December 31, 2004

My Omission, That Prayer Study, Powerful Mistake, More TFT, Dawkins on the Tsunami Disaster, Predictions For 2005, Failed 2004 Predictions, Nutty Knob, and In Conclusion....

Table of Contents:


In my mention last week of Sylvia Browne's prescribing lecithin for back problems, and as she said, it will "help your back and your neck, and everything," and "It's a natural lubricant," readers chided me for not making myself clearer. Actually, I was referring — as Sylvia was, I'm sure — to the commercial product known as lecithin — and I should have qualified that term. The over-the-counter product is a mixture of many substances, not the pure substance known as "phosphatidylcholine," at all. Store-bought lecithin contains other fatty acids and various small traces of B vitamins. And, readers have referred me to many sources that show commercial lecithin to be of no value whatsoever as a food supplement, because the vast majority of persons obtain much more than all of the basic lecithin they need, daily. And it's the yolk of the egg — not the white/albumin portion, as widely published — that provides the lecithin.

So, aside from having a prepared text for her victims, Sylvia even has a prepared, stock, one-size-fits-all text that's wrong.... Why are we not surprised?

And, folks, we have had enough exciting response to last week's Browne item, that we now have much additional data and thus we can look forward to doing further analyses of her methods. Stay tuned!


The publishers of the discredited paper on the positive effect of Christian prayer on in vitro fertilization (IVF) — often referred to as the "Lobo Paper," though Dr. Lobo now says he had nothing to do with it (see — are determined to support that spurious data regardless of the evidence and the principles of medical science, to which they still claim allegiance. This reminds me of one of the facts I point out to my lecture audiences: if just one of these bogus claims — spoon-bending, magnet healing, astrology, homeopathy, ESP, cold fusion, UFOs, or prophecy, to name only a very few — were genuine, the basic nature of science as we know it would by now have been totally disrupted, respected and tested laws of nature would no longer hold, and the resulting changed view of the universe would have profoundly affected everyone, everywhere. This has not happened! Along that line, reader Dr. Timothy Gorski, MD, observes about the "Lobo Paper":

Same criticism. Like Christians who say they believe in a blissful and eternal afterlife for those who imitate the life of Christ, they sure don't act as if they really believe in it. I mean, where are the Lobo Prayer Brigades being set up at all the IVF-ET centers? If some small change in lab protocol had been shown to double the rate of IVF success, it would have quickly been implemented at all the centers. Yet as we have all observed, it has not been taken seriously as judged by events. And, there are no Nobel Prizes, no replications, no treatment of its astounding results as being of as Earth-shattering a nature as, say, Newton's Principia. The only people who cite the Columbia study are kooks and religious zealots.

Well put, Dr. Gorsky....


Reader Michael Israetel, a former World Record holder in weight-lifting, reacts to the acceptance by a trade magazine of a quack claim:

I am a Powerlifter, and also a Kinesiology student at U of M. I used to buy the magazine Powerlifting USA every now and again to see if I could get some helpful hints regarding performance. However, I saw an ad for Penta water in the magazine a couple of months ago. I read through it, and was truly baffled by the pseudoscience.

I don't read that magazine anymore. It's not for moral reasons of upholding truth or anything, it's just that I can't trust advice not based on at least some logic or science. Sadly, it seems that Powerlifitng USA has abandoned reason. And by the way, nice work with the JREF foundation...when I have some money, I'll donate. Keep it up.

Thank you, Michael. Come to think of it, those Penta people still haven't gotten back to us on their long-ago acceptance of the JREF challenge. They seem to have lost their one-time enthusiasm for winning the million dollars! I wonder why....?


Re the recent mention here on our page of Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Bob Carroll sends us to for his treatment of the subject. Thanks, Bob!

Reader Stan Coppock comments on a TFT experience he sat through:

I was taken to a public Thought Field Therapy session at the Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley, CA. (Elephant is a whole case study in nuttiness itself). The session consisted of about twenty women and three men sitting in a circle for an hour. We were tapping ourselves with two fingers in a sequence of patterns along the "meridians." The amusing part came when the woman who I tagged along with, started arguing with the leader about what meridian was where. I asked if they had a meridian meter, but they didn't.


We've all been shocked by the recent disaster in Asia, the tsunami event — which, I note, was not predicted by any of our ever-alert psychic "sensitives." I can do no better than quote briefly from Oxford's Richard Dawkins' article that appeared in the UK Guardian newspaper:

Not only does science know why the tsunami happened, it can give precious hours of warning. If a small fraction of the tax breaks handed out to churches, mosques and synagogues had been diverted into an early warning system, tens of thousands of people, now dead, would have been moved to safety.

Let's get up off our knees, stop cringing before bogeymen and virtual fathers, face reality, and help science to do something constructive about human suffering.

When you meet Richard Dawkins in Las Vegas, please thank him for this and so many other wise observations...


Reader "Mick" offers these heavy prognostications for the next twelve months, though I detect a firmly planted tongue in his cheek:

1.) Randi will use the word "obfuscation" at least once this month (January 2005).

2.) Sylvia Browne will not respond to the Randi challenge in 2005 and will be wrong in at least 50% of her guesses, if not more.

3.) Uri will continue to invest in forks, spoons, keys, and BS (bad soccer).

4.) Bush will rule with Christian might, whether he is right or wrong, making the USA the laughingstock of the world. He will not notice that, though.

