type stuff often provides a glorious distraction to the mundane. It gives me the chance to live elsewhere and think about the implications of travel and technology that won’t happen in my lifetime.

In reality it’s all fucked isn’t it? Brexit, politics, the planet, it’s fucked. It’s dying. The single GREATEST threat to the human population wherever you live at the moment is the fact that the world is on fire. It’s really depressing. I’m hoping I’m dead before the Water Wars start. They are going to be terrible.

All those politicians worried about maintaining power and trying to get your vote using short-term gains and short-term give-aways. Not one of them is standing up for the planet. We need RADICAL change to society and how everything works. We need to save this planet. I’m not normally pessimistic about things but the planet is dying through human abuse and it’s going to kick us the fuck back and quite rightly too.

I’m scared for the future of my children and the fears that they will face as they get older. I’m scared for my unborn descendants because it’s all going to be shit. Take a look around the world and see where the action is to provide a future for people on this planet. It’s not there. Consumption-capitalism is driving this world to ruin while at the same time killing those who are poor and have little. It’s disgusting. We should be promoting a social-environmental-capitalism. Governments need to incentivise social and environmental good-doing.

It’s not like this is new. We’ve known about climate change and carbon emissions for over forty years. NOT a thing has been done in my life time that will drastically alter the way the planet is going to react. It’s all a nightmare. I’m not sure humans are mature enough to do anything about it either. I’m hoping that the generation after me, once they assume power when the baby boomers and generation X die off can cope and end up being nice to each other and working to create an Earth for the future.

I see the newer generation of politicians kicking back against the obscene capitalism of the last one hundred years and are now talking about social responsibilities and they seem to be speaking a more gentle kind of politics trying to go after the aging fuckers who have taken everything they can and created personal wealth beyond necessity. Here’s hoping that people like AOC can start to change the world to actual care about each other.

In the mean time the Daily Mail and other institutions that gain their power from the want and blinkered view of the older generations print articles implying that solar farms are wrong and will ruin your view.

A "News" Article
A “News” Article

The headline should have been “locals fight planet saving solar farm (stupid cunts)”. But then the exact people fighting this farm and the ones who read the Mail because they are all old and white. Fuck the Mail.

More amusingly, in thirty years the Hardy countryside won’t look like that at all because the climate will have changed so much it’ll be barren and all the locals will have died of malaria.

Not A Neo Con

I found an advert which, I think, lies! I was looking through the newspaper that my parents read and I found the advert below. Now, let me first explain that I do not agree with the “news”paper that my parents read and given my personal politics it stresses me that they still get this heap of shit delivered to their door. I have offered to pay for a different paper but they have refused. I’m not sure why they still read the Express but it is a vile piece of work.

What A Con
What A Con

This advert is along the lines of what started me into this skeptical hole in the first place. Originally my father gave me a magnet that surround the fuel line in a car and then magically makes the car engine more efficient. I’ve written about it here. At first glance it seems reasonable that something might increase the fuel efficiency of an engine, but if it’s that simple don’t you think the manufacturers would do it anyway?

I wrote about a fuel chip I saw advertised in a motorcycle magazine here. It seems that this device is making very similar claims. Notice that if you want, you can get your money back if you aren’t happy with the results. This is a classic scam because no-one cares enough to ask for their money back.

Having looked at the website in this advert and the one for tank chip they both are in association with the same company.

Hamilton Direct

This company is based in Paignton in Devon. They seem to peddle a lot of bullshit. Don’t buy anything from them.

The bike insurance people Bennetts did a proper testing regime on the tank chip and they found it makes no difference. You can see their results here: Bennetts.

If the product seems to good to be true then the chances are that it is.

TankChip

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!

Probably Not

I went for a swim after work today, it was nice to get out of the heat for a while and get my arms moving. However, I was a little perturbed by one of the posters in the cafe area of the gym. To be honest there are many gym-type posters that are disturbing showing body shapes and types that are not achievable by most. This does seem to be changing over time as the advertising world recognises that people are who they are and don’t really buy into the perfect body. Unless you watch Love Island.

Don't Go Here
Sports Injuries

So, on first inspection this poster seems pretty good. It’s for a sports injury clinic and that should be a good thing. A special place for all to go to ensure that those niggles get sorted out. But, let’s look a little closer at some of the treatments offered:

  • Osteopathy – not a fucking thing and doesn’t do anything. Read my previous, controversial, communication.
  • Sports Massage – could be OK, I don’t really know what it entails.
  • Therapeutic Massage – again, I’m not sure what this is and I should probably discuss this in a future communication. I’ll look into it. I doubt it’s anything good.
  • Aromatherapy – massage with nice smells. Doesn’t do anything.
  • Physiotherapy – probably the only legitimate treatment on this advert. Go see a physiotherapist for those sorts of things. Don’t see woo.
  • Nutritional Therapy – most likely bollocks. If you want diet advice see a DIETICIAN, they are a proper profession. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.
  • Acupuncture – bollocks squared.

Look, the issue with this clinic is not that they offer some legitimate therapies the problem is that they also offer a load of bollocks and so you can’t assume they will be good at any part of their job. It’s the company you keep that defines who you are.

Don’t go here.

I’ve just had a look at the website for this clinic and it is a beauty. I will add it to my communication drafts with the hope that I one day complete writing about it.

Single Heavy Downpour

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Lonely Cloud
Lonely Cloud

It’s interesting, the level of science and technology we have and use daily without thought far far surpasses that of any previous generation and yet we take it all for granted and have little care for how that technology works.

Hybrid Theory

The second half of my summer break was spent wandering the Lake District and attending the Infest music festival in Bradford. I had a very good time and did a lot of driving. I am quite convinced that my wheel balance is out very slightly for speeds above 70 miles per hour, there’s a fine vibration there but it’s not that often you can go faster than that here in the south east of this country.

I wasn’t deliberately keeping an eye on my fuel consumption as life is too short to worry about that. Life might be considerably shorter in future due to excessive fuel use but owning Bora Horza Gobuchul gives me a slight advantage in the smugness over non-hybrid drivers.

Consumption
Consumption

This image shows that over this trip I did just over a thousand miles and returned a fuel consumption of 59 miles per gallon. That’s not bad. It’s a shame Bora Horza Gobuchul doesn’t report in litres per 100km which I think I prefer, but goodness that won’t catch on, it’s waaaay too European.