April 29, 2005

Some Rare Common Sense, Seems Fair to Me, Correction, Quackery Brought to Account — A Followup, More Ghostly Baby Monitors, Informative Web Site, Swingin' North Korea, Speaking From Experience, This Should Work, Still More Stupid Penta Claims, A Good Example to Follow, Woo-Woo at the NIH, Ramtha Raves, Good UFO Article, Hilarious Blooper From Spain, and In Conclusion...


Table of Contents:


SOME RARE COMMON SENSE

Reader Shawn Bishop, in Saitama, Japan, writes:

In an effort to control the spread of germs and "superbugs" in Canadian hospitals, the latest tactic is to remove the Holy Bible from the night-stands of patients' rooms. A hospital on Canada's east coast is finding itself in the midst of a small controversy on the issue, but it sounds like good common sense to me. If one imagines that patient after patient reads or uses the book, any contagion they have could become resident on the book's surfaces, just waiting for the next patient, or visitor, to pick up the book and catch the contagion. Of course, the decision is not going over with the religious community in the region, but as the hospital says, "patients are welcome to bring in their own Bibles if they wish."

What an irony. After all those fruitless centuries, by the Church, to ward off pestilence and plague with pious adherence to "God's will," modern medical practice now recognizes that the presence of the Bible in the rooms of hospitals can be a source of "pestilence and plague"! Just goes to show that even the book of God is not above the laws of biology and nature. And this is, of course, not a surprise in the least.

Article here: www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/04/22/hospital-bibles050422.html


SEEMS FAIR TO ME

Here are two stickers that could be placed into school biology text books. The green one was already created to be used in Georgia, the blue one is my invention. I'd say that if the green one is used, it should be accompanied by the other.....


CORRECTION

Reader and friend Ian Rowland in the UK advises me re last week's mention of the BBC and their apparent collapse into pseudoscience:

Your phrase "...but the BBC is a business, and fights to survive," is not strictly accurate, and diminishes the point made by your cited correspondent concerning homeopathy tripe appearing on the BBC website which we, the British public, are forced to pay for.

Thank you, Ian. As I already knew, but failed to recall, the BBC is a government agency that is supported entirely (aside from their product sales) by a tax levied on everyone in the UK who has a TV receiver. The specially-equipped BBC spy vehicles circulate up and down residential streets constantly searching for the distinctive signals given out by receivers, and checking those indications against the list of licensees, for violators. There are serious penalties for operating a TV set without having paid the government....

Ian's dissatisfaction lies in the fact that a service he is paying for — and must pay for by law — has chosen to promote quackery. We can all understand that....


QUACKERY BROUGHT TO ACCOUNT — A FOLLOWUP

At www.randi.org/jr/120304youve.html#5 you read about a Quebec "naturopath" named Louise Lortie, and her appeal against her conviction of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing the death of a 12-year-old diabetic girl. Referring to her behavior as that of a "charlatan," a judge found the former naturopath guilty. This quack used a magic pendulum and consulted the Archangel Michael, who she said informed her that the girl should be given no more insulin, depending instead on unrefined cane sugar, other homemade herbal concoctions, special massages and salt water baths. As might be expected, the child died just three days after beginning the treatment.

Now, for the second time, Lortie has been convicted for her role in the girl's death. In 1999, she'd been found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to three years in prison. She successfully appealed the ruling in 2002, but the Supreme Court has now reversed that decision and upheld the original verdict. Lortie will be back in court for sentencing on Oct. 12th.

On that same subject, reader Jeroen Brouwer informs me that my Dutch friend Jan Willem Nienhuys, a retired teacher of mathematics at Eindhoven University of Technology who is with the organization "Skepsis" (www.skepsis.nl/english.html) has reported in detail from the Netherlands on the untimely death of actress Sylvia Millecam which we reported last week at www.randi.org/jr/042205modern.html#6. Millecam had rejected orthodox medical treatment and instead gambled her chances of recovery on Jomanda, the Dutch "healer." Dr. Nienhuys tells us that she had tried a wide range of other quack procedures, as well. He describes her as:

...a well-known, exuberant and very attractive media personality regularly denouncing obstreperous officials and unreliable businesses in a popular consumer program... On the radio she could be heard challenging so-called "quacks" every week... There was great surprise when the Dutch public learned that she had belonged to the one or two per cent of women with breast cancer who reject regular treatment that has an 80 or 90 percent survival rate.

Ms. Millecam turned to quackery:

[She] had relied entirely on alternative treatment... She refused orthodox treatment, her fiancé said, because she didn't accept the chemotherapy... In the Fall of 2000 Millecam went to a private clinic in Switzerland which she seems to have located by searching the Internet. There she was reportedly treated with a machine that is said to produce magnetic pulses which were supposed to result in cold fission of the potassium in the body into sodium and oxygen, thereby liberating healthy oxygen and energy. (More conventional physics says that such a fission process requires so much energy that it happens only in the core of an exploding supernova, at temperatures of a few thousand million degrees and densities of millions of tons per cubic centimeter).

Randi comments: The chemotherapy associated with the regular medical treatment that Millecam would have received, is usually only a follow-up precaution, not the primary procedure. It would have been a relatively mild application, compared to a full-strength regimen, so she should not have specifically feared that aspect of treatment. Ms. Millecam then went full-tilt into pursuing "alternative" medical promises:

Millecam went to see doctors in a homoeopathic clinic in Amsterdam, where she was apparently given ozone therapy and homoeopathic preparations in — paradoxically — large quantities. She went to another alternative practitioner who, it has been alleged, has attempted to treat cancer with capsules of salt, the logic being that this is a powerful medicine which "belongs" to the body because the immune system doesn't attack it.

She also seems to have consulted a physician who in the past is reported to have questioned diagnoses of cancer, believing that the patients merely suffer from the ravages of a life-threatening bacterium.

Having zero success with this pursuit, the hapless woman then turned to Jomanda:

Then, or concurrently, Millecam consulted a spirit medium [Jomanda], who somehow confirmed her view that she did not have cancer. It was at about this time she started to shun everybody who intimated that her problem wasn't a bacterial infection. In interviews on Dutch television the medium has since been heard to maintain that she was right, and that Millecam has confirmed this from the Beyond.

Is there no limit to Jomanda's blatant pretences? She confirms her invalid procedures with another variety of flim-flam! Dr. Nienhuys leads us to the tragic conclusion:

She probably consulted more healers than the ones mentioned here, and in which order she visited whom is also not clear, but the latter months of her life she stayed at the home of a trusted family doctor who operates a clinic where he performs colon-hydrotherapy (i.e. enemas), a "sound therapy" in which voice analysis is followed by permeating the body with harmonious and complementary frequencies, homoeopathy, acupuncture and Voll's electroacupuncture. [For details on the Voll claims, see www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/electro.html.]

Ultimately the patient was so sick that she couldn't stand up because of edema in her legs, she couldn't sit because then her breasts hurt so much, she couldn't lie down because then she couldn't breathe, she couldn't sleep, and she could only swallow liquids.

...she was brought to the Radboud [Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, south-central Netherlands, near the German border] where she was diagnosed (again) with breast cancer, and was given less than three weeks to live. It turned out to be less than three days. Altogether these treatments cost her something in the order of £100,000, [US$190,000] of which a sizeable amount went to the Swiss clinic. All it did was earn her a horrible, untimely and unexpected death, and a posthumous reputation of fatal stupidity.

Here was a celebrated person who chose to believe that medical science offers less than the quacks do. Her form of cancer — as Dr. Nienhuys points out — has a very high rate of recovery if detected early on and treated by real doctors. Ms. Millecam had an excellent chance of a complete cure by orthodox medical means, but she chose to depend on homeopathy, magnetic pulses, enemas, "sound" therapy, acupuncture, ozone treatment, and salt capsules, all of which failed and allowed the cancer to worsen. She finally put herself into Jomanda's hands, and she died miserably.

Reader Gard Simons, who provided the material for last week's item on Jomanda, updates us. Re my question: "...why did it take the demise of a celebrity at the hands of these quacks to bring the authorities to the point where they'd take action? Is it because none of the other victims of the quacks were "important" enough?" he writes:

Well, nine out of ten people in Holland have been asking themselves that same question for almost four years now. Millecam died in August 2001 and nothing has happened since then. There has been a lot of talk and media exposure. There have been discussions on television and in newspapers on the case, Dutch law should be changed because it is too lean in these matters. Jomanda has been ridiculed and so on and so forth, but nothing has happened. Broeckhuyse has suspended himself from practicing medicine, Jomanda stays away from the media, and attention from the public fades with time.

I have to correct myself on the trial. I thought it was due to begin this Fall, but it seems I am wrong. I wrote an email to the website of the Dutch anti-quack society. They replied: "As far as we know, the G.A's office hasn't even made a beginning with the prosecution. All they said was that they will prosecute. A time-line hasn't been issued."

No one seems to know anything, but I will follow the matter and "mail around." I will keep you informed. In the meantime, I will try to translate large portions of the report of the Dutch Healthcare Inspection. It sheds a clear light on the case. I am not a professional translator but a humble tv-cameraman, but I will give it a shot.

(Gard, please don't apologize about your talents as a translator. I never cease to be amazed at how well such a large proportion of European citizens — particularly the Dutch — handle the English language. It puts us Americans to shame, that we enjoy our position of being so widely understood when we step into other cultures. Finland is another country where English is widely accepted, and in that country there are two "official" tongues — Finnish and Swedish. In the Netherlands, Frisian, Turkish, and Arabic are also spoken....!)

This woman Jomanda should not just be ridiculed, but prosecuted to the limit of the law and publicly exposed as the charlatan she is. Perhaps the Netherlands will choose to provide us with an example of how the legal system can be properly used in this way, and if so I promise to hold it up to the U.S. system of law as something they might use to replace faith-based flummery. We have had our own losses to quackery that should be halted....

Dr. Nienhuys has once more put a matter in perspective for us. We thank him.


MORE GHOSTLY BABY MONITORS

Reader Simon Nicholson — who wants it known that he's now a JREF member! — adds to last week's item on the so-called EVP nonsense that's so "hot" right now. That item can be found at www.randi.org/jr/042205modern.html#11. Says Simon:

I've just been reading this weeks Commentary, and noted with particular interest the theory that some EVP can be attributed to stray signals from baby monitors and similar devices. Years ago, I was employed as a Residential Social Worker in a hostel for adults with learning difficulties. Amongst our regular service users was an adult man with severe learning disabilities, who was prone to having seizures followed by violent outbursts during the night, during which he could be potentially self-harming. It was decided to use a standard, off-the-shelf baby monitor as a relatively non-intrusive way of allowing night care staff to keep a check on him. As duty manager, I received several reports from the well-spooked night staff, who said they heard child's crying and other infant noises over the monitor, only to discover our client soundly asleep in his room when they checked. Of course, you've guessed it, and so did we — our monitor was picking up signals from a neighboring house, where a couple with a young baby were using a similar model monitor.

The twist to the story is that the signal cross-over worked both ways. Several times this couple were terrified to hear the sounds of an enraged adult male, screaming and shouting abuse, coming over the monitor from their baby daughters room! That's how we actually discovered exactly where the baby noises were being transmitted from; in a chance conversation they told me how disturbed they were at the "psychic" phenomena going on in their house.

It makes an amusing anecdote, but I recall how genuinely frightened these people were. They had been on the verge of bring up the matter with their parish priest and asking for an exorcism.

Leaping to a supernatural explanation had resulted in very great stress for this young couple.

Can it get much neater than this? This will greatly annoy the believers in EVP, of course, but knowing the breed, I can confidently say that they'll find ways around this possible non-woowoo explanation. Remember, in their way of thinking, they only have to come up with one example in which this solution doesn't apply, and the whole idea can be immediately discarded.

(This is added primarily as an excuse to attach the photo....) I'll add, as a matter of possible interest, that I was highly embarrassed, years ago, when I walked onto the stage of the Folies Royale Theater in Montreal, greeting my audience via my wireless mike. I'd hardly gotten a minute into the act before a squeaky female voice broke in over the sound system with, "Doctor Judd, call your office. Doctor Judd, call your office." Seems I was on the same frequency — 40.68 megacycles — as a doctor's call service located next door. Yes, I also pondered on what Dr. Judd might have been thinking when he heard my voice declaring:

Good evening! My name is James Randi. I'm a liar, a cheat, a fake, and a charlatan. But I perform all of this with a certain degree of panache, which may even evoke from you a spontaneous expression of delight and astonishment — in the form of applause. I trust this will be the case.

As Mark Twain suggested in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, "...let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene."


INFORMATIVE WEB SITE

Reader Kevin Baker, in the UK, sends us to www.gulligo.com and comments:

Of course I'm disappointed they are currently out of stock...


SWINGIN' NORTH KOREA

Reader William F. Taylor amuses himself by looking in on North Korean quackery, which appears to be keeping right up with the rest of the world:

I've been a fan of your website and work for a long time. I'm afraid it sometimes leads me to waste much of my life crawling through the websites of raving and gibbering cranks and fools. I start off looking for a cheap laugh and end up depressed about our endlessly silly human condition. One the many world situations which leave me tossed between laughter and despair is the current and seemingly eternal crisis on the Korean peninsula. Fortunately, the folks at the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's only and official news service (which is based, for some reason, in Japan at www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm) keep the balance sheet on the side of mirth. In between predictable articles on the world-wide adulation of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, and his even Dearer but dead father, are occasional updates on that nation's latest pseudoscientific advances. I thought the following was representative:

Curative Plastic Sheets Developed

Pyongyang, April 11 (KCNA) — Curative plastic sheets Nos. 1 and 2 have been developed by scientists in the textile field of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. They are polypropylene and polyethylene sheets treated in an electronic way. With the sheets one can cure various diseases by oneself in any places without medical apparatuses and medicines.

When they are pasted to the points to be treated, it helps recover the function of abnormal minute electric current, damaged cells and tissues in human body and activate metabolism.

Sheet No.1 is for external wounds such as gash, abscess and burn and sheet No. 2 for internal diseases such as contusion, bone fracture, neuralgia, indigestion, stomach cramps and inflammation.

The years of clinical test shows that patients who had long suffered from sore finger and tympanitis recovered health with one-time use of the sheet and obstinate simple necrosis patients with six-time use. And babies under six months cured pneumonia with the help of the sheets.

I wonder if there are any other examples of governments around the world endorsing quackery on this level. The US government's recent "abstinence" websites, with their warnings on the dangers of excessive condom use, spring to mind.


SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE

Reader Scott Krieg offers these disturbing observations:

As someone who has seen the true effects of homeopathic remedies and psychic healing first hand, I would like to offer up some ideas on the subject.

Five years ago my mother's boyfriend Richard was diagnosed with liver cancer. The doctors didn't seem to be helping him much and he had resolved to die. My mother, a staunch believer in psychic healing and homeopathic medicine, started him on daily Tai Chi-like exercises and various herbal remedies from the local "wellness" shop, as well as different types of mineral water that actually came with a list of combinations to cure specific illnesses. He continued these exercises for 3 months until the pain became too much and he took to taking the morphine pills the doctor had prescribed to him. Richard died about 10 months later. My mother says it was because he gave up and started destroying his body with morphine. I say it's because he was dying and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

I began thinking of the reason so many people turn to alternative medicines instead of going to see a doctor. On one hand you have true medical science, cold, sterile, and sometimes it hurts. Doctors aren't always correct. On the other hand, we have nature, the mother Earth, accompanied by words like "wellness" and "holistic." It's softer and more pleasant sounding. We think of nature's ability to heal itself. It sounds great. Frankly, I'd prefer it, if it were real.

There is so much distrust in medicine these days, and rightly so. I watched my grandmother slowly wither away from being addicted to prescription drugs she didn't need. Drugs and medical insurance are at an all time high. That distrust is leading to people trusting in something worse. What really needs to happen for these charlatans to go away, is for integrity to return to the medical profession. It's very disillusioning to be in the middle of this debate, because I have no trust in anyone.

I must disagree here with Scott on a point or two. I believe that the medical profession needs to spend more effort on informing the public that though they have made great advances over the century past, there are matters that are still beyond their abilities to reverse; to the layman, that is not always evident in the approach that is seen to be offered by doctors. This is not a perfect discipline, any more than the roofing trade, culinary art, or architecture, are. Simply bringing in any failings of the drug and insurance industries is not appropriate when examining these matters; only an overall view should be used. I see enormous integrity in the medical profession — albeit with those failings that are to be found in all professions. We cannot assume that medicine will be immune to human nature. I can name several persons in my immediate circle who would not be alive today if it had not been for medical science properly and skillfully applied; I'm included in that group. Scott continues:

On a lighter note, when I was a boy, my father had the ultimate home remedy for a cold. It was called a shot of whiskey. It put me to sleep and I was fine the next morning. I went to the doctor for my yearly checkups of course, but never when I was sick. I was the healthiest drunkard in grammar school.

We ask readers to think carefully before applying this suggested remedy. On the other hand...


THIS SHOULD WORK

Reader Dominick has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek:

I work on a Web site that pokes fun at various urban legends. One of our writers submitted a faux warning about drug dealers using homeopathic methods to stretch their supply of LSD and other drugs. This got me wondering, and I e-mailed a bunch of Homeopathy organizations to ask them if they think making homeopathic recreational drugs is possible. It's been about a week, and so far the only replies I've gotten are suggestions that I ask someone else the question. I've sent new e-mails to the suggested sources but am beginning to wonder if my inquiries will just be ignored.

What I'd like to ask you is, do you know if the homeopathic community has dealt with this subject in the past? I'm assuming they have, but I can't find a source online. I appreciate any wisdom you might have to share about this silliness. I'm very curious.

By the way, the Web page that got me started on this is: www.all-lies.com/legends/warnings/lsdwater.shtml

Go to that web page and decide for yourself. It's hard to imagine that any notion could be sillier than that of homeopathy itself, but perhaps this does it....


STILL MORE STUPID PENTA CLAIMS

Christian J. Burnham, in his excellent Wikipedia discussion, tells us that CEO William D. Holloway, who peddles Penta Water to the naïve, claims "healthier skin, hair, and joints; stronger immune system; faster recovery from surgery or physical activity; and reduced hypertension and cholesterol" to users. Christian also lists these other incredible claims made by Penta:

PW [Penta water] contains water clusters of fewer molecules than normal water
PW has a 30% reduction in cluster size
PW enters cells 14% faster than normal water
Cells cultured in PW survive 266% longer than in normal water
Cells cultured in PW have a decrease in acidity 3X compared to cells cultured in distilled water
PW has a higher boiling point than normal water — and this is not due to dissolved impurities
PW is easier to drink than normal water
PW is the purest bottled water on the market
PW helps reduce the risk of kidney stones
DNA mutation is 271% greater in distilled water than in PW
PW gives increased energy and mental alertness
Protein crystals grown in PW have a different structure
PW can help with fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, diabetes, or chronic fatigue syndrome
PW has helped with fighting cancer

Those four listed here are obviously true, given certain provisions:

1. "Athletic performance measurably improves after consumption of PW." Yes, if the athlete is dehydrated, any water will accomplish that, dumbo!

2. "PW aids in weight loss." Yes, if the dieter drinks nothing but water!

3. "PW helps houseplants grow." Yes, any water consisting of two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen, will do that!

4. "PW has helped clear up skin problems." Yep, those who wash regularly — even with "regular" huge-cluster water, can have improved skin!

Now, I need hardly point out that ANY of these claims — besides the obvious four listed — were to be proven true, Mr. Holloway would earn the JREF million-dollars. To learn more — if you can stand any more — go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penta_Water to see discussions about the reliability of these preposterous claims, Penta Water and mainstream science, the response of Penta to criticism, the recent British Advertising Standards Authority 2005 adjudication on Penta Water, and criticisms of specific claims made by Penta.

I should tell you that despite those recent tantalizing hints from Penta that they might take up the JREF challenge that they agreed so willingly to accept years ago (see www.randi.org/jr/040105capitalizing.html#10), the urgent word has now gone out from Penta headquarters to Mark Fairhead, Director of "Team Penta UK," to rein in and back off.

Chicken is still king at Penta....


A GOOD EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW

How other folks do a proper product examination...

Readers Ted Vriezen, Nicolai Paulsen, and John Nevill all sent us to www6.tomshardware.com/mobile/20050418/index.html, where we found a lengthy but excellent account of how Dr. Thomas Pabst's "Tom's Hardware Guide" (THG), a premier resource for PC hardware reviews and news, investigated the fabulous claims made about the "Batterylife Activator," a 4" X 6" piece of foil made by a German company, Aquis GmbH, and Mark Korzilius, and distributed by Batterylife US in Milpitas, California. It sells for US$15 for the cell-phone model, and US$52 for a laptop variety, and is supposed to make batteries better and faster...!

Despite their initial conviction that this was an obvious farce, THG went through a complete test protocol and arrived at their conclusion via proper scientific means. Kudos!


WOO-WOO AT THE NIH

Reader Nick Blackmer is shocked that the National Institutes of Health actually allows nonsense onto the premises. Nick, this material will join the other claptrap that the NIH has increasingly adored over the past two administrations.

Nick refers us to this "little gem": http://videocast.nih.gov/EventDetail.asp?3850. There, the NIH Work/Life Center, in cooperation with the NIH Employee Assistance Program, offers:

Come and learn the principles of Feng Shui that you can use to achieve a sense of balance in your home and your work space. You will learn what Feng Shui is and how it works. You will also learn how to change your physical surroundings to support who you want to become and how to follow the process to attract the future you want more quickly. When you design your space to support yourself on the worst of days, the best of days get even better.

Says Nick:

Thanks all the same, I'd like to attract a future that doesn't involve my tax dollars helping to pay for federal employees to soak up such twaddle.

Hey, I also contributed to this official twaddle — involuntarily — via my tax dollars, Nick! And I can see that you'd be annoyed at the fact that most of the events listed at the site http://videocast.nih.gov/FutureEvents.asp appear to be about actual science. Well, some reason has to leak in along the way....


RAMTHA RAVES

Reader Mark Timothy sends us a quotation from J. Z. Knight, who pretends she's taken over by some spirit of a warrior or something spooky like that. This warrior needs a few pointers in how to write pseudoscience. Says she/he:

If we have just discussed the viable science of levitation — in which, that you as a heavy, three-dimensional object vibrating according to the hertz of the planet allows you to have the same stability as mass itself — if suddenly you were to change your field, then the mass that you are made up of would change as well. So it would vibrate; you would still be you but you would be vibrating at another frequency. In other words, we can see you and you are still John Doe, but you are not in the world because you are no longer obeying the laws of gravity and physics here. So you are actually levitating fifteen feet above the floor; we can see you, but you are eating the surrounding time in this time. And while you are sitting there, you are actually in the future. You are in another dimension of time that will one day be your linear future.

Hey, don't laugh. Knight is a multi-millionaire because of a huge crowd of naïve people out there who support her handsomely, and believe drivel such as seen above, though they've no way of evaluating it. It just sounds good to them.


GOOD UFO ARTICLE

Look at a good story by Aaron Sakulich on the famous Barney & Betty Hill case. What surprises me is the number of typos in there, and the mis-spelling of our friend Robert Sheaffer's name. It's at www.thetriangle.org/news/2005/04/15/SciTech/Ufo-couple.Use.Story.To.Spark.Alien.Abduction.Fear-926219.shtml. Buddy Jim Oberg tipped me off to this winner. Incidentally, Jim has just won the Silver Award in the "Magazines, Feature Article, 100,000-and- over category" by the Society of National Association Publications, for his piece "Titan Calling," October, 2004. Way to go, Jim!


HILARIOUS BLOOPER FROM SPAIN

Reader Ignacio Fernández Galván rather makes our day complete with this note:

Today I found a document at the web page of my University in Extremadura, Spain, a call for applications to get money from the Government. At the bottom we find this sentence: "Las solicitudes se harán telepáticamente" which translates as, "Applications will be sent telepathically."

This is obviously a mistake. It really should have been "telemáticamente" — "telemathically," or "through the net." I found this funny enough to send you a notice. I would like all similar stuff to be mistakes too.

Our correspondent informs me that after he informed the University of this error, they corrected it.

Ignacio, thank you. What a difference one letter makes....!


IN CONCLUSION....

Reader Øyvind Kaurstad, in Norway, gives us this encouraging news:

In your item www.randi.org/jr/102904swing.html#4 you told the story about a Norwegian TV-show that pretends to solve murder cases by the use of psychics, a show for the naïve, as you'd probably put it. In one particular show an innocent woman was — indirectly — identified by the psychic, and this woman was also questioned by the police, who immediately found out that she had nothing to do with the case.

I thought you'd be interested in hearing that yesterday "TVNorge," the TV channel that features this show, was criticized for "going too far" by something called "Pressens Faglige Utvalg," which is a committee established by the press itself. Being "convicted" by PFU has no direct legal implications, but nonetheless it is encouraging to see that there is some self-justice in the press.

I could translate the full statement from PFU, but I don't think it is necessary. Both the show and the host were harshly criticized, and all the major media in Norway reported on the decision from PFU.

Another step in the right direction....