5.) Char and Edward will ask, "Is there an R?" at least 100 times each this year, and be right only 10 of those times in total.

6.) Gullible people will still buy crystals, magnets, and homeopathic medicines, making even more quacks and scammers rich this year. And they will swear by the products so that they do not appear to be feeble-minded!

7.) UFOs will decide not to contact us, this coming year, in their search for intelligent life in the universe.

8.) Televangelists will perform all sorts of miracles on unsuspecting people and will heal even those who are not sick. In fact, they will only heal those that are not sick.

9.) There will not be one proven miracle or ghost sighting anywhere this year, unless you watch and believe the TLC or SciFi TV channels.

10.) I will win the One Million Dollar Challenge, but just as with all of the other winners (psychics, etc.), Randi will refuse to give it to me, too.

I hate to make you wrong, Mick, but I will not use "obfuscation" this month....!



I can't think of a better way to slide into 2005 than with TIME columnist Leon Jaroff, who reports on journalist Gene Emory's summation of failed prophecies made in the last 12 months, at TIME Magazine's on-line site at,9565,1012261,00.html?cnn=yes Toronto-based Anthony Carr, "the world's most documented psychic," is mentioned in the TIME article. Yes, he certainly is well-documented, and here goes: Carr had predicted in 1955 that a major political/athletic figure would be assassinated at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Didn't happen. Also in that year, the stars told Carr that the Irish "will be coming into their own, generally. Everyone will want to think, dress, and act Irish." Didn't happen. Singer Madonna, he said, would be "establishing herself as a real 'star' and as a dramatic actress, in the blockbuster 'Evita,'" for which she'd also win an Oscar. Well, that film bombed big-time, and Madonna doesn't discuss the matter, thank you. Said Carr in 1997, "Legendary actress June Allyson will make an appearance, along with James Stewart, in a special anniversary special commemorating the mysterious disappearance of revered 1940's band leader Glen [sic] Miller." James Stewart died the same week this prediction appeared. Then Carr said that actor Christopher Reeve would "rise from his chair and perambulate" in 1999, and that O.J. Simpson would "either admit his guilt in 2000, or new evidence will prove that he is a murderer." Neither happened. Carr predicted in January, 1999, that Muhammad Ali would make a miracle recovery from Parkinson's disease, that an iceberg the size of California would threaten to wipe out Hawaii, and that Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy would give birth to twins. All wrong: Ali has not recovered, there was no iceberg, and Carolyn died in the plane crash that also killed her husband. In 2002, he predicted that actor Richard Harris' cancer would go into remission, and the third Harry Potter film would win him "industry-wide applause." This confident item appeared in the paper that carries his predictions, on October 27 — two days after Harris died of cancer.

How's that for keeping Anthony Carr "the world's most-documented psychic"? And it was no better for him this past year. He "foresaw" for 2004 the accidental detonation of North Korean nuclear weapons resulting in death "for thousands," the shooting death of Saddam Hussein involving a woman, and "the first-ever male pregnancy" brought to term. Fresh on the astonishing success of those items, Carr now predicts for 2005 that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be confronted by a California newspaper that prints rumors of his "gay" indiscretions, that Martha Stewart will spend time in a mental institution for "acute paranoid schizophrenia," while actor Ben Affleck will attain a weight of 300 pounds, all in 2005. Carr also says that actor Matt LeBlanc of "Friends" will die in a flaming motorcycle accident, and "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening will murder his gay lover — actor Kevin Spacey — and be convicted of it, to boot! But on the happier side, Carr says that Oprah Winfrey is in a good position to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Keep those items in mind, and in 12 months we'll see whether "psychic" Carr meets expectation, or just happens to get one of these predictions right.


Reader Damian Glenny provides me with a perfect closer for the year. I can think of no better way to leave nutty 2004 than with this incredible claim by "Reference Audio Mods" — to be seen at for a wooden knob to replace the regular knob on a tuner or amplifier. They tell us that this new knob is

....coated several times with C37 lacquer for best sound as pointed out by Dieter Ennemoser. How can this make a difference??? Well, hearing is believing as we always say. The sound becomes much more open and free flowing with a nice improvement in resolution. Dynamics are better and overall naturalness is improved. Here is a test for all you Silver Rock owners. Try removing the bakelite knobs and listen. You will be shocked by this! The signature knobs will have an even greater effect...really amazing! The point here is the micro vibrations created by the volume pots and knobs find their way into the delicate signal path and cause degradation (Bad vibrations equal bad sound). With the signature knobs micro vibrations from the C37 concept of wood, bronze and the lacquer itself compensate for the volume pots and provide (Good Vibrations) our ear/brain combination like to hear...way better sound!!

And, lest the eager would-be purchaser might fear that putting this important improvement into action on the equipment could be beyond his technical expertise, the makers assure us that:

The beech wood Knobs can easily be installed on all versions of the Silver Rock potentiometer.

What a relief! After all, when we spend US$485 — that's right, folks, that's the price for the knob! — we wouldn't want to be swindled by having a problem unscrewing the old knob and replacing it!

Fear not, I'm sure that the audio magazine product reviewers will endorse and rhapsodize over this newest scam. It's at least as effective as putting rocks on your speaker leads, I'll bet!


Happy New Year 2005, folks. I'll see many of you at The Amaz!ng Meeting (registration now at 460!) and we can try to top one another with more silly stories of how stupid consumers can get.